Letís face it. The number of affiliate programs has skyrocketed in the last few years. After all, they are an excellent deal for the company: Good affiliates bring targeted visitors in buying mood to company web site.
But are they all good for the affiliate? Alas, the answer is a resounding no! This is because most affiliate programs are only interested in making money for the company, the affiliate be screwed!
Do they think we are all a bunch of naive kids? Whatever the cause of this strange attitude, I must caution you: Caveat affiliatus! Affiliate beware!
Ken Evoy, the Canadian physician and author of the best-selling Make Your Site Sell! manual, talks about Five Pillars supporting any good affiliate program.
It behooves you well to sign up only for those affiliate programs that are built around Kenís Five Pillars. Otherwise, you are helping others to make serious profits, while you have parked your web site in a hole. And that, to paraphrase Martha Stewart, is not a good thing.
Take a look at the picture below:
You are completely wasting your online resources if you send your visitors to web sites that market inferior products. Not only will they not buy. They will remember that you displayed poor judgement in recommending the product.
You will get no commission. And you will lose credibility.
Web sales do not flourish by marketing a single product (unless it is a highly specialized and very expensive one). They thrive on customers who buy now, then come back for more.
But, for the customer base to grow, new visitors must come in for the first time. A first-time visitor is an important asset to every web sale company.
This fact has to be reflected in a higher commission for the affiliate who sent the first timer in. Even at the cost of little profit for the sales company!
This is the biggest problem with most affiliate programs. Suppose you send someone to Amazon online bookstore. If he buys, you get 5-15% of the sale. But what if he does not buy? At least not right away?
He has to think about it, then comes back and buys after all.
Chances are he comes back directly to the bookstore. The bookstore gets a customer, thanks to you. You get nothing, zilch, nada. Not even a pat on the back.
Why? Because by the time the customer comes back, no one will ever know how he got there to start with: From a link on your web site.
And even if he does buy as soon as you send him there, when he buys the next book, and then the next, and the next... Well, the bookstore got a life-time customer, while you got $2-3.
Because of the self-centered attitude of most online sales businesses, many will have a nice affiliate program when they are starting doing business on the web. Once they have established a name and a solid customer base, they drop the affiliate program. Like we are some commodity of value today, a burden tomorrow.
This has happend. Does happen. A lot. I kid you not.
Most affiliate programs, while claiming to be selective in whom they accept into the program, want to have as many affiliates as possible. The more, the merrier.
This, again, is great for the company. Everyone knows that visitors will only click on advertising links after they have seen the ad over and over again. So, a large affiliate base is good for the company.
But not for the affiliates! All the affiliates are doing in this setup is building the image for some other company, while getting nothing in return!
A good affiliate program, then, does at least two things to protect its affiliates:
By now you may be asking the obvious question: ďSo, what can I do about it? I canít tell affiliate companies what they should or should not do!Ē
Sure you can!
There are several things you can do:
Yes, you must be selective. Do not be fooled by web pages filled with tons of ads and nothing else. They donít make any money. So, the webmaster keeps signing up for more programs, posting more ads...
It does not work. Believe me, Iíve made that mistake.
When I first started running this web site, I signed up for a number of affiliate programs. I lost focus. My pages took forever to load because they were filled with banners, each coming from a different web server.
Inevitably, one or the other server was not working right, and browsers just kept waiting for the junk to finish loading before they would display my pages. Or before the visitor gave up and left.
And I had no income from all that non-sense.
About a year later I was fed up. I decided to prune. Mercilessly! I cut out most of the ads. I started looking at the products themselves.
I only kept those I deemed worth my while. And that of my visitors. And I finally started to see some income out of it all.
Whenever you look at an affiliate program that does not rest firm on the Five Pillars, donít just ignore it. Tell them about it!
E-mail them. Tell them you took a look at their affiliate program and decided not to sign up. And tell them why. And, of course, be polite.
If the company is worth its salt, it will listen. And change. If not, the loss is theirs. Certainly not yours!
I mean, donít just post ads and expect the money to roll in. Web visitors see way too many ads, especially in the form of banners. And they ignore them.
When was the last time you clicked on a banner? When was the second last time? I bet you ignore most of the banners. So does everybody else.
That means you have to work. Yes, work. Instead of just posting ads and waiting, you need to learn how to be an effective affiliate. And you need to apply what you have learned to your web site.
As far as I know, there are no college courses on how to be an effective affiliate, but help is out there. Like my own web site (so, if you came this far, you actually are working, and that is a good thing).
An excellent resource is Ken Evoyís Affiliate Masters course, which he offers by e-mail to anyone who sends blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. (In case you forgot, Ken is the guy who invented the Five Pillars discussed above).
You can also visit his web site, follow the affiliates link, and download a full explanation of what he says about Five Pillars. It is an eye opener for everyone considering any affiliate program.
And quite frankly, you should join the club. After all, no one will give you as good an affiliate training as Ken.
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