We all want to maximize sales, and a great way to do that is by leveraging other people’s networks and influence to sell your products. But is it best to find influencers on your own or use an affiliate network? What platforms are best (and is it just social media)? And how do you even know when profit margins are ready?
Basically in Ecommerce, how can we maximize our bottom line by using affiliate marketing?
Lauren Lee is the Senior E-commerce Business Development Manager at ClickBank, a global e-commerce platform and affiliate marketplace.
This episode of Deal Closers is hosted by Izach Porter, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com, and is produced by Earfluence.
Lauren Lee: There’s effort behind here. It’s not like you’re just gonna reach out to an influencer, you know, make a connection, give ’em a code, and let them do their thing. This is a real strategy, has to be really thought out. Because you want to feel really confident when you go into the marketplace with your offer and offer it to performance affiliates, you want them to win, right? You want them to run traffic to it, and it’s highly converting and they continue to run your offer.
Izach Porter: You’re listening to the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com, a show about how to build your e-commerce business to be profitable, scalable, and one day even sellable. I’m Izach Porter, and on the show today we’re talking about how other people can sell your products for you, and I don’t mean by hiring sales staff.
Affiliate marketing is when a person or a business or a publisher earns a commission by promoting a product, using an affiliate link. And if that link leads to a sale, the affiliate gets a commission. So in e-commerce, how can we maximize our bottom line by using affiliate marketing?
Let’s, find out from our guest today, ClickBank’s own Lauren Lee. Hey Lauren, how you doing? Thanks for being on the show.
Lauren: Hey, I am doing really good. How are you.
Izach: I’m great. Great. We did a little bit of research on you before the interview, and I guess the first question I wanted to ask has actually nothing to do with affiliate marketing.
So I understand that you are in a Buddhist meditation teaching training program. Gimme a little bit of background on that. What does, what does that mean? How does it work and, how did you get interested in it?
Lauren: Yeah. Well, I love that you’re kicking off with this question. It’s very near and dear to my heart, so it’s a good place to start. But, yeah, I am trained in Buddhist meditation and also trained teachers are people who are wanting to teach meditation. and I do that with a studio in New York City called The Path. And I’ve also trained with Chopra and I’m also studying, actually at Harvard, extension School, compassion, and some other courses there.
So meditation obviously helps in many ways. I’m sure it’s a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it; you’re probably maybe even practicing yourself. I don’t know.
Izach: I, I am the worst meditator on the planet. I, I need you to train me because I try to think of nothing and immediately think of like eight things, and then I spend the rest of the time trying to stop thinking about that. I just, I’m terrible at meditation.
Lauren: So this is the common, and you know, we don’t have to spend a lot of time here, but this is very common. This is the absolutely what people say. I can’t do it. I’m a terrible meditator. The truth is there’s just some education that people need that you’re absolutely meditating, when you’re practicing and sitting down and you’re noticing those eight thoughts.
That is meditation, to become aware of that. You’re practicing in this skill of awareness. So it’s not about clearing the mind and never thinking again, because that’s the nature of the mind. It’s going to think. It’s becoming more and more aware of the thoughts that you are having, and then if, if you want, you can explore them off the cushion, so to speak. Like, oh, interesting that I’m thinking this right now, or that these feelings and sensations are coming up in my body.
So it’s, it’s more of a tool to help you become more wise and more compassionate
Izach: Awesome. All right. Well, I could ask a bunch of questions about meditation cuz I’m, I’m actually really interested in it, but I want to get into affiliate marketing. Can you give us, I guess, a little bit of a background and like a structural overview on how affiliate marketing works and then I guess how ClickBank is part of that ecosystem.
Lauren: Yes. Another really good question. So you’re, you gave a really good overview of what affiliate marketing, and it’s essentially you’re rewarding a company or a person for driving sales to your business. So affiliate marketing is a big umbrella term. And underneath there, there are many different strategies within affiliate marketing.
So ma many listeners may be familiar with, and maybe you are too, with maybe influencers or ambassadors, or maybe working with select publishers or partnerships with other businesses. These are all different methods of affiliate market. Where ClickBank, the company I work for, sits within affiliate marketing is we are a network, and I’ll put a pin in that for a second cuz we will circle back to what that means.
But essentially, a network is going to allow you to sync, A business is going to be able to sync and connect with affiliates, affiliates of many different types. ClickBank has a certain type of affiliate, so we’re not gonna connect you to an influencers or ambassadors or select publishers. We’re gonna connect you to a type of affiliate called Performance Affiliates.
So, performance affiliates are, media buyers. That means they are an extension of your acquisition efforts of your, you know, efforts to drive traffic. But they are buying media on behalf of your company.
That is totally different than say, like you’re partnering with an influencer. They’re a chef and you have a cooking product, and they’re gonna, you know, share your product and then offer a discount code. Media buyers are literally buying media from Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, et cetera, and driving traffic to a very specific destination for that, that traffic to go to.
That’s kind of like a big overview of different strategies within affiliate marketing. And then I think just a good indicator is you are either a brand seller, you are an affiliate, or you are a network within this space and there’s also agencies, but now we’re kind of muddying the water waters a little bit.
Izach: Yeah, well we, we actually at Website Closers, we sell a lot of affiliate marketing agencies, number one. And then a lot of, you know, the vast majority of our, our sell side clients are e-commerce brands.
And I wanna dig into this distinction between performance affiliates and influencers, because most of my clients are using influencer marketing in some way, and they’re having a hard time, you know, finding those influencers. So if I’m an e-commerce brand and I want to scale, how can these performance marketers really help me scale up my business in a cost-efficient way?
Lauren: Yes. This is an excellent question and so I’m working with an e-commerce brand right now in the supplements and consumable space. And they did exactly what you just talked about, where they’re scaling their business through direct to consumer. They’re using ambassadors, they’re using influencers. they’re in select retail stores and, and they’re doing the best they can and they’re doing a really good job.
And now they wanna layer in performance affiliates into their business. Performance Affiliates are really going to help you scale in traffic and conversions and acquisitions. So an influencer is literally what that is. It’s an influence on your product to encourage somebody, a warm audience, to go to your product, check it out, and hopefully make that conversion.
A performance affiliate is going to drive cold traffic, so weren’t aware with of your brand. We’re in the market for it, and they’re gonna drive cold traffic directly to a landing page. And this is a really big important part in terms of where the traffic is getting pointed to.
So I think to your question, how can an e-commerce brand leverage performance affiliates? It’s when you’re ready to scale in terms of your acquisition efforts and not just lay out a bunch of cash to do that, right?
Izach: So everybody’s probably in that boat.
Lauren: Affiliates are doing that for you, and you’re not, you’re not paying out for that conversion or that traffic until there’s actually a sale made.
Izach: Okay. I wanna dig into the economics that a little bit more. So the affiliates are incurring the advertising expense, and I’m gonna use myself as an example here. I’ve got, you know, I’ve got a YouTube channel and I’m on TikTok and Insta, and so I do paid ads through TikTok, right to drive traffic for my brokerage business.
But I could also sign up as an affiliate of ClickBank and because I have a kind of an audience, right, I could, I could go and find some offers that might be appropriate for my audience and then, and then use paid traffic to drive sales through those affiliate links. And so now as if, as the, an affiliate, as a performance affiliate, I’m incurring a cost for that.
So I, I would think I, if I was gonna do that, I’m gonna test an ad and kind of start off small with the link and then, you know, maybe ab test a few different campaigns and try to find one that’s getting good click through rates at a, a cheap cost. But like, what, what’s the piece that I get as the affiliate? How much do I get and how do I know that it’s gonna be, you know, how many of your affiliates are profitable versus losing money on their ads? Maybe that’s another question.
Lauren: Yeah, so my background is also in traditional affiliate marketing, like on the publisher side, right? And working with e-commerce brands. And so coming into ClickBank’s world, which is described as direct response marketing, and we can get into that too, the payout for affiliates in this model is far higher than I have seen on other platforms in affiliate marketing.
So as an affiliate in the scenario you painted, you would be paid out 60 to 85% of that order transaction. So the payouts are really high, and that’s because of the model that you know, you’re paying for the traffic, right? You are, you are putting yourself out there, so to speak. So in terms of, what you get back, you know, we are seeing payouts $125 per conversion and higher. And of course there are lower too, just depending on the offer, but,
Izach: what do the margins have to look like for the brand to make that work? You’ve gotta have pretty profitable brands if they’re paying out 85% commission, but they are, but they’re also substituting that 85% for their advertising costs as well. Right.
Lauren: Exactly. A lot of them look at it as like an acquisition strategy, so how much can you pay to acquire a customer? Whereas on the influencer ambassador side, it’s like, how much can I pay out them for rewarding them for driving a sale, you know, to my business. So it’s a little bit different strategy, a little different model.
Izach: So probably products that have, you know, high margin products with, with high recurring revenue is probably gonna be great for this strategy, I would think. Right? Because you, you, you can afford to pay more for the, for the acquisition and then you get a revenue stream going in perpetuity, hopefully.
Lauren: Yeah. You wanna think about that lifetime value of the customer for sure. Absolutely. Right. And so where, where we see a lot of success right now is in the consumables, health supplements. we also see, we also do digital products, so courses, eBooks, entertainment, like those kinds of things, you know, are still very, very profitable and, and work within this model.
Izach: How about software, SAS companies, subscriptions.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Subscription options, both on the physical and digital side of a product, being a, you know, a reoccurring order. Absolutely. And, and we’re starting to get heavily into the e-commerce space now. So we’re opening up other channels that were not open before, so we’re looking into like accessories and, you know, what would it look like to have a voucher for an apparel company. So there’s a lot of exploration in that too.
Izach: Okay. Very cool. I wanna think about the clients who are using the affiliate marketing services you know, through ClickBank. So how do you differentiate? Is it, is it mostly like major brands doing this or are there small, small businesses doing this? You know, who’s you know, where, where’s the sweet spot for your, for, for a brand that can leverage this type of affiliate marketing program?
Lauren: Yeah, I would say, you know, you’re generating 500,000 plus in sales, so of course branded companies work with us, but also like companies that are just getting their feet on the ground and looking for scale opportunities. But I think one thing that’s really important that I think we should circle back on is where the traffic, so where do performance affiliates drive traffic to, especially within a ClickBank offer?
Most e-commerce brands, and not to generalize, but most are driving traffic to their e-commerce store. And that’s good. We should do that, right? That’s definitely a good strategy and it works. We know. But here in this model, you’re driving traffic to a landing page outside of the e-commerce store, like a funnel or a campaign you’ve built.
And the point and the intention is that you’re driving customers to an experience that has high intent to convert. Whereas when you drive ’em to your e-commerce store, there’s a lot of experiences they can have. They can shop, they can sign up for your email, they can get distracted by your social media, maybe you have a video on there.
So there’s a lot of things that they can do, which is great. They should do that. But here in in this model for performance affiliates, they’re driving cold traffic. They’re buying that traffic, and they wanna drive it to a high converting page. So you’re gonna set up a funnel, like an actual landing page for your product. So that’s a big distinction.
Izach: The affiliate sets that up or the, the brand sets up? The brand sets up that page. Because the brand might have that landing page and then they might have 10 or 20 different affiliates that are driving traffic to that page with their own, with their own trackable links.
Lauren: Exactly. So and actually where ClickBank comes into that experience is that we are hosting that, those trackable links, we are handling all the payments out to the affiliates, all the taxes, all the things you don’t wanna deal with. And we also help you set up the upsells and downsells and order bumps and some of those fancy things that happen within the payment processing side.
So that’s where we come in to really help facilitate this type of relationship and support you.
Izach: One thing I hear a lot from my clients when we’re talking about influencer marketing is that, you know, they might pay a 10 or 20% commission for the, to the influencer, right? It’s different model. The influencers aren’t paying for the traffic, but they often tell me that they don’t pay for every lead.
Like not all the traffic generated by the influencer comes through the affiliate link. So because there’s this landing page, in this case, is there a higher percentage of, of tracking that’s achievable?
Lauren: Absolutely. It’s a hundred percent tracked. So we are tracking all of that through what we call a hop link. But you aren’t able to actually be rewarded as an affiliate unless you are driving traffic. Did this particular link and landing page, you have to use that.
Yeah. So it’s a hundred percent tracked. There are no orders happening outside of that experience.
Izach: Nice. Okay, that makes sense. Do you have a couple examples of some companies that you’ve helped scale through performance affiliate marketing?
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. So, Organifi is a pretty well-known brand. You can walk into pretty much any retail store, see them on the shelf. It’s a green drink, and a few years ago they were able to really leverage this strategy to help them scale their business from. Customer acquisition, traffic coming into their business, customers ordering and becoming long-term customers.
And this really allowed them to leverage, then turn around to retailers and say, Hey, we’re getting all this traffic and all this engagement, you know, and really leverage this strategy to be able to expand their business outside of just affiliate marketing. it also helped them grow their D2C business.
What’s cool is if you went to ClickBank and you went into our marketplace and you saw like the Organifi offer and then went to like their D2C site, it would be a completely different experience. And again, that’s very intentional. You’re driving traffic to a high converting page and then leveraging that, you know, those customers coming through that page into your, your D2C business.
So that’s a really good example. They really were kind of a no-name brand, got their, you know, feet going and underneath them and then really help this model. Really help them scale fast.
Izach: Very cool. What are, what are some of the kind of cutting-edge things you’re seeing right now in the affiliate marketing space, like what are, what are your most creative affiliates doing to drive traffic? What are kind of some best practices?
Lauren: Yeah. So we see video becoming more and more something that people are using and leveraging. So, I think a few years ago it was really heavily on sales copy, right? It was creating copy around your sales page and your campaigns and your funnels. But now we’re seeing video being really top of mind, top and center.
So that means it’s top of the page too, right? So when somebody that traffic hits, they’re coming to a video and people are staying longer with video content. I think it’s just the nature of how we ingest information today. So that is really creative. people come up with a lot of creative ideas around video content.
Izach: And do you think that change is being driven by, you know, platforms like, like Insta with reels and TikTok and
Lauren: Yeah, I do.
Izach: Do you have a sense for within your affiliate community, you know, what percentage of their ad spend is on various channels? You know, how much is, Google AdWords versus Facebook versus Insta and TikTok? And do you, do you guys have optics into that?
Lauren: You know, I don’t have any formal stats, but I know that Facebook is obviously a very, you know, a popular channel. TikTok, YouTube, those seem to be really where a lot of traffic sources are coming from. but I will say that video content is really important in terms of determining where the affiliate is driving traffic to.
So for Facebook specifically, video content, especially for cold traffic, is really where they are wanting to promote.
Izach: Gotcha. What else? What, what does someone need? If I’m an e-commerce brand, what do I need to know about affiliate marketing to kind of, you know, how, maybe how much does this, does it cost to get started with, you know, if I’m a new brand and I want to sign up as a ClickBank client and get some affiliates to run traffic to help me acquire new customers, you know, how much does that startup cost and does that look like?
Lauren: So to join ClickBank, it’s totally free. So there’s no monthly fees, there’s no initial fee to join the network. Whereas some other networks, there are those fees. So you just have to kind of look at the lay of the land in terms of networks and which network you wanna join. Where the investment in both time and financial investment is going to come on building that funnel.
So it depends what kind of resources you have internally already, right? Do you have somebody on staff who’s really good at copy or generating that kind of video content that you’d want to live on your funnel, where are you gonna build that funnel? Is it gonna be through a Shopify integration or a different third-party service?
So that’s really where the time and financial investment comes into. And you can do it for very inexpensive, so think $1,500, $3,000, right? Or you can really invest heavily and you know, people are spending $50,000 on copywriters and funnels and stuff like that. So
Izach: With this funnel, when the, when the customer checks out, are you able to collect the same information that you would, you know, from a Shopify checkout?
Lauren: Absolutely. So we as ClickBank, we act as the order form, right? So when somebody is ready to buy off of that funnel, they hit buy now. It comes to ClickBank’s order form. We collect all that customer data and that’s so we can pay out the affiliates and pay out you very quickly. And so yes, you get, as a brand owner, you get all that customer data you’re going to fulfill.
So we’re gonna pass along all that information. We also are integrated with Shopify, which makes it so much easier on the fulfillment side and getting the customer data over to your, your Shopify side. So all that is happening automatically, which is really great. So it makes it easy. Yeah.
Izach: Okay. And then does ClickBank have tools available? again, I’m thinking kind of this smaller, you know, startup brand space, are there tools available on the site? If I wanna kind of just go to ClickBank and build myself a starter funnel and, you know, can I just, is it like a one-stop shop or do I need to get other software involved? Or do you guys recommend other products to use?
Lauren: So we have an experts page and allows you to have tons of resource. We have a huge education series too. We have a lot of education that will help guide you along the process. ClickBank is the network, right? So you’re gonna host your funnels outside of ClickBank. a really good company for somebody who’s just kind of starting out.
You’re, you know, a million plus or 500,000+ company is focus funnels. They do a really great job of building the whole funnel, very cost effective. they’ve worked with ClickBank before. They know what to look for in terms of what to build for our types of affiliates, but we have a lot of other people that we recommend as well.
And, and I think another good thing is, as a brand owner, you have to remember that this is a strategy you’re implementing. So just like if you’re thinking about the marketing strategy or the business strategy, like this is your affiliate marketing strategy. So there’s effort behind here. It’s not like you’re just gonna reach out to an influencer, you know, make a connection, give ’em a code, and let them do their thing.
This is a real strategy, has to be really thought out. Lots of effort put into it because you want to feel really confident when you go into the marketplace with your offer and offer it to performance affiliates. You want them to win, right? You want them to run traffic to it, and it’s highly converting and they continue to run your offer.
Izach: Right. Yeah. If the conversion rate isn’t high enough, then they’re not gonna continue to run the offer, I imagine.
Lauren: Right? Yeah. So as a, as a like a new brand, do you wanna think about, okay, so it’s gonna take me maybe three months or less to build my funnel, I’m gonna test it myself to make sure it’s optimizing, and then I’m gonna join ClickBank’s network. I’m gonna get all set up here. I’m gonna introduce my offer onto the marketplace.
I’m gonna get introduced to some affiliates, make those connections and start getting traffic to my offer. Once you start getting traffic to your offer, you’re kind of off to the races, right? You’re gonna look at the traffic coming in, the conversions, the type of customers you’re getting, how frequent you’re getting those customers.
Is it five to 200 orders a day? And then starting to optimize your campaign from there. And, and really people start there and just keep iterating on their offer or order or bring in a new offer. So it’s not just like set it, forget it, or one-time thing, like this is a real strategy. You’re gonna keep working.
Izach: Yeah. Very cool. So, what’s, what’s the best way for listeners, whether, you know, they’re e-commerce brands or potential affiliates to get in touch with, with you and ClickBank?
Lauren: Yeah, so, I’ll provide this to you so you can share it in the show notes, but LinkedIn is a really great place. and then actually just clickbank.com. You can go straight there. You can sign up and join. And we also have a resource hub, and a success center for e-commerce brands specifically. So a lot of brands that are on ClickBank are in the direct response marketing world, and we’re really opening our arms wide to e-commerce brands to come in and leverage this type of strategy for your business as well. So we have a success hub that we can share a link to as well.
Izach: That was Lauren Lee, who you can find at clickbank.com. Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com. If you like the show, be sure to rate us, write a review, press the follow button and share it with your network.
And of course, if you’re looking for help selling your e-commerce business, be sure to visit websiteclosers.com. This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence. I’m Izach Porter. Follow me on LinkedIn and we’ll see you next time on the Deal Closers podcast.