Increase Sales with an Affiliate Program

“Money on my mind, Money on my mind” well Sam Smith apparently had love on his mind while writing the lyrics to this song. However, for a Startup I am sure the thought is a little different. In this case I presume it would be something like this “Sales on my mind, need to increase Revenue everytime”

Have you considered Affiliate Marketing?

Yup, Sales are integral for any Startup business. This is precisely why Startups are working hard on carefully planning their marketing campaigns, and have them optimized to offer better returns. In today’s digital age, it’s expected off companies to resort to online marketing mediums to spread the value their service or product has to offer. However, tight marketing budgets ensue that the campaign is strictly monitored for returns.

Some of the online marketing instruments used and their Pros & Cons with reference to a Startup:

  • Search Engine Optimization
    • Pro – basic need for a business operating online
    • Con – requires an investment of time and a larger chunk of money

  • Search Engine Marketing
    • Pro – offers a Startup maximum control on advertising
    • Con – bidding for result generating keywords is expensive

  • Establishing a Blog
    • Pro – offers a constant flow of relevant Leads and Sales
    • Con –building a readership base and popularity takes time

  • Social Media Marketing
    • Pro – offers the best platform to engage with your audience
    • Con – building a theme for the channel and followers takes time

Given how Performance, with reference to return on advertising spend, and seeing results immediately is paramount for a Startup; adding Affiliate Marketing to your arsenal could help make things a lot more interesting.

A simple definition of Affiliate Marketingthe process of having external individuals or entities promote the value of a company’s product or service for a commission over every action (Lead/Sale) performed.

Why Affiliate Marketing? – It encompasses all the goodness of the marketing methods discussed above. Affiliates are experienced businesses or individuals that own web property that has built popularity over a steady period of time.

For instance, they own Blogs, Coupon Sites, Cash Back Sites, Review Sites, Price Comparison Sites, Create E-Books or White Paper, Email Marketing Lists, Influencers on Social Media and similar. They have already managed to build up essential and relevant traffic to their website. When people land on these websites they don’t really do that because of an advertisement, it happens more naturally since a user would be looking out for specific information regarding a product or service, and happens to come across these websites that help with relevant information. This works well for conversions.

Let’s take an example of a user planning on buying a cell phone. A majority of users in this situation would ideally do a little research before going ahead with their order. They may start by landing on a website that helps with tech specifications regarding the phone, but is that enough to make a buying choice? Not really. They would look out for a website, ideally a Blog, with a real user review detailing the Pros and Cons of the phone. From there the user might just look up a video that visually highlights the benefits of the phone in question. Then progress to a simple price comparison site to consider the options available, and finally a quick search for discount coupons before they place the order.

All of the touch points in the above example include active Affiliates and function differently from advertisements. Now imagine having a set of these guys doing this for your business; best part is you only pay for an action that is defined by you; with Affiliate Marketing that pre-dominantly includes sales. However, companies also look at working on a CPL basis since the relevancy factor is very high given the model that it functions on. Most fortune 500 companies are simultaneously operating Paid Marketing & Affiliate Marketing campaigns since they are mutually exclusive channels, and offer distinct benefits & significant returns

Can I Setup an Affiliate Program? – If you’re a business that transacts online you most certainly can operate your own Affiliate Program. You have the option to set up an Affiliate Program using the assistance of a network, or managing it in-house.

Affiliate Networks – have the necessary software and technology in expediting the startup process.  It also has an inventory of Affiliates that can be actioned immediately at the start of a campaign. However, on the flipside, it could turn out to be an expensive affair for the Startup given the setup and high monthly recurring fee.  Furthermore, the amount of time invested in optimizing a campaign for a Startup is highly subjective given that the networks focus is primarily on the accounts that are currently generating the larger chunk of conversions.

In-House Affiliate Program – this involves purchasing the necessary software, setting it up, customizing campaigns, manually recruiting Affiliates, monitoring sales, processing commissions and similar. This could be a laborious process, but is recommended since it provides the company with direct connect, minus any intermediary, with their Affiliates. The direct connect helps facilitate rapport building, and directly understand the needs of your Affiliate. It helps with tailor building collaterals based on the Affiliates needs which in turn directly impact your conversions. Your Affiliates would love you for that

Affiliate Marketing is being adopted by a majority of online businesses in India. The definite benefits it offers over other online marketing mediums have led companies like Flipkart, Groupon India, Myntra, Amazon India and Snapdeal to ensure that they don’t lose out on a channel that is said to contribute around 15% – 20% (subjective to the market category) of the company’s total sales.

Have you thought about setting up an Affiliate Program for your business? Include your thoughts in the comments section, or Like our Facebook page to participate in discussions with Affiliate Managers from some of the top online businesses existing today.