Partner Marketing 2022: How to Boost Your Revenue with Influencers, Affiliates, and Loyal Customers
Seasoned marketers know that most tactics and tools they successfully used yesterday may already not work today. And as technology evolves, so do the approaches to advertising.
Partner marketing has become one of the fastest-growing low-risk advertising strategies of recent times. It’s mutually beneficial both for brands and their affiliates. And on top of that, it works perfectly with all types of businesses, from small dropshipping stores to enterprise companies, not just agency partners.
Statista’s numbers show that affiliate marketing spendings in the U.S. alone will reach $8.2 billion by 2022. And this is triple what it was a decade ago. Sounds promising?
This means that partner marketing is a perfect match for all entrepreneurs who want to enter new markets, increase brand awareness, and boost conversions with minimum effort.
In this article, we’ve collected everything you need to know about how to get the most out of your affiliates, influencers, and loyal customers.
Here we go!
Here’s what we are going to cover:
- What partner marketing is
- How affiliate marketing works
- How referral marketing works
- What influencer marketing is
- How to boost your revenue using affiliate marketing
- How to boost your revenue using influencer marketing
- Strategies to boost your revenue using a customer referral program
What is partner marketing?
Before we dive into the partner marketing best practices, let’s figure out what is usually meant by partner marketing. In general, partner marketing is when two or more companies collaborate for mutually beneficial promo campaigns to help one another reach their business goals.
There are a number of different marketing partnerships to choose from. Besides affiliate, referral, and influencer approaches we are going to talk about, other types of partnerships also include:
- Distribution marketing — when one brand or company bundles the other brand’s product or service with its own.
- Sponsorship is usually utilized for increasing brand awareness at sporting or charity events.
- Product placement — mentioning brands in TV, movies, music videos, etc.
- Co-branding — a collaboration with another brand to craft a co-branded product or service.
- Partner Content marketing — cooperation to generate various types of co-branded content pieces like articles, e-books, webinars, podcasts, or videos.
- White label partnership — is when a brand deletes its logo from the end product to sell with the branding requested by the partner.
Take a look at the co-branding example by Lip Smacker and Dr. Pepper.
How affiliate marketing works
Interesting fact: Did you know that the history of affiliate marketing dates back to 1989 when William J. Tobin launched his PC Flowers and Gifts online store? Soon after that, he decided to try the innovative approach, which unbelievably succeeded. By 1993 his affiliate program generated more than $6 million in sales per year. Encouraged with success, Tobin patented the affiliate marketing concept in 2000.
What is affiliate marketing? This type of marketing presupposes recruiting individuals or companies to promote your products and services to their audiences for a commission. An affiliate (publisher) gets a commission each time someone purchases on your website, subscribes to your paid service, or signs up as a lead (depending on how you want to set it up) using a unique link or a coupon code associated with this particular affiliate.
In other words, it’s about a partnership between a company and a publisher.
Here is an example of the Degiro.com affiliate program landing page.
To prove that automated affiliate marketing is a sure-fire way to boost your conversions effortlessly and without risk, we’ve collected the list of affiliate program advantages.
Affiliate marketing 2.0 pros
1. Cost-friendly at the start
Affiliate programs let you kick start a new project at a low budget as they don’t require extra funds for designers, copywriters, and ad space purchasing to enter the market.
2. Risk-free payment model
Affiliate marketing assumes that you pay for conversions and lead signups, depending on your setup. So, this is the perfect model for any business, even on a tight budget.
3. Precisely targeted incoming traffic and higher ROI
Affiliate marketing can boast a much higher return on investment (ROI) than most other marketing approaches. And the reason is that your potential clients will hear of your brand from reliable affiliates. So, if you channel partner marketing efforts correctly, you’ll get access to a new, highly targeted audience that is already potentially interested in your products and services. That’s why finding a niche affiliate marketing partner with an engaged target audience is already half the deal.
4. Flexible and easy to scale
You can tailor affiliate programs to any budget and business needs. The absolute flexibility of this marketing tool lets you start cheaply and then scale up at any time without the fear of spending a fortune.
How referral marketing works
“A referred brand is a preferred brand; and a preferred brand is a referred brand.”
― Bernard Kelvin Clive
Can you tell the difference between referrals and affiliates? Unfortunately, some online resources still use these two terms synonymously, confusing marketers, advertisers, and publishers. Although both terms refer to a similar scenario when customers are driven to your website so that referrers and affiliates get paid for conversions, affiliate and referral programs differ.
Affiliates are usually third-party individuals or companies, while referral partner marketing is about hiring your existing customers to spread the word about your business - they refer a friend, family member or acquaintance.
Why does word of mouth referral marketing work? If you had to choose who you trust more ― the paid SERP results or your colleague, you’d probably choose the latter. And this is no surprise because we all trust our friends, relatives or even neighbors more than advertisements.
So, referral marketing uses your customers as brand advocates.
Referral marketing pros
The advantages of affiliate and referral marketing are pretty similar. But along with high ROI, accurate targeting, and a low-risk payment model, referral programs have their unique specifics.
1. The most effective word of mouth tool
Yes, customers love sharing info about new products and services with their network online and offline. And, as a result, there are more than 3.3 billion mentions of various brands in 2.4 billion brand-related conversations in the US per day.
2. High conversion rates
Users driven by referrals convert better (up to 30%) and have a 16% LTV (lifetime value) than leads acquired via other channels. These numbers are easy to explain by targeted traffic and a high degree of trust.
3. Excellent pay-per-acquisition channel
You have complete control over your payments since referrals get rewards for conversions (just like affiliates). This means it doesn’t matter how many resources your referrals invest in your company promotion; you pay only for performance. Besides, you can easily monitor all necessary metrics with the help of affiliate and referral tracking software.
4. More loyal customers
Referral marketing is a win-win solution for current customers who act as your brand advocates and for the leads they drive.
This is because they get incentives and are more likely to return to you for purchases — and they stay with your business longer. According to Wharton School of Business, customers who come to you via referral links are on average 16% - 24% more loyal than others.
5. Powerful user engagement channel
It’s not a secret that selling something to an existing customer is easier than attracting a new buyer. Engagement channels that build customer loyalty and increase retention are valuable as gold. That’s why referral marketing is not only about increased conversions and sales but also about establishing long-term relationships with your customers.
The recent stats provided by Semrush show that referral marketing accounts for 26% of powerful retention marketing tactics. Well, the numbers speak louder than words.
What is influencer marketing?
Who is an influencer? Broadly speaking, an influencer is a person who can impact the purchase decision of their audience due to authority and expertise.
Influencer marketing is about hiring or collaborating with influencers on a paid basis to promote your brand, product, or service.
Ten years ago, influencer marketing was associated only with celebrities and a limited number of bloggers. Today, influencers at their prime generate terabytes of content daily, splashing millions of videos, pictures, and blog posts into the world.
Image Source: Google Trends
And despite being a relatively new marketing tool, influencer programs demonstrate incredibly exciting results.
For example, the Mediakix Influencer Marketing Survey revealed that:
- Almost 90% of marketers confess that ROI from influencer marketing equals or even outperforms other marketing channels.
- 80% of marketers strongly believe in influencer marketing effectiveness.
- More than 70% of marketing specialists admit that the quality of traffic generated by influencers is higher than from other sources.
Let’s figure out why influencer marketing is starting to grow up.
Сonsumers trust real people more than brands and corporations. Just look at this from a more personal angle ― you’ll hardly believe a stranger that comes up to you all of a sudden and tries to make friends with you. But you’ll definitely change your mind if the stranger is accompanied by someone you know who vouches for that guy. This is how it works!
OK, then, what’s the difference between referrals and influencers? One of the main differences is that influencers have a much broader audience reach. Consequently, they don’t need to spend much time and resources to spread the word about your business.
All you need to do to channel your brand message accurately is choose the proper niche influencer or blogger with subscribers whose interests resonate with your brand philosophy.
*Interesting fact: Sometimes, pets are better influencers than humans. With more than 30 million followers across various media channels, Jiffpom has become the most followed pet on social media. And, of course, small and huge brands line up to collaborate with the successful fluffy influencer. *
Image source: @jiffpom
How to boost your revenue using affiliate marketing
Now you’ve almost become an expert in partner marketing types, let’s see how you can increase conversions with an affiliate program.
Start your affiliate program
If you are an affiliate marketing newbie, you may feel frustrated when planning and launching your first affiliate program. This is where affiliate tracking software comes in handy. Why use tons of different micro tools to calculate commissions, track conversions, and store affiliate-related data? It’s better to concentrate on other marketing activities and let a specially developed all-in-one solution do the affiliate tracking for you.
Let’s see how quickly you can launch an affiliate program with Tapfiliate
Step #1. Get registered. Integrate Tapfiliate in minutes using one of the ready-made copy/paste integrations, or integrate manually. We have free guides to help you get started.
Step #2. Specify your commission rates.
Step #3. Recruit affiliates. Invite affiliates using your personalized invite link (or you can invite them manually).
Step #4. Promote your program. Provide your affiliates with branded banners, text links, videos, and even social media posts to help them spread the word about your brand.
Step #5. Track your affiliates performance in a handy, simple-to-use dashboard.
And that’s it! Your affiliate program is ready to run.
Need a custom integration? Learn more about finding a cheap developer for an affiliate program and e-commerce integrations.
Now that you’ve completed the steps, it’s time to plan your affiliate campaign from a marketing perspective. Keep reading to learn how to overcome affiliate marketing challenges and make your campaigns profitable.
Decide on commission rates
Choosing your payment model and commission rates is always the most tricky aspect of setting up an affiliate, referral, or influencer marketing program. Why? Low commission rates can discourage users from joining your affiliate program, while unreasonably high rates can negatively impact your revenue and return on investment.
In addition, by offering the maximum commission at the start, you provide no room for incentives and bonuses in the future. This removes a powerful motivational tool from your toolbox.
If you find it hard to calculate your ideal commission rate, then maybe there is an average rate that most advertisers usually pay? Unfortunately, no. Commission rates vary depending on multiple factors.
And here are the most crucial of them:
- Your profit margins. The higher your profit margin, the more competitive commission rates you can provide.
- The industry specifics. For instance, app development companies are listed among industries with the highest profit margins. As a result, they can set higher commission rates than, let’s say, airlines who have notoriously small profit margins.
- Cost Per Order (or cost per purchase). This is the total marketing spend needed to drive any purchase to your website. It indicates how profitable your marketing is.
- Which extra bonuses and incentives your partner marketing plan offers. As we’ve mentioned, you should plan your commissions with additional motivation incentives in mind.
- Affiliate types. Each affiliate segment may require its unique approach and commissions.
Learn more about how to determine your influencer and affiliate commission rates.
Find your affiliates
According to recent research data, affiliate marketing can compete with email marketing in generating revenue. But of course, to start earning, you should recruit high-quality affiliates to promote your brand.
Yes, at the very beginning, you have to apply some effort to find the best affiliates for your business, but it’s worth the work. So now, let’s figure out where and how to look for affiliates.
Reach out to niche bloggers
Bloggers can be great affiliates as they already have built an engaged audience ready to follow their recommendations. So, if you partner with the right niche blogger, it will bring you a pretty large amount of warm leads that will definitely positively impact your conversions.
Partner with other websites related to your business
Pay attention to websites that fit your market niches and whose audience overlaps yours. Try to create partnerships with them and ask them to promote your brand using an affiliate link. If your commission proposition or a cross-promotion opportunity meets their business interests, it will be a win-win combination for everyone. In addition, it’s a hands-on strategy that perfectly works for B2B and B2Cs.
To get a clear idea of how to choose partner websites depending on the niche, let’s look at some examples:
- If you’re an apparel store, you can partner with a fashion accessory brand.
- If you provide cleaning services, a home repair service may come in helpful for your audience as well.
- If you sell pet supplies, a vet clinic website will be a great partner to work with.
Search on professional communities and affiliate marketing forums
Industry communities and forums, as well as social media groups, are an excellent way to keep fingers on the pulse of your business niche. On top of that, it can become a great source of high-quality affiliates.
- Industry-related forums;
- Facebook and Linkedin groups;
- Specific Reddit threads and pages;
- Professional communities;
- Questions and answers sites like Quora.
Use these platforms to establish relationships with like-minded industry enthusiasts to convert them into your brand advocates.
Try Coupon websites
We understand your skepticism about coupon websites. However, they are still a great option for generating revenue (if you are strategic with your coupon codes), traffic, and interested buyers. Contact the most respected ones directly to ask about adding your company to their website on a commission basis.
By partnering with promo code sites, you get a powerful traffic stream of ready-to-buy shoppers, so get prepared to see how your conversions go sky-high.
Of course, there are many more powerful affiliate sources for any type of business: big content sites and marketplaces, comparison sites, mobile apps relevant to your industry, cashback sites, etc. Need more details and examples for inspiration? Read our article on how to find perfect affiliates.
Never used Tapfiliate? Try all the features: 👉get a 14-day free trial here
How to boost your revenue using influencer marketing
Unlike affiliates and referrals, influencers require a more personalized approach. As a result, you’ll need to devote more time to building and cultivating long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial for both sides. To craft a step-by-step strategy applicable to your specific niche, check the following tips.
Define campaign goals
Before plunging into the magical world of social networks to look for your perfect influencers, set clear and measurable goals for your influencer marketing strategy. Armed with goals, you’ll be able to pick up influencers accordingly and accurately measure the success of your campaigns.
The most common goals of influencer marketing campaigns are as follows:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Boosting incoming traffic
- Generating leads
- Increasing sales and conversion rates
- Improving user engagement
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness and get the broadest reach possible, macro bloggers are at your disposal. However, if you have a limited budget and your primary goal is revenue growth, we recommend collaborating with micro and nano influencers.
And here is why ― today, the vector of influencer marketing shifts to more relatable influencers. Consumers trust those who live the same life and have the same problems as their subscribers. On top of that, relatable opinion leaders are more likely to answer comments and interact with the audience, building customer loyalty. Narrow niche brands already appreciate the value of such influencers, and in 2022 this trend will become even more powerful.
Image source: @artikelnummer_sh
For instance, lifestyle microbloggers are perfect for promoting local apparel stores and designers.
Identify your target audience and choose your channels
While Instagram stories influencer marketing needs no introduction, many other platforms are also teeming with edgy influencers. Such networks as YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat, have their own packs of influencers with different demographics and interests.
So, knowing your target personas - their interests, preferences, and buying habits, you’ll be able to choose the right channels and channel your brand message properly with the highest ROI possible.
Look for influencers
Once you create the portrait of your potential customers, it will be easy to decide which channel or network to start with.
How to look for influencers:
Use the power of hashtags. Before influencers start sharing info and reviews about your company on Instagram, make sure you know the latest trends and check the content other brands share. Then, use your brand’s Insta hashtags to help you discover new influencers relevant to your audience.
Scan your competitors’ mentions. It may well be that your peers have already adopted influencer marketing for their business needs. Creating a complete list of direct and indirect competitors will help you find influencers already posting about the same topics.
Use keywords for YouTube search. Need longer, more detailed reviews? Then, YouTube is the right place for you. It’s also a great channel if your brand centers on a specific hobby, as influencers willingly share this type of content here.
Use influencer marketing services and databases. Influencer platforms and databases are like specialized search engines, and can help you filter influencers by particular niches. In addition, these databases provide you with their social profiles, contact info, and websites so that you can connect with them right away.
We recommend using this method with caution, as there are a lot of companies offering outdated data. And a free trial would be a great way out here.
Recruit influencers using your website. Ensure your website is ready to attract and activate influencer prospects. Create dedicated landing pages and banners to engage influencers who stumble upon your site through other marketing channels. If they want to collaborate, is there a straightforward way to do this?
Browse through subscribers on your brand and competitors’ accounts. Influencers are everywhere. They follow a lot of the same accounts that you do. So just open several Instagram accounts that are within your brand niche and look through the followers.
Learn more about how to find key influencers to promote your brand.
Decide on your payment model
There are a few payment models influencer marketers usually utilize. And which one to use fully depends on your brand specifics, goals, and niche. Sometimes it requires more time to choose your ideal payment strategy. That’s why we advise you to test different models to develop a working solution.
Pay-Per-Post. Pay-per-post is the most widely-used pricing model for influencer marketing. It presupposes paying a flat fee per piece of branded content influencers create, be it an image, video, series of stories, tweet, or blog post. The cost can vary from $50 to $250,000 or more depending on influencer type.
Flat rate for the whole campaign: You pay a set rate for the whole campaign with no extra costs involved. You get the content you agreed upon regardless of engagement or sales driven to your website.
Pay-Per-Acquisition (otherwise known as CPA or the affiliate model). A pay-per-acquisition type rewards influencers for purchases or conversions (or subscriptions, or signups) that their content triggers. Although this model is still not the standard for influencer marketing, it has been popular with influencer affiliates for years and is increasing in popularity as more brands seek to see actual sales from influencer campaigns. It has already proven to be one of the most cost-effective and works well with brand ambassadors.
Cost per engagement: The cost per engagement model rewards influencers for engagement on their post. You pay a set rate for each engagement on the post.
Pay-Per-Click. The PPC payment model is based on content performance. It means that you pay not per piece of content, but for clicks on your landing page driven by a particular marketer. Unfortunately, due to the growing amount of false clicks generated by bots, brands utilizing this model must ensure their influencer partner delivers authentic traffic from genuinely engaged users.
Compensating expenses. Instead of financial compensation, some brands offer influencers free products or travel packages in exchange for a review. And it’s not unexpected that this payment type is prevalent in the travel industry. The compensation model also enjoys popularity among more expensive or premium brands that can’t be easily purchased in-store.
Hybrid payment model: A hybrid payment model is a mix of any of these payment models.
Choose your influencer tracking software to evaluate campaign performance
According to the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, 67% of marketers measure influencer marketing ROI and consider it as their major challenge. And to make data-driven decisions, it’s crucial to know how to track your key metrics.
There are two easy, and yet the most effective ways for influencers attribution:
- Custom URLs: You can track direct traffic coming from a specific influencer or brand advocate by creating a custom URL.
- Coupon Codes or referral codes: Coupons are one more excellent tracking option that not only incentivizes your potential customers but also makes it easy to attribute sales back to a specific person.
It is essential to make sure the influencer marketing conversion tracking tool you use supports affiliate links and coupon tracking. And what are other factors that you should consider while choosing influencer tracking software?
- Free trial
- Easy integration with your e-commerce platform
- Positive reviews
- User support option
Tools like Tapfiliate can be easily integrated with your website in a few clicks. They let you track influencer campaign performance via referral links or discount codes in real-time so you can instantly make data-driven decisions.
Learn more about how to track influencer marketing campaigns, and read more about influencer marketing on a budget in our whitepaper.
Strategies to boost your revenue using a customer referral program
All marketing strategies aimed at finding and recruiting referrals are connected with building customer trust and loyalty. Customers will hardly promote products they are less than thrilled about. So, before starting your hunt, make sure you’ve prepared a fertile ground for them.
Focus on fantastic customer service
Want to turn your current customers into referrals? Exceed their expectations with top-notch customer service. Give them the reason to stay with you, and they’ll willingly spread the word about your brand.
Zendesk reports that about 50% of online shoppers would choose another brand after just a single poor experience. It means that there is no second chance to make the first impression. And to effectively grow loyal clients and then convert them into referrals, every interaction with your brand counts.
Perfect customer service is not only about instant replies; it’s also about a personal approach and willingness to go the extra mile. So, below here are some customer service must-haves that will help you retain current clients and make them join your referral program.
How to improve your customer service:
- Reply quickly
- Address customers by name - a personal approach is king
- Provide omnichannel support
- Respond on social media
- Offer self-help options like FAQ sections and knowledge bases
- Ask for feedback and constantly reply to all feedback (positive and negative)
- Provide a straightforward refund policy
- Offer free trials
- Try personalized product/service suggestions
- Offer specific bonuses and rewards
Choose your tracking software and incentives
Referral tracking software is indispensable when you are dealing with big volumes of customer data. Referral tracking platforms like Tapfiliate let online marketers accurately track each click and conversion. They can save hours of manual work with complete automation and help turn your insights into data-driven actions.
By adjusting flexible settings to your specific needs, you’ll be able to monitor your referral campaign performance via automatically generated links and discount codes.
While Tapfiliate is great at calculating commissions and tracking conversions, there are many other incentive types besides commission-based rewarding options. They can complement your program or work as a full-value payment method. Check the most popular incentive types to get inspired.
Discounts. Discount codes are one of the most popular referral program incentives. If your brand offers a rich product assortment or requires repeated purchasing, coupon codes are what you need.
Cash or cashback. Cash is an excellent incentive if it aligns with your business. To understand how it works, look at the Princess Polly store with its $20 incentive offered to every referral and $15 off to every referred customer.
Image source: Princesspolly.com
Store credit. It combines the advantages of discounts and cash. Although a store credit has its monetary value, it only allows referred customers to stock up in an advertiser’s store.
Gift cards. Gift cards are not always about purchasing in your particular store. Instead, you can think outside the box and offer gift cards from various popular stores and brands. This way, you’ll be able to alter your incentives to meet your target audience’s needs and attract more referrals.
Free subscription. Today, more and more brands vote for the subscription model. And a free-subscription-period-reward kills two birds with one stone — it motivates current users to share your business and attracts new potential clients.
Donations. Offer to convert your customer’s reward into charity donations. This is a win-win-win combination: you get the profit, charity organizations get help, and referral customers get satisfaction.
Set up a landing page
An ideal landing page for your referral program should incorporate essential components such as information about referral incentives or a call-to-action (CTA). But in practice, a high-converting landing page requires more tactics to implement.
1. Add your value proposition to the headline
Since the headline aims to grasp the visitor’s attention and persuade them to join your referral program, this is an excellent option to present your value proposition. If users are not hooked at the very beginning, they won’t continue the journey and will simply leave the page.
Don’t know how to create a catchy headline? Make sure your headline is:
Relevant: Know your target audience and offer something they can’t resist.
Clear: Speak the language your referral prospects do and ensure your value proposition is easy to understand.
Realistic: Promises like “Make $100K per month” won’t work. So, just make your headline credible.
Here is an example of an excellent landing page by UXcel.
2. Highlight your incentives in a clear way
Be it a flat-rate fee, a tiered model, or a pay-per-action model, ensure you’ve structured all your incentives properly. A well-thought-out structure prompts your loyal customers and followers to join your referral program. And, of course, incentives can vary from business to business, but a clearly outlined offer helps to convert.
3. Utilize the power of social proof
If your referral partner marketing program is flourishing, why not show the results? By showcasing social proof on your landing page, you make your referral program look more reliable. For example, if your visitors notice hundreds or thousands of happy clients who’ve already joined the program, they are more likely to sign up as well.
4. Simplify the submission process
The submission form is the all-or-nothing moment for your landing page. This is the final step separating your visitors from becoming your brand advocates. A complicated submission process may turn your clients off.
Of course, it doesn’t mean you should eliminate most fields, but think twice about which of them provides you with really important customer data. To ensure you are on the right track, you can try A/B split testing.
__5. Make your CTAs visible __
Ensure your CTA buttons grab customers’ attention. How can you make your CTAs maximally visible and effective?
- Use contrasting colors
- Use pop-ups
- Keep them visible above the fold
- Duplicate the button in each block of your landing page
- Use actionable language like “Earn Rewards” or “Sign up now.”
Like satisfied customers who write product reviews just because they love your brand, a considerable amount of your clients promote your products and services to their colleagues, friends, and family without any specific incentives. Some of them may be doing this even without knowing that you have a referral program to join.
When you launch your first referral program, you can reach out to your loyal customers to invite them on board. How do you do this? Use your email lists to send personalized invitations and share the program details on social media.
If you don’t know what to start with, the Tapfiliate recruitment feature is at your disposal. Now, you’ll be able to harness the hiring process in a few steps:
Step #1. Connect your e-commerce or payment system to Tapfiliate, and easily invite your clients into your referral program.
Step #2. Tapfiliate will automatically generate and send them a unique link that they can use to promote your business.
Step #3. Voilà! The clients interested in spreading the word can start sharing their love of your brand and get rewarded for any new client or conversion they drive.
Remember to remind your clients and followers about available referral options via email and social media posts at least once a month to stay consistent. Also, make sure the program is easily accessible on your website and in the mobile app.
The more you communicate with your current customers, the more chances to recruit the army of devoted brand ambassadors you have.
A digital marketing partner program has proved to be one of the lowest cost-per-acquisition advertising strategies according to marketing research. It helps you reach new audiences, find and engage potential customers, increase brand awareness and drive sales to your website. And all you need to do to add a new revenue stream is invest some time and effort.
Being equipped with affiliate, referral, and influencer tracking tools, you can quickly launch any partner programs or affiliate marketing programs on your website and start reaping the benefits.