It’s no secret that the sleep industry is nowhere close to where it used to be. Famous and successful companies filed for bankruptcy or announced significant layoffs, big brands announced decreasing sales and profits or saw their share value drop, factories reduced their working week to three days, and more and more shoppers leave stores without buying.
Whether you run a local store, an online brand or a factory, you’re surely looking for ways to increase sales and profits without spending an arm and a leg on advertising. If you’re not already doing it, affiliate marketing could be the solution for you.
And if you tried your luck at it and failed, there are a few things you can try.
What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?
Affiliate marketing is often referred to as performance-based marketing. The concept is simple: You get affiliates to promote your store, products or services and pay them a commission on every visit, appointment or sale, depending on your business model and priorities.
The most important part to remember is that you decide what actions to reward and you control payouts and, implicitly, costs. Believe it or not, some of the companies that gave affiliate marketing a real chance and invested in doing it right exceeded $1 million in monthly sales through the affiliate program alone.
They had their products reviewed and promoted on websites of all sizes and specifics, with audiences ranging from a few hundred to millions of monthly visitors and social media followers.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that you can match their performance, but you surely have room to grow.
Also, the model employed to grow their online sales by Resident, 3Z Brands, Emma Sleep and others cannot be applied to all industry players, right? Wrong! You may not be able to copy it to the letter, but you can and should adjust it to your business-specific and available opportunities.
Affiliate marketing outside the box
Most entrepreneurs associate affiliate marketing with having an online store and working with the following types of affiliates:
- Content creators (reviewers, news websites, bloggers, influencers)
- Loyalty and rewards
- Paid ads
And they’re correct, although there are many more opportunities out there. Generally, any website or social media account owner whose audience matches your target audience can become your affiliate (assuming they agree, of course).
If you have an online store selling sleep products, no matter their price or specific, affiliate marketing should work well for you. If you own the factory but don’t sell online, now would be the time to start, build your own brand and grow it through affiliate marketing.
Take the example of Mlily, Brooklyn Bedding and Latex Mattress Factory, who already have affiliate programs live.
And if you own a physical store, don’t worry, there are still options. There are many websites with local audiences that could list your store. And, just like SEO, affiliate marketing can be localized and taken off-site. It’s also called partner marketing for a reason.
Try to think outside the box and find opportunities to build a network of partners compatible with your business model.
Instead of paying a commission on each online sale, perhaps you can promote your partners back, distribute each other’s flyers, offer discounts for each other’s services and connect with each other’s partners.
Possible affiliates include:
- Local magazines and newspapers
- Noncompeting stores (baby gear, appliances, carpets, construction materials, gardening supplies, etc.)
- Service providers (contractors, interior designers, landscape artists, plumbers, moving companies, etc.)
- Nonprofits (donate samples and/or returned products to local shelters, hospitals and community centers, and explain to them how, if they become your affiliates, a part of the money their supporters spend in your store can be theirs)
- Health practitioners (chiropractors, physicians, massage therapists, sleep doctors, etc.)
- Content creators based in your area
- Local companies that may be willing to provide discounts and other perks to their employees
- Customers who may be able to refer other customers
Partner referral tracking and rewards
The biggest challenge of affiliate or partner marketing in a local context seems to be tracking. However, even when taken online, it’s still possible for store employees to keep track of redeemed coupons and referrals and get any needed info from customers.
The real problem is that, hungry for sales and profits, many business owners are tempted not to reward referrals, or reward fewer than they actually get. That’s where the “partner” concept comes in.
Business partners should work together to grow, support one another and share profits. Rewarding your partners keeps them happy and engaged and motivates them to increase their promotional efforts.
It doesn’t matter if the rewards involve cash, products, cross-promotion, joint events, etc. Pay them and approach the relationship with your partners the way you would want them to approach the relationship with you.
Done right, affiliate marketing can work for almost any industry, especially the sleep industry. It can bring your brand in front of huge audiences, like those of Sleep Foundation, Cnet, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, TomsGuide, Sleepopolis, Mattress Clarity, NapLab and hundreds, thousands more.
If you have questions on how affiliate marketing may work for your business, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com