6 affiliate marketing strategies for 2023
One of the primary goals of marketing is to build a bigger audience—and then sell to them. But what if you could tap into a massive audience of engaged consumers that already exists?
Well, you can. It’s called affiliate marketing.
While it’s nothing new, affiliate marketing continues to trend upward as more and more brands lean into having third parties vouch for them. 2022 saw businesses spend $8.2 billion on affiliate marketing in the U.S. market, and if the historic data is anything to go by, 2023 will be even bigger.1
Whether you’ve tried affiliate marketing or not, now is the ideal time to start perfecting your approach. To help you see what optimized affiliations can bring in 2023 and beyond, we’ve put together this list of six affiliate marketing strategies.
1. Offer exclusive promos
At its core, an affiliate marketing strategy is a straightforward partnership. Your brand teams up with a website, blogger or influencer and rewards them for generating clicks or sales for your business.
Usually, the reward is a commission on the sales they bring in (as tracked by a unique link or code), but it could also be a flat rate. The affiliate partner promotes your product to their supporters, and you acquire some new leads.
The issue with this model is the lack of benefits for the consumer. While you and the affiliate stand to gain financially, the average person has no real reason to try a product that a vlogger says is worthwhile—even if it’s their favorite creator.
With that in mind, offering a deal to your affiliate’s audience is essential. But it shouldn’t be just any deal. It should be exclusive to that affiliate. Whatever it is—a steeper discount or a BOGO offer, perhaps—if it creates a sense of exclusivity, it benefits everyone.
An exclusive promo becomes a win-win-win for you, your affiliate and the consumer:
- Your brand enjoys more targeted interest, clicks and sales.
- The affiliate gains a reason for new people to view their content.
- The consumer scores an opportunity to try a product vetted by someone they trust at a discount.
2. Set up a tiered payment model
Because most affiliate marketing contracts work on a commission model, there’s already a built-in incentive to promote your brand. However, stagnant commission fees don’t inspire a strong, continued work ethic—especially as inflation looms.
To further incentivize your affiliates, you can set up a tiered commission model that works like this: The more business an affiliate generates, the higher their commission becomes. For example, you could set your initial affiliate commission fee to 5%. After 200 sales, maybe their cut rises to 7.5%; at 1000 sales, it jumps to 10%.
Now affiliates have a reason to promote your brand in the long term.
The bottom line? Find ways to incentivize your affiliates. When done correctly, the additional volume generated by your top-performing affiliates will drive revenue and balance out larger commission fees.
3. Keep the communications coming
On the topic of continued, fruitful partnerships with affiliates, one affiliate marketing strategy stands out: Communication.
One of the most important affiliate marketing tips is keeping up effective and clear communication with your partners. The best affiliate marketing partnerships are ongoing ones. Over several years, a single hard-working affiliate partner can massively boost your bottom line and customer loyalty. However, they can’t do it alone—they need your support.
A successful affiliate marketing program requires regular two-way communication. While it’s tempting to think of affiliate marketing as an effortless growth machine, the reality is that you still need to put work into the relationship.
For your affiliates to perform at their best, they need to know about:
- Messaging changes
- New products
- New promotions
- Best practices
To keep affiliates up-to-date, you can:
- Set up a newsletter for affiliates – Add an affiliate newsletter sign up to your website, or BCC all your partners in a monthly email.
- Create an online portal – While it may take some extra effort, a self-service portal for affiliates will free up time in the long run.
- Communicate directly – An email blast may feel too impersonal for your most significant partnerships. Consider calling or emailing your biggest players directly.
4. Tackle affiliate marketing from all angles
Are you familiar with the Marketing Rule of 7? It’s a classic business adage that suggests consumers need to see your marketing efforts seven times before they buy in.2
Whether you believe in a magic number or not, there’s a kernel of truth to the rule: Exposure leads to opportunities.
Creating an effective affiliate marketing strategy involves all the angles. To maximize exposure in your affiliate marketing campaign, you need to think about the customer journey and find ways to insert your brand into each part.
From beginning to end, the customer’s journey through affiliate marketing will (often) look like this:
- Content sites – This is the classic “awareness” stage. Whether it’s a media site like BuzzFeed or a social media platform like TikTok, high-traffic content aggregators allow you to cast a wide net. For many, this stage will be the first impression of your brand.
- Review sites or specialized blogs – Once a consumer is aware of you, they may start researching your brand. At this point, their search will likely lead them from general content sites to more niche publications.
- Loyalty and cashback sites – Savvy shoppers often head to cashback sites like Rakuten first to read reviews and save money.
- Coupon and deal sites – When the consumer is finally ready to buy, they might head to a deal website like RetailMeNot.
When you partner with affiliates across each of these platforms, you can all but guarantee eyes on your brand. Eventually, some of those eyes will turn to the Check Out button on your website.
5. Affiliate marketing meets artificial intelligence
Whether you like it or not, AI is on the rise in most industries. Instead of running from the future, embrace it head-on—including using it for your affiliate program.
The sooner you familiarize yourself with AI-powered tools for affiliate marketing, the sooner you can focus on other harder-to-automate tasks.
Here are some of the responsibilities that AI can simplify for you and your team:
- Analytics – Toolsets like Google’s Analytics Intelligence exploit machine learning to give you precise data—and even actionable insights—without coding.3 In moments, AI can tell you which channels are performing best.
- Fraud detection – From affiliates generating phony clicks to false positive transactions, fraud is always a concern. AI prediction and detection tools can keep you safe.4
- Keyword research – Services like Twinword offer AI-powered keyword tools for all your written affiliate marketing content needs. If you’ll be supplying blog or media partners with a list of desired keywords, these tools will save you time.
- Affiliate questions – If you have a particularly large affiliate marketing program, you may be able to use AI chatbots to field simple questions from affiliates. Your response time will be quicker, your answers will be consistent and your affiliates will never be without support.
As mentioned, if your affiliate marketing work will involve written content or blogs, search engine optimization, AI tools, analytics, and more all are beneficial for your program.
6. Go international
If you’re ready for an advanced affiliate marketing strategy, consider going international. If you’re only focusing your affiliate marketing on North American or European creators (and audiences), you’re missing out on billions of potential customers.
Depending on the product or service you offer, you can easily partner with affiliates around the world. From South America to Asia, there are countless opportunities to team up with local publications and creators.
In many ways, affiliate marketing is the best entry point into a new market. When your brand makes its first foray into a foreign country, you have minimal name recognition—and no insight into the landscape.
An international affiliate acts as your translator. A locally-based influencer or media outlet can tailor your instructions to their (already captive) audience. Immediately, you gain access to hyperlocal cultural and regional knowledge. And, because affiliate marketing is relatively risk-free, you can experiment in new markets without blowing your budget.
Of course, operating in different countries means following a different set of laws and regulations. Be sure to loop in your legal team before branching out—otherwise, your explorations may not last long.
Let a growth marketing firm handle strategy for you
Although affiliate marketing is a tried-and-true approach to growth with clear benefits, knowing which strategies are best to attain such growth isn’t as straightforward. Here, we’ve touched on a handful of ways to improve your affiliate marketing efforts. But these are only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re ready to learn how to start affiliate marketing, consider teaming up with an agency.
When you partner with a tech-enabled growth firm and digital marketing agency like Power Digital, you gain access to the entire picture. Thanks to years of diving into the murky waters of marketing, we provide deep insights into future-proof strategies.
Our affiliate management program takes the strategizing off your plate, allowing you to focus on what you do best—whatever that may be. To learn more about making affiliate marketing work for you, drop us a line or get a proposal. We’d love to be affiliated with you.