Increase Affiliate Revenue
The fundamental scalability of eCommerce is one of its biggest selling points (pun partially intended). Not only can anyone with a basic business idea make it a reality through building a store in a matter of days (or even hours), but they can also pursue a much grander ambition through scaling that business all the way to the enterprise level.
There are numerous factors that go into this, though and many possible revenue streams that can be brought to bear. One such stream that can be highly effective is affiliate marketing. By offering a reward of some kind to anyone who drives a sale for your business, you can significantly increase your revenue in a very cost-effective way.
How far can you take your affiliate marketing? Well, it has a lot of scopes, so there’s every chance that you’re not currently maxing out your return. So let’s look at 7 ways in which a scaling eCommerce brand can increase affiliate revenue:
Stock more suitable products
Some products are much better fits for the affiliate marketing model than others: consequently, the simplest method for picking up more sales is updating your product lineup accordingly. Think about not only what might catch someone’s attention while reading a social media update or a blog post, but also what might serve as the core of great content.
Here’s an example. Suppose that you’re running a T-shirt business, and you sell plenty of plain tees. So you reason that it makes sense to encourage your affiliates to link to them. You later realize, however, that there’s rarely an occasion to discuss (let alone promote) plain tees. People don’t click on the links, so you don’t make any extra sales.
With some simple additions to your inventory, you could achieve much greater performance. Something that works well is a novelty — anything that sticks out and gets attention is great fodder for affiliate marketing. Why not add a polka-dot shirt to your product lineup? It won’t cost you anything if you use a print-on-demand service, and it’ll be more interesting to write about.
Reach out to hyper-relevant influencers
Influencer marketing attracts a lot of criticism, and rightfully so. It can be horribly abused, with popular online figures claiming to love products they’ve clearly never used. It’s particularly grim when influencers with very young fanbases irresponsibly promote products that are snake oil solutions at best and dangerous at worst (as happened with Flat Tummy Tea).
But when it’s used sensibly, it can be good for everyone. Here’s the ideal scenario: you reach out to an influencer and send them a product sample. They then rate it very highly and agree to promote it in good conscience. You profit from the resulting sales, they profit from their commission, and their followers profit from getting a relevant recommendation.
You’ll need to do some social media research in your industry to find the best people to approach. Bear in mind that the larger someone’s fanbase is, the more likely they are to have affiliate agreements and to expect much more extensive compensation. You may be better served looking for influencers on the rise (cheaper and easier to work with).
Focus on earning customer loyalty
Notable influencers can be very useful, but the best affiliate marketers are people who truly love your products because they come across as completely genuine when praising your company — after all, they are. Authenticity is a prime factor in a digital landscape of disingenuous peddling, and a potent tool to have. One of the smartest things you can do, then, is to focus on making your customers happy and building up your brand.
Plenty of companies make it seem awkward, but there’s no complex formula involved. Just treat your customers with empathy, care, and patience. Update them on what’s happening with your business. Offer them good prices. Source the products they want. Support them throughout their customer journeys with excellent service. When in doubt, listen to their feedback.
If you haven’t been doing this, then you won’t get results overnight. It might be six months to a year before you see a difference. But as long as you clearly offer a rewarding affiliate scheme, you should eventually find that many more people are interested in getting involved. More affiliate marketers (with far more enthusiasm) means more sales.
Make the most of seasons and events
Certain times of the year push up interest in eCommerce in general. Those are seasonal shifts and occasions (Christmas, Halloween, the advent of summer, etc.) and notable events in the public consciousness (the Super Bowl, the Olympics, college graduation, etc.). Because of this, you can get a lot done with well-timed affiliate marketing.
There’s a clear precedent for thrown-together festive campaigns delivering in a big way (case in point), so Christmas is the perfect time to give it a try by investing in getting affiliate links and content for your festive products. And the more you do on social media to showcase your brand’s Christmas spirit, the more it will encourage people to participate in your marketing and increase affiliate revenue. Recognition is a big part of affiliate marketing. There’s safety in numbers, so promoting something that others are also promoting feels less risky.
Take advantage of available tools
By now, affiliate marketing has been around for long enough that it isn’t some covert practice negotiated behind the scenes. It’s a common method that everyone (sellers and shoppers alike) understands, and no one inherently objects to it — shoppers will hate bad affiliate marketing, but that’s perfectly reasonable.
The smart move, then, is to take advantage of any and all tools available to you. Instead of manually arranging deals with influencers, for instance, you can use a comprehensive suite such as Refersion. Combine the right functions with the necessary compatibility to fit neatly alongside your current system. For example, Refersion will work with everything from automated subscription managers to eCommerce services. This way, you greatly enhance your ability to run affiliate campaigns.
You can also use tools to help identify influencers in the first place. HypeAuditor, for instance, uses machine learning to rank Instagram influencers within your chosen categories, and there are comparable solutions for the other social media channels.
Optimize your commission levels
Have you considered the possibility that you’re paying your affiliates too much or too little? If your rates are excessive, you’re throwing away money by cutting your profit margin on every sale. If your rates are insufficient, you’re losing out on valuable affiliate relationships by not convincing influencers that you’re worth their time.
You need to put some time into figuring out exactly how much you should be offering. There are many relevant factors, including products you sell, the popularity of your brand, and how much money you’re making. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing. Look at their affiliate schemes and ensure that yours is competitive at the very least so that you are able to increase affiliate revenue.
Market third-party items through your blog
Everything we’ve looked at so far has been about making money through having other people driving sales through affiliate links to your products. However, that isn’t the only way in which you can bring in affiliate revenue. You can also serve as an affiliate marketer in your own right.
How? Well, this admittedly depends on how much of an online presence you maintain. If you just have an online store, then this isn’t going to work — but if you also have active social media channels and a thriving blog, you have the opportunity to make money through driving sales for companies that don’t directly compete with you.
Simply add a note that you may sometimes include affiliate links in your blog, and keep an eye out for products that might interest your followers but won’t conflict with anything you sell. For instance, if you sold mainly car accessories (steering wheel covers, air fresheners, etc.), you could promote another company’s car maintenance guides, or other car-related items not covered by your inventory.
Being able to increase affiliate revenue is a great addition to any eCommerce operation and using one or more of these tactics, you should be able to significantly increase your affiliate sales. Work them into your strategy and see how you fare.
This guest article was written by Kayleigh Alexandra of microstartups.org.