Affiliate marketing has made a lot of people a lot of money – both on the vendor and affiliate side.
According to Digital Global, in the US alone affiliate marketing spending is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020.
If done right it really does work.
I am sure it won’t have escaped your notice that last week Dux-Soup launched a brand-new Affiliate scheme (aptly titled ‘Dabble’) with the strapline ‘Make bucks with Dux!’.
We’ve had an affiliate scheme for some time (hasn’t everyone?) but we’ve spent a ton of time on our new affiliate program - working out what’s going to appeal to affiliates and how to make life as simple as possible for them.
Sign-ups to Dabble are progressing strongly (over 100 on the day of launch alone) and it got me thinking – what do you need to run a good affiliate scheme? And what should affiliate marketers be looking for when they are presented with a myriad of different products and offerings to recommend and promote?
Here’s my take.
#1 - Relevance
Of course you have to start with a great product that you believe in and is proven to work.
But equally important is that the product needs to ‘fit’ with the following you have built up. This doesn’t mean it has to directly fit – for instance, if you are recommending cleaning products for the home you might also think of recommending cleaning firms or house insurance.
The point is that it is relevant and will instantly prompt interest from your followers and a desire to know more.
#2 - Know your audience
You’ve heard about the importance of buyer personas or customer profiles – basically building up a detailed picture of who is going to buy a product and why.
Don’t skip this step.
Create a profile(s) that’s as real as you can make it and be super specific about why that profile will want to buy the product you have in mind. From this you create messages for your blog / video / banners / outreach that will really resonate.
A quick example. Growth hacks (like Dux-Soup) were born from a desire for start-ups with limited capital to quickly grow and expand the business.
Of course now growth hacking techniques are used by businesses of all shapes and sizes across the globe (great news for our Dabble affiliates!) but the initial problem – i.e. the limitations of traditional marketing techniques in growing a business as quickly as possible – still exists and is a major driver for most purchases of Dux-Soup.
Tip: Surf the net (social, desktop research, forums) to research the problems that your following face in this area – that will drive them to this new product. The product vendor will have all this information on their website of course but go outside this to confirm their claims. A product that solves problems for your following is a sure bet!
#3 - Be passionate
Don’t worry if you don’t know much about a product at first glance (except for the fact it might be relevant to your network and is a hot topic!). But make sure you take the time to read about the product and build up a good working knowledge. To paraphrase Pat Flynn, passive income whizz, an ‘involved’ affiliate marketer is a successful and profitable affiliate marketer. If you’re passionate about a product you’re recommending that will shine through!
Tip: Look out for products that have great support sites and product articles that can help you with this self-learning and to ignite the passion (if not already there!)
#4 - Stay topical
I’m going to use social selling as an example here, as it’s the world I know.
As a sales and marketing tactic this is a HUGELY topical area and one that has global appeal. As a subset of this a growth hack that can accelerate the effectiveness and return of social selling (through LinkedIn for instance) is doubly attractive.
Look for best of breed products that play into these topical and growing areas. They will automatically get more interest as there’s more ‘buzz’ around them.
#5 - Money
Those of us offering products for affiliate marketing are under no illusions that our affiliates will want to make money and make it fast (cue the importance of topicality and appeal again).
Look for generous commission structures (40-50% for tech products) and schemes that offer a variety of products and plans to put forward to your network. You’re much more likely to make a sale if you have different flavours to offer that people can choose from – which leads me to…
#6 - Upsell
How cool if you can sell one edition of a product and then return to see how people are getting on and encourage them to upgrade if all is going well.
Look for a suite of products (like Dux-Soup Pro and Turbo Editions) that have different price points, plans (monthly and annual) and functionality that will; appeal to the widest audience, grow with them as they grow, and make you ‘stickier’ to your network.
#7 - Support
What’s the reputation of the vendor when it comes to how they support their users and affiliates? Do they offer Live Chat, email and phone support? How do you access support and are they responsive?
What marketing materials are available and are they tools that you can use? Is the vendor responsive and open to new requests for banners and other marketing materials?
This is an important part of the relationship - good support shows that you are valued as an affiliate and are being set up to succeed. You’ll doubtless need to use support at some point so it’s important you have this reassurance.
#8 - Reputation
You can’t ‘buy’ product reputation. It’s out there all over the net. Reputation is directly linked to longevity, consistency, great support and a product that really does work!
Add into this an excellent affiliate commission structure and there’s your sweet spot. You want to be touting products that have:
• Demonstrable ROI and benefits
• An active and referenceable user base
• Are a leader in their field.
Summary (and one last tip)
One last (geeky) tip before I go – make sure that the affiliate program is run on an intuitive platform (like FirstPromoter) so you can easily track and analyse your overall performance and success.
As a growth hacking guru it would be remiss of me to not recommend continually tracking and testing what works and what doesn’t. Having easy tracking and success metrics at your fingertips will enable this.
So there you go. It goes without saying that I think Dux-Soup and our new Dabble Affiliate Program ticks all these boxes. But don’t take my word for it. Get out there and see it for yourself.
About the authors
With a background in software development and enterprise mashups, Will van der Sanden, Founder of Dux-Soup, is a genius at combining data from different sources to create something bigger and better. Will manages a brilliant team of software developers, business analysts and support staff to ensure Dux-Soup keeps you one step ahead of your competition.
Adam Osman is Head of Marketing at Dux-Soup He is passionate about using the latest marketing techniques to help companies and brands grow. With two decades of experience in marketing technology products for international companies and startups alike, Adam leads the effort to spread the word about how Dux-Soup can benefit companies looking to turbo charge their lead generation.