Affiliate Program Features and Practices
As we mentioned in the last article, you can sell the products of other merchants if you do not have a product or service of your ownl. You join the affiliate program of a merchant, get an affiliate ID and also some publicity material that the merchant has designed for use by affiliates.
You display the ads at your website, or send them out through emails to your mailing list. And the merchant pays you for the ad impressions, or clicks on the ad, or a lead generated or a sale.
Merchants give each affiliate a unique ID. All your advertisements and campaigns must incorporate this ID in the link that sends visitors to the merchant site. Otherwise, the merchant has no way of knowing who sent the visitor.
You can advertisements incorporating this ID if you log into your affiliate account and get the code for displaying a particular banner or other ad.
If you are running the campaign with your own ads and materials, don’t forget to incorporate this ID into the link that sends visitors to the merchant site.
Affiliate Marketing Compensation
CPM:- You display the merchant’s ad at your website and get paid a few dollars for every thousand ad impressions. Each time a web page at your site is viewed there is one impression for each of the ads displayed on that page. However, not all impressions might be paid for. Merchants might stipulate that only “unique” visits in a day will be counted as a payable impression, i.e. if the same visitor views the page a number of times in a day, it will be counted only as one impression.
CPC:- Under the CPC arrangement, an impression alone is not enough. The site visitor must click on the ad and go to the merchant’s page. Merchants watch out for fraudulent clicks, i.e. clicking the ad yourself and other such means of inflating the number of clicks. A click is considered genuine only if it is made by a person really interested in the advertisement.
CPL:- Even a click is not enough in this case. Your reader must go further and take some action that generates a “lead” for the merchant to follow up. Often, this might involve nothing more than completing a form at the merchant’s site providing contact details.
CPS:- A sale must take place under this arrangement, and that too a sale on that visit. Some merchants, however, might make arrangements to keep track of affiliates who introduce a prospective customer first, and pay that affiliate if that prospect makes a purchase on a subsequent visit.
In general, CPM arrangements pay lowest and CPS the highest. You can even get hundreds of dollars for each sale.
Passive Income: In some cases a merchant gets continuing business from each customer, as when web hosting companies get renewal fees every month or year. In such cases, some merchants pay the concerned affiliate a commission each time the merchant gets paid. This is called passive income because the affiliate does not need to make any further efforts.
Down Lines: Another dimension involves an affiliate building a down line of sub affiliates. If an affiliate brings in another affiliate, the latter is considered a sub affiliate of that affiliate. For each sale made by the sub affiliate, the original affiliate also gets a small affiliate commission.
Finding Affiliate Programs
As mentioned in the last article, you should select only those products and services that are aligned to your website’s topic. A dog lover might not be interested in golf clubs (unless that person also happens to be a golf player). Even if you select the best golf club affiliate program, your pet dog site might not generate many clicks for the golf club ad.
Typically, you don’t approach merchants directly. Instead, you go to networks that connect advertisers and publishers. Some networks have facilities to serve “contextual” ads at your web pages, i.e. they analyze the page content and serve those ads that are likely to be of interest to readers of that particular content. Google AdSense is the most well-known example of such a network.
Other networks will allow you to select merchants and particular programs. They display a list of merchants with affiliate programs and you select those that you are interested in. LinkShare and ClickBank are examples of networks where you can select your own merchants and products.
There are affiliate program rating sites that recommend top affiliate programs. However, it is suitability with your site topic that helps you succeed in your particular affiliate business. Select only those programs that pass this criterion. You can also do a Google search for ‘top affiliate programs’.