Affiliate Marketing Programs
Many webmasters sweat away over Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing or both. Others pay companies to do the sweating.
But there is another way ... affiliate programs.
The concept here is that you offer to pay others to bring you traffic. This payment can be:
- a flat fee (e.g. I will pay you $10 every time someone you send fills out an enquiry form) or;
- a percentage (e.g. I will page you 20% of every sale to a person you send.)
The deal is usually time limited. So for example you will page $10 if a visitor fills out an enquiry form within 30 days of being referred.
Who uses affiliate programs
To some affiliate marketing is a dirty word but this is usually because they got mixed up in something illegitimate or cowboy like. Just as link building can be spammy or clean, affiliate marketing can be scammy or legit.
Some of the biggest brands in the world use affiliate programs. You only need to join a reputable service such as tradedoubler to see who is on there. I send visitors to websites via affiliate programs and it’s a very nice income on my side.
So don’t feel there is anything dark about this area of online marketing. Just remember it is one area and it may not work out for your needs. Careful thought is needed before you pile in.
The pros and cons of affiliate programs
If carried out successfully affiliate programs can be an extremely powerful way of driving traffic to a website. In essence you take all the effort of marketing off your hands and give it to others without spending a penny until you see results.
That all sounds great but of course it’s not as easy as it seems. There are a number of challenges to overcome:
- You will need to find a way to gain the trust of others so that they will be confident payments are forthcoming and that you are honest about the figures.
- Online marketing is hard work and 99% of those who start out promoting you will give up as soon as they realise this isn’t an easy way to get rich (and “as soon as” usually means within days).
- Given the above what you need to offer has to be fairly substantial to keep people engaged in marketing your work.
- There is a danger, if you do not remain focused, that you end up spending all your time promoting your affiliate program which you may as well have spent promoting your site.
Gaining the trust of your affiliates
The easiest way to do this is to join an affiliate program website such as clickbank.com or tradedoubler.com.
- Tradedoubler (tradedoubler.com) – has strict rules for being accepted which means it’s clean for users but it is hard to get on board
- Click bank (clickbank.com)– is fairly easy to get started on but most of the affiliate programs there are absolute dross which means it can be hard work getting yours to stand out in the sea of rubbish that generally washes around the service. Some think affiliate marketing is a get rich quick scheme for turning something like a pointless training DVD into gold. They usually end up on clickbank trying to persuade others to market said pointless DVD!
Services like these (and there are many beyond Tradedoubler and Clickbank so do your homework!) will help you set up your website so that visitors sent by affiliates can be tracked independently. Most of the time they will place a cookie on the visitors browser which will report back if and when the visitor carries out the target task.
It’s in this way that you can offer payments such as “5% of any ticket sold to the visitor within 30 days of them arriving at the site”. The cookie placed on the visitors browser remains active so even if the visitor does not buy on the first visit, should they return (because perhaps they bookmarked your site) the payment is still due.
The services also report back to others how well your affiliate program works (e.g. how much other affiliate marketers have earned, the average earning per visitor sent, etc.). Thus the more affiliates earn marketing you, the more others will be attracted to do the same.
When carried out right this leads to an ever increasing number of affiliates all with one thing in mind – to help you achieve your goals.
Marketing your affiliate programs
Perhaps the hardest part of all is finding an online service where you can list your affiliate program. As I mentioned clickbank is popular but it is also a hard place to find that diamond in the coal and if you are the diamond you’ll have to find ways of sparkling!
It’s too time consuming to keep an updated list here but a quick search of the web will reveal blog posts where people have reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly.
Once you are on board spend some time contacting websites that might be interested in your program in order to get it rolling.
Link building with affiliate programs
Theoretically websites promoting your program will need to place a link on their website to yours or to your program. “Oh”, you might be thinking. “Great way to link build”.
No. These links are officially paid links even if no payment has been made yet so whoever is placing the links needs to mark them “no follow”. If they don’t you could end up with a Google ban for building paid links and so could the sites that are hosting them.