What would you do with a team of sales agents across the world who are trying to sell your goods and only get paid when they make a sale?
That is exactly what an affiliate program can do for your business. You can create a massive automated sales force for your business without the staff overheads of a conventional sales team. This works incredibly well for online businesses and it is a tried, trusted and incredibly beneficial way to boost online sales, even in tough economies.
You can think of an affiliate program as a revenue share, where your affiliates get paid a commission on each sale only. This pay-for-performance model works very well as long as you consider what is involved and provide your affiliates with all the tools they need to succeed.
Many leading companies online use affiliate marketing as a major part of their marketing plan and there are many affiliate marketers who are always looking for profitable programs and products to promote. So ask yourself, are you able to take advantage of this type of marketing?
If you have any form of payment system then it is likely you can easily integrate and affiliate program into your business. Usually, it only takes installing a piece of software on your website that controls the affiliate program and manages such items as affiliate signup, sales statistics, commission reporting and payment management. Once you have installed this the next step is to place some code at the checkout stage of the payment process on your site and you are good to go!
Alternatively, you may be able to sign up with an affiliate network such as Commission Junction or similar. These companies provide the same service and handle payments to the affiliates. These networks have a large group of affiliates always looking for new products but acceptance into these high-end networks can be difficult as they set the bar for entry pretty high. This is why I often recommend controlling it yourself with your own software in-house.
If you can, provide affiliates with a wide range of articles, sample ads, banners, email copy and more. The more tools you give your affiliates the easier it will be for them to sell your products. All to often I see business create affiliate programs and leave it to the affiliate marketers they sign up to create their own materials. This is not their job, it’s yours. If you want to control what is being said about your products, services or business, you need to control the advertising they are using.
When you first start an affiliate program on your own, one of the hardest things to do is attract affiliates. This is not as difficult as many people seem to think. One of the easiest strategies is to simply go to Google and type in the most relevant search terms to your products or services then see who the top 20 matches are. Go to each one of them in turn and contact them personally with an initiation to join your affiliate program. If they are already highly ranked they receive a lot of traffic, if they can cross promote your products to their customers and make a little extra money from their traffic it becomes a win-win situation for you both.
You can also contact people who are selling goods related to yours who use PPC advertising. Then repeat this for MSN and Yahoo. This little strategy alone can gain you a lot of affiliates. Then you can list your affiliate program with directories that promotes affiliate programs.
If you can, create a 2-tier affiliate program so that people who sign up affiliates on your behalf also get a small kickback for the process. This can create a viral signup of affiliates willing to sell your products or services.
I could write an entire special report on this subject and may well do that in the future. However, one question I always get asked is “Why would I want to give away my profits to someone I don’t really know?”. The answer is simple, 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. What you loose in percentages you more than make up for in volume and as your business increases in volume you can expand other areas of marketing as you become more of a recognized player in your industry.
Now that your mind is kicking into overdrive as you consider the possibilities go do something about it.
One of the best tools I have found for creating my own affiliate programs is IDevAffiliate which you can get from here. Go check it out when you have a moment, it can really help you grow your business.