Savvy affiliates understand establishing their website as a brand is key to their long-term success. Even though the foundation of affiliate marketing is based on marketing and promoting offers from other brands, affiliates need to be a brand in their own right.
That’s because brand building comes with many benefits including recognition, loyalty, a perception of size and quality, and the the image of experience and reliability. All of these combine to provide a significant comfort level for potential customers. Establishing that overall trust helps shoppers eventually become repeat customers, which can increase average order value and lifetime customer value – all important success metrics for affiliates.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Some of the largest affiliates (RetailMeNot.com, Coupons.com, and LowerMyBills.com) have done a great job at creating unique identities and name recognition for their respective websites. In fact, most online shoppers simply view them as a destination rather than an affiliate site.
Kim Rowley, founder of KEY Internet Marketing, has several affiliate sites (including ShoppingKim.com, WorkInMyPajamas.com, and ShoeaholicsAnonymous.com), and has been in the affiliate space since 1998. Rowley, who received the 2012 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Marketing Legend, says branding is crucial for affiliates of all sizes.
“Branding is one of the most beneficial things any affiliate can do to stand out from the crowd,” she says. “I have a handful of affiliate sites and by making sure each has its own look, unique value proposition, and clearly defined market position, I am making them memorable to visitors. That gives me a leg up on my competition and fosters loyalty with my audience. And that branding brings repeat visitors because each site is a known entity.”
Building a Brand
There are many ways to cultivate your affiliate brand identity including:
- Creating consistent visual branding (colors, design, logos, fonts, etc.) across all platforms and communications
- Establishing messaging that solidifies market positioning
- Touting differentiators
- Doing SEO for higher search rankings
- Establishing and sustaining a social presence
- Marketing and advertising efforts to gain mindshare
- Consistent engagement with existing and prospective customers via retargeting, emails, newsletters, social media
- Providing relevant content and information
Unfortunately, there’s no one size-fits-all for how to implement each of these elements. Specific tactics and execution largely depends on many factors, including:
- The size of your business
- Your target demographic
- The type of offers you are promoting
- The type of affiliate your are (reviews, content, coupons, etc)
- Your revenue model
However, there are some common, over-arching themes to keep in mind when working to build your brand. You should be thinking about these cornerstones as you execute on specific initiatives. These are all intertwined and work together to create your brand.
Everything you do should be working towards letting people know you are a trustworthy business. From design to messaging to content you create to partners you work with and everything in between. A big part of that is transparency. Be sure to comply with all disclosure regulations, privacy laws and make those easily accessible to visitors.
If customers feel like are you are legitimate business, they will want to give your their business. There are too many scams out there and people want to know they can trust you.
“Consumers have almost limitless information and more choice than ever,” Lisa Riolo, Chateau 20’s Vice President of Operations and Special Projects, says. “With all the digital noise it’s important for marketers to build trust at every touch point in the purchase journey. Otherwise the consumer will just bounce.”
Put the Customer First
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about how they will be navigating around your site. How they want to find the best deals. What they would want to know about products (details, specifications, images). How they might need to contact you if there is an issue (is there an email, contact name and email address). Focus on solving problems for customers. That includes telling them what problem is solved by a product, why they need it, etc. Give them good information in your content. Have them sign up for newsletters or email alerts so you can contact them with good deals that are relevant to them.
Building a brand means showing who you are as business. A human element can make you more relatable. If you’re all about busy moms getting a deal, share your perspective about things that you found useful. Or deals that helped you in some way. Think about what you stand for. Your ethics. Your position. People want to do business with people. And the best brands have a clear message of what they stand for (quality, good deals, great content, finding helpful item, etc.) .
It takes some effort to build your affiliate brand. But in the end having a recognizable brand will make you stand out, increase repeat customers, protect you from increasing competition, and create a long-term sustainable business.