As an online strategy, affiliate marketing is often misunderstood. In the past, it gained a poor reputation for spammy tactics, but modern affiliate marketing is something very different. These days the savviest internet marketer is leveraging affiliate marketing success to turn more potential customers into clients. In this article, we break down exactly what affiliate marketing is and how it can benefit all types of businesses.
The terms of an affiliate marketing program are set by the company wanting to advertise. Early on, companies were largely paying cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. As the technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
Naturally, it’s crucial to choose a niche that’s financially viable. This means you need to find a subject that enough people will be interested in. That may seem tricky, but there are actually a lot of options you can choose from. Performing keyword research is also a smart idea at this stage, to find out what keywords are driving the most traffic via search engines.
Amazon has already made similar adjustments in many overseas markets. In 2015, the company moved its European affiliate program to a category-based structure, and according to the affiliate management firm GeniusLink, the result was more of a subtle chill than a freeze-out. “There’s definitely some pain as a result of it,” says GeniusLink CEO Jesse Lakes, “but we haven’t had a single client who stopped doing business because of the new payout structure.”
Once you've protected your prospecting pool, maximize your affiliate program by working with the best and leaving the rest. As the old 80/20 adage implies, most of your revenue will come from a very small percentage of your affiliates. Because it can be time-consuming to manage a larger affiliate network, consider selecting only a few companies initially, and interview them before signing them on. Affiliates are an extension of your sales force and represent your online brand, so choose partners carefully.