Online marketing in a big part revolves around generating traffic and leads for your business website. In driving these potential customers to your website, your responsibility is then to convert them into paying customers (assuming it’s an e-commerce site) or business enquiries/leads.
Now with all the money and time that is placed on search engine optimization, paid placement, banner advertising or even offline marketing, wouldn’t it be nice to have other businesses sending customers to your site to rev up your traffic pipeline.
Well it is possible through the power of affiliates. Affiliate marketing has been around for years, but in some ways, the idea has been tarnished through poor programs, and referrer sites that purely exploit the idea of making a quick buck.
Affiliate marketing, when done correctly, can really compliment your online marketing efforts and give your traffic an increase.
So how does it work?
There are many programs around with minor differences, but the core premise of the programs is to bring referrer sites and e-commerce businesses together to enhance traffic and share revenue.
Generally the affiliate marketing concept works on a commission structure. Referring sites place a link to your website on one of their pages, and if a visitor using that link visits your site and that lead converts into a sale, you will pay a commission to that referring site.
This is only one of many ways in which commissions are paid. Depending on your website, you may join a program where commissions are paid just for the lead, without a transaction being necessary, in an effort to improve your acquisition efforts.
Whilst the concept seems very simple, getting into the affiliate marketing arena requires some serious research. As mentioned, there are many programs to choose from all with their own structure and requirements. Across these programs, there will be many issues to consider including:
Join up fees
On-going management or administrative costs
Restrictions and guidelines
Program member numbers and quality
Bear in mind that many website owners run their own affiliate programs, which removes many of administrative costs in joining an existing program, but the effort it paying out the commissions, and managing your referrers can be a fulltime job in itself.
So, while it is definitely a marketing avenue to consider, do your research and make sure that the program/s you choose meets your requirements. Remember that the cheapest programs aren’t necessarily the best and choose the sites that you allow to advertise your wares carefully, as the links will influence how your site is viewed by the search engines.
Now, affiliate marketing by no means is aimed at replacing your current search engine or online marketing efforts, but more so to enhance them. A good affiliate program can take some time to really start bearing fruits, so use it in an integrated marketing strategy. The theory is a game of numbers; the more prospects you have, the greater the chance of making more sales (assuming you are on top of your conversion strategies). So choose your affiliate partner wisely, and get the numbers working in your favor.