The Ins and Outs of Affiliate Marketing Campaigns

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Affiliate marketing networks provide an environment where companies who have something to sell (Advertisers) meet with companies who know how to sell it (Publishers). Many large Affiliate marketing networks provide hundreds of products to be sold to their network of thousands of publishers.

Affiliate marketing networks generally work on a performance basis (CPA), where you only pay when a sale or lead is generated for you. You receive a sale or lead at a predetermined cost and then award the affiliate network with a bounty for generating the sale or lead for you. The Affiliate network then pays their publishers for generating sales on your behalf, minus what the network keeps for itself for putting the deal together. This may sound similar to a shopping portal, however there are some distinct differences. A shopping portal places your products in direct connection with the online shopper. Affiliate marketing networks place your products in direct connection with publishers (marketing or media companies.) Each publisher will then use their own resources to generate sales for you, be it PPC, SEO, email, banners and the like.

Not every product or service will work with an affiliate marketing campaign, and many affiliate networks will not accept your offer unless certain criteria are met. The average website is not “marketing ready” for an affiliate marketing campaign, and often requires a redesign or a separate website to allow for easy sales or lead conversions. Most sales lead generation campaigns work across affiliate marketing networks as long as you are not trying to collect too much information, or information that makes your customers feel nervous such as a social security number. For product sales, you need to present a very attractive offer like “a free 7 day trial for a diet pill”, “free services for 1 month”, or anything that can be considered a low risk bargain. An offer such as “a 42 inch plasma screen Television for only $1,597” will not work. As always, there are exceptions, and you may need to work closely with your affiliate manager to produce a campaign that will be popular amongst the publishers.

Due to the nature of the affiliate networks, they can be volatile and risky, and are not recommended for any company until they have a lot of internet marketing experience under their belt. The overall sales potential of affiliate network marketing can be enormous, and any time gigantic sales numbers come into play, so do gigantic risks. Many affiliate networks have what are known as “Super Affiliates” who have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales commissions each month. The volatility stems from both the marketing power available through an affiliate network, along with the performance-based environment they provide.

For the most part, the publishers who do the selling through the affiliate networks are greedy. They want to sell only the products and services that yield them the most revenue. It is their right, after all, because they are working on a performance basis and assume all marketing risks. If a good offer comes across an affiliate network, where a lot of money can be made, many publishers will market the product and sales will come streaming in. If a product comes in that does not generate good, or at least acceptable, revenue for the publishers, they will chose to not market the product and sales will be almost nonexistent. It is difficult to find the right balance to satisfy all parties involved (advertiser, publisher, affiliate network, and potential customer.) All parties must be happy in order to yield a successful affiliate campaign. The swing between a high performing campaign and an unpopular one can be tremendous. This volatility introduces significant risk, which comes in three flavors.

Affiliate Network Marketing Risk:

  • (1) Not enough business You have put significant time and resources into building an Affiliate marketing campaign. You have commissioned all types of marketing creative, website design and even bulked up your sales staff. Despite this preparation, your offer is not a money maker for the publishers, and they are not marketing your campaign. Your expenses have increased in anticipation of increased sales that simply never materialized.
  • (2) Too much business You hit the nail on the head… Your offer is hot and the publishers love it. They love it so much that sales flow in faster than you can handle. Your call center can handle 50 leads per day but the publishers are generating 200. For each sale or lead made you must pay a commission whether or not you can address it. You are literally downing in too much business, and your pocketbook can’t hold out long enough to expand accordingly.
  • (3) Cheating You didn’t invest much effort in validating your sales or leads. Your affiliate marketing campaign is generating a lot of leads, but sales are not happening. You are receiving numerous disconnected phone numbers, invalid credit card numbers or people who say “I only signed up for the free gift.” Leads are coming in, but a bunch of crooked publishers are submitting fake information to get paid as if their data was real. Notice how that last lead had a Texas area code, their zip code was “12345,” they stated they live in Alaska and gave you the credit card number “4444555544445555.”

Many Affiliate marketing networks will also ask if they can run your campaign exclusively. This means that they are the only affiliate network that can provide your offer to the world. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to running your campaign exclusively with one network.

Exclusive Affiliate network Campaign Advantages:

  • Your Affiliate marketing campaign manager may pass your campaign on to other affiliate marketing networks, and manage your account for you. This saves you considerable time by not having to seek out new networks, organizing campaign launches, marketing creative, and other tasks required to launch a new campaign.
  • You will not have to pay startup fees or sign contracts for the affiliate marketing networks that your affiliate manager passes your campaign on to. You simply work under your single agreement with your affiliate manager. This can save you thousands of dollars in startup costs, and lots of time.
  • Affiliate marketing networks use exclusive campaigns as “bragging rights,” and often give priority to their exclusive campaigns. Your campaign is more likely to be advertised to the publishers and given special attention. This helps to get your campaign noticed by the publisher, and ultimately increases sales or lead flow.

Exclusive Affiliate network Disadvantages:

  • Your campaign manager will outsource your campaign to other affiliate marketing networks. You will not know exactly who is marketing your offer and therefore the quality of the web traffic coming into your website is unknown.
  • Your affiliate manager may not be as ambitious as you. Your campaign may not get passed on to other affiliate marketing networks, and because it is an exclusive offer you can’t pass it on to other networks. Growth may become stifled.
  • The publishers who run your campaign through outsourced affiliate networks will not receive as high of a payout (sales commission). There are effectively two affiliate marketing networks: Your direct affiliate network and the outsourced network. More hands are in the pot, taking money and leaving less for the publishers themselves. The decreased publisher bounty with result in decreased interest in your campaign, so the outsourced affiliate marketing networks will not be as productive as if you worked with them directly.

Most affiliate networks will want to incorporate email marketing into your campaign. This is strongly recommended, as sales or lead generation volumes could be significantly higher. If you do allow your campaign to be email marketed, you will need to be able to maintain an email suppression list. The suppression list is a list of email addresses of people who want to opt-out from receiving your offer. An opt-out link must be provided on your email marketing creative where people can opt-out from your offer. You must then supply the suppression file to your affiliate network so they can in turn pass your suppression file to their publishers. This is a part of the Can-Spam law and it can be effectively managed with a small opt-out landing page connected to a simple database. Make sure you provide an updated suppression file to the affiliate networks at least once per week.

Launching affiliate marketing campaigns that convert:

  • Your goal is to generate a campaign that puts the most money possible into your publisher’s pockets, while also generating a profit yourself. Keep in mind that a break-even campaign is also a successful campaign as long as you can re-market to your clients and generate additional sales, upgrades, etc.
  • Design your campaign to maximize conversions. Minimize the clicks needed to purchase a product, or have your lead generation form on the home page. Don’t collect information that you really do not need, or that people do not like to give out (like an SSN.) You may have to build a unique website for the affiliate marketing campaign if your current website is not fine-tuned for affiliate marketing.
  • You are competing against all of the other campaigns on an affiliate network, not just ones selling the same thing you are. Publishers optimize the offers they market and drop the poor performing campaigns. Design an offer that works both for you and your publishers; your affiliate manager can help.
  • Make the steps necessary to allow your campaign to be email marketed by the publishers. This means you will need to create Can-Spam compliant email marketing creative, an opt-out page linked to a database, and provide access to an updated suppression file (a text dump of your database suppression file.) Email marketing will significantly amplify your campaign’s effectiveness.
  • Develop a large selection of various marketing creative, lots of standard size banners, multiple email creative, multiple email titles and subject lines, various text links and so on. Your affiliate manager will provide you a list of critical media types and sizes, but try to provide more than their minimum requirements.
  • Stay on top of lead quality and fraud. No matter how advanced your validation system may get, someone will try to sneak fake data past you. Make sure that you can track all lead sources, including the subIDs that are passed on through the affiliate network.
  • Every time you make a change to your website, submit a test to ensure that the affiliate campaign is still running as it should be. If your website has an error preventing sales conversions or introduces tracking problems, you may be asked to pay the publishers for their lost business. Remember that your broken website will affect many companies who stuck their neck out for you.
  • Be prepared for large volumes of leads, or no leads at all.

The risks associated with affiliate network marketing are many, and they are significant. You must be on your toes, thinking ahead and quick to move if things turn sour. But if you come prepared and design an offer that the publishers love, the financial rewards can be enormous.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Affiliate Marketing

Most people have heard of affiliate marketing, even if they haven’t actually started doing it. Affiliate marketing is basically referring people to various products and services around the internet. For each sale you generate through your affiliate link, you earn a commission. The size of the commission depends on the products themselves, who is selling them and the percentage offered by the seller to the affiliate.

But what is actually involved in affiliate marketing? What do affiliates do on a daily basis? How do they earn money and how do they learn what to do?

1 An Example Of A Successful Website

There’s several ways of marketing products and services online. Many affiliates create a blog first and sell products and services through their blog. Martin Lewis has a very successful website called moneysavingexpert.com. This is also an affiliate website. By creating content and helping people decide which service to use: which credit card offers to choose, the best interest rate etc. moneysavingexpert.com makes money by sending website visitors to various offers. If a sale is made through this website, the link this credited to it and a commission is made. By creating content, offering value and helping people make sensible choices, the website has built a reputation and become more prevalent over time. Google ranks the site highly in the search engines and thousands of people use it to make purchasing decisions every day.

2 How Can I Get Started As An Affiliate?

Affiliate marketing is huge. There are thousands of people already making their main source of income from the internet. To get started as an affiliate you need to learn some basic strategies and build various methods of generating traffic from the internet to those offers. A lot of affiliates start with a simple blog. Many travelers ‘blog’ about their travels. If you don’t have a passion or interest to blog about, you can start by following an online course which will help. See my bio for more info on this.

3 How Long Does It Take To Make A Living?

Some people go into affiliate marketing with the intention of creating a second income. Some people want to make big money. Depending on how much time you can dedicate to your affiliate business, and how dedicated you are to it, is a big factor in determining your results. Results vary from person to person. With a large advertising budget and the right business model, some affiliates have replaced their living in 6-12 months. For others it can take years before it replaces their existing income. Depending on your approach, advertising budget, and business model, it can take between 3 months and several years to build it to a point where it can replace an existing income.

4 Can Anyone Do It?

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that the technology is now available to allow anyone to build their own online business. As long as you are prepared to learn and implement that knowledge, anyone who can operate an email, can use online platforms and tools to build their own online business. The main thing you need is the desire to learn. Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone though. It does take a lot of hard work and it can take years before you are rewarded financially.

5 What Are The Pitfalls Of An Affiliate Business?

You need to dedicate some time to your affiliate business for it to work for the long term. Some people go into affiliate marketing thinking it is some magic pill which will pay them instantly in cash. Much like a job you can’t expect to get out more than you put in. Affiliate marketing is performance related. This means you don’t get paid unless you can successfully sell products and services online. If you don’t know what you are doing it can take years to do this. You can’t be a dabbler and expect to earn the big money. The big earnings are created over years of hard work. Don’t expect to achieve this with only a small amount of input.

6 What Are The Best Things About Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom. You can work an affiliate business from anywhere in the world providing you have a laptop and an internet connection. You can choose your own hours and build it up around existing work. Many people come into affiliate marketing because it offers this kind of flexibility. They can choose their priorities in life: spend more time with family, choose your working hours, travel and work abroad. No more commuting to work or working long hours for a boss you don’t like.

Affiliate marketing also offers incredible scalability. A business which is local is always limited to the people who can travel to that business. An online business can be global. Using digital products in conjunction with a global reach, you can scale using tools and software to reach thousands of people through digital technology. By using automation much of the work involved with an online business can be pre-built. By building automation into the business model, you can focus your activities on reaching a larger audience through content creation and paid advertising.

7 Why Am I Struggling With My Affiliate Business?

A lot of people struggle with their affiliate businesses.This can be for a number of reasons. Firstly building up an affiliate business takes time. You need to dedicate a lot of time to an affiliate business in the first place. Only when you reach a ‘tipping point’ do you really start to see your progress. Many affiliates simply don’t realise how much work is involved. They underestimate how much time they need to dedicate to their online business to make it work.
Paid advertising can allow you to grow your affiliate business quickly. But it costs money and you need the right products too. You can’t advertise small value items with paid advertising. You won’t generate enough profit to cover your advertising costs. You need a range of products and an email list to advertise through.
Content marketing takes much longer to work, depending on your chosen area of business. If you find an untapped niche to market your blog in, you can make some fast progress. However, with a competitive niche you will struggle to get noticed above all the other content which you will have to compete with. There’s several reasons why you might struggle. The main one is lack of knowledge. Get the right education first and your affiliate business will move much faster.

8 What’s The Best Affiliate Model To Use?

There are many different affiliate models, all offering something different to suit the individual. Some affiliates target search traffic and aim to get their content found on Google. Some create their own products and sell them directly to customers. However, having a range of products which you can sell over and over to existing customers is a great model for long term success. Selling a single item online is limited. It means you can only make one commission from each sale. By choosing membership products to promote which also offer back end sales and a built in sales team, you can benefit from monthly commissions and up-sell commissions for the lifetime of any given customer. Selling membership products is definitely a game changer when it come to affiliate marketing because you make an income from each customer, rather than a single commission. But a good model to choose is one in which you have a passion for and can keep doing for the long term. Choosing products which you have no interest in is a short sighted plan. Think about what you would like to do online to generate an income. If you choose to go with your passion, your business will last much longer, and be more successful.

9 Can I Just Sell My Own Products?

Many affiliates create their own products to sell online. However, when you are starting out it is a good idea to learn the basics of marketing first. That way you can start earning more quickly from your affiliate business. I spent a long time creating my own products when I first discovered affiliate marketing. But I didn’t sell anything because of a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t research whether my products would have a big enough demand. Secondly I didn’t know how to market them. By joining a program which teaches you how to market products first, you can start making money more quickly. Don’t waste time creating products if you don’t know how to sell them. Marketing is a much more important skill for making money online. Once you know this skill, you can then apply it later when marketing your own products and services. Also your own products will be limited in range. By using an existing product range, you can benefit from products which are already selling. You can choose a program which offers high ticket commission, monthly memberships, back end sales and a built in sales team. Building your own products which offers all of these things not a possibility for most people when starting out.

10 What’s The Point Of Affiliate Marketing?

Some people struggle with the concept of affiliate marketing.They think it sounds too ‘salesy’. When I understood affiliate marketing I immediately found it appealing simply because I needed a flexible way to work around my contract work. I had to drop what I was doing at a moments notice if the phone went. This meant other jobs were awkward to juggle around. No-one wants to employ a ‘flaky’ employee. I wanted to work from my laptop and affiliate marketing gave me that opportunity. For many people this is the reason why they choose affiliate marketing. They can earn an income from their laptop, choose their working hours and not have a boss or place of employment. You don’t have to sell directly to anyone or even talk to a customer. There is no stock to hold. Added to this, the scalability of affiliate marketing which lets you scale up to a global audience and deliver products on autopilot, makes it the best flexible business of the future.

Key Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing

Since I decided to take the plunge 5 years ago and start working for myself as an online marketer, affiliate marketing has been the best thing I ever got involved in and is now part of my daily schedule.

It is without doubt something that all people who are interested in starting an online business or those who already have an online business, should investigate and take up.

If you are undecided or have little knowledge about affiliate marketing then I hope that you find the below information helpful and that it will clear up any doubts that you have over what the key benefits of affiliate marketing are.

1. Commission basis

For the affiliate marketer this is a key advantage as every time that somebody makes a purchase, the affiliate receives a set commission of the profit.

For the affiliate merchant this is an advantage as they only pay the marketer when they make a sale, so no money is wasted on marketing spend.

2. Huge audience

For the affiliate marketer – having built up various marketing lists or websites, they can make use of their huge audience base and ensure that the traffic they send over to the merchant is qualified and that sales are made, making the affiliate more money.

For the affiliate merchant – they receive access to a wider audience base than they may have had before, creating more interest in their products, resulting in more sales and all without investing any more money or time.

3. Ease

For the affiliate marketer – once they have set up their additional sites and links across to the merchant, it is very simple to manage and often affiliates will continue to make money from sales without having done anything for months.

For the affiliate merchant – they do not have to invest time and money writing content or creating expensive images in order to promote their services/ products. Instead affiliates will apply to be a part of their programme and all the merchant need do is have many affiliates all working towards promoting their products/ services and wait for the sales to flood in.

4. Steady cost

For the affiliate marketer – building on the last point, an affiliate can keep receiving commission from sales of a product or service for years, despite not doing a lot of work to promote it. You do need to invest time at the start but then you have a regular source of income coming in for the market life of the service/ product.

For the affiliate merchant – they set up all the costs so the chance to make a huge profit on sales without having spent much on marketing, is very likely. They do not have to pay their affiliates much per sale to make the business relationship worthwhile, as it tends to work best on a quantity basis so everyone is happy with the set amounts.

5. Brand Visibility

For the affiliate – there is a lot to be gained reputation wise from working with a range of brands and you will find that you get a lot more work should you be able to prove that you have succeeded with others in the past.

For the affiliate merchant – they receive free brand exposure on a continual basis, which is never a bad thing. If you have many affiliates working on promoting your brand, you’ll soon see a boost in search engine rankings and online sales; Amazon.com is an excellent example of where this has worked in the past.

6. Outsourced expertise

For the affiliate marketer – they get the continued experience to improve and work on their methods of online marketing, investing only their time, not money.

For the affiliate merchant – they will be able to utilise all kinds of affiliates who are experts in SEM (search engine marketing) and SEO (search engine optimisation) without investing a lot of money, yet still manage to get to the top of Google rankings.

7. Transparency

For the affiliate marketer – through the various affiliate programmes, it is possible to see exactly when sales are made and payment is automatic, so you do not have to worry about chasing merchants for payments.

For the affiliate merchant – they can see and manage their R.O.I (return on investment) extremely easily and do not have to worry about tracking the origin of each sale.

8. Online market

For the affiliate marketer – there are an endless number of affiliate programmes out there and the demand for online shopping is not going to decrease, so the earning potential for affiliates is huge. You can access any number of markets with your affiliate work, whether you choose jewellery, hygiene, pet insurance or food.

Use long tail pro to find targeted long tail keywords with low competition, ensuring maximum affiliate sale for you.

For the affiliate merchant – as previously mentioned, online demand is not going away any time soon, therefore merchants are able to continue to expand product ranges to meet a range of online markets with the knowledge that they have a number of affiliates on hand to promote quickly and at a low cost.

9. Home-based work (aimed at affiliate marketer)

If you become successful in the world of affiliate marketing then it is entirely possible to create a long term Passive Income from it and a huge bonus to this is that you can work cheaply from home and be your own boss. You don’t have to pay to sign up to affiliate programmes and there are a huge number to choose from, all from the comfort of your own home.

10. Overcoming tradition (aimed at affiliate merchant)

Using affiliates to promote your products and services will guarantee that you receive a lot more exposure than you would by using more pricey traditional marketing methods. Having a number of affiliates promoting what you are selling and only being paid when a sale is made, is one of the most cost effective marketing methods ever as well as being incredibly successful.