Affiliate Marketing & Programs

How Startups Can Revolutionize Affiliate Programs


Startups are formed by some of the brightest individuals in all kinds of industries. Each day, it seems like there is a hot, new company on the books. However, look back at many of these companies in just a few months’ time and you see that the doors of business are closed.

What goes wrong? Cash flow. Many startups never reach a point of profitability despite having a great product and initial momentum.

What can help? Affiliate marketing.

Synergy in Startups and Affiliate Marketing

  • What’s the best way startups can use affiliate programs?

  • What about how they can influence and revolutionize the industry?

These two questions came to mind because it’s important to take a look at the industry, as a whole, and question how we, marketers, can best adjust our work to ensure we have a stable future.

Startups Using Affiliate Marketing

So this is where things get truly interesting.

For one, we know that many startups have trouble creating sales in the beginning yet their backed by millions of dollars (if they’ve been funded). The first year is a hit-or-miss venture that relies on getting the word out in hopes that the company eventually turns profitable (like most tech startups).

Affiliate marketing can play a few roles at this early stage:

  • Recruit early members as affiliates to aid in the company promotion

  • Leverage existing affiliate programs to increase revenue when working with clients

As you may know, the early adopters of a platform are often the individuals to become brand ambassadors. These individuals will fight tooth and nail to promote and defend the startup brand because they feel they are part of a movement. Recruiting these individuals, through an affiliate program, will not only turn these individuals into long-term supporters but opens a way to reward and encourage their marketing for the startup.

Second, each startup will be offering a niche product or service since it’s rare to see new startups taking on an entire, established industry. This means the startup has the potential to fill the “holes” in their product and service offerings with those from other companies; paired with these products through an affiliate account could bring in the much needed cash to the business.

Affiliate/Startups in the Wild

Before wrapping this up, let’s take a look at a few of the startups that have embraced affiliate marketing with their income model.

Groupon is a particular case study since their entire model is based around, essentially, being affiliates for small and large businesses (they promote products, they get a cut). Pinterest uses some of the pins on their boards as affiliate links to physical products.

What if you were a company like Unbounce (whom sells A/B testing tools)? You could offer affiliate promotions related to servers which would aid in the testing progress; same with email marketing services and more.

What you see here is that affiliate marketing truly opens the potential for earnings especially in the startup community. Despite having a small offering on the front-end, startups have as much flexibility for their revenue as they see fit if they adopt affiliate marketing into their business.

What thoughts would you like to mention when it comes to affiliate marketing and startups? Share a comment below.

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