Small businesses have to consider where every penny is spent. It can be hard to decide where to spend your money when every task appears to be of equal importance and the options available to larger businesses just aren’t in your reach. Here are a few benefits of starting affiliate marketing for small businesses that want to maximize the return on their investment in advertising through a less traditional channel.
The paid advertising world is extremely competitive. As more people adopt this marketing practice, the market quickly becomes over-saturated and difficult to break into. If you are in an industry that regularly uses high-cost PPC keywords, the cost of getting your name out there can quickly drain your bank account.
Affiliate marketing, however, offers the opportunity to pay an up-front fee to ad networks in your current or adjacent space. While the cost can be higher, subsequent budgeting is far easier, and your cash flow isn’t interrupted by the constant expense of paid ads. Some affiliate programs also allow you to delay payout to influencers until sales reach a specified threshold as a result of their content.
Many small businesses have limited staff and entrepreneurs who cannot afford to pay a marketing team can still get the benefits of advertising by delegating the creative and implementation responsibilities to an affiliate. Finding a good fit can take some trial and error, but once your company forms a good relationship with an individual, you can sit back and let the affiliate take the reins on advertising your products for you!
If your small business wants to get started on an affiliate marketing program but does not have the funds for upfront costs of setup, exploring options for alternative funding can help. Small business loans or a small business line of credit is a great option to secure funds with either fixed loan amounts or on-demand funds to back and expand your affiliate relationships as your business grows.
It’s easy to get caught up in running your small business and go weeks without having meaningful interactions with your customers if you are a D2C company, or clients if you are B2B. Thankfully, affiliates you work with have the advantage of interacting with your target audience daily.
You have direct control over who works with you as you plan your partner portfolio by vetting each affiliate to make sure they operate within the communities you would like to reach. They know based on comments, likes, shares, and other site metrics which products and content generate more engagement, and they can give you insights on what parts of your offering will resonate the most with their followers.
While this information can be found via alternate channels by a team of dedicated analysts, there’s nothing like working with someone one-on-one to get real-time insights as your product is actively promoted.
Affiliate programs offer small businesses many opportunities to immediately reach their target audience where they are, instead of wasting valuable time tracking down the social channels they interact with the most.
Not all customers interact with your brand and online presence person to person, or even individually over time, so it’s important to have a variety of affiliate partners for them to access your content. Affiliate marketing provides multiple channels, and you can combine evergreen content with timely offers and seasonal promotions that keep customers coming back.
These types of content can vary depending on the industry, product, and customer personas you are currently focusing on, but in general, many small businesses see success when affiliates create tutorial videos, social media posts, product reviews, curated lists and roundups, coupon codes customized for their audience, and much more!
It’s important to note that not all affiliate methods are created equally. The three main types of affiliate marketing are unattached, involved, and related marketing. If you are a D2C brand it’s best to stick with involved or related affiliate marketing, as they are either formed on a solid connection between their platform and your brand, or at least related enough to where the connection is organic and makes sense to show up in their feed.
Unless your brand lends itself to this avenue, avoid using unattached affiliate marketing tactics. The less correlation between your brand and your affiliate, the more confused their following will be, and the outcomes you hope for will not take place. This also means the affiliate doesn’t have to personally endorse your product or service, and potential customers are more likely to show interest in products that someone personally recommends.
An affiliate program for small businesses can bring a lot of benefits that other forms of advertising do not offer. It offers entrance into your target market with greater accuracy amid the competitive paid ads space and can lighten the load as you balance the responsibilities of business ownership and budgeting. Your brand awareness can not only increase within your current community focus but can also branch out to a new customer base as your affiliate partners find new ways to promote your products. It is worth the time spent researching and experimenting with a small business affiliate program!
Want to find out more about the benefits of affiliate programs for small businesses? Check out our collection of informative articles on the TUNE Blog, or send your questions directly to the experts at [email protected].
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.