With burgeoning internet subscribers, a rapidly growing social media user base and an increasing number of consumers who make their buying decisions online, Indian brands and businesses can no longer ignore the need for investing heavily in effective digital marketing strategies.
According to the latest figures revealed by TRAI, India had a total of 795.18 million internet subscribers by December 2020 and the numbers are expected to swell further over the coming years.
Marketers are increasingly realising that different online advertising tools are critical to capturing greater consumer mindshare in a competitive marketing space.
Affiliate marketing is one such tool that has emerged as a lucrative element of digital marketing strategies for different brands. A notch above traditional online advertising, affiliate marketing is essentially a performance-based tactic.
Under affiliate marketing, brands partner a series of affiliates or influencing partners to advertise or showcase their products online, but pay them only for positive leads generated.
In an age where television viewership is shrinking while online advertising is becoming more competitive, marketers today are increasingly preferring a performance-based approach to brand outreach. In this regard, affiliate marketing holds significant potential to generate leads and drive sales.
Moreover, it is a cost-effective and customised way of reaching out to your target audience. Besides driving sales and revenue, brands use affiliate marketing to serve a series of other purposes as well including increasing brand recall and engaging existing customers.
How affiliate marketing works
In simple terms, affiliate marketing is an approach where an influencer promotes a third party brand and gets paid based on given performance metrics such as lead generation, sale or pay per click. With an objective to diversify their online marketing approaches, Indian brands are on the lookout for affiliates or influencers who can help bolster or stretch their reach among their target consumers.
At any given point in time, a brand can partner with multiple affiliates and use their online influence to extend the reach of its product.
Be it bloggers with a wide readership, Instagram pages with significant following or YouTube channels with colossal subscribers, affiliating with such influencers can help take you to extend the visibility of your brand to newer horizons.
If you are an Indian brand looking to leverage the benefits of affiliate marketing, here are a few approaches to keep in mind:
Start with a well thought out affiliate marketing plan
When you decide to jump on the affiliate marketing bandwagon, it is essential to do your homework before taking the leap.
What are your objectives from using an affiliate marketing strategy? What kind of audience do you want to capture through the process? Is it only sales you want to achieve or increasing brand awareness over the long term also part of your agenda?
Moreover, what kind of affiliates will suit the needs of your brand? You must have data-backed answers to all these questions, to begin with.
Similarly, identifying and segregating your target audience and analysing the social media networks they might be frequenting are other essential steps to lay the foundation of a sound affiliate marketing strategy.
Often, Indian brands have been found to blindly copy practices and approaches of western brands, which may or may not work in the Indian milieu. So, rather than copy-pasting the approach of other brands or your competitors, you would do well to conduct thorough research, lay out your objectives from the process, and then craft an affiliate marketing plan suited to your needs.
Select the right influencers
In a digital space crowded by social media influencers, it is often difficult to handpick the ones that can really help drive your brand value. Multiple influencers with wide reach on different social media accounts, be it YouTube, Facebook or Instagram create tremendously engaging content every day to help drive sales of their affiliate brand.
However, there is much more than just the number of followers or reach that your brand needs to take into account before partnering with these influencers. You rather need to analyse a series of metrics before taking a call on whether a particular influencer fits into your marketing strategies.
These metrics include the audience demographics catered to by the influencer, the follower growth they are witnessing over the past few months as well as whether the influencer’s image or perspective aligns with your brand and its values.
Also, take into account whether the social media channel used by that influencer is where your target audience is found.
Use multiple platforms and a multi-pronged engagement strategy
To be able to reach a wide array of consumers, it is also essential to widen the platforms and social media channels you are using for your affiliate strategy.
Having a diversified group of influencers on multiple platforms with an intelligent content distribution strategy is inarguably the right approach since it increases your engagement manifold.
So, rather than investing all your influencer eggs in the Facebook or Insta baskets, adopt a multi-dimensional approach. An affiliate blogger can help distribute your product reviews and drive purchases among the more serious consumer segment, a popular You Tuber can help drive leads among the young millennial crowd, while an engaging email marketing strategy through an affiliate can further help you achieve greater conversions.
Essentially, an intelligent mix of influencer affiliates is what your brand needs.
Employ effective performance tracking tools
While crafting an intelligent multi-pronged affiliate marketing strategy is where you begin, it is equally important to track the effectiveness of your approach at regular intervals.
Automated performance tracing tools help you analyse the traffic, leads and sales being generated by multiple platforms and affiliates. This in turn gives you a better insight into which platform is giving you the best ROI when it comes to lead generation and conversion.
So, if your current affiliate strategy is bringing in more conversions from bloggers and You Tubers, you know this is where you must invest greater energy going forward.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
Read More: How Indian brands can maximise their affiliate marketing strategies