What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is where you can earn a commission for marketing someone else’s product. Revenue driven through the affiliate marketing channel has grown 10 per cent annually since 2015. More and more brands are recognising its value as a low-cost performance marketing strategy. But what exactly does it entail?
#1 – First, a brand needs to create an affiliate programme. This will typically be done through a network. Networks allow the brand to create trackable affiliate links and approve third-party websites (aka affiliates, publishers, partners, associates) to promote their company.
#2 – The approved affiliates use the link on their own platform and create content that encourages their audience to shop through their platform. When a customer clicks on their link to the brand and makes a purchase, the affiliate receives a commission.
Creating an affiliate site can be an easy way to earn some extra cash on the side, but it also has the potential to blossom into your full-time business.
I’m sold – how do I create an affiliate site?
Before beginning your journey as an affiliate marketer, you need to determine how your site will promote brands effectively.
What will make my site suitable for affiliate marketing?
If you’re already familiar with the concept of affiliates, you may only be familiar with a certain type of affiliate. However, the diversity of the affiliate space has expanded as the channel has grown, with each partner type playing an important role in a brand’s performance.
Examples of affiliate types
Here are some examples of affiliate types. This list is not exhaustive. There’s an opportunity to get really creative here, especially if you want your site to stand out.
- Cashback: these sites promote brands on their site and divert either all or some of their commission back to customers. Many have their own unique audience and offer brands additional opportunities to reach this customer base in exchange for fixed fees. TopCashback and Quidco are two of the UK’s largest cashback publishers
- Comparison: these sites use brands’ product feeds to offer customers a platform to compare products based on price, reviews, and other criteria. Broadband Genie has been an active comparison site for over 15 years, providing customers with a platform to compare broadband deals and offers exclusive deals and vouchers with each purchase
- Editorial/content: these typically come in the form of blogs, online magazines or social media influencers. Editors of these sites will usually need to have a certain level of expertise or interest in a particular vertical, so they can create relevant and valuable content for brands
- Communities and user-generated content: a group of online shoppers, with discussion forums sharing advice and information alongside discounts and deals
What will make you stand out to brands?
You’ve settled on what type of site you’d like to create. Now, you need to determine why a brand would choose to partner with you. One of the largest affiliate networks, Awin, has over 200,000 publishers. Some of the largest publishers now work with hundreds of brands, driving millions in revenue for them. In this increasingly saturated market, how will you stand out?
- Make sure your site is completed and contains up-to-date content when applying to programmes. Many brands will not spend a long time trawling through your site when it comes to reviewing your application. If they come across a broken URL or an empty site it’s unlikely you’ll be approved to use their affiliate links
- Follow up on your application. Larger brands receive dozens of affiliate applications every day. If you don’t want your site to get lost in the melee, find the contact on the brand’s profile and send a personalised message about why you love the brand and think your site would drive them sales
- Provide data. Once your site is more established, ensure you are including appealing metrics about your site in your opening message (e.g. monthly unique visitors, or audience demographics) to encourage the brand to invest in additional promotional opportunities on your site, such as fixed cost placements or gifting. A quick and presentable way to do this is to create a “media pack”. This is essentially a slideshow with the above information and more
- Be flexible and informative. Use your metrics to determine what to charge brands for additional placements on your site. Do your research to understand how much to charge based on the size of your reach but be flexible. Get to know what a brand’s goals/KPIs are and create bespoke exposure packages that you think will drive them best ROI (return on investment). Brands may have strict budgets and if you’re completely unwilling to negotiate, they’ll likely move on to someone who is (but don’t accept less than you’re owed!)
The key takeaway to creating a successful affiliate site is to be proactive, creative and flexible. Ensure you understand the brand you’re promoting if you want to build a mutually beneficial relationship in the long-term.
Great – my site’s ready. Where do I start?
After all that, you’re now ready to become an affiliate marketer. Here are sign-up links to some of the UK’s top networks to get you started:
Laura Dodes is an account manager at digital marketing agency Genie Goals, sister company to broadband comparison site Broadband Genie