Have you ever thought what Affiliate marketing integration with your service/product can do for you business? Like you, even I had no idea what it could do. Though, I heard a lot of great things about it & finally gave a shot to integrate affiliate marketing with my WordPress plugins buiness. In simple words. this post is case study of my experience of implementing affiliate program for my digital products.
I wouldn’t try to paint my brand into a great pacture rather I would share up’s & down’s after implementing affiliate program for my product. So grab a cup of cofee & get ready to learn something which costed my money & considerable time to understand the truth of affiliate marketing from a product owner perspective.
Affiliate marketing business can be similar to a roller coaster ride. It can be full of ups and downs both for the product owner and the affiliate marketer.
As a product owner, we (Plugmatter team) have been riding this affiliate marketing “roller coaster” for 2 to 3 years for our premium WordPress plugin business and it’s been a quite a journey – some of it pleasant, some of it unpleasant, but most of it quite rewarding.
After we launched our first plugin, the Optin Feature Box, we got hooked on to the idea of building an army of affiliates to promote our plugins.
Why affiliate marketing?
Well, list building has always been bloggers’ favorite subject. Many top affiliate marketers write all kinds of stuff about list building and email marketing on their blogs. And we thought our product – being a list building tool – is the perfect bait to rope in few affiliates to review our product in exchange of some commission.
Here’s how we proceeded…
We researched bloggers who were specifically reviewing WordPress plugins and had affiliate links in their Call to Actions. The good news was – almost every blogger who reviewed WordPress plugins wrote about opt-in plugins too. It’s the same even today.
And we thought it would be a cakewalk.
The first email we sent was to The Blogging Wizard: Adam Connell. However, it was a bummer! We asked for a review without mentioning anything about the commission.
But, Adam was kind enough to advise us to offer commissions to everybody who we expect to review our product.
After gaining our first affiliate to promote our product, we began to use various methods to attract more; after all, we wanted an army, not just a platoon.
And although building that army has not been easy, it has been satisfying. We now have 200+ affiliates as our marketing partners.
So, let’s dive in…
I have decided to split this post into three parts:
Tips for product owners
Many product owners fail to leverage affiliate marketing to it’s fullest potential, due to various reasons. Let’s spend some time on how these plugin / theme developers, SaaS companies, etc. can get the most out of it.
Tips for affiliate marketers
We all have learnt about affiliate marketing from experts like Harsh Agarwal, but rarely do we get to learn it from a product owner’s point of view. Today, you’ll do just that.
General Tips on Affiliate Marketing
I will end up this post by putting across my thoughts on affiliate marketing in general and how it fares to few other popular online marketing methodologies.
Affiliate marketing Tips For Product Owners
1. The 80/20 Truth In Affiliate Marketing and How to Go About It
When you look at overall statistics in affiliate marketing programs, 80% of affiliate sales comes from 20% of the affiliates. While this may seem like a crazy percentage, it is a fact. 80% of your affiliates will do very little, or nothing at all that contributes to sales.
So the key to getting the most out of it is: focus more on those 20% affiliates and build better relationships. Here are some great ways you can do that:
With every new affiliate, send him a welcome email. Tell him what’s in it for him, as an affiliate. Learn what his goals are with becoming our affiliate. Talk to him about the ways he intends to promote your product. Ask him questions about his business plans, blog etc. Just build better relationships.
Engage with them on social media. We created a Twitter list of our affiliates on Twitter, and we regularly keep in touch with them. You should do the same on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any of the other social locations. You can just send them a DM or simply say hi and ask how their business is doing.
Emailing your affiliate marketer personally after sending their affiliate payment is a small gesture, but it can mean a lot to them. And can keep you regularly in touch with them.
Share ideas you have with your affiliate marketers on how they can improve their affiliate business income, more specifically, how they can generate more sales for you.
Most product owners rely on affiliates’ network, ideas, strategies to get more affiliate sales but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whatever sales strategy you plan on, you can share with your affiliate too. If it sounds interesting and feasible to him, he’ll most likely join the bandwagon.
Finally, go that extra mile by offering your best affiliate marketers a higher commission in exchange for performing extra promotional tasks for your product.
Some examples could be:
- Writing a guest post that promotes your product
- Writing a case study on your products abilities
- Possibly doing a video or podcast on how to use the product.
2. Move Your Affiliate Marketer Beyond The One-Time Review
We noticed in a short span that most affiliates write a one-time review, and they begin to make money. But, they do not promote the product further. In fact, in most cases, they simply did not know what else to do to promote the product. What we did, and what you can do is help them develop a marketing plan.
Immediately when they sign up as an affiliate marketer, ask them what their affiliate marketing plan is.
Tell your affiliate marketer the sales strategies that have worked for you, and ask them if they would be willing to try them.
You can help them by providing all the necessary materials they need. Always know that your affiliate marketers are busy, and any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated by your affiliate marketer. Some ways you can help your affiliate save time could be:
Show them a demo video review you created instead of asking them to try it out. Tell them it really doesn’t have to be too detailed. We showed our affiliates a quick demo video of the optin feature box we created. This gave them the needed information they could use.
For every affiliate that we sign-up with, we offer this quick product demo done by one of our other affiliates; it aptly describes the feature box plugin:
When your affiliate marketer agrees to write, supply them with several potential outlines for the review. But, before doing so, study their previous reviews to understand their style of writing.
Those individuals who have an affiliate marketing business are very busy people. So, it’s best to reduce their efforts as much as possible to get your products reviewed.
3. Manage Your Affiliate Marketing With A Professional Tool
We found that building an army of affiliate marketers can be a nightmare in terms of management without the proper tools to do so.
There are many types of small time affiliate marketing tools that do not provide enough features to manage affiliates as comprehensively as Post Affiliate Pro does. The features that we use the most from the tool; and perhaps will be helpful to others as well are:
- Automatic refund update: As soon as we issue a refund to our users, it updates the payment status to refunded.
- Trends Report: The tools allows us to have a quick glance at the trends happening with our sales number of impressions, clicks, affiliate sales, commissions, etc.
Tips For Affiliate Marketers
Starting an affiliate marketing business is a wise decision. It’s completely residual (especially if the promotion is done well), and as automated as it can get.
Following these tips can help you be successful doing so.
1. Understand That Affiliate Marketing Can Be Your Most Automated System To Make Money
You can perform some simple tasks and your affiliate marketing business can become a residual income.
I mentioned The Blogging Wizard: Adam Connell earlier in this post. We have been paying him affiliate commissions, along with some other bloggers for reviews that were written in early 2014.
You can also receive residual commissions by promoting other people’s or businesses products. So, it is wise that before you become an affiliate of a product, you should research and understand their payment terms.
Another perfect example is the blog post; Harsh wrote about our document importer; that post has been bringing maximum sales for a long time, and supplying Harsh with commissions from those sales.
Harsh wrote an ebook called Affiliate Marketing: A-Z Guide For Beginners.
And I strongly recommend this book, as it will give you the complete ins and outs of affiliate marketing.
He tells you how to get started with an affiliate marketing business and the most profitable affiliate programs to join.
He also gives some expert tips on promoting the products, and getting paid. In short, it’s a “must-read” if you aspire to be a successful affiliate marketer.
2. Get Serious About Learning / Using Affiliate Marketing
I have discovered many “would be” affiliate marketers who are not serious about their business. Yes, you can write one blog post and get commissions of the sales it generates, but why stop at one? Will that commission provide enough income to suffice?
Look at any successful affiliate marketer, and you will see that no matter how much revenue is coming in, they do not stop marketing, the same product again and again.
Here’s how Pat Flynn promotes LeadPages multiple times, like within his posts, webinar and more about rapid list building, landing pages and conversion optimization.
Your affiliate marketing business should be run with that same mindset.
So, how to be a serious affiliate marketer?
Don’t focus on short-term results. Think about affiliate results in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and even 10+ years. Have you went back and edited those affiliate marketing blog posts to fit in this time period?
The best way to grow your affiliate marketing business is to build a solid audience for your blog.
Learn the whats, wheres, whys, hows and most importantly, the who’s who of affiliate marketing.
Read, watch and learn, because there is always something new to learn in affiliate marketing, just like in any other business.
3. Use Innovative Techniques to Promote Affiliate Products
The most successful affiliate marketers use innovative techniques in promoting the products or services. One innovative method is using in-content promotion of affiliate products.
By adding a contextual reference to the blog post with your affiliate link, you will most likely get clicks from the readers.
The idea is to basically create marketing, traffic generating systems and then nurture them.
And your blog could be biggest traffic channel for your affiliate product.
Ultimately, each affiliate product will become an automatic revenue generating machine.
4. Do Not Promote Multiple Similar Products
I have watched affiliate marketers promoting 5-10 products that all are similar, but from different companies. This can confuse your audience, and can also give the impression that you are just in it for commissions, and not to actually help the readers.
Instead of money, focus should be on the most value that a particular product provides.
If two products cater to the same problem, but are completely different in how they work, have different USPs, go for it.
5. Use Banner Ads
Yes, it is an obvious choice, but it would surprise you how many affiliate marketers do not use their banner space to promote affiliate products.
6. Get In During the Launch
Some of the best affiliate action can come immediately upon the launch of a product or service. This is where your affiliate marketing business can differ from many other types of businesses.
Most businesses will not work with a vendor or another company that is new. They want to know that the business and product are going to survive.
While affiliate marketers do want the products to survive, you need not let that worry you. Jump in at product launch, because that is normally when the biggest percentage of sales happen.
Affiliate Marketing Versus Other Marketing Methods
There are many types of marketing methods, but when we look at the big picture, affiliate marketing is the best to create automated income. With affiliate marketing, as soon as a visitor clicks on the affiliate link – no matter how many days later he purchases the product, it will still be considered as an affiliate sale, entitling you for a commission.
Visitors may not purchase the first visit, or even the second or third, but at some point, that product you have affiliated with may become enticing.
Affiliate marketing provides an army of promoters to the product owners whereas other strategies like email marketing requires them to have them own audience.
Now, I’m totally for list building and email marketing. I think it’s the most powerful strategy. But affiliate marketing could be started by writing few simple emails.
Content marketing and other marketing methods require way more efforts, which most people cannot afford in the early stage of your product launch.
When you really look at the complete picture, having an affiliate marketing business makes good sense. It is a passive income that will pay for months and even years to come.
I want to reiterate, to learn more about affiliate marketing, I suggest you to follow Harsh’s advice, and even download his ebook: Affiliate Marketing: A-Z Guide For Beginners. You will be glad you did.