How to get started
To get started with affiliate marketing, you need to know who your target audience is and use the right affiliate marketing tools.
Understand your audience
Knowing your audience makes it easier to identify affiliates who appeal to your target demographics. Consider your target market and the types of content they’re likely to consume.
- Which age groups do you want to focus on?
- What’s their income range?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they travel to?
- Do they typically work from home, in an office, run a business, or not work at all?
- What do they do for fun?
Mailchimp’s customer relationship management (CRM) can help you organize and understand information about your target audience. For instance, you can figure out where your customers live, whether they like to use coupons or sales, or if they arrive at your site through referrals.
The answers to the questions above can help you learn the kinds of content your audience engages with. But you might want to drill down further with content-specific questions, such as:
- What kinds of articles or blogs does your target market read?
- Do they prefer long-form content or shorter pieces?
- What do they look up in search engines?
- What kinds of videos do they watch?
- Are they more likely to check out product reviews and rankings or how-to content?
You can also use Mailchimp’s CRM to discover patterns of behavior that lead to purchases. Ideally, you want them to engage with an affiliate’s content when they’re ready to make a purchase. Knowing how, when, and why they buy can help you make conditions ideal when they engage.
To return to the DJ equipment example, customers researching controllers often consider several before deciding. You’ll want to choose an affiliate who reviews equipment instead of one who just writes about how to be a better DJ. This way, when your target audience reads their content, they’re closer to purchasing. That increases the likelihood they’ll purchase your product.
There are a few methods to recruiting partners and affiliate marketers. Choosing the method that best fits your business model will depend on what you already have in place and how broadly you want to market your product.
Use your current marketing channels
You can use your social media accounts, email, or website to let people know about your affiliate program. Be sure to provide all the essential information needed to make a decision and get started. This may include details like:
- The amount of commission they can make
- Special offers you make available to affiliates, such as coupons and discounts
- The kind of marketing material you’ll provide
- Whether you’ll provide tracking stats that can help them gauge the benefits to their own business
Some affiliates may respond better to direct, personalized outreach through email or via social media. While you can start with a template message, you should personalize each one. You may want to include details such as:
- Something you liked about a recent post or video they did
- An attribute you feel sets them apart from other potential affiliates
- Your personal interest in something they value, such as a core principle they believe in
This can make your message stand out and help them realize they’re more than a marketing tool—they’re a valued partner.
When your affiliate is on board you’ll need to provide affiliate links and promotional materials. You’ll also want to decide whether you'll work through an affiliate network or link tracking software you manage yourself.
If your aim is to launch an affiliate program with a large number of affiliate marketers, you may want to work with an affiliate network. These programs connect businesses to potential affiliates and generate and organize affiliate links. They often provide analytic information to track each affiliate’s effectiveness. Keep in mind that not all affiliate networks are equal. Some are larger than others and have a broader range of products. Still, some simplify the payment process with affiliates better than others.
If your goal is to have more of a personal relationship with fewer affiliates, consider link tracking software. You’ll be able to generate affiliate links yourself and track them. These platforms offer a range of reporting and other useful tools for more than just affiliate marketing. Link tracking can be enlightening for social media and traditional marketing campaigns as well. Prices vary depending on the features of the platform. Before selecting one, have a good idea of your budget and your goals. Knowing that will make choosing the right link tracking software easier.
When an affiliate is ready to sign on, streamline their side of the process while you maintain some level of creative control. You can do this by providing them with promotional materials. When you provide promotional content, you:
- Give them the tools they need to market your products.
- Keep your marketing material fresh and relevant to your target audience.
- Exercise control over how you present your products and sculpt your brand.
- Set clear expectations and uphold them.
You should communicate your pay structure clearly so affiliates know what to expect. Be transparent, and be sure to let them know about any changes well before they happen.
To cultivate a strong relationship with your affiliates, set aside time for check-in’s and ask for feedback. They may have ideas or insights that you can use as you craft new marketing materials.