We have regularly looked at the benefits of the affiliate marketing model and have even previously written a general Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing. In short, affiliate marketing involves promoting and selling another company’s products or services for a commission. It gives you (the affiliate) an opportunity to earn money online from selling online without going through the complexities of creating a product or setting up as a full-scale retailer. Instead, product creators or merchants (who have ready-to-go products) start an affiliate program, where online marketers encourage their online readers, viewers, or contacts to buy the products. Thanks to each affiliate marketer having a unique link, the product creators can distinguish who sends buying consumers through to their site and, in return, pay the affiliate marketers a percentage of the money these people spend at the site.
The most successful affiliate marketers have a sizable audience of relevant followers (potential consumers) somewhere, often on a social network, blog, podcast, or video-streaming channel. And nowadays, for the younger generations, at least, TikTok influencers make excellent affiliate marketers. So in our ultimate guide to affiliate marketing on TikTok, we’ll look at how you can earn some additional money on the fastest growing social channel for Generation Z and Millennials.
Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing on TikTok In 2022:
Why Would You Consider Affiliate Marketing on TikTok?
Despite writing numerous articles about TikTok on the Influencer Marketing Hub, we still have (predominantly older) people scratching their heads and wondering what this “TikTok craze” is all about. Yet TikTok is well beyond the craze stage. As we saw in our roundup of TikTok Statistics, TikTok now has 1 billion monthly active users. TikTok’s users watch 167 million hours of videos every internet minute. In addition, TikTok was the most popular app downloaded globally in 2020 and 2021, across both the iOS and Android app stores, beating such giants as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It enjoys higher engagement than these apps, too.
TikTok users aren’t afraid to spend money, either. According to Sensor Tower data, TikTok was the top-grossing non-gaming app worldwide in February 2021, with more than $110 million of user spending. It finished the year as the top-grossing app worldwide, although it was beaten into fourth place on Google Play by Google One, Piccoma, and Disney+. Sure, TikTok has a young audience, with 32.5% of its U.S. users aged between 10 and 19, according to Statista, with a further 29.5% aged 20-29. But, if you have a popular TikTok account and carefully select products that will appeal to your audience, you have the potential to succeed with affiliate marketing. Many marketers have been slow to understand the potential of TikTok, and the potential affiliate market there is far from saturated.
The most important consideration you need to consider is ensuring that your affiliate offers appeal to your TikTok audience. Don’t try and sell something merely because it pays you a high commission level. If the bulk of the people who watch your videos are in their twenties, there is little point trying to promote stairlifts, walking sticks, or other things that appeal to the elderly. You will do far better finding affiliate offers for fashion, lifestyle, technology, and consumer products.
How Does Affiliate Marketing on TikTok Work?
Affiliate marketing on TikTok works much as it does on other social platforms. TikTok is merely a selling venue of choice for the affiliate marketer.
There are three (sometimes four) parties to any affiliate transaction:
- The Product Creator (or Merchant) – the firm that provides the product for sale and decides to use the affiliate marketing sales model. This could either be the manufacturer of a product or a retailer that chooses to use affiliate marketing to sell their inventory
- The Affiliate Network (optional) – rather than deal with affiliate marketers directly, some product creators choose to work through an affiliate network that acts as an intermediary. The network collates a catalog of goods from multiple creators and, in turn, carries out the daily interactions with affiliate marketers
- The Affiliate Marketer – someone who signs directly with a product creator or an affiliate network to market their products to their online readers, viewers, or contacts. In the case of TikTok affiliate marketing, the affiliate marketer will promote the affiliate products in their TikTok videos
- The Consumer – somebody who ultimately buys the affiliate product. In the case of TikTok affiliate marketing, the consumer is likely to be a viewer of the affiliate marketer’s videos.
The product creator or affiliate network (if there is one) will provide a unique code for each affiliate marketer. The affiliate marketers then reference their code somewhere in their TikTok videos (or leave a link containing it on their TikTok profile page).
Leveraging Organic Traffic on Your TikTok Videos
It’s all very well saying that you can become an affiliate marketer on TikTok, but how do you actually do it? Well, a typical successful TikTok affiliate marketer uses multiple methods. The most straightforward is to leverage organic traffic to your TikTok videos.
This, of course, assumes that you already have a reasonable number of people viewing and preferably engaging with your videos. If you haven’t already got a good level of organic traffic, you could experiment with some of our suggestions in How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work? on how to create videos that the TikTok algorithm will prioritize:
- Focus on a subculture/niche
- Keep your videos short
- Make the first few seconds count
- Leverage popular hashtags
- Use trending audio to your advantage
- Make your captions relevant and engaging
If you don’t yet have a popular TikTok account, it may be best to wait a while before trying to monetize your TikTok account with affiliate marketing. If you don’t want to, you will have to rely more on paid traffic for your videos.
Marketing to Your Organic Traffic
The bulk of TikTok’s users are still members of Generation Z, although there are now strong pockets of supporters in generations on either side, Millennials, and Generation Alpha. Therefore, you need to establish a clear niche for your account and make and share videos that appeal to those interested in that topic. The affiliate products you choose to promote also have to appeal to those people. For example, there is little point in sharing affiliate product links for hunting and fishing products in a channel where most of your videos focus on teenage beauty.
Generation Z is notorious for disliking traditional advertisements; therefore, you should blend your affiliate products into your videos naturally. This will be much easier if you select affiliate products that your typical viewers would use. Ideally, you want your product placement to appear subtle and organic.
It’s all very well promoting your affiliate products from your TikTok account, but how will you make things work? How can you lead people to buy the product and ensure the product creator/merchant or affiliate network knows that you sent these consumers? There are several ways you can achieve this:
1. Include a Link in Your Bio
Unfortunately, you can’t usually just place a link in your TikTok videos or captions, although TikTok has experimented with this at times. Instead, you need to learn a lesson from Instagram and include a link in your TikTok bio. This is generally the best (organic) way to drive traffic outside of TikTok, so it is the ideal place for you to include the custom link that the affiliate company or network gave you. Then, once you have a link in your TikTok bio, you can reference it in your videos.
TikTok hasn’t given everybody this capability yet. If you don’t, you may be able to access it by joining the TikTok tester program. You will also need to change to a TikTok Business account if you currently only have a personal one.
If you find you can add a clickable link to your TikTok bio, do it by:
- Tap the Me icon at the bottom right corner of your screen
- Tap the Edit Profile button
- If your bio can include a link, you will see a section asking you to add a URL. Insert the affiliate link that your affiliate company or network has given you or a link to your website or a custom landing page. If you have separate links for multiple products, you will need to select the most important one for your current affiliate marketing promotion and repeat this process each time you want to promote a different product. It might be worthwhile putting your link through a URL shortening tool first to make it look more streamlined
- Tap the Submit button
- Check your bio and make sure that it shows your link (and that it is clickable – use your mobile phone to double-check this)
Using a link to a landing page or your website gives you more opportunities to promote affiliate products, and it works better if you are promoting multiple products. You will, of course, first have to create an informative website or landing page to send potential leads to from your TikTok account.
Once you have a clickable link in your bio, you can promote it in your TikTok videos. However, you need to be careful to avoid anything that looks like hard selling. Generation Z, in particular, is resistant to videos that look like traditional ads. But the people who follow your videos, and the TikTok algorithm that decides who would enjoy them in people’s For You feeds, won’t object to you promoting affiliate products if your videos are sufficiently informative and entertaining.
2. Use LinkTr.ee to Create a Bridge Page for Multiple Affiliate Links
You can use the website LinkTr.ee to link to multiple places. As the app’s name suggests, you make a Linktree as many links as you need. LinkTr.ee even includes free link-in-bio templates to help you sell on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. Although LinkTr.ee has a forever-free plan offering unlimited links and a customizable Linktree to connect your community, you can purchase a monthly plan to give you more customization and control.
When somebody taps the Linktree on your bio, it takes them to a landing page where you have placed your selected links, affiliate links if you are using it for affiliate marketing. So, remember to promote the existence of your Linktree on your bio in your videos and their descriptions.
You can include much more than just affiliate links in your Linktree. For example, you may find it more beneficial to have links to blog posts or longer videos on YouTube where you can better explain the benefits and features of the products you’re promoting. You would then insert your affiliate links on those pages.
3. Link to Your Other Social Pages
TikTok makes it easy to create links to some of your other social accounts. You do this similarly to adding a link to your profile, as we described above, by going to your Me page and then tapping the Edit Profile button. TikTok includes fields for you to enter your Instagram and YouTube profiles, making it easier for you to direct people to see your other posts and promotions. These links show up as social buttons on your profile.
4. Use Coupon Codes
Affiliate brands often provide coupon codes you can give to your followers and supporters. You can mention these in your videos and their associated captions. However, make sure to mention any limitations they may have, such as any expiry date.
5. Mention Dedicated URLs in Your Videos
Suppose you are known as an influencer or are already sending a reasonably high level of traffic through to your affiliate company or network’s site. In that case, they may consider it worthwhile giving you a dedicated easy-to-remember URL you can use in your marketing. Then, when somebody goes to that web page and buys something, the company will instantly credit that sale to you and pay you an agreed commission.
Ideally, the URL should be easy to remember, e.g., https://www.companyname.com/yourname. That way, you can include it in your videos and description without worrying about the lack of a direct link.
Use TikTok Paid Advertising to Promote Your Affiliate Products
If you don’t have a sizable engaged TikTok following, paid advertising is probably the only realistic way for you to promote affiliate products on TikTok. However, even if you have plenty of followers and have a track history of having your videos appear in people’s For You lists, you could consider supplementing your organic video posts with some paid ads.
Paid advertising on TikTok works very similarly to the system used on Facebook and Instagram, where you bid to have your ads appear on viewers’ screens. Video in-feed ads appear as a 5-60 second full-screen video in users’ For You feeds. You can target your ads to particular demographics and psychographics, and the amount you pay depends on what it costs to win your preferred slots in a silent auction. TikTok has other higher-profile ads, such as their TopView Ads, but these are more expensive and will generally not be cost-effective for all except the most popular affiliate marketers with massive audiences.
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