Affiliate Marketing is the oldest, most original form of performance based advertising. It goes way back to the days before the internet. The evolution of the internet and related technologies has helped propel this marketing mechanism to the forefront of online marketing opportunities today.
More advertisers are beginning to realize the importance of this channel due to increasing competition in the search engine marketing spectrum. As a result, some heavy hitters are making a bullish effort to capitalize on its popularity. In addition to the “big guys,” small CPA (cost per acquisition) networks are popping up all over the place.
If you haven’t been in a hole for the past few months, you’re aware of the Google/Double Click deal. Double Click owns Performics which is a search engine marketing company as well as an affiliate network. In early March, the deal received approval from the Federal Trade Commission and the EU. The deal quickly drew enormous amounts of scrutiny as many saw this as a conflict of interest for Google. Finally on April 4, Google announced it would go through with the acquisition but would sell off the search engine marketing side of the business. Google made it clear however, that they would in fact retain the affiliate marketing division of Double Click/ Performics.
Another big player to join the Affiliate Marketing arena is AOL. AOL recognized this as an important online marketing sector that is growing at a rapid pace; and this past February acquired buy.at. Buy.at is a large affiliate network which was started in 2002.
The emergence of these large companies joining this channel along with the startup of many smaller CPA networks; has helped propel this marketing technique. With the forecasted spends for online advertising, it appears that this method is poised to grow impressively. It should be exciting to see what these new players will bring to the table.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective methods for significantly increasing the size of an online business and has proved to be a cost-efficient, measurable method of delivering long-term results.
Affiliate marketing is a cooperative effort between a merchant and an affiliate in which affiliate agrees to promote the merchant’s product on their website or by other means by linking to the merchant’s website. In exchange, the merchant pays a commission to the affiliate. In most cases, the merchant will pay the affiliate only when a customer clicks on the product link and actually makes a purchase. Some, merchants, however, do chose to pay a commission merely for clicks.
There are many benefits to affiliate marketing and creating a strong affiliate program.
Affiliate programs are somewhat risk free. You pay for results, rather than advertising that may or may not target your market. When you include an affiliate marketing program as part of your advertising plan, you are sure to receive directed advertising that works, and if it does not work then you don’t pay for it. Paying for effective advertising is what affiliate marketing is all about. However, the exact way you pay your affiliates is up to you. You might choose to pay your affiliates a percentage of the sale or a flat fee for finding a new client, or come up with a different commission structure. Moreover, you can advertise on a wide variety of websites without having to negotiate lots of different prices. You make an offer, and the publisher decides whether to work with it. The more attractive the offer, the more likely the best affiliates will start to promote you. The more they promote you, they more you sell.
Affiliate programs give merchants a broader market to advertise their product or service to. It gives the product or service the maximum exposure that it may not get with other traditional advertising techniques. With an affiliate marketing program you develop a network of individuals working to promote your product. This network grows and grows and becomes larger and more powerful each day. Each new affiliate adds a link to your website, which simply increases your target market. So, each new affiliate allows your targeted market to grow larger in an exponential manner and reach unlimited amounts of individuals all over the web and the globe. Affiliate marketing is the equivalent of having an army of sales people who do all the promoting, and who only get paid a commission if a customer purchases. If their efforts fail to make a sale, the merchant incurs no expenses. The burden of performance is, thus, squarely placed on the shoulders of the affiliate. Thus, the more affiliate sites a merchant has, the higher the traffic, and the higher the chances of converting visitors into sales. But more doesn’t mean better. As such, don’t obsess over the number of affiliates in your affiliate program. Instead, concentrate on optimizing the performance of the affiliates already in your affiliate program
Also, with each new link your website may rank higher in search engines so you not only increase your market, but you also increase your search engine results. The amount of websites linking to your site as a result of your affiliates means exposure and the more exposure you have, the more results your targeted marketing and advertising plan will receive. An affiliate program truly is the perfect answer to your advertising needs and is affordable as well.
An affiliate program furthermore enables you to collect some measurable and predictable data on individual affiliates or the affiliate program as a whole. This will aid you in forecasting the future performance of the affiliate program. You decide what type of advertising is effective and reaches your market and what does not. You can choose between an email lead, actual sale, a new subscriber to your newsletter, or even a download of a particular product.
There are numerous reasons to have an affiliate program, but merchants just getting into the field shouldn’t expect immediate sales results. Placing your merchandise with an affiliate program is the same as training a new sales assistant. It will take time and training to reach the fullest potential.
Depending on the staffing capabilities the merchants may choose to run a program using their own in-house resources or they may outsource the program to an agency, but they shouldn’t try to run an affiliate program on auto-pilot. It just doesn’t work!
Affiliate Marketing has been a hot topic recently and with much good reason. Although it has been around for years, many companies have just started to learn how effective affiliate marketing can be. But what does it take to create an effective Affiliate Marketing Program?
Here are a few tips that will help you make the most of your program:
1) Recruit the Right Affiliates
Recruiting affiliates is the most important part of affiliate marketing. The affiliates are the ones who actually sell your products or promote your services. Choosing the right affiliate is like hiring the right employees. You want to choose sites that will represent your product with a positive image and generate quality leads. The easiest way to find affiliates is to join an affiliate network, but there are many other ways to find them. Posting in online forums, listing in affiliate directories, and directly contacting websites that relate to your product or service can also be very effective.
2) Choose the Right Banner
Choosing the right banner to use will greatly affect your click through rate and the success of your campaign. Graphically rich banners might seem like a good choice, but these tend not perform as well as the simpler ones. The main reason is download time. If a banner is the last thing to load on your page, by the time it has loaded your visitor may already have scrolled down the page and missed the ad completely. If you use a banner, the recommended size would no more than 15kb if possible. A great alternative to the banner is a plain text ad. A short descriptive with a call to action can go a very long way.
3) Determine the Proper Pay Scheme
Setting up the pay scheme for your affiliate campaign can be done a few different ways. PPC (pay-per-click) is the traditional method where a specific amount is paid for each visit. PPL (pay-per-lead) is where registration or sign-ups are rewarded. PPS (pay-per-sale) is when a specific commission per sale is paid. Pay per sale is often the preferred method, because it ensures that you generate revenue before paying a commission. However, any of these systems can be effective depending on your business needs.
Successful affiliate marketing programs take a lot of patience and dedication. An effective program is one that is managed on a daily basis. With time and persistence, or the right team working for you, you can achieve new levels of success with your online business.