Before jumping into starting an affiliate marketing business, learn all that's involved in making it a success. More importantly, if you decide to pursue an affiliate marketing business, or want to add affiliate marketing to an existing business, understand that it's not fast, automatic, nor without effort. Like all home businesses, you need a plan and daily involvement to make money with an online affiliate marketing.
Will my target audience realistically buy this now, or at a different time? Be sensitive to sales cycles and seasons. Maybe you should avoid holidays (when people are away from their computers, like July 4 in the U.S.) or maybe you should target holidays (like the day after Thanksgiving), but know the difference. Again, know your audience. Plan your content accordingly.
When there are multiple affiliates involved in one transaction, payment gets much more complicated. Sometimes it’s even possible for affiliates to jump in at the last minute and claim commissions for customers brought in by other affiliates. Successful programs use multi-channel attribution to ensure the affiliates that create the most value get paid the most.
The best way to think about affiliate marketing is quality over quantity. There are a lot of small websites that will promote your product, but the key is finding a small number of partners that will deliver conversions. For example, an equity management services firm has over 20,000 affiliates in its system, but only about 25 affiliates generate 85 percent of revenue.
Instead of building from the ground up, many networks are leveraging technology that already exists, then building on top of it to customize their systems. We see this all the time with HasOffers. For example, Kiip, a mobile advertising network with powerhouse clients like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Wrigley, Pepsi, and BMW, decided to build on top of HasOffers instead of starting from scratch. “After sitting down with the HasOffers team, it quickly became clear that we could rely on something that was already built and allow our engineers to focus on developing our secret sauce,” said Corrigan Neralich, Senior Director of Advertising Operations.
Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005. MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.
Focus on reviewing products that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product you are promoting. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
Some merchants run their own (in-house) affiliate programs using dedicated software, while others use third-party intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. There are two different types of affiliate management methods used by merchants: standalone software or hosted services, typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates or publishers can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant, by the network, consolidated across all merchants where the publisher has a relationship with and earned commissions or directly by the merchant itself.
The terms of an affiliate marketing program are set by the company wanting to advertise. Early on, companies were largely paying cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. As the technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
ClickBank aims to serve as a connection between digital content creators (also known as vendors) and affiliate marketers, who then promote them to consumers. ClickBank's technology aids in payments, tax calculations and a variety of customer service tasks. Through its affiliate network, ClickBank also assists in building visibility and revenue-generating opportunities for time-strapped entrepreneurs.
There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.