Affiliate marketing delivers two major benefits—one in the short term and another in the long term. On one hand, JV partnerships generate extended cash flow. On the other hand, marketing with affiliates enables you to reach a new list of engaged prospects.
Which is an even better result than a spike in profits.
Imagine: a handful of emails that exponentially grow your list of marketing leads. After motivated prospects buy, they also clamor to devour your content—not only in the marketing and nurture emails you send, but also on your website and blog.
This dynamic sets the framework for heightened user engagement and helps establish your business as a hub of thought leadership and tactful expertise.
Word of mouth—this is how the world’s most successful entrepreneurs build their reputations.
Affiliate marketing starts this extended process of promotion.
Not to mention, the influx of sales isn’t exactly a negative.
This might seem as if affiliate marketing campaigns are a delusion of grandeur, especially if you’ve tried before with lackluster results. After all, there is lead generation that builds customer relationships and there is hard work with no return.
And the difference might feel a little hazy at times. Therein lies the trouble with affiliate marketing—it either pays off or wastes your time and energy. There is very little middle ground.
When we speak to business owners about affiliate marketing campaigns, there is a certain degree of reluctance. Understandably so.
Trial and error affiliate initiatives often come across as artificially sales-driven or too much of a risk.
The thing is, audience-centric JV partnerships that generate quality leads and result in higher sales are quite simple to pull off, as long as you know what you’re doing. With a few proven strategies you’ll not only generate revenue, but you’ll also increase quality lead generation that makes a continuing impact.
Here are the must-know strategies that ensure your JV partnerships attract qualified prospects and build a solid foundation for customer relationships.
The offer must pass the awesome test.
An affiliate offer must be sexy. Of course, the sexiness factor comes from multiple elements—from quality of the product or service to the price point. Keep in mind that even though the prospect is motivated, he or she does not yet know your business and its offerings.
At this stage, you’re still building rapport.
As you concoct an enticing offer, don’t be afraid to make it zero cost. If you’re concerned about affiliate profit shares, you can still shave off a percentage for later purchases.
To establish your business as an authority, don’t shy away from some of the free classics in digital marketing—a webinar, a podcast invitation, or a sample of products.
It’s all about the list’s personality, not the affiliate marketer.
There are rules about affiliate partner selection. In fact, many times affiliate campaigns go belly up because businesses select partners with similar products.
This needs to be carved in stone: choose affiliates based on their audience, not on the business itself.
You could be great friends with Tom who sells a product similar to yours, but that doesn’t guarantee his buyer persona jives with yours.
Once again, the products don’t need to be the same, merely relatable.
For example, a business that offers products dealing with love, romance, and relationships might be the ideal affiliate for a health product. The buyer persona wants a happier personal life, so these two offers mesh well, though they’re not directly related.
We’ve seen scenarios such as this time and time again. Watching these campaigns unfold, we’ve learned that success is a matter of choosing a motivated audience, despite how the products relate to one another.
Select the ideal JV partner.
Yes, success hinges more on the audience than on the partner. That said, choosing your affiliates is also part of the equation. The caveat: that means studying the affiliate business’ audience.
No two businesses share an identical customer avatar. However, as marketing veterans, we’ve gained some insider perspective on customer profiles for major industries.
1. Health and wellness: We realize that this is an umbrella term; however, the health and wellness audience shares some similar values and desires. This is a group who thrives on information. They learn and implement.
If you offer something teachable, then reach out to these affiliates.
2. Love and relationships: This group may have experienced serious heartbreak, or at least has a fear of it. They are so proactive about their happiness that they seek to put up a firewall between their life and loneliness.
If you offer a self-improvement product or service, or your business provides some form of prevention, this market might be an affiliate base for you.
3. Nutrition: Nutrition is an offshoot of the health and wellness market. These people tend to be more earthy, and enjoy learning about cooking at home. Often this market raises children to whom they want to instill healthy eating values.
Does your business offer something related to health and wellness, but not necessarily nutrition? The service offering could be physical training or even mental health. If so, this service is an ideal compliment for the products nutrition junkies buy.
4. Gyms and exercise trainers: There is a little more variance with this group. For gym memberships, these are not necessarily motivated prospects—at least, purchasers often need a push to inspire them to hop on the treadmill.
On the other hand, people look into exercise trainers when they are more serious or decide to give themselves the aforementioned push. If you offer a product/service that gives people an incentive to do something they want to do, but don’t for whatever reason, you’ve found a solid affiliate group.
5. Finance: While most people view the financial sector as a straight-laced, all work and no play organization, know that their customer based is not a milquetoast group. These are forward-thinking individuals who are working to watch their dreams come to fruition, and they need solid finances to make that happen.
If you offer that dream—great! We’re talking about travel, real estate, or any company that gives people the gifts they’ve always wanted. Offer some form of payment plan that won’t drain the existing nest egg? That’s even better.
6. Clean energy: We’re are so thrilled to know this—green energy is crucial part of our economy. While coal and gas are no longer the dominate sources of power, clean energy is making serious headway in the marketplace.
The market for this industry (obviously) cares about Mother Earth, but is also frugal. They tend to enjoy therapeutic products, fitness, gardening, and music. If you offer anything in this or a related industry, these might be your people.
7. Fashion: This audience is often misclassified. Many see the fashion buyer as an individual who has disposable income and wants to keep in step with the latest trends. That’s not true—this audience wants to feel confident, express themselves, and have fun.
Plus, no one likes to wear nice duds while they watch reruns of Orange is the New Black and eat cereal.
That said, if you offer something fun—such as salsa dancing lessons, an awesome restaurant/bar, or anything to do with the nightlife—you’ve found your affiliate marketing partner.
8. Skincare: Again, this audience wants confidence. But they also have a desire to care for themselves. This audience cares about more than their beauty regimen—they want to enjoy a healthier life.
Clean living businesses—be they nutrition or eco-friendly companies—will find a profitable affiliate in the skincare industry.
9. Hospitality: People need to relax, and hospitality businesses fill that gap. This audience is in serious need of a little R&R, but they don’t necessarily want to be cooped up in their hotel room all day.
That’s where your affiliate marketing plan comes into play. If you offer something in the travel sphere, piggyback off local bed and breakfasts, hotels, and spas.
10. Tutoring and education: The audience here tends to be busy parents with an innate desire to give their children the best life possible. They are often overworked and overstressed, but still find time to hang out with their children.
Companies that focus on family activities are prime candidates for this affiliate opportunity. Ditto businesses that offer something that lets mom and dad relax. The service doesn’t have to relate to education directly.
Click here to learn more about the industries Bright Planning has helped.
JV partner incentive creates more immediate success.
Yes, you have to profit share. Set percentages are perfectly fine.
The basic incentive for affiliates to sign up is obvious, but there’s something else at play here. You can’t expect a JV partner to go to the end of the earth to sell your product without serious motivation.
We recommend offering extra incentive for top-performing affiliates—higher profit shares, physical prizes, ad promotion on your website, etc.
You can even set up a competition to give JV partners a little push. Work becomes fun when it turns into a game.
Simplify the marketing process.
Affiliate marketing takes work, but it shouldn’t be workhorse labor—at least not for your partners. Even in the business world, people want fast and easy processes that generate stellar results.
It’s not laziness or apathy to your campaign; it’s simple human nature to want to put forth as little effort as possible.
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you can make this desire an immediate reality.
Simply create swipe copy that makes the marketing process super easy. JV partners will simply load your content into their marketing management system of choice, and then you watch the numbers come in.
Take some time to pen marketing emails, Tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn messages. Your affiliates will thank you (and, later on, so will your bank account).
Side note: let your partners have the option of tweaking the existing content to suit their voice and style. Affiliates with deep knowledge of their list, who are willing to make adjustments for the sake of success, will likely be your top performers.
Talk to new prospects. Don’t sell to them.
The gold standard of digital marketing still applies: talk with your audience as if you were a friend—someone who cares about their well-being and success. Don’t jettison the personalization technique when creating content for affiliates.
In other words, don’t simply rattle off benefits and product details. This isn’t a spec sheet—it’s a conversation. Even though you’re reaching out to an unfamiliar audience, this doesn’t entail that you’re not having a conversation with human beings.
As you create swipe copy that comes from affiliates and corresponding follow-up emails that come from you, never forget that the audience comes first. Take your time in studying your partners’ demographic.
Learning their unique psychology and customer journey indicates a long-lasting, profitable relationship as time goes by.
Think about the future.
Affiliate campaigns that generate a little profit are awesome, but with that success comes a trap. Without a detailed marketing plan to handle your new leads, you may lose your new customers as fast as you acquire them.
Plan for the future. A fruitful JV initiative means creating sustainable success, not a temporary influx of cash. To achieve that reality, stay one step ahead and develop a 3-month marketing plan.