What is an Affiliate Network?

What makes affiliate marketing so attractive for beginners is that it’s easy to start an affiliate business with low budget. In affiliate marketing no time is being wasted creating products.

The number one goal is to make as much money as you could. All affiliates want to make money from their affiliate program, so you have to make sure that the affiliate program that you want to join will help you reach your financial goals.

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Many affiliate programs show you how much money you can make when you join their affiliate program. In this example, you can make as much as $5,287 per month.

What is Affiliate Network?

Affiliate network is the home that all affiliate live in to make money online. It’s a platform that is necessary handles the relationship between affiliate and the advertisers. Because affiliate networks are the connecting technology between affiliates and advertisers, affiliate networks boast tools that affiliates need

Every affiliate network has some type of technology that increases the affiliate chances of making more money. Some features are made to show you high converting offers such as EPC or CTR. The goal here is to give you the most returns out of your traffic.

Clickbooth, for instance, has a technology that brings you only high performing offers, so you can make money with such high converting offers.

Affiliate networks also have affiliate tracking software, which is essential for affiliate to track their results. The network in order to be trustworthy must provide its affiliates with reliable tracking tool.

There are general and special types of affiliate networks: Clickbank and ExpediaAffiliateNetwork are both special affiliate networks. Clickbank is a network for digital products while EpediaAffiliateNetwork is travel based network.

Here are some interesting features you need to know before joining any affiliate program:

Make sure the affiliate tracking link is working

The first thing to be familiar with is link format. The tracking link as you should know is the link that connects the affiliate sales or other action you generate to you, so that you get paid for what you refer. This is why you should first look at the link format of the affiliate link and how to use it. Here are some examples of affiliate link formats for some affiliate networks:

The most important part of any affiliate link is the affiliate ID. As its name says, ID is your affiliate identity.

Clickbank – affiliate link format is http://AFFILIATE.VENDOR.hop.clickbank.net

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/?tag=your_Associates_ID this link format requires you to insert your unique Amazon ID instead of this placeholder.

Now to get more practical, you might ask me, how to find the link format. A quick trick here is in the affiliate page. Let’s take an example for Clickbank here:

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Here is the affiliate banner code. If you look in the href link format, you’ll find your affiliate link that is attached with affiliate banners. All you need to do here is to replace your affiliate ID and insert it in the right place.

Some affiliate networks only give you access to affiliate programs just after you become a member and your application gets accepted. In this case you have to first apply and in your control panel you can find the affiliate page and the link format that will track all the sales you make through a given affiliate program.

Commission Rate is Good but not Enough

Earning commission is like the price others have to pay to get the good. You get your commission and this is your own salary. The number of commission alone is not enough. Imagine you are promoting a product in a small market that you can’t get much from it.

In this case, you have to research the product category on Google Keyword Planner to see how much the demand in your industry is.

This allows you to increase the total sales and get many customers to buy from you. If you don’t reach a big market, you don’t make much money, or your sales potential will be limited.

By the same token, you should check the price of the items you’re going to promote. If you promote a $900 item, then you should expect higher income than promoting a $24 item. These basics are important so you can plan how much affiliate income you can expect.

How Effective is the Affiliate Program

Not all affiliate programs are the same. Some affiliate programs perform better than others. A good way to know how successful any affiliate program is is to monitor the EPC.

EPC shows you how many affiliates succeeded to earn commission from a given affiliate program. Many affiliate programs show you how their products perform to entice you to promote their program.

Promotional Aid

Don’t expect that if you’re totally a beginner affiliate that you won’t get any type of help. Nope, if you’re an affiliate you’ll get help from the affiliate manager of your chosen affiliate program.

Promotions you get take various forms here are some examples:

Banners – The basic promotional method for all affiliate programs is banner ad. Banners are visually attractive, and they communicate the message in interesting and concise way.

Banners allow you to promote affiliate programs in your blog, or other types of websites. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Email swipes – Swipes are successful templates that you need to convert more sales to your market. The swipes that you get from the affiliate program allow you to get promotional messages ready for the same market that you target. You need to create your messages on your own if you want to create effective message depending on your understanding to your mailing list, for example, or just make some editing in swipes you get from the affiliate program.

PPC Ads

Warning: Make sure that all the banners and other promotions you receive include your affiliate ID. Some affiliate programs give you the banner link without including your affiliate ID so they can get free advertising and you get nothing.

You can always learn the basics of affiliate marketing from any good affiliate marketing course or from the tons of blog posts out there.

Always be open to try new things and be patient, as affiliate marketing is a long journey to making money online.

This was a guest post by Ibrahim Dahy of ClickBank – http://affset.com

Marketplace Sellers

Andy Geldman has written a nice piece on the third party marketplace seller. Increasingly, this is the way to startup online for a variety of reasons but in particular due to customer/traffic opportunities and things like third party fulfilment. The elephant in the space is offcourse Amazon though others are entering the space.

As Andy says:

Those sales are made not by Amazon themselves, but by more than 2 million independent businesses – businesses which are largely hidden from view.

Read more at Pulse

Need to Sell Online? Try Facebook

Believe it or not, when you have an all powerful platform with millions of users (and billions in this case) you think you can do anything. Like Windows in the 90’s, Facebook is the platform of the moment and now they’re extending it further – this time into shopping. In their own words:

Marketers are challenged to reach their customers and drive sales on mobile. The majority of time spent on mobile is in apps, and people spend the majority of that time in just a handful of apps, including Facebook and Instagram.1 For people, the mobile shopping experience is often difficult to navigate. Customers can experience slow load times and too many steps on the way to checkout. This is bad for people and bad for marketers.

I would suggest this is something that actually they’ve been looking at for a while. Remember beacon? That ill-fated attempt to mix social and commerce? This is perhaps the second attempt and it’s probably a much better route i.e instead of mixing content and commerce, they’re essentially creating a marketplace like Amazon, eBay and so-on. So this should work; the question is, as a merchant should you use it?

Today we have two main platforms in the western ecommerce world; eBay and Amazon. Alibaba if you’re an Asia merchant. Those three have stood alone despite the rise of Pinterest, Wanelo etc that promise coveted direct traffic to your store and products. With Facebook, the question in my mind is; who owns the customer? If FB directs customers to your store this new initiative is in effect an advertising play. Intriguingly though, they tease more:

Over time we’ll explore incorporating additional content into this experience, such as items listed for sale in Facebook Groups.

This suggests they want to catalog inventory and act as a storefront themselves. Facebook could perhaps be the world’s largest store should they want it given the 1.3 billion plus people on the platform. Do they want that though?

The Buy Button Dichotomy

Recode’s Jason Del Rey picks up on the trend of social networks like Facebook and Pinterest adding so called ‘Buy Buttons’ to their properties. As he points out, this creates both massive potential for retailers but simultaneously could also be a threat:

Among the challenges these Goliaths face is integrating inventory and payments systems from retailers big and small that have little experience selling stuff outside of their own storefronts. They also face the challenge of convincing the people who use their service to get used to, and trust, buying stuff from their site for the first time. What’s more, they have to allay fears of retailers that they will steal the customer relationship, banishing them to glorified warehousing and shipping partners.

The key to the success of the ‘buy button’ for both consumers and retailers is thus; will people buy on social networks? and from the retailers perspective, should we allow this?

First up, social networks have traditionally been very poor at converting users into shoppers. There’s a reason why ad dollars are still spent on search engines like Google. This is simply due to intent – people purposely search for products to buy and more often than not, they buy them after searching. Social networks as the name suggests have different intent and it’s not nearly as powerful as direct search. People are unlikely to buy from their social networks either directly or via friends recommendations (remember Facebook’s beacon disaster?)

For retailers, all customer information is captured online via their ecommerce platform and stored there or in other CRM applications. Would they really want to hand this crucial data over to third parties? That’s the likely outcome of relying on the buy button. It’s a clear outcome unless social sites were to allow retailers to tap into this data but then again, who wants to rely on third parties for traffic? Remember Panda, Google’s core search update that left a-gasp – including the biggest sites like eBay.

So while Pinterest is rolling out the buy button to great acclaim, its far from certain that this is really going to change ecommerce. Then again, ecommerce is about experimentation so I guess we all should try.

Are Affiliates Still Relevant? You Bet

I recall an outcry to the story of how Amazon embedded ‘buy it now’ buttons in articles on the Washington Post and it got me thinking about affiliates and their relevancy in what’s becoming a mobile first Internet. As this WSJ article mentions:

“Amazon could use the data it has about buying behavior to help make these ads much more effective,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst at researcher IDC. “Marketers would love to have another viable option beyond Google and Facebook FB -0.85% for their advertising.”

Forget just Amazon using affiliates however, should all retailers regardless of size be pro-active in affiliate marketing? How big an opportunity is it still? I would argue it’s often overlooked.

For example, you can now ‘roll your own’ affiliate program rather easily using software as a service solutions like Tapfiliate. If you don’t want to manager your own program, services such as CJ are still very useful for driving traffic.

The point is with affiliates, in an age where social is often the be all and end all to folks, taps into a very old but successful principle of retailing: loyalty. This is particularly important in ecommerce, you want loyal customers. The value of repeat customer is many orders of magnitude more important than single transactions. It’s no secret that Amazon is number one in the ecommerce world (at least in the west) as their customers are rabidly loyal.

And this is in no small part due to affiliate marketing. Do you use affiliates? If not, why not?