Let’s paint a quick picture of a typical digital startup.
You have a website, you have a great product and now you get to that age old question, “How do I get my product moving?”
You might think about search engine optimization, social media, traditional advertising and “insert numerous other buzz methods here”. All these options are good and necessary but if you missed the one I am focusing on in this article today you will be sorely missing out.
Not only does this strategy have the potential to make a lot of money but with a bit of careful planning it can make you money far quicker than the methods mentioned above.
You will know this marketing tactic by many names.
Some call it referral marketing, others word of mouth but since the first early steps of Amazon rewarding their clients online with referral commissions a whole new industry called affiliate marketing has blossomed.
In the US alone, it has been estimated that affiliate marketing will grow by $6.8 billion in the next 5 years. So it makes sense that your online business should give affiliate marketing a second look, but first a short look at its roots.
A Mainstream History of Affiliate Marketing *
Affiliate marketing in its simplest sense is a business contract between a vendor and an affiliate who promotes the vendor to earn a commission.
Before the Internet this mainly was an area of goodwill where happy clients gladly told their friends and families about a business they received exceptional service from.
The Internet and Amazon really turned this model upside down by actually rewarding clients for their goodwill with Amazon credit to buy more books. This was the birth of affiliate marketing as we know it now and it was all made possible because of the intrinsic nature of the Internet where everything is linked and can be tracked.
You may be wondering at this point how tracking is actually done? The answer is through a snippet of web data called a cookie. A cookie basically tells the vendor who was responsible for the click that came to their website and who ultimately should get the credit if a sale occurs.
So if a business can track where their clients are coming from, it only makes sense to encourage referrals by having an affiliate programme to reward your top clients to spread the word even more.
* You may be wondering why the above was titled “Mainstream” history? Well as with many things in the digital world the true start of affiliate marketing more than likely had a murkier start.
Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing
So you can see the power of having an affiliate programme in your business and you are wanting to drive sales online by utilizing it. However, before you even begin the process there are a few things you should be ticking off.
- Having a great product with great reviews (This should be a given!)
- A talk with your accountant on profit and loss scenarios (Customer retention)
- Statistics on your product performance, conversion rates etc.
- The right tools to manage and pay your affiliate promoters
The last two points are especially important for growing a successful affiliate marketing strategy. If you can prove to top affiliates that you have a high converting product offer they will be more likely to join and promote you. Depending on their networks of influence this can be a huge win for you. However, if you don’t have the right tools to manage and pay your affiliates don’t expect them to stay around. We are going to be looking at this point in far more detail below.
Now that you have answered these questions its time for another big one.
Should I use an affiliate network or in-house referral programme?
This question is one of those it depends type scenarios.
Affiliate networks (such as Commission Junction and Clickbank) are great for new online sellers that require help identifying the top affiliate talent to work with. When you sign up with them, you will have a dedicated account manager guiding you through the ropes of running an affiliate programme.
This includes the very important task of accounting which can be overwhelming for new affiliate managers.
If, however you are more seasoned in the game of affiliate marketing and are wanting to maximize the return on investment, then running your own in-house referral is the way to go.
The reason is simple. You will make more money per transaction.
Affiliate networks typically charge a 30% commission to provide their service to you, whereas using your own referral software typically ranges from 5-10% of your revenue. Some options only charge a monthly fee to use their affiliate tools and depending on your pricing you could even get your per transaction fee to below 1%.
This is a compelling argument for using your own in-house referral programme and why for the rest of this article we will focus on using your own affiliate marketing software using a tool called OSI Affiliate.
Why OSI Affiliate you might ask?
For one, they are voted the #1 Affiliate Software App and also for reasons we will go look at in this article when we compare OSI affiliate to four other affiliate marketing apps.
For now, you may find it useful to try their 15 day free trial here for the purposes of following along in this tutorial.
Introducing OSI Affiliate
If you have ever wondered how to start an affiliate program you are in the right place.
OSI Affiliate is designed and maintained by OmniStar in order to provide businesses with the ability to run successful in-house affiliate programs. Business owners enjoy the features of OSI Affiliate because it allows them to grow their online presence and increase their sales effortlessly. This is especially true when using OSI Affiliate’s king pin feature of automatically adding your top clients to promote you. This point alone is worthy of linking and you will find it here.
OSI affiliate is great if your business is in a pOSItion to revenue share with potential marketing influencers who can leverage their networks for your advantage. Whenever a sale is made, the promoter can receive payment instantly, which is a tremendous motivation for any endorser. Unlike the traditional advertisement model where merchants pay ads fees whether there are sales or not, when you use OSI Affiliate, you only pay commission when there are sales.
This all sounds great, however; creating and managing an affiliate program that would cater for your site can be cumbersome. This is where OSI Affiliate steps in to provide you the merchant with all you would need to manage an affiliate program.
This software will handle everything such as adding products, affiliate signups, managing pay-outs, tracking sales and marketing materials. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key features.
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Rated the #1 Affiliate Software on the Market
OSI Affiliate Key Features
Social Share Widget: OSI affiliate’s social sharing widget makes it easy for merchants to get referral traffic through social media. For your website visitors and customers to get started, all they have to do is to provide their email addresses and then start promoting you. The social and share widget will enable your customers to promote you through social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin with the click of a button.
• Discount Codes and Coupons: This feature will increase sales conversions and reduce bounce rate. Not only does this reward your client but it also is very shareworthy to create buzz around your sale.
• Smart Rewards: OSI Affiliate makes it easy for you to reward your advocates. You can reward your advocates using coupons, commissions, gift cards, and discounts, based on the agreement you have with your affiliates.
• Auto Signup: With the auto sign up feature, you are guaranteed of turning your customers into your affiliates. New customers are not left out, as soon as they purchase from your store, they can be turned into your brand advocate.
• Customizable thank you pages: Your business will go viral when you use OSI Affiliate’s customizable thank you pages. The tendency for a user to promote you is high as soon as he or she lands on your thank you page.
• Contest Manager: In order to keep your advocates motivated and engaged, you can create a contest for your referral program. Advocates will be motivated to promote you more when they track their performances and juxtapose it with that of their peers on the leaderboard.
• Email Templates: Your referral partners can use OSI Affiliate’s unlimited prewritten email templates to increase sales.
• Feedback survey: Feedback survey emails are used to determine which of your customers are likely to recommend your business. Send a feedback survey email to your customers so that you can convert them to your advocate. Feedback from customers can be used to improve your business.
• Popups & Forms: OSI Affiliate’s exit intent and timed popups can be used to convert and engage your website visitors.
• Partnership Automation: With OSI Affiliate, you will easily develop business partnerships. Your partners will promote your brand to their targeted audience, which will translate to an increase in your sales.
So now that you know about OSI affiliate and its key features it is important to know that it is not the only solution out there so let’s compare OSI affiliate to four other options.
In all four cases OSI Affiliate is superior primarily for two reasons:
- A customer feedback mechanism via email. Your customers can give you feedback and if they respond positively the software will prompt them to refer their friends and family. This unique feature is not available anywhere else.
- OSI affiliate has customizable rewards so you can reward affiliates with money or any other gift you decide.
Now let us look at a comparison with four other leading referral apps.
OSI vs iDevAffiliate
OSI Affiliate has an edge over iDevAffiliate in terms of features to price ratio and overall customer support. The following points are why many merchants prefer OSI Affiliate.
• Affordable: A good referral system shouldn’t charge a fortune to deliver quality service. A low monthly fee based on the number of affiliates signed up is all you pay starting at $49 per month. iDevAffiliate is similarly priced but for less intuitive and intelligent software.
• Free Integration: OSI Affiliate makes it easy to integrate the referral system with your store. It takes a few minutes to run the software efficiently.
• Customer support: One of the main criticisms of iDevAffiliate is their lacklustre support. As one user put it, “They get the job done eventually…” So with that said OSI Affiliate wins hands down here with 24/7 live chat and email services that help customers with any issue.
• Apps and Integrations: Major web applications such as Shopify, Leadpages, MailChimp, and Bigcommerce, among others, are linked to OSI Affiliate. This feature is lacking in iDevAffiliate.
OSI vs HasOffers
OSI Affiliate is a good alternative to HasOffers when it comes to affordability, features, and customer experience.
• Affordability: OSI Affiliate is one of the best affiliate software options in the market. You are sure of getting advanced marketing features at a reduced rate when you use OSI Affiliate Software.
• Free Integration for Customers: OSI Affiliate offers FREE setup for new clients which is a lifesaver for time poor entrepreneurs. This is provided as part of their 24/7 support desk.
• Awesome Customer Support: OSI Affiliate team is second to none when it comes to customer service. They have referral marketing experts that leave no stone unturned in solving any of your challenges. In addition, experts’ advice are available on their customer portal from podcasts, webinars, as well as, interviews.
• Apps and Integration: All major eCommerce applications such as Shopify, Leadpages, MailChimp, and Bigcommerce, among others, are linked to the OSI affiliate software.
OSI vs Ambassador
• Ease of Integration: Not a code master? Don’t fret, OSI Affiliate is full of unique features that won’t take an age to implement.
• Superb Customer Service: OSI Affiliate has great customer service that ensures all customers’ complaints are resolved within the shortest possible time.
• No hidden charges: Unlike Ambassador, OSI Affiliate doesn’t charge hidden charges. All you have to do is to pay a monthly fee in order to keep enjoying the service.
OSI vs Tapfiliate
OSI Affiliate has an edge over Tapfiliate in terms of features to pricing ratio.
• Free Integration: The installation process of Tapfiliate is a bit cumbersome. OSI Affiliate Software takes a few minutes to completely install on your system.
• App and Integration: When it comes to integrating your website with major eCommerce application, the OSI Affiliate stands tall. When you use OSI Affiliate, you can integrate your website with Leadpages, MailChimp, Shopify, and Bigcommerce, among other big eCommerce applications.
• Pricing: Most affiliate software is known to be too pricey, Tapfiliate inclusive. OSI Affiliate charges one of the most affordable fees in the industry.
So OSI Affiliate wins, now what?
That is step 1 and as soon as you have done that I would recommend watching the getting started videos.
To make this as easy as possible here is the link to that page https://support.OSIaffiliate.com/support/solutions/articles/14000002928-getting-started-with-omnistar-affiliate-software
In the 2 short (under 5 minutes) videos you will learn basic setup on how to recruit affiliates and also how to integrate the tracking code onto your website or eCommerce store. This is very important because if done incorrectly your affiliates won’t get paid and your affiliate strategy will be dead in the water.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to do this very important first step yourself? No worries OSI have you covered with their FREE integration service. You can request this here. https://www.OSIaffiliate.com/integration.htm
But be warned it is still recommended to watch the getting started videos so you know how to make basic changes to your affiliate pages after OSI Affiliate delivers it to you.
Once setup if you have any further questions they also offer a telephone consultation FREE too.
Ok have you watched those 2 videos? Good!
Now let’s talk about one of the main things every affiliate manager wants to know.
How do I recruit top affiliates for my store?
Recruiting Top Affiliates
One of the biggest drawbacks to running your own in-house referral programmes is finding top talent to promote your brand. Now there are a number of ways I could talk about this including finding social media influencers or looking at affiliate leaderboards but for the purpose of this article I will talk about a little hack you can use in OSI affiliate.
I am talking about automatically adding your top clients as affiliates.
It makes sense they are more likely to refer you to friends and family even if it’s only a tweet out to their followers. Depending on who they are and their KLOUT score this could be a real winning strategy.
So how do you do it? It really is quite easy and OSI have a great tutorial you can follow here https://support.OSIaffiliate.com/support/solutions/articles/14000081693-how-to-easily-sign-up-all-your-customers-for-your-affiliate-program-via-mailchimp
You will notice they use Mailchimp for this example but if you follow the logical steps you can achieve the same results on your own email database.
We have covered a lot of ground in this article today and to finish off I want to highlight 7 key tips for starting your affiliate marketing promotion in 2018.
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