I want to tell you about a dirty little secret of the eCommerce world. It’s called Influencer or Affiliate Marketing. K, fine, it’s neither dirty nor a secret, but we’re in storytelling mode here…

Companies are raking it in using marketplaces like GrowSumo. The marketplace and software is setup to connect businesses with influencers to help promote their products. It’s actually insanely easy in principle…

You have products / software / services that a specific group of people should be interested (yo, if you don’t have a target market setup, we need to talk). Maybe it’s a woman’s shoe store. Maybe it’s a new online software tool perfect for Social Media Marketers. Whatever it is, it is very likely that there are folks in the world right now that have either direct or indirect influence over your target market.

What affiliate marketing let’s you do is to incentivize these influencers to promote your products / software / services with cold hard cash. For instance, let’s go back to the Woman’s Shoe eCommerce business… How many fashion bloggers, instagramers, pinterest boards can you name that own a small-medium sized audience? Let me tell you – there are thousands and thousands!

What if you could easily set up a program that would pay these influencers to promote your products? Think about it this way – what if for every 1000 followers this influencer had, you could get one sale? How valuable would a group of maybe 200-300 influencers be if they were producing these kinds of results??

Quick math >> 200 Influencers >> One Post / Month >> Average Following of 12,000.

That would be 2400 sales / month, strictly from Influencer Marketing. Obviously these are made up variables, and it’s not like you can snap your fingers and produce a network of 200 influencers overnight. But when you consider that each sale should produce an email address, and some percent of repeat business, the power of this exercise should be reasonable huge. In fact, entire businesses are predicated on Affiliate Marketing alone.

Alright, I hope you get how important this truly is. I wanted to dive into some tactics, so we went out and spoke with one of the Founders of GrowSumo about how to respectfully get the attention of influencers…

Quickly. Before we dive into that conversation. On GrowSumo. This is my favorite new affiliate marketing network. Other networks, like Share-A-Sale or Commissions Junction, are super difficult to get into. They require massive integrations within your store, and big upfront retainers so they can pay their affiliates. With GrowSumo, the ecommerce integration was super easy (took me less than a day, with their generous support on a few finer technical details) and they just bill you monthly for all of the affiliate commissions they need to pay out. It’s only $300 / month. It pays itself if you work for it…

How To Use Affiliate Marketing to Grow Your eCommerce Business

David: How many influencers / affiliates does the average store have on your marketplace?

Luke: Some companies have a dozen influencers and some have 500 or more. It depends on the kind of program they want to run. Some companies opt to work closely with a select number of trained resellers, whereas others are looking to open their program as much as possible for anyone that’s interested in promoting them.

David: On average, how many sales does an affiliate drive to their offers each month?

Luke: About 80% of influencers will join a program and be minimally active. Around 20% will be active, with 5-10% being highly active. The number of sales depends on the company that they’re promoting. Companies with higher price points see fewer sales. Some companies reward influencers for signups, and can see a lot of activity come through their channel.

David: How do your companies pick up influencers? Do they just tap their network and hope for the best? Do they setup marketing programs to collect affiliates? Do you support these efforts?

Luke: First, a company needs to decide what type of influencer they want to work with. We think of influencers as anyone that influences a customer’s buying decision. Influencers can be community leaders, bloggers, affiliates, review sites, social media content creators, resellers, agencies, and more. Effectively, influencers are grouped into 2 categories. Influencers that promote, and influencers that sell (resellers) – most companies focus on promoters because they provide greater reach.

Once a company decides what types of program they want to run and type of influencers they want to work with, then they need to find them. The best place to find influencers is by starting with your customer base. Customers know your product. They like it enough to pay for it. They understand your value. And they know how to explain that value to other people like themselves. Every influencer program starts at your customer-base.

From there, you need to identify who your customers are, and how your customers find you. Influencers don’t need to speak about your business vertical, but they do need to speak to your prospective customers. Ask yourself where your customers hang out, who they listen to, what they would read when searching for your solution. Those are your influencers.

GrowSumo’s software also helps companies find influencers using Social Search tools. You provide GrowSumo with keywords and we’ll identify the influencers talking about them on social media or in their blogs. Delivering influencer leads to your inbox.

David: How do your companies maintain good relationships with affiliates? Do they run contests for their influencers? Do they pursue provide resources and content? Do they have managers that teach them how to best promote?

Luke: Managing and engaging influencers is one of the most important, but hardest to manage, parts of running an influencer program. GrowSumo is designed to run fully automated influencer programs. Companies create event-based Campaigns, which emails their influencers based upon their activity, keeping them engaged or re-engaging them, automatically. For example, if an influencer joins your program, closes 10 accounts, or doesn’t promote for 14 days, you can send them an email automatically. No management needed.

Automating communication is huge, because it lets companies focus on their top 5% of influencers that push the most traffic and value, while still saying yes to anyone that wants to promote and work with them. Your top 5% can do more if you work with them directly, so do this – simply ask them “how can I help you succeed”, and then do it. Your program isn’t about you and your business, it’s about them and theirs. Think about how to make your influencers successful and you’ll win be default.

You can run promotions to your influencers through GrowSumo at any time. A promotion takes a regular offer, say 20% commission, and increase it (let’s say from 20% to 40%) for a given period of time. This incentivizes your influencers to promote you during that period of time – helping you take that product launch, financing round, or marketing event up a few notches.

You should provide your influencers with some basic marketing and sales assets to help them learn about your product, understand how to sell and promote it. But don’t overdo it on assets early on. Provide a few basic ones and your influencers will tell you what they need. Create it for them. Remember, their success is yours.

How Do I Find Influencers?

This one is too easy. There are literally dozens of great networks designed specifically to put you in front of influencers. Forgive me, as each has a different model and it’s a whole other article to walk through the pros and cons…

Anyway. Thanks for the read. Hope you liked it. If you have anything to add, email us using the form below. Make sure to sign up to our email list for more great content like this…

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