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Afilliate marketing online

Partner up with appropriate companies and increase sales

Do you want to increase your web business cash flow? If you're selling products or services via the web and you're not already running an affiliate marketing program, it's time to start and reap the rewards.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best online marketing programs available for small businesses. Why? Because, there's no risk. You only pay if the customer makes a purchase, signs up for your newsletter, joins your emailing list, or takes whatever action you want them to take.

Unlike advertising, where you pay an upfront fee with the hope it delivers customers, affiliate marketing programs allow you to pay only if and when the results are delivered. For a marketer, that's a very favourable option.

With affiliate marketing you agree to pay other businesses (your affiliates) a referral fee (commission) for each customer who completes an activity at your website. Big online players, such as Amazon, have turned affiliate marketing into a significant source of new customers. You can do the same for your small business.

One of Harry Ganz's secrets to attracting 100,000 visitors per month to The Garden Pharmacy (www.garden.co.uk) is affiliations. The site currently has a network of 900 affiliates through AffiliateWindow.com that generates 12-14% of his traffic. And Harry has now introduced a direct feed between his online catalogue and the affiliate shopping portals, so a visitor at one of these sites searching for a specific perfume, for instance, gets a list of stockists with a link to buy at Garden Pharmacy at the top.

Here are five tips for making affiliate marketing live up to its potential.

1. Reward Affiliates With Good Offers That Increase With Performance

Offer your affiliate partners a compelling referral fee. If you offer 2% of sales, and your competition is paying 10%, it'll be difficult to attract good affiliate partners.

Check out competitors' affiliate program offers by looking directly on their websites or checking out affiliate directories, such as TradeDoubler.com

Increase your referral fees for partners who send you lots of business. This can be an effective way to make sure your best affiliates aren't enticed away by other programs or partners.

2. Create a Variety of Links and Graphical Elements

You'll want to provide your affiliate partners with creative material to put on their sites to compel people to click. The more variety your program can offer, the more popular your affiliate programme will be.

Make it easy for your affiliates to pick and choose different size banners and other graphics. Optimise your graphics for the web

3. Find the Right Affiliates

If you're like most small businesses, you'll find that 80% of your affiliate sales come from 20% of your affiliates. Sourcing more of these top performers is the way to reap the best rewards, So, how do you identify them?

Seek out common themes: Look for partners whose businesses have themes similar to your own. A website selling lobsters might partner with a site selling gourmet truffles, or a site selling flowers might partner with a greeting card retailer to encourage visitors to send more than just a card.

Look for shared demographics: websites that seem unrelated or distantly related, but that serve the same customers. For example, a site selling baby food might look for parenting websites or sites selling complementary products, such as nappies, cups, spoons and so on.

Use online malls: Online shopping and comparison sites can be a good source of price-comparing customers.

4. Actively Recruit Affiliate Partners

The consistently successful affiliate marketers all have one thing in common. They actively recruit new affiliates to their program. You should do the same. Here's a few ways to reach potential affiliates.

Advertise your affiliate program on your website as this is the most affordable way to find affiliates.

List or advertise on affiliate directories, such as TradeDoubler.com or AffiliateWindow.com

Contact potential affiliates directly: Once you know that a certain type of company/market are good affiliates who generate a good number sales, devote time to finding as many similar companies as you can. Then get on the phone or email and actively recruit these people. Click here for more information on finding information on the Internet.

Says Harry Ganz of The Garden Pharmacy, "Affiliates are paid commission and I've opted for 10%; double that of the majority of beauty sites, but I'm more than pleased with the results."

5. Care For Your Affiliates And Feed Them

Once you've found good affiliate partners, it is critical to nurture those partnerships and build loyalty. Send your affiliates a welcome email when they join the program, plus a monthly or quarterly newsletter telling them about new products. Develop a place on your website focused on helping your affiliates be more successful. Include suggestions for how they can make the program work better for them.

One good example of this is Ken Evoy's Make Your Site Sell and subsequent information products. When you join his affiliate programme, you receive a large manual along with regular mails, to help you generate better results. And if your affiliates are generating better results, so will you.

With a bit of effort, an affiliate marketing program can increase your online sales noticeably. It does take some time to administer the program and to make sure that your affiliate partners are legitimate websites with complementary content to your own. But with a small time commitment and small up-front financial investment, you can start a low-risk marketing program that has proven to be a great customer generator for larger online companies.

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