Step 2 – Locating Great Products and Services
One of the business strategies I use is called Affiliate Marketing. Occasionally you might also hear it being referred to as ‘performance-based marketing’. Affiliate Marketing consists of a performance-based method of marketing where businesses and affiliates work together to create profit.
In this marketing method, a business rewards its affiliates (me) for every customer brought in by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. In other words, when an affiliate partners with a business, that affiliate can earn money every time their marketing system brings customers to the parent business.
For Businesses: Affiliate Marketing is an excellent way to generate sales and increase revenues. It is performance based, which means that affiliates promote your products, and then you reward your affiliates for each click, lead, or sale.
Affiliate marketing is a very powerful and cost effective channel, as businesses only have to pay for marketing when a successful transaction happens. Companies using Affiliate Marketing range from John Lewis to Amazon and M&S to PC World…more details on that later in this article…you might be surprised to see who’s involved!
For Affiliates (me & you): Affiliate marketing allows you to earn money from your website by joining one of many affiliate programs, promoting their products or services and generating leads or sales. The businesses are responsible for processing the orders, shipping the goods and handling any returns. As an affiliate there is no involvement with the product beyond sharing it with your hungry audience. Businesses love Affiliate Marketing as it directly links their marketing spend to a successful lead or sale. Businesses offer a range a sales commissions to their affiliates which is generally linked to the profit margin they hold in their product or service. Commissions therefore range from 5% up to 70% depending on the individual business, product and service. Some businesses can afford to pay generous commissions as they know that once a new customer is on board their chances of selling to them again is very high.
Over the last twenty years, Affiliate Marketing has grown from the original version, patented by William J. Tobin for his PC Flowers & Gifts site, to the enormous network of businesses and affiliates all over the world today.
In the next few paragraphs I’m going to share with you how to generate profit using various types of affiliate marketing, from pay-per-click, to personal blogs, to loyalty programs, all designed to generate business and sales for you.
By making the most of partnerships, niche sites, and shopping marketplaces, you can create visibility for your business and connect with your hungry audience.
In addition, you can generate money by offering the same opportunities to other affiliates as well. Build your email lists, refer and be referred, and track your success using this multi-faceted method of marketing.
Why Use This Proven Method
Let me show you some crazy, eye opening facts which will help you understand why Affiliate Marketing is my preferred option for building a lean, nimble and profitable business.
Amazon.com was one of the first companies to embrace Affiliate Marketing. Today Amazon is still a major player but many other businesses have joined in providing a vast selection of products and services. Whilst these include thousands of online business you may well be surprised to learn that the majority of the world’s high street brands also offer affiliate programmes inviting you to partner with them as an affiliate and make money from selling their products and services.
Let’s look at some of the businesses you can partner with:
John Lewis’s online business is now responsible for over 27% of all group sales and is outgrowing the rest of their entire business by 44.3%. Would you like to piggy-back that growth and share their great product range with a hungry audience who are just waiting to buy?
It’s what I do and I’ll share my techniques with you later in this series.
The UK’s affiliate marketing industry is worth over £13 billion. A recent study found that there are just over 10,000 businesses running affiliate programmes. This resulted in 100 million transactions and 70 million leads generated. What is also promising for the market is that since 2008, there has been a 12% growth every year in affiliate marketing sales revenue.
42% of Amazon’s sales are generated via their affiliate programme – Amazon Associates. They have recently reported exceeding 900,000 members of the Amazon Associate programme worldwide.
Are you beginning to wonder why you didn’t know this already? I remember when I first heard the 2010 statistics, whilst lower than today’s, they excited me and the size of the opportunity still excites me today.
Data like this makes it clear that there is a lot of money to be made with affiliate marketing. And while lots of people might be talking about it, very few can effectively teach you how to productively position your business so that you can make money effectively and consistently.
More on that later in the series, but for now let me continue to share with you how this whole system works and how you can make it work for you.
Introducing The Third Player – Welcome The Networks
OK, so let’s recap before we start this chapter. I’ve talked about two parts of the system above.
- The Business – the owner of the products or services (e.g John Lewis).
- The Affiliate – the person who gets paid a commission by the business for introducing a lead or sale (e.g me! and soon to be you).
In this section I’m going to introduce you to the third player – the Affiliate Networks.
The Affiliate Networks are the intermediary between businesses and affiliates. There are a lots of affiliate networks; some are focussed on retail programmes, and some are focussed on lead generation programmes.
The affiliate networks make life much easier for everyone concerned. They are the central portal, the hub if you like, that creates a central go-to location connecting businesses with affiliates, and allowing those affiliates to quickly and easily locate great products and service to share with their hungry audience.
The networks also act as ‘the police’ ensuring that both sides of the partnership play by the rules. Whilst you will find some businesses run their own ‘in-house’ affiliate programme I strongly recommend joining a couple of affiliate networks when first starting out. There’s plenty of time later to look at the pro’s and con’s of working directly with businesses running ‘in-house’ options. Let’s save that for when you’re a little more advanced.
Building an e-commerce Affiliate Marketing business is the best way to become your own boss, and choosing the right network is key. You should choose the network which provides you statistical information, tracking, and payment processing. Before becoming an affiliate, do your research and find the best affiliate network for your marketing niche. Remember my 7 Simple Steps at the start of the guide?
Some networks do require a small sign-up and set-up fee for validation purposes. However, this is not something to be worried about as most will credit this amount straight back into your account.
It’s worth remembering here that the businesses you partner with will handle all the logistic activities such as selling products and services, placing customer orders, and shipping. As the affiliate you will not even touch the products you’re selling. Therefore it’s important to make sure that the businesses for look at partnering with have a professional website, one you’d be prepared to buy from, accepts all the major payment options and overall acts professionally. It’s essential you partner with quality businesses. Most networks will provide you with a ranking score for the businesses they promote. The ranking score is generated by assessing the business and their website on many levels and helps guide you to make an informed decision first-time every time.
Almost every affiliate programme is different from one another. The best way to start is to simply research the following sites. These are all networks that I have personally used for several years. Whilst there are lots of other networks, I’d suggest starting with these and only moving on when you are a little more advanced. The chances of you not being able to locate a great range of products for your hungry audience from the networks I’m sharing below is very slim!
Let’s take a look over the ones I recommend:
Amazon Associates – (www.affiliate-program.amazon.com)
Amazon is one of the most trusted sites for shopping. Amazon Associates is a well-known way to convert visitors into customers. If you are running a blog or website and want to monetise it, the Amazon Associate programme is a great way to make money online as an affiliate.
Amazon offers you access to over a million products so you can choose the products that best fit your marketing niche and then promote them to your hungry audience.
Amazon rewards its affiliates up to 10% commission (they term it “advertising fees”) on purchases. Plus, they provide a complete, detailed report of your conversion rate so you can analyse your sites performance, test and measure new ideas to grow your business in a strategic sustainable fashion. They also give great and instantaneous support to help you overcome any challenges you may encounter.
I should share here that Amazon is my absolute favourite! It regularly makes up over 70% of my monthly income and, with a little advanced knowledge, can offer a slick customer experience.
Affiliate Window – (www.affiliatewindow.com)
Affiliate Window is the most popular and award-winning affiliate marketing website in UK, with 1,600 registered businesses and 75,000 registered affiliates. The majority to UK main-stream brands are represented. Whilst Affiliate Window is well established in the UK its prominence is steadily increasing in the US and Canada too so you can expect to see more worldwide brands join this network over the next few years.
This network serves its affiliates by providing high commission rates as well as web and mobile based performance reports and analysis. They also run an online lead generation campaign to help affiliates generate income from introducing leads to businesses. Often it’s as simple as sharing enquiry forms for highly targeted services with your audience. You’ll earn a commission for each from submission generated from your unique link.
Affiliate Window is a great place to start your business. It’s where I started out in 2010. They are a highly professional network with a great range of businesses and an easy to operate portal to locate and share great products from well established UK brands.
Affiliate Window has a unique business model for advertisers and publishers – ShopWindow and ContentWindow. ShopWindow is the product comparison engine that holds 5 million products. ContentWindow is a software programme which allows quick and easy access to great value products and services and makes sharing these on your website very straight forward.
ClickBank – (www.clickbank.com)
ClickBank is the privately held marketplace for digital products. It is continuously voted one of the higher traffic websites, and it builds a connection between affiliates and businesses that focus on digital content such as software programs and e-learning courses.
Their affiliate programme allows you access to software and training courses which might be of interest to your niche and hungry audience. You can add a whole new product line-up to your business (just remember to follow my proven 7 step system to ensure you know there’s a hungry audience before you spend time locating and sharing a new product line).
ClickBank provides a Gravity Score for each product which specifies how many have been sold by other affiliates in last 8 weeks. The Gravity Score therefore allows you to compare products and assess their popularity.
I have a GOLDEN RULE that never gets broken when considering a software product or training course. I ALWAYS buy it, test it, review it and, if appropriate, test out the money back guarantee before I consider promoting it to my audience. Building a business and keeping your audience engaged and ‘hungry’ must be your number one priority…therefore you have to know about the products you’re sharing with them.
When this is a physical product, for example a Sony laptop from John Lewis, you can hold a certain level of confidence that if a product is faulty the retailer and manufacturer will sort things out. With a software program or a training course it’s not so transparent and therefore testing prior to selling IS ESSENTIAL.
Commission Junction – (www.cj.com)
If you are quite comfortable with online business and have been running your website or blog for a couple of years you need to know about Commission Junction. Commission Junction is one of the largest affiliate marketing sites in North America, and it operates worldwide. Owned by ValueClick, it is known for highly professional work.
Commission Junction has a wide variety of products. Here’s the slight hitch, the businesses that use Commission Junction look for you, the affiliate, to hold a reasonable level of experience and prove your credibility before they will approve your application. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but if you’re just starting out it’s worth building your business with Amazon or Affiliate Window first and moving to Commission Junction once you’ve cut your teeth.
Commission Junction provides several options to connect products with a variety of links, including text, images, buttons, or banners, all of which will be immediately available to you on acceptance. In addition, it also offers a great pay-per-call affiliate program enabling you to make money when generating call enquiries for businesses that have chosen this option. It’s reasonable to say that this is a slightly more advanced tactic, but equally, it can be very rewarding.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these network partners. Remember, if you haven’t already downloaded my eGuide follow the link below where I share even more of my experience with you.
Here’s to your success.
This article is from a series called '7 Simple Steps To Make Money From Your Website'
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