smb-tech-trendsAmong the many options for growing your customer base, you might want to consider an affiliate marketing campaign. Affiliate marketing works by rewarding web channel partners – other website owners or publishers, including bloggers – for driving customers to your website through banner or text ads.

Compensation for your small business affiliate partners can be based on pay-per-click (PPC), pay–per-lead (PPL) or pay-per-sale (PPS).

  • PPC: Occurs when advertisers/merchants pay the affiliate every time someone clicks on an ad that drives a visitor to their website, whether or not a sale is made.
  • PPL: Affiliates receive commission based on some type of conversion of a lead. Visitors directed to the advertiser’s site fill out a form providing their name and other personal details in order to — sign up for a newsletter, download a white paper or request a demo.
  • PPS: Advertisers pay affiliates commission when a referred visitor buys something on their site. The commission can be a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount.

It’s time consuming to build and manage your own affiliate network so that’s why there are many affiliate networks you can join, which will handle the tracking, reporting and paying commissions. You’ll want to spend time researching what networks work best to refer prospective customers for the type of product or services you offer. Some networks are better suited to business-to-business offerings; others are geared to attract mainstream consumers.  Also check out the costs of participating in the network.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Concept.Manage your program to get desired results

Participating in an affiliate network requires work on your part. There’s more to success than having a website and putting up banners and links on affiliate sites and hoping traffic will roll in. For starters you need to optimize your sites to maximize conversions. Also be sure your links are working and up to date.

Have compelling content: Make the job for your affiliate partners easier by providing them with content that sells. Your banner and text ads should stand out to encourage customers to click through.

Monitor data: Take advantage of all the analytical and reporting tools available from your network or select your own affiliate tracking software. Use the data to ensure that your affiliate network is achieving the results you want for your small business. Data will tell you what is selling, what partners are working best and what devices customers are using. If, for example, you are getting more customers through mobile devices,  make sure your website is optimized for mobile.

Treat affiliates well: Keep affiliates in the loop regarding updates or expansions to your product line or service offerings. Provide them with advice on how best to market your products; and always pay promptly.

If it sounds like an affiliate marketing campaign could work for your small business, set goals and invest the time to find the right network or build your own.  You also should assign someone to stay on top of the program to monitor progress.

Have you run an affiliate marketing campaign? What kind of results did you get?

Help us get out the vote for 2013 Small Business Influencer Award

Vote-2013-125x125-red - Copy-4It’s an honor to be among the nominees for the 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards. Voting is underway and continues until September 9. You can vote daily until then.  We appreciate your vote!