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Understanding the Basic Principles and the Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a online phrase used to describe the promotion of internet businesses by the channel of affiliate programs and the marketing of these products on websites and it dates back to the mid 90’s.By doing this the vendor compensates the affiliate (also known as the publisher) a approved percentage of commission based on the amount of trade their website brings the merchant company.

Some companies such as Clickbank, Paydotcom and Shareasale typically have set percentage rates for affiliates which can be up to 75% for some products. Some consider affiliate marketing to be a form of revenue sharing or another term regularly used is commission based advertising.

In the early days of  “affiliate marketing”, it was associated as another structure of network marketing or multi-level marketing (MLM) and as a result of this misconception allot of online businesses made the decision to use the expression “performance marketing” to steer clear of any relation to affiliate marketing. This also created a large problem for affiliates in the past,  as many online users  had a propensity to frown on whatever thing that even looked like multi-level marketing.

Over time and with a great deal of determination from those that are now established as super affiliates it has turned out to be the most cost effective way for merchants to market their products or services online as it is very efficient in the fact that the affiliate has to do all the work to make the sale. So as a result of this, many online companies especially those that embraced this form of marketing in the beginning owe a tremendous amount to affiliate marketing as a perfect example just take a look at amazon.com and the way it has become the done thing  for online companies to include affiliate marketing in many of their online strategies to promote their products.

The Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing

The model of revenue sharing has been around for some time, allot longer than online business and the internet. But the idea of affiliate marketing has taken it to new levels, and become a primary form of advertising and bringing in business for all types of e-commerce. Internet merchants find affiliate marketing highly advantageous due to the fact that it presents little to no risk both for the merchant and the ‘affiliate”.

Here is how it all works, the affiliate will earn money if the affiliate brings to the merchants website, either through on-line links on the affiliates website – or through email, blogs, RSS feeds and many other kinds of on-line communication that are available to the affiliate. If a sale is made or the desired action is accomplished then the affiliate will earn a designated commission payment from the vendor or affiliate network.

Some merchants (only about 1% of affiliate marketing) use a cost-per-click remuneration system but this is now starting to grow as a viable form of money generation from main stream affiliates by using the CPA marketing networks, which simply means that the affiliate earns some form of commission every time a website visitor clicks on an advert on their site or when you send out  an email with a affiliate link.

However in the past and mainly due to the many “blackhatters”and fraudsters online that were taking advantage of this method by way of creating such things as (ad-ware, sending spam, or keyword heavy and useless indexing sites) this form of remuneration is now allot more regulated and even to the extent of having IP addresses tracked and accounts canceled if you are generating what is considered as fraudulent clicks and for many in the past this form of advertising had become too risky for merchants to use.

What Are The Distinctive Forms Of Affiliate Marketing

There are a few different ways that an affiliate can earn commissions online. Firstly you need to decide which of these is right for you and then join the merchant affiliate program this is so any payment can be received through any referrals from your website to the merchant, Here are four methods that are currently used online today, however you need to read the terms and conditions of each affiliate program you wish to join.

  1. Pay Per Click Marketing is simply a strategy that affiliates use where they display advertisements on their affiliate site and they are then paid when a customer clicks on that website advertisement whether it is a text link or image link.
  2. Emailing your subscriber lists  sending legit emails to your website opt-ins with your affiliate link embedded “Spam Is Not Tolerated” make sure you study the TOS of the affiliate program before doing this.
  3. CPA Affiliate Marketing  is when one of your  website visitors registers with a specific site whether this is a free newsletter or subscription, free offers from other companies are represented and advertised through this form of marketing as well.
  4. Clickbank, Shareasle, Paydotcom are all affiliate marketing networks they have many thousands of products or services for you to choose from as well as being free to join. Some programs even allow multi-tier or what is called a recurring payment structure set up.

Hopefully our article has helped you to understand more about affiliate marketing and we would like to wish you well in all of your undertakings online.

The Ins and Outs of Affiliate Marketing Campaigns

Let the professionals help you… in mass:

Affiliate marketing networks provide an environment where companies who have something to sell (Advertisers) meet with companies who know how to sell it (Publishers). Many large Affiliate marketing networks provide hundreds of products to be sold to their network of thousands of publishers.

Affiliate marketing networks generally work on a performance basis (CPA), where you only pay when a sale or lead is generated for you. You receive a sale or lead at a predetermined cost and then award the affiliate network with a bounty for generating the sale or lead for you. The Affiliate network then pays their publishers for generating sales on your behalf, minus what the network keeps for itself for putting the deal together. This may sound similar to a shopping portal, however there are some distinct differences. A shopping portal places your products in direct connection with the online shopper. Affiliate marketing networks place your products in direct connection with publishers (marketing or media companies.) Each publisher will then use their own resources to generate sales for you, be it PPC, SEO, email, banners and the like.

Not every product or service will work with an affiliate marketing campaign, and many affiliate networks will not accept your offer unless certain criteria are met. The average website is not “marketing ready” for an affiliate marketing campaign, and often requires a redesign or a separate website to allow for easy sales or lead conversions. Most sales lead generation campaigns work across affiliate marketing networks as long as you are not trying to collect too much information, or information that makes your customers feel nervous such as a social security number. For product sales, you need to present a very attractive offer like “a free 7 day trial for a diet pill”, “free services for 1 month”, or anything that can be considered a low risk bargain. An offer such as “a 42 inch plasma screen Television for only $1,597” will not work. As always, there are exceptions, and you may need to work closely with your affiliate manager to produce a campaign that will be popular amongst the publishers.

Due to the nature of the affiliate networks, they can be volatile and risky, and are not recommended for any company until they have a lot of internet marketing experience under their belt. The overall sales potential of affiliate network marketing can be enormous, and any time gigantic sales numbers come into play, so do gigantic risks. Many affiliate networks have what are known as “Super Affiliates” who have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales commissions each month. The volatility stems from both the marketing power available through an affiliate network, along with the performance-based environment they provide.

For the most part, the publishers who do the selling through the affiliate networks are greedy. They want to sell only the products and services that yield them the most revenue. It is their right, after all, because they are working on a performance basis and assume all marketing risks. If a good offer comes across an affiliate network, where a lot of money can be made, many publishers will market the product and sales will come streaming in. If a product comes in that does not generate good, or at least acceptable, revenue for the publishers, they will chose to not market the product and sales will be almost nonexistent. It is difficult to find the right balance to satisfy all parties involved (advertiser, publisher, affiliate network, and potential customer.) All parties must be happy in order to yield a successful affiliate campaign. The swing between a high performing campaign and an unpopular one can be tremendous. This volatility introduces significant risk, which comes in three flavors.

Affiliate Network Marketing Risk:

  • (1) Not enough business You have put significant time and resources into building an Affiliate marketing campaign. You have commissioned all types of marketing creative, website design and even bulked up your sales staff. Despite this preparation, your offer is not a money maker for the publishers, and they are not marketing your campaign. Your expenses have increased in anticipation of increased sales that simply never materialized.
  • (2) Too much business You hit the nail on the head… Your offer is hot and the publishers love it. They love it so much that sales flow in faster than you can handle. Your call center can handle 50 leads per day but the publishers are generating 200. For each sale or lead made you must pay a commission whether or not you can address it. You are literally downing in too much business, and your pocketbook can’t hold out long enough to expand accordingly.
  • (3) Cheating You didn’t invest much effort in validating your sales or leads. Your affiliate marketing campaign is generating a lot of leads, but sales are not happening. You are receiving numerous disconnected phone numbers, invalid credit card numbers or people who say “I only signed up for the free gift.” Leads are coming in, but a bunch of crooked publishers are submitting fake information to get paid as if their data was real. Notice how that last lead had a Texas area code, their zip code was “12345,” they stated they live in Alaska and gave you the credit card number “4444555544445555.”

Many Affiliate marketing networks will also ask if they can run your campaign exclusively. This means that they are the only affiliate network that can provide your offer to the world. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to running your campaign exclusively with one network.

Exclusive Affiliate network Campaign Advantages:

  • Your Affiliate marketing campaign manager may pass your campaign on to other affiliate marketing networks, and manage your account for you. This saves you considerable time by not having to seek out new networks, organizing campaign launches, marketing creative, and other tasks required to launch a new campaign.
  • You will not have to pay startup fees or sign contracts for the affiliate marketing networks that your affiliate manager passes your campaign on to. You simply work under your single agreement with your affiliate manager. This can save you thousands of dollars in startup costs, and lots of time.
  • Affiliate marketing networks use exclusive campaigns as “bragging rights,” and often give priority to their exclusive campaigns. Your campaign is more likely to be advertised to the publishers and given special attention. This helps to get your campaign noticed by the publisher, and ultimately increases sales or lead flow.

Exclusive Affiliate network Disadvantages:

  • Your campaign manager will outsource your campaign to other affiliate marketing networks. You will not know exactly who is marketing your offer and therefore the quality of the web traffic coming into your website is unknown.
  • Your affiliate manager may not be as ambitious as you. Your campaign may not get passed on to other affiliate marketing networks, and because it is an exclusive offer you can’t pass it on to other networks. Growth may become stifled.
  • The publishers who run your campaign through outsourced affiliate networks will not receive as high of a payout (sales commission). There are effectively two affiliate marketing networks: Your direct affiliate network and the outsourced network. More hands are in the pot, taking money and leaving less for the publishers themselves. The decreased publisher bounty with result in decreased interest in your campaign, so the outsourced affiliate marketing networks will not be as productive as if you worked with them directly.

Most affiliate networks will want to incorporate email marketing into your campaign. This is strongly recommended, as sales or lead generation volumes could be significantly higher. If you do allow your campaign to be email marketed, you will need to be able to maintain an email suppression list. The suppression list is a list of email addresses of people who want to opt-out from receiving your offer. An opt-out link must be provided on your email marketing creative where people can opt-out from your offer. You must then supply the suppression file to your affiliate network so they can in turn pass your suppression file to their publishers. This is a part of the Can-Spam law and it can be effectively managed with a small opt-out landing page connected to a simple database. Make sure you provide an updated suppression file to the affiliate networks at least once per week.

Launching affiliate marketing campaigns that convert:

  • Your goal is to generate a campaign that puts the most money possible into your publisher’s pockets, while also generating a profit yourself. Keep in mind that a break-even campaign is also a successful campaign as long as you can re-market to your clients and generate additional sales, upgrades, etc.
  • Design your campaign to maximize conversions. Minimize the clicks needed to purchase a product, or have your lead generation form on the home page. Don’t collect information that you really do not need, or that people do not like to give out (like an SSN.) You may have to build a unique website for the affiliate marketing campaign if your current website is not fine-tuned for affiliate marketing.
  • You are competing against all of the other campaigns on an affiliate network, not just ones selling the same thing you are. Publishers optimize the offers they market and drop the poor performing campaigns. Design an offer that works both for you and your publishers; your affiliate manager can help.
  • Make the steps necessary to allow your campaign to be email marketed by the publishers. This means you will need to create Can-Spam compliant email marketing creative, an opt-out page linked to a database, and provide access to an updated suppression file (a text dump of your database suppression file.) Email marketing will significantly amplify your campaign’s effectiveness.
  • Develop a large selection of various marketing creative, lots of standard size banners, multiple email creative, multiple email titles and subject lines, various text links and so on. Your affiliate manager will provide you a list of critical media types and sizes, but try to provide more than their minimum requirements.
  • Stay on top of lead quality and fraud. No matter how advanced your validation system may get, someone will try to sneak fake data past you. Make sure that you can track all lead sources, including the subIDs that are passed on through the affiliate network.
  • Every time you make a change to your website, submit a test to ensure that the affiliate campaign is still running as it should be. If your website has an error preventing sales conversions or introduces tracking problems, you may be asked to pay the publishers for their lost business. Remember that your broken website will affect many companies who stuck their neck out for you.
  • Be prepared for large volumes of leads, or no leads at all.

The risks associated with affiliate network marketing are many, and they are significant. You must be on your toes, thinking ahead and quick to move if things turn sour. But if you come prepared and design an offer that the publishers love, the financial rewards can be enormous.

Why So Many People Crash In Affiliate Marketing

More and more people are lured into affiliate marketing and you might be one of them. Indeed, affiliate marketing is one of the most effective means of generating a full-time income through the Internet. It’s a fair deal between the merchandiser and his affiliates as both benefit from each sale materialized.

Like in other kinds of business, a great deal of the profits in affiliate marketing depends on the affiliates selling, advertising and promoting strategies. Everyday, as affiliate marketing industry expands, competition heightens as well so an affiliate marketer must be creative enough to employ effective and unique ways to convince potential buyers to purchase or avail of the products and services offered.

Compared to traditional advertising practices, affiliate programs are more effective, risk-free and cost-efficient.

Reasons people fail in affiliate marketing

So why do many people still fail in affiliate marketing? There are a lot of reasons and a lot of areas in the program to look into.

The most critical aspect in the affiliate program is advertising. It is the most important thing all other kinds of business as well; many affiliate marketers fail in this aspect because they lack hard work. Although it pays to be lucky, you cannot merely rely on it. Affiliate marketing isn’t as simple as directing customers to the business site.

You must invest in yourself

If you want to earn big, of course, you have to invest time and great amount of hard work in promoting the products. The competition is very high and customers nowadays are very wise, too, as earlier mentioned. After all, who doesn’t want to get the best purchase? That is, to pay less and get more in terms of quality and quantity.

Being prepared is critical in affiliate marketing

Lack of preparation is also a reason why one fails in affiliate marketing, whether he is a merchandiser or an affiliate. Part of the preparation is researching. On the part of the merchant, he has to be highly selective in choosing the right affiliate websites for his affiliate program.

In order to be sure he has the best choices, he must have exhausted his means in looking for highly interested affiliates whose sites are sure fit to his products and services.

The affiliate site’s visitors must match his targeted customers. On the other hand, the affiliate marketer must likewise research on the good-paying merchandisers before he signs up for an affiliate program.

He must ensure that the merchant’s products and services match his interests so he can give his full dedication and attention to the program.

He can get valuable information by joining affiliate forums, comparing different affiliate programs and reading articles on affiliate marketing where he can get tips from experienced affiliate marketers on how to choose the best merchants and products with high conversion rate.

Your website is critical to the success of your affiliate business

The website is a very important tool in the whole affiliate program. You should plan how your site is going to be, from domain name to the design, the lay-out, the content, and ads, as a marketer.

Some users are particular about what they see at first glance and thus when they find your site ugly, they won’t spend their time looking at your site. On the other hand, there are those who want information more than anything else. Marketers with “rich-content” web sites are usually the ones who prosper in this business because the content improves traffic to the site.

Websites with high quality contents and relevant keywords are the best optimized sites. Having the right information about the product and service and not just a bunch of empty hyped-up advertisements will allow you to earn big in affiliate marketing even when you’re asleep.

If you’re not able to sustain the interest of your site visitor, you won’t be able to lead them to purchase. No click-through means no sale and thus, no income on your part.

Selecting a top level domain name is also crucial to the success of the affiliate program. Lots of affiliate sites don’t appear in the search engine results because they are deemed by affiliate managers as personal sites.

Major search directories and engines would think of your site as a transient one and thus, they won’t list it in the directory.

Know first what you are going to promote, before you decide on the domain name. Even if they feature the exact products the customer is looking for, the customer might think the site is not relevant and becomes weary of the site contents.

An educated affiliate is a successful affiliate

Above all, an affiliate marketer must be willing to learn more. Certainly, there are still a lot of things to learn so an affiliate marketer must continue to educate himself so he can improve his marketing strategies. Many fail because they don’t grow in the business and they are merely concerned about earning big commissions quickly.

If you want long-term and highly satisfactory results, take time to learn the ins and outs of the business. Continue to improve your knowledge especially with the basics in marketing ranging from advertising to programming, web page development, and search engine optimization techniques.

Likewise, study the needs and wants of your site users and how different merchandisers compete with each other.

If your initial attempts are failures do not give up. Keep plugging away. Do not get disappointed. You see, thousands are attracted by the possibility of generating skyrocketing incomes through affiliate marketing and so they sign up in any affiliate program without carefully understanding every aspect of the business.

When they don’t get instant results, they quit and sign up for another program and repeat the process of just copying links and referring them to others. When you sign up for an affiliate program, don’t expect to get rich in an instant.

Work on your advertising strategies and be patient. Stay focused and become the best student you can be and you will not be one that crashes in affiliate marketing.

Robin signing out