When one hears talk of affiliate marketing, it usually evokes images of AdSense-like sites where ads lead you to various stores and offers, or a review type site where certain products are pushed by crafty spinners and writers. But that is not the only way affiliate marketing can be utilised, nor where it’s true power lies.

Besides this obvious use, affiliate marketing can be of tremendous use in your lead generating efforts, whether for yourself or for bigger companies you’re affiliated with. Most people that are not really in the know often can’t even differentiate between the two, but the fact of the matter is that lead generation and affiliate marketing are two sides of the same coin.

Put in the simplest terms, lead generators see affiliate marketing as a potential lead gen channel while affiliate marketers see lead generation as another type of an offer – the principle is the same, it’s only a matter of viewpoint.

Best practice

Lead generation is an incredibly important step in today’s business and marketing strategies. It’s mainly used to drive sales, but its usefulness in building brand awareness and improving customer experience is almost invaluable, and it can be that little push that brings any company ahead of its competitors. A fact that is extremely important in today’s saturated markets.

Knowing your audience and keeping them engaged is one of the most important business practices in the always-online, interconnected world. If someone tells you that this arduous process can be outsourced, wouldn’t you be salivating at the opportunity?

Right off the bat, it has to be stated that affiliate marketing isn’t a miracle, one-size-fits-all thing. It is a collection of marketing practices and paradigms that have to be tailored to a particular company. This is true in the case of lead generation, too.

In addition, the information you collected on your potential customers is of absolutely no value if you don’t use it. You still have to send emails and otherwise engage and nurture those leads to create satisfied, repeat customers out of them.

While the execution can be fairly complex and subtle details can make or break your affiliate lead gen efforts, the basic principle is incredibly simple:

A company creates some sort of an offer, either a giveaway or a discount, that they want to exchange for personal information, typically an email address, name, age and so on. The more valuable the offer, the more information you can ask for. All of this is put on a landing page, where a visitor can cash the offer in after filling in the form with the required information.

Now, affiliate marketers can link to this landing page in the same manner they do for any other type of product and the payout is also structured in the same way – per visit, per conversion and so on.

Types of offers

Why would companies want to use affiliates for lead generation?

Well, two reasons spring to mind:

  • Increasing their reach. More people seeing your offer means more potential customers, which means more sales.
  • Cost-to-effort ratio. While you could make a complete marketing campaign, it could very well turn out that it is simpler and cheaper to utilise good affiliate marketers that have their own audience and pre-established outreach campaigns. Why do additional work for nothing?

While affiliate practices don’t differ much in this case from any other type of an affiliate campaign, there are some offers and channels that work better than the others.

One of these that has been proven to work great are sweepstakes. In this case, it is an everybody wins scenario for advertisers, affiliates and customers. A visitor has to leave a certain amount of personal data for a chance to win a valuable prize. The amount of information is, again, based on the value of the potential prize.

Usually, these prizes can be products or services that the particular company sells, a special offer, like a limited edition of a product, or a generic prize like a tablet, smartphone or some other product that people would be interested in.

The type of the prize should be selected carefully, based on the target demographics and buyer personas. Since this can be quite a large investment for the advertisers, affiliates are often involved in the promotion of the sweepstakes and their main concern is the number of leads they can generate – they need to send a lot of traffic that converts into leads, which is a logical goal in any affiliate marketing efforts.

This means that an affiliate has to have a really good outreach and social media strategy to involve as many people as possible in the said offer, be it sweepstakes or some other lead gen effort made by the advertiser.

In addition, if the affiliate is confident in their abilities and the offer is valuable, there is another potential benefit to be had, besides being paid for your efforts.

Affiliates can create pre-landers, where you could gather a bit of info on your audience for yourself. You can’t ask for much though – usually, an email address will suffice – as you still want your leads to reach the main landing page of your client so you can get that sweet, sweet, affiliate cash.

Obviously, using this strategy comes with risks, so be sure that this additional step is not detrimental to the traffic you send to the main lander, and that your revenue remains optimal.

Lead generation and affiliate marketing can be considered as separate entities but they are so intertwined that the difference is purely academic at this point. For all practical purposes, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to improve your lead generation by both increasing traffic and conversion rates.

If you are either an affiliate marketer or have the need for more leads, go ahead and give affiliate lead gen a try, you might be pleasantly surprised by its effectiveness.