Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Building Revenues with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has been a viable way to help build ancillary revenues by having someone else market your products. It's generally cost effective and could involve little work.

You can go about this through affiliate networks, such as Commission Junction or LinkShare, or simply start an Affiliate program on your website and track sales and commissions with affiliate software, such as DirectTrack. Software costs could range any where from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars ... depending on how robust you'd like your features.

But before you start, make sure you know the critical elements to help grow your Affiliate program:

1) Promotion. This is where you're promoting your program on targeted locations as well as recruiting affiliates to market your program. You'll want to make sure you list your program on all the top affiliate directories, networks, forums, associations, bulletin boards, websites, listings and blogs. You'll also want to leverage free classified sites such as Craig's List as well as social media sites like LinkedIn. And of course, don't forget to create a powerful news release on the program's launch.

2) Site Awareness. It will be hard to promote your program to a site that doesn't have a decent web traffic rank or web traffic (visits). If your site has poor traffic, a professional Affiliate marketer will look at it as a lost opportunity. It will only make his job harder. So make sure to deploy SEO/SEM tactics to improve your site's presence before you start your Affiliate program.

3) Online Store. Make sure you know which are your best selling and most universally appealing products. Those are the ones you'd want to have in your affiliate program. You should also have varied price points. You don't want to pick prices too low, as after the affiliate split, there won't be anything left. And you don't want to pick prices too high, as since most of these leads are cold, it will be a harder sell. A good range is $69 - $300.

4) Affiliate Rewards. Decide if you're going to pay out per lead (CPL) or per sale. Decide if you're going to have a flat commission rate OR a tiered system. Do your competitive research and see what other, similar affiliate programs are paying out. Some of the best performing programs on the Web are offering 25% of the product price.

5) Analytics. Make sure you have a robust reporting system. You'll want the ability to track underperformers and super affiliates, and reward OR incent accordingly. You'll also want to know which creatives are performing the best and worst, and of course, how many sales and leads are coming in as well as how long the lead is staying on the file and their life time value (sales).

6) Keeping In Touch. Top affiliate programs often have a newsletter or ongoing communication to keep their affiliates engaged...up to date on latest products being offered, special sales incentives, updates to program terms, and other newsworthy notes.

Affiliate marketing can help with most all of your online marketing objectives ... lead gen, sales conversions, web traffic, branding and buzz. Not having one could be detrimental to your business.

If you need assistance with setting up your affiliate marketing plan, you can contact me at
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