Affiliate marketing has been a successful way for brands to generate sales for years. It’s also an appealing strategy because brands only pay content creators based on direct sales as opposed to influencer marketing where a content creator is paid for a post whether it performs well or not. As is the case with any tactic that gets saturated, affiliate marketing has earned a bit of a spammy reputation in recent years due to the fact that many brands do it wrong.
Affiliate marketing should be relationship-centric, meaning, that the relationships that a brand has with affiliate partners should be purposefully cultivated and nurtured. This includes individualized outreach and consistent communication in order to convey brand goals and get content creators excited about a brand.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a time-consuming strategy and keeping a pulse on all affiliate relationships to ensure they’re representing your brand well and that they’re complying with FTC guidelines takes work. That’s why many brands opt for affiliate marketing companies who already have strong relationships in place and have affiliate marketing down to a science.
Have the affiliates – try the product out for themselves
This one should go without saying but I’m consistently surprised at how many brands work with affiliates to talk about their product but don’t actually send them the product. These kinds of inauthentic brand mentions lead to affiliate marketing’s bad rep. Good news is, it’s an easy fix.
When partnering with a content creator, it’s okay to have a theme for their post or idea for a campaign but you want to make sure you always leave room for creative freedom. In order for an affiliate to create content that is engaging and that their audience actually trusts enough to buy the product being written about, the affiliate needs to be able to organically incorporate your brand into their lives and thus their content.
Apply “authenticity filters”
Instead of reaching out to a bunch of content creators, be sure to vet potential affiliate partners for a content fit. They’ve curated an audience by being an expert on a topic so make sure that your brand aligns with the topics they write about to ensure success for your earned media.
Also, make sure content creators are engaging with their audience as this shows they will be proactive about promoting your brand.
For your earned content to not come across as spammy, make sure that your potential affiliate partners produce high-quality content. It’s a good idea to read through their content and make sure that too many of their posts aren’t advertorial to ensure that when they talk about your brand, it will come across as sincere.
Familiarize yourself with FTC guidelines and ensure your content creators and willing to comply. Non-compliancy can result in catastrophic consequences for your brand. The FTC requires that content creators let their audience know that they are earning a commission from sales of your product. Additionally, they need to mark their social posts as #sponsored or #ad. Studies show that if a content creator is transparent, their audience still acts on their product reviews as they understand that a content creator needs to earn a living to keep producing awesome content. If an affiliate partner is dodging FTC guidelines, they are not a good partner for your brand and could do actual harm to your brand’s image.
Utilize Multiple Channels
Develop a multi-channel approach and have content creators share your brand on their blog, social media, guest posts and in their newsletters. When an affiliate’s audience sees multiple mentions of your brand, they are more likely to buy your products. Blogs are great for long-form content and will show up in search results for years to come while social media posts create a quick spark for your brand.
Implementing a multi-channel approach from the beginning of an affiliate relationship will ensure maximum exposure of your brand and enable your brand to come across as credible.
Define Clear Goals
To create a successful affiliate strategy, goals need to be established from the beginning so that your brand can steer affiliate partners in the right direction in order to help you achieve these goals.
For example, if you’re a b2b brand, direct your affiliates to a product page where they can register for a demo or download a piece of content. If you’re a b2c brand that sells a product online, equip content creators with a personalized link or code to track sales. If you sell the product in stores, consider having content creators drive traffic to a newsletter sign up or printable coupon page.
Clear goals like the ones I listed will help your affiliates talk about your brand in a way that converts and will build a strong foundation for your campaign.
Do you have any additional tips on how to break down affiliate marketing’s spammy reputation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!