Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In today’s world of digital publications, online shopping and influencer recommendations, more media outlets are turning to affiliate marketing programs to make easy money. Essentially, these programs partner with editors and media outlets to promote your products in exchange for a percentage of commission. The affiliate program, and the outlets that partner with them, get a piece of the profits from purchases made through their links — in turn, your brand gets in front of bigger audiences.
On top of being a helpful sales tool for some companies, we’re also starting to see more and more top-tier media outlets that only recommend brands with affiliate links. Brands that don’t have them may miss out on some great coverage opportunities.
There are tons of programs to choose from, and you can expect them to take anywhere from 5% to as much as 30% of sales. Programs like Amazon, CJ Affiliate, GiddyUp and so many others can help your company get into high-performing articles in popular publications. So, the question is: to affiliate or not to affiliate?
Before you make a decision, it’s important to review the facts. To help you know if this move is right for your company, let’s talk about the pros and cons of signing up for affiliate links:
The most noteworthy benefit of affiliate marketing is the increased press coverage, which hopefully results in higher sales. As a PR firm, we see our clients’ opportunities increase significantly when they work with an affiliate program since outlets are much more incentivized to include them. It is an especially helpful advantage for brands in more competitive industries such as beauty, fashion and tech — where just a few great press placements can truly make or break your year.
Another benefit of affiliate marketing is that the coverage received is considered an earned media placement, which holds much more value in the eyes of consumers. Affiliate link articles are less conspicuous than traditional paid ads and appeal to viewers seeking authentic, trustworthy recommendations.
As experts in the communications field, we know that authenticity matters to audiences, with statistics consistently placing it high on the list of consumer values. One recent study showed that 88% of respondents desire to support brands that appear authentic in their marketing efforts. A well-crafted affiliate article reviewing and recommending your products just may be the perfect strategy to resonate with those buyers.
Affiliate programs provide great opportunities for marketing, brand awareness and potential sales. Before deciding if they are the right step for your brand, let’s review some of the downsides to keep in mind.
Before joining an affiliate program, consider whether or not your brand’s profit margins will comfortably allow for the percentage of commission to be paid. The sweet spot for affiliate marketing seems to be midsize-to-large companies that benefit from the press coverage and can afford the cost of it. Small brands need to take a look at their books and review all options when it comes to marketing strategies.
Consider working with an external agency that has the expertise to decipher if an affiliate program is a good fit for your brand. Our clients often ask us if affiliate marketing is right for them, and the truth is, it varies on a case-to-case basis.
In addition to knowing what your brand needs, an agency can help you review the various affiliate program parties and the differences in percentage commissions they take. For companies that are short on staff members, navigating the market for the best-fitting affiliate partnership, setting the account up, and monitoring the program can be too heavy of a lift. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts to step in.
If you’re unsure if your company can afford the cost and labor of managing an affiliate program, consult with an agency or public relations expert to learn more about your options. The right partnership just might offer the press coverage (and revenue) you’ve been looking for.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money in 2023
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
To start affiliate marketing without money, people often think you must become a blogger with a dedicated website — draining money and resources. Although it is helpful to have a blog when you can reinvest in your business and scale upward, it’s not essential. Affiliate marketing with no money means affiliate marketing with free traffic.
Tiktok doesn’t use follower count as a ranking signal, so you don’t need a million followers to make money as an affiliate. You just need to reach the right people. Here’s how to start affiliate marketing on TikTok.
Choose a niche affiliate program
To succeed in affiliate marketing on TikTok, focus on what people spend their disposable income on and stick to it. Once you provide hacks around these areas, you can influence people to purchase them using your link.
An example of this is the Shein Haul. Some categories you could consider include clothing, makeup, electronic gadgets, food, lifestyle and fashion. As a Tiktoker, you can simply start by showing off some items you got on Shein. Add links to the items, as people want to order any clothing they like during your try-on.
Hack your TikTok channel growth with emerging trends
At the core of TikTok genetic makeup are “trends.” The app is built around trends. To grow your TikTok reach and start affiliate marketing with no money on the platform, you have to begin to understand trends. Creatively tap into TikTok trends by:
- Using trending music and sounds; remember to use these sounds while they are still new, so your content gets the impressions while it’s still hot.
- Joining challenges, dances and mashups. Always bring in something new and unique to challenges. If possible, make a better and improved version so others can draw inspiration from yours.
- Take content clues from already viral videos and look out for patterns. What sounds, hashtags and captions did they use? What was captivating in the first few seconds, and how did people react in the comments?
- Initiate trends with your content and make it irresistible; mash-up popular sounds and switch up a current challenge. When you create videos with exciting sounds that are easy to replicate, it’s bound to go viral, as FOMO would want others to replicate
When your content finally goes viral, capitalize on the content that goes viral to build momentum in pushing traffic to your affiliate offer. How can you do this? Engage with every comment on your profile, welcome new followers and ask them what they want to see. This will skyrocket engagement with the viral video and increase its reach. Replicate this process in other videos.
Implement the product into your videos organically
People will scroll away if you sound like a robotic sales ad. To do affiliate marketing on TikTok, infuse your products organically by doing a storytime while using the product, adding it to your daily routine, sharing the product as a reply to a comment asking about it or doing a product review. Try to be as objective as possible.
Essentially, your priority should be to provide valuable information to your audience in an entertaining manner. Then strategically weave the affiliate product into the fun videos.
Promote like crazy
1. Linking affiliate products
Add your affiliate links in easily discoverable areas by:
- Using a popular hashtag if there are other similar affiliate products
- Including your affiliate link in your bio or through a bridge page
- Adding an affiliate URL in your content description
- Offer a coupon or your unique discount code in the comments
2. Build your other social platform audience
Redirect your generated traffic to build engagements and followers on your other platforms. Do this by customizing your profiles and adding a Youtube or Instagram link. Also, let your viewers know they can watch the full clip on Youtube (if you have one).
Starting affiliate marketing with no money means building an audience with a free traffic source — in this case, TikTok. Though TikTok does not restrict organic reach, unlike most social platforms, it still requires a great deal of consistency. Remain consistent in creating entertaining yet valuable content. When you finally start making money doing affiliate marketing on TikTok, invest in TikTok paid ads to scale even faster.
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