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Affiliate Programs - The Best Ones to Start
AFFILIATE PROGRAMS - GOOD STARTERS
Affiliate programs are possibly the easiest type of online business to start running. Why?
Well, in order to start any online business you need a product or service to sell. First, you need to create the product. Then, you will have to create a website, write advertisements and set up a marketing plan. If it's a physical product you are selling then you're going to be limited by the amount of time it takes to make or buy the item, package it and ship it. Then, there's the issue of accepting payments and filling orders. We haven't even started talking about refunds and returns!
This is a daunting task especially if you've never run an internet business.
AFFILIATE PROGRAMS ARE THE ANSWER
So, what ARE affiliate programs?
Affiliate programs allow you to be the "sales force" for someone else's product or service and earn commissions for each sale. You may be pretty internet savvy without ever noticing that many companies offer you the ability to become an affiliate. Check for the "affiliate program" links which are placed in a discreet manner on many sites. One big advantage is that you do not need to build a website (though you can) or handle the transaction or fill the order. Your job is to drive traffic (customers) to your affiliate link. When a sale is made, the affiliate will send you a commission!
Signing up to become an affiliate is usually a pretty simple task. It usually involves filling out a web page providing some basic information about yourself. In turn, the company will give you an affiliate link. This is a special URL code that will identify that a customer came to the company's site from your advertising. It is usually the website address with a code attached to the end.
What Commissions Does the Program Pay?
It is very important that you know how much you can expect to earn from a sale. There is no point in spending time and money promoting a product that pays very small commissions. You could end up spending more on marketing than you make on sales. It is probably best to stick with marketing products with a high commission value, unless you have found a niche market where you can sell vast quantities of product, and make substantial commissions on your volume of sales.
How Much Traffic is their Website Getting?
Try to discover the amount of traffic the affiliate owner's website is already receiving. Alexa.com is a very useful tool for doing this research. If the website is ranked in the top 100,000, the merchant is getting a good volume of traffic, so it's possible that there may already be too many affiliates. If it is ranked below 500,000 it may be no good, or it could be a golden opportunity to make some real money by becoming one of the first affiliates!
Always research a merchant's product if their website has a low traffic ranking. It may be a good idea to buy the product yourself if you can afford it. Otherwise you could do a search to find out if there are any negative reviews about it on the internet. Be careful who you listen to though because many people are in the habit of bashing affiliate programs with nothing to really support their comments. If you find a large amount of negative reviews with little positive ones then it would probably be a good idea to stay away from that affiliate program.
How Often Are Affiliate Commissions Paid?
Some affiliate programs pay commissions every week; some once a month, others only pay every quarter. It is important that you know how often you can expect a pay check if you are going to have financial control over your business. Do you have the financial resources to continue to market a product if you have to wait a long time before you get paid? It would also be wise to find out the minimum commission that you have to earn before you get paid.
Does The Affiliate Program Use Tracking Cookies?
Does the Affiliate Program Pay on Subsequent Sales?
Some programs will only pay commission on sales that come through customers visiting their site via a direct link from your site. They pay you nothing for any subsequent purchases that the customer makes if they visit the merchants site directly. It is important that you get paid no matter what route the customer returns by if you are to build a sustainable affiliate business.
What Marketing Resources Does the Affiliate Program Offer?
Look at the type and quality of the marketing resources that they provide. Do they provide articles, advertisements, or other content that you can use to put on your site? Do they provide free guides, special offers, free viral e-books, or product samples that you can send to your list? If the marketing material they provide is good then it is likely that the business will provide good support for their affiliates.
Finding the right affiliate program for you can be tough to do. The best advice is to do your own research, follow the advice above, and listen to your instincts. Use the above questions as an aid to finding an affiliate program that enables you to reach your financial goals. You never know... You might just strike affiliate marketing gold!
Is their website professional?
Your reputation is on the line every time you promote a product or service. If you're sending your traffic to a website that is on free hosting or just looks unprofessional, then you're going to lose the confidence of your subscribers. Now, many sales letters aren't 'pretty' but they are grammatically correct, and everything is functional, with pictures and testimonials. So, although the website doesn't have to be beautiful, it does need to look 'live'.
Is their website easy to navigate?
If shoppers can't figure out how to purchase, then there's no point in sending your traffic there.
What are the numbers?
If you have two programs you like equally well, you can choose between them or write reviews for each and compare and contrast their benefits. Or, if that doesn't fit into your site, then test both to see which gives you the best results.
Any product that offers samples or service that offers a free trial deserves a look. If you can offer your website visitors a sample of any sort to get them hooked, you'll have much higher results than trying to convince them that the product is good.
Are there any tools to help you?
The best affiliate programs go above and beyond in their tools and resources section. Not only do they provide the standard text links and buttons and banners, but you also have solo mailings, articles, and even product feeds. These are the affiliate programs that 'get it'.
Once you find an affiliate program that you love, it's still smart to continue to test the results. Just because you think it's great doesn't mean you visitors will. Continually look at the statistics to see how much traffic you're sending and if any of it is converting. If you're not getting results and you're sending a lot of traffic, then you might want to look at a new program.
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