AFFILIATE MARKETING PRIMER
1 - WHAT'S AFFILIATE MARKETING ALL ABOUT?
For those who aren't familiar with the concept, "affiliate marketing (or programs)" is synonymous with... "associate marketing (or programs)", "reseller programs", "referral programs", "partnership programs", "bounty programs", "revenue-sharing programs", even "ambassador programs"! (Though of course, there may be other meanings associated with some of these terms, in other contexts.)
What all of the above labels mean is: A company has set up an automated way for people who sign up as affiliates to be paid a set amount to help them promote their products or services... For each viewing of the company's banner ad, or each referral that the affiliate sends to the company's website (or, in some cases, other ordering mechanism). We'll call the people who set up these programs "affiliate companies".
The huge online U.S. bookstore, Amazon.com, was the company that first heavily promulgated affiliate marketing on the internet. (I first encountered affiliate marketing - though I didn't know it! - in
a text link with a line or two of advertising for Amazon in a friend's email message). And
though this type of marketing is particularly suited to businesses that only operate online, as Amazon does, it's also become very popular with businesses that have both an online and a "bricks-and-mortar" presence.
Any websurfer has by now seen countless such ads on websites of all types. They are (or were) typically advertising banners that say "click here" (for the benefit that is being promoted). Now more common are text-based hyperlinks that are also used to endorse affiliate company products and services (usually with better results). And, more and more often, affiliates are using article directories, forums, blog posts, and Social Media participation to draw readers' awareness to value-adding pages or sites that then lead
to an affiliate link. Affiliate marketing ads also crop up on search engines, in ezines and email sigfiles, even in print advertising.
...Must be something pretty good about it!
Affiliate marketing is targeted marketing. For the most part, targeted marketing, or target marketing, is simply a new twist on the familiar concept of commission-based marketing. No direct selling is involved. That is, the affiliate is in the position of providing the medium (his or her website, usually - or email, or word of mouth; and there is no reason why traditional media advertising cannot be employed) via which the affiliate company advertises.
Another way of looking at it is that the affiliate is selling ad space to the affiliate company he or she's signed up with. (However, what is usually meant by that is something different - you can sell ad space in the traditional way by charging a company a flat rate to put its banner on your site, and no commission would be involved). It's the company's website that truly does the selling of the product or service offered. (The affiliate will be well-advised to do some pre-selling, however, as we will discuss later in the primer section "How To Get the Most Out of Your Affiliate Programs".)
Affiliate target marketing is a very inexpensive means for companies to ensure that their advertising expenditure is only for "targeted" recipients. ...They only pay (the affiliate) when the customer (or potential customer) has gone to the trouble to come to them!
If you think of the customary tactics of bricks-and-mortar businesses and "direct response marketing" (mail-order marketing), you'll see why affiliate marketing shines...
A typical bricks-and-mortar business relies on word-of-mouth advertising and perhaps newspaper ads - maybe billboard, magazine, radio, and TV ads - to gain customers. That kind of advertising is a shot in the dark - they pay, and hope that a small percentage of those who read/hear/see their ads will check out their stores. The only targeting they can do is to choose a billboard's location, a print ad's likely audience, etc., in the hopes of narrowing down to the people most liable to be interested in their company.
Direct response marketers have an edge over these businesspeople... They can pay a mailing list house to supply them with the addresses of people who have already made responses to similar ads in the past. That's much better - the target market is narrowed down to more people more likely to be interested in their ad.
Affiliate marketing allows a merchant to pay only for people who are definitely doing something wished for (clicking on an internet link), NOW! This is the epitomy of what targeted marketing is about: reaching the right folks, the folks who are all set to buy (and precisely while they're thinking about it).
So, if you become an affiliate, you're automatically an asset to the company you sign up with. You are allowing the affiliate company quite a bit of latitude... You only charge them for advertising if you generate a result! (That's why affiliate marketing is sometimes called "pay-for-performance marketing".)
Of course, if you're only displaying their banner or link on your website (with, perhaps, some intriguing ad copy), it isn't necessarily costing you much in the way of time or web page space, so why not do it? (Your visitors are going to leave your site at some point anyway - this way, you have a strategy for their exiting.)
The fact is, though, that you have the potential to be a very great asset... If you can conceive of (and probably work at) a way of garnering a great number of referrals from your site (or, simply, through your efforts - keep in mind that a website isn't necessary for this). It all depends on what you want to do.
It's been said that the fastest way to start making money on the internet is to promote someone else's products or services or website. If you don't have much time to devote to a business, you can concentrate on advertising on behalf of someone else and not even have to produce (or house, or mail) a product or service yourself.
Entire websites can act as pre-sale mechanisms for an affiliate company's offerings. (The most successful give in-depth, benefit-rich help to the people they target.) And depending on the extent of your efforts (and the details of the program you sign up under), you can make some, or quite a lot, of money by sticking to this type of effort. (Which can very well lead to even further means of monetizing your site as its popularity develops. Or to non-web-based
such as offline sales, consulting, book authoring, or speaking engagements - who knows?)
ADJUNCTS TO ESTABLISHED SITES:
Advertising takes time, though, and to really make a lot of money in this fashion, it may take a lot of time. Most affiliate links are offered as an adjunct, maybe even an afterthought, to an already established web presence.
Most people in this situation seem to find that one or a handful of affiliate programs make them an extra few hundred dollars a month without a great deal of effort on their part. If this is your goal, then adding an affiliate program or so to your site and reaping the benefits as they come will be a good business move.
BUSINESS INCOME STREAMS: |
You'll find that once you've established an attractive site (or have a good customer base due to whatever sort of business you pursue), your credibility puts you in a good position to develop further income by recommending other people's products and services.
You can present someone else's product or service as a "back-end" offer when someone purchases from you. (Back-end offers are a staple of the business world, as a means of capitalizing on sales work that's already been done without having to put in much more effort). You can offer it as part of an information-rich, problem-solving site. You can recommend it in your own newsletter, online or offline; or in an article written for someone else's newsletter, ebook, or for offline publications
There are many ways to develop other income streams... Affiliate marketing (targeted marketing!) can be a very efficient option for doing this.
OWN AFFILIATE PROGRAM?:
And if you have a product or service to sell on the web, you can see why considering setting up your own affiliate marketing program should be on your to-do list. Targeted marketing opportunities give a company the best "bang for the buck".
If this is where your thoughts are leading you, the section "Setting
Up an Affiliate Program" at the end of this report is especially for you.
WHERE DOES THE WEB 2.0 / WEB 3.0 STUFF FIT IN?:
The truth is that even though affiliate marketing still makes extremely good sense, the free stuff on the Web has gotten good enough and plentiful enough that it's harder to sell to people (or, in the case of affiliates, pre-sell
something we'll get into a bit later). This is why it's important to pay attention to the opportunities that Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 developments offer to affiliate marketers.
You may find a niche in the field that you can just rest cozily in. But most marketers find that they need to (or will be more successful if they) follow trends that open up different opportunities. ...Because these same trends tend to choke down on old strategies (that were once considered leading edge opportunities!).
While The Affiliate Marketing Primer isn't the place to go in-depth into how to do all that's mentioned here, I'll try to give you some direction in suggesting ideas to research, tools to consider, and places to start (other than your favorite search engine, which is a given). So throughout these pages, look for tips related to Web2.0/Web3.0 strategies and possibilities.
I've also separated out some Web2.0 and Web3.0 information that you might want to take a look at from here: If not (or after you're done there), let's move on to a look at "The
Anatomy of an Affiliate Program" (Chapter 2)...
SITE OR THE WEB: