I've always been in favor of affiliate programs. I've seen them work. I've seen them turn Internet ventures into Internet empires.
The real question is how can you make them work for your business.
In this in-depth investigation, guest writer Holly Bentz takes a look at success stories and reveals some of the secrets of running an affiliate program that generates both traffic and SALES.
Nothing Happens Without
A Powerful Affiliate Program
Sure, a wonder-pill that produces traffic and profitability sounds like a perfect solution. But what would the side-affects of artificial traffic generation be? Unstable sales results. Non-targeted traffic. Unpredictable financial forecasting.
Alive and still pumping outrageous statistics into the counters of sites across the globe -- affiliate marketing remains a powerful viral being. It has worked for Amazon, Match.com, and Pay Pal to name a few. For Roy Oron of makelinks.com, "I'm nothing without my affiliates." According to Internet guru-genius Oron, the value of a good affiliate program is in the product and quality of its affiliates.
"I had 2000 affiliates who could not measure up to my one super affiliate," continues Oron. The number of affiliates member's means nothing if the affiliates are not producing sales. Therefore, it's pointless to boast about the number of affiliates in your program if they're not bringing you a high volume of sales.
In the Internet marketing industry, it's no secret that there are people like Ken Evoy, Marlon Sanders and Cory Rudl who create products. And there are professional marketers who promote and move these products. They are the top performers, super affiliates who make the affiliate network powerful.
What Makes an Affiliate Program so Powerful?
"A powerful affiliate program starts with a product that really works and not just another ebook on Internet marketing," says Oron, a magician-businessman turned Internet marketer extraordinaire. It has to be a win-win for all: the business owner, the affiliate and the customer. Additionally, a powerful affiliate program offers success tools for its affiliates.
A sales driven affiliate program provides a marketing strategy and complimentary learning tools to inspire and secure sales. For his affiliates, Oron provides creative ideas and innovative methods to sell the software that turned him into a millionaire.
Another Internet success genius, Simon Grabowski of getresponse.com equips his affiliates with a tracking counter. It's a way for affiliates to gage their success. A recent poll portrayed that affiliates who could monitor their success, were more goal-driven and successful.
"I pay my affiliates generous commissions because it is mutually beneficial," voices Oron. After Oron left the entertainment business and his television show, he teamed up with a software engineer. Together they distributed a world-renowned typing tutorial product. The software was available on shelves, globally -- in Germany, America, Spain, and Israel.
A risk taker with a vision, Oron saw the profitability of the Internet. His partner doubted that people would automate purchases online. After Oron and his business partner made their software accessible on the Internet, they watched their typingtips.com counter never move. The only people visiting their site were Oron and his wife.
Obsessed with succeeding, Oron began reading every ebook. He tried every software possible to jumpstart his traffic and stimulate his sales. Oron quickly learned that the Internet had its share of cons and people who had never succeeded at anything - let alone the Internet. However, Oron knew that Internet marketing was going to make him rich.
"We added shopping carts to our site. Then I started an affiliate program. I knew that I could get free advertising. I knew my product was outstanding. I just needed a way to sell it. I had to find people in my industry who specialized in selling my product," confides Oron.
And Oron was right. Once he streamlined his affiliate program, it became powerful. His web site traffic went from 2 visits a day - to current day visiting averages of 8,000.
Roy Oron's immediate success story was very simple. He had located the super affiliates in his industry. (Super affiliates make triple digits, daily.) For instance, one super affiliate would send Oron 3000 visits a day while another would send him 700 visits a day. Oron brags, "You multiply this type of traffic by 4 super affiliates and you have an insane amount of traffic and sales."
Roy Oron recently created affiliate software that does just one thing: It finds super affiliates in your industry. Very powerful. He calls it the "Super Affiliate Generator" (SAG). Here is my review of the SAG Business affiliate software.
How do you package a powerful affiliate program to attract super affiliates and affiliates, alike?
FOR THE BUSINESS/SUPPLIER
A powerful affiliate program makes everything EASY for the affiliate. So that means everything being a no-brainer. By providing the affiliates with marketing/selling tools, it's a turnkey business opportunity with 0 percent risk.
Power Building Marketing Tools
- Sales Letters/Autoresponders
- A free/complimentary eBook Report(s)
- Endorsement Letter(s)
- Bonus products and offers
- Shopping Carts
Equipping your affiliates with marketing tools is vital for your success. Customarily sending a monthly email about the best links and special offers is a good beginning, too. Fuel your affiliates with promotional ideas to use their marketing tools smarter.
FOR THE AFFILIATE
Time spent creating tools -- like letters and reports is time wasted. An affiliate program geared toward success will provide the tools for immediate profitability. (If you have to spend time writing and designing your marketing tools, then you are losing money.)
FOR THE BUSINESS/SUPPLIER
Breakdown your affiliate program into departments so that you can forecast your sales projections. In example, if you have 700 affiliates that you send $60-$100 checks to monthly, make this your turquoise level. For your median sales, label this group Topaz. And for your super affiliates, call them your diamond club. (To better identify your super affiliates, they are the few affiliates who generate 80 percent of your traffic.)
After you have departmentalized your affiliate program, you can plan the growth of each level. In example, if you have 6 diamonds, you can figure an additional 60-80 new turquoise affiliates. For your Topaz group, you need to offer commission incentives to get them into the Diamond club.
To leverage your sites growth, send an email to your turquoise group. The premise of the email is to direct your affiliates to study their traffic patterns. Are they getting traffic without the click-thrus? Or, are they getting lots of clicks and not a lot of action? Obviously, whichever they AREN'T getting means they need to make some modifications to their sales presentation. (If you have the time send a personal email advising them on how to actualize their success.)
Another stellar affiliate incentive is a multi-tiered residual commission structure. This is one of the best ways for average affiliates to recruit super affiliates. (For the business owner: Use your turquoise affiliate to recruit other affiliates who will produce mega-sales. Tiered affiliate programs are a win-win for the affiliate and the business owner.
FOR THE AFFILIATE
A tiered payment structure, for the affiliate means that he/she is always getting paid for their hard work. (Why shouldn't an affiliate be entitled to the commission of an affiliate that they recruited?)
FOR THE BUSINESS/SUPPLIER
Pad their commissions. 50-60% is the ideal commission for a super affiliate. Obviously, when affiliates are paid generously, they are inspired to continue to produce. For professional affiliates, money rules -- their commissions are their livelihood.
Get Personal. Powerful affiliate marketing is all about relationships. Internet marketing may seem impersonal; however, nothing secures a business relationship better than personal interaction. If you treat your affiliates and super affiliates like a robot, don't expect any more or any less. Treat them more like ROIbots. (A return on your investment.) Coaching your affiliates in a personal email is an invaluable way to show your appreciation for your affiliates achievements.
In other words, visit your affiliates sites, specify ways they can earn more with you, ask them about your shared customers feedback, and offer contest incentives.
Holly hits the nail on the head. You obviously can't get personal with each one of your 1000 affiliates, but make an effort to build relationships with the top affiliates. Here at Pandecta we have 3 super affiliates that I write to at least weekly. Don't annoy your super affiliates by selling to them. Just talk to them about sales strategies (and occasionally about the weather) and LISTEN to them. Find out what they want and go out of your way to provide it.
Payout Rapidly. To insure that affiliates continue to promote products, it is imperative that they are paid in a prompt fashion. Accommodate your super affiliates. Their sales volume is worth the trade-off.
(Constant tardy payment is a red flag for financial difficulties.)
FOR THE AFFILIATE
On the other side of the coin, if you belong to an affiliate program and you're constantly checking your mailbox or Pay Pal account, then you need to look for an affiliate program that will remit payment, promptly.
For a reference of examples of powerful affiliate programs review the following web sites:
The above web sites command a high level of traffic and sales. They offer excellent affiliate opportunities chock full of all the right marketing tools.
Of course that traffic wonder pill could do something for your web site - like make it load faster. Unfortunately, it's not the foundation of affiliate marketing and mega sales. In fact, if it was created tomorrow, it would never be the cure-all for sales growth -- because nothing happens without affiliates.
Holly Bentz is one of the premier copywriters of Internet marketing. With over 8 years of film and media production, her expertise in providing truthful marketing copy is her specialty. Visit her at http://www.fruitionmedia.net to check on her latest specials and E-books.
Related articles on this site:
One of our favorite affiliate programs
Pandecta Magazine's experimental affiliate sites
Review of the SAG Business super affiliate software