Affiliate system for business
Considered by many Web-based businesses to be the catalyst that drives website visitors and converts them from simple referrals into paying customers, affiliate systems will often enable a business to generate a lot of traffic, thereby boosting sales through promotion by third party entities via their websites. Affiliate marketing is also a cost effective method by which a company can advertise its products and services, as they pay for only those efforts that result in actual sales.
That having been said, if you own a business – Web-based or otherwise – and you’re considering setting up your own affiliate system, you should understand that such a project will require a few hours of good planning and diligent research; because it can either be relatively easy or stressfully overwhelming, depending on how many affiliates you want to recruit. However, despite how much planning and research you do, there is still a more important aspect of an affiliate program: your payment policy and the type of product you will be offering.
As for the actual affiliate systems, there are basically two options that might be suitable for your business – outsourcing the entire system or run your own affiliate system through your web hosting account. Each one boasts unique advantages as well as disadvantages. If you decide on a small number of affiliates you can run your own affiliate software; but if you plan to recruit a large number of affiliates, then you will probably need to outsource, because dealing with a large number of sign ups, track payments and monitoring clicks could be overwhelming.
Types of affiliates
There are numerous types of affiliates out there to choose from; but pay per sale may be the most advantageous, since the affiliate is paid only if a sale is generated from his/her link. Of course it’s the least attractive method to affiliates, unless the product is in high demand and the most profitable for their business.
Another affiliate type is the pay per lead, where you – merchant or product page owner – pay only for traffic. With this type, the affiliate is paid only if a visitor is generated from his/her site; and this method is attractive to affiliates although more costly to merchants or product page owners due to the possibility of non sale visits.
When setting up an affiliate program, something to take into consideration is whether or not you will approve affiliates manually or automatically. It’s normally recommended to start affiliate programs with your established customer sites then progress to new ones, because existing customers are known quantities who have already shown their loyalty, possess firsthand knowledge of your product(s) and are trustworthy. Any new affiliate applicants can be approved manually until you feel comfortable with, and can afford the expected fallout from, automatic approval.
Also, if you are dealing with a pay per click system, you may have to control the affiliates since the quality of visitors will be a huge factor when it comes to the generation of sales; and by manually reviewing this category of affiliates, you’ll also be able to evaluate the website of each individual affiliate to see if it’s in the best interest of your company.
If you decide to use your own affiliate system, one of your biggest challenges will be how to pay affiliates a percentage of what you end up receiving from customers. To do this, you can rely on software such as Affiliate shop to help you track and manage commissions.
Keep in mind that there are other concerns of affiliate programs and the overall affiliate marketing business that must also be taken into consideration when embarking on an affiliate program/system installation. One such concern is how your affiliates’ actions/activities reflect on your business in terms of spam, fraud, plagiarism and the search engines; and while we will not delve into all those areas at this time, it is important to touch on one of these topics.
Marketing through search engines
The landscape of search engines have gone through some drastic changes over the years; not only with technology, but also with various partnerships among the many different search companies as well; and having a workable knowledge of these changes will have a significant impact on your affiliate program; because knowing where your traffic is originated from will be instrumental in reducing fraud, spam and theft.
In other words your potential customers, as well as your affiliates, could be running their search engine queries on a particular search engine, although the company which is actually generating the results could be a totally different entity altogether. So we’ve put together a list of popular search engines which are credible and trusted by most so you will be able to recognize certain traits as they relate to each one:
Google, Yahoo and Bing
Google provides the primary search engine results to Google AOL Search as well as Netscape. Google also supplies paid listings to Lycos, Ask, Netscape, AOL Search, and HotBot; while supplying secondary results to HotBot and receiving it’s directory data from DMOZ.
Yahoo provides the primary search results for Yahoo search, Alta Vista, and AllTheWeb, and receives paid listings from Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly known as Overture).
Bing is the most recent of the big three search engines and was introduced to the Web by Microsoft. It was previously known as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search; but in July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in which Bing would power Yahoo! Search, whereby all of Yahoo! Search global customers and partners would be transitioned to the new entity. Transition was completed in 2012.
Secondary search engines
Lycos, Hotbot and Ask
Lycos receives the directory search results from DMOZ, primary results from Ask, and paid listings from Google Adwords.
Hotbot receives directory search results from DMOZ, primary search results from Ask, and paid/secondary results from Google Adwords.
Ask provides primary results to Ask, Hotbot, and Lycos. It receives secondary search results from Teoma and the directory results from DMOZ, with paid listings from Google Adwords.
In relations to marketing in general, and affiliate marketing in particular, search engines can provide anything you want to know; and if someone is looking for something they normally refer to the search engines. When they type it in, the highest sites on the engines will show – which is normally where the visitor will go (hopefully your product page will be one of the destinations).
By keeping good position on the search engines, you’ll be one of the first sites for visitors who are looking for a certain product that you offer. You can make a lot of money with search engines as well, if you know what you are doing; but you can also coordinate search engine traffic with your top and most trusted affiliates in a way that will award the affiliates while keeping those referrals in the fold for nurturing and eventually converting into paying customers.