Successful affiliate marketing requires a decidedly human touch.
To find true success as an affiliate marketer, more is required than simply paying attention to the metrics. At its best, affiliate marketing is about human relationships and interactions. By definition, affiliate marketing is about forming a partnership, an arrangement where two parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.
Affiliate Marketing – Not Just Another Form of Digital Marketing
Affiliate marketers must be more than just cogs in the wheel of digital marketing strategies. Reporting on a roundtable discussion involving some of the top thinkers at a recent Marketing Digital Exchange event, a recent Campaign article quotes Matthew Gardiner, director of acquisition marketing, UnderTheDoormat, as saying:
“Treating affiliate marketing as a branch of digital marketing is a mistake. What’s often missed and what makes a difference between something doing OK and something working is the human relationship side. It isn’t just a digital silo. It’s about building human relationships with the affiliates, with the partners in those content sites.”
Metrics matter too, of course. Measuring clicks, number of sales, conversion rate, average order size, and gross dollar sales does provide valuable insights for affiliate marketers and the companies with whom they partner. However, beyond the numbers is something even more important – the relationships that affect those numbers. It is only by paying attention to the underlying relationship between a company and its affiliate marketers that a partnership becomes more profitable for both parties.
As Forbes points out, for affiliate marketing to be successful, affiliate marketers must concentrate on partnering with the right companies and seeking out better and more efficient partnerships.
Why the Human Touch Matters
As an affiliate marketer, your first impulse may be to handle the nuts and bolts of affiliate marketing, such as creating ads, building landing pages, and writing articles. This is natural and it may be what you are most comfortable doing, but it may not be the most profitable thing to do for long-term success.
Studying the habits of highly successful affiliate marketers, a pattern emerges. Those marketers who enjoy the most success are concentrating on building relationships. They collaborate, they network, and they broaden their marketing reach by connecting with top people in their industry.
Understanding the Principle of Give and Take
Remembering that a partnership is inherently about creating an environment in which both parties find mutual benefit is key to your success as an affiliate marketer. While you are understandably interested in your own benefit, it is also important to think about how the company with whom you partner can benefit.
There has to be a give-and-take relationship in place to succeed. The first thing you can give is your time. Taking time upfront to learn all you can about a topic before doing anything else will help you to find areas where you can contribute to the conversation and add substantial value to a partnership with a company as an affiliate.
Careful research will help you ensure that you are aligned with the general objectives of the companies with whom you partner. Look through their website, subscribe to their newsletter, and generally get to know the company as a whole. Just as a relationship between two individuals is built by mutual interests and goals, so too your relationship with affiliate partners will be vastly strengthened when it is based on common goals and objectives.
Once you understand where your chosen partner company is headed, then it is time to give again by commenting on blogs and forums, building your credibility in your chosen niche. This makes a partnership with you more desirable and helps to ensure you succeed.
How to Be “Human” as an Affiliate Marketer
As an affiliate marketer, there are some basic relationship tools that will help you to provide that essential human touch in all your interactions with your partner companies. Here are a few:
Clear Communication: The foundation of any human interaction is clear communication. When you begin an affiliate relationship with a company, it is important to ensure that you understand how that company intends to measure your success or failure as a partner. What promotional tactics will the company allow? How frequently will the company provide updated information about products or services to you? What are their expectations for you? These are all items for discussion in the initial stages of your relationship.
Handle Problems with a Team-Building Approach: As is true with any type of partnership, problems will sometimes arise. Acknowledging difficulties in a spirit of full disclosure will help you build trust with your partner companies. Do not be shy about asking for tools they may have to help you succeed. If you are actively promoting their products and services, they will be happy to provide support when needed.
Maintain Confidentiality: Respect the privacy of your partner. Do not share confidential information with competitors or do anything to damage the reputation of your partner company. When considering whether to share information, a good general rule is: “When in doubt, leave it out.”
Spice Things Up: Just like other human relationships, your relationship with partner companies can become stale if you are not careful. Spice things up by being open to new growth opportunities, new promotional approaches, and new content ideas. Successful affiliate marketing is dynamic, constantly changing with the needs of both partners.
Success as an affiliate marketer largely depends on the time and effort you spend creating lasting relationships with your partner companies. If you are genuinely concerned with the success of your partner, you will show it by communicating clearly and frequently, handling any problems in a spirit of team-building, fostering trust by maintaining confidentiality, and changing and adapting your marketing strategies to meet the needs of your partner companies.
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