Affiliate marketing: image of a hand-drawn social media network

Affiliate marketing: how to really grow your business in 2021

Have you considered affiliate marketing to get your business next-level? Okay – let’s explain why we’re asking. Everyone’s always looking for an edge for their business’ marketing – and in 2021, when everyone is competing for audiences’ shrinking attention spans amidst a pandemic, you can be sure marketers and business owners are head-over-heels looking for the best ways to make their business stand out.

Affiliate marketing: image of social media spelled out on a board
Image: Envato

The problem is, there are just so many answers. Whether it’s social media, product videos, email marketing or maintaining excellent customer service, it feels like there are infinite ways to try to grow your business.

Naturally, we gravitate towards the most effective ways. We can’t help but ask, “What if there was a way to market which required less work, time and money?”

This time around, we have a great answer — affiliate marketing. According to BigCommerce, 81% of brands and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing. And there’s been a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. each year.

Affiliate marketing is about to level up your game during the pandemic, which is a welcome aide in these competitive times. Here’s how affiliate marketing might be just the tool you’ve been looking for to really grow your business in 2021.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a commission-based collaboration with affiliates who promote a business’ products and/or services. The reward for the affiliate depends on how well they perform and how well they use the power of their influence to generate sales or leads.

Think: influencers and people who review products on Youtube. They mention their relationship while reviewing the product. Using their link generates a commission for them.

Why you should use affiliate marketing

Frankly, there’s little time to think about how your friend, who’s an up-and-coming influencer, could be your next big affiliate marketer and source of success. After all, business owners have their hands full just trying to help their business survive during these hard times.

But don’t ignore affiliate marketing. It’s a powerful tool than can generate a lot of organic interest, create trust with customers, and leverage other successful businesses’ reach.

Affiliate marketing advantages

Affiliate marketing: image of a man and woman shaking hands
Image: Envato

1)   The hard work is over

The main advantage of affiliate marketing is that the hard work is already done for you. Affiliates spend vast amounts of time cultivating a closely-knit and super-targeted audience. Just plug in your product.

It’s almost like buying the perfectly-curated email list. Instead of spending years creating the most rewarding email list, one already exists and is accessible instantly.

2)   The trust is there

Another huge advantage of affiliate marketing is the trust. People trust affiliates. They’re known for: being transparent, sharing products that they approve of as experts, and providing helpful information to their audiences. 

If you were to build all that from the ground up, it would take a ton of resources, time, and hard work. Use affiliate marketing as a chance to leverage what’s already been built!

3)   It won’t break the bank

Startup costs are low, it’s not like you need to buy a brick-and-mortar property. Everything’s digital!

On top of that you’re paying for performance-based results. No need to worry about wasting money on ads that get lost in the information-flooded web. This limits the cost of running an affiliate marketing program, and ensures your returns are proportional to what you invest.

4)   It allows you to convert more

Thanks to affiliates’ SEO presences and search engine rankings, affiliate marketing is a great way to bolster your business’ online presence and noticeability. The more exposure your business gets, the more conversions you make.

Businesses say affiliate marketing has the greatest impact on revenue, beating out content marketing, email marketing, SEO, trade show marketing, paid search, and outbound calling.

How to use affiliate marketing

The first step is to find your affiliate. Choose someone who cares about your product, and has authority in the field. Nobody is going to trust the gamer who usually recommends gaming equipment to sell random camping gear.

It’s important to make sure they have a good reach too. They don’t necessarily have to have 100k followers on Instagram. Even a small audience can do wonders because of the hyper-targeted audience. 

But if the affiliate is barely bringing in new attention, it might not help your business grow. That’s why it’s important to measure an affiliate program’s performance, and keep tabs on whether or not the program is providing enough value.

Define your offer

In addition to sorting out the details of the affiliate partnership, it’s helpful to throw in a discount in your affiliate’s offer.

Affiliate programs almost always come with coupons and discounts. When people see a trusted expert talk about a product that could be right for them, and throw in a discount, it suddenly becomes a very appealing offer.

Grow your affiliate network

Finding your first affiliates and finding out what works can definitely be a challenge. But once you get the ball rolling and see the returns coming from your program, expanding your network becomes easier.

After some success, you’ll have proof that your program benefits both you and your affiliate. They might know other affiliates who would want to benefit from the win-win.

As your network grows you can consider offering commissions for affiliates who recruit other affiliates. Consider offering rewards for great performances and loyal affiliates. This can all help your affiliate network grow naturally, and provide great returns for your business.

Final thoughts

What might start as a small experiment to grow your business, may become a great ball of momentum that unlocks highly-targeted marketing as it rolls away into the distant fields of potential customers.

What a beautiful thought. A few resources, a little planning, and affiliate marketing can really be a fantastic way to grow your business — and organically too. 

All you need to do now is get out there and make it happen. We wish you every success!

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