How to Use an Affiliate Program to Increase Sales (and Acquire More Leads)

How to Use an Affiliate Program to Increase Sales (and Acquire More Leads)

Affiliate marketing isn’t new, but it’s been enjoying a resurgence lately. Many companies succeed when they enlist affiliates to drive traffic and sales on their behalf. They can be a helpful tool when you’re looking to market your business online.

However, these programs are only effective if you know how to use them correctly. This guide will cover choosing the right affiliate program and utilizing it best to increase sales while growing your list of loyal customers.

What Even Is An Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a marketing tool for businesses to promote their products or services. It is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor, or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts.

Your affiliate partner promotes your products or services in exchange for a commission on the sale.

They can use their blogs, website, or social media channels to promote their products or services. In addition, these affiliates earn a commission when someone clicks on their affiliate links and makes a purchase.

An affiliate program allows you to tap into an enthusiastic audience about your product or service and gain access to new leads. By offering commissions or other incentives, businesses can encourage affiliates to promote their products or services to potential customers. In turn, this can help increase sales and acquire more leads.

The Ins and Outs of Affiliate Marketing

How to Use an Affiliate Program to Increase Sales

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You can find affiliates in any niche, from clothing, housewares, and electronics to music, books, and weight loss programs. The marketer typically provides links, banners, and coupons to the affiliate for inclusion on their website.

Here's a brief overview of the most common types of affiliate marketing programs:

Unattached Affiliate Marketing

An advertising model where the affiliate has no attachment to the product or service, making them unbiased in their promotion and more likely to sell anything they can get their hands on.

This program utilizes affiliates connected to the niche or product they promote because they use and believe in the product. These affiliates will promote only those products that fit their audience’s needs.

Involved Affiliate Marketing

This marketing strategy involves a pre-existing relationship with an affiliate in the advertisement and production of the product they are promoting.

How To Set up an Affiliate Program

By setting up an affiliate program, you can increase sales and acquire more leads. Here's how:  First, identify your affiliates. These people or businesses will promote your products or services in exchange for a commission on each sale they generate.

Next, create specific landing pages for your affiliates.

Specifically, design these pages on your website to convert visitors into leads or customers. Then, make attractive offers for your affiliates to promote.

Make sure these offers are compelling enough that your affiliates want to promote them to their audience. Once your affiliates and proposals get set up, it's time to start promoting your affiliate program.

Advantages of Having an Affiliate Program

Before deciding whether or not to implement an affiliate program, it’s essential to understand why having one can benefit your business. Look at the top reasons you should start an affiliate program.

Enhances Lead Acquisition

It benefits your company to create relationships with those working in the same industry as you. Not only will they be more willing to share your products or services, but they also can share testimonials and helpful information about what it is like to work with your company.

By partnering with other affiliates in your industry, you can reach a larger audience and acquire leads you may have missed. Additionally, affiliates can help to promote your brand and build trust with potential customers.

Improves Sales

The second advantage of having an affiliate program is that it can improve your sales. When you have affiliates promoting your products or services, you are essentially getting advertising from people who are passionate about what they do.

By targeting people interested in what you offer, you can increase the chances that they will visit your site and make a purchase. As a result, the more affiliates you have and the more exposure they get for your business, the better the chance of increasing conversions and sales.

High ROI

With an affiliate program, you only pay your affiliates when they generate sales, so you know that your marketing efforts result in substantial revenue. Plus, since you're only paying for performance, you can rest assured that you use your marketing budget efficiently.

10 Best Practices for Using an Affiliate Program to Increase Sales

By choosing how you structure your affiliate program, you can build a strategic marketing channel to bring new customers through your doors.  With this in mind, here are ten best practices for using an affiliate program to increase sales for your business.

Work With Influencers

Social influencers can be a great way to promote your affiliate marketing business. By working with influencers, you can tap into new affiliate marketing channels and reach a wider audience.

When selecting social influencers to work with, choose ones who align with your brand and have a large following. You also want to ensure that the influencer is active on their social media account and consistently shares content.

If they align with what you're looking for, reach out to them and start a conversation about how you could collaborate on affiliate projects or campaigns. For example, if you're a fashion retailer with several handbags in high demand, you could reach out to a social influencer who shares outfit photos on Instagram.

Since they likely know their target audience quite well, they'll probably be interested in featuring your bags in one of their Instagram posts or stories. You'd then offer them compensation when sales from that post generate revenue from purchases made through your affiliate link.

A/B Test Your Content

Before you start promoting your affiliate program, it's vital to A/B test your content to see what is most effective.  A/B testing means creating two versions of a piece of content for your affiliate lead generation and testing which one performs better.

There are several ways to do this, but the most important thing is to ensure that you're testing the right things. Try different headlines, graphic designs, images, and call-to-actions to find out what works best for your audience. For example, if you're testing out your motion design, make sure that the designs are the only thing that's different between the two versions.

If you want to know which motion design converts more people into leads, make sure there's no difference in the body copy. You can also A/B test longer pieces of content like blog posts by adding a few sentences or paragraphs to each version without changing anything else about the post.

Once you've created two versions of your content and tested them using an affiliate sales goal like signing up for your newsletter, analyze how each version performed to figure out what resonates with your audience.

How to Use an Affiliate Program to Increase Sales

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Optimize Your Landing Pages

Make sure you optimize your landing pages. Use Google Analytics to see which pages get the most traffic and conversion rates and ensure these pages are well-designed and full of valuable content. For instance, if you run a pet food store and want to promote cat food, create a web page about cats.

Keep track of where your sales are coming from by paying attention to statistics like cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per lead (CPL). The CPA is the total amount spent by advertisers divided by the total number of conversions generated by the campaign.

In contrast, CPL measures the total amount spent on developing a lead compared to how much revenue was generated by that lead. With this data, you'll know what methods work best for you and what doesn't work as well.

Use pay-per-click ads, which show at the top or side of Google search results, and come with a cost-per-click model. Be sure you have a blog that generates original valuable content for readers and potential customers.

Optimize your copy to rank high in search engine optimization so people can find them easily when looking for your product or service information. Lastly, utilize images, videos, testimonials, quotes, articles, and other forms of visual content to increase engagement. Don't forget to include calls-to-action on every landing page.

Offer a Competitive Commission Rate

Affiliate commissions are different from the regular sales rep commisions you may be used to, but essentially they work the same way.

Offer competitive referral fees higher than your competitors to attract the best affiliates. A higher commission rate will result in more affiliates wanting to promote your product. Your commission rate payment models should be simple and easy to understand.

You should also consider offering bonuses for affiliate partners who generate a lot of sales. Offer the highest commissions on high-ticket items to incentivize the promotion of these products. It's essential to monitor how many clicks each affiliate generates from their email lists, social media platforms, and newsletters.

Reward those affiliates with greater exposure by sending them a more significant percentage of the overall revenue generated from all sources. Awards are often given out based on performance, and you can award prizes like gift cards or electronics.

You incentivize affiliates to get as many people as possible to sign up for your program. For example, you might give out a $500 Amazon gift card prize to the top-performing affiliate every month.

Start in Your Niche & Pick the Right Affiliates

When you’re first starting, it’s essential to choose an affiliate program that is in your niche. This way, you will be able to target your audience more effectively and pick affiliates more likely to convert.

Additionally, make sure to pick affiliates that offer products or services that complement your own. For example, teaming up with an affiliate that sells green cleaning products would make sense if you sell eco-friendly home goods.

As you grow and evolve as a business, so should your selection of affiliates. You can always change your affiliation list if the right opportunity arises; remember that this may require some time on the back end.

If you want to start fresh, consider creating new partnerships after spending at least six months building relationships with current affiliates. Remember to have specific goals when selecting partners like higher conversion rates, additional exposure, and more.

Make Use of Proven Affiliate Software

You need to use proven affiliate software to make the most of your affiliate program and increase sales. This software will help you track clicks, conversions, and commissions to see what's working and what isn't. Plus, it will automate many tedious tasks that come with managing an affiliate program so that you can focus on growing your business.

To maximize the potential of your affiliate program, use software that is tried and tested. Platforms like Tapfiliate have been explicitly designed with businesses in mind and can help you take advantage of all the features an affiliate program can offer.

Using reliable software can make it easier to keep track of your affiliates' performance and ensure timely payments.  Affiliate software also gives you access to detailed reports that are easy to read and will help you better understand how people are interacting with your site.

When choosing software, look for something that offers a user-friendly interface, plenty of reports, and detailed instructions on how best to manage your affiliate program.

Have a Set Affiliate Agreement

Before you launch your affiliate program, you must have a set agreement to help ensure that both you and your affiliates are on the same page from the start. Plus, having an explicit agreement will help prevent any misunderstandings down the road. It'll also save time should something come up because your contracts will be easier to understand.

Consider affiliates who receive their commission monthly instead of quarterly or annually. Agree on how long affiliates must wait before they can post new content about your company after receiving their commission.

Decide whether or not you're willing to waive payment for specific circumstances, such as when an affiliate has found a bug. Also, decide how you would like your payment structure designed among multiple associates working with one account.

In addition, if you offer bonuses for reaching specific goals, include them in the contract so that everyone knows what they need to do to earn them.

Communicate Clearly With Your Affiliates

Your affiliates are your partners, and you should treat them as such. Be clear about your expectations, what you're willing to offer in terms of commissions, and what promotional activities you want. The more transparent you are, the more likely your affiliates will be successful.

Make it a point to engage with your affiliates regularly via email or a private discussion forum where they can share their successes and get advice from other affiliate marketers.

Communicating frequently will make sure that everyone is on the same page. It will also give you valuable feedback about what's working and what isn't, which in turn helps improve the overall performance of your affiliate program.

In addition, it provides another opportunity to thank your affiliates for all their hard work and dedication since they deserve some appreciation.

Share Content With Your Affiliates

As the merchant, you are responsible for providing your affiliate network with content they can use to promote your products or services. Content could include blog posts, images, infographics, videos, or a simple text link. The more information range you provide, the more likely your affiliates are to generate sales.

Consider providing other materials necessary to succeed, such as product samples, swag items, affiliate management software, and training materials. If you have a particular message or theme for your marketing campaign, share it with your affiliates so they know what to promote and your expectations.

In addition, if you've created a video ad that features someone from within the company talking about why people should buy from you rather than one of your competitors, it would be wise to share this video with your affiliates.

Sharing additional resources will help make them more successful at generating leads.

Keep Track of Your Affiliate's Progress (and Further Incentivize Top Affiliates)

The best way to keep track of your affiliate's progress is by using software that allows you to see how much traffic they are generating, how many sales they are making, and their conversion rate.

Keeping track will allow you to see which affiliates are performing well and which ones may need more help.  It also provides an excellent incentive for the top performers, letting them know how much money they could make.  In turn, this motivates them to do even better.

Even if you have a set commission on each sale, you can always give bonuses or rewards to those who perform the best.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing programs are one of the most cost-effective ways to acquire new customers. They’re also simple to set up, which makes them an excellent tool for growing your business in the early stages when you don’t have time or resources to invest in other strategies.

Make sure you select the right affiliates, provide them with quality products and services, and give them the tools they need to be successful. By following these practices, you can ensure that your affiliate program is highly effective and increases sales significantly.

About the Author: Sam Hops is a content writer for MarketSplash—a digital magazine that covers design, eCommerce, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship-related topics. Sam is passionate about all this digital marketing but has a particular interest in graphic design and social media.