Establishing an affiliate business
There are literally hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs available in this eCommerce marketplace, and they all claim to be the best, while many of them try to create the impression that all an individual has to do in order to make money on the Web is use their links and banners, and then wait for the money to start rolling in. That is obviously not the way affiliate marketers begin to make money; although money can, and often does, start rolling in once the groundwork is laid and fundamental steps are taken by new affiliates; so the impression is primarily a false one.
That having been said, an affiliate marketing career can only be successful if the affiliate is ready, willing and able to commit significant time, energy and resources (financial and otherwise) to building the necessary relationships and “following” that s/he can convert into return visitors, referals and buying customers (traffic) that is the cornerstone of an affiliate marketer’s business. Establishing this cornerstone is not accomplished overnight, and is not made possible by simply placing banners/links on a website and then wait, although links and banners are part of the overall affiliate marketing scenario.
First things first
Individuals who aspire to be affiliate marketers must first determine what kind of merchants (companies that own products which affiliates market and sell) they want to work with from a product-to-website compatibility standpoint; and they must also do the necessary research on a company’s credibility, reputation and commission payout history. Once these two steps have been completed, first-time affiliates can then start thinking about links, banners, buttons, badges and such as well as how they fit in with the design and theme of their websites.
With most affiliate programs, affiliates are offered a variety of banners to display on their websites; but very few of them will be effective if those banners are not compatible with a site’s content, or if their placement takes away from the sites appeal. The problems with most banners are their size in the sense that if a banner that is overly large (in pixels and kilobytes or kb), it will take a long time to implement (render) and use. Therefore, it is recommended that affiliates use banners that are no more than 15kb in size.
When you, as an affiliate, select any kind of graphical advertising, you should try and keep the theme of your website in mind; because even though graphical ads are meant to stand out and catch the eye of website visitors, they should not be so overbearing that everything else on the page is completely ignored. On the contrary, banners should be placed on website in a way that their presence is complimentary to the site’s design, format and content.
Pop-ups, pop-unders and text link ads
Many eCommerce companies that takes on the role of affiliate merchants now give their affiliates the opportunity to use pop up or pop under ads which, according to popular opinion, are not the way to go; because these types of ads have been known to annoy visitors, and therefore are normally closed before they even have the chance to load. However, if you must use one or the other of these ads, you should opt for pop unders which only display once per visit, and usually after the visitor finishes his/her visit.
One of the most successful and popular methods of advertising among affiliates is text link ads, because they are easy on bandwidth; they don’t use a lot of space; and they can easily be implemented into most types of page layouts. Good text links provide some information as to why your visitor should investigate some of the offers being made from your website.
The direct promotion via email has really taken off over the last several years, although it has brought tons of spam with it, and was almost entirely responsible for the now famous Can-Spam Act of 2003; so if you plan to use email as a major part of your advertising campaign in promoting your affiliate products, make sure to stand behind what you sell, and make yourself available to answer any questions.
Keep in mind also that many email service providers, including Hotmail (by Microsoft), Yahoo! and Comcast, among others, have installed spam blockers and other software to prevent your marketing emails from getting through to their intended recipient.
If you feel confident that your website can generate great sales for certain companyies, you should contact them to negotiate an arrangement; but if they don’t seem too enthused to begin with, you should remain patient as companies are approaced every day with affiliates looking to make better deals. The reality remains that most affiliates can’t deliver what they promise, and companies are aware of this fact.
You should always keep in mind that most forms of advertising will take time no matter what methods you plan to use, so devote some time and a lot of thought before you make any type of decision. Although something might not happen overnight, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen because some things take more time to develop than others; and if you want to get the best out of your efforts, time and resources devoted to an affiliate marketing career, you’d probably be better off if you take your time and get it done the right way, whether it takes a few days or even weeks.