By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between an online business and an external website or influencer in which the business pays commission to the website or influencer for website traffic or sales. We see many influencers, bloggers and other content creators that use affiliate marketing as a way to make money from their content. There are many arrangements that businesses can do. Some of the most popular affiliate programs that I've seen include ShareaSale and Amazon Affiliates. But can a small business have an affiliate program? The answer is yes, but it depends.
As a small business, you might have a brick-and-mortar store or be a completely online business. There are many things small businesses can do through social media marketing in order to increase traffic to their websites. Some small businesses only use social media to post while others incorporate social media ads into their online marketing strategy. Others might use influencers to promote their products by either offering their services for free or gifting their products to influencers for good reviews and shoutouts. With affiliate marketing, small businesses can do a partnership with influencers and other online content creators instead.
On one hand, it might be more beneficial to continue offering free services to influencers if you can afford it. For example, a hair salon or nail salon can continue offering free services to influencers that promote the businesses through their social media. On the other hand, other small businesses might not be able to continue thriving by offering free products. In this case, I think it would be better for them to implement an affiliate program where a portion of the sale goes to the person or website promoting the products or services. Essentially, affiliate marketing is a way of outsourcing for the small business because it allows the small business to use marketing expertise within their niche without needing to spend a lot of their resources on marketing. This is also a performance-based program which means that your small business is only paying for results, not spending extra money on direct advertising. Overall, utilizing this form of marketing allows you to reach a larger audience by using experienced sales people. It also promotes higher website traffic and conversion rates because of those sales people which can guide customers to your website in a more organic way than by using typical ads.
If you are a small business owner and you would like to begin an affiliate program for your online business, take a look at the following tips and resources.
Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, Adobe Affiliate Program, and in the Canva Affiliate Program, these are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com, Canva.com and affiliated sites.