A Beginners Guide To Affiliate Marketing
A Beginner’s Guide To Affiliate Marketing
Very pleased to present this excellent guide from John Lamerton Director of www.lammo.net
Affiliate marketing is, essentially, an online joint venture between a website owner (affiliate) and a merchant, where the revenue is shared. The three most popular ways in which affiliates can earn money through affiliate marketing are: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Sale and Pay Per Lead. In most cases, the affiliate will promote the merchants products or services on his or her website, either through writing reviews or placing advertisements or affiliate links on the site. This will all be in exchange for a percentage of the sale made or commission earned.
So, how do you go about identifying suitable merchants? For most affiliates, the easiest approach is to sign up with an affiliate network such as Affiliate Window, TradeDoubler, Commission Junction (CJ) or Buy at. There are numerous established networks in the UK and globally. These act as middlemen, recruiting both merchants and affiliates and providing reporting, tracking, analysis and accounting tools for both parties. For the merchant they help in identifying relevant affiliates. For the affiliate, the provide
a rich source of established merchant programmes, organsied and searchable by category. They take the headache out of maintaining multiple separate relationships with individual merchants. Networks also provide creative and trackable affiliate links, together with a variety of tools to allow you to generate code for your site with the relevant products or services.
Once established, you may decide to set up direct relationships with some merchants as the commissions on offer may be slightly higher (although not always because of the cost of servicing individual affiliate relationships from a the merchant`s perspective).
Most importantly, you need to identify merchants that offer goods and services in categories that will be both appealing and relevant to your site visitors. If you are, perhaps, a sports specialist, offering sports
merchandise may be an obvious route. If you do not already have a site or a sector-specific focus, it is worth spending some time analysing the programmes on offer. Most affiliate networks provide statistics such as EPC (earnings per hundred clicks), EPM (earnings per thousand) etc. which should provide some idea as to likely value.
Also assess the competition in the light of your planned marketing activities. Are you planning to drive traffic via natural / organic (unpaid) search by ranking highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for
relevant terms. If so, how achievable is this? Are there thousands of high quality sites already high up in the rankings for relevant search terms? The most likely answer to this is yes! Assuming this is the case, are you able to create a high quality site and attract links to it via a link building campaign? Can you identify “longtail” search phrases that are searched for but for which the competition is less overwhelming? You can use the Google AdWords keyword research tool, type in a relevant phrase and see related phrases together with the degree of advertiser competition for the phrase and the number of times it is actually used by consumers in the search engine. This should give you some idea as to the feasibility of a
particular subject area.
Equally, you can choose to promote your site via pay-per-click (PPC) using Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing. You will still need a decent website and, again, will need a well-defined, well thought-through keyword strategy as competition here is equally fierce. However, unlike natural search rankings which may take many months of hard work to achieve, PPC traffic can be flowing within minutes and you can constantly refine your search terms and targeting to ensure maximum effectiveness. You will of course need to ensure you adhere to the merchants keyword bidding restrictions.
In all cases, you will need a website, the content of which should be `sticky` which means it encourages people to stay on the website for a while, so increases the chance that they will click through to a merchants website. Information on the website should be in short easy to read chunks.
As you can see from the above, affiliate marketing should not be thought of as a quick rich scheme, it is hard work and should be treated as a proper business. If all of this sounds intimidating, just remember that almost all of today`s affiliates started out with little or no knowledge and have learned along the way through hard work and many honest mistakes. To get some sense of what is out there, have a look around at the various affiliate marketing networks.