Affiliate Marketing Tips  

by Ba Kiwanuka

What Is An Affiliate Program? Affiliate programs (also known as associate programs), are online arrangements whereby a merchant website pays you (the affiliate) a commission for sending traffic (customers) to them. In essence you are promoting whatever product(s) that merchant is selling. The beauty of this system is that it does not involve: stocking merchandise; shipping and handling; processing credit cards or any kind of customer support. And an added bonus is that you don't even need a website for this type of internet marketing.

Points To Consider Before You Join An Affiliate Program

1. Is The Company Trustworthy? Your concern here is whether you'll be paid on time and if at all. Obviously if the company in question is an eBay or Amazon, you don't have to worry. However if the merchant in question is unknown, that's when you may have some concerns about fly-by-night scenarios or dishonesty.

Solution: Join well established affiliate networks such as Commission Junction or ClickBank that host thousands of merchant affiliate programs and oversee the commission payout to affiliates.

2. Any Contact Information? If you can't find any contact information...MOVE ON!

3. How Long Before They Respond To Your Request To Join? If you don't get a response within 72 hours (3 business days) pass on that particular program. Their tardiness probably extends across board and who's to say they'll be more responsive about your payments or when you have a real problem.

4. Where's The Affiliate Agreement? If the program in question doesn't have an agreement...MOVE ON. No agreement leaves you exposed to being cheated out of your hard earned commissions.

5. What Does The Agreement Say? Okay, nobody likes reading those long-winded go-on-forever agreements; however, in this case make a point of doing so! If you don't, you could be in for a rather nasty surprise later on. Let's say for example you invest several hundred dollars promoting a particular product and your returns from that effort are a couple of thousand dollars. Most likely, you'd want to get paid as soon as possible. But if you didn't read the agreement which stated that the company pays quarterly, your money would be tied up and you'd have nobody but yourself to blame.

6. Agreement Termination Terms. Most agreements have a termination clause detailing the terms under which you or the company can end the affiliation. It is ill-advised to sign up for a program that binds you to a particular company for a specific period of time. Also be wary of programs that demand exclusivity; such programs generally prohibit you from promoting similar products (from a competitor merchant) on the same site, thereby effectively cutting into your bottom line.

7. Does The Affiliate Program Require A Fee To Join? Affiliate programs are free to join; after all, you're in effect advertising for the merchant. If a program requires you to pay a fee to join, it's not an affiliate program but rather a Multi-Level Marketing scheme ( MLM).

8. What Type Of Affiliate Program Is It? There're basically three types of affiliate programs: pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead and pay-per-click.

· Pay-Per-Sale: Such programs pay either a fixed cash amount or a fixed percentage for sales generated by your promotional efforts. · Pay-Per-Lead: Here you earn a set amount whenever a customer sent by you fills out a survey, requests a quote or obtains some information. · Pay-Per-Click: These are similar to pay-per-lead programs and you are paid each time one of your visitors clicks on a link through to the merchant's site.

Pay-Per-Lead and Pay-Per-Click affiliate programs require large volumes of traffic to generate any substantial revenue so it's probably better for you to opt for the Pay-Per-Sale type of program. This type is performance based and gives you a much better chance of making serious money!

9. What Is The Commission Rate? The commission rate and structure will determine how much money you make. Generally the best paying programs pay you a commission of 50% for every sale. But you have to dig a little deeper to make sure you really understand what you have to do before you get that 50% commission. For example some pay-per-lead programs promise a 50% commission payout per application (let's say credit card applications), but you only get that commission after said applicant has been approved.

10. Do You Get Recurring Sales? The best kind of affiliate programs entitle you to recurring sales. What this means is that as long as the customer you referred keeps ordering the product (such as a website hosting plan), you keep getting paid every month! This is what is known as residual sales. So be on the lookout for affiliate programs offering residual commissions. It's a great way to make effortless, automated monthly cash!

11. Does The Program Pay Lifetime Commissions? A program that pays lifetime commissions pays you (the affiliate) a commission for each and every product that your referred customer buys from that merchant. This includes any applicable residual commissions. This kind of commission structure is the best there is.

12. Does the Program Use Cookies to Track Sales And How Long Do The Cookies Last? So what are cookies? Simply put, a cookie is a harmless piece of computer code or script that captures harmless information (such as identifying a computer through current and subsequent visits, websites visited and date of visit). This is of importance to you because this is how a merchant can tell that a particular customer was referred by you, thus ensuring you get your commission. The importance of cookies does not stop there. There're cookies and there are cookies! Cookies are coded to expire after a set period of time. So if a merchant supplies you (the affiliate) with cookies programmed to expire after 120 days, this means that if one of your referrals makes a purchase anytime within those 120 days, you'll get credited for that sale and get paid your commission. Remember, it takes at least 7 exposures to a product before a person is ready to buy! So the longer lasting the cookie, the least from your point of view as an affiliate.

13. Do You Get To See Your Sales Statistics In Real Time? Make sure any affiliate program you sign up for offers real-time sales tracking (within seconds to one hour) or almost real-time sales tracking. This is important because you need to be able to assess the success of a particular promotion campaign.

14. Does The Affiliate Program Offer sales Tools? A well-organized and professional affiliate program offers their affiliates advertising copy, banner ads and/or item-specific links. Sales tools such as these make your job easier. If a program does not offer these it's probably best for you to look at other affiliate programs.

15. When Do I Get Paid? How Do I Get Paid? Make sure you know how often the affiliate program pays: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly. Also consider what currency you're going to get paid in. The big plus here is, if you're located outside of the United States, you're still going to be paid in U.S. Dollars as most internet companies transact in U.S. Dollars.

16. What Kind Of Billing Mechanism Is In Place? To avoid payment issues, it's better to join programs that are part of a bigger affiliate network (such as Commission Junction or ClickBank). Such affiliate networks make sure that each and every merchant who is part of their network has sufficient funds in its account to pay its affiliates on time. When you sign up for a program that handles payment and everything else itself, you lack this kind of security.

17. What's The Minimum Payout Amount? Most programs require you to earn a set minimum amount before they'll issue you a check or deposit earnings directly into your bank account.

About the Author

Ba Kiwanuka

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