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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty-five

Affiliate Marketing Point 25: You Get Out What You Put In

This is the most important information of all. You get out of it what you put into it. This is true for just about everything in life, and this includes affiliate marketing. People who know little or nothing about Internet Marketing tend to sign up for programs, get replicated websites, and wait for the traffic to come and the sales to happen.

Of course, if you know the slightest bit about how business is done on the Internet, you know that people like that never earn a single dime from affiliate marketing. You have to promote the products. It’s just that simple. The more you promote the products, the more money you are likely to earn in commissions.

If you want to earn more, do more. Take your affiliate marketing business seriously. It is a business. If you don’t think that right now, then you will most likely fail. It is a business, and it should be treated as a business.

You should set aside regular business hours, when you will be doing your marketing, as well as administrative work. During those business hours, you should also include time for research. This research may include learning new marketing techniques, or learning about new products in your niche.

However, as an affiliate marketer, 99% of your work hours should be spent on marketing, whether this is writing sales copy, writing emails, placing ads, or developing new products to promote other products, such as ebooks or free reports.

The quickest way to fail is to not do anything at all, and statistics show that 90% of the people who sign up for affiliate programs that don’t have any screening processes will do absolutely nothing. You need to strive to be one of the 10% that will do what is necessary to promote the product.

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty-Four

Affiliate Marketing Point 24: Read The Terms and Conditions

This is where a lot of affiliates fail. They simply don’t take the time to read through the terms and conditions, as well as the affiliate agreement. This is often called ‘fine print.’ Even if you have to squint or use a magnifying glass, make sure you read and understand every part of each of these legal documents.

The terms and conditions will most likely let you know the company’s policy regarding spam and/or the use of spam to promote their products, their tracking system, their liabilities, and what they will not be held legally responsible for – such as failure of the tracking system to track a sale. It should also tell you under what conditions you will be removed from the program, and what would give them the right to not pay you commissions that you have earned.

In most cases, you don’t need a lawyer to interpret these things for you. You can read through the terms and conditions and make sure that it is at the very least ‘standard.’ If there is anything within the terms and conditions that you do not understand, you should contact the company for clarification before you promote the product.

The affiliate agreement, on the other hand, simply states that you agree to the terms and conditions and that you understand them. The commission structure may be part of either the affiliate agreement or the terms and conditions. You should also be able to find out how and when commissions are paid in this information as well.

In most cases, you will have to check a box stating that you have read and understand the terms and conditions, and possibly the agreement, and that your submission of the sign up form is evidence of that.

Things that you really want to watch out for in these legal documents is the information that tells you why the company may not pay you. Not paying for the first x number of sales should give you reason to pause. A sale is a sale, whether it is the first or the tenth, and you should be compensated for all of them.

If you see that the company will not pay you until you’ve earned a large amount in commissions, this is also a cause to pause. It is realistic for a company to hold your commissions until your sales reach $25 or even $50. It costs the company money to issue checks, and when you consider paying a payroll department, the cost of mailing the check, bank fees, and the cost of the check itself, it isn’t reasonable to issue a check that costs more to issue than the company earned from the sales you made. But to withhold commissions until you’ve reached $500 or $1000 in commissions isn’t reasonable.

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty-three

Affiliate Marketing Point 23: Avoid Low Commissions

Money is what it is all about. Why else would you promote someone else’s product? If it wasn’t for the money, or the potential to earn the money, you wouldn’t do it, and neither would most other people.

So why would you go with a program that offers low commissions on already low-priced products? Remember that you will put forth a lot of time and energy, and possibly even your own money, to promote this program. If the commission is low, such as 20%, of a product that is already low priced, such as $50, this probably isn’t worth your time, unless you consider $10 worth the time and effort you are about to put forth.

Ideally, you should look for a payout of 50% to 75% for low priced products. Some affiliate program owners will offer an even bigger commission because they will make their money on a backend product.

High ticket items should have a commission payout between 20% and 50%. As above, for a $50 product at 20%, you would only make ten bucks. But for a product that costs $1000, you would make $200 per sale, and this is worth your time, especially if you can make four or five sales per week.

Again, figure out how much you need to earn each month. Get a total figure, then determine what products you can realistically afford to market, and how many sales will be required to make your needed income. You really just cannot afford to market some products simply because the commissions won’t pay you enough.

If you find a product that you really believe in, and you feel it would be beneficial to your customers, contact the product owner. Tell him what you can do, and ask him if he or she is open to a higher commission rate agreement with you. Better yet, join the low commission affiliate program and show them what you can do for a couple of months. Just don’t do this for more than a couple of months without getting your commission percentage raised!

Also look to see if higher commissions are offered for a higher number of sales, and see what the payout is for sales made by affiliates who sign up under you. Take all of this into account when making your choices, and also consider whether or not there will be residual income.

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty-two

Affiliate Marketing Point 22: Avoid Bad Programs

Affiliate Marketing: Caveats To Watch For

If you are an old hand at affiliate marketing, you probably know what all of the pitfalls are. However, if you are new, you may not know where those pitfalls are until you fall into them. Here are some common problems that you can avoid in your affiliate marketing endeavors

People who are new to affiliate programs don’t generally know how to recognize a bad program. In order to figure out which programs are good, and which are bad, you have to be paying attention from the very beginning.

First, consider how you found out about the program. Did you learn about it from a piece of spam email you received? If so, it may be a bad program. Even if it is not a bad program, it is about to quickly become one, because if you were spammed, you can bet others were. This can literally ruin a program for everyone involved, including the owner of the product.

Is the information, such as the terms and conditions, the affiliate agreement, and the commission structure made available to you either before or during the sign up process? If so, continue on, after reading that information of course. Next, do you receive an email immediately upon sign up?

You should receive an email – even if the email is just to inform you that the company has a manual selection process for affiliates (which would be good for you if you are selected). If there is no manual selection, and the whole thing is automated, you should immediately receive your affiliate link information, as well as login information for the affiliate area of the company’s website.

In the affiliates area you should again find your affiliate link, as well as a way to edit your contact or payment information, and a way to see how many sales you have made, and possibly how many clicks or leads came through your affiliate link. Of course, you should also see records concerning commissions that are owed to you, as well as commissions that have been paid to you.

A good program will provide you with creatives to use, even if you opt not to use them. These include banners, text ads, articles, sales letters, ebooks, and other promotional materials. If these things are not provided, it does not necessarily mean that it isn’t a good program – but the best programs do provide these things.

The biggest test, of course, will come when it is time to receive your commission check. If the check comes on time, and in the right amount, and all of the above conditions apply, you’ve found a winning program.

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty-one

Affiliate Marketing Point 21: Find Super Affiliates

Generally, you don’t have to find super affiliates. They find you by becoming your affiliates, then by outselling all other affiliates. Simply pay attention to your monthly sales reports, and see who is doing well consistently. Your super affiliates may approach you before you approach them, wanting a higher commission. When this happens, give it to them!

You can also go out in search of super affiliates, and the best place to start is with your competition. Let your competition know about your affiliate program, and work with them personally. Let them know that if they wish to promote your product, you will be happier to give them a higher commission that you are offering other affiliates.

Also look for those who are successfully promoting products that are related to your product, but that are not in direct competition with your product. If your product was a vacuum cleaner, you would be seeking those who sell vacuum cleaner bags and carpet powders. Again, offer these people higher commissions for sales of your product than you are paying ordinary affiliates.

Finally, look for those people who are in your niche, but not in direct competition, that have large email lists. Offer to be a guest speaker on a teleseminar, with them, again, receiving larger commissions than usual for sales made during the teleseminar.

Super affiliates almost always get higher commissions than those who are not super affiliates. They deserve it. They generally put their hearts and souls into their promotions, and they keep themselves educated concerning marketing trends and tactics.

You may choose to structure commission payouts based on the number of sales being made within your affiliate agreement. This often motivates affiliates to reach those higher numbers, to collect higher commission payouts. For instance, if affiliates make between one and five sales per month, the payout may be 30%. If the affiliate makes between 5 and 20 sales, the payout may be 50%, and so on.

Affiliate Marketing Point Twenty

Affiliate Marketing Point 20: Keep Your Affiliates Motivated

Keeping affiliates motivated is most likely the biggest hurdle you will face while operating your own affiliate program. Again, some people will sign up for your affiliate program, and then never take any action to promote the product – no matter how much you try to motivate them.

On the other hand, there are those that will sign up with every intention of following through and becoming successful. These are the folks that need your attention, and you must work to keep them motivated.

Start by giving them the tools that they can use to successfully promote your program. Provide them with banners, ads, sales letters, ebooks they can re-brand with their affiliate links, and articles that they can re-brand as well.

Direct them to information that teaches them how to market online, or provide them with this information yourself. You may be able to work out a deal with someone who has a marketing course to allow your affiliates to take the course at a reduced rate, or, depending on the deal, for free.

Stay in constant contact with your affiliates. Send them newsletters that suggest new ways to promote the product. Provide them with marketing related content that they can use. Update them on new creatives, and new promotions such as sale prices and bonuses.

Consider running contests, giving the affiliate who makes the most sales in a given period of time a great prize. Make the prize worth while, such as a television, a computer system, or something of that nature. The more valuable the prize is, the harder the affiliates will work at promoting your product.

Send personal notes to those affiliates who are making the highest numbers of sales. Also recognize these people in your newsletter. When high sales are being made, it means the affiliate really knows what they are doing, and they may have tips or ideas to offer to other affiliates.

Likewise, when you have an affiliate who is obviously trying, but not making many sales, contact them personally to give them tips and advice. Help your affiliate be successful – this simply increases your own success.

Once your affiliate program is really raking in some cash, plan an event for your affiliates. You can even give away all expense paid trips for the event as contest prizes throughout the year, and those who do not win throughout the year that wish to attend should pay their own travel costs, hotel costs, and meal costs.

Affiliate Marketing Point Nineteen

Affiliate Marketing Point 19: Use The Right Affiliate Management Software

There are many options when it comes to affiliate management software. It is vital that you use software to monitor affiliate sales and commissions. Trying to keep up ‘manually’ is not an option.

You simply set up your affiliate program using web based software. Then, you write the affiliate terms and conditions, as well as the affiliate agreement, and get that posted on the site.

When writing the terms and the conditions, you determine what the commission structure will be for your program, including whether you will have a two-tiered or multi-tiered program, and what the commission payout will be for each tier. Following this, you list your program with the various affiliate directories online.

There are many different software titles that can be used to manage your affiliate program. Affiliate Wiz is good software, at , as is All Affiliate Pro at . There is also web based services that can be used, to run an affiliate program, such as 1ShoppingCart at .

There are even easier ways to set up an affiliate program by using an affiliate network, such as ClickBank at, Commission Junction at , or at . Again, there are many to choose from, and using a network to manage your program is usually the easiest and fastest way to get an affiliate program up and running.

The important thing is that the network or the software used should provide each affiliate automated sign up, and assign them an affiliate link. The software or service should then track clicks and sales, and record commissions earned by affiliates, based on the information you put into the system at the very beginning.

Ideally, affiliates should have the ability to log into a website to view their affiliate statistics, to retrieve creatives such as banners and ads, and to change their own contact information as needed. You will find that the more automated the affiliate program system you use is the more smoothly the program will run.

Use caution when selecting software or services for your affiliate program. Some services and software are very high priced, while others are very low priced – but not all affiliate program management services and/or software are created equal, and some are better than others. Read customer reviews and try to contact people who are using the software or service personally for a recommendation before buying one.