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Successful Drop Shipping Techniques: Starting an Affiliate Program

How to use affiliate programs to grow drop shipping sales

Getting visitors to your dropshipping website is one of the hardest things to achieve and for new businesses growing your audience is crucial if your online enterprise is going to succeed. In this article we are going to look at one of the most effective ways to get potential customers to your website: affiliate programs.

Why should I consider an affiliate program?

In a nutshell, affiliate programs work. According to PRWeb, 40% of Amazon’s income comes from affiliate sales. That was $24 billion in 2012-13. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that generates a lucrative income stream for all kinds of businesses. If you don’t have an affiliate program, you are losing sales.

What is an affiliate program?

An affiliate program is a highly effective way to promote your business online. It’s a system whereby you recruit affiliates to put links to your website on their website (or newsletters and emails.) The links can be in the form of adverts or hyperlinked text. If a visitor from an affiliate’s site buys from your website, you pay them a commission. Unlike Google Adwords, they do not get paid if someone clicks on the link but doesn’t buy.

How do affiliate programs work?

You can purchase affordable affiliate software that is easy to set up and use on your existing website. The software works by giving a unique id to each of your affiliates so that when someone visits your website via their site and makes a purchase, you know who to pay the commission to.

 How does affiliate software help manage an affiliate program?

Affiliate software manages your entire affiliate program for you. It lets you set the level of commission for each sale, organise commission payments and keep a track on which of your adverts and affiliates are performing the best. It also creates an affiliates’ registration page and gives them a user area where they can see their statistics (impressions, clicks and sales). They can also get your sales banners and links form this area.

One of the more advanced features of affiliate software is the ability to create tiered affiliate programs. What this means is that if an affiliate recruits another affiliate, they make commission not just on their own sales but also on any sale that the affiliate they recruited makes. You can choose whether or not to offer tiered programs but, if you do, there can be up to 5 tiered levels of affiliates. The advantage of tiered affiliate programs is that it encourages affiliates to recruit more affiliates to advertise your products on their sites. Affiliates can be very well connected and, if incentivised, can sometimes recruit more new affiliates for you than you can do on your own.

How do affiliate programs improve dropshipping sales?

Affiliate programs are one of the favourite methods used by bloggers to monetise their websites. The reason this is important is that bloggers specialise in writing about specific niches. If you can find a blogger who writes about a niche which matches the products you sell, then it is highly likely that they would be willing to put one of your adverts on their site – especially if they feel it would be relevant to their readers. If one of their readers buys from you, both you and the blogger make money.

The other way in which bloggers can really boost your business is by writing about your products in their blog posts. If you sell shoes, for example, a fashion blogger might give you a good review and put a link to your website in the post.  This is a far more effective and powerful way to sell your products than simply having an advert on the page. This is because blogger are internet influencers – people visit their websites because they value the blogger’s opinions. If a blogger likes your products and publishes a post about them, that post may be read by thousands of people, many of whom will share the post on social media so that it will be read by many more.

This can cause an avalanche of publicity for your business and have a long term positive impact on your sales. A good blog post will stay around for a long time and will appear in Google search results for key words linking to your product or business. To get the best success, you need to recruit the best bloggers in your niche to be your affiliates. If you were selling Timber World log cabins in the UK, for example, getting a review on an authority blog like Best Garden Buildings UK could transform your business.

The good news is that in niche markets, like log cabins, there are very few retailers with affiliate programs and so bloggers in that niche are regularly on the lookout for new affiliate programs and products to review. And of course, once one blogger starts to promote you, it won’t be long before others start to take notice.

How do I recruit affiliates?

The easiest way is to create an affiliates page on your website (most affiliate software packages do this automatically for you when you install the program) and put a link to it in the footer menu. By creating that page, it will be searchable in Google search results. This lets bloggers, who are used to searching for affiliate programs, to find your program simply by searching for your products and adding the word ‘affiliate’, e.g.:  Log cabins affiliates or log cabins affiliate program. If they type this, your affiliate program will appear in the search results.

The second method is to search for relevant blogs in your niche and contact the owners directly asking them if they would like to review your product or put an affiliate banner on their site. Again this can be done relatively easily by using the keywords and adding blog or review. Sometimes this can be a little more difficult because many of your competitors will have their own blogs and reviews on their website – you will need to find independent blogger as there is no way that a competitor will advertise your products.

Using social media, especially Twitter , Google + and Linkedin, is another way to find bloggers who may be interested. The easiest way to recruit lots of affiliates, however, is in the method below.

Using an affiliate management company

The most effective way to generate lots of affiliates is to join an affiliate management company such as Affiliate Window. Affiliate window manages affiliate programs for hundreds of UK businesses and it has thousands of affiliates signed up to advertise their products. When you join, your company will be listed and information about your products will be send to every one of those affiliates. They will also be able to search for you on the Affiliate Window site.

What makes joining a company like Affiliate Window even better than setting up your own affiliate program is that you are assigned an account manager whose job it is to match your company with affiliates who operate in your niche and then recruit them for you. The account manager will also have an excellent understanding of your market niche and will know what tactics work best to get you sales. They will work with you to help create marketing materials and organise promotions which the affiliates will publicise on their websites.

Whilst you may have to pay Affiliate Window for the service, the increased sales which will result may have an enormous impact on you sales. If you can afford their services, it is worth taking this route.

Summary

Affiliate programs are used by many businesses to achieve direct contact with customers who are interested in their niche. They generate targeted traffic and increased sales. However, do remember that once an affiliate sends a visitor to your website, it’s up to you to clinch the deal when they arrive. You also need to remember that part of the money you earn from selling drop shipped products will need to be paid in commission to those affiliates who help sell the products for you. However, any losses in margins would be more than compensated by gains in volume.

If you are considering selling log cabins or garden buildings and need a company which drop ships high quality garden buildings for you and provides you with outstanding customer support, then take a look at our Timber World Dropshipping Account. It’s free to join.