To those on the outside, affiliate marketing can seem like a black box. It’s inner workings are mysterious to most marketers and in many companies it’s not treated with the same seriousness as other channels. Some marketers, only familiar with the bad reputation acquired by some industry players in the 2000s, deride it as a source of spam and little more.
Affiliates are most successful when the products they promote match the interests of their followers and subscribers. In addition, many successful affiliate marketers advise recommending and promoting only products that the affiliate is personally familiar with. That’s because familiarity with the product, program, or service helps build trust between the affiliate and end-user.
Forms of new media have also diversified how companies, brands, and ad networks serve ads to visitors. For instance, YouTube allows video-makers to embed advertisements through Google's affiliate network. New developments have made it more difficult for unscrupulous affiliates to make money. Emerging black sheep are detected and made known to the affiliate marketing community with much greater speed and efficiency.
Mistake #5: Promoting a lot of affiliate products instead of just a few. Once you start affiliate marketing, you realize how easy it is to share affiliate links. Instead of becoming an affiliate for a lot of different products and sharing them liberally, I recommend concentrating on just a few and sharing them intentionally. It doesn’t seem as spammy, plus you can be sure the products you do promote are closely aligned with your brand and message. Deep is better than wide.
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.
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.
Contact the company directly. If you use a product or service and want to recommend it but you can’t find evidence of an affiliate program, consider approaching them and asking if they are willing to set one up (maybe with your help). Highlight your audience and the value of your recommendation. Explain that an affiliate program is simply rewarding happy customers (you!) for promoting, and they don’t have to pay until a sale is made.
The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.