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Along with growth hacking techniques, Affiliate Marketing was a breakthrough concept some 5 -7 years ago.

For the uninitiated, Affiliate Marketing is essentially providing space for advertising another business on your website/ social media page in return for commission, based on the number of sales/conversions made through clicking on the ad.

The idea behind this is simple - you are the publisher for a brand wanting to leverage your website for ad space, and when you promote their product, often via an affiliate network, you can earn yourself some money if people end up buying.

Affiliate Marketing is based on revenue sharing. If you’re the marketer of a brand and want to push sales, you can offer publishers a financial incentive through an affiliate program. If, for instance your website attracts a lot of visitors and want to make an extra buck, then all you need to do is refer a marketer’s product, act as an influencer of the product and hope that people click on the ad/link and buy it.

A lot of people have quickly bought into the concept since its inception. Reports indicate that the worldwide affiliate marketing industry is worth $6.5 billion across sectors including retail, personal finance, gaming, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation.

Affiliate programs are both consumer-based and B2B oriented. Most affiliate programs such as the popular Amazon Associates Program follows a pay per sale model. Cost Per Click, Cost Per Action and Cost Per Mile payment methods are much rarer.

Parties involved in an Affiliate campaign

The Merchant: The merchant is the brand who is the seller, retailer, or the vendor of a product or service. From sole proprietors & entrepreneurs to start-ups and even established companies, anyone could be a merchant in an affiliate marketing program. All that they need to have is a product to sell and an ability to pay the affiliate.

The Affiliate: Affiliates, also known as publishers can either be individuals or an organisation who generally tend to have a website attracting a large number of visitors. An affiliate promotes one or multiple products and tries to attract and convince potential customers of the value of the merchant’s product to lure them into a purchase.

The Consumer: The end consumer is perhaps the pivot in the Affiliate Marketing program. If the customer isn’t landing on the webpage and considering a purchase, there’s simply no point of the entire Affiliate Program. The affiliate will try to market to the consumer on channels such as a social network, display banners or by using content marketing on a blog.

The Network: Many would question the need of an affiliate network in the transaction. But in most cases, a network works as an intermediary between the advertiser and the publisher. The affiliate network also provides a database of an advertiser’s products to the publishers, from which the publisher usually chooses the product with the highest value to promote.

3 tips to succeed as an Affiliate Marketer

-Choose Your Niche

As an affiliate, it’s sensible to only recommend products that you’re extremely familiar with, those that you’ve used before and have helped you achieve something.

If you’re not confident about the product and don’t feel it will positively help people, it’s better not to recommend and forego the commission. Be mindful to never oversell a product when trying to influence a sale. The way to achieve long-term success is to become a trusted source of information and insight on topics that are a natural fit to refer to, as an affiliate.

-Generate Valuable Content

An effective affiliate campaign shifts away from basic pay-per-click strategies towards content marketing by placing the focus on good content (rather than specific products) to a specific targeted audience. To establish a connect with your readers, viewers and target audience, you must provide compelling information and talk about things that is helpful in a way that it totally captures their attention. This coerces them to keep coming back and helps you establish a level of authority that lets consumers feel comfortable taking action on your affiliate links.

-Cross-Channel Promotions

Sure, writing skills and SEO best practices are crucial to creating a winning content strategy to attract search traffic. But not many of these strategies will succeed without a cross-channel marketing campaign. From building a communications list for direct email marketing, to promoting your content via social channels and online media outreach, the idea is to get all of your actions and efforts together to build your audience and promote the brand.

2 Biggest Mistakes an Affiliate can commit

-Not comparing with competition:

By comparing the “3 Best...” in your blog, you not only help the readers make a choice, but also have your affiliate links there for 3 products instead of just 1. It’s a common mistake made by affiliate marketers to not talk about the product with respect to its competitors. Comparing the benefits of the product with respect to how they outperform competitors is extremely helpful for your readers.

-Making ‘exaggerated’ claims:

In a bid to get quicker sales, exaggerating certain details about the product they are selling might seem tempting, but there is no faster way to destroying your own credibility. These tactics seem might get you results in the short term but in the long term, it’s a ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ strategy.

Making money as an affiliate is an effective strategy for many online entities – however, as straightforward as it is in theory, success is rarely as easy when you implement it. Thinking through a sustainable long-term strategy, devoting resources and time to quality content production and promotion and optimizing with software solutions, you can successfully direct your affiliate marketing program to success.