Why Online Merchants Should Have A Great Affiliate Program
If you are an Internet merchant and you don’t have an affiliate program then you are not taking full advantage of your online presence. There are several different affiliate management products who make the process of setting up and managing an affiliate program as painless as possible. If you need some extra inspiration then think about an army of commissioned salespeople promoting your product who only get paid if they produce sales. And, lastly, realize that every one of your online competitors has an affiliate program so you need one just to keep up.
The number one thing affiliates want is a product that sells like hotcakes. If you have a great product then you will attract a ton of partners. If your product is junk you will only get the lowest quality of non-performing partners. For each sale a partner makes you should pay them well. Probably want to be a bit overly generous here. If they make a lot they will promote you more; and that leads to even more free traffic and sales for you. Give them tons of banners they can use to advertise your product. And don’t just pick one or two sizes; give them 10 different sizes. Spend a couple hundred on banner designers and give your partners lots to work with. Lastly, be sure and pay them on time. Nothing motivates more than a regular paycheck every month.
In the beginning (late 90s) affiliate programs were pretty straightforward — partners would earn a percent of whatever sales they brought to the merchant. Today, the plans vary quite a bit. You can pay your partners for things other than sales (i.e. leads) and in ways other than a percent (i.e. a fixed fee per lead or sale, or even every month if you’re selling a recurring subscription product). There are also multi-tier programs where partners earn fees from other partners that they recruit for you. This can be a good way to get a lot of partners in your program. It may sound like a lot to manage but its easy once you set up the rules and use a service like ShareASale or LinkShare. They have all these rules programmed in already; you just tell them what kind of plan you want to offer to your partners and they do the rest.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to treat your affiliates like people. How would you want to be treated? You’d probably like to receive your paycheck regularly, and get occasional emails so you know the merchant knows you exist. You’d also like to receive new banner ads periodically that you could use to promote the merchant’s products.
Using affiliates and an affiliate network to increase your sales online is standard practice these days. If you don’t do it then you really are at a competitive disadvantage. It is the perfect use of the Internet: Get hundreds of people to promote your products and then have a systematic way to reward them for that behavior. Affiliates should be a must-have part of any online marketing program.