Sell the Products of Other Merchants as an Affiliate
If you do not have a product of your own, you can sell the products of other merchants. This arrangement is known as affiliate marketing and comes in different flavors. In this article we take a broad look at affiliate marketing and how to succeed with it while the next article gets into the smaller details.
A Quick Look at Affiliate Programs
You create an affiliate account with a merchant who runs an affiliate program, and get an affiliate ID. The typical next step is to get some publicity material from the merchant website, such as banners or text links with your ID incorporated, and display it at your website. Alternatively, you can plan your own ad campaign and send visitors through your affiliate ID to the merchant’s sales page.
The affiliate arrangement can be CPM, CPC, CPL or CPS, which we discuss in the next article. The merchant pays the affiliate for ad impressions (CPM), clicks on the ad (CPC), lead generation (CPL) or a sale (CPS). Affiliate management systems of the merchant keep track of impressions, clicks, leads and sales that are generated by each affiliate.
We look at affiliate programs in more detail in the next article, where you will also find links to locate an affiliate program.
Affiliate Marketing Success
Picking up any merchant who has an affiliate program and displaying the ads provided by that merchant on your website is not the way to succeed with affiliate programs.
The key steps for affiliate success are:
Build Traffic to Your Website: This is the prime requirement for affiliate success. Even if you attend to all the other requirements, if your website has little traffic few people are likely to see the ads. Only a small percentage of those who see the ads are likely to take the action that brings you commission (such as clicking, filling up forms or buying).
Select Relevant Ads: Select products and services in which your particular site visitors will be interested. Successful affiliates develop websites that have a specific theme and valuable content. People interested in that theme come to the website to read the high value content. These people are more likely to respond to ads for products and services that are in line with the theme, e.g. readers of your pet dogs website are more likely to respond to dog-training ads than to web hosting ads.
Select Good Programs: Affiliate programs differ in the rates of commission and other terms that they offer, the effectiveness of their sales page and the statistics they provide to affiliates. An ideal program is one that:
- Offers 25% or more as commission for a sale,
- Has a sales page that is likely to create a strong desire to buy and
- Provides statistics about ad impressions, clicks and leads/sales that were generated by you
Use the Product or Service: The most effective promotion is that promotion where you describe the specific benefits you yourself obtained by using the recommended product or service. Such descriptions get convincing authenticity when you have actually used the product or service and received the benefits. Otherwise you run the risk of recommending a dud product or service and damaging your reputation seriously.
Promote Effectively: The benefit experience description mentioned above is an example of effective promotion. So are product reviews as when you review a book or the features of a digital camera or even the contents of a website. Confining yourself to merely displaying the ad is not effective promotion. You have to plan a specific campaign to market each affiliate product.
Monitoring and Testing: Putting up an ad then forgetting about it is a sure way to achieve disappointing results. You have to keep track of what is happening on the ground, and try to identify the reasons for any underperformance. Only that way can you do something to improve performance (including dropping some programs and replacing them with others). Use the statistics that merchants, and your own webhost, provide to understand what is going on.
We provide links to locating good affiliate programs in the next article.