Promoting a new product or eCommerce store can be difficult, especially if you don’t have an existing brand or reputation to piggy-back off of. So what are some proven ways you can promote your new product or store?
- Paid advertisements
- Pay-per-click ads (such as Google Ads)
- Sponsored reviews
- Content marketing / blogging
- Affiliate networks
Content marketing requires a large time investment, but can be lucrative, as your investment is your time, writing, and research. You can even hire this out to a writer on your staff or a for-hire blogger to drive search and social traffic to your blog, and in turn, to your products.
Paid advertisements and reviews can be really valuable, but are not as easy to use effectively as you may think. Rather than slapping up your advertisement on a site or simply sponsoring a review, you should be paying attention to the entire conversion funnel, from start to finish.
It starts with a well-designed, easy-to-read advertisement to bring customers to your site. Ideally, this is placed on a site your ideal customers would visit. You then want to ensure that customers land on a page that provides information, answers questions, and assuages fears about purchasing. Finally, you’ll want the checkout or signup process to be as smooth as possible with minimal friction (i.e., using guest checkout or social login, only getting the required information to accept payment, etc).
While these are all considerations you should already bear in mind, there are some alternatives. Affiliate marketing is one.
One major benefit to using affiliate marketing is that all of the marketing responsibility is no longer on you and your staff – affiliate networks expand your marketing team. Creating an affiliate network is like hiring out marketing help on a commissions-only basis, as affiliates write about or recommend your product in exchange for a share of sales.
Another benefit is that the risk is shared – advertising and marketing costs are shared with your affiliates (this may be in the form of them bidding on PPC ads or just in the form of their time while writing reviews). We wrote about this a bit when we discussed why affiliate marketing is a good option, but affiliates promote your product and are only paid when their sales convert. While you have to pay out part of every sale, these could be sales you never would have had in the first place, and they bring new customers right to your door.
As we’ve said before, AffiliateWP is our favorite affiliate tool for WordPress sites, and we wanted to visit a lot of the new and exciting changes that have been made to the plugin recently.
Version 1.2 of AffiliateWP marks some very cool updates to the plugin, especially since I first wrote about it at release. It was a great, flexible plugin already, but there are some new features that I like a lot. The developer add-ons are also very helpful in letting you structure your affiliate network as you choose.
Here are some of the biggest changes to the core plugin in version 1.2:
Per-product referral rate
This is an awesome change for me. Shop admins can set a default rate for affiliate commissions, but they can now be overridden on a per-product basis. This is great if you want to offer higher payouts on new products to encourage affiliates to promote new or featured products. Likewise, you can use this to lower the commission on products that have a lower margin for you.
The affiliate area has been upgraded to a tabbed view:
Previously, this was a bit annoying to negotiate as an affiliate, as all data was displayed at once. Now affiliates can use the tabs to select what they’d like to view.
Creatives for affiliates can now be included in the affiliate area, which are brand assets or stock advertisements that affiliates can use to promote your site or products. A new tab has been added to display these to affiliates and to automatically add the appropriate referral URL for the image:
Adding a creative is very simple from the new Affiliates > Creatives menu. You can name this for your own reference, add the URL the asset should link to, as well as the alt text of the image. You can also add an image, though I’d probably recommend serving the image from Amazon S3 or another storage service. Otherwise affiliates will probably serve the image from your site/servers, which may put a burden on your own hosting service.
You can also make creatives active or inactive, which is helpful for “sale” creatives to ensure that they aren’t available after a sale ends.
Improved Affiliate Management
Affiliate signup and review has been improved as well. You can still review all affiliates that are active or pending approval from the affiliates list:
However, there are some new fields for review. When affiliates sign up, they’ll be asked how they plan to promote your site along with the primary URL at which they’ll be promoting you. As an admin, you can now review this information when approving affiliates to ensure that you want to approve an affiliate application.
Removing affiliates has also been addressed in this release, as you now have the option to delete the entire user account for an affiliate when you remove them from your shop.
Since I last wrote about AffiliateWP, they’ve also released add-ons for developer license holders ($199) and some free add-ons for all users. I like two in particular very much: Tiered Affiliate Rates and Recurring Referrals.
Tiered affiliate rates allows you to set “breaks” for referral amounts. You can determine what will cause an increase in referral rates – for example, you can provide higher rates for affiliates that have a certain number of referral sales, or you can increase rates based on the amount they sell in dollars. This incentivizes affiliates to continue to promote your products, as they’ll earn more money for increasing their own conversions.
Recurring Referrals is also very cool. Using this add-on, you can reward affiliates for subscription payments in addition to one-time purchases. This is very handy for sites that sell subscriptions or memberships, and currently supports WooCommerce, EDD, Restrict Content Pro, Exchange, and Paid Memberships Pro (more details on the product page). You can reward affiliates on each subsequent order for customers that they’ve referred to your site.
I’m also excited to see the upcoming release of Stripe Payouts, which will allow you to easily send payments to affiliates’ bank accounts or debit cards via Stripe.
AffiliateWP is rapidly becoming one of the best affiliate programs for WordPress eCommerce stores. You can manage your entire store and affiliates right from your WordPress admin, and it supports both one-time purchases and renewing payments for affiliate commissions. The recent changes and add-on releases make affiliate management and the affiliate area even better.
As an affiliate, I’d love to filter my statistics and visits per month (in the same way that graphs can be filtered). As an admin, I can’t wait for the Stripe Payouts and PayPal Adaptive Payments add-ons to be released to make paying affiliates in the network even simpler. Even without these features, I still really like using AffiliateWP as both an affiliate and as a store manager, and it makes a great addition to any WordPress store’s marketing toolbelt.