Affiliate Marketing on the internet is the act of conspiring directly with a website or an organisation that manages a combined network of willing websites and merchants, (like those listed in the next column for example) which result in a constant cash injection into your business. This keeps your bank manager happy, the website owner (the publisher) happy and you (the Merchant) happy.
This is achieved by sales. And sales is the domain of the salesman. And a good salesman is skilled in getting results.
As a businessman, you should ask honestly of yourself the answer to this question. "What is the real value of your salesman? Your entire business less expenses plus a bit of profit from a couple of walk-ins (goodwill) and what-ever other sales you can personally generate if you had the time?" Fact is a true salesman should be able to walk into any organization, announce to the boss that he is now on the payroll, get the gist of the operational policy, and proceed to double or triple that organizations income in a matter of weeks (or perhaps months if the product is a little more involved).
Many salesmen have no idea just how crucial a role they play in protecting your longevity in business. And I am talking about a salesman who knows the difference between order-taking and selling. And I am defining order taking in this article as accepting orders from previously generated good will. The sale took place before the guy even walked into the shop.
There are website's that rely solely on the goodwill of others. These generally follow popular demand. iPod Touch may be a current example. The activity of order taking is not always unscrupulous, but some webmasters are. These can stoop to underhanded techniques to get at a sale like plagiarism or alteration of content written by others which is then processed by a robot program for the purpose of making the content appear it is original and informational, but when scrutinized, mostly ends up as being gibberish or of no real value etc. But you can still buy your iPod Touch from that page. The goodwill in this example has been generated by Apple and some other writer. These type of parasitic websites may even rely on pay-per-click to drive traffic to their sites and counts as one of the reasons why affiliate programs are becoming more popular with Website Administrators.
But true websites are seldom order taker types of sites. A true website has an Administrator playing the role of a maestro who can and does direct the flow of traffic to, through and from his website. Often, he knows his subject so thoroughly, you cant help but feel at ease with his expertise. And as you move through his site, you become instructed, enlightened or perhaps you begin to sense a better rapport with the subject you are reading and start to feel that "yes, I would like to know more about this service or that product". You scroll down the page just a little more, and then you see it... an ad that leads directly to your website which gives the reader that exact option. Buy this service right now.
And it is here that we see the gift that affiliate marketing has to offer. Whether the Website Administrator commands a website about replicate models or the best burger stops along route sixty six, these webmasters will want to tell people about the best type of glue or about an engineer who can make that obsolete part, or the best overnight motel one can pre-book and a great burger deal in the same town. And they will sell it for you because they are genuinely interested and intimately understand their product and so they can and they do rally their readership into action.
And their readership will launch into action through loyalty, for kinship, mutual respect or for whatever reason. But it does drive them into action and you will gain easy sales as long as this one little tiny point is in place. And that point is reason why your advertisement appeared on that webmaster's page in the first place. It is because your are both members of the same affiliate network and have both agreed to work with each other and he knows that your glue will do the job that is needed and should his readership use your product, his reputation will remain intact, unblemished or improved. If you were not a member of his affiliate group and thus unable to be linked, you'd be otherwise wondering why Newman's glue is percieved to be better than yours. And it would also explain how Newman was able to afford that second story on his house last month.
One of the biggest advantages for website administrators is that they do not need to worry about random advertisements with strange .com names that promise to swap plastic beads for rubies in a bid to lure his readership away. But instead, he is able to improve the quality of his site by enhancing his pages with offers to quality products he knows his readership will benefit from. This then makes the webmaster's site even more popular, which then drives even more high quality leads to your site.
And so we find that Affiliate Marketing is swiftly becoming one of the most loyal methods a business can use to attract very high quality leads with a very high conversion rate.
And as Website Owners begin to realize that they can act as a professional commission salesman and do have the power to select from advertisements which blend better into the theme of their webpages, more will sign up to the networks and select from the merchants and manufacturers that already appear on the affiliate program list.
Pay per click has not worked for many of the small to mediocre sized websites, and for those interested in having ads on their websites, this will be their next point of entry into their attempts at monetizing their website. And as the returns are higher, and basically better assured over a period of time, they may never again change their webpage code leaving the links as a permanent resource for you. So it is a good idea to get on board as soon as possible.
Because, like it or not, we are standing on the brink of a massive new wave of internet advertising for webmasters. And the social networks will be the ones that promote the webmaster's site. Caring people attract caring people, and that is most of us, so you will want to be solidly on that affiliate network list before this swell truly begins in earnest.
If you already have shopping carts in place, this is usually not a problem with the bigger affiliate networks. They can mostly integrate your system straight into theirs and will look after all the paperwork needed for all sales regarding the website sales in the affiliate network. In fact, the bigger and better networks can usually get you going on the same day you join!
Be smart and join a large long established affiliate network first. We are going to list the best of the best in the next column to assist you in joining up with a network that already has a large customer base which can help establish you on sites quickly. Preferably with a couple of months free of charges as your sales network begins to come on line.
Some may prefer to go it alone and install software to start and manage your own affiliate membership on their server. This is an inexpensive way to get started and is worth considering if you think it may suit you. We are able to setup websites with this option too if you find you need assistance.
See also our article Affiliate Marketing for Website Administrators which discusses how the Website Administrator is able to better service his readership as a member of and affiliate marketing network.
With Christmas nearly on our doorstep, the faster you get listed, the quicker you will become established and get some returns. But before you join a network, you would be wise to make sure of some key points that enable you flexibility and room to expand and not locked into a deal that prevents you expanding your business.
Who would we recommend?
shareasale.com as they check the boxes in the following list.
and this is how we go about finding a good affiliate to join.
a) Find a solid well established Affiliate Network to join that has already attracted many Merchants and Manufacturers. This immediately tells you if their service and pricing is in the ball park. If many business savvy people are on board, you know that most will have carried out due diligence on this affiliate manager.
b) Make sure they have a low set-up fee, inexpensive monthly maintenance fee and a grace period with an internal promotion of your service to established members so you can get your brand up and running.
c) Does this affiliate network manager only charge a low percentage according to the commission you pay the affiliate publisher, not the invoice price of the goods or service.
d) Are you allowed to join other affiliate managers? You are in business to make money. It would be sad if you joined an affiliate manager who could prevent you expanding your business.
e) Can you be up and running the same day you join? Swift setup tells you how well the affiliate manager runs his business. Also, you can start to get sales sooner.