How to Use Affiliate Partnerships to Boost Your Business
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re always looking for ways to generate more revenue in your business. But only if it doesn’t require you to trade your precious time for extra revenue, right?
Here’s the thing, your business needs more than one income stream. Think about it, one of the oldest sayings about wealth is, “The average millionaire has seven income streams.”
If you study wealthy and successful people, they all have multiple streams of income. The same goes when you study successful businesses as well, most don’t rely on one product. You should do the same in your online business. But I’m not asking you to go out and make more products or services.
There is one method that is great for online entrepreneurs that doesn’t require a ton of time but can have huge results – affiliate marketing. In this week’s post, we’ll cover what is affiliate marketing, how it works, how to create mutually beneficial partnerships with affiliates, and a lot more. Even if you’re just a beginner, you can use this post to become an affiliate and grow your business.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
So what is affiliate marketing anyway?
Here is a quick definition from MarketingTerms.com, “Revenue sharing between online advertisers/merchants and online publishers/salespeople, whereby compensation is based on performance measures, typically in the form of sales, clicks, registrations, or a hybrid model.”
In a very simple sense, you promote a product or service to a group of people (usually your email list, social media followers, etc.). If one of the people you refer makes the necessary conversion (usually purchasing an offer, booking an appointment, entering their email address, etc.), you get rewarded from it in the form of commission.
Affiliate marketing has been around for decades and is a great way to earn a small commission for promoting products or services you believe in. Affiliate marketing is common among bloggers, YouTubers, e-commerce stores and other online businesses.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
So how does affiliate marketing work anyways?
Here is a 5-step system:
- Step One: Find Affiliates. In this stage, you research to find companies that you think would be a good fit to promote their product or service.
- Step Two: Find Products. In the second stage, you find specific products or services that you can promote from step one. Some businesses might have an array of products, while others might only offer one or two core products.
- Step Three: Promote Products. This is where you actively promote the products via email marketing, paid advertising, social media and more. You refer everyone to a specific link that is given to you by the affiliate.
- Step Four: Track Sales. Once you promote to your audience, then you will track your sales (usually in some sort of affiliate dashboard) to see who has made the necessary conversion. Every affiliate partner is different but this is a great way to learn more about what’s working (and what’s not) in your marketing efforts.
- Step Five: Earn Commissions. The final step is simple – getting paid for your hard work! This is usually done within a certain window of time (30, 60, or 90 days are common). Some payouts are small while others are $1,000+ per referral.
As an online entrepreneur, you can promote affiliates or you can work with them to help sell your offers. Here are two examples of successful affiliate marketers.
Example #1: Amy Porterfield
The first example is Amy Porterfield, one of our top EasyWebinar users who partners with affiliates to promote her signature course, Digital Course Academy.
This program teaches people how to create and sell online courses based on their expertise. This program is $1,997, and she actively uses affiliates to help her promote during her yearly launch.
As an affiliate, you earn 50% commission – that’s nearly $1,000 for referring someone who buys her program. She provides all affiliates tons of helpful resources, a preview of the course, and other collateral to make it easy for affiliates to promote. Other big online entrepreneurs like James Wedmore, Stu McClaren, and more use this form of affiliate marketing in their business.
Example #2 – Pat Flynn
When you think of affiliate marketing, it’s hard not to bring up Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. Pat has been running a 7-figure business for years and a good chunk of that revenue comes from affiliate marketing.
While Amy uses affiliate marketing to promote her digital products, Pat uses affiliate marketing from an affiliate standpoint for his blog, podcast, and more. For example, in his epic blog posts, he has affiliate links sprinkled throughout the content. If a reader clicks and buys something (ex. a product on Amazon, sign up for a website provider he recommends, etc.) he earns a commission.
The same goes for his podcast, Smart Passive Income. In certain episodes and show notes, he will link to his affiliate partners. If a listener of the show clicks and converts, he earns a commission from the transaction.
These are just a few examples of how to use affiliate marketing in your business.
Benefits of Having Affiliate Relationships
As you can tell from these two examples, affiliate marketing can help grow your business without a ton of effort. Here’s a closer look about the two main ways to use affiliate marketing in your business:
1. Become An Affiliate
The first way is to become an affiliate for other people’s products or services. In the case of Amy’s example, you can become an affiliate and earn a commission for promoting her content.
There is usually less work involved on your end when you are an affiliate for others. One piece of advice, you only want to work with brands and products that you trust and recommend. Otherwise, you can lose trust with your audience if you’re offering them any and everything.
2. Partner With Affiliates
The other way to make the most of affiliate marketing is to partner with affiliates. For example, if you have an online course, you can find people to promote your offers to their audience. They will get a commission (usually 50% or more) to actively promote your offer.
Partnering with affiliates does require more work on your end as you have to set up a system for tracking, find partners, set up a payment system, etc. But it’s a great way to get more leads, grow your business, and work with awesome entrepreneurs or brands.
The cool thing is that you can use affiliate marketing to promote products and services or use them to incentivize other people to share your products as well. Or, you can use it both – making it a true win-win scenario. Not to mention, you can create meaningful relationships with fellow marketers, entrepreneurs, and businesses.
Best Practices For Successful Affiliate Relationships
When you become an affiliate for others, the process is pretty straightforward. They usually have you sign a contract that defines the terms, payments, etc. Then they will give you affiliate links and other materials to help you promote their offer(s).
But if you’re the one who is recruiting affiliates, there are some additional steps required on your end. Here’s some best practices to help you get started.
What to Do Before Finding Affiliate Partners
So what should you have in place before signing a partner anyways?
- Step 1: Create an Affiliate Agreement: This will detail the affiliate promotion, conversions, payments, length of time for the promotion, etc.
- Step 2: Establish an Affiliate Commission Payout: Usually 50% is common practice (as affiliates need an incentive to promote it) but it’s your call. Also, clarify if affiliates get a commission for any upsells or downsells as well.
- Step 3: Setup Payment: Clarify payment processor (ex. Stripe, PayPal, etc.), the payment timeline (ex. 30 days, 60 days, etc.) and any other details.
Once you have these three steps in place, then you can start reaching out to find partners.
What To Provide Your Partners
The goal of the affiliate is to make it easy for partners to promote your offer.
The more steps affiliates have to take, the less likely they will, which is a lose-lose situation. Not only will they not promote it properly but you’ll get fewer sales, which means they might not promote your offer in the future.
Here’s what you should provide your affiliate partners to help them market your offer easily:
Access to the Program (or a Demo)
It’s hard to effectively promote an offer if you don’t understand what it is or the results it will provide people who sign up. For example, if you have partners promoting an online course, give them a demo of the course, so they can learn more about it.
If you don’t want to give them full access, you can do what Amy Porterfield does and give them a module of the course. Or, you can film a Loom video with you discussing what’s included in the program.
The second thing you want to provide for affiliate partners is a hub where they can get their links, best practices, and more. A lot of online course providers (like Kajabi or Teachable) make this simple so partners can easily access their affiliate links.
To go one step further, you might also want to provide a best-practices document. This could be a shared document among all affiliates and include important dates (like cart open, cart close, etc.) and what has worked well for past affiliates. It could also include testimonials from past students that affiliates can use in their marketing efforts.
This document should evolve as you run more promotions and learn more about what’s working and what’s not. Lastly, make sure this is easy to navigate so affiliates don’t have to check several websites/documents regularly.
The final item that you want to provide affiliate partners is plenty of collateral to make it easy for them to promote your offer. This will differ for every business but here are some ideas that I’ve seen being an affiliate for others:
- Email swipe copy: Writing high-converting emails is time-consuming for most people. Keeping with the theme of “making it easy” for affiliates, provide them high-converting sales copy that you or a copywriter creates. Ideally, you want several emails about FAQs, handling objections, the offer itself, etc. This way they can plug the email into their software and tweak as needed for their audience.
- Social media photos/videos: If you’re actively promoting your offer on social media already, provide them with program images or videos that they can use on different platforms.
- Paid ad ideas: While email copy is great, don’t forget about potential ideas for paid ad copy as well. You can also give affiliates some tips on what type of ads work (and what doesn’t) so they can use paid ads.
- Coaching calls: Another effective strategy is to set up a video meeting with affiliates to review your promotion or launch and answer any questions.
- Facebook group: If you get a lot of affiliate partners, you can also have a shared Facebook group as well. Inside the group affiliates can share wins, what’s working, and create friendly competitions for the top affiliates.
Creating Long Term Relationships with Affiliates
The final step is to create amazing relationships with your partners for the long-term. You want to make sure they keep promoting your offers for years to come so you aren’t constantly seeking out new partners. Throw in extra bonuses like paid trips, vouchers, or cash prizes to keep them motivated.
Finally, as you start to build an affiliate army, you might want to hire a virtual assistant or team member to help manage everyone. This way, one person can work directly with all affiliates to address any issues, get feedback, and not have to deal with multiple points of contact.
Affiliate marketing is a great tool to help you grow your business without a ton of extra work. You can do this two main ways: become an affiliate (less work is required) or you can recruit affiliates to promote your offers (more work but bigger payouts).
If you’re building an affiliate army, go above and beyond to make it easy for them to promote your offers. Not only will this build trust in promoting your offer but it will make them more likely to promote your offers for years to come.
If you’re promoting other people’s offers, make sure that you aren’t spamming your audience or followers consistently with offers. Instead, choose your affiliate partners carefully and find the offers where both of you can benefit from the relationship.
With either strategy, if things go well, you can run collaborations for years to come and it can become an integral part of your business.
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