So you have now made the decision to become an Affiliate Marketer. What next? How do you succeed in the field?
The first thing to realise is that Affiliate Marketing, and more precisely Affiliate Selling, is simply a particular type or branch of marketing and sales in general. To become a good Affiliate Marketer, you need first to be a good marketer or seller, generally. Our Affiliate Marketing Platform is only a tool to make your selling easier. We therefore need to first address the question of "what makes a good seller?"
Success in selling is the result of a good planning and execution process. Before you even begin to sell, you must have a plan. An effective marketing/selling plan must have the following key ingredients:
1. Identify your target customers, as well as the product(s)/service(s) that you want to sell to them.
Most new Affiliate marketers tend to go for the "shotgun/scattergun" approach, which is to just try and throw as many links as possible to as many places as they can, in the hope that someone will see the link, click through and perhaps make a purchase. This approach is virtually guaranteed to fail. Marketing at its core involves identifying the customer who at the very least wants, or better still needs the product or service you are selling.
You can approach this issue either from a "markets" perspective, or a "products" perspective. The better starting point is the market, especially if you already have knowledge or experience in a particular sector, industry or market niche. Markets are the source of demand and purchases, and the lifeblood for any marketer. Your market may be people from your church, it may be people in a particular social media interest group, colleagues from work or school or a particular community. Other times markets may be businesses in a particular sector, area, segment or industry. The key thing is that there must be distinguishable identifying characteristics for the market segment chosen which you can use to come up with a selling system.
The other approach is to start with a product or service, or group of products/services that you can sell, and from there identify the relevant markets. This typically is the approach used by business people and entrepreneurs. For you as a marketer, you are not necessarily tied to a particular product or service, and therefore it may be better to work with products for which you already have a market. But sometimes there may be a more lucrative opportunity in dealing with a particular product or service (one that has a higher commission, for example) and therefore you may opt to start by selecting the product, then developing the market for it. If you start with a product, then the next step is to identify market segments who may be most interested in the product or service that you have picked.
Identifying products/services that are easily purchased online is also an important consideration that could enhance your chances of success. If a vendor already sells their products or services online, that is a good indicator that you can also succeed with such products. They typically will also have already defined their products/services well enough for you to take on. Products that are traditionally sold offline, and/or are bulky may prove to be more challenging, depending on buying habits of consumers. Nevertheless, that does not mean that there are no opportunities even in such spaces. Our platform features a shipping and delivery function, so products can be shipped to customers after the purchase is done.
2. Understand in detail the needs and wants of the target market segment
Having identified a market as well as the products or services that you want to sell to that market, it is important to take time to understand better the needs and wants for the market you are looking to sell to. What are their pain points? What is the best solution for their pain? What informs their buy decision? What conveniences are they looking for that are better provided by what you offer, compared to other ways in which they can meet their needs?
Remember that wants and needs often go beyond the core product or service, and may include things like delivery, timeliness, brand, colour match etc. In many cases, those "extras" may even be just as relevant, if not more relevant than the core product itself. It is also important at this point in time to also assess whether the product/service is something that the customer can readily buy using digital platforms. Would purchasing online make it easier or harder for the transaction to happen? If the latter, what can be done to reduce or mitigate the inconvenience of transacting online? At the very least, would it be possible to get the transaction initiated online, even if part of the conclusion of the sale will have to happen offline?
3. Work closely with the vendor(s) that you choose
As an Affiliate Marketer, you are working with other businesses that provide you with the product or service you wish to sell. In other words, you are an intermediary. Understanding the vendor or seller of your product/service is just as important as understanding your customer(s)/market(s). Do the vendor's products/services meet the requirements of your customers? Particularly on issues like quality, timely delivery, back-up services etc. There may even be more than one vendor able to meet the customer's requirements, so you will need to evaluate who the best vendor(s) to work with is.
Engage your vendor(s) and establish good communication lines with them so that you understand the product/service just as well as they do, and can stand in for the vendor when you sell to your customers. Understand things like their delivery terms, payment terms, policy on returns etc, information which customers are also likely to want to know. We are able to arrange for vendors to come through to the office and meet with you, or to arrange for induction sessions at their premises.
In particular, work with your selected vendors to ensure that they put the best possible descriptions on the products/services that they upload onto the Online Marketplace, so that customers are given all relevant information for them to make a buy decision. If customers keep asking a particular question regarding a particular product/service, ensure that the vendor updates their product description to answer the question - and more. Products should also be SEO-friendly so that when you share links they display in the best possible way. Note that descriptions should generally be factual, rather than hyperbolic/flowery.
Also ensure that you understand exactly what happens the moment a customer places an order. Delivery times, methods and terms are important, and it is essential that these be adhered to. Online selling requires a higher sense of trust compared to direct or retail selling, therefore minimise reasons for customers not to trust you.
4. Devise a system, process and strategy for digital marketing
Having understood the customers as well as the vendors, figure out what the best strategy will be for getting those customers to buy, and especially buy online. Your best bet will be identifying the online platforms on which the potential customers are most likely to be found. Retail customers / end consumers tend to be on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, business professionals tend to be found on LinkedIn, while Twitter has mixed audiences. Whatsapp is used broadly to set up special purpose groups, and again you can target those. Depending on your level of expertise in a particular area, you may even set up your own groups to attract potential customers. This gives you the advantage of being the authority within the group.
You will need to come up with an angle or approach that you then use within those platforms. Perhaps posting at a preset frequency (avoiding spamming, of course), participating in conversations, or helping out group members that are making enquiries. You can also prepare content, or share content that is of interest to group members. Bear in mind that the best way of selling is by appearing not to be selling! Rather, be a problem-solver, and typically only offer products or services when someone requests them.
Another popular tool for Affiliate marketing is setting up blogs or even websites, especially if you link these to social media platforms. The advantage with setting up a blog or a website is that you have control over your audience, and can build it up over time. Once people sign up with you, you are able to market to them at your own pace and in your own time. This also enhances your reputation as an authority in that particular area. You can then even use paid adverts to attract people to sign up on your own platform, confident that you can continue to reap rewards at no additional costs thereafter.
If you already have an active blog, website, social media group (including Whatsapp) or other digital asset with a particular audience, you can get in touch with us to set up text or banner adverts with the most appropriate grouping of products/services aligned to your platform, so that chances of conversions are maximised. You will be able to track details of traffic sent to us from you on your Affiliate page on our website.
5. Invest in your business
Have a process not only to ensure you are posting on a regular frequency on the platforms you are participating in, but also to expand the number of platforms, audiences and sometimes even products that you sell. It is a good idea to maintain focus, so for example if you are selling to people who are constructing homes, you can start with bricks, sand and cement but graduate to finishings, furniture and interior decor. Also follow the string when you get a customer(s). Try to upsell and/or get referrals from them, to maximise value.
The beauty of signing up customers on our platform is that you get to earn commission on all transactions that they carry out. You may have introduced a customer to buy ink cartridges, but if they end up buying a laptop, you earn commission on that too. A customer for architectural services can end up buying most of their building materials on the platform, earning you sizeable commissions in the process. Always ensure that you get customers to at least initiate, if not conclude transactions on the platform, rather than offline. That way you get to benefit from their subsequent sales.
Just like anything else worth doing, Affiliate marketing is not something that will reward you overnight. You will need to invest time and effort both in setting up a strategy and in implementing it. If you do it right, rewards will progressively increase as you go. Affiliate marketers easily earn thousands of dollars per month on standard affiliate programs. Our program has the added advantage of an affiliate tree therefore earnings can grow exponentially.
6. Work offline just as much as you work online
While an Affiliate Marketing platform like ours makes it easy for you to market and sell online, you should also realise that business occurs in the real world, ultimately. Digital marketing should be one of a set of tools, not the only weapon that you have in your arsenal. Depending on the types of products or services you are selling, it may sometimes be worthwhile to augment your online efforts with actual physical visits.
For example if your target market is industrial businesses, it can be worthwhile to actually take time to go into an industrial area and perhaps distribute flyers and get business cards which you can then use to initiate online contact. Similarly if you are into construction, it can be useful to go into an area with a lot of construction activity going on to introduce yourself and get contact details from potential customers. Where opportunities present themselves, also participate in offline activities that have a bearing on the customer segment that you are targeting. You can attend industry events, networking meetings, get-togethers etc to get contact and business cards which you then input into your system. You need to build your reputation at every opportunity, and remember that ultimately even online business has an offline component. Blending the two is your best bet.
Some products or services (e.g. tendering) may actually require a lot of offline work, compared to online. In those instances we recommend that you always log your work (and the customer) on the system so that you benefit from their subsequent business.
7. Work with us!
As the proprietors of the platform, we are very much invested in your success. Work with us in terms of how we can improve the platform overall, and also in terms of how we can help you to succeed. We have put this platform in place as a way of helping our members to sell their products and services, but also as a way of creating empowerment opportunities and employment. So we are always eager to hear from you.
If there is a particular product or service that you are interested in servicing but you find no vendors on the shop, inform us so that we can identify members who may not have signed up for this program yet that can provide the product or service.
We also provide regular meeting platforms for Affiliate Marketers where issues can be discussed, and also trainings given on how to market better. You can join our Whatsapp group to be part of the community of Affiliate Marketers.
5. Develop relationships with your market segment, and customers
Business is very much a relational activity, and the general rule is that people do business with people that they know (and trust). You therefore need to spend a lot of time on building these relationships so as to gain your customers' trust. Gaining the trust of your audience also enables you to exploit an oft-ignored fact, which is that nine times out of ten, people will buy from someone recommended by a person they know.
Become an active participant in social media groups or other platforms both online and offline where you engage with your target customers. Even if you have never met any of the participants in the group, active participation means that people get to "know" you and therefore trust you enough to do business with you or listen to your recommendations. Your participation on such platforms should not merely be you throwing adverts and marketing material, but rather it should be genuine participation in discussions, offering solutions and advice, and only when the opportunity presents itself should you then post marketing material. Much as people may know you are a marketer, they do not like being "sold" to.
9. Be a sniper, not a machine-gunnist
Avoid the temptation to be a machine-gunnist, scattering bullets everywhere and hoping to kill something. It is easy to fall into the trap of over-reliance on technology, or the trap of "busyness" instead of business. Even after you have identified specific social media groups that are focused on your area of interest, do not then start to bombard people with your marketing messages day after day, as you quickly earn a reputation for spewing spam, and that works against you. While our affiliate program does pay for link clicks, those will certainly not get you a significant enough income compared to actual sales and signing up new active affiliates.
Rather engage in general conversations, and where the opportunity presents itself you can then showcase products or services that you are marketing that are relevant to the audience. You are much more likely to score a sale when you respond to someone's enquiry on a particular product or service. Another effective way of digital marketing is content creation and sharing. This involves coming up with an article regarding a particular subject matter, and incorporating links within the article to the product or service that you are selling.
Be targeted and honest in your approach, and you are much more likely to close sales.
10. Sign up other affiliate marketers under you
Because the site also features a multi-tier network marketing structure, spending time identifying other Affiliate Marketers to introduce to the platform is a potentially lucrative activity, especially if you are able to identify super sellers. Any affiliates that you introduce are recorded as part of your affiliate tree, and you earn a percentage of their commission income. You earn 25% of the commission earned by your direct recruits, and you also earn 10% of any recruits that they get. You get 5% of the recruits' recruits, 2.5% of fourth tier affiliates and 1.25% of fifth tier affiliates.
Building your affiliate tree can become a great source of recurring passive income for you over time, as more and more affiliates join the program. Of course, you again need to be strategic and tactical about recruiting affiliates that will actually sell. It is actually possible to recruit affiliates from the same groups that you are marketing in.
Note that we only recognise an affiliate as recruited by you when they make enough sales to get their first payout (i.e. earn commissions of at least US$25), rather than just at the point of registration.
11. Sign up vendors
Apart from selling specific products and services, you can also make good income through signing up vendors on the platform. These can be customers that you have helped (if you are into B2B marketing), businesses that you encounter generally, or even a deliberate strategy on your part to actually target vendors as a source of commission. Especially sign up vendors that you already work with who may not yet be on our platform, as that can make management of your commissions that much simpler.
Our business model as an Association is fully digital, and hence we fall under that category of organisations who are probably easier to market online than offline. We currently do all our marketing and get new members purely through digital/online marketing, and therefore you should readily be able to do the same. You earn a commission of 10% of their subscription on signing up the vendor, then a sign-up bonus of an additional US$10 when they actually become a vendor on the platform.
12. Seek opportunities for specialisation / permanent positions
For some, Affiliate marketing can be a rewarding career in and of itself. It comes with the freedom to choose when you want to work, and how you want to work. You can actually build a very rewarding business infrastructure on our platform and as we mentioned, you can also get a comfortable passive income stream by setting up an effective affiliate network tree for yourself.
Others however may be looking to use Affiliate Marketing as a stepping stone to a career in sales and/or marketing. If you have the relevant qualifications, Affiliate Marketing can be the perfect opportunity to showcase your competence and eventually be selected for a full-time position. As the Association, one of our functions is to place staff within our members' businesses, and we certainly will be looking to draw from the pool of Affiliate Marketers for candidates to recommend for permanent positions. Anyone who can prove their worth as an Affiliate Marketer is certainly worth considering for a full time position in sales and marketing.
So if you fall into the group that wants to go into a career, keep us posted and showcase your skills as you market. We will certainly recommend you whenever an opportunity arises.
13. Read up on Affiliate Marketing
The best professionals invest in their craft, and education is a key factor. Read and get to find out how the best Affiliate Marketers go about doing it, and how you can do it better as well. Affiliate Marketing is globally a multi-billion dollar industry, and our program is structured to compete with the best. Learn how you can do it better by reading, then also see how you can apply what you have learned best, in the local context.
Some good articles I have come across are below:
14. Get Started!
As they say, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". If you have already signed up, now is the time to get started. If not, you can click here to get registration details. Happy selling!
The SME Association of Zimbabwe Business to Business (B2B) Referrals and Linkages program is aimed at creating synergistic relationships between businesses in the same sector, with a particular emphasis on SMEs. It is no secret that creating effective business networks will generate far more value for your business than dealing with end customers. Our program enables you to generate additional value for your business by matching you up with other SMEs in your value chain, who can become suppliers, customers or referral partners to your business, depending on how you want to participate. You also earn commissions on referrals that you make of customers to our vendors.
HOW TO JOIN
1. Register on our site as an Affiliate
If you were referred here by someone, you can simply use the joining link that they sent you. If you got here via an advert, search or other means you can click here to access the joining form.
Once you have completed and submitted the form, you should get your registration details sent to your e-mail.
2. Log into your new Affiliate account and familiarise yourself with your Affiliate Plan
Having received your login details you can go back to our Home page, click on My Account, and then on Sign In.
Once logged on, Click on My Account again and then select Affiliates. This will give you details of the Affiliate Plan that you are on. The default plan details are given below
AFFILIATE PLAN DETAILS
Key aspects of the Affiliate Plan are as follows:
(a) Affiliate Menu
From the menu you can view your account balance (i.e. how much you have earned to date), the breakdown of your commissions, how much you have been paid out, as well as banners and widgets that you can use for marketing. If you are a content marketer, you own a website or other digital asset on which you would like to place our banner adverts or if you are looking to market a particular line, you can get in touch with us to set up specific banner adverts and widgets to meet your digital property's specific requirements. We have a very generous banner show as well as click-through commission structure.
(b) Affiliate ID and plan details
The Affiliate ID is your identifier and it is important that as you market, you include your Affiliate ID in any links that you create. Without this ID, your referrals cannot be traced back to you.
Our affiliate plan features a 30 day cookie lifespan. In other words, anyone clicking a link that you share is recognised as your referral for the next 30 days. All transactions done by that customer will therefore be attributable to you, and commission will be paid accordingly. We give you a welcome bonus of US$10 and also pay you rewards for specific actions. Commission rates are also indicated, and flat commissions are paid for showing banners, banner/referral clicks, new customers, new vendors and new affiliates. The higher commissions, though, are paid for sales of products from vendors.
Please note that for new customers, new affiliates and new vendors, commission is only payable when transactions have actually materialised and been concluded from those new referrals. Details are available on request.
(c) Vendor Commissions
Each vendor on our platform offers a commission on sales of their products/services. Commissions generally range from 3% to 16% currently, and are subject to change. You will be able to view the full list of vendors and the commissions they offer from your screen, once you have signed on as an Affiliate.
(d) Multi Level Commissions
In addition to rewarding you for business generated by your referrals, we also feature a network marketing program that enables you to refer this program (B2B Referrals and Linkages) to your colleagues, family and friend. They can also join the program and when they do that as a result of your referral, you also earn a percentage of any commissions that they get when they in turn refer others.
This section lists the affiliates that you have recruited as well as the affiliates under them, and also gives the commission earned on the levels of affiliates that you introduce. The system is completely transparent, so you are able to see exactly who is in your affiliate tree, and also to get exactly how much they have earned on your behalf. All information is shown in real time.
The commission is 25% of the commission earned by your immediate recruits, 10% of the commission earned by people they recruit, and so on down to 1.25% for the fifth tier. The more first-level recruits you have, the greater your chances of growing a highly profitable affiliate tree. So you can generate an additional source of passive revenue through this means.
As the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others. Working with other SMEs on our program will enable you to develop strong networks of both suppliers and customers. Our platform also gives you an assurance of delivery from your chosen partners. What's more, you earn even as you grow your business. Click here to sign up as an Affiliate, if you have not already done so.
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