Want to branch out with your affiliate strategy? Virginia Rizzi is Head of Affiliate Marketing with Glass Digital, a digital marketing agency that offers affiliate services. So, she knows just about everything there is to know about affiliates. Here, she shares some lesser-known tactics that salon owners can use to give their online marketing a boost.
Affiliates are a cost-effective, low risk form of online advertising that allows businesses to work with publishers - like magazines, cashback sites, or even influencers - in exchange for commission. If the publisher drives traffic to your site that results in a successful conversion, then you'll pay them a small fee. You only pay out for successful conversions, which makes it a very cost-effective form of marketing.
In the beauty industry, by far the most popular and widely used affiliate tactic is voucher codes: you likely have some experience with these already. While it’s true that voucher codes can be a valuable affiliate tactic - especially when it comes to attracting new clients - they aren't the only strategy salon owners can use. There are a number of other techniques that can be just as effective. Here, I'll share two forms of affiliates which can help you increase footfall and bag new clients and customers.
Reviews of your products and services
One form of affiliate marketing that I find is consistently successful for beauty brands and salons is reviews. This is where clients and influencers post reviews of your products or services on blogs, magazines, or even social media, including a link back to your site. They then receive a commission for every new booking you secure as a result of their referral, which is usually done by providing the poster with a special personalised tracking codes.
The commission may be paid to the publisher in the form of a cut of your eventual takings from the referral, or as a discount towards their next service. You'll have control over how and when the commission is paid out, which allows you to protect your profit margins and ensure your marketing campaign is profitable.
Having lots of good reviews across your social channels and across other media more widely can really help to secure conversions, because potential clients will be more likely to go ahead with the booking if they can see you offer a great service. So, it will help to encourage clients to leave a review whenever you can. For example, you could offer customers a discount on their next treatment for leaving a review. Even reaching out to clients via email after their service reminding them to help you by reviewing your business can make a big difference, and they're relatively cheap to implement.
However, there is one caveat to this sort of affiliate marketing: honesty and transparency are key. Naturally, you're going to want the reviews to be favourable, but it's very important that the influencer offers their honest opinion and that you don't control or edit the content in any way. Doing so could put you on the wrong side of ASA laws around influencer marketing, so you need to make sure that any publishers or influencers you work with are clear and honest about whether or not they've received a free product or service from you in exchange for the review. But, as long as you’re careful to follow the rules, and you’re confident that you offer a five-star service, you can't go far wrong!
Use cash back sites
Another way to expand your affiliate campaign is to start working with cash back sites. This works in a similar way to a voucher code, except instead of offering a discount, you work with them in a cash back model. The site encourages users to visit your website via a link. If the user goes ahead and makes a purchase, then the cash back site will share a portion of the commission with them - hence they'll be receiving "cash back" on their purchase. All merchants need to do is offer an attractive rate to encourage conversions.
These can give you access to a huge pool of potential clients - TopCashBack, one of the leading affiliate cash back sites, has over nine million members and counting. You can also work with charity cash back sites, like TheGivingMachine - these work in exactly the same way as normal cash back sites, except the customer's share of the commission goes to charity.
Of course, much like voucher codes, cash back sites will eat into your bottom line to a certain extent. But, if you're careful to setup your affiliate channels in a smart way, you can minimise costs while maximising revenue when you secure a referral through these platforms. For instance, you can target your campaigns to focus on high-value products and services, to help ensure you're making enough to absorb the costs.
If vouchers are currently the only form of affiliates you’re using, it's well worth exploring a few other techniques, too. Try some of the tips I've shared here, and before long you should have some fresh bookings.