Affiliate marketing is often the preferred route for online entrepreneurs who specialise in digital marketing. It is simply a system where the website owner or blogger sells a product or service on behalf of a business. If you do not have a product to sell or service to offer but want to get started in an online business then the affiliate marketing route is a good option. But the market s competitive and with South African legislation now preventing unsolicited emailing, affiliate marketing is not necessarily the most profitable route.
How does it work?
It’s important to understand a few industry terms when discussing affiliate marketing. The advertiser is the company that wants its product promoted, while the publisher or affiliate is the person (usually a website owner or blogger) who will promote the product for the advertisers.
Affiliates are paid a commission or fee for a sale or lead referral respectively. Let’s look at one example based on the referral/lead concept.
Insurance companies (advertisers) are always looking for new leads so that they can contact prospective customers to sell cover. Instead of phoning thousands of numbers daily they instead wait for a person to show interest. On the internet this is done on websites where a person may fill out a short contact form requesting a quote or more information on a specific insurance product.
These contact details are then forwarded to the insurer and a call centre agent contacts the interested consumers. Insurers may allow any website owner or blogger (affiliate) to put these contact forms up on their website or blog. When a lead comes through the insurer pays the owner/blogger a referral fee.
It can be as low as R10 sometimes but the fee is paid irrespective of whether a sale is made or not. The sale route is different. The website owner only earns a commission upon successful completion of a sale. These commission fees may be anywhere between 2% to 10%.
Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing
There are many digital marketing agencies that handle this type of marketing. They act as the go-between by putting the company (advertiser) wanting leads or sales in contact with the website owners and bloggers (publishers) who want to make money online. These agencies also handle all the tracking and payments on behalf of the advertisers. You should always consider using these agencies rather than going it alone and working directly with an advertiser.
Before you quit your day job to get into affiliate marketing, it is important to realise that there are thousands of blogs and website competing for a piece of this business. Some are well established and have hundreds or thousands of visitors daily with only a small percentage converting into leads. Others spend hundreds of rands daily advertising their websites or blogs in order to generate leads. Sometimes the ad spend in a competitive industry can make the entire operation not profitable.
Why online entrepreneurs should consider affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing essentially takes away the hassle and expense of marketing a product or service from the advertiser and puts the responsibility on the shoulders of the publishers (website owners or bloggers). While publishers will earn a few rands from their efforts, it is difficult to make a living in it unless you know what you are doing and have the numbers to generate tens if not hundreds of leads daily. You may have to supplement the income with other options like Google Adsense.
It is not a route to quick money. Remember that if online marketing was so easy then the big corporations offering affiliate programs would do it themselves and not look to independent websites or blogs for assistance. Only a few will be skilled enough to make it a work-from-home business that pays the bills and more. But it can be a handy way of monetising your website or blog and at the very least covering some of your costs for play the “making money online” game.