This article is about Affiliate Marketing and what these labels mean (and don’t mean). This is for eCommerce merchants that want to align with good partners but might get lost in the confusing terms used to describe these partners. Spoiler. The labels don’t matter that much. You just need strong partners who are going to share your brand and products the right way. More on that below…
Our company manages affiliate programs for all sorts of DTC brands. Most of these brands have harnessed the power of social marketing through their own ad campaigns, but also through influencers with large, targeted followings. The term ‘influencer’ has grown into becoming a common term and description we all (pretty much) understand. What is more complicated, however, is how to best ‘partner’ with these social influencers to create the most value for your brand.
Like, how should I pay these guys and how do I track the results?
The number one question I get asked from brands looking at doing affiliate marketing is this, ‘what is an affiliate and what do they do?’
I’ve molded and slightly altered my response over the past few years, but as of 2023, my best take is this…”Anyone who can drive top-funnel traffic to your site, and has an audience that aligns with yours, is a potential affiliate partner.
Social Influencer. Editorial Partner. Content Site. Review Site. Bloggers. Forums. Email Partners. Employee Perks Platforms.Cart Abandomment Solutions. PPC Specialists.
Worth noting: 95% of the affiliate partners we work with are incentived by a revenue share model. Meaning, when someone clicks their affiliate link and makes a purchase on a merchants website, the brand will pay them a percentage of that sale. It’s usually 5-10% based on the item cost and margins.
A good affiliate program will have several key partners who fit into these groups.
We talk a lot about content sites and editorial partners in our office. There’s going to be some crossover with PR and Affiliate when it comes to these type of partnerships. Traditional media buys and ad sales are harder for editorials to land now, so they are moving more towards affiliate relationships and hybrid models (a smaller placement cost + revenue share).
If you’ve ever been shopping for a great gift idea, chances are you’ve come across a site with a top 10 list or recommended products. Search ‘Best Father’s Day Gift Ideas 2023’ and you’ll see a search results full of these types of articles. No surprise, inside these lists are plenty of affiliate links! I have a hard time finding any product reviews on the sites I tend to read that do not have affiliate links on almost every product reviewed. A brand needs an affiliate program if they want to have a chance to work with these types of sites.
There are other ‘non traditional’ affiliate partnerships that can be valuable as well. As an example, we work with affiliates who specialize in PPC outside of Google. These partners help our clients get traffic on search platforms they have no marketing on. We pay these partners a percentage of sales, and do not tap into any set PPC budget.
We also work with several email partners. Very selective process, but finding partners who can drive email traffic (especially during sales and promotions) can land you quick wins and spike sales when you need them!
Labeling partners can get complicated, and more complicated how to pay them. A successful affiliate program can help you leverage a wide range of partnerships and really keep your acquisition costs in check. Whether it’s a YouTube channel or a blogger, if a partner has a good audience for your brand, and wants to work with you on a percentage of sale basis, they are a potential affiliate.
About the author: Greg Powell has been in the affiliate marketing world for 16 years. He started Tactical Marketing Co in 2016 to help brands grow through affiliate marketing. TMCo manages DTC brands with unique products like Battlbox, MyMedic, FishUSA, Carnivore Club and more.
Reach Greg anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org