Affiliate programs are an extension of the affiliate marketing strategy as a whole, with a few key differences.
According to HowStuffWorks, “Affiliate programs, also called associate programs, are arrangements in which an online merchant website pays affiliate websites a commission to send it traffic. These affiliate websites post links to the merchant site and are paid according to a particular agreement. This agreement is usually based on the number of people the affiliate sends to the merchant’s site or the number of people they send who buy something or perform some other action.
Some arrangements pay according to the number of people who visit the page containing their merchant site’s banner advertisement. Basically, if a link on an affiliate site brings the merchant site traffic or money, the merchant site pays the affiliate site according to their agreement.”
Again, the specifics of these partnerships are determined according to the individual companies. However, one thing is the same throughout: the mutually beneficial relationship of merchant and affiliate that brings positive results to both parties.
Like affiliate marketing, affiliate programs also benefit from using an affiliate network, sometimes referred to as an affiliate program network. These networks are useful in tracking clicks, conversions, sales, and banner engagements on affiliate sites.
Above image, displaying the names of many affiliate networks, is courtesy of Anand Lagad
In marketing, every impression or engagement counts. It’s important for organizations to understand which of their efforts are seeing significant returns on investment. Keeping track of these through a network or other type of reporting tool helps both parties determine the outcome of this partnership.
Affiliate marketing for dummies
I know you’re not a dummy. You know you’re not a dummy. But if you’re just now finding out about affiliate marketing and the benefits it reaps, it’s possible you feel a little naive or wonder how in the world you missed out on the popularization of this strategy.
If you’re just getting into affiliate marketing and all of its glory, take a look at these introductory tips:
- Find your affiliates and affiliate programs in all the right places –As humans, many of us hope to inherently trust one another. We’d like to believe that someone’s word is good. That a check will cash. That we’ll again see the man who said he’d pay us tomorrow. If you’ve spent even a smidgeon of time working as a freelancer, you know this isn’t always the case. People pay late, if at all. You turn in work, and the source contests it. In order to avoid disappointment and fraud, make sure you are using a legitimate network to find both merchants and affiliates.
One huge red flag is any company that promises you a “get rich quick” marketing strategy. Although affiliate marketing can be good money, it’s by no means instantaneous. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true. Also, stay away from any merchant that wants to charge you startup costs. Additionally, use established affiliate programs to find your merchants. Read reviews and ask around. You’re not the only person trying to supplement income with this marketing strategy, so there are plenty of other professionals with whom to crowdsource.
- Don’t go too broad — Earlier, we mentioned that a benefit of affiliate marketing is that affiliates get to choose the products they sell. Because affiliates are building out their brands, they shouldn’t cast their nets too wide. There are affiliate opportunities for everything you can think of: technology, fashion, health, fitness, and even dog training. If you’re trying to get into affiliate marketing, try and stay relatively within a certain niche.
This doesn’t mean you only sell one product. This means you build out a brand by selling varying yet adjacent products. Over time, your consumer network might consider you a go-to for which type of vacuum they should buy. Additionally, some industries pay more than others. Especially if the product is a harder sell, affiliates may get a higher cut than they would for a product in higher demand.
- Have a plan — As an affiliate, you aren’t entirely responsible for the sales of this company, but you are responsible for the success of your affiliation with that company. If you want to do well, prepare. Have a professional-grade website. One consumers trust with their contact information. Have a strategy for the content you produce and how you promote posts or products.
Consider a social media marketing strategy in conjunction with your website. If you have the resources, utilize a search engine optimization tool to help your site come up in search engines when users are searching for that particular product.