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8 Steps to Affiliate Marketing Success
Category: Affiliate Marketing
Now that you have created your landing page and set up the legal registration of your new affiliate marketing company, you are ready for the money to come flooding in. Think again: there are steps that need to be followed first. In the article, I’ll present you with Parts 1 and 2 of a four-part series.
1) Finding the Merchant
Merchants need to be identified, systems put in place to detect fraudulent leads, and a tracking system needs to be put in place.
Being able to build relationships with a merchant or many merchants is a never-ending process; your relationship will adjust on a daily basis. Many people believe you must get the highest payout before you have tested the quality of your traffic. This is clearly placing the cart before the horse. Before asking to receive the highest payout from any merchant, the best method is to contact that merchant directly and build the relationship via one to one communication. Now that you have built a report with this new merchant, continue to commutate regularly to foster a relationship of trust. If you are difficult to contact by phone, e-mail or IM, your merchant will lose faith in your ability to produce legitimate traffic. Any merchant who understands affiliate marketing knows that over 80% of sales are generated by less than 20% of their affiliates. It is also important to understand that many merchants prefer quality trickle traffic to large volumes of bogus or inaccurate lead data. If you are still looking for more products to promote, contact other affiliate networks, example Revenue Gateway, Blink Ads, Get Ads, The Lead Stream, and others like this.
2) Keeping the Merchant
Merchants have affiliates calling on them all day long. You need to be different from the masses. One thing that will set you one-step ahead of the rest when contacting a merchant is not to ask for the sky when it comes to payouts at first. You need to prove the traffic that can be delivered at first. Keep in mind that some merchants work on the shotgun principle. The merchants make big promises; set a high payout threshold knowing that few affiliates will ever reach it, and then get as many affiliates to promote their products and services as possible, which equals maximum exposure, minimum cost and effort on the merchant’s part. The merchants are counting on the 80/20 rule, which is that only 20 of the affiliates will perform to produce 80% of the revenue.
Fraud is one of the leading challenges facing the credibility of the affiliate marketing company. Until now, merchants have not asked too many questions of their affiliates. Affiliates are paid on results, so if you are not successful the merchant does not stand to lose much. Merchants are risking their reputations on the affiliate. One of the ways that an affiliate is put on the black list from the merchants is to send bulk email spam to bring in the clicks and the sales or post old data to their merchant with poor quality data. Affiliates who deceive merchants creating automated scripts and that attempt to mimic the activity of legitimate, human visitors will put your company on the black list. Other affiliates will send very limited leads data in to give the appearance they are insignificant compared to other affiliates generating leads. Often, these leads are filled with fraudulent data. Keep an eye out for this affiliate who tries to fly under the radar. You may pay then a couple of hundred dollars at the end of the month. Over time, this adds up. Once the trust and the reputation is built between you and the merchant, then you can ask for a higher payout.
3) Using accurate tracking
The reason you went into business in the first place was to make money and to get out of the “rat race”. The last thing you want to be concerned with is tracking the quantity of leads and traffic being sent to your merchants and being paid for the work that you are generating. A few platforms in the industry are being used to track this process. One of these rising stars in the affiliate marketing software is the LinkTrust platform.
If all of this is has over whelmed you and you have no idea of where to start, you do not have to put your hands in the air and scream, “HELP”. Do not worry there are companies in the affiliate marketing industry who are ready to help with consulting, account management and even to help you enter into new verticals. There is generally a cost for these services, but you have to look at the benefits of receiving the guidance of a seasoned professional. You may just cut your set up time in half. Make sure you do your research to find the right company for you.
In part 2, I will address how to run your business as a business rather than a hobby.
Where does my company go from here?
It’s time to run your business as a business rather than a hobby. You’re making money, and have the merchants who trust you and are giving you the payouts that you deserve for traffic you send to them. It might be even time for you to start to bring on more employees. The money is based on “I have checks I must have money in the account” or using a simple accounting system to manage your books. There are fundamentals of business that must be followed to outlast the statistics of the business industry, which is 80% of businesses fail in the first year, 50% of the businesses that are left fail in the next five years, leaving only 10% to make it past five years. There are four parts of your company that need to be looked at to achieve success; the financials, the organization, the marketing, and the legal.
5) The Financials
I would recommend that you have someone in your company that one of their main responsibilities is to manage the books. If you are good at being the “programmer” then that is what is going to make you money, not doing the books. If you spend the time that is needed to run the books to project the future revenue, rather than balance a checkbook, you will not have the time that is needed to continue to be the programmer.
There are several software programs on the market that will allow you to have an accounting program in your office; all are very good and useful. I have created a simple document in Excel that will allow a company to plan, forecast, and manage the accounting system in a simple to use system. I would be happy to share this with anybody that might need it.
Making sure that your financials are in order will also allow you to grow your company at a reasonable rate, rather than going from a $1 company to a $1,000,000 company to a $30,000,000 company over night. Yes, it would be a great problem to have, financially. The other side of that is can your company handle the growth.
6) The Organization
When setting up your organization, one thing to keep in mind is not to become to top heavy or too many “chiefs and not enough Indians” to get the work done. You need to have a balance between the executive level and the workers. You also need to hire the correct people to fit the growth of your company. Your company should have a technical staff, sales, executive, marketing, and accounting. You have the sales, executive team, marketing and accounting; you have no idea how to do the technical side or your technical person left to go to another company, where can you turn. As I mentioned in part 1, there are affiliate marketing consulting companies that will pick up the pieces for you. LinkMo Business Services and other companies that work in the affiliate marketing consulting arena will be able to help with this.
7) The Marketing
One thing to remember is that you are in the marketing business. This means that every chance you get to tell someone about your company tell them and 10 other people they know. If your marketing budget is small and you still want a large impact, start with writing press releases about your company. This is a great way to get the exposure without spending tons of money.
Joining the local Chamber of Commerce or networking groups is a great way to get in front of other companies. This could work on both the gaining new merchants, and having more affiliates. In both areas, your business will grow.
If you budget is deeper, than Google ad words is a great place to start. There are others ways to market your company; trade shows, placing banners on other web sites, etc. Once you find a marketing avenue that is working, keep it going and always stay on the lookout for other ways to spread the word.
As mentioned in part one, fraud is an issue that all affiliates will have to face. The best way to stay on the legal side of the law is to always know your merchants and affiliates. Do your research on the company before you put them as a partner or an affiliate?
Having all or your contracts in place and following the contracts will also keep you out of trouble.