What is lead generation (and how it works for affiliate marketing)

More companies rely on lead generation than ever before. It’s a powerful way to expand your brand’s reach and increase revenue. But how do you know what a lead is worth? How can you improve the chances of converting a lead into a long-term customer? Affiliate marketing offers the perfect solution: building partnerships between brands and successful content creators.

lead generation
Jaime Singson
Jaime Singson
Senior Director of Product and Content Marketing Manager
Read time: 5 mins

Without generating traffic, your products or website aren’t enough on their own. Brands need to connect with new consumers to expand sustainably. Lead generation (or lead gen) invites people to engage with your brand before buying or signing up. 

Lead gen can fit with your business model and usually involves exchanging personal information (like phone numbers or emails) for discount codes, free style guides, or detailed quizzes and recommendations. 

This area of marketing keeps growing: experts project 3.24 billion dollars of lead gen spending by the end of 2023. Light bulb moment — take full advantage of this fantastic opportunity to connect with potential customers through lead gen affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing creates lasting partnerships between brands and publishers. Companies boost their reach and revenue through affiliate links and recommendations — tapping into new audiences. The partnership model also helps brands find high-quality leads. For new or evolving companies, lead gen affiliate marketing can expand your customer base and increase brand awareness. 

How lead generation fits with an affiliate program

While lead gen works for a wide range of industries, it fits perfectly with affiliate marketing. Brands can build long-term partnerships with publishers: content creators, blogs, websites, review lists, buyer’s guides, etc. By leveraging a publisher’s established trust and know-how, brands can connect with specific audiences. With lead gen partnerships, brands target specific potential customers, creating unique offers and invitations. 

Many companies already know their ideal customer. An athletic clothing brand wants to reach people who follow fitness influencers. If you sell gaming keyboards, subscribers to specific Esports channels make a perfect fit. 

As a brand looking to attract new clientele, you can identify publishers with established audiences in your target demographic. Then, reach out to those content creators and form a partnership. Through an affiliate platform like impact.com, you can easily manage data and automate commission payments for leads — making it easy and profitable for everyone involved. 

Here’s a specific example of successful lead gen affiliate marketing: 

Purple Carrot runs a plant-based meal delivery service. Purple Carrot needed new ways to grow its customer base after some of its marketing channels slowed down. With a fresh focus on partnerships, Purple Carrot built relationships with high-quality publishers: people who fit with their brand values and have built loyal audiences with great content. 

Purple Carrot used impact.com’s platform to offer custom rewards and streamline its affiliate system. In just one quarter, their orders increased 68 percent. By identifying and working with great partners, Purple Carrot gained access to high-performing leads and boosted its revenue significantly.  

Ultimate guide to affiliate marketing
Ultimate guide to affiliate marketing

Get an in-depth look at how lead gen can grow your affiliate marketing channel. 

Learn more

Let’s get specific: how partnerships work for affiliate marketing lead generation  

On a basic level, partnerships have two main parties involved: brands looking for customers and publishers generating clicks and views. Publishers gather customer data and direct people to specific products, using affiliate links or submission forms. 

Influencers with brand deals fit under the publisher umbrella — but so do review blogs and comparison websites. The more authority and trust publishers build, the better. Leads on potential customers from those high-quality publishers carry the most value with brands. 

Choosing a lead generation models

Not all lead gen partnerships use the same model. If potential customers submit contact information on the content creator’s own page, they use the host and post model. Then, publishers sell the leads to brands. 

However, many brands lean towards the brand hosted model instead. Consumers follow affiliate links on a publisher’s post and input data on the brand’s site. With the submission form built into their webpage, companies have more control and potentially know more about lead quality. 

Both models have their upsides and downsides. Some customers might feel more comfortable giving contact data to trusted publishers instead of an unfamiliar brand. However, from the company’s perspective, boosting traffic to their page makes the brand hosted option more appealing. Also, some partnerships even use a combination of both models simultaneously.

Nailing down the lead generation timeline for partnerships

After setting up affiliate relationships with publishers, you can start tracking the customer journey — measuring lead performance and giving feedback to partners. 

  1. A publisher recommends your product or service.
  2. Someone in their audience clicks your affiliate link or fills out a submission form.
  3. Your affiliate software tracks the lead and attributes the right partner. Or, you reach out directly using the provided contact details. 
  4. Depending on your partnership agreement, automated commission payments go out immediately or after the lead converts to a purchase or sign-up.
  5. Your team tracks lead performance and sales using affiliate software. You can then focus on high-performing partners and improve each step of the process — increasing your ROI over time.

The future of lead generation affiliate marketing

Everyone wins when brands and publishers partner up to find the best possible leads. Without ongoing affiliate relationships, companies will struggle to value leads accurately. Brands want to know who they are paying for customer information. 

Also, publishers receive feedback from brands to improve their messaging and get better results. Partnerships make perfect sense for lead generation — encouraging both parties to collaborate and work together. 

If you’re new to affiliate partnerships, don’t worry. Using a platform like impact.com grants you access to expert advice, customizable reports, tracking software, advanced automation tools, and more. 

Ultimate guide to affiliate marketing
Ultimate guide to affiliate marketing

Get an in-depth look at how lead gen can grow your affiliate marketing channel. 

Learn more

Now that you understand the fundamentals of lead generation, schedule a demo to learn how impact.com’s partnerships management platform can grow your business — or contact grow@impact.com

Want to know more about affiliate marketing and lead generation? Check out these impact.com resources:

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