Who do you AFFILIATE with?
Affiliate Marketing: Who Do You Affiliate With?
It’s an issue that starts out as early as our school days. I bet your mother always told you that “people will know you by the friends you keep,” right? Back in those days, she meant that if you hung out with the proverbial “good kids” then your reputation would be pristine . . . but just let her catch you keeping company with that group of n’er-do-wells and there would’ve been some explaining to do!
Though time has passed and those school days are a distant memory, the principle still applies to our present day business life, and now, more than ever, we are scrutinized by those with whom we affiliate. But this time, our livelihood could very well depend on it.
Just the Basics
First and foremost, let’s make sure we understand exactly what affiliate marketing is. Simply put, it’s a financial-based relationship between a customer, a publisher (a.k.a. the affiliate) and an online e-retailer. The process works like this: a potential customer visit’s the affiliate’s blog or site where they find a link to the retailer. The customer then links to the retailer’s site where they proceed to buy something or complete a desired action (such as submitting their contact information via on online form, for example). At this point, the affiliate earns a commission for referring the visitor to the company’s website and being a catalyst for a successful sale.
The affiliate’s commission is generally determined as a fixed amount per each conversion or as a percentage of the overall sale. These payment methods are often referred to as: Cost Per Action (CPA); Cost Per Sale (CPS); and Cost Per Lead (CPL). And though it sounds simple enough, the affiliate marketing process can only be successful and lucrative if the proper groundwork has been laid and the pathways maintained.
Making Affiliate Marketing Work For You
The customer-affiliate-company relationship triangle should never be taken lightly, for the threads that tie these entities together can only be as strong or weak as the effort put into the venture. In order to fully capitalize on this type of marketing, there is one primary need: traffic. And not just any traffic – traffic that includes willing and able buyers. So how can an affiliate drive viable customers with purchasing power to the sale?
Potential buyers who feel they can trust the affiliate will be more likely to follow his/her suggestions and recommendations. If the affiliate has put in the work to create a good reputation and forge a relationship with the customer, the trust shared in that union is invaluable in moving them to the next level of the sale.
What is the affiliate’s focus and style? For instance, if a potential customer enjoys visiting a cooking blog, it wouldn’t make sense to link them in with an auto parts dealer. But a publisher whose scope fits closely with the e-retailer’s products and services will provide a logical jump from their blog to the company site, all while adding value and convenience to the customer.
Also, as the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” In order to complete the purchase, the company site must pick up where the affiliate leaves off.
The company must have a spotless reputation a well in order to ensure the purchase. If the products and services provided are of impeccable quality and there are consumer reviews to attest to that fact, a sale is more likely.
A potential customer has linked to the company site via the affiliate’s link. If they are greeted by a hard-to-navigate, poorly constructed site with no appeal, they will be more likely to continue their search elsewhere. Image is everything in marketing so companies must ensure their site is user-friendly and eye-catching to prove to these potential customers that their experience is of utmost importance.
Affiliate marketing can prove to be an advantageous relationship for all involved: the customer is easily and quickly directed to products and/or services they need or want; the publisher not only strengthens his role as a trusted advisor to the customer but also earns a decent commission; and the retailer conveniently promotes its products and services with essentially no risk, as they pay only when a conversion has occurred. Implementing a complete marketing strategy that includes an affiliate marketing component is not only a smart practice for casting a wider Internet-based net into the consumer pool but can prove to be a lucrative investment of time and money with an outstanding ROI.
1 Comment for this entry
Edward MacMillan January 23rd, 2012 on 9:03 PM
I had several friends ask for some of the Top Affiliates. So, I decided to share the following:
3. Commission Junction
4. Google Adsense