Explore Affiliate Marketing and Build Your Virtual Sales Force

4/26/2010

- Ryan Faria, Senior Campaign Manager

For many online advertisers, search engine marketing is a quick way to generate sales and leads. But what happens if your search engine marketing efforts plateau?  For this reason, many advertisers have turned to affiliate marketing as a great way to enhance their online efforts.

Affiliate marketing involves recruiting site owners who place banners or text ads on their page to promote your product or service. Instead of paying per click, the affiliates are paid on a commission basis for the total amount of sales or leads they refer to your site. These affiliates act as an extension of your sales and marketing team; without the office space or overhead.

With affiliate marketing, advertisers can define their conversion point, whether it's by sale or lead. This cost per sale (CPS), cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per lead (CPL) model is particularly attractive for advertisers with competitive (expensive) cost per click efforts. Affiliate marketing gives the ecommerce site owner complete autonomy with respect to the percentage affiliates will receive. If an advertiser designates that a lead is worth more than a sale, they can provide affiliates with a flat referral fee rather than commission based on the sale amount.

The ecommerce site owner-affiliate relationship is a reciprocal partnership; not one sided. If the ecommerce site owner does not engage in dialogue, provide occasional new ad creatives and fortify the relationship with the affiliate; the affiliate will most likely stop placing your banners on their site. Not a big deal? Think again. Since the affiliates are generating sales or leads, this could severely hurt your bottom line. However, a successful rapport with your affiliate becomes mutually beneficial; you produce a sale, they get a commission and everyone is happy.

Ecommerce advertisers can choose from a number of platforms to manage their affiliate programs. These platforms help locate suitable affiliates, validate sale authenticity, pay out commissions and much more. Even though you may enlist a large army of affiliates, not all will produce sales or become very active in your program. There will be select number that will produce a majority of sales. Many advertisers offer these affiliate VIPs special discounts to extend to their customer base.

Active enrollment of affiliates is another way to incorporate new affiliates and to replace nonproductive partners. Remember that there are constantly affiliates joining platforms, some may sign up just to be a part of your program. Affiliate platforms are not the only way to recruit. Many advertisers choose to seek out industry relevant websites and invite the owners to be a part of the program.

If affiliate marketing has piqued your interest, why not find out more? Remember the potential to succeed in the online arena is great; however, branching out into other online efforts is a great way to build brand awareness, loyalty and most importantly sales.

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