Introduction to Affiliate Marketing
Essentially affiliate marketing is an incentive program to reward people for bringing business to your web site. Unlike traditional advertising where you might pay someone a fixed price to place an ad on their web site regardless of how much business it actually brings you, affiliate marketing is great because the affiliate only gets paid if you do. It’s a reward system based on results.
Their are many large affiliate programs such as Amazon or AdSense and some people make a very healthy living of these programs alone. In today’s introduction to affiliate marketing we’ll look at a simple way you can setup an affiliate program for your WordPress web site.
Step 1: Qualifying a potential affiliate.
For popular businesses it’s not uncommon to be regularly contacted by people (especially bloggers) wanting either free product in return for exposure on their site or social media avenues, or to join your affiliate program. Your first impulse might be the more the better but it can be more hassle than it’s worth if the affiliate doesn’t generate many sales. To see if a potential affiliate qualifies check their web site / blog, does it look professional, does it have regular blog posts, can they provide any figures on site traffic. You also want to check out all of their social media avenues to see how many followers they have, how often they make posts, the quality of their posts, the likes that the posts generate and importantly the interaction (comments) that is generated for each post. It’s easy for a company to buy followers so the most important aspect is the likes and interaction that their posts are getting. Affiliate relationships can be strictly business but it’s much better if the affiliate generally likes your product and isn’t just promoting it for monetary gain. It’s also important to assess whether their are any conflicts of interest if the potential affiliate is recommending any of your competitors products. Whether this is a deal breaker or not is up to you but it’s important to be clear from the outset if you wish to have an exclusive arrangement or not.
By far the ultimate affiliate is someone who is considered an ‘influencer’. An influencer is someone who is extremely popular (usually due to celebrity status or knowledge in a particular area) and wields great influence over their audience. The simple mention of your site and or product(s) can lead to a huge swell of new followers and or customers.
Step 2: Setting up the affiliate.
As I said earlier their are many way to run an affiliate program but for this introduction to affiliate marketing we will look at a simple method using your WordPress web site.
Create a unique ‘coupon code’ in the backend of WordPress. You can offer the affiliate an amount to work with for example give them $20 and let them know that they can receive all of that as an incentive per sale, give all of it to the customer as a discount (and receive no incentive themselves) per sale or a combination of both, for example a $10 incentive for themselves and $10 discount for the customer. You then setup the coupon code accordingly.
Next you create an image that they will place on their web site which includes their unique coupon code and a call to action such as “Support us by using this coupon code when purchasing from…” (in the case that you are keeping the whole amount as an incentive) or “Receive a discount using this coupon code when purchasing from…” (in the case that you are giving some or all of the amount as a discount to the customer). When placed on the affiliates web site it is important that it links back to the home or shop page on your web site. You can also tell the affiliate that they can mention their unique coupon code on their web site and through their social media avenues as text. Be aware that the text will be searchable through search engines such as Google and customers may find it by simply searching for your business name and the words “coupon code”. Don’t offer more (for the incentive / discount) than you are happy to potentially lose on every sale.
Step 3: Paying the affiliates
Paying your affiliates when you say you will is important. You don’t want to pay them too often as it can take up time doing the accounting, paying at the end of each financial quarter works well. Keep a detailed record of all your affiliates, their unique coupon codes, their web site and anything else you deem relevant. At the end of each quarter go into the backend of WordPress, go to orders and search for each coupon code. Count the amount of orders you see in the appropriate time period then times that by the amount that the affiliate receives as an incentive. You now have the amount that they are owed. Pay them into their nominated bank account. You will also need to get an invoice from them.
Step 4: Value adding to the relationship
For affiliates that bring you a lot of sales it can be great to generate further exposure by offering the affiliate something that you sell to them for free to giveaway in a competition. This will also create goodwill with the affiliate as competitions are always popular for their followers. If the affiliate doesn’t already, you should consider giving them your product(s) for free for personal use. Again this creates goodwill and they will be more likely to mention your products if they use them regularly.