What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the practice in which a merchant enrolls other people (aka affiliates) to sell/promote its products online in return for a commission. This is a common technique of generating income for site owners, in particular, those that run blogs. It can have many benefits for both the merchant and the affiliate.
Benefits for the Merchant:
- Merchants’ reach for its products will expand that much more by using affiliates
- Little marketing needed to be done if the merchant chooses to sell its product(s) through the use of Affiliate Networking sites
- By incorporating affiliates into their marketing efforts, they can spend less time on “selling” and spend more time on creating and developing their products
Benefits for the Affiliate:
- There is no to little risk involved
- There is no need to deal with inventory, order processing, shipping or customer support
- The commissions can be very lucrative
- No need to venture into product development
There are two common ways to search for affiliate programs:
- One method is to look at sites related to your industry and see if they offer affiliate programs where you can apply directly. You will usually see a link in the menu bar that reads “Affiliates”, “Partner with Us” or something along those line.
- Another very common and effective way is to visit affiliate networking sites such as clickbank.com, e-junkie.com , commissionjunction.com and T3 Leads. These are some of the top Affiliate Networking sites that’s’ sole focus it to service those businesses/individuals interested in either selling or promoting affiliate products.
The process is quite simple. Once you’ve applied and have been accepted as an affiliate, you will be given a unique URL that you can use to promote the product. This URL will allow the merchant to track the sales generated by the affiliate to ensure payment of commissions.
Many merchants as well will attach a cookie into the visitor’s browsers. This way if the prospective lead does not purchase on the first visit, but rather on at a later time, the affiliate can still receive credit for that sale.
There are various ways in which an affiliate can incorporate their affiliate link. Here are several common inclusions:
- In a side bar widget or banner
- In their email marketing
- In product review posts
- In their ‘Resources’ section of their website
Here are some tips if you choose to go down the path of Affiliate Marketing:
Test before you recommend. Although it is not mandatory to test a product out before you recommend it, it is advisable. Why? Think about it this way, your reputation and credibility is on the line.
Let’s say for instance you have a blog and over the course of time has generated a substantial readership and subscriber list. You officially have a following of people who know and TRUST you.
In your hurry to begin monetizing your site via affiliate marketing, you forgo the opportunity to test the product. You soon begin receiving emails from your subscribers notifying you of the poor quality of the product and slowly start to lose subscribers and most of all their trust.
So it’s in your best interest to test the products you are promoting and give it two thumbs up before you recommend it. At the very least, if testing the product yourself is not feasible, I would at least ensure that the product is from a reliable source YOU know and trust.
Choose products and services relevant to your industry. If you are in the photography industry and your site discusses all things photography, it would not be relevant and appropriate to promote products to your list that involve home and garden related products.
Decide if you want to target CPS (Cost Per Sale) or CPA (Cost Per Action) programs:
CPS involves the affiliate receiving a commission ONLY after the sale is complete. It is a much more common method of affiliate marketing and relatively easy to apply for.
CPA involves receiving a commission based on an action that the merchant has stipulated. This can be as simple as the prospect opting into a newsletter or downloading a free trial of a product. This is a much less common method, thus makes it more difficult to venture into.
Note: As an affiliate, you are required by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to disclose to your prospects that you will receive a commission via the use of the affiliate link. For more information of the FTC’ Guidelines, please visit their site here.
Overall, affiliate marketing can be a very beneficial technique and a great source of income for a site owner. Measures do need to be taken to ensure quality control, but if you choose a product that you truly believe in, it will make the process that much more effortlessly to promote and sell… and your followers will thank you for it.
Have you’ve considered affiliate marketing?
Post by Michele Welch ~NewBizBlogger
Michele Welch is an Online Business Advisor and Coach who shares online business tips with those looking to start their own websites. To get FREE access to her 7-Day Action Plan on Starting an Online Business and weekly business tips, please sign up for her newsletter at http://www.newbizblogger.com.