Setting Up An Affiliate Program For Your Ecommerce Business

In this little guide, you’ll learn how you can set your ecommerce business up with an affiliate program.

You’ll also learn how to start affiliate marketing and how to find the best affiliate for your ecommerce business.

Some of the best affiliate marketing websites promote products and services through affiliate networks. Affiliate networks are a fantastic way for you to attract high-value affiliates who can drive a significant amount of traffic to your website.

Starting an ecommerce business is hard. Having an affiliate program can be a great way for you to grow your business, without any extra effort on your part.

A step-by-step guide to setting up an affiliate program for your ecommerce store:

Step 1: Setup Affiliate Tracking

The best way to get yourself setup with affiliate tracking is to join an affiliate network.

These networks have tracking systems already setup for affiliates and merchants so you know exactly what’s going on with your affiliate marketing program. Typical affiliate tracking information includes things like sales generated, clicks generated and which affiliates referred what.

Affiliate networks are online marketplaces where affiliates can find you and apply to start promoting your products. They act as the intermediary between the affiliate marketers and the merchants (in this case, you).

These networks make is easier for you to find affiliates. You also don’t need to go through the hassle of setting up your own affiliate tracking (which can be a pain in the ass).

It’s worth noting that most affiliate network charge monthly fees and some take a small percentage of your sales but in most cases, it’s something that is well worth it!

Here is an example of the affiliate network, Share A Sale:

One of the biggest benefits of using an affiliate network is that they have an established network of affiliates that are looking for new things to promote.

They also tend to get a fairly high amount of new affiliate sign ups because these networks are well known and they tend to rank highly in the search engines.

Step 2: Find Your Ideal Affiliate

The next step is to find great affiliates that can successfully promote your products.

Again, using an affiliate network is a great option here because it automatically put you in front of some great affiliates who can promote your products.

It’s important to join the right affiliate network as different networks have different demographics of affiliate’s that promote all sorts of things.

Here are some of the most common affiliate networks:

Don’t be afraid to target a specific niche. Doing this can help attract affiliate’s that know exactly how to promote your offerings. This also applies to you if your products are of a specific niche.

For example you may own a ecommerce store that sells fitness equipment.

Step 3: Reaching Out To Affiliates

Another strategy you can use to get affiliates is to actually start reaching out to them. This can be especially useful at the start when you haven’t got any affiliates and your affiliate network listing scores aren’t high (because nobody has started promoting your stuff yet).

Find other stores similar to yours and start reaching out to some of the affiliates. Marketers will really appreciate the effort made to reach out to them personally.

Going with the same example as above, let’s say you own a fitness store that sells fitness equipment. You can reach out to stores that are more established in your niche and ask them to become affiliates for you.

You can also find semi-related sites and partner up with them. For example you could partner up with a gym or a company that sells protein shakes and other fitness foods.

Step 4: Decide Your Commission Percentage

The final step to setting yourself up with your very own affiliate program is to decide how much you’re going to pay your affiliates per sale.

If you want to find good affiliates, it’s important that you offer a competitive rate of commission on your products, otherwise nobody will bother signing up to your affiliate program.

Some stores that are just starting out offer up to 50% commissions on their products. This is a great way to get your first few affiliates in.

Once you establish your affiliate program you can reduce to commissions to make your company more profitable.

It’s worth noting that your affiliates aren’t just bringing you one-off sales… they’re bringing returning customers. When a customer purchases a product from you once, they’re up to 70% more likely to buy from you again.

To summarise, it’s worth paying higher commissions to get some great affiliates to promote your products. You’ll quickly make up for the cost through the lifetime value of each customer. You just need to make sure you build that customer relationship and actually remarket to them!

 

Alternatives To E-Commerce Business

While browsing through the content in this blog, you might assume that e-commerce is one of the very few ways to start a profitable online business. If this is the case then you’re definitely mistaken!

The sheer variety of online business ideas we have in 2017 is quite staggering. There are literally hundreds of ways people make money on the internet.

In this post, i’m going to broaden your horizons are show you some interesting online business ideas that you may have not thought about

Here are my top five unique online business ideas:

Instagram Marketing

Instagram is huge nowadays, many people have built highly successful businesses through Instagram alone. Building of a large following can result in you being approached by big companies that sell stuff related to the things you post about on your profile. If you have a six-figure following, you can charge companies thousands of dollars per post. This is through something called “brand sponsorships” and can be an amazing way to monetise your social media account. Just try to make sure you don’t spam your followers with sponsored content as this can be quite off-putting.

Podcasting 

Websites like EO Fire and Smart Passive Income make an absolute killing from podcasting. If you’re good on the microphone and can create a loyal following for your podcasts, this could be a great way for you to get into online business. Companies pay good money to advertise on popular podcasts. The bigger the following, the more companies are willing to pay you per advertisement.

Virtual Assistant

This is an easy job for easy money. Granted, you aren’t going to get rich from this business but it’s a great way to make a few extra bucks a month. You can find great opportunities on the most freelancer websites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour

Google Adwords Consulting

If you’re an expert on PPC, you can make a killing consulting for other companies. Most companies don’t have the time and/or expertise to run a PPC marketing campaign so they’re usually looking to find someone else to do it for them.

Most local businesses can benefit hugely from search engine marketing so your services will be in high demand. This type of consulting is great because you normally charge clients a monthly retainer fee so once you build up a small base of clients you’ll have a lucrative business on your hands.

Buying And Selling Domains

buying and selling domains

This is a great little idea that can earn you some extra cash on the side. Website trading has been a thing since the birth of the internet and it’s still a lucrative side gig that you can get into. Again, this isn’t something that will make you millions but it can be a great way to earn some extra money. I came across this guide on Godaddy which I thought was quite useful. Check it out and do some research, flipping domains can be a highly profitable endeavour if you know what you’re doing.

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E-Commerce Versus Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing and E-Commerce are two very popular methods for starting an online business with relatively low capital. The internet is packed with ideas for online business but these two are probably the most popular routes of passage for people that are just starting out.

This post will take a quick look at some of the pro’s and con’s of each business model to give you a clear idea of what each business model entails and what you can expect from them.

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where the “affiliate” earns a commission from making a product referral.

To explain this in the most simple way, I’ve borrowed this infographic from Bengu Marketing.

affiliate marketing definition

So affiliate marketing works on the premise of affiliate marketers getting paid on a performance basis. This works for both the merchant and the affiliate because the merchant doesn’t have to pay anything unless they make a sale and the affiliate only needs to generate targeted traffic to his offer and provide decent content to generate an income from affiliate sales.

What are the pro’s of affiliate marketing?

  • Low startup costs – You don’t need to take out a loan to start affiliate marketing. Some of the best affiliate programs can be started with just a few dollars.
  • Geographical freedom – This means you won’t be tied down to any location. You could be sipping espresso’s in a beautiful cafe in Italy while running your business through your laptop.
  • Market anything – The ability to market almost any kind of product, allowing you to find something you’re passionate about. You can build a business around something you love with affiliate marketing.
  • You don’t need a website – A website is a valuable tool for many affiliates but quite a few jump straight into paid advertising and promote products directly through to the merchant. Many successful affiliates don’t actually have their own website.

Cons Of Affiliate Marketing

  • Negative stigma – Affiliate marketing has a negative stigma for terrible spammy websites and thin content. This is something that was practised fairly frequently in the past but is slowly disappearing as huge companies adopt affiliate marketing as their primary business model.
  • Lots to learn – You’ll feel overwhelmed at the start with the sheer volume of things that you can learn in order for you to improve your strategies for business success.
  • Low commissions – Some affiliate programs pay measly commissions so you may feel as if you’ve been slightly ripped off by the merchant. The solution to this is to do your research and join one of the high paying affiliate programs that offer higher priced products and pay handsome commissions.

Moving on to ecommerce: 

Starting an online business is hard work and an ecommerce business is no exception. The first step to building a successful ecommerce business is knowing what to sell and finding great suppliers. This is probably one of the most challenging parts of the business.

What Are The Pro’s Of An E-Commerce Business?

  • Speed and flexibility – Just like affiliate marketing, an e-commerce business can be built and run with just a laptop and internet connection. Getting yourself setup with an online store is easy as pushing a few buttons, quite literally.
  • Low startup costs – You can buy a domain and hosting for less than $50 and be up and running with an e-commerce business in a matter of days. Access to large inventory of products is something that is also affordable.
  • Huge market potential – the world is truly your oyster. Your products can be sold to anyone so your target market is potentially huge.
  • No inventory or shipping required – Dropshipping allows you to build an e-commerce business without having to stock or ship out any products. The products is kept at the supplier warehouse and shipped straight to the consumer when a product is purchased.

Cons Of An E-Commerce Business

Stiff competition – Because the barrier of entry is so low for this type of business, there is a lot of competition out there. You’ll need to find unique ways to compete with similar companies that offer the same products as you.

Establishing trust – Most people stick to what they know, people are scared of the unknown so in some cases they will stick with the companies they know even if yours provides a better service. Establishing trust and authority is paramount with an e-commerce business.

Security problems – As you’ll be taking payment information from consumers on your website, you may run into security problems. Hackers are always trying to break through and steal information from websites that are vulnerable. Some of the biggest businesses have been hacked, with credit card details being stolen so this is definitely something you need to watch out for.

Summary

E-commerce and affiliate marketing share quite a lot of similarities due to their online nature, but at the same time, they are very different business models. I encourage you to do your own research to find out which one suits you best before diving head-first into something.

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Finding Product Ideas (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the previous post about finding the perfect product for you to promote in your ecommerce online business. If you haven’t read the first post you can go here to check it out.

Instagram 

Believe it or not, instagram isn’t just meme’s and savage videos of people doing crazy shit. It is a fantastic way to find new product ideas. The fact that Instagram is photo-based makes it easy to shuffle through lots of product ideas in a short space of time.

Here are a couple of ways to maximise your Instagram research time:

  • Hashtags – If you have an interest in a certain product category or field, you can search relevant hashtags and see what comes up. Another great thing you can do is to search hashtags that suggest buyer intent.
  • Product Curation – There are plenty of Instagram accounts that post curated content. You want to search for accounts in industries that you actually have an interest in. Doing this can help you find your next big product idea!

Consumer Trend Publications

I can’t think of a better way to find products than to leverage the research of companies the specialise in telling us the trends that are currently happening in the marketplace. Checking trend publications can be a fantastic way to gain a sense of trend direction in terms of the consumer. Following these publications can also expose you to brand new product ideas and industries you may have not even thought about but do actually have an interest in.

Check out these trend publications:

Trend Hunter – This is the worlds largest as well as most popular trend community. It has a global community of over 137,000 members all over the world. A fantastic source of ideas for entrepreneurs that are looking for new product ideas.

Springwise – There are tons of business ideas that operate in specific ways and have to be marketed using a certain type of process and technique. Springwise is a company that travels the world, on the hunt for product ideas and inspirations. They publish daily and weekly newsletters that you can subscribe too, free of charge!

Product Review Blogs

Product review blogs can be a wicked source of product ideas for you. These blogs are normally operate by affiliate marketers who buy, use and review these products for everyone. This is a great way for you to get some inspiration and find out about some of the most popular products that people are bringing to the market.

Finding Product Ideas (Part 1)

Coming up with an amazing idea for a product can come when you least expect it. Prodcut creation is a fundamental part of most businesses, with the exception of a few models such as affiliate marketing and drop shipping.

Picture yourself showering or going for a brisk walk in the sunshine and you suddenly have a lightbulb moment, almost like an epiphany.

Yeah this happens in a very small percentage of cases. In reality, the majority of people will need to actively seek out the product they end up selling. The internet is packed full of product ideas that you could consider for your online e-commerce business.

In this two part chapter, we will show you the best places to look for product idea inspiration. While going through this list, don’t just think about the products. Think about the potential each product has in terms of the way it can be used, as well as new ways in can be imagined.

Start With Ideas You Already Have

Before you start scouring the internet for product ideas, its best to start with what you have in your head. You’ve most likely got a few product ideas that you’ve been pondering. It may be an idea that you’ve had for years or potentially a problem that you’ve had in your own life that no product has solved.

A few questions to consider when finding product ideas: 

  • What products and niches are you passionate about?
  • What products and niches are you friends crazy about?
  • What pain points and frustrations do you have in your life that could be helped or resolved by a product or service?

Let me give you an example: Max Valverde made the choice to solve a problem he was having every single morning. I’m sure a lot of you guys can relate to this one too. Max has bed head, every morning, without fail. Most guys have to wash their hair to get rid of the dreaded bed head! So Max created a product to solve this problem. Introducing Morning Head. A shower cap with a built in absorbent towel that you can soak with water and place on your head to get it ready for styling. Genius!

Your Local Community

The idea for the perfect product to sell online could be right on your doorstep. Brick and mortar businesses have been about for much longer than their e-commerce competition. Looking for local trends could help find spark that creative genius inside you the leads onto you finding the perfect product to promote. Do some research into your local community and find out about the products and services that are being sold. Find out if local business products and models can be translated into online opportunities for you.

Let me give you an example: Yummy Tummy Soup Company discovered a great opportunity in the marketplace for taking a brick and mortar concept and transforming it into an online business opportunity. This company sends out healthy soups, cakes and pastries in a well thought out care package. They cook and bake their goods daily and send them out to consumers in beautiful, temperature controlled boxes.

Check out the next part of this blog post – Finding Product Ideas Part 2

Finding A Product To Sell Online (Part 2)

In this second part of the e-commerce product finding series (first part here) we will cover three more pieces of the puzzle when it comes to finding the right product for you to market and sell online.

Follow Your Passion

Some people really hate it when people talk about “following your passion” but you can’t argue with the truth.

One of the biggest benefits to moulding a business around your passion is that you’ll keep going in the face of adversity. You’ll beat anyone that doesn’t have the passion you have for your chosen field. Passionate people are really hard to beat, because they just don’t give up.

Example: A guy called Eric Bandholz started a blog called BeardBrand, talking about sales and business strategy. Over time, Eric’s passion for all things beards kept coming up in his blog. He eventually went balls deep with his passion and started BeardBrand. A brand that sells beard grooming supplies to men that are passionate about their beards.

Look For A Gap In The Market

Taking advantage of a gap in the market can be very lucrative. This type of opportunity involves discovering problems in a product that can be taken advantage of. A gap in the market might consist of a product that is missing great features, something that hasn’t been done by the current marketplace competition.

Take Advantage Of Trends Early

Taking advantage of a trend early enough can be extremely lucrative for your business. You have the opportunity to establish yourself as a leader in the marketplace and make tons of sales before anyone else can catch up with you. It can also have a big impact in terms of SEO ranking, if there isn’t much competition, it’ll be very easy for you to rank highly for relevant search terms.

Example: Sophie Kovic, founder of a company called Flockstocks noticed a trend for feather hair extensions as soon as it started happening. Before investing her money into anything, Sohpie tested out the market with a mock up store. She made 11 sales in 4 hours! After establishing that there was a hunger for the product in the marketplace, she fully built out her website and stocked a full warehouse of inventory. Oh and did I mention she ended up winning the 2012 Shopify Build A Business Competition?

Understanding the opportunities mentioned above is paramount to identifying opportunities as you search for the perfect product to market online. You don’t need to rush yourself with this. It is vitally important that you pick the right thing to sell online. The right product could be the difference between a successful business and one that only lasts for a few short months.

Finding A Product To Sell Online (Part 1)

Finding awesome products to sell online through an e-commerce business can be a daunting task. There are a variety of variables that need to be considered before making a choice on a particular product. We’re bombarded with choices but it seems like everything has already been done many times over by different people.

With all these choices, where do we find the golden nuggets? The first pillar to finding and marketing a product successfully is the ability to spot an awesome opportunity when it’s staring at you in the face.

In this article we will look at three opportunity types that you need to become familiar with. Understanding these opportunity types will allow you to effectively spot great opportunities and be successful with marketing these products to consumers.

Find Opportunities In Keywords

Organic search traffic can be an amazing way to for you to sell products in your e-commerce business. Bing and Google will send you massive amounts of traffic that will result in leads and sales for your business. The wonderful thing about being ranked organically is that once you achieve first page rankings and you put the work in once, your rankings usually stay consistent for years to come. So you’ll benefit from the fruits of your labour for a very long time. You just need to do the work.

Finding keyword opportunities involves browsing online for the keywords people are searching for in a certain niche. Once you’ve identified some keywords, you’ll need to check what the SEO ranking difficulty for that search term is. Search terms difficulties can vary massively but as a general rule of thumb, long-tail keywords tend to be easier to rank for compared to more generic short-tail keywords.

The great thing about this is that long-tail keywords tend to be more targeted and have more intent behind them, although you do need to find the sweet spot between enough search traffic and a keyword that has buyer intent.

To complete this process effectively, you need to have a solid understanding of how SEO works as well as how to go about completing keyword research. SEO has so many little subtle nuanced techniques that need to be understood for you to create the most effective ranking strategy.

Organic ranking can be especially lucrative if you plan to get into dropshipping products, as the margins are usually quite small, it is very well suited to using an organic ranking strategy.

Build A Brand That Captivates People 

Building a brand is somewhat of a different approach to the aforementioned strategy. Building a brand involves building an audience and a following. It involves developing an understanding of your target market and creating something unique for that market segment. This approach to your online business can help separate you from your competitors.

Solve A Customers Problems

One of the best ways to build a profitable online business is to find out what problems your customers are having. Many people assume that building a business involves coming up with a wild idea and unfortunately this results in many people creating products and services that people just don’t NEED.

Creating a product based on a consumers pain point is the way to go. This could be physical or emotional pain, any type of pain and struggle people have in their life is relevant here.

Example: A company called Jing knew that people that grind their teeth can suffer from terrible pain in their mouth, as well as leading to expensive dental bills. Jing knew that this was a huge pain point in the market (literally) so they created the Pro Teeth Guard, custom moulded tooth guard at an awesome price.

Finding a Product To Sell Online Part 2

How Your Retail Company Can Stay Relevant In The Age Of Amazon

To many high-street retailers, Amazon seems like an unstoppable beast that is impossible to compete with. The giant that ate retailers for breakfast has overtaken one of it’s biggest competitors, Wal-Mart as the second largest seller of consumer electronics in he United States.

Smaller retailers will be forgiven for thinking that it’s impossible to compete with these giants. But we live in a digital world. A world that provides the opportunity for us to outwit our opponents through clever strategy and marketing.

Middle market companies like TK Maxx and H&M have been growing from strength to strength, proving that although they might not be able to compete with the biggest players on price and inventory, they can still become wildly profitable by taking advantage of the power of data and getting creative.

Here are some ways middle market companies can stay relevant in the face of the Amazon goliath.

Identify Missed Opportunities

A few months ago, the home improvement retailer, Lowe’s, recognised it was literally losing billions of dollars per year because consumers were feeling so overwhelmed when planning their home remodelling that they gave up without even making a purchase.

This is when Lowe’s decided to create an in-store virtual-reality system that allowed customers to design their remodel using VR tools. This enabled the customers to see their new house like they were standing in it.

A little creativity can go a heck of a long way. Discovering sticking points with your products and services and adapting your strategy allows you to optimise the results you generate.

Take Chances

As we swiftly move through this digital world, middle market businesses need to understand that the shopping experience as well as the products they offer is never going to be finished. Modern trends are always evolving and there is now requirement for creating unique experiences for customers.

Whole Foods is a company that has often been criticised for overblown pricing. So they decided to try something different. They went into a millennial-heavy part of Los Angeles and created a store that changed the company reputation as a super high priced grocery shop. They created a custom environment for their audience, including Ipads for ordering to go, a dig hitching station at the front, organic fruit and responsibly harvested seafood. This was all delivered in a much more affordable package compared to the usual Whole Foods offerings.

In this case, Whole Foods took the chance of changing their business model as an experiment to show that they understood budget concerns and the desire to have a great shopping experience.

Take Advantage Of Beacons 

Because are due to drive $44 billion in sales in 2017, according to the most recent predictions. Although some of the first users of beacon technology haven’t had the best reaction from consumers, with some people feeling that they were straight up “creepy” the opportunity for retailers to create great experiences shouldn’t be underestimated.

If it is used to spam people with faceless promotions then of-course it won’t be effective. No better than a poorly targeted ad or promotion. However, if they deliver personalised value based on consumers previous shopping habits then it drive revenue that would have otherwise been lost.

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The Predictive Guide To Marketing Automation For 2017

2016 was a fantastic year for marketing automation. Roughly 55% of B2B companies are using marketing automation as part of their marketing strategy. 91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. All types of businesses are utilising marketing automation to increase generation of leads and sales.

What can we expect to see in 2017? If the last year was anything to go by then we’re in for a heck of a year in the world of marketing automation.

2017 is the year of the customer – Technology has become the forefront for businesses all over the world and made it so much easier for companies to merge and expand at a very fast rate. The competition nowadays is fierce but on the flip side, it’s great for customers because it forces companies to innovate and provide amazing products and services.

2017 is going to be a massive year for customer retention as companies fight against each other in a market that is becoming increasingly crowded. Consumers know they have a lot of choice and they aren’t afraid to jump ship if they find a better deal.

Companies across the world will need to improve their marketing strategies as well as their customer service to offer more personalised experiences for their consumers.

In 2017, more companies will realise that marketing automation is paramount to increasing ROI for marketing campaigns. The uptake of marketing automation technology will increase and a bigger chunk of company budgets will be put towards improving marketing automation strategies.

Customer advocacy will be the goal in 2017 

It’s one thing to keep a customer, but turning them into a raving fan makes them so much more profitable. Recommendations from friends are powerful and have made companies rich over the years. Apple has absolutely smashed this with their brand. Why are people so obsessed with everything when it comes to Apple? Because they have earned advocacy in their market. They have millions of raving fans all over the world who act as brand ambassadors for free.

Marketing teams will change

Hiring a specialist for a certain job makes sense. You need specialists to help you get specific jobs done. However, this may not always be the best approach. For example, you may find that you have a designer that needs to understand more technical aspects of marketing like dynamic content and responsive design. In addition to this, they will need to have an understanding of how their role ties into the over marketing automation strategy of the business.

A marketing team that operates strategically and understand each other’s individual role in the project is a team that will definitely succeed.

We will also see more technical people in marketing teams. As marketing automation evolves and becoming more complex, you’ll need to hire people who understand how these platforms work. People who fully understand how your systems work and how they can be integrated with the latest marketing automation technology.

Integration uptake will increase

Communication is the most important thing for any team, regardless of the department you work in. The CRM your team uses needs to communicate with your marketing automation platform, which also needs to know what’s going on with your content marketing, social media and paid advertising. Reporting and optimising will become much easier when all systems are integrated and talking to each other.

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