Understand the basics of how affiliate marketing works. Many online retailers who sell products or services offer affiliate programs. If you decide to sign up for a company’s affiliate program, you get a tracking link to put on your blog. When visitors click on that link, the link stores a cookie in their browser that remains for a set period of time, such as 60 days. If the visitor purchases a product from that merchant site within the time period, you earn a sales commission.
The Internet provides unprecedented opportunities for the collection and sharing of information from and about consumers. But studies show that consumers have very strong concerns about the security and confidentiality of their personal information in the online marketplace. Many consumers also report being wary of engaging in online commerce, in part because they fear that their personal information can be misused.
Write e-books. Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that revenue from e-book sales in the United States will grow from $2.31 billion in 2011 to $8.69 billion in 2018. That’s an increase of 276 percent. Since the popularity of e-books is increasing so significantly, consider using this type of media to connect with your customers. Content marketers create self-published titles on platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and make them available for free. E-books can help you generate sales leads, educate customers about you and your products, build your brand and offer valuable information to your target audience.
At the other end of the spectrum is the small merchant who is only willing or able to work with a handful of affiliates. In this case, the merchant and affiliate may come to an agreement and utilize a “low tech” solution to determine commissions earned (e.g., a custom referral path and an earnings statement powered by Google Analytics). This type of affiliate relationship will typically develop when there is a logical affiliate relationship between two parties, but the merchant isn’t interested in opening up the affiliate program to a wide range of partners via an affiliate network.
Structure commission so that you can factor in incentives. You may want to give an activation bonus or a first sale bonus. Also take into consideration that you may want to offer additional payments/commission over the selling periods that are key to your business: be it Mother’s Day, Back-to-School season, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or anything else.
Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.
In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.