Affiliate Marketing is probably one of the most popular forms of Internet Marketing, since it doesn’t involve having to create, stock, or sell problems of your own. You simply earn commissions from referring customers to the affiliated product. It is pure marketing, in that you promote and advertise for a third party.
As I mentioned before whatever you do with Internet Marketing you are basically connecting customers and products. Therefore, finding the right customers, and the right products, is essential.
These days most large online retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, have affiliate programs. There are also vast networks of affiliate programs for almost every industry you can think of. Commissions will vary widely, from around 6% for a book or DVD from Amazon to 75% or more from selling digital products such as eBooks, Software or Memberships. Some affiliate programs will pay fixed fees, such as $50 per customer. Some will even pay recurring commissions, for services that are billed monthly or members for private sites. It’s easy to see why this form of marketing is attractive.
If you want to earn good money from affiliate programs it’s essential you aim for one that suits you. Some marketers will swear by targeting smaller, less overcrowded niches, so you can focus your efforts there and become a big fish in a small pond. Others will aim for higher payouts, so even though the amount of sales might be lower, the overall profits are good. It’s different for everyone.
One of the first things you do is decide what, and how, to promote. Traditionally paying directly for clicks has been proven to work, but getting it wrong can cost you dearly. Using a system such as Googles Adwords you bid on keywords, pay for every click from that keyword, and direct that visitor to a page where, hopefully, they’ll buy. As an example we’ll say you’re promoting a company that sells motorcycles. These are high value items, with considerable potential rewards. If an average sale of $10000 nets you $650 in commissions, and 1 in 1000 customers you send to the website buys, you know that you can afford to spend around $1.50 per customer. Spend less per customer, make more money. You’d therefore target keywords in Google with terms such as “Buy Motorcycle” – but that would be too vague, and cost dearly. So perhaps “2013 Suzuki GSX-R 750″ is a little more targeted. Perhaps you’d discover customers are unlikely to buy a motorcycle online at all, or it’s only 1 in 10000 who’d buy, but the beauty of Pay Per Click campaigns with Adwords and others is that you can quickly get a feel of how much traffic will cost, and how much you could potentially make. Another example is to target local sales, e.g. “Cable TV in Virginia” or “Broadband in Miami, Florida”. Still massive markets.
The other major way of getting traffic is through the search engines directly, so called Organic Search. These are the sites people visit when searching for information or even when looking to buy. To be successful here your site, or pages on your site, must rank highly, preferably on the first page, for terms people use to search. Getting ranked high is an industry in itself, but in short the keywords you use, the sites that link to you, the age of the site, and the content all contribute. It’s always best to aim your site at your human visitor first and worry about the search engines last, as good quality content, regularly produced, will always win out. Sites such as Blogs, Review Sites, and Forums are all easy to build content for in specific niches. Take for example Amazons affiliate program. You might decide to drill down through the categories (Amazons “Best Sellers” in niche categories are a good start) and start promoting their “Garmin Approach G3 Golf GPS Unit”. It’s a specific item in a popular but still less crowded niche (and as a bonus, golf players tend to have more disposable income). You could build a few pages around that product, and others, and start including articles on GPS systems in golf to build content. At around $160-$200 a pop the commissions could add up on this one item. WordPress is a great platform for building niche sites. A content site that grows over time could slowly target every variation of keyword, increasing your rankings as you do.
The great advantage of affiliate marketing is that once you’ve found that ideal product and that ideal audience you build from there, either tweaking your PPC campaigns, adding more products to your portfolio, adding content to your sites, or driving traffic from other sources such as social networks, youtube, or even offline (print ads, flyers, phone). Most of the effort involved in affiliate marketing is driving all this traffic. Some affiliate programs even increase commissions are you get more sales, and the top affiliates often benefit from one-to-one partnerships rather than fixed percentages.
Most marketers will start with affiliate marketing due to the ease of starting up. I won’t say it’s easy making a big income, but once you understand how it works there’s only really one way to go… up!
Finally, a popular affiliate site that sells digital products is Clickbank. You can often enjoy 50% commissions plus on products from here, since the seller has no real overheads other than providing their products digitally. Other websites even offer 100% commissions on digital products, usually direct from the site rather an affiliate network, since to the seller the value is not that initial sale, but rather the lifetime of the customer. All this is worth noting when you consider that affiliate marketing not only refers to you making sales as the affiliate, but the flip side – getting affiliates to sell for YOU…