Affiliate Marketing 101 – What You Need to Know

What would you like to promote? Affiliate marketing is no stranger to the Internet, and certainly no stranger to network marketers and article marketing is still a successful way to promote your online business or blog. Affiliate marketing offers a phenomenal opportunity for people who do not have a lot of start-up capital or a lot of time to put together a giant campaign. Affiliate marketing has some very good advantages which include no product of your own, no inventory, no shipping or overhead and no real sales force. For the merchant it can also be a cheap and effective marketing strategy.

What are Affiliate Programs?
Generally speaking affiliate programs are marketing programs offered by web advertisers or merchants that recruit website owners and bloggers. The merchants provide banner ads, links and buttons for website owners to place on their website to market the merchant’s products. In turn, the website owner or blogger will receive a referral fee or commission when a customer purchases a product that is delivered via an affiliate link. One of the most common types of affiliate links are pay per click (PPC – Pay Per Click) however, increasingly now have been intertwined with email and content marketing.

The Product:
When you are looking for an affiliate program there are some things you need to consider before choosing which company you are going to take arms with. The product should be one of quality can also be a service. As long as it’s a product viable service and it offers something of value to the customer.

There are several types of compensation plans built into affiliate marketing programs, and one of them can be a residual program. However, not all affiliate marketing programs have residual programs built into them. If you can find one with residual funds, then that would be the way to go. However, there are some that actually offer a significantly high commission rate that may make up for the loss of the residual income. There are also others that offer a multilevel marketing structure of compensation. Now if you’re familiar with multilevel marketing than that may be an avenue that you would choose to examine.

But before jumping into any multilevel marketing program, you should read up on it and do a thorough analysis. The last thing you want to do is jump into an affiliate program that is going to be a serious waste of time.

Choosing an Affiliate Program:
Back in 1994 there weren’t very many affiliate programs to choose from and most of them were revolved around offensive content websites. Today, affiliate programs have a higher standard and it is a new way of doing business. There are many companies that have affiliate marketing programs lime Amazon, web hosting companies, domain name registrars, and electronic websites, Apple iTunes, bit defender, panda security, PC health boost, Commission Junction, eBay Partner Network, Google AdSense, VistaPrint and the list goes on and on.

You can find an affiliate program for almost anything you want to sell. It is a good idea to sell something that is related to your website, providing you have one. Not everybody that signs up for an affiliate program has a website to run it through. There are some that actually write articles and direct the URLs to their affiliate program.

Becoming an Affiliate:
If you want to become an affiliate it’s not that hard. You simply go to the website of choice and look for their affiliate link program. Usually what will happen is you will sign up and get a unique affiliate ID along with some banners and links. You then place these on your website so that your potential audience can click on those links which if they purchase, you will receive a commission. Just because you signed up for an affiliate program doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to drive traffic to your website. You still need to do something about driving traffic to your website or affiliate link like write compelling articles and become an expert in your field. These articles can be placed on article databases and are a sure way of driving traffic to your website or affiliate link.

What You Should Look For:
When you go shopping for an affiliate program, try to look for high affiliate commissions, long cookies and of course you would want to get a great conversion rate. Two-tier programs which have the same structure as a multilevel marketing organization and can be quite lucrative. Such organizations that earn billions in multilevel marketing and direct sales is companies like Amway which has been in business for 53 years, Nu Skin started in 1984 and Nature’s Sunshine started in 1972 so multilevel marketing has been around for some time. Residual affiliate programs is definitely the way to go. You continue to make money on that visitor month after month. The advantage here is that eventually your sales start accumulating where you’re making more and more money as opposed to the individual sale where you have to continuously make money to stay at the same level.

Where You Can Go:
There is services out there that have a database of a lot of companies that are doing affiliate program so you do not have to run around and seek out each individual program themselves. Companies like ClickBank where you sign up and select the affiliate program you wish to support.

Marketing Your Link:
Now let’s talk about that affiliate link for a moment. Most affiliate links are extremely long, hideous and some of them have special characters in them like a “?” or “=” sign. These links will not rank on search engines like Google very well and definitely cannot be added to pay per click like Google AdSense. What I would suggest is getting yourself a domain name and rerouting it to your affiliate offer. Let’s take for an example if I wanted to become an affiliate of a cell phone electronics company and I had a website I can actually write a review on a particular cell phone that I’m trying to market. If it’s more than one, then I could just pick a product or two to write my articles on. Anyway, I would try to register a domain name that may have something in it like cheap cell phones or something along those lines to help the search engines determine what your product might be.

Increase Your Sales:
What if you don’t have a website and you wish to increase your sales with affiliate marketing; what would you do? One way to market an affiliate program I briefly touched on is to write quality articles about the product that is being marketed. I truly suggest this strategy to increase traffic and sales. There are several article directories that you can post your articles to, but do not post the same article to multiple sites other than the article directory and your own site if you have one. Article directories can be a very good source of traffic because of their reputation and the amount of visitors they have each month reading your article. Of course, some of those readers will click on your affiliate link driving traffic to your affiliate program. I like Ezine Articles as an article directory, but there are others like; Goarticles, ehow, Examiner, Technorati, Thefreelibrary and much more, but that’s a good start. Don’t just read one article when doing your research and regurgitate the content from that one article. Try to do some in-depth study to get a complete understanding of what it is you’re writing about. Once you have that understanding, try to simplify your article by using either bullet points or topic list. To get people to click on your link you need to be compelled to do so, but the only way to do that is to write compelling articles.

Making money on the net with affiliate programs can be a rewarding experience if you know where to go the fine the right affiliate program and how to do the research needed. Just locating an affiliate program is not all you need to do, you need to weigh the gravity of that affiliate program. First determine what it is you would like to sell and do your research. Hopefully, you will look for something that accents your website or if you don’t have a website, something that you know a lot about so that you can write your reviews.