Affiliate programs bring more clients into your business by leveraging your marketing efforts—increasing your sales and building your customer base — without increasing your sales force, advertising, payroll, office space, or equipment needs. You continue handling your in-house sales, customer service, order fulfillment, and support as usual, while your affiliates concentrate on marketing.
Affiliate marketers work on a "pay-for-performance" model—you only compensate them when they send you a paying customer, lead, or subscriber (your choice). That is, unlike advertising, you only pay for RESULTS. If you compensate your affiliates well, they will respond in kind.
An affiliate program is less work and effort compared to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Nor do you incur the up-front costs of paid advertising.
There are thousands of potential affiliates already in touch with your market. With their help, you can reach a larger, deeper audience than you could ever hope to reach alone. The BEST thing to do is to turn your existing clients into affiliates.
Over time, your affiliates will build up valuable buzz and presence around you, dutifully building your brand and sending you clients for years to come. Affiliates do not "cannibalize" your traffic or sales! In fact, top affiliates will displace your true business competitors with their own pages and increase the chances that visitors will buy from you. A strong affiliate program is one of the best ways to drive direct traffic and build inbound links (the #1 Google ranking factor).
Affiliate marketing can open the door to national and international markets, introducing your products and services to places that you might not otherwise be able to effectively reach. Your foreign affiliates are familiar with the practices, customs, and languages of their own regions, and will get your message out in an effective way.
The tracking software necessary to manage your affiliate program will track the effectiveness of your pipeline as well—traffic, leads, sales, click-throughs, impressions, page views, and so on. This valuable real-time data will tell you exactly how your business is performing in the online marketplace. No guesswork.
If you are currently selling a product or service on the Internet, chances are you can benefit from an affiliate program. It is just a matter of structuring it to meet your needs and motivating your affiliates.
Merchant (also called the advertiser) – A merchant is a person or a company that wants to market their products or services on the web.
Affiliate (also called the publisher) – A person or a company that assists the merchant in marketing products and services in return for a commission.
Merchant-Affiliate Relationship (the affiliation) – The affiliate acts as an independent “salesperson” who promotes the merchant's products and services. The merchant tracks incoming visitors to determine which affiliate sent them the sale and credits them accordingly. Tracking and Management Solution – To track the incoming affiliate-referred traffic to their sites, merchants use special affiliate software.
Click-through – A click-through takes place when a visitor clicks on a link on an affiliate’s site that refers them to the merchant’s site.
Content – Primarily, the textual material on the site, but also audio and video. Content should attract, educate, and motivate visitors to take action.
Impression – An impression occurs when a page containing the merchant’s ad or link is loaded on an affiliate’s site. Impressions are also called page views.
Two-Tier – A two-tier commission structure pays an Affiliate commission on each sale (or lead or click-through) they refer, and a second commission on each sale referred by any second-tier affiliates they have recruited into the program.
Link – A link is a hyperlink (http://www.yourdomain.com) or an image or text that contains a hyperlink. A link is placed on one site and when clicked on leads the visitor to another. In the affiliate marketing industry, affiliates place links on their sites that point to the merchants’ site.
Landing Page – A page that your affiliates point traffic to (not necessarily your home page). Visitors coming from your affiliates’ sites will “enter” your site at this page. This is also the entry point for text and display ads. Each keyword or ad should have a landing page that meets the visitors' expectations.