Affiliate Marketing Programs
One of the best and most underused advertising tools online is affiliate marketing, which involves two key players: the retailer and the affiliate. This type of marketing works by promoting a particular business through the placement of banners or links on an affiliate website, and driving traffic to that company while in return, the business typically rewards the affiliate with a percentage of each sale. The affiliate essentially acts as a middleman, drumming up business for its partner companies. This can help businesses increase traffic on their website and result in higher profits. The affiliate also benefits from the arrangement, earning revenue from successfully promoting the business.
The creation and development of the Internet played a big role in the success of affiliate marketing. This form of marketing was implemented from the beginning, and has grown in popularity over the past few decades. Some companies shied away from this powerful tool at first, at it tended to attracted spammers that attempted to make money by targeting as many people as possible. Naturally, this abuse reflected poorly on the business itself. Today, mature businesses have the rules and guidelines in place to guard against this kind of behavior from their affiliates.
Whether you’re interested in setting up an affiliate program to increase traffic for your online business, or you want to earn money by acting as an affiliate for another company, here is some information to get you started. For success, you should understand how affiliate marketing works, where to find good affiliate programs, and what methods work best.
Setting up an Affiliate Program for Your Business
The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for the Retailer
Affiliate marketing is a good tool for any online business that wants to increase traffic on their site, and make more sales. Amazon.com is one example of a business that has implemented this marketing tool successfully. Amazon has grown very large by developing a business model that included affiliated programs to bring in new customers. Every time Amazon gets a referred customer, the affiliate responsible gets a percentage of the sale.
There are a number of benefits of using this type of marketing to advertise your online business:
- Convenient: It’s very simple to set up an affiliate program. Unlike other marketing techniques, you don’t have to invest a lot of time into planning and implementing the advertising campaign. All you have to do is find a good affiliate to produce the results for you.
- Inexpensive: It is also a very cost-efficient way to increase traffic on your website, as it’s only necessary to pay the affiliate if you make a sale. There are no upfront costs, and inefficient affiliates simply won’t be paid.
- Always active: Since your affiliate’s blog or website will presumably be available every hour of the day, you get round-the-clock advertising. There is no closing time or down time.
- Wide-ranging: By encouraging affiliates to promote your products or services, you are able to reach new demographics that you may not have even considered. This is a good way to reach customers that could be outside of your current advertising targets.
- Easy to stop: If you find that affiliate marketing isn’t working for you, it’s easy to change your tactics. Since it doesn’t take any initial investment to start up an affiliate marketing program, there’s no loss to you if you end it. It’s possible to use it for a few weeks on a trial basis to determine the benefits.
- Better search engine rank: By increasing the number of links to your site through affiliate sites, you can improve your ranking within search engine results. Better visibility on search engines is a nice perk of affiliate marketing.
Types of Affiliate Programs & Websites
These marketing programs often involve paying the affiliate a commission for each customer that they refer. However, there are few other types of affiliate marketing programs available:
- Pay per Sale: In this program, the retailer pays the affiliate for every sale that results from referral by that affiliate. This can be done by paying a fixed fee for each sale, or rewarding the affiliate with a predetermined percentage of the profits.
- Pay per Click: Instead of paying according to successful sales, this program involves rewarding the affiliate every time a user clicks a link that directs them to the retailer’s website. The reward for this kind of advertising program is typically much less than the pay per sale program.
- Pay per Lead: This program goes a little further than the pay per click option, but a sale is not required. Instead, the retailer rewards an affiliate for directing a potential customer to their site to provide information, in the form of a survey or application.
There are many different structures available for affiliate websites. The best type for any given business will depend on the kind of product or service supplied. Here are some common types of affiliate websites:
- Comparison shopping sites: These website function as shopping search engines, which help customer compare prices for different products at various stores. Sometimes, these sites are set up to simply act as affiliate marketing programs. Some common comparison sites include Shopzilla and Bizrate.
- Coupon sites: A coupon website encourages customers to buy products by providing discounted rates or coupons. Some common coupon sites include Coupons.com and MySavings.com.
- Review sites: With review sites, customers get both a description and rating for various products, and a chance to buy the ones they like. One example is CNet, which provides reviews for various technologies.
- Blogs: Personal written or video blogs are another common place that you can find affiliate marketing. A blog with good traffic could provide many potential customers, and increase sales for a company significantly.
How to Attract Affiliates
If you’re a large well-known company, finding affiliates will be relatively easy. However, if you’re an entrepreneur that is just starting out, it can take a bit of work to find good affiliatesyou’re your business. Somehow, you have to get the information out that you are selling a particular product or service, and convince affiliates that it will be worth their time to help you promote it. There are plenty of different online resources that you can use to locate affiliates:
- Affiliate networks: These sites specialize in connecting retailers that want to promote a product with affiliates that want do the promoting. With these networks, you can advertise your business and conditions, and search for affiliates that meet your specifications. This can be a good place to start when you’re not certain about exactly what you’re looking for, as it will highlight all the possibilities. Some common affiliate network sites including Google Affiliate Network, ShareASale, Commission Junction, and LinkShare.
- Social media: Various social media sites also have the potential to get you in touch with good marketing affiliates. With a little work, you can build a name for yourself on popular social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and recruit good affiliates from there. The benefit of this type of network is that it is easy for other people to share information about your business. If you provide a good product and good conditions for your affiliates, you are more likely to get noticed.
- Your own website: When you’re trying to attract affiliates, you should always place a page on your own site about your affiliate marketing program. This page should contain all relevant information, look attractive, and encourage affiliates by showing them how they could benefit from the program. You have to prove to them that your business is worth promoting.
When you’re designing a page on your website devoted to affiliate recruitment, you should make it as complete as possible. It should be easy to navigate, give all the essential information, and provide tools to make the affiliate marketing process as simple as possible. Here are some tips to create a good affiliate page:
- Information: Provide straightforward information about your business in the form of a FAQ or even an informational video. Explain your industry and niche, so the affiliate can make a good decision about whether to work for you.
- Pre-made banners and ads: Create attractive graphics that will act as your ads on their website. Affiliates should be able to easily copy and paste these links onto their site.
- Marketing tips: In order to increase the affiliate’s advertising success, create a section devoted to marketing tricks and tips. This can include anything that you believe will encourage users to click on your ads.
- Keywords: Providing a list of suggested keywords that relate to your business can help the affiliate build a site that will rank high in the search engine list, thereby increasing traffic.
When you’re attempting to attract affiliates, it’s essential that you make information about your affiliate marketing program descriptive and easily accessible. This is what a prospective affiliate will use to determine whether they want to promote your business or not. Here are some of the main points that you should cover:
- Commission details: Explain what kind of profits the affiliate can make with your marketing program. Specify what kind of program you want to implement, and how much they can make per sale, click, or lead. Obviously, the higher the profits for the affiliate, the more attractive it will be.
- Conversion rate: Tell potential affiliates what kind of sale conversion rate you have on your site, i.e. the number of sales versus the number of visitors to the site. This will give the affiliate a better idea of what kind of profits they can make if you run a pay per sale program.
- Product details: Explain the benefits of your product or service, and highlight any interesting or unique selling points.
Working as an Affiliate
The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for the Affiliate
There is an explosion of affiliate marketing programs today, and many companies are building this model into their own online businesses. Many entrepreneurs are recognizing the value of working with other businesses as affiliates to boost site traffic and revenue for both parties. As previously discussed, there are several different types of affiliate programs with countless variations, so this type of marketing can blend well with almost any kind of website. Here are some of the many benefits associated with working as an affiliate:
- Low risk: Starting up an affiliate business requires very little time, effort, and money. You are free to try new things all the time without worrying about financial loss or other repercussions. There are no contracts to sign, so you can choose when to start the process and when to stop. You are also able to pick and choose which businesses you would like to promote, and you are free to drop those that are not beneficial to you.
- Improved image: Setting up affiliate advertising on your site can help your image by associating it with well-known and trusted brands. Through this association, customers are more likely to take your site seriously, and stay around to read about your offers. Not only do you get commissions from referring customers through your affiliate program, but you can also increase sales for your own products or services.
- Full-time global access: Since the internet never shuts off, you have the ability to earn revenue from your affiliate site at any time of the day. You can take advantage of a global marketplace, referring customers from all over the world.
- Work from home: This is the best type of business in that there is no workplace that you have to visit daily. Instead, you can complete everything from your home, or even travel around if you want. Everything is online, and therefore, nothing ties you down to a particular location.
- No inventory complications: As an affiliate, you do not deal in physical goods, so there is no need to provide a space for inventory. All you need to build a profitable affiliate business is access to a computer with internet service.
- No shipping complication: Just as you have no inventory, you have no need to ship products to customers. This means that you are not required to collect and maintain client information, or deal with hassles that inevitably arise. This can save a significant amount of money.
- High potential profits: There are very few limitations on this type of business. A successful affiliate is able to produce a large salary simply by building and maintaining a good marketing site. Success is determined by your knowledge of the industry, effort, and creativity.
Choosing a Good Affiliate Program
As previously mentioned, there are many places that you can collect information about affiliate programs and the companies that offer them. Online, there are affiliate networking sites dedicated to introducing companies to prospective affiliates. Social media also provides a good way to learn about different affiliate programs that are available today. Finally, don’t forget to check a particular company’s website to learn more about their affiliate marketing programs.
When you’re searching for an affiliate program, it’s important to do a bit of research and uncover which companies have the best options for affiliates. Choosing a bad affiliate program may mean a hassle for you, or issues with payment. On the other hand, a good affiliate program will improve your prospects and make it easy for you to build a profitable business. Here are some things to consider when deciding on an affiliate program:
- Commissions: One of your main considerations will be just how much money you can make by joining the affiliate program. The commission will change depending on the type of program you choose, as well as the company in question. The highest per-user profits will be from the pay per sale programs.
- Reputation: Do some research about the company that you are considering, and discover what kind of reputation they have with their customers and with their affiliate marketers. You can also ask the program manager to supply some affiliate references, so you can get direct information from the people that work for them as affiliates.
- Terms of the Partnership: You should read through the agreement put forth by the company regarding their affiliate program. It may not be wise to sign up with a company that pays less frequently than once a month, or one that allows termination of the program without any notice.
How to Make Money as an Affiliate
Not every affiliate will succeed in making a significant profit from one of these marketing programs, but many build part-time or even full-time businesses. The key components of success are knowledge and hard work. It’s essential that you understand how affiliate marketing works, and make choices that will promote your business. Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re trying to succeed as an affiliate:
- Increase your traffic: In order to refer potential customers through an affiliate program, you first have to get people to view your website. To do this, you have to find ways of promoting your site to online users. One of the best ways to do this is to get ranked high in search engine results. Through the use of SEO (search engine optimization) techniques, you can make this happen.
- Find a niche: Many affiliates will try to build a business by promoting many different types of products, and fail to provide a general focus for customers. In order to get ahead as an affiliate, it’s best to concentrate on one particular market, and promote it very well. Consider what kind of products are in demand, and try to choose a niche that doesn’t have a lot of competition.
- Provide good information: When you’re trying to encourage viewers to buy a particular product, you have to provide good, solid, honest information about it. By consistently creating a good resource for customers, users will come to trust your site. This trust translates into increased traffic and more sale conversions.
- Design an attractive and functional site: Customers will judge your website on the layout of the information, visual appeal, and general functionality. It should be clean, well organized, and make it easy for users to find what they want. A few non-functional links can really hurt your credibility, and encourage users to head over to your competition instead.
- Only associate with credible affiliate programs: Make sure that the companies you are promoting actually have a good product or service, and will reflect well on you. It can also be beneficial to work for companies that already have a good reputation among people in general.
- Diversify your affiliate programs: Instead of linking exclusively to one retailer, try working with several different relevant companies. This reduces the possibility that a bad affiliate program will damage your business.
- Look for high commission rates: Do some research, and discover which affiliate programs offer the most financial incentives to their affiliates. The higher your commission per customer, the more money you will make overall.
- Follow trends in the industry: In order to succeed as an affiliate, you need to have up-to-date information about the newest marketing trends available. Marketing and technologies are evolving at a fast pace, so it’s necessary to stay on top of the latest developments to get ahead.
- Be Patient: Sometimes, it can take a bit of time to build up visibility for your business, and trust in customers. Don’t give up if you don’t have immediate success. Slowly building up a good business will yield results in the end.
Affiliate marketing programs are increasingly popular, as they can be highly effective advertising tools. Both the company that wishes to advertise its product or service, and the affiliate that is promoting it stand to gain from this arrangement. Success comes when retailers and affiliates learn how to make the most of this marketing method. Discovering where to connect with the correct people, how to attract the best partners, and what it takes to make a profit will help you on the way.