All the Steps to Running a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program
Whether you’re considering becoming an affiliate marketer or an advertiser looking to increase your sales, this is the guide for you. We’re going to cover affiliate marketing topics from what it is to how it generates millions of dollars of revenue. Are you ready to start earning more revenue and increase ROI? Here’s how you can run a successful affiliate marketing program.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is unique, because it creates a true partnership between an advertiser and an affiliate, or a lead seller and lead buyer. Ad networks typically profit from clicks or views, but affiliate marketers only profit when consumers take a desired action. This means an affiliate can only be successful if the advertiser is as well.
Affiliates promote products and services in exchange for a commission on sales or leads. Affiliates often provide advertisers with an additional way to reach targeted consumers.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate marketing requires two parties, an advertiser and an affiliate. The advertiser can be referred to as the merchant, retailer, brand or lead buyer. The advertiser is looking for additional leads or sales and wants to increase the return on their investment by paying for actions instead of clicks or views.
Advertisers manage their programs through affiliate networks like ArrowShade. The affiliate network provides tracking, reporting, program management and connects the affiliates or lead sellers with buyers. The affiliate network typically takes a portion of the commission per lead or sale to cover management costs and for referrals.
The affiliate is also known as the lead seller, publisher or influencer. The job of the affiliate is to drive targeted traffic to “offers” or specific landing pages where a consumer will take a desired action. The action could be to complete a form or to make a purchase. This can be achieved through a variety of marketing strategies including email marketing, blogging, social media, reviews, pay per click ads and more.
Affiliate marketers earn a commission from the advertiser in exchange for driving leads or sales. Payday loan affiliates earn commission on leads for example. Payday loan affiliate programs connect affiliates with lenders looking for new borrowers. As a short-term loan affiliate, you’ll be responsible for promoting small loans to your audience and generating new loan leads.
You are paid a commission for every lead that is sold to a lender. The lender purchases the lead and provides funding to the consumer. The lender wins, because they gain a new customer. The affiliate receives commission for their efforts. The consumer is happy, because they receive the small loan they needed to cover expenses. Everyone wins.
The affiliate network keeps track of, and reports on, all conversions through a user-facing dashboard. Advertisers can monitor the success of the program and affiliates can track their earnings in the dashboard. The affiliate network is paid by the advertiser based on the number of completed actions, and the network pays the affiliate their earnings.
Other affiliate networks don’t create or manage affiliate offers, they purchase leads directly from the seller through a ping tree.
Why Sell Leads Directly
There are many benefits to selling leads directly. Ping post software allows lead sellers to initially provide partial lead information to potential buyers. The lead seller pings part of the information to the network and the network shares it with the ping tree (lead buyers). If the lead buyers are interested in purchasing the lead, they will send back an offer. Once a lead is purchased, the full information is sent to the buyer.
While it may sound complicated, the whole process happens automatically and in real-time. Ping post is the popular lead distribution model for many industries including home improvement, auto finance, insurance and finance.
At ArrowShade, we manage a ping tree of short-term loan lead buyers. These buyers tell us how much (or within what range) they want to purchase leads for. This determines where they fall within the tree. Imagine the top of the tree consisting of lead buyers willing to pay top dollar, typically around $120 per lead, and the bottom of the tree consisting of buyers willing to pay as low as $2 per lead.
When a seller sends over a lead it hits the ping tree. The lead is first shown to buyers at the top of the tree. If the lead buyers pass on the lead, it will continue to run down the tree until a buyer purchases the information. If there is no interest in the lead, there is no commission for the seller.
The benefits of working with an established affiliate network like ArrowShade, include access to ping tree technology and established payday loan lead buyers who are willing and able to fund short-term loans. The more buyers you have access to, the better your chances of earning a commission.
What is a good commission?
Commission varies from industry to industry. Some advertisers offer static payouts while others pay on a revenue share model. Static payouts mean the affiliate is paid a set amount no matter what product the consumer purchases or how much the lead is worth. Revenue share models work off of percentages. The affiliate will earn a certain percentage of every item sold or lead sold.
With payday loan affiliate programs, the affiliate is paid a percentage of the amount the lead sells for. Short-term loan leads typically sell between $2 and $120, and payday loan affiliate networks tend to pay the affiliate 80% of the lead price. If the lead you generated sold for $120, you would receive $96 for example. Some payday loan affiliate programs offer static payouts, where the price per lead doesn’t fluctuate.
Research is important in negotiating a fair commission structure. Browse multiple affiliate networks and affiliate programs to get an idea of what is fair commission for a particular industry. Some industries offer higher payouts than others.
Cost is important as well. You need to see a return on your investment. An affiliate program should generate more income for you then what it costs you to drive traffic to their ads or generate leads.
How to Get Started as An Affiliate Marketer
Before you start earning income from affiliate marketing, you will need to generate traffic. Getting started is much easier if you already have a successful blog, large email list or stellar PPC skills. If you have traffic, your first step is selecting the right network and affiliate marketing program.
If you are looking to monetize a blog, you will need to find a network that specializes in affiliate programs that fall within your niche. If you manage a finance blog, your audience is probably interested in ads or offers pertaining to loans, banking, credit cards, credit score monitoring, etc. You’ll need to find a network that specializes in finance to generate more conversions.
If your talent is in pay per click marketing, your options for affiliate offers may be much wider. If you have a talent for finding the top converting keywords and targeting the right audiences, you can run offers from a variety of industries. Your challenge will be to find affiliate programs that provide banner ads, except PPC traffic, convert well and offer high payouts. Personal loan affiliate programs often offer higher payouts and pay per lead rather than per item purchased.
If you don’t have traffic, a large email database or pay per click marketing skills, you probably won’t be able to generate revenue from affiliate marketing right away. Affiliate marketing requires some upfront commitment on the part of the publisher.
You will need to generate traffic to sell products or generate leads for an advertiser. Consider launching a blog, earning a social media following, building an email list or developing PPC skills to drive enough interest to ads to earn a real income. In the beginning, you might only earn enough for a side hustle, but if you stick with it you could eventually generate enough revenue to make affiliate marketing your main source of income.
The network you choose should specialize in your niche and have established relationships with advertisers. The network you select will have a great impact on your success as an affiliate. Networks provide the advertisers, the creative, the unique tracking links, the reporting, the ping tree, the lead buyers and pay you. For those reasons, the affiliate network you choose needs to be a company you can trust.
How to Promote Affiliate Offers
Once you have the traffic or followers you need, and have chosen an affiliate network, you’ll need to develop a promotion strategy. There are a variety of ways to promote affiliate offers.
If you are a publisher, you will need to determine the high-traffic areas of your blog or website. The best way to do this is by utilizing marketing tools like Google Analytics and/or heat map technology. Google Analytics can show you your user flow and which pages attract the most visitors. Your user flow report will show you the journey your website visitors take once they land on your website. This report is important, because it can identify where users drop off and if there are any issues with your navigation.
Heat map technology takes this reporting a step further and shows you which sections of your page receive the most attention. Most people know that the majority of actions happen above the scroll, so any important information or ads should be placed in sections of the site that load before the user needs to scroll.
Heat map technology can show you which pieces of content your visitors hover over or view the most. This can identify sections of your site where you should place ad code. Heat maps often cost money, but if you’re on a budget you can take advantage of a free trial.
You will need to place the heat map code within your site HTML on the pages you wish to track. The tool will then provide reports displaying a range of colors. Sections in red are more popular, while sections in blue are often ignored.
The home page is often the busiest section of a website, but that isn’t always true. You may rank on search engines for blog posts or have a popular whitepaper on your site. It’s important to review your traffic metrics to identify high traffic areas before placing your ads.
Once you have determined which areas receive the most views, you’ll need to create ad slots for your affiliate banners. Your affiliate network will provide you with the ad creative and a unique tracking link, so you’ll get credit for the conversions you generate. If you have a WordPress site or blog, there are widgets specifically created for ad code. Making it easier for you to display ads where you want on your site.
If you are an email marketer, your affiliate network may provide you with the HTML and creative you’ll need to generate sales or leads. Some affiliate networks also provide subject lines and text copy as well. Your unique affiliate link will help the network keep track of all sales/leads generated from your email campaigns.
It’s important to test a variety of subject lines and copy to discover what works for your audience. Swapping out creative is also important to avoid ad fatigue. You can request creative from your affiliate network.
If you plan to run pay per click marketing campaigns, you’ll require a unique tracking link from your affiliate network. This link will lead to a landing page where the consumer will either make a purchase or complete a form. You will be paid commission on completed actions. Some affiliate networks will also provide suggested keywords and ad copy. Ask your network about negative keyword lists as well. There may be some terms that are off limits for you, including branded terms.
If you are selling leads directly, the affiliate network will work with you to integrate with the ping tree so that you get credit for the leads you sell.
How to Increase Sales with Affiliate Marketing
As an advertiser or lead buyer, you are constantly looking for ways to increase sales and ROI at the same time. Affiliate marketing is a great way to achieve both goals. Google Ads keyword bids continue to increase, reducing your ROI and Bing still doesn’t have enough traffic. Facebook and Twitter’s algorithm changes have made it nearly impossible for businesses to reach consumers, while Facebook ad prices continue to increase.
Reaching consumers and standing out among your competitors is harder than ever. Affiliate marketing increases your brand reach, and you only have to pay for sales or leads, not clicks or views.
Affiliate networks connect you with affiliates who can promote your products or services to the right audiences. Some larger affiliate networks will charge an up-front fee to allow you to access their affiliates, but not ArrowShade. At ArrowShade lead buyers only pay for leads when they want them. Let us know what you want to pay per lead, and we’ll save you a spot on our ping tree.
As the advertiser on an affiliate network, you may be responsible for:
- Ad Creative
- Website or landing page
- The products you sell, services you provide
- Payment for any conversions
The network and the affiliate take care of the rest. The network will provide the proper tracking, and the dashboard where you can keep track of program performance. You’ll be able to track sales in real-time.
Not every affiliate network prescreens affiliates, but at ArrowShade we do. Quality is of the utmost importance to us, so we screen every affiliate before they are given access to our network and advertisers.
Do you have quality traffic? Send your quality short-term loan leads to ArrowShade and earn more as an affiliate. Looking for more payday loan leads? Learn how to buy payday loan leads from ArrowShade and increase your return on investment.