Friday, November 7, 2003; 2:30pm EST
What is an affiliate
With the proliferation of goods and services now available on the
Internet, advertisers look to individuals and companies to help sell
their products by utilizing webmasters and others to spread the word.
This can be in the form of banner
advertising on affiliate sites, text links, reviews written by
affiliates, direct email etc. The advertisers compensate webmasters by
paying them for displaying the ads, or for click throughs sent to
them, or (as is most common these days) a commission on sales
resulting as a referral from their web site or email message. For a
more detailed look at the getting involved with affiliate programs,
view the learning resources and tutorial links at the end of this
How can I make money from being
There are many thousands of
affiliate programs out there, all claiming to be the best. Some of
them will give you the impression that all you have to do is implement
their banners and links and wait for the commission cheques to start
rolling in. This CAN be the case, but this scenario usually only
applies to very large sites with massive web traffic that is relevant
to product or service on offer. For most of us, being a successful
affiliate requires a little more work!
As the range of goods and online
services offered via the Internet has grown at an incredible rate over
the last few years, therefore so has the competition. Web site
visitors need to have a very good reason for clicking on a link or
Choosing the right banners
In most affiliate programs, you are
offered a wide variety of banners to place on your site - very few of
them will be effective. If you can attain a clickthrough rate of 2%,
then you are doing very well. It has been our experience, and this is
generally speaking, that graphically rich banners do not perform as
successfully as their simpler counterparts. The main reason for this
is download time. If a banner is the last thing to load on your page
and the banner ad is excessively byte "heavy", by the time it has
loaded your visitor may already have scrolled down the page - missing
it entirely. Heavy banner ads can also slow down the loading of your
pages, or critical elements of your page and you can lose your
visitors altogether! A graphically rich banner can also confuse the
actual message - the artwork and marketing blurb can be imbalanced.
For these reasons, we suggest that banners you implement be no more
that 15kb wherever possible.
Banners that have "extreme"
animation, such as rapid flashing, are also something to consider very
carefully. While these do achieve high clickthrough rates, they are
also highly annoying. If you do decide to implement this form of
banner advertising, use it very sparingly.
When selecting any form of graphical
advertising, try and keep the theme of your site in mind - while
graphical ads are meant to stand out and catch a visitors eye, it
shouldn't be to the point that everything else on the page is totally
ignored. Wherever possible, ensure that all banner ads (and any
advertising for that matter) uses a link that opens in a new window.
That way, if a visitor does choose to visit one of your advertisers it
is easy for them to return to your page and review what they actually
came to your site for!
Pop ups and pop unders
Many companies, but mostly agencies
representing a number of advertisers, now give their affiliates the
options of using pop up and pop under ads. Our opinion - pop ups are
evil. They annoy visitors and are usually closed before they even have
a chance to load. Go for pop-unders and preferably those that only
display once per visit. See below for further articles on this
Using Text Link Ads
One of the most successful forms of
advertising are text link ads. They are bandwidth friendly, don't take
up a lot of space and can be easily implemented into most page
layouts. Good text links ads don't just scream "buy me!", they also
offer some information as to why your web site visitor should
investigate the offer. A company should also supply you with very
short text links which only state the product or company name. The
reason for this is so that you can implement the links directly into
the content of related articles and reviews.
Articles and product/service
Now, this is where a bit of hard
work comes in. Your regular site visitors will view you as an
authority on particular subjects, so why not write a review on a
product or service you are advertising? This also supplies excellent
content for search engine spiders to latch onto. We have attracted
many visitors to our site using what I call "adarticles".
But there's a catch......
If you are going to use the adarticle
concept to promote products, you need to believe in what you write.
Research the product and company well. Contact the company and let
them know what you are doing and ask for further resources and
assistance. Once you have created the review, send them the link - you
may be suprised at the response you get.
One of our advertisers was so
impressed with the effort we put into promoting his company's product
that he gave us an extra 15% commission on each sale! This form of web
site advertising is a bit time-consuming, so choose your products
carefully. The information that you supply to your web site visitors
will help them formulate a decision, so be honest in your sales copy.
If you are successful in this promotion strategy, over time your
reviews won't be seen as hype and bluster, but as a reliable source of
information - everybody wins!
Email advertising as an affiliate
Direct promotion via email has
boomed over recent years, but has brought with it mountains of spam.
If you intend on using email as a method of advertising products and
services, ensure you stand behind the products you're promoting and
make yourself available to answer any questions. An effective
promotion technique we have found is to combine email with the
adarticle strategy. In our ezine we occasionally put a summary of a
product or service, just enough information to stir the curiosity of
our readers. The summary then contains a link to the adarticle on our
site. The benefit of this is not only that you have a good opportunity
to promote the product or service, but while visitors are on your site
they may also look at other sections. The advertiser benefits through
having highly targeted potential clients visit their site.
Original marketing strategies
Using the two above strategies
combined, you can tailor your own campaign. Visitors sometimes become
blind to the advertising resources supplied by companies and your
efforts in coming up with something original may spark their (and the
company's) interest. As an example, our hosting company has provided
great service to us over the last 18 months, which made us very
confident in promoting their hosting solutions - so we approached them
and negotiated a great deal for all parties involved. They have
increased visibility on our site, we receive fantastic benefits in
return, while promoting a service we really believe in! Using this
example, you can make many of your alliances and business partnerships
more beneficial to all concerned.
Successful affiliate marketing
If you are certain that your web
site can generate fantastic sales for a certain company, contact them
to negotiate a tailored arrangement. If they aren't too enthusiastic
to begin with, be patient - companies are approached every day by
affiliates wanting to cut a "better deal". The reality of it is that
many affiliates cannot deliver what they promise, and the companies
are aware of this. Implement their links and banners, go the extra
mile with adarticles and other unique strategies, generate some sales
and then approach them again. You'll probably find that they'll have a
change of heart. Good affiliates are a scarce thing, and if you are
performing they'll be very keen to keep you!
Also bear in mind that most forms of
advertising take some time to kick into gear. Putting a link up for a
couple of days and then pulling it down because it is not generating
any interest may not be a reflection on the product, but just in the
way that it is being presented to your web site visitors. If you have
run successful campaigns before, try to remember the elements that
made it a success. What works for one product may not necessarily for
another, but it's worth a try. Again, if you are having problems with
promotion, contact the company. They will more than likely have
thousands of affiliates and will know what strategies are working. A
good advertiser may even go to the trouble of reviewing your site and
provide you with some tips and hints based on their observations.
Network Advertising Agencies vs.
One of the easiest ways to get
involved with affiliate programs is through one of the major
advertising agencies. They will offer you hundreds or thousands of
advertisers to choose from and payment will be consolidated.
It can be quite difficult to keep
track of a number of individual advertisers, but this shouldn't turn
you away from considering individual companies to represent on your
web site. If the company is well known, has a good product, offers
excellent affiliate support and commits to regular payments with a low
payout threshold, they can actually perform better than some of your
This is particularly the case if the
company offers residual income; i.e. that you receive monthly
commissions from referred clients to services such as web hosting,
magazine subscriptions - for as long as the client is with the
company. Affiliation with these individual advertisers, over time, can
build a steady stream of income for you.
By the way, be extremely wary of
affiliate programs that you have to pay to join - they are really MLM
(multi-level-marketing) associations. There are some very successful
and respectable MLM offers around, but also many that are scams. Do
your research into the company offering the program.
Successful Affiliate Marketing -
Be careful of who you advertise
for. Many companies set a minimum payout level they know not many will
achieve. They greatly benefit from the fact that thousands of
affiliates will not make any real money from the association and over
time these affiliates will drop off when they can't hit the target -
but the company has benefited from the traffic, with minimum outlay.
One sale here, two sales there - it
all adds up for them. Consider this - a company launches an affiliate
program with a minimum payout level of US$25 (industry standard). They
then recruit over 20,000 affiliates. Only the top 1,000 affiliates
actually generate enough sales to receive payouts on a regular basis.
The remaining 19,000 only average one sale each, lose interest and
drop away. These 19,000 affiliates made nothing, but the company still
raked in what could run into millions of dollars of sales.
Successful affiliate marketing boils
down to survival of the fittest, the fastest, the wisest - but mainly
those who put the most effort in. Don't be discouraged if after a
couple of months you haven't made enough money to retire - it does
Looking back over our figures, it was
approximately 6 months from when we began getting involved with
affiliate programs to when it really started to pay off the effort we
had put in. The longer you are involved with affiliate marketing, the
more savvy you will become as to what will work and won't. Then your
effort vs. return will reap greater income in shorter periods of time.
can be exciting and frustrating with many highs and lows, but one
thing's for sure - it's never boring!
Source of Article
This article was written by Michael Bloch. He can be emailed at
firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his web site at
http://www.tamingthebeast.net for tutorials, web content and
tools, software and community. Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development