Affiliate Marketing 101 - Understanding The Basic Concept Of Affiliate Marketing
by: Haydn Matthews
Affiliate marketing is an extension of the traditional marketing mix when applied to selling products and services on the internet. Amazon effectively used affiliate marketing to turn itself into one of the net marketing greats, and with persistence and modification, has transformed the whole concept of selling online to a whole new plateau of profitability for not only themselves, but also a vast number of those affiliated with them.
But what is affiliate marketing? In essence, it is where a merchant grants permission to sub-merchants to promote their products in return for a percentage of each sale generated through their efforts. Now this is not difficult to understand at all. By sending targeted visitors through to a vendor like Amazon, sales (and resulting commissions) are sure to follow. So it makes sense for webmasters to affiliate themselves with complimentary products and services, in return for a commission upon every sale generated through their promotional efforts.
What isn't so clear however, is how to make affiliate marketing profitable for the sub-merchant, commonly referred to as the 'affiliate'.
Many have tried to earn a living solely from affiliate marketing and have failed miserably. Either lack of persistence, promotional opportunity, or desire, leads to many affiliates simply placing a link on a web page and literally 'hoping for the best'.
So how do you make affiliate marketing work for you as an affiliate? The answer to this question has dogged many and those who have failed to find the answer have simply fallen by the wayside, while others who have actively embraced the concept have profited considerably through the application of a number of basic marketing principles:
1. Affiliate yourself with 'complimentary' products and services to that of your own content. If you are selling coffee beans, then affiliate yourself with vendors who sell coffee pots! It is pointless trying to promote broadband internet, or digital television - sure, you may get the ocassional click-thru resulting in a sale, but the reality is that you will make much more commission by promoting goods and services that are complimentary to your website. Your visitors are targeted, and far more likely to respond to offers associated with the very reason they came to you in the first place, than to totally unrelated by-products.
Which brings me to my next point:
2. Niche websites often do better than 'multi-purpose' sites when it comes to generating substantial affiliate incomes. This is again reflected in the fact that a visitor has come to a niche site for a specific reason, and is more likely to be interested in products and services associated with the purpose of their visit, than in anything else. Click-thru's and conversion rates have proven to be considerably higher for webmasters who take the time to affiliate themselves with complimentary products and services.
3. Relate your affiliate links directly to your content. The number of times I have seen 'blind' affiliate links on pages is unbelievable and is very uneffective. Sure, again you may get the odd 'drifter' who clicks through, but you are more likely to get a potential buyer follow a link if you have tied the links directly into your content. I use this effectively on one of my affiliate marketing sites: http://www.laytheodds.com - a sports betting portal, I have personally found that by embedding affiliate links directly into the news and articles, the response rates have increased significantly, resulting in substantial affiliate profits.
4. Use redirects when placing affiliate links in your content. There is a very easy way to do this by implementing a tracking script, or creating a redirect file containing your affiliate link. Make sure of course that the page opens in a new browser window. This also serves the purpose of 'protecting' your links again affiliate hi-jacking, ensuring that you are properly rewarded for your promotional efforts.
Here is a simple redirection script in php. Simply cut and paste the following into a file with a .php extension and upload it to your webserver - then use that file when referencing your affiliate product or service:
If you are promoting coffee pots then you might call it coffeepots.php and call it with the following http://www.yourdomain.com/coffeepots.php and it will automatically direct to the visitor to your coffee pot affiliate link.
In a nutshell: Find complimentary products and services that you can promote, incorporate your affiliate links directly into your content, use redirection to protect your affiliate links from hijackers, and watch your affiliate income increase ten-fold. It takes a little time, but the pay-off is well worth the effort. From humble $25.00 affiliate checks monthly, I now generate affiliate commissions in excess of $10,000 per month with no more effort than it took to make the smaller amounts. And all without selling a single product or service of my own!
Affiliate marketing can make financial dreams come true. I have embraced this concept of marketing with open arms and have turned it into my own personal goldmine. Niche websites and affiliate marketing are a match made in heaven (so much so that if you focus on developing these types of sites you will become an affiliate marketing success within 3 - 6 months - I guarantee it!), and will put a big smile on your bank managers face everytime you walk in the door.