Advertisers can use affiliate marketing to reach new, niche audiences across the web and boost revenue at scale. Affiliate marketing has the power to drive an impressive average return on ad spend (ROAS) of 12:1, according to a report by the Performance Marketing Association.
So, why aren’t more advertisers harnessing the many benefits of affiliate marketing?
According to that same report, affiliate marketing investments yielded $71 billion in US e-commerce sales in 2021. And spend increased by a whopping 47% from 2018 to 2021. Yet, eMarketer found that 28% of marketing executives still don’t know the effect that affiliate marketing has on their revenue.
So, how can more advertisers grow their affiliate marketing businesses, overcome common challenges, and increase performance results?
That’s where this guide comes in.
Here, we’ll dive into effective growth strategies and solutions for long-term success in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Overview
Affiliate marketing is the process of partnering with publishers to promote products and drive leads and sales. Affiliate links can be shared across a range of publisher properties, including websites, email newsletters, social media channels, and blogs.
A retailer of athletic wear, for example, might partner with sports and fitness blogs to include product links within their posts. Each time a reader clicks a promoted link or goes on to make a purchase, the publisher earns a commission. And the advertiser, of course, earns a qualified lead.
Understanding Affiliate Marketing
It’s important to understand the different elements of an affiliate marketing model. For example, there are four key players involved in any affiliate marketing strategy:
- Advertiser. The company or individual looking to sell a product or service.
- Publisher/affiliate. The company or individual offering to promote that product or service to their audience.
- Platform. The tool that automatically connects advertisers and publishers to find the right ad placements and optimize results. Learn more about affiliate marketing tools for beginners.
- Customer. The person who consumes the publisher’s content, engages with the affiliate ad, and ideally purchases the promoted product.
There are many potential benefits of affiliate marketing for advertisers, such as:
- Increased performance results. The affiliate marketing model is performance-based. Meaning, the end goal isn’t just raising awareness but generating leads and sales. And, depending on the terms of their partnership, the advertiser only pays when the publisher is able to deliver clicks or purchases.
- Expanded reach. Instead of building their own customer base from scratch, advertisers can tap into existing audiences from established publishers.
- Improved trust and credibility. By teaming up with trusted publishers, advertisers can boost their own credibility and start building long-term customer relationships. IAB calls this the “News Trust Halo” effect. They found that consumers are 45% more likely to visit a brand’s website after seeing their ad on a favorite news outlet.
Growth Strategies for Scaling Affiliate Marketing Business
As you get started with affiliate marketing, you might partner with a few publisher sites in your niche. However, it’s important to scale your affiliate marketing business to continue expanding your reach, driving awareness, and increasing sales.
To help, let’s break down top affiliate marketing practices to fuel growth.
Diversifying Affiliate Programs
There are multiple affiliate networks and programs to choose from, such as ClickBank and Perform[cb]. Each program offers its own targeting capabilities, publisher partners, and niche audiences. So, if your affiliate results are hitting a plateau, try to diversify affiliate programs to expand your reach.
You can use niche-specific affiliate programs, for example, to build awareness among specific customer communities. Or you can use a more expansive affiliate network to cast a wider net and optimize your targeting as needed.
Expanding Product or Service Offerings
Maybe you’ve oversaturated the market with one or two bestselling products. Now you can try to expand your offerings and create campaigns for additional products in your portfolio.
Not sure which products to promote? Conduct market research to assess customer demands and identify key trends. Also, build strategic partnerships with publishers in your industry, and ask what types of content their readers are most interested in.
Expanding Geographical Reach
As the real estate agents’ mantra goes, “Location, location, location.”” For affiliate advertisers, that means if you’ve exhausted a certain market, try targeting international markets with geo targeting tools. You can add overseas shipping quotes to your e-commerce pages, for instance, and reach global audiences with your ads.
Just remember to research the unique languages, cultural barriers, and pain points of each market ahead of time. This way, you can adapt your local marketing strategies accordingly and speak to each audience’s specific needs and preferences.
Challenges in Scaling Affiliate Marketing Business
Affiliate marketing can be easy to set up with the right tools and strategies. However, it’s important to be prepared for certain challenges as you continue to scale your campaigns and optimize results.
Some notable challenges of affiliate marketing include:
Managing Affiliate Relationships
Managing affiliate relationships can be tricky. But done right, they can yield win-win situations for both advertisers and publishers.
Be sure to set transparent terms and expectations with your partners ahead of time. For example, decide on fair commission structures for both parties. Clearly determine how long each ad will run for. Decide on distribution channels, such as blogs, websites, and social platforms. And keep communication open as campaigns run to continue building strong partnerships.
Maintaining Compliance and Regulatory Standards
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sets compliance rules and regulations for affiliate marketing. It’s crucial that advertisers and publishers adhere to these FTC guidelines with their campaigns. For instance, the FTC states that affiliate publishers and retailers must clearly disclose their relationships to readers with disclaimers like: “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.”
Advertisers and publishers must also adhere to data privacy laws, such as those set by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), to protect customer information.
Tracking and Analyzing Performance
Implement robust tracking and reporting systems for analyzing ROI in real time. For instance, you might want to track impressions, clickthrough rates, leads, and sales. You’ll also want to keep an eye on spend with metrics like cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition.
Publisher partners and affiliate networks should provide these analytics so you can continue tracking performance as campaigns run. With this information at your fingertips, you can make data-driven decisions to help optimize campaigns and enhance results.
Learn more about how to measure content marketing ROI with key metrics.
Competing in a Crowded Market
Customers have a nearly endless supply of organic and promoted content to consume on the web. So, what makes your brand and product different? And what steps can you take to compete in such a crowded market?
Start by identifying your unique selling propositions (USPs) — those features that really convey your value and help your brand stand out from competitors. Maybe your products are hand-made and high-quality, for instance. Maybe you offer affordable pricing and stellar customer service. Or maybe your business is a local favorite with a longstanding presence in the community.
Whatever your USPs are, incorporate them into your affiliate campaigns and landing pages. And clearly communicate them throughout the customer journey to stay top-of-mind.
Scale Your Affiliate Marketing Business with Taboola
As affiliate marketing continues to gain popularity, advertisers will need the right strategies to stay ahead of the game and scale their campaigns.
That’s where Taboola can help. A leading content recommendation platform, Taboola offers a massive global reach of 500 million daily active users across over 9,000 premium sites. Taboola is also the exclusive native advertising partner for all of Yahoo’s digital properties, which reach nearly 900 million monthly active users worldwide across key verticals.
As ClickBank found, Taboola has driven double-digit growth across affiliate niches like health and fitness, online education, and finance. Most importantly, we provide the tools to help you reach the right customers with content that meets their interests. So you can continue to navigate the affiliate landscape with confidence and keep driving results.
Ready to scale your campaigns across the open web? Learn more about affiliate marketing with Taboola.