As a small business owner, successfully managing all aspects of your company is your top priority. However, if you don’t have an online marketing background, how do you manage a relatively new marketing medium such as the Internet? How do you get a handle on the various avenues available online such as pay per click marketing, pay per lead marketing, pay per action marketing, social media marketing and landing page optimization? The answer is simple, don’t. Instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, let the individuals who already have experience in these areas handle it for you. Make online affiliate marketers part of your overall marketing strategy.
But what are online affiliate marketers and why does it pay to use them? Affiliate marketers are simply commission-only salespeople. You pay them only after they provide you with sales or leads for your business. Topnotch affiliate marketers will have strong backgrounds in search engine optimization, social media marketing, Web design and pay per click marketing. Basically, they are skilled in utilizing the Internet to market products.
Quality affiliate marketers are experts at converting traffic into paying customers. They know how to use all aspects of Internet marketing to squeeze the most benefit out of an ad campaign. They will not only use banner ads on established, high-traffic Web sites, but they will also use tactics such as creating Web sites and purchasing advertising to drive customers to your business.
The less-experienced or newly formed affiliate marketer tends to have one or two niche Web sites and has learned that money can be made by selling advertising on these sites. Also, they are most likely experimenting with affiliate banner ads. While these types of affiliate marketers may not actively pursue customers like the seasoned affiliate marketers, they may have a Web site in your niche that gains a significant amount of highly targeted viewers that are more likely to be interested in your products or services. If that is the case, it may be to your benefit to recruit such an individual as an affiliate marketer for your business.
Once you’ve decided to engage affiliate marketers to help improve your Web sales, you should utilize a service such as ShareASale or Commission Junction. These services serve as connection points between merchants and affiliate marketers; they also manage the logistical details such as payment processing and order tracking. These services allow you to take advantage of a vast pool of affiliate marketers right from the start. In addition, these services are beneficial to affiliate marketers, as they have the ability to promote an array of merchants and products.
If you are offering tempting sales incentives, topnotch affiliate marketers in your niche will take notice of the potential earnings and begin promoting your products. However, you should also promote your affiliate program to gain the attention of newer marketers so they are aware that they have the potential to make money by driving customers to your business. The question then becomes which marketers do you target, where do you find them and how do you promote your affiliate opportunity to them?
The simplest way to inform others of your affiliate marketing opportunity is to include a link in the footer of your Web site to the program you have joined. ShareASale, for example, will provide a link for you to copy to your Web site so that marketers can join ShareASale and become an affiliate for your company. Though this strategy will help with your affiliate marketing efforts, it is a more passive technique and may not generate enough interest to justify any costs. Therefore, think of adding the link to your site as the first of many steps that will generate revenue from affiliate marketers.
A more aggressive tactic would be to make direct contact with Web site owners that have the potential to partner with your affiliate program. In short, this means finding these owners and informing them that they have the opportunity to monetize their Web sites by driving sales to your business.
To find potential affiliate Web sites, utilize your Web analytics software. If you don’t have analytics software installed on your Web site, I suggest trying Google Analytics. Your analytics software will allow you to discover which Web sites you are receiving consistent referrals from and if those referrals are converting into paying customers. Once you have this information, you can contact specific site owners and inform them that there is potential for an affiliate partnership with your business.
Another way to find affiliate marketers is to utilize search engines to locate blogs, forums and other Web sites related to your product or service. For example, if you own a vitamin and health supplement business, you could search “healthy eating blogs” to find blogs related to your products. Also, try using the search engines to look for some of your top products and append the word “blog” or “forum” after the term (i.e., Vitamin D3 blog). This will pull up a list of potential affiliate marketers discussing your top-selling products.
Businesses you work with on a regular basis may also prove to be profitable affiliate partners. If you supply HVAC contractors, for example, any of these contractors you supply could serve as quality affiliate partners. Furthermore, if one of your HVAC contracting customers often works with a particular homeowner’s association, that association may serve as a potential affiliate as well.
Once you have targeted the Web sites that can serve as affiliate marketers for your product, you will need to contact them via phone or e-mail. Try using a “whois” search on www.domaintools. com to obtain a phone number if you don’t have one. If you are unable to find a phone number, try contacting the webmaster through a contact form or e-mail address from the Web site.
Make sure to avoid sending a repetitive form letter to each of the site owners. If a webmaster thinks your e-mail could be a spam message, it will be deleted immediately. As spam is usually identified by the phrase printed in an e-mail’s subject line, make sure the subject of your e-mail is very clear. For example, “I’d like to purchase advertising on your Web site” may work.
Next, make sure the e-mail you send specifically targets the Web site you are trying to partner with. Your audience needs to understand why they should become your affiliate marketer. Utilize statistics from your server logs to explain that their users have a natural tendency to visit your site after they’ve visited their site. Inform these potential marketers of how much they can make from each sale they direct to your Web site. Also, provide them information such as the amount of the average sale on your site. Make sure to stress their earning potential.
To maximize the benefit of each affiliate marketer, provide them with an abundance of banner ads in a variety of sizes. Also, provide the details for any of your planned sales or promotions. For example, if you’re running a holiday special, make sure to notify your affiliates so they can run similar specials on their Web sites.
Overseeing every aspect of the online marketing campaign for your business can be a daunting task. However, there is no need for you to grapple with each and every aspect of online marketing when affiliate marketers obtain the needed expertise and are willing to use that expertise to benefit your business. Using affiliate marketers can be a winwin situation. Topnotch affiliate marketers know how to successfully run pay per click campaigns and design compelling ad copy and landing pages for Web sites. They also have a knack for turning potential customers into paying customers. Even affiliate marketers new to the online arena have something to offer. They often have Web sites containing the most valuable users—those interested in your products or services.
Keep in mind that creating an affiliate marketing program for your Web site is only the first step. Enticing the right Web site owners and providing them with the banner ads and details of your promotions are necessary steps for your affiliate program to succeed. Though some time, patience and determination is required to get your affiliate program off the ground, it can prove to be a very profitable advertising opportunity. Take advantage of this program and watch your Web sales climb through the roof!