The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
When formulating a commission structure, the first step is to consider all stakeholders involved in the transaction. Even though affiliate marketing is entirely performance-based — and nary a nickel gets paid unless a transaction occurs — there are several different parties taking a cut of that sale. The affiliate gets a percentage. The affiliate network gets a percentage. And, your affiliate manager might take a percentage. What initially seemed as a no-risk marketing channel could be one of your most expensive.
So an effective affiliate marketing program requires some forethought. The terms and conditions have to be tight, especially if the contract agreement is to pay for traffic rather than sales. The potential for fraud in affiliate marketing is a possibility. Unscrupulous affiliates can squat on domain names with misspellings and get a commission for the redirect; they can populate online registration forms with fake or stolen information; they can purchase adwords on search terms the company already ranks high on, and so on. Even if the terms and conditions are clear, an affiliate marketing program requires that someone be monitoring affiliates and enforcing the rules. In exchange for that effort, however, a company can access motivated, creative people to help sell their product or services to the world.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (PPC – Pay Per Click), e-mail marketing, content marketing, and (in some sense) display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.[citation needed]
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