Affiliate marketing has been a popular method for companies to sell their products and services online, and for bloggers and webmasters to make profit. The idea has been around for many years now, but a lot of people dismiss it as not worth their attention, while others are simply not sure about the exact meaning of the term and the idea behind it. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on affiliate marketing to either help you better understand the concept or make better use of it.
FAQ: On The Affiliate Side
Let’s start with top questions on the affiliate side of things, then we’ll look briefly at the merchant’s side as well.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-driven marketing technique, where a company gives part of its revenue to its affiliates as a reward for bringing in new visitors or customers.
Several participants are involved in the process. The merchant is the company that utilizes the affiliate marketing strategy to boost its sales. The affiliate or publisher is a person or business that promotes the merchant, getting paid by the latter when such promotion brings results. Another entity involved in the deal, in some cases, is the network, which is an intermediate link between the merchant and affiliate, processing payments, providing offers that the affiliate can choose from and affiliate management tools for the merchant.
Lastly, there is the customer, who buys the merchant’s product after reading a review or clicking an ad on the affiliate’s website (or wherever he/she happens to be running ads).
One of the biggest benefits drawing many publishers to affiliate marketing is the fact that you don’t need to start your own business, launch a product or develop a service to be able to generate revenue. Your practically have no overhead costs and can do all the work from the comfort of your home. All you need to have is a website or blog with quality content, that you can use as a platform to promote the merchant’s products and services for monetary compensation.
From the merchant’s perspective, some of the advantages of affiliate marketing include the ability to increase their conversion rates and gain repeat customers, and do all that by using methods that are cheaper and more effective than traditional advertising.
What Types of Products Can Be Promoted?
While affiliate marketing isn’t always the best choice for brick-and-mortar business, it does work great for any types of online services, as well as for companies who heavily rely on the Internet to sell their products.
One of the first rules in choosing the types of products you should promote involves following your passions. If you like writing about e-books, for example, and are already publishing their reviews on your website, why not sign up for several affiliate marketing programs in that niche? If you have a culinary blog, you can promote cookbooks, recipe websites and even restaurants with strong online presence. Some other popular services that rely on affiliate marketing are Web hosting, online training programs and webinars, various types of software, paid subscription services and other virtual products.
If you don’t have a strong preference on the subject you’d like to write about, but need to start somewhere, try thinking of unique niches that don’t have a lot of affiliates promoting them yet. You might, for instance, dismiss promoting online dog training classes, but instead venture into sub-niches such as training equipment, books for dog owners, pet id tags, or best vet services in your area.
Self-defense training and products, such as pepper spray, could be another interesting niche to try out.
What Types of Affiliate Promotions Are There?
Pay-per-lead is a oft-used affiliate marketing method. When using such a program, the merchant pays the publisher for any leads the latter generates. The affiliate in this case uses links to refer customers to such things as trial offers, promotions and downloads, to name a few. While in some cases you get paid for sending visitors to the site, with other merchants you only get paid if the customer actually signs up for the service.
Pay-per-sale is one of the most profitable affiliate marketing techniques, where you get a certain percentage of the sale for every referral you make to the product. This is the mott common.
There are many variations of these programs, such as pay-per-install, where the publishers get connected to software developers and receives a set amount for every product installation. In most cases this involves promoting free software that has adware attached to it. With pay-per-call, the promoter gets paid for every phone call a potential customer makes based on this affiliate’s leads. With cost-per-action, the publisher is paid based on the agreed upon action, such as newsletter sign sup, impression or click.
What Are Some Major Online Merchants with In-house Affiliate Programs?
Amazon has one of the biggest in-house affiliate programs out there. Its performance-based fee structure allows promoters to receive anywhere from 4% to 15% of the revenue for the qualifying items shipped to the customers.
Another in-house affiliate program leader is eBay, paying publishers for banner views and link clicks. The program has also introduced a couple of innovative affiliate marketing techniques, such as the Editor’s Kit, which allows eBay sellers to cross-promote other sellers’ items, earning commissions for them.
Canadian Tire is another player in the field, along with Walmart and other popular retailers.
What Are Some of the Major Affiliate Networks?
ClickBank, LinkShare, Share-A-Sale and Commission Junction are some of the more popular networks.
ClickBank provides its users with access to thousands of affiliate programs in almost any niche you can think of. The network is partially popular because of its high commissions, many of them ranging between 50% and 75%.
LinkShare gives publishers access to a number of popular affiliate programs, including the one by Buy.com. The network promises commissions of up to 20% and gives affiliates a lot of useful tools. It provides you with real-time access to payout data, for instance, and gives you a great overview of the latest merchant offers from your dashboard.
What Are Some of the General Affiliate Marketing Rules?
Some of the legal requirements that affiliates need to be aware of include providing a disclosure about their marketing activities on the website, to make sure that the users know that the blogger gets paid to write product reviews or conduct similar activities. The reviews cannot be misleading, so if you were paid to try a product and it didn’t work well, you are not supposed to write a positive review about it just to get paid. You have to make sure that the product links are described as such in simple language, so that your average website user does not mistakenly take them for information as opposed to advertising. Avoiding any type of deceit of the customer is key here.
FAQ: On The Merchant Side
Many affiliate marketers become merchants even while staying as affiliate marketers. Here are some answers to some questions about being a merchant in this game.
What Are Some Popular Tools to Manage Affiliates?
WP Affiliate is a great plugin for managing all your affiliate program needs in one place. It allows for automatic affiliate registration, management and payments. What makes it so attractive to merchants is its integration with WooCommerce, WP Shopping Cart, eShop and a number of other e-commerce platforms. E-junkie is another popular alternative, providing several payment options, autoresponder, newsletter and updates, customized emails and thank-you pages, and a lot of other options. You might also want to check out other popular management tools such iDevDirect, JROX and Clickbank.
What are the Typical Methods to Pay Affiliates?
These usually include wire transfer, checks or money orders. PayPal is one of the most popular and convenient methods for both sides. Keep in mind though that a lot of the affiliate networks have their own payment tools in place, so you should weigh that into your options when choosing a network to work with.
What Are Some Good Affiliate Networks with Built-In Payment Solutions?
The previously mentioned ClickBank has a great user-friendly interface and takes care of all the payments for you. There is a one-time $50 activation fee for merchants to start selling through the network and several minor ongoing charges. MyCommerce, formerly RegNow, provides another convenient e-commerce solution for businesses seeking to work with affiliate marketers. It has no start-up fee, but charges merchants a small per-transaction fee.
What Are Some Good Assets to Provide for your Affiliates?
Some of the popular assets for affiliates include Facebook messages, tweets, banners, blog posts and how-to articles. Videos and images are great options, as the Web audience is becoming increasingly visual these days. Autoresponders for e-mails work well, and so do podcasts. It is also easy to engage the customer with interactive asset ideas, such as surveys and quizzes.
Do the heavy lifting and provide all of these options for your affiliates.
What are Some Places to Outsource Asset Creation?
The beauty of affiliate marketing lies in the fact that you are not only able to outsource the advertising itself, but also the creation of the content you provide to your affiliates, completely eliminating the need to run your own expensive marketing department.
Some of the great places to hire freelancers for asset creation include Elance, oDesk and Freelancer.com. You should also check out Fiverr, where you can purchase all types of content for as little as $5. And if off-shore outsourcing is your preferred method, check out Onlinejobs.ph and EasyOutsource.com.