For as long as the internet has been ‘mainstream’ there has existed the possibility of making money online.
People can start virtually selling anything online. Type in pretty much any random item to a search engine and you will be guaranteed to find somewhere that sells it. This is given rise to whole new businesses, market sectors and potential for generating income by digital means. The world is far more connected now than it ever has been in the past.
This is why e-commerce is so important.
We are going to have a look at ecommerce, how it related to affiliate marketing and finally what some best practice tips are for using affiliates to promote goods and services.
What exactly is eCommerce?
Ecommerce is very easy to define as it is essentially the process of buying and selling good using the internet.
This has been around since the beginning of the internet. In fact, the first ever item sold online (a CD) was done so in 1994.
Now that we live in a much more globalised society it is far easier to see items online to people from the other side of the world. Digital products don’t require any postage or custom checks and things such as eBooks, software and other digital items are very easy to sell automatically without much human input beyond the initial set up phase.
How does affiliate marketing fit in?
Affiliate marketing is when you have people promoting your products and services on your behalf.
In return, they get a commission when they make a sale. This is tracked through what is known as an affiliate link that is unique to them. Affiliates promote products through their website and even paid ads. Sometimes this is done directly with the company with small business affiliate programs or through an affiliate network that puts affiliates in touch with many different businesses.
Affiliate marketing has grown considerably over the years and anyone can potentially be an affiliate by promoting third party products and services.
Best practices for eCommerce and affiliate marketing
So, if you are hoping to bring on board some affiliates then you need to know what the best practices are to follow. We have narrowed it down to 4 practices that everyone should try to follow when evolving their ecommerce efforts in an affiliate marketing business.
#1 Let the data lead you
Many businesses owners fail to look at the data that their affiliates generate for them.
The great thing about having affiliates is that their activity is tracked so you can see who is effective, who isn’t and what ways people are advertising your products. This gives you a wealth of knowledge that you can utilise to your advantage.
For instance, if you offer seasonal products and your data shows a big spike in sales at certain times throughout the year then why not offer better commission rates during that period?
It can help to really motivate your affiliates and ties in with point 3 that we will look at below.
#2 Customers make great affiliates
Who is better to provide the genuine copy of your products that tells everyone how good they are? Your customers of course!
They have first-hand experience of how great your business is so they make the best affiliates. There are various methods you can use which will help to convert your existing customers to affiliates. Turning customers into affiliates is a strategy that many businesses have used to great effect and it is one of the main ways in which you can facilitate growth too.
#3 Keep your commissions competitive
Remember our first point where we used the example of analysing affiliate data to offer better commission rates? Well, keeping your rates competitive is one area of good practice that will ensure that your affiliates stick with you in the long term.
Many Ecommerce businesses make the fatal error of having fixed commission rates for years. Affiliates become bored and when they put in a lot of extra work and are only minimally better off. Try surge commissions which mean offering much better commission rates over slower periods to help boost sales and keep affiliates motivated.
#4 Value your affiliates
Finally, you need to value your affiliates and this goes beyond simply offering better commission rates.
Your affiliates will likely bring in a big portion of your overall sales. They need to be supported with marketing materials, content and most importantly make sure that they are paid on time!
An unhappy affiliate will not benefit your business so ensure that you keep them happy and motivated.
Ecommerce and affiliate marketing best practices
An ecommerce affiliate can be invaluable to your business.
They not only promote your products but they help to accelerate your growth as well. Following these best practises for managing and motivating your affiliates will ensure that they are happy working on your behalf and get a fair pay as a result.
More and more businesses no matter how big or small are using affiliates now and as long as you follow these tips they will create a happy, enthused and effective team of affiliates to help your business achieve success.