Affiliate marketing on its own is still one of the many ways people try to get into the “make money online” dream. A lifestyle dream is nice and some people make it work, but for the vast majority of folks, it is just a dream.
As a family owned business you can include affiliate marketing to supplement your business income and leverage your current marketing efforts to increase your ROI. There are however, a few important things to be wary of.
Affiliate Marketing in Layman’s Terms
The most common and simplest form of affiliate marketing works like the old referral system. Through some activity of yours, a person is referred to a product or service of another business, and they give you a kick-back. This can be accomplished online by putting a special “affiliate link” on your website. This link, when clicked, will drop a cookie on the computer of the web visitor who clicked. The visitor will then be redirected to the intended website, and if they buy something while the cookie is still active, you get credited for the sale. In some cases there is credit given for leads as well.
Consider then, if you have a website for your septic cleaning service, you know that no amount of persuasion will convince a DIY type of person not to at least TRY to fix their septic issue on their own first.
Here is a little tip on how to capture them as a potential customer AND make some money off them while they are still trying to fix the problem themselves:
1. The DIY person comes to your website because you have effectively used your business blog to attract them there with SEO or PPC.
2. The report they sign up for is “How to Fix Common Septic System Issue for the DIY Person” (now you have their contact information)
3. After they sign up for your report you can follow up with the report. In both the email and the report you refer them to a place they can purchase the magic solution that dissolves septic content rapidly.
4. When they buy the magic solution from the other company you get a percentage of the sale.
GOOD NEWS! This short process ensures you have the contact info of someone who has a septic issue, AND you made a few dollars while they work at fixing the problem themselves. Because you have their info you can stay in touch with them through the autoresponder sequence OR contact them direct. If you are helpful they will likely call you first if they are unable to fix their problem.
As mentioned earlier, cookies store the information on the visitors browser. Just like it recalls usernames and passwords it will also recall your affiliate ID when the person goes to the referred site.
This won’t work if the person has their browser set to not allow cookies.
You can also lose the sale if the person is shopping around and reading reviews on a particular product. This is another good reason to make sure your articles are top notch informative. By writing a compelling article it could be your link that was the last one they clicked. Also using the affiliate link in your followup emails and in the report will increase the likelihood their last click will be your link.
Usually affiliate cookies will be valid for a specified time period. How long your cookie is set for will be outlined in your “Affiliate Agreement” with the advertiser. Usually 30 – 60 days a cookie will be valid on your referral customers browser. This means that even if a person doesn’t make a purchase right away, you will still get the sale provided they purchase within the expiry period of the cookie.
How to Become an Affiliate
The procedure to becoming an affiliate is commonly a simple process. One mistake people make is they begin to apply to many networks to put links on their sites. It is better to take the time to plan what you want to do first.
Some affiliate companies are better than others and some are here today and gone tomorrow – with your commissions. Take the time to investigate who you are sending your customers to. Remember, you are making the referral and it WILL reflect on you. A customer, lead, even a visitor, should have a positive experience with your business website.
The larger companies that have been around for awhile have just about every niche you can imagine. Advertisers are lined up hoping to find an affiliate that will help bring in the customers. Of course the opposite is true too. There are some sneaky advertisers that will do a “bait and switch” with your affiliate links so you really have to stay on top of things. When you have a website with links, these links need to be checked on a regular basis. Make sure they are still live, going to the location you intended them to, AND – if they are still affiliate links.
The procedure of signing up usually just requires a step or two. First to sign up with the main affiliate company and the second part is to apply to an advertiser. Some companies do have their own affiliate system which will require further investigation.
Applications will ask for your name, company name, and the methods by which you plan to promote their business or products, and how you will be paid. Some affiliate companies make deposits to your PayPal account, mail cheques, and others deposit direct to your bank account.
Another method is to find a company you want to promote. Maybe you ran across them in your research or perhaps you just like their stuff. Whatever the reason, you can find out if they are set up to have affiliates by just doing a little digging around. Check on their website for a link that says either “affiliates” or “referral”. Or you can just send them an email using the contact information on their site.
Try searching for affiliate products related to your business by using one of the Search Engines and typing in their company website ie: companyilike.com + “affiliate” the search result might show you an affiliate page.
It is still common for to get an answer back from a potential advertiser I have contacted that says “a what?” “what’s an affiliate?” Not to worry, there is a way to capitalize on this too!
Getting Paid Your Affiliate Commissions
Being an affiliate adds to the bottom line of your business. As a result you need to have a means to get paid as well as disclose your tax information. There is and probably always will be an Underground Economy, but the tax hounds are closing in on affiliates and there are few ways to make affiliate money without having to report it. No one want to go to prison for tax evasion so in most cases, if you do not provide the necessary tax forms, you will not get paid. When you do get paid they will usually withhold the highest tax percentage.
Seasoned advertisers will supply you with “creatives” (pre-written ads) to put on your website. It is up to you if you want to use them or not.
Affiliate Marketing for the Beginner
Previously I mentioned it might be a good idea to NOT sign up willy-nilly to everything and anything. The first reason is because it will be more helpful to you, in the long run, to do a little research on what it is you want to promote. Make sure it is tied in well with your business.
Do you have the answers to these questions? How do you plan to promote? What is your purpose for wanting to promote these particular affiliate products anyway?
It will save you a tonne of time later on if you don’t have to re-do a bunch of affiliate links.
The second reason not to apply to everyone is because some of the more lucrative advertisers will start to reject your applications. They will inspect your website and may not want to have their product associated with another one you are promoting. Or, if they see you have affiliate links everywhere, it will be obvious to them than you don’t know what you are doing.
Affiliate Marketing Confusion & Power
I have seen people get romanced away from their core business with the promise of doing nothing and making a good living at it. I don’t know of anyone who has succeeded in the affiliate world who don’t work really hard at it. Many of them make their money selling the dream of making money doing little or nothing.
There are two ways to use affiliate links to help your business increase its income. The first was already touched on above. The second is to start tracking the data. You can use the affiliate links to effectively find out what people are buying so you can position yourself to sell them what they want. Information and data collection is where the real power lies.
In sales its a numbers game. There are ways to improve your odds at every juncture for sure, but the bottom line is – the more eyeballs that see your offer, the more sales you will make. This means you need to either bring the eyeballs to your offer, or get your offer out to the eyeballs.
If your offer is bad, or your pre-sell is bad, or your advertisement is bad, or your headline is bad, or, or, or, or… You won’t get any sales.
But not to worry, there is help here so you can get it all figured out.
Affiliate Marketing Powerful Tactic called the Pre-Sell
The pre-sell is like a review but where you give a more personal story regarding the product you are promoting. In the event of a septic cleaning product you can talk about how it worked for you. Remember the hard-nose DIY person probably won’t call until they have tried everything else first. Consider that you know of a product that will effectively help dissolve the sludge in the septic tank that could give a person an extra couple of months before they need it pumped out. Talk about it on your business blog. You are selling your services and also giving them a way NOT to call you, YET. They will be happy you have given them this option. In a couple of months when they can no longer put it off, there is a better chance they will call you!
Tell them a story about how it did work; for you, or a customer. A good story can go a long way when persuading someone to make a purchase.
Using hype or bold lies will eventually work against you. It might seem like you are just trying to be more encouraging but people become offended when they think they are being hoodwinked. Hype-y-ness will lose you a sale, and if they remember who YOU are, they won’t believe you the next time either.
Think of yourself more as a personal shopper. Your customer is someone who has a need and you have been tasked to fill that need.