Affiliate Programs and Advertising Choices


Advertising via affiliates

Based on all the promotion, notoriety and success of affiliate marketing programs, most Internet users who might be interested in becoming an affiliate marketer are proably already aware of the fact that there are plenty of these programs to choose from; and those who aspire to an affiliate marketing career need only do a little research about programs they’re interested in joining. This way they will have a good understanding of the kind of software system, product type and company management that will either help them to achieve affiliate marketing success or help them fail at it.

Affiliate marketing is really about the promotion of products and/or services (‘products’ for the purpose of this post) with an online company, or multiple online companies. Such companies are known as affiliate merchants, with which affiliates will sign up and, in effect, take on the role of advertisers or marketing arms of these merchants, the result of which relationship buying customers and potential customers – or referrals – will be provided to the merchants through affiliates’ efforts.

If traditional advertising can be described as the means by which a great number of consumers are made aware of certain products, then advertising via a crew of affiliates may well be described as “the means by which a great number of consumers re made aware of certain products” without the upfront monetary commitment.

The affiliate’s efforts

Furthermore, affiliates promote products on their own websites, which gets exposure at the affiliates’ expense, so such advertising will be both attractive and appealing to the merchant’s customers and potential consumers, since they will have been originated from a site which provided compelling content that holds relevance to their interests.

Most affiliate programs are absolutely free to join, so it makes little sense for up and coming affiliates to pay for joining an affiliate program especially since the affiliate absorbs all the costs of his/her business in order to earn commission checks that are payable only when the affiliate makes a sale. In other words, any affiliate whose objective is to succeed must utilize powerful, effective and smart advertising methods in order to consistently make sales and remain competitive; and the merchant derive direct benefits from this affiliate’s efforts, including the type of advertising described above.

Successful affiliates also expend time, energy and money to recruit sub-affiliates which allow them to leverage the capacities of others to bring more visitors to their website, thereby providing more referrals and buying customers to the merchants with which they’re affiliated; and the only thing those merchants need to do – aside from maintaining great product quality – is issue the commission checks to affiliates when they make sales. Of course, merchants do not automatically issue checks at the time sales are made, but according to a schedule.

Affiliates’ earnings

Commission payment schedules differ from merchant to merchant, as some merchants issue their checks once per month while others issue every quarter; and many affiliate programs set a minimum commission an affiliate must meet or exceed before checks to be issued; but this is usually not a concern for top affiliates. More of a concern would likely be the economics involved of making an affiliate marketing program beneficial, like when a visitor completes a form on the affiliate’s website. How much is it worth in terms of affiliate earning? And how many such forms can s/he expect in a single day?

Keep in mind that in order for an affiliate marketer to have a significant income, s/he must be able to effectively search for profitable sites, link with companies that are generous with their leads locate rising and progressive online companies after which s/he can recruit affiliates to enhance productivity and grow the affiliate marketing business. Affiliates must also be willing and able to track their own promotional and referral activities, as well as those of their sub-affiliates.

But how exactly are referrals and buying customers from an affiliate’s site tracked? And how long do referrals remain in the system since they didn’t buy on the initial visit? First of all, an affiliate would have to be confident enough that the program will track those people s/he refers to the merchant’s site, because adequate tracking is the only way s/he can credit for any sale.

Choosing an affiliate program

The period of time referrals remain in the system is also important since those referrals who did not buy initially may want to return later to make the purchase. The affiliates must know the length of time from the initial referral visit to when s/he’s entitled to get paid.

So if you are an aspiring affiliate, your choice of an affiliate program should be one that is capable of offering detailed stats which should be accessible online anytime you decide to check them out. Constantly checking your individual stats is important to know how many impressions, hits and sales are already generated from your site. Impressions are the number of times the banner or text link was viewed by a visitor of your site. A hit is the one clicking on the banner or text links.

You should also find out if the affiliate program also pays for hits and impressions in addition to commissions for sales made; and if impressions and hits are also paid this extra payment will add to the earnings you get from the sales commission. This is especially important if the program you are in offers a low sales volume-to-hit ratio. If such a ratio exists it is doubly important that you know the products they are selling and the average volume they are achieving.

An understanding of affiliate marketing

The more you know about the retailer offering your affiliate program, the easier it will be for you to understand if that program is really for you as it relates to your website’s theme.

The most important thing you’ll need to know isastly, what is the amount of commission paid. Is it 5% or 20% per sale? And does the company pay commission for impressions? If it does you’ll find that the per impression amount is not much (.01% – .05%) per hit; but when added to the per sale commission, it could add up if your website is very active and attracts large numbers of visitors. As you can see from the figures, you now have a better understand why the average sales amount and hit-to-sale ratio is important.

These are just some of the questions that needed answering about affiliate programs and advertising choices before you enter into an affiliate program. You should be familiar with the many important aspects that your chosen program should have before incorporating them into your website; and since you’re absorbing the costs of advertising and your own website maintenance, as well as protecting your own reputation, try to ask these questions about your affiliate program choices. They can help you select the right program for you site from among the many available online.

About Affiliate Systems and Search Engines


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.

Considerations

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.