If your online sales aren’t where they should be, it may be time to add an affiliate program to your site. Many huge e-commerce stores have affiliate programs, but companies of all sizes can benefit from these programs.
An affiliate program pays other Web site owners a commission for referring customers who make a purchase. In most affiliate programs, webmasters include links to your products on their Web sites. When a customer clicks on a link on an affiliate site and purchases one of your products, you pay your affiliate a commission on the sale.
You decide how much commission you’re willing to pay for each item that sold, or you can also offer a flat fee per sale. Other options include paying affiliates per click, but this is less effective, and costs can quickly mount up. After a sale results, you pay your affiliate a commission, and the process begins all over again.
Keys to a Successful Affiliate Program
The first step in implementing a program is to find affiliates. Compile a list of prospective affiliates by determining what sites are likely to send you prospective buyers. Even though you only pay when sales are made, it still makes sense to be selective. Signing up affiliates and maintaining them takes time, so don’t just sign them up at random. Be discerning, and only reach out to sites you think will really send you business.
Once you have your affiliates signed up, they will place links or ads to your company from their sites. You can either provide text ads or graphical ads, based on what ads work better for your goods or services.
After an affiliate puts your link on their site, they will begin to send you traffic. In order to accurately track affiliate sales, commissions, and payments, you will need to either install affiliate-tracking software or hire an affiliate management service that can handle this for you.
After the sale has been processed, you will need to pay your affiliates at a specified time each month, or as often as you prefer. It is important to stick to a schedule when paying affiliates so that they know when to expect their payments.
In order for an affiliate program to increase your revenue, your profit margin has to be big enough to handle paying someone else a percentage of a sale. These percentages may vary from as low as 10 percent to as high as 75 percent. An affiliate program is absolutely useless if you end up losing money by offering a commission that is too generous.
Take care of your affiliates. Unhappy and unpaid affiliates spread the word about companies very quickly and you do not want your company portrayed as a non-paying affiliate program. This can spell disaster for a company very quickly.
Some companies, such as Commission Junction and LinkShare, provide comprehensive programs to help you acquire affiliates as well as handle sales, tracking, and payment. For companies looking to enter the affiliate-marketing fray, these end-to-end solutions are a great way to go.
Affiliate programs can be a cost-effective way to get the word out about your company. Instead of having to pay for this exposure right away, you will only need to pay for actual sales that result from these ads.