10 reasons why small businesses should use affiliate marketing

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Small businesses often work on a tight margin, with limited internal staff. Sometimes there is no dedicated marketing team promoting your business yet.

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As one of the main ingredients to achieving success, this seems like the perfect Catch 22 – businesses need to advertise and market their products to grow. Yet as a small business, the funds are often not available to justify a marketing department.

Luckily there is a solution to this, and it is called affiliate marketing.

Why small businesses should use affiliate marketing  

Although businesses of all sizes can, and do, use affiliate marketing as part of their promotional toolbox, it can play a particularly valuable role for small businesses. As a form of outsourcing, it allows brands to tap into a wealth of marketing experience within their niche without wasting unnecessary resources. This is because it is a performance-based method, which means business only pays for results rather than for direct advertising. The partners advertisers work with (known as publishers or affiliates), drive traffic to the affiliate offer but only receive a commission if a purchase is made.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

The easiest way to get started is through a reputable affiliate network like Awin who can provide a multitude of help, support, and advice, removing stress for small businesses venturing into this landscape for the first time. The network will help set up the affiliate program and will expose it to their registered publishers. They also ensure all the publishers who sign up to the affiliate program are assigned a unique tracking code, enabling accurate payments and tracking.

Without a network, businesses looking to enter the affiliate channel will have to set up the program manually and seek the publishers directly, which is time consuming. It is also more challenging to find quality publishers on your own as the network ensures they all go through an approval process before being accepted.

How can affiliate marketing help small businesses

benefits affiliate marketing offers small businesses

In addition to providing a marketing strategy for small businesses, affiliate marketing offers many more benefits as well.

1. Provides social proof

Now more than ever, online customers rely on social proof before making buying decisions. Research shows that online reviews play a significant part in the process, with nearly 95% of shoppers reading reviews before making their final decision to buy. Publishers who have built a rapport with an engaged audience are trusted by them. Therefore when they give a review of an affiliate product, this provides credible social proof for the product and the brand.

2. Offers a high ROI

Compared to Google Ads, the cost per sale for affiliate marketing is very attractive. Depending on the industry, a sale through Google Ads can cost as much as 20x more than the same sale through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing offers a significantly higher return on investment, based on the strategy of only paying commissions for sales rather than paying for traffic as is generally the practice with Google Ads or other forms of marketing.

3. Expands your audience

Each publisher the advertiser works with already has an established audience. Affiliate marketing allows the advertiser to tap into this otherwise undiscovered audience and expand their own accordingly. These new audiences may have been difficult to reach with other forms of advertising, but the range of publishers advertisers can work with helps to increase the overall reach. These new audiences then become an established part of the brands’ lead base.

4. Builds brand awareness

What business doesn’t want their brand to be known by as many people as possible, and become easily recognized? As publishers drive more traffic to the business it increases the reach and overall awareness of the brand. This allows the business to become more recognizable and helps build trust and acceptance in the mind of the consumer.

5. Cost-effective 

As a performance-based method, businesses only pay for the sales generated by each publisher. This ensures there is no wasted budget on advertising methods that may not be effective. Businesses set up the commission rates in advance, providing complete knowledge of how much each sale will cost them. Some affiliate programs are set up to pay for leads or other actions, but the norm is to pay per sale. With other forms of advertising, it can be difficult to quantify how cost-effective the price of a sale is, but with affiliate marketing, it is clear cut.

6. Creates partnerships with experienced salespeople

Small businesses may not be able to afford a dedicated internal department to run their marketing. Affiliate marketing allows businesses to tap into a wealth of skills and knowledge through the range of publishers they work with. This can open up a variety of different specialties, providing the advertiser with the opportunity to work with some of the best in the business. To employ such a skilled workforce would be out of reach for many small businesses. With affiliate marketing, every business can access a pool of qualified and experienced publishers.

7. Allows for data tracking 

Knowing how a business is performing helps a brand to make improvements on how it operates in the future. Affiliate marketing tracking provides significant and important insights into where customers come from, why they are buying, and more, through the rich collection of data. This is all easily available to the business through affiliate tracking. This data can help businesses make important changes to their websites to improve conversions or offer better creatives, as well as allowing them to work more productively with the highest-performing publishers.

8. Boosts SEO

Every publisher promoting a business links back to the brand website to drive traffic to the offer. These inbound links are beneficial to search engine optimization and help to improve the organic rankings of the website. If your publishers have a high ranking and produce quality content that offers value while linking to your product, this can also have a very positive effect on your SEO. Sharing the content is also beneficial, particularly if audiences themselves share it.

9. Allows complete control

Affiliate marketing allows every business to be in complete control of their marketing while outsourcing the promotional work to publishers. The business can set its own commission levels and incentives, and provides whatever creative it wants its publishers to use. Every business can choose which publishers they work with, and if they sign up inactive publishers, it will not impact on the bottom line. If a business not using affiliate marketing employs a staff member who does not produce the results required, this will be a costly mistake to the brand.

10. Easy integration with other marketing methods

Affiliate marketing does not have to be a standalone marketing method. Instead, it can seamlessly work alongside other forms of marketing and can boost any promotion or campaign. When businesses are focusing on certain products and have a great offer, this can be sent to the publishers who can then aid the promotional efforts and raise the interest. 

Although running a small business can be exciting and rewarding, it is not without its pitfalls. Finding enough money to market a small business is one of the biggest issues faced. Affiliate marketing has many benefits and by integrating it into your business plan, not only will it help manage the marketing budget effectively but can increase the brand’s exposure to a whole new audience. This has many positive add on effects when viewed as part of the bigger picture, including building the brand and search engine optimization. If affiliate marketing is not already in your arsenal, now may be the time to add it to your marketing strategy, or risk getting left behind in the competitive digital sales world.

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