The terms of an affiliate marketing program are set by the company wanting to advertise. Early on, companies were largely paying cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. As the technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
Answering these four questions will funnel down to the rates that work best for your business, at least to start. It’s good practice to evaluate your rates at least quarterly to make sure that they’re not only still competitive, but make fiscal sense for your bottom line. Additionally, having these four answers will help you if you find yourself negotiating new rates with your affiliates.
Affiliate marketing is very appealing to some publishers as well, because it can allow them to make considerably more money than they would under an alternative monetization strategy. Though the specifics of payout arrangements can vary a bit, in general affiliate payments will be significantly larger than the revenue generated from a click under a CPC pricing arrangement (or the effective CPC under a CPM arrangement). For high margin products such as e-books, for which there are no material costs, affiliate margins can be as 50% of the total purchase price. So it’s not unheard of for affiliates to generate $100 or much more from each referral.
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An additional note that must be made at this phase is: do keep in mind the LTV or the life-time value of your customer here. In certain scenarios (e.g.: subscription-oriented affiliate programs) it makes sense paying significantly higher commissions on the customer’s initial payment to the company when the latter knows that they will make much more (from the same customer) on future payments. More about it later in this text.
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Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005. MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.