Marketing Strategies for an Online Business: Using Affiliate Programs to Spread Your Name
You can never have too much help when it comes to spreading the word about your company. The more people you can employ in the efforts, the more likely you are to see people come to your site to see what your online business has to offer.
Affiliate programs are programs that help you create a team of people who are boosting the reputation of your company and of your site. And when they begin to market for you, you can spend more time working on other company needs.
Why Have Others Sell for You?
It might sound a little strange to have others sell your company or your products for you, but it is actually a widely used tool online. The truth is that you cannot necessarily market to every group, nor should you, so it is a good idea to begin to employ the help of as many people as possible.
You can have others sell your products for you, allowing you to see the following benefits.
- More income. Obviously, when you sell more items, you will make more money, even if you are not the one who is directly selling those items.
- More qualified leads. Since affiliates cannot make money unless they actually sell your item, they will be more careful in marketing to people who would already be interested in the product, making them more qualified leads now and in the future.
- More free time. You do not have to spend all of your time marketing your items if you have others who are helping out.
- An increased online reputation. The more that people talk about your products, the more your online reputation will grow and allow you to have more traffic to your site, even without the direct interaction and effort of the affiliate marketers or companies.
- Better connection to audience. Since you will often encourage current customers to become affiliates, they will begin to feel like they are a part of your team, rather than being just the people who send you money.
Affiliate marketing may not allow you to make all of the profits you would like, but as an added source of revenue, this is a great way to encourage people to come to see what you have to offer.
One of the best ways that blogs help out the online markets is through referrals and affiliates. You will notice that on nearly every blog, there are posts about certain products or there are ads that promote products that the blogger has not created themselves.
Because the blogger knows their audience, they know that if they are an affiliate for certain products, their audience will be more likely to buy those items on their recommendation. Bloggers choose these items carefully so as to ensure that they are not just promoting products to make money, since that will impact their ability to effectively recommend anything else to their audience.
You might want to talk to bloggers who have related products to yours to see if you can be affiliates for each other. When one of you sells a product of the other person, that seller will get a cut of the profits, and vice versa.
Bloggers tend to be the best choice for affiliates since they directly interact with their reading audience, but you need to choose bloggers wisely:
- Make sure the audience is related. You will want to propose the idea of affiliate marketing only to those blogs that have content that is related to your company. This will increase the possible results of the affiliate ventures and it will allow you to reach into an audience that will already be interested in what you have to offer.
- Make sure the audience is large enough. Though you might not be able to tell exactly how many readers a blog has, the more readers a blog has, the more likely that your affiliate venture will be a success.
- Make sure the blogger is motivated. The blogger you work with should be motivated to sell your product. This means you need to give them a good reason to do so, and it is a good idea to look at how they have marketed past products to see if they are actually going to support your needs. That said, a part of your agreement might be for you to help them by promoting their products also.
- Make sure the blog has other affiliates that have done well. You want to see that the blogger is promoting other products successfully on their site. How do they promote these other affiliates? Do you think your company will be represented well?
If you look around at bloggers today, many have formed these little networks in which they promote each other's products and they always support others who have related products to their own. While this might seem a little strange to some, this process really helps to ensure that all new products are always getting seen again and again, boosting their ability to be sold easily.
Create Your Own Affiliate Program
While there are affiliate programs and companies available online, allowing you to find products to market and to place your company's products up as something that others can market, it can be helpful to create your own affiliate program.
This will allow you total control over what happens when someone else promotes your product and it will ensure that this effort is successful.
Here are some things to make your affiliate program a success.
- Encourage customers to become a part of the process. You will want to make sure that you encourage customers first to become a part of your affiliate program. The people who already like what you have to offer are generally the people who are going to be the best people to market what you have to sell.
- Offer a strong return for those who sell. Make sure that you make it a good deal for those who decide to become a part of your affiliate marketing program. The person should get a certain percentage of every sale or free products in return for so many new customers.
- Give marketing materials to affiliates. To make affiliate marketing even easier, give the affiliates some marketing materials that they can use, banner ads, sales copy, sales letters, and so on. This will ensure that your company's message stays consistent and it will allow them to have the best possible chance of selling as many items as possible.
- Be available to affiliates. You should always make yourself available to your affiliates so they know that you are around to help them should they have questions or concerns about what they are doing.
You can create your own affiliate program by simply describing the benefits to those who sign up on your blog or website. See what the response is and then begin to watch your profits grow as others step in to make more sales for you.
You can also sign up to help promote other products or list your company on an affiliate program site to encourage others to promote your products. These programs are often very large and they can allow you to create more affiliates for your company, and you do not have to do any of the work to find them.
Some of these programs also include pay-per-click models, which allow you to post your ads on other sites that are related to your company, helping to boost traffic content and create a stronger flow of additional revenue into your company.
Beyond Your Own Website
While your website might be a strong starting point for your online presence, it is certainly not the end of your reach into the Internet.
Though the central location of your online business site is where you want customers to end up, there are many other ways in which you can begin to create connections with customers that lead to sales and to increased interest in what you have to offer through your company.
New Sales Venues
You always need to be thinking of where else you can be online. The more that you are in multiple spots online, the more likely it is that a person is going to find you and that they are going to take advantage of the deals that you are offering.
Sales can be done in a variety of different locations and it is up to you to make sure that you are finding all of these locations and using them to support your company's growth.
Many people do not realize just how helpful Amazon.com can be for businesses. Not only can you find nearly any item you might need for your actual business, but you can also set up your own online business to run through the Amazon site, alongside products that Amazon sells.
Amazon can even pack and ship your products to your customers, if you like, helping to make the process even easier for you.
eBay is another venue in which you can build and grow an online presence. All you need to do is to set up an eBay store and then you can post and sell items online, just as you would on your website.
This allows you to connect with a new audience, while also boosting profits and generating feedback on the items that you sell.
You will also need to pay fees in order to use eBay store functions, but these are generally low and based on the amount of products you sell.
eBay is also a helpful tool for finding out how much people are willing to spend on your products. When you post a product for a certain price, you can then see whether customers are willing to spend that much or if they are willing to spend more, as evidenced in a bidding situation.
If you offer handmade or crafted products through your online store, it is a great idea to get involved with either Etsy or Artfire, or both. You can begin to connect with people who want to have handcrafted items specifically, and you can see what others who are making similar items are doing to encourage people to buy.
You will need to pay fees here as well to post your items on Etsy and Artfire, but you will also be able to create a customized storefront that helps you continue to showcase your website's brand and image, allowing you to continue to grow in the search engine rankings.
A lot of people do not think that listing items on Craigslist is a good idea, but it can be when you are first starting out. You can create short, exciting advertisements that encourage readers to come to your website.
Or you can post items that you are specifically selling, including pictures and high quality descriptions to ensure that you are establishing a strong case for your items.
When you want to create products that customers can then customize for themselves, without your help, you can use Cafepress. By creating an image or a graphic and then uploading it to a Cafepress account, customers can then choose between shirts, mugs, stickers, and more, and they can add your image to these items.
Customers are able to buy items in bulk, helping to spread the message about what you have to offer to others. You can also create items that simply have your company logo and message on them, allowing customers to advertise for your company.
It is also a good idea to use Cafepress for your own marketing needs. By uploading your company's message and website address, you can create products that can then be small prizes for visitors to your site or to your blog. The customer will receive these items and then others in their life will see them and want to find out more about your company.
As an online business entrepreneur, it can seem as though you are often on your own. However, this does not have to be the case. In fact, partnering with other companies is a good way to not only help spread your marketing message, but also to allow you to both find out how to maximize your profits.
- Similar goals. You and your partner should have similar goals so that you understand each other and the actions you want to take with the help of the other person or company.
- Similar products and services. The more related your products or services are, the more easily you will be able to work as a team.
- Similar working styles. Though it is not always possible to find someone or a company that works in the exact same way that you do, finding someone with a similar working style can help you create a more unified front in your partnership.
A partner can be a company like Amazon that works with you to help you create a strong presence both on and off their site, or it can be an individual that can offer a new perspective and a larger audience for your business.
Ideally, a partnership is something that should begin as soon as possible in the life of your online business since this is a working relationship that will grow and develop over time. The longer you work together, the more likely you are to see benefits from working as a team.
Photos and Videos for More Business Visibility
You want to make sure that your business has all of the opportunities to be seen online as possible, in as many ways as possible.
You can use photo blogs, video sites, and photo sharing sites to help you grow your business.
Using these sites will allow you to connect with your audience in new and interactive ways. For example, creating a YouTube channel allows you to have a place where you can post informative videos for your audience, allowing you the chance to show your customers who you are and what you have to offer. Post videos regularly to create a larger following and to encourage YouTube to feature your videos to gain market visibility.
You can use Flickr and other similar sites to post pictures of your products, as well as optimized descriptions. This allows you the chance to show your products in a different format, and then direct the traffic back to your main website.
Posterous allows you the chance to create a simpler blog that can focus on pictures of your products, your company, and more. People can subscribe to your posts and see whenever you post something new to the site.
Look for ways in which you can reach your audience in new ways and your online business will continue to look innovative and fresh.
Google's Business Resources
Google offers many tools for online businesses to use, including web commerce and networking tools.
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