Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A newly-created project should manage significant issues to survive the first year of operating. The key target to hit, especially in a highly-competitive market environment, is finding product-market fitting. Affiliate marketing is giving a variety of instruments to reach that goal. And even more: It engages potential customers, who can become a core audience — and some can even become brand ambassadors in the future.
Here are some bulletproof tactics of how to launch a new brand, service or app using affiliate marketing channels.
Related: Use Affiliate Marketing to Create a Loyal Audience
Why affiliate marketing can be an effective strategy channel to use
An affiliate partnership is based on a сost per acquisition model (CPA). The advertisement provides results in the form of sales and target actions, which gives direct profits. Worth noting, the affiliate marketing advantages are:
- The absence of backless risk-taking investments.
- Promotion is taking place only among the relevant audience.
- The wide range of different niches to be efficacy used.
But the main thing is that the budget spent is under your control. The basic operating principle of affiliate marketing is you get what you pay for.
According to Publift, 86% of audiences are suffering from ad blindness, meaning they simply do not see the ads. To get confidence that the budget won’t be wasted on irrelevant clicks (cost per click) or views (cost per view), the affiliate partners’ reward depends on the success of the promo campaign.
Having all these advantages of affiliate-based tactics, it’s time to roll out our very first affiliate marketing campaign step by step.
Related: An Affiliate-Marketing Program Might Be the Perfect Move
Step 1: Creating an in-house affiliate program or joining a travel affiliate network
Building your affiliate program is not a cheap exercise. However, big brands like Expedia or Booking.com could do that. So looking for a proper travel affiliate marketing network would be a more realistic option. Their framework and experience combined with the right tools should help you as well. The cooperation with external CPA platforms (ie Travelpayouts, CJ, AWIN, Partnerize or others) seems more manageable, especially for the newcomers.
Step 2: Propose a suitable affiliate offer
It must be based on an analysis of competitors and companies’ ROI models. The proposal should include commission rate, lifetime and payout policy.
The cookies’ duration is the length of time when a customer and an affiliate are associated together. It starts from a client’s click on the link and may last from one session up to a year. If it has expired, the partner won’t receive a commission from a purchase.
Also consider determining a payout policy: a variety of actions, which are taken into account as target ones and being paid. Pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-action (PPA) and pay-per-impression (PPI) models are concentrated on different aims — the number of clicks, lead generation and sales guarantee, respectively.
3. Get a list of top-notch affiliates
The subscribers and followers of a partner should be your final target audience. For example, if you have a coupon service, the potential users’ audience from your partners should be interested in travel deals, coupons and discounts. Keep on the influencers with high-quality content. It’s okay if they’re local bloggers with fewer than 5,000 subscribers, compared to the more popular ones with 1 million or more subscribers.
The figures for the blogger subscribers are not as important as the quality of the audience — the major thing is how many sales a partner can attract. The affiliates with a low traffic volume can also become a great source for your actual sales among the loyal and active audience.
Related: 3 Tips to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
4. Sharing your brand’s values with partners
The affiliates will recommend your service to their audience, so they should be aware of your brand values. A simple solution is to create a promo or landing page to share with potential partners. On this page, you can provide product features, strengths, tips, etc. Go even further, and create a media kit with a detailed description. But remember, not all the affiliates are willing to go through a 30-page document. So be sure to create a summary that includes all the basics.
5. Analyze the efficiency of the campaign
Usually, at the launch of an affiliate campaign, it’s enough to provide partners with affiliate links. By using them, an affiliate would provide and drive traffic to your site or link for app download. Efficient cooperation can also encourage other ways to contact the audience in the future as well. It could be such effective formats as search forms, banners or APIs. While affiliate partners attract their audience, your task is to analyze the quality of incoming traffic.
The essential point of the first stage is to inspect the affiliate campaign’s effectiveness (to improve it for the future). The initial traffic flow and sales will indicate further actions to be done. For example, you can try reaching partners with different target audiences or using additional tools to attract a new audience yourself. You could also try changing program conditions or pushing extra promotions. Traffic analysis is an everlasting process for the affiliate program optimization, as well as the identification of anomalies and possible violations on the partner’s part.
Related: How Affiliate Marketing Can Work for Entrepreneurs
Affiliate marketing is not a one-shot game. So be prepared for different experiments with advertising formats and channels. Perhaps, you would figure out that social media promotion is a better way than traffic from travel blogs or vice versa.
This process demands flexibility, constant self-improvement and deep analysis of audience behavior. Don’t panic if the first results of the campaign don’t match your expectations. Launching an affiliate program is just the beginning of a long journey. Affiliate marketing is, in our humble experience, the most cost-effective marketing channel worth taking a chance on.