Affiliate Marketing: The Surefire Way to Grow Your Ethical Business

Polly Michelle CunananMarketing4 Comments

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So, you already have your ethical business up and running. You have your digital presence all set up. But you are not getting as much online traffic as you want. Sales remain low and you are not hitting your business goals. Compound this with the fact that you do not have the budget to run an online marketing campaign.

Quite a quagmire, right?

Fortunately, there is a perfect solution for this. Ethical businesses which do not have the necessary capital to run big budget campaigns can turn to affiliate marketing.

The Guardian defines affiliate marketing as “having a third party or affiliate act[ing] “as part of a virtual sales team by placing ads and links on their website, which will direct visitors to the home page of an established retailer [also known as the advertiser]. Every time that visitor goes on to make a purchase, or another specified transaction, the third party receives a commission.”1

This is also referred to as performance-based marketing or pay-per-action since you as the advertiser will only have to pay the affiliate a commission in return for a sale or preferred action.

Compared to cost-per-click or cost-per-impression, affiliate marketing is cheaper and more effective as it will require the affiliate to work with you in promoting your brand, products and/or services in order to earn. Techradar notes that “it extends your ‘reach’ in terms of audience and, if well targeted, can provide a highly cost-effective, scalable and influential additional sales channel.”2

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How does affiliate marketing work?

There are two ways to conduct an affiliate marketing program:

1. Run an affiliate marketing program yourself.

Some owners and businesses may opt to run their own affiliate programs. This makes the program more personalized and allows the owner or manager to contact affiliates directly and collaborate in running the program. However, this is also a lot of work.

It puts the burden of creating a tracking code, generating contracts and determining payment schemes, monitoring the work and personalized links of each affiliate and ensuring that they help in promoting the business on you as the owner or on your business manager. This in turn eats up a lot of your resources such as time, money and effort. You may even be required to conduct tutorials to help out an affiliate in effectively marketing your products and/or services. Plus, as the brains behind the affiliate program, you also have to continuously update yourself on the latest online trends, including the numerous changes to online advertising schemes, search algorithms and what-have-you.

But this can also be very rewarding as it puts you front and center of running the marketing of your business as well as ensures that all of your marketing schemes are integrated. This also gives you a chance to network as you choose your publishers. Note that the best way to run your affiliate marketing is to choose influencers in a particular niche. For example, if you are running an ethical fashion business, you may want to connect with known ethical bloggers in the fashion and beauty industry. They have the reach and the credibility to market your products.

2. Join an affiliate marketing network.

An affiliate marketing network “effectively act as the middle man between multiple merchants and publishers. So a publisher could sign up and get access to any merchants that network is working with, and vice versa.”3

If you are a beginner with minimal to zero knowledge of online marketing and especially affiliate marketing, this is a great way to start.

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Currently, there are a lot of affiliate marketing networks that run different types of campaigns and programs. Some examples include Amazon Associates, shareasale.com, Viglink, CJ Affiliate, among others. Marketing Donut emphasizes that “as agencies and networks often specialize in specific sectors, it is important to choose one [affiliate network] with plenty of experience or access to lots of potentially suitable affiliates.”4


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Joining an affiliate marketing network is relatively easy. Oftentimes, they would only require the advertiser to provide them their business and campaign goals and they will do the rest — some for a fee that need to be paid upfront. Meanwhile, other affiliate networks would take a share or commission for each action or purchase. Unfortunately, advertisers would also need to give up a certain level of control to the network.5

It is thus important for the advertiser to do your research in choosing the network that is aligned to your business goals and will give you the best value for your money. Note that it would also be good to check out some of their merchants for you to ensure that they are also aligned to your vision. For example, if your business is into sustainability, you would want a similar-minded blogger to promote the same principle. Remember that as an advertiser, your brand integrity should always be protected at all costs.

So take advantage of affiliate marketing now — the oldest and still the most dependable type of digital marketing. Are you prepared to do so and take your ethical business to the next level?

Have you implemented an affiliate marketing program? How have you gone about choosing affiliate candidates? We’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.

Show 5 footnotes

  1.  Tims, Anna. (21 May 2011). “Affiliate marketing: hard but lucrative.” https://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/may/21/affiliate-marketing-lucrative
  2.  Cohen, Dan. (15 October 2012). “A beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing.” http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/roundup/a-beginner-s-guide-to-affiliate-marketing-1104470.
  3.  Simpson, Jack. (16 November 2015). “What is affiliate marketing & why do you need it?” https://econsultancy.com/blog/67171-what-is-affiliate-marketing-why-do-you-need-it/.
  4.  Whittington, Lucy. “Get an affiliate to promote your business.” http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/online-marketing/ecommerce/get-an-affiliate-to-promote-your-business.
  5.  Simpson, Jack. (16 November 2015). “What is affiliate marketing & why do you need it?” https://econsultancy.com/blog/67171-what-is-affiliate-marketing-why-do-you-need-it/.

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Contributor at The Social Copywriter
Polly Michelle Cunanan is a results-driven media and communication expert with over 15 years of experience and proven track record in working with the Philippine Government and donor agencies such as the USAID, World Bank, UN-FAO, ADB, European Union (EU) and media. Political communication, messaging and campaigns are among her expertise. She spearheaded the communication program on the Bangsamoro peace process which led to a conducive environment for the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She is a graduate of BA Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines and has completed the academic requirements for MA Communication Research from the same university. She is an incoming UK Chevening scholar set to undertake MA Political Communication at Cardiff University.
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  • Andy K

    This is a really helpful post!
    I think I’ve been a bit stubborn to embrace affiliate marketing… but I’ll definitely be looking into it as an option now thanks to this post.
    Appreciate all your helpful insights for ethical business!
    Warmest,
    Andy
    Jewel and Lotus

    • Thanks Andy! So glad you found it helpful and yes I encourage you to go down this route! Enjoy drawing up lists of influencers and working with them to help promote your brand 🙂

    • Polly Cunanan

      Thanks Andy! I’m very happy that my article was helpful for you. 🙂 Affiliate marketing is indeed a good way to promote your brand.

      • Vritti Pasricha

        Hi Polly ,
        can i have your email id.