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AFFILIATE MARKETING

The business advantages for the Merchant explained:


If you run a company and you're looking for some online advertising, having an AFFILIATE PROGRAM is one of the best options around. The key feature is that affiliates only need paying commission for actual business which they attract to your company.

If you want your company to be able to sell online to a worldwide audience of potential customers, you need to have a website, as you might have guessed! (If you have no website yet, contact Vivostar, and get a website!). You also need some online shopping cart software, which allows customers to buy stuff online at your website. But to really get some online interest generated, you should have an affiliate program.

With an affiliate program, thousands of independent websites will advertise your company for you and will just take their chances as to whether they do any good or not. You only need pay them if they make a profit for you.

You can have an affiliate program either independently or via one of the affiliate marketing companies. Independent affiliate programs are generally less expensive, but you've got to find your own affiliates. For independent affiliate program software, see Affiliate Tracker. For affiliate programs with affiliate marketing companies, you already have a great many affiliates looking to sign up to your program as soon as it is announced. You should shop around and compare the deals on offer at different affiliate marketing companies. They vary considerably, in price and performance and quality of good management. Unlike affiliates, the affiliate marketing companies need to be paid on an ongoing fee basis usually, and you have to budget for this in the long term. An affiliate program is a long term investment, not just a quick flash in the pan kind a a fly'b'night kind of a thing. If you want quality affiliates, be patient, as it all takes a while to build up. Some of the companies I advertise have been here years!

One of the old problems with advertising has classically been the fact that only half your advertising is doing any good, and you can't find out which half it is! But now you can. With an affiliate marketing program, you get huge great files of data about which of the affiliates are doing any good, and which products are selling well, and how the cost of the scheme is paying for itself. If you've made the wise choice of selecting "payment per performance" you are only paying for actual business which makes a profit, and you're not paying for loads of silly splat advertising pop-ups which annoy people and don't bring many sales. The affiliate business is in stark contrast to such ideas as sending spam as a marketing effort. See cautionary tale about sending spam

Many good companies have chosen to advertise by affiliate marketing. Take a look at these famous brands and shops to see the extent of the marketing technique. For a list of places that can help to find affiliates to advertise your company, see affiliate companies. Good luck!

Other Merchant Advice:

* An affiliate program is a long term operation. Good affiliates are attracted to long term affiliate programs and will sometimes create dedicated pages for you! (You can see some examples of this by looking around some of the pages linked from Zyra's Shopping Portal and other business classifications). Avoid short-term rush approach to affiliate marketing, as it can put off your best affiliates and it can make you look like a spiv. It's also best to avoid silly voucher codes as they can be a problem at your expense.

* Try to avoid making your affiliates sign contracts that are too long-winded and restrictive. Affiliates are a funny set of folk to deal with and some get upset by too much legal stuff in the contracts. Have a look at the clauses that Zyra's site will or won't sign up to. Plus, if you're in the finance sector, you shouldn't feel you have to hide behind the FSA. The FSA are there to see fair play and to eliminate misleading advertising, not to silence free speech and fair critique!

* Avoid signing any "exclusivity" clause yourself! If an affiliate marketing company expects you to sign such a thing, beware! Go with somewhere that has an open policy. As well as allowing you to move at some time, this also allows you to have more than one affiliate marketing company working for you at the same time. If you're a big company, you should definitely have an affiliate program at more than one affiliate network. Affiliate marketing companies go in and out of favour according to their behaviour, and affiliates will migrate to networks that are better. Most affiliates are with more than one network, but not all. Their motivations for changing a merchant links from one network to another are more often based on freedom issues rather than purely profit. This is why over-restrictive affiliate marketing companies tend to go broke. Plus there is an additional problem with exclusive affiliate programs where you are locked with one company. If they get bought-out, you can end up effectively snookered!

* Don't worry where the affiliates live. Their websites are omnipresent and are like radio stations on the Long Wave which can be picked up on receivers worldwide. It doesn't matter where the affiliates live, but where the VISITORS live. See the regional myth.

* Don't have a fixed budget or "capped program", but instead just welcome as much business as we can find for you! Increase your production rather than limit your fame. Rock stars and bestselling authors don't say "We can't be Number1 because the factory hasn't made enough copies for the shops to sell"!

* If you want to encourage the right type of affiliates, the kind who will create dedicated pages and write reviews about your company and link it all up from a long-term web presence, make sure that any promotional stuff is long term (we'll be reliable for years), not short term (hurry, sale ends this Friday). If you make the mistake of encouraging PPC (pay per click), you may risk attracting a fly-b'night transient market, a bit like spam marketing used to be. You don't have to take my advice, and you can make your own mistakes if you like, but you have to consider the fact that I've been an affiliate for many years, and I don't do PPC, Incentivised leads, temporary voucher codes, and as for spam? That particular type of splat advertising was already going out of fashion years ago! - see spam cautionary tale

* Provide plenty of good shpiel! Many good affiliates are keen to tell the world all about your company history and the products you have and what they are like. Text is good! (It's not as if you're having to pay per lineage or per column-centimetre). Some companies have provided huge amounts of text material and have seen this turned into an affiliate Feature here! (The shpiel is best if it's still going to be true in years to come).

* If you have a corporate makeover, don't expect all the affiliates to change all the stuff overnight. It'll be months before it gets sorted out. In any event, always have some generic banners available, rather than all flashy offers which are gone in a trice.

* Customer testimonials are good. If you have some, written by customers, send them in! Also, some companies have the double edged distinction of having an active affiliate as a customer. This can result in a customer testimonial being written from personal experience by the affiliate. MOST of these are generally positive about the merchant! See the reviews of Data Recovery for some of these.

* Have a good look through our list of affiliate marketing companies and shop around. Different places are good for different lines of business and different styles of promotions and budgets. Compare what each company has to offer, how many reliable affiliates they have, what their main marketing model is, and how much a long term quality campaign is going to cost. You can even ask "Do you know ZYRA?", and see what the reaction is! The affiliate website Zyra.org.uk is famous, or notorious, according to viewpoint.

* You can talk to your affiliates. Good diplomacy is good for business!