Saturday, April 14, 2007

Choosing The Right Affiliate Program & The "Rules To Live By"

By Anne Ahira

Here's the 'Numero Uno' Rule!

Don't be cheap! Always go for quality! Hey, if you wouldn't buy it, why should anyone else?!

Take a good look at the product or service you're considering marketing and make sure it is top notch! Is is a good value for the price? If it's a ridiculous amount of money for something not worth a whole lot, then forget about it. How about the people that are recommending it? Have you done business with them in the past? Are they reliable? Can you talk to a few people who have bought the product? Are they happy with what they purchased?

You've really got to be certain you are recommending a good quality product, from a reputable company, which has great customer service.

This is definitely pretty darn important! As an affiliate, you're sticking your neck out there, every time you advertise or recommend the product or service you're linking to. You are in effect, endorsing them, so it's your reputation at risk! Be sure you're dealing with a company that deserves your trust and reflects well on you personally!

Be smart! Don't ever promote something that's going to harm your reputation!

The Second Most Important Rule

You better be earning a super dooper commission! If you're only being paid 5% or 10% per product sold...boy, are you ever getting the 'short end of the stick'! That's a low commission! You need to look for a company who's thinking about the life-time-value of a customer and is willing to give YOU a very high payout to keep you. You want to associate with a company who pays out around 60% of the net profit to their affiliates. You won't find an affiliate program like this on every website, you're going to have to really search for it! But that's allright. It'll be worth the effort!

With a good affiliate company, when someone joins under you, they get paid for every sale they make (just like you), and you get paid a percentage for every sale THEY make. Just think what would happen if you had a few really hot affiliates, who signed up underneath you and were making 10 sales a mont... you would be making a whole lot of money every month just on the work THEY did. As long as they keep selling, you keep getting paid!

Something else to think about...even if a company is paying out a high commission, if people don't buy from them, you're right back where you started! They've got to have a site which turns visitors into buyers; the site must have a good conversion rate! The site should have at least a 1% conversion ratio; meaning, that one out of every hundred customers you send to them, then turns into a sale.

Make sure you go with an affiliate program which has sales copy and website design that "makes you want to buy". After all, YOU are sending them the potential customers, but it's their job to turn those potential customers into buyers! More buyers, more money for you! Basically pretty simple.

Also, keep in mind your payout amount. If you are earning $50 a referral for one buying customer, you're doing okay.. but, if you are only earning a $10 referral fee for that one buying customer, you may want to rethink things.

Here Comes Rule Number Three, Short But Major Important!:

Match the product or service to the theme of your site. So if your site is about horses and horse products you don't want to be advertising music CD's or weight loss products (unless of course it is a weight loss product for horses!).

You need to target your clientele so that what you are selling or recommending, has something to do with what your visitors WANT. I can't stress this enough it's very important! Provide links, services and products, which are related to what YOUR visitors want!

I am continually astonished, that people build a site and then have products and affiliate programs that have nothing whatsoever to do with each other! DUH!!

The Number Four Rule:

You also need to be concerned with the tracking software the affiliate program is using. You want to see your statistics (stats) in real time and be able to check them at any time to see how you are doing.


So you can go and check to see how your promotional efforts are working Compare the difference in results between putting a button up and putting up a whole sales page. You need instant information on visitor and sales results. How many sales is your affiliate banner generating, same goes for a text link, or personal many visitors are you sending to the affiliate site and then how many sales is it generating for you.

Does the software the company is using track ALL of your sales....some companies use "inferior" software which only tracks about 80% of the time (meaning YOU lose out on 20% of the commissions that are rightfully yours). Other companies will only pay you if the customer visits through your link and buys right then and there...if they come back and buy later, you may not get credit for that sale.

The Number Five Rule:

Don't allow affiliate programs to clutter up your main site. Don't go crazy and find 10 different programs and try to promote them all on your site at the same time!! It just clutters up your site and makes it worthless! Focus on one or two really good affiliate programs, that work for your business and client base. Only become involved with an affiliate program that has products or services that your target market wants.

"Wants" is the important word here. People buy things impulsively because they "want" them, not because they "need" them. When you come right down to it, there are not all that many products which people really "need".

More is not necessarily better! Put too many affiliate programs on your site and you just end up confusing your visitors. You won't make many sales with confused buyers! Stay targeted!

The Number Six Rule:

This is just common with a reputable company. If you are ever unsure of a company, ask for references and do some checks on them. Are they professional? If you phone them, do they put you on hold FOREVER!? Be assured, they'll do the same to customers you recommend to them. They should respond promptly to your emails, within the same day if at all possible. If they don't respond to your emails at in the other direction!

Customer response and service is EVERYTHING. If you ask questions about a company's affiliate program and get no answer (or a delayed answer)... whoa, watch out! If they can't be bothered to take care of you when you express an interest in becoming an associate, what's the odds they'll take care of you when you have a real problem!? It's a pretty good bet, that they won't take very good care of your customers either! So be very careful, the company you deal with should be very professional and willing to help you out when you're in need.

Take the bit about the importance of Customer Service to heart and make certain YOU respond swiftly to emails or phone messages you receive in your own business dealings. This IS CRITICAL.

Following are a few related odds and ends.

Affiliate Programs and bulk email do NOT go together.

There's this "myth" out there about affiliate programs, that you go join a few, put them all in an email message and then bulk email thousands of people who will eagerly respond making you tons of money! Oh, so WRONG! This is probably one of the worst things you can do online. It's called SPAM!

Most affiliate programs have a "bulk" email clause in their agreement that says... if you spam, you can get terminated from the program and not get paid for any commissions you've earned. Be aware that there's also a very good chance that you will lose your Internet connection, not to mention your reputation!

Sending unsolicited bulk email to millions of people who have NOT qualified themselves as being interested in your product is not very profitable (you won't get any response!) can end up costing you money and is just plain RUDE!

I even know of some companies who have billed the "spammer" for the time it's taken the company to deal with the complaints and administrative problems caused by the bulk emailing done using their affiliate program URL. You spam with an affiliate URL, and it looks like it was the company doing the spamming, since the recipient is being sent directly to the company website. Not good for the company's reputation! NOT going to make you a very popular affiliate member either!!

One last thing. Watch out for any "exclusivity clauses" in affiliate agreements. Some companies will state that "they can be the only retailer of a specific product on your site". If you signed up with a book selling program for example, with this clause in the contract, that would limit you to selling only their books on your site. This may not be a problem for you, maybe you only want to sell their books anyway! Just be careful not to restrict yourself unless you want to.

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