If you have a web site selling products or services, why not start your own affiliate program. It’s not that difficult or expensive and the benefits are huge. Use the money you save from promoting your site yourself to pay your affiliates!
What is an Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program is way of allowing others to sell or promote your products and services for commission.
- Because your banners and links are placed on other sites this makes you more visible with not much effort.
- You have other people marketing your product and services, it’s not all down to you.
- Your sales will increase dramatically.
- You will certainly appear “bigger” than what you are and your credibility will be higher.
Gone are the days when only the “big” sites could set up and run affiliate programs. Today its easy and there are a couple of ways of doing this. You could get someone to install the required scripts on your own server and run it yourself. This is the way I like to do it as you have full control; but in order to do this you need to be able to accept credit cards on-line via your own merchant account.
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It’s not that expensive or complicated, sometimes it’s a matter of who you know. My hosting company actually provided and installed the script on my latest site absolutely free and offer an excellent service. You need to decide what your objectives of your affiliate program are before you decide which route to go down. You can either have your whole site replicated or you can have a script installed that will simply track your affiliate sales. You will need to look at various options depending on what you hope to achieve.
Approaches to Starting Your Own Affiliate Program
Ask yourself the following questions before you begin.
- Do you want to replicate your entire site giving each affiliate their very own www.yoursite.com?
- Do you simply want to track sales giving each affiliate their own unique ID?
- Do you want to pay affiliates for actual sales, clicks or leads only?
- Do you sell products, services or electronic products? Do you want your affiliates to market all your services and products or only some?
- Do you want to pay only the actual affiliate who makes the sale or do you want to build a two-tier program, compensating the affiliate for sales his referrals make too.
- Do you want international affiliates or affiliates from your own country only?
- Do you want to pay a percentage of sales or a flat rate?
Create your own affiliate program
You can create your own affiliate program. For example, I created two affiliate programs on my site: one affiliate program to compensate for sign-ups and one to reward affiliates for advertisers. For the first option, I used a script which my hosting company installed and configured for me for free. This script allows users to sign-up from an affiliate site without actually leaving it. For the second option, I chose to have the whole site replicated but had it configured specifically to track advertiser sign-ups only.
The key is to ensure that you have a reliable affiliate program software that can track affiliate signups, real time metrics, fraud protection, back management, ability to track any types of advertising (cost per click, cost per action, etc). Some examples include LinkTrust, OmniStar, HasOffers by Tune, among others.
Use a third party service
If you don’t have your own merchant account, you could use a service like Clickbank.com especially if you are selling digital eBooks or courses. Clickbank provides a payment facility and will track your affiliate sales. Plus, it offers more payment options than Paypal and allows for a customizable checkout page.
Use an agency
If you have your own merchant account but want an outside company to handle and track your affiliate program, you could use a service like either CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction), and Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare) who make it easy and handle everything for a fee.
When deciding on which service to use to set-up your affiliate program, think of things from the affiliate’s point of view and what’s important to them. A key factor to running a successful affiliate program is having happy affiliates. Make things easy for them. Offer different banner sizes, text links, real-time stats and e-mail notification when sales are made.
Once your affiliate program has been set-up, you’ll need to promote it. As a starting point, list your site in various affiliate program directories. These sites also provide information on marketing your own affiliate program.
There are lots of options for you to choose from on how you want to start your affiliate program. Depending upon your circumstances, financial situation and whether you sell products or services, but which every method you choose, you could soon be on your way to becoming the next Amazon.com!
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