Why is Affiliate Marketing Effective for Small Business Owners

(+ Step-by-Step Guide to Get Started)

Is affiliate marketing effective for small businesses? Can this channel help your business get more customers and earn more money? The short answer is yes. The long answer is thoroughly described below, with all the details and explanations you need to successfully jump into leveraging affiliate marketing for your brand or product.

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Let's start with the basics

To get started, let's briefly clarify what affiliate marketing is. It is a performance-based marketing that is based on the cooperation of multiple parties. One of them is a business that sells products or services (like yours), the other one is an affiliate who advertises the products or services and, thus, earns commissions based on her … you guessed it… performance. The third party can be the software that tracks this all and makes sure both business owners and affiliates get their earnings right.

Wiki puts it defines it more clearly: “Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts.”

If we want to visualise the process, it looks like this:

Affiliate program visualisation

Why should you care about other affiliates (advertisers) promoting your product if you can do it yourself, you may ask. There are, of course, more perspectives. The truth is that leveraging external resources can help you reach the audience that you haven't reached yet. Your resources – typically marketing budget – will also be limited and getting external help can help you boost your outreach. Besides that, affiliate marketing is based on performance. That means that you pay your affiliates AFTER they bring you a customer or get a visitor to your site.

Let's look at numbers first. Overall, affiliate marketing generates around 20% of all revenues for businesses like yours. That being said, this channel which you probably haven't discovered and fully leveraged yet, truly represents a potential to grow your revenue. 

Discover the payment models

We've briefly touched on the performance thing. Let's dig deeper into what performance means, as there can be many types. Most importantly, you probably want to reward your affiliates based on the sales they bring, right? 

In this case, you pay the affiliate's commission first when the purchase is completed. This model is called cost per sale (CPS). The good thing is that you can set this to a certain percentage of your order. This way you can motivate your affiliates to bring customers with a higher value. Sounds great, doesn't it?

When your goal is to generate leads, you also want to award affiliates for the leads they bring. Cost per lead (CPL) is the model you'd be using. In other words, every time your affiliate brings a website visitor who fills out a form or downloads an e-book, he gets rewarded according to your CPL model. 

Last but not least, if you want to reward affiliates for every single website visitor they bring, you can use the widely-used cost per click model (CPC).

And now the best thing is...that you can combine these models! In other words, the way you pay your affiliates depends solely on you and your business. 

Just keep in mind, affiliates are here to EARN. Make the offer juicy enough, I'll get to more on that later…

Let's look at what it would look like if you combined the CPC and CPS models:

CPC and CPS models

Once the user clicks the link and goes to your website, the affiliate gets rewarded. Once the user completes the order, your affiliate gets rewarded again. This way, you can motivate your affiliates and still base their rewards on performance that matters to you.

If you're unsure how to set your reward structure, think of an affiliate as another marketing source, that at the end of the day represents a marketing cost. Are you happy to pay 10% of the order value to acquire a customer? Cool! You have a number on which you can build your CPS model. Besides that, you can get inspired by the industry standards. Here are the top 20 categories based on the procentual rewards:

Graph of categories

To get started, have the right tool stack in place

To manage your affiliate program successfully, you need to have the right tool stack in place. 

As said at the beginning, you will need to have affiliate software in place that manages the affiliate onboarding, calculates all rewards, allows you to give any content you wish to your affiliates and offers tools for communication. 

Running an affiliate program is not as easy as it may seem. You really need to dedicate time to acquire motivated affiliates, constantly provide your best content, track the performance, communicate with them in case needed and pay their rewards every month (or for another period of time).

Let's get back to the right affiliate systems. Entrepreneur.com already did the job for us and picked the 10 top affiliate marketing tracking softwares. The one that we are excited about is Tapfiliate. Make sure to check that one too.

Some companies even outsource the workload that goes hand in hand with managing the affiliate program. They hire experienced affiliate managers that do the hard work for them. They leverage their networks to hire affiliates, manage the onboarding and communication and track their performance. To hire yours, use platforms like Upwork that allow you to hire staff on demand. If you're a small business owner, you may want to manage the work yourself, but keep this option in mind as you grow. It can save you time and help you get much more out of your affiliate program.

How to acquire affiliates

So you've decided to jump straight into setting up your affiliate program? That's great! You did the math and came up with a reward structure, chose the tools that will help you make your plan come true and are now thinking of getting your first affiliates… Let's speak about some ways to get motivated affiliates then!

Direct contact. Yes, that's exactly what I have in mind. Searching for affiliates that are already active in your field, promote your competitors (but may be happier to promote your business), are influencers with a loyal audience that represent your potential customers or bloggers, and Youtubers that write or speak about products like yours – you know all the unboxing videos on Youtube, right? That's what I have in mind.

Events. Affiliates also don't want to miss the trend. Thus, they gather at conferences and events to get the latest tips, leverage the newest technologies and tactics and to share their experiences. This is your chance! Choose some of the events and get the most out of your networking skills. Here is the list for 2020. You're welcome!

Make your program visible. Use online channels like social media, paid search campaigns or video ads. You may want to make your program visible to a relevant audience (potential affiliates) so that they can join you. If you're a newbie to online campaigns, check out our tool that simplifies this process so that even your grandma can do it. No kidding.

Invite your best customers. Invite those who are most excited by your product or service. Obvious, right? Who else should help you spread the word around than your happy customers, especially if you reward them.

Note: This, needless to say, depends on the characteristics of your audience. If you serve wealthier clientele, they may not be interested in offers like these.

Affiliate networks – another platform you may want to use. As the name suggests, affiliate networks gather affiliates into a network. You, as a business owner, can leverage these networks and acquire some of the affiliates into your program. This way you can save time searching for affiliates directly and approach them in one place. Of course, this service is costly, so you may consider this option according to your budget options. To get a better idea on how affiliate networks work, check this complex answer on Quora.

Keep in mind, your key goal is to find those affiliates who are able to reach your potential customers. This is crucial. Having 10 affiliates that truly can reach your potential customers is way better than 1,000 who cannot.

Insider Tips & Tricks

Stay local. If you run your small business and focus on concrete location, choose affiliates that operate within the same region. Therefore, search for bloggers, influencers and affiliates who are close to your potential customers.

Always keep an eye on what content your affiliates use. This brings us to one of the cons affiliate marketing has. As you build your affiliate network, your brand is in the hands of other advertisers, not just yours. That represents a risk, as you may imagine. What if they don't use your logo, claim or other brand asset properly?! Keep an eye on that.

Make sure they do not compete with your other ads. Affiliates are here to reach MORE potential customers, not compete with your own ads. Imagine you run search ads on Google and target the U.S. and use the keyword “men's hiking shoes”. If your affiliates target the same keyword, the cost efficiency of your ad will decrease. Make sure you have that under your control.

Communicate with your affiliates. Your affiliates are your partners. They help you grow your business. Make sure to stay in touch with them, organize common events, send them birthday messages and Christmas (or other holiday) presents. 

Calculate your costs and profit margins properly. If you don't, your payment models can go sideways and you will, instead of earning more money, lose money.

At the same time, make your offer juicy enough for your (potential) affiliates. They are here to earn money. It is as simple as that. If your offer does not resonate, they won't join you.

Create great content that sells. Your affiliates provide you with their channels and audiences. But the content – probably the most important factor of your successful campaign – is on your side.

Thoroughly track the performance of your affiliates. Affiliates are people too. People tend to search for shortcuts, especially when it comes to ways to earn money. Make sure you check your data thoroughly and reward affiliates based on the real outcomes they bring you. You may want to see the performance in multiple tools like your affiliate system, Google Analytics, ecommerce solution like Shopify or WooCommerce and others.

Get started with our easy guide

To sum it up, we thought that giving you a complete guide to get started may help. Thus, see the infographics below that can help you with the very first steps.

Sum up in points

Are you gonna start with affiliate marketing now? 

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10 Facts to Know About Facebook Demographics & Stats

With 400 new users every 60 seconds, Facebook is not only the biggest social media platform, but it is continuously growing. Today, there are more than 2,4 billion users which is roughly 60% of all internet users. Nonetheless, some say its audience is getting older as younger internet users are getting excited about platforms like Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat. In this post, we will dig into the most important Facebook demographics and stats, so that you can get a better idea of who to target while creating your marketing persona and your plan on how to reach him or her.

Having a clear picture of how a channel grows is a key component to starting your marketing plan – promotion and content distribution. If you offer sneakers and target youngsters, relying solely on Facebook may not be the best tactic… Why? This audience is more likely to be found using social media platforms, such as Instagram or Tik Tok. Knowing your audience and stats behind the channels you want to use is crucial.

Let's finally dig into the most important Facebook demographics and stats!

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5 Tips to Write Outstanding Texts for Your Facebook Post

Most people have been through the struggle and know how you feel or have felt when writing a piece of content for Facebook, “What text am I supposed to put here?”, “Is this gonna work?”, “Is this too informal?”  Writing an engaging post on Facebook – for your business page, as this is what I will be talking about here (not your personal page where you know perfectly who you represent and what tone of voice to use) – can be challenging. You are trying to get the customer's attention, arouse a reaction and avoid ignorance...

How do you write posts that simply can't be ignored? This is what we will explore in the following 5 tips. Keep in mind, that before you write or produce ANY PIECE OF CONTENT, have your targeted audience in mind. What will be appealing to them? What tone of voice should you use? These are some of the questions that you need to answer.

So, let's dive into 5 tips, so that you know how to become your own best-in-class copywriter. Oh, or not yet… I probably did not stress enough how important it is to catch one's attention! So let's take one step back…

The 21st century offers almost unlimited ways to reach out to your desired audience, your potential or current customers. And that's the problem. There are many ways, many advertisers, businesses (like yours) targeting an audience that has its limits. Especially when it comes to attention span. The more stories we tell and the more frequently we are trying to tell them, the less time we have to draw our audience's  attention.     

8 seconds per one piece of content is on average the time span of a person spending time on social media (by the research conducted by Microsoft). In 2000, it was 12 seconds which only shows how rapidly the span decreases. For some of the placements, like Instastories, it is even less – around 3 seconds. That being said, you truly have to catch the eye or remain ignored…

Luckily, I am about to share some tips for you. If you follow them, your chances will increase!

  1. Keep in mind: Your copy is the bridge between the user's desire and your offer

The user's desire. That is your Holy Grail around which your activities should be tied. When you create a copy, make sure to address it. No one is interested in “just another product”. Need or desires to be addressed first, product/ offer comes afterwards…

  1. Bring your audience in (intensify your text)

Don't speak about yourself. With all due respect, no one is interested (unless you own a big and known brand). Bring your audience into your text, speak about them, use words like “you”, use questions to draw the attention, have a dialogue rather than a monologue... 

  1. Attract users' hidden and unspoken values & beliefs

Everyone has them. Values, beliefs and roles we play or want to play in our lives- we rarely speak about them, but have them in mind every time we make a choice when picking your best suit for a date or arriving at a business meeting in your luxury car. Apple is great at attracting our values and beliefs. Is it a piece of hardware, a PC or mobile phone, or rather something else that increases your status in other people's eyes? The answer is clear, I believe… Be Apple. Leverage on these values and beliefs when describing your offer or when designing a catchy headline.

Note: I do not encourage you to be manipulative. If you cannot help your customers with your product, if you truly cannot satisfy their needs and make their desires come true, stop reading this article, please. But if you and your product can help customers, feel free to show it…

  1. Follow a structure

When creating a FB post, there are certain platforms for which you create the copy. Mostly, it is the text above the picture or video, or a headline that occupies the largest place accompanied by a description. There are few models (continue reading) that – if used well – can help you draw the user's attention more effectively. Follow them and…

  1. Test, test, test…

I know. This has been said thousands of times. But how many of you run AB testing every time you create an ad? Do you think thoroughly before creating the second version that is the copy or do you follow the kind of approach: “Oh, I should do a second version… Let me change one word here… and that's it! I will run the AB test now!” 

Testing is the only right tactic to find out what resonates most within your audience. Who does not test, pretends to predict the future or relies on her thoughts…

I promised to present you some models, structures you can follow to create outstanding Facebook posts. Here you go…

But let us first showcase what a Facebook post usually looks like:

Structure of Facebook Post
Structure of a Facebook Post

  1. Question – Answer + Call to Action – Proof

Ask a question in the text section, answer it (by offering your product, service), use call to action in the headline and add a proof that your solution works (testimonials, number of users, …) in the description section. This model works best if your audience already faces the issue you aim to fix or a desire you aim to satisfy. 

  1. Identification – Call to Action – Urgency

Make the reader feel like you are reading her thoughts when reading the text. Make her feel completely identified with what you write there. Use a combination of short stories and metaphors. After she feels like she just read her life's story, make her complete the action in the headline – offer a way out, a way to improve, a way to get what she desires. In the description, use a sense of urgency. There is something called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that drives people crazy (make sure to read the article after completing this one). 

  1. Come up with yours (tomorrow)

Try to invent your method of approaching your audience in a way that simply cannot be ignored! There are many approaches that can be followed. Go out with your copy, test it and let me know on my LinkedIn profile what worked for you! 

Note: The structure text, headline and description applies for posts that contain a link. If you share a picture, text is the only editable section. Similar rules apply in that case.

Here are some of the posts that were created in a really smart way:

Example of Facebook Posts
Example of Great Facebook Posts

After your post has been published, make sure to check the results! This may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone is checking how well the content performs. Do not be one of them. Measure and build on what works. Facebook allows you to see the engagement rate (percentage of people who interacted with your posts divided by the number of people reached) in the Insights tab. The higher the engagement rate, the better your post has resonated within your fan base.

Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights

Final touches:

You have been given very concrete instructions on how to write an outstanding Facebook post. Keep in mind this is a lot about testing and finding what works for your business. There are, nonetheless, some rules that haven't been mentioned yet:

  • Keep your text short – no one will read long stories.
  • If you want people to complete an action, guide them: use a call to action.

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How Much Does Facebook Advertising Cost?

Well, that’s a tricky question – there are so many variables at play. Depending on your situation, the cost of your Facebook ads could be as much as $10 per click, or as little as 40 cents.

The most important factor is efficiency and performance. Your ads might be super cheap, but if they do not bring any results, it's a waste of money. Define the purpose (the goal) of the ad and what is your cost limit to label the ad as efficient. Many businesses measure success by the number of sold products, leads generated, or potential customers engaged.

There is no rule or benchmark for this, each business is different with different needs and circumstances. Someone might be satisfied with a new lead for $45 and another might not go over $10. One person might consider a $3 cost per click as successful and another would not want to pay more than $2. Calculate the revenue you can get from the lead and think about how much you want to spend per action, this way you can always check whether your ads perform well or not. 

Before you spend a lot of money, try to set up your daily budget for $5 a day. (We will talk about how to set your budget later). Monitor your results. If the ad performance meets your ideas and you have money to raise the daily budget, do it. And do it again, if the ad is bringing you results.

Remember: If your ad is comical, visually appealing, engaging, or all of these combined, people will like, comment or share it more often than they would with some boring copy with a blurry image. If you really want the most from your paid ads, they have to be great to make the people share them and so the ads will be also spread organically. Deciding how much to spend is a good place to start, but always make sure each dollar goes as far as it possibly can. The key is the visual, the text, as well as targeting. Regarding your content creation, read my article about buyer personas, because you should tailor-make it for your ideal customers and you can also find more helpful info in this article about tools for creating visual content.

So, how can you get an idea of how much Facebook advertising costs before diving in?

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5 Effective Ways to Sell Houses with Online Advertising

Gone are the days of driving through different neighborhoods and searching for houses and apartments with the for-sale sign. With around 50% of new homeowners finding their new homes online and only 7% finding it through the traditional yard sign it is easy to see why online advertising is becoming very important and effective in the real estate industry. More and more buyers are using the internet to search and find their dream house and it is easy to see why. Today’s technology allows us to search for any corner of the country for properties from the comfort of our living rooms.

So, with everything happening online here are 5 effective ways to sell houses with online advertising.

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How to Target People According to Their Interests

Have you ever wondered about how it is possible that you actually like the products you see in your feed? That is because of the targeting. You should always know who you are talking to. Who is your buyer persona? If you know it, you can tell Facebook what your potential customers look like and Facebook will target them.

Facebook allows you to target custom audiences, lookalike audiences and saved audiences. The saved audiences are our topic in this article. Those are the audiences that you can define by choosing people’s interests or location, demographics, used devices, income level, etc. You can create Saved Audiences both in the campaign setup phase or in the Audience Manager. To narrow or broaden your audience, you can combine those as much as you like!

Regarding demographics-based targeting, you’ll get plenty of topics to refine your audience based on many options. The basic 3 are: Age, Gender and Language. That’s easy.

Location targeting allows you to pick the whole country, a city, or a specific radius around a pin you drop on the map. Imagine you are a realtor and you have a perfect house to sell in California! As an example, you can target people currently traveling or planning their next trip right there… To read more about the location targeting, read this article.

Facebook Targeting audience
Facebook Targeting in Ads Manager

What is interesting here is the interest-based targeting! Interests are one of the best (and easiest) targeting options. They allow you to target people interested in a specific subject related to your product. Does it sound like a good option to target people interested in your competitors or the market segment you are in? To target people based on interests, you can either browse the menu with hundreds of interests or simply type some of them in and see what Facebook can suggest and offer you.

Everytime you edit your audience, you can check your potential reach and estimated daily results based on your campaign objective.

Facebook Targeting
Facebook Interest Based Targeting in Ads Manager

How does Facebook know? The interests are based on its users’ likes, apps they use, Pages they’ve followed, and more. Adding more than one interest will target people with at least one of them so you’ll broaden your reach.

Behaviour-based targeting allows you to target Facebook users by their purchase history, events they were interested in, personal anniversaries, etc. This data is gathered by Facebook analyzing many factors and also using external data sets.

You can include or exclude people based on another kind of information or connections e.g. ads they click, pages they engage with, the mobile device they use or the speed of their network connection. Interesting, huh? You can read more in Facebook article about best practices for detailed targeting.

Pretty much everything is summed up in the picture above. To save your time, save your audiences, so you can always use them again, copy them to make small changes and have a brand new one.

To read more about this topic, you can download our e-book below!

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7 Facts to Know About TikTok Demographics & Stats

Everybody speaks about TikTok, right? So, why is this platform so famous and who really uses it? Launched in 2016 by a Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok displayed an amazing three-year growth. Today, more than 800 million users engage in this entertaining platform worldwide. Entertainment is what it's all about. TikTok is a platform that allows its users to create short stories and add a musical background. Not by any chance did TikTok (ByteDance) acquire Musical.ly. Music plays a key role in the content of all TikTokers. Let's have a look at the key TikTok demographics and stats!

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