How online retailers can leverage affiliate networks to increase sales

How online retailers can leverage affiliate networks to increase sales

At this point, most online retailers know just how critical it is for their products to be visible on leading channels like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. But what about everywhere in between? After all, what’s even bigger than the ecommerce industry? The internet itself!
Moreover, a challenge many online merchants face is how to gain visibility for their unique products. Chances are, Google and Amazon alone won’t bring in enough revenue. So where does one go to market to a very specific, niche audience?
If only there were a way for you to take advantage of the rest of the internet. A way to get a variety of online publishers to promote your products for you in all corners of the web. A way for you to extend your reach and increase traffic without having to do the marketing yourself. Sounds like a dream, right?
Actually, there is a way–and it is not a dream. It’s called affiliate marketing.
In this article, we’ll define what affiliate marketing is, what affiliate networks are, how they can benefit your business, and how Productsup can help get you started.

What is affiliate marketing?

The internet is full of all kinds of online publishers who create different forms of content and maintain long-standing relationships with different types of audiences. Affiliate marketing gives retailers the chance to benefit from these relationships between publisher and consumer. It’s done by publishers promoting or referring your product to their audience.
Affiliates or publishers can come in many shapes and sizes but include coupon providers, bloggers, price comparison sites, email newsletters, and mobile apps.
In order for your affiliates to promote your products, they’ll need a financial incentive. It’s most common for an online merchant to offer commision based on clicks (CPC), lead generation (CPL), or acquisition (CPA). To keep track of this, the retailer provides the affiliate with a unique tracking link to use during the promotion of their product.
So now that we’ve briefly described affiliate marketing, it’s time to talk about another topic that gets thrown around a lot in the ecommerce industry: affiliate networks.

What is an affiliate network & how does it work?

To put it simply, affiliate networks facilitate affiliate marketing. Think of affiliate networks as a marketplace for retailers to list their products and percentage share that they are willing to pay per sale. Online publishers can then browse through and select the best fitting offers to promote to their audience. For example, if a publisher writes heavily about skateboarding and has a strong following, they may choose to work with a retailer who sells skateboarding gear that has listed their offer on an affiliate network.
All in all, affiliate networks act as a centralized and structured meeting point for merchants and publishers to develop and maintain business partnerships. Here is a breakdown of how the process works with a CPA pricing model.

  1. The online merchant sends product data feed to the affiliate network.
  2. Affiliate network lists product and merchant’s commission offer.
  3. Publisher browses offers and selects relevant products to promote to their audience.
  4. Publisher and online merchant confirm partnership and affiliate network creates tracking link.
  5. Publisher promotes retailers product on blog, website, mobile app, or, newsletter, etc using a unique tracking link.
  6. Consumer clicks on the promoted link and is redirected to the merchant's product page.
  7. Consumer purchases item from the online merchant.
  8. The online merchant pays a percentage of the sale to the publisher through the affiliate network.

Here is a simplified graphic of how the process works:

affiliate networks process

Why online retailers should consider adding affiliate networks to their strategy

In order to maximize revenue potential, online retailers need to use a variety of marketing methods, from Product Listing Ads on Google and Dynamic Ads on Facebook to affiliate marketing across the web. But why are affiliate networks worth your time and what can you gain from them? Here’s why retailers already using affiliate networks love them.

Easy access to high-quality, trusted publishers

Most affiliate networks put their prospective publishers through a strict vetting process, making sure they are reputable and provide real value for their advertisers. After all, the last thing you’d want is to have your product promoted on a sketchy website.
The networks also focus on finding a diverse selection of publishers, from bloggers in the UK to influencers in Australia. Essentially, these networks help you put your product in front of a wide variety of unique publishers - who will then share it amongst their audience.
Moreover, before affiliate networks became an industry standard, publishers and advertisers had to find each other themselves, which was often difficult, complex, and time-consuming. Now, they have a centralized meeting point where they can easily and safely conduct business.

Increase sales

All three parties involved in the affiliate network process have something to gain from your product being sold. The publisher will receive a commission, the affiliate network will get paid for their part in the relationship, and you will make a sale. This is why you can count on each part pulling their own weight. Since publishers only see money when you do, they will vamp up marketing efforts to increase sales, ultimately benefiting you.
Keep in mind that affiliates will likely put more effort (time and resources) into promoting your product if there is a larger financial incentive for them to do so. Therefore, the higher the commision you offer, the more traffic you will receive.
On top of that, it’s more than likely that multiple publishers will want to work with you. Having your products appear in more places gives you a higher chance of converting customers!

Boost quality traffic

As with any marketing channel, not all clicks will lead to a sale. However, they do count for building brand awareness and staying in the mind of potential buyers. Remember also that affiliate networks most often run on a cost-per-acquisition basis- which means all non-converting traffic is free traffic!

Simplified logistics

As you probably know - and experience - online retailers are busy people. Any time spent on logistics could be spent making sales, right? This is yet another reason affiliate networks are valuable for retailers- they do the logistical heavy lifting. Things like referral tracking, commission calculations, payment processing, and other details are handled by the affiliate network. This not only saves online merchants a ton of time and resources but also lets them focus on scaling and increasing revenue.

The role of feed quality in affiliate networks

Successful affiliate programs require the retailer to provide the affiliate with a high-quality product feed. This is not only important for the publisher, who needs complete product information in order to best promote your product, but also for the consumer who needs to be enticed enough to click through to your product page and make a purchase.
To break it down, if you export a mediocre product feed with missing or inconsistent information, you’ll get mediocre results. Publishers need as much rich product information as possible, in order to create compelling, convertible content (i.e. a product review or blog article).
Providing a high-quality product feed to an affiliate network will also ensure that consistent information is shared by all publishers. If a publisher promotes your product using information that does not match what’s on your website, a consumer who clicks through will be left confused and, therefore, not convert.

Create the perfect affiliate network product feed with Productsup

One of the main benefits of a top-tier product data feed management software is the ability to quickly and easily export your feed to all types of ecommerce channels. With Productsup, this includes a variety of some of the most reputable affiliate networks. Our long list of preconfigured affiliate network channel templates makes it simple to get your perfectly-tailored product feed to your affiliate network in no time.
Wondering how to increase the quality of your product feed without wasting time and resources? With our variety of integrated bulk-editing boxes, you can easily turn any mediocre feed into a work-of-art within minutes. No matter how big your feed is, no coding is required.
Interested in learning more about how Productsup helps retailers create, standardize, and customize their feeds for affiliate networks? Request your free demo today!
We’ve been doing this for years! See how retail giant, Miinto group, was able to increase traffic by 36% by improving their feed quality for marketing affiliates!

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