Why small businesses and startups are using affiliate marketing to find their next customer

Affiliate marketing allows you to work with individuals that promote what you sell to their audiences and only pay on a performance basis. 

Every business, from the biggest brand to the smallest startup, needs a digital marketing strategy.

That fact has only grown, with online sales increasing by almost 50% in 2020. As shops closed their doors through ongoing lockdowns – leaving people with no option but to buy online – ecommerce purchases skyrocketed and consumers of all ages and all walks of life turned to the internet.

Established retailers with slick online stores could take advantage of this revolution, but that didn’t mean it was bad news for small businesses as data showed consumers were just as eager to shop locally.

A recent survey found almost half have been buying from neighborhood businesses online during the pandemic. And research from Barclaycard indicates that trend is set to continue, with more than 90% of people who have shopped locally saying they will keep doing so as life returns to normal.

If you’re a small business that’s an obvious relief. But just because shoppers want to buy what you’re selling, it doesn’t always mean they know where to go online to find your products.

If you’re strapped for time, the huge variety of solutions companies offer to help connect you with your next customer can feel overwhelming.

So where should you invest your time, energy and marketing budgets to guarantee the biggest bang for your buck and help you ride the wave of interest in online shopping?

Affiliate and partner marketing.

Affiliate or partner marketing, put simply, allows you as a business selling something to work with individual affiliates that promote what you sell to their audiences.

These audiences will be different depending on who the affiliate is. And there is no such thing as a standard affiliate, with a wide range of channels from Google AdWords, paid listings and display advertising to influencers, bloggers, price comparison and incentive platforms like coupon code or cashback sites.

This type of performance-based marketing opens up a new world to many businesses, helping to find your next customer and only pay for results (not risk).

We see it as one of online marketing’s best kept secrets.

There are a range of low-cost options to choose from to create an affiliate marketing program that complements your other online marketing activity. Here at ShareASale we’re proud that we’ve been supporting the growth of small businesses and startups with affiliate marketing for more than 20 years.

Accessible to anyone with an online store, ShareASale offers a variety of solutions that are underpinned by the three principles of automation, ease of use and low-risk.

With a quick and easy setup, supported by comprehensive training materials guiding advertisers as they progress through their affiliate journey, ShareASale offers brands the perfect affiliate marketing solution and empowers these businesses to flexibly manage all their online relationships with one tracking and payment platform – giving you the tools, confidence and capabilities to unlock digital marketing at a time when you perhaps need it most.

Don’t believe us? Let’s examine one startup’s success story on running an affiliate program with ShareASale.

With over 15 years of experience in the rug business, Boutique Rugs is a small direct-to-consumer ecommerce store offering area rugs and runners in a variety of sizes, designs and colors to customers with diverse taste. With an existing affiliate program on the ShareASale platform since 2018, Boutique Rugs looked to elevate and optimize its activity in 2020.

Starting the year with a just small mix of influencers and traditional coupon affiliates, the ShareASale platform allowed Boutique Rugs to understand how every partner influenced a consumer’s journey in the path to purchase. With these insights, Boutique Rugs could then recognize the need to incorporate mass media publishers into its affiliate mix as a new partner type. Not active on the program, mass media publishers had the necessary audience and reach to introduce Boutique Rug products to an untapped customer base.

Furthermore, the ShareASale platform allowed Boutique Rugs to group affiliates within its program for targeted communications and commission rates. This helped the brand keep partners engaged and motivated.

Thanks to the easy-to-use tools and technology of ShareASale alongside the platform’s diverse partners, the Boutique Rugs affiliate program saw $4 million in additional revenue from affiliate-driven sales in 2020, with 46% of all program revenue coming from new affiliate partnerships. Additionally, 10% of all traffic was now being driven by from the newly-engaged mass media publishers.

Are you ready to take the plunge into affiliate and partner marketing? Get started on ShareASale today.

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