The Ins and Outs of Affiliate Marketing Campaigns


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Learn More About Affiliate Marketing

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The Ins and Outs of Affiliate Marketing Campaigns

  1. 1. ==== ====Learn More About Affiliate Marketing ====Let the professionals help you... in mass:Affiliate marketing networks provide an environment where companies who have something to sell(Advertisers) meet with companies who know how to sell it (Publishers). Many large Affiliatemarketing networks provide hundreds of products to be sold to their network of thousands ofpublishers.Affiliate marketing networks generally work on a performance basis (CPA), where you only paywhen a sale or lead is generated for you. You receive a sale or lead at a predetermined cost andthen award the affiliate network with a bounty for generating the sale or lead for you. The Affiliatenetwork then pays their publishers for generating sales on your behalf, minus what the networkkeeps for itself for putting the deal together. This may sound similar to a shopping portal, howeverthere are some distinct differences. A shopping portal places your products in direct connectionwith the online shopper. Affiliate marketing networks place your products in direct connection withpublishers (marketing or media companies.) Each publisher will then use their own resources togenerate sales for you, be it PPC, SEO, email, banners and the like.Not every product or service will work with an affiliate marketing campaign, and many affiliatenetworks will not accept your offer unless certain criteria are met. The average website is not"marketing ready" for an affiliate marketing campaign, and often requires a redesign or a separatewebsite to allow for easy sales or lead conversions. Most sales lead generation campaigns workacross affiliate marketing networks as long as you are not trying to collect too much information, orinformation that makes your customers feel nervous such as a social security number. For productsales, you need to present a very attractive offer like "a free 7 day trial for a diet pill", "free servicesfor 1 month", or anything that can be considered a low risk bargain. An offer such as "a 42 inchplasma screen Television for only $1,597" will not work. As always, there are exceptions, and youmay need to work closely with your affiliate manager to produce a campaign that will be popularamongst the publishers.Due to the nature of the affiliate networks, they can be volatile and risky, and are notrecommended for any company until they have a lot of internet marketing experience under theirbelt. The overall sales potential of affiliate network marketing can be enormous, and any timegigantic sales numbers come into play, so do gigantic risks. Many affiliate networks have what areknown as "Super Affiliates" who have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars insales commissions each month. The volatility stems from both the marketing power availablethrough an affiliate network, along with the performance-based environment they provide.For the most part, the publishers who do the selling through the affiliate networks are greedy. Theywant to sell only the products and services that yield them the most revenue. It is their right, after
  2. 2. all, because they are working on a performance basis and assume all marketing risks. If a goodoffer comes across an affiliate network, where a lot of money can be made, many publishers willmarket the product and sales will come streaming in. If a product comes in that does not generategood, or at least acceptable, revenue for the publishers, they will chose to not market the productand sales will be almost nonexistent. It is difficult to find the right balance to satisfy all partiesinvolved (advertiser, publisher, affiliate network, and potential customer.) All parties must be happyin order to yield a successful affiliate campaign. The swing between a high performing campaignand an unpopular one can be tremendous. This volatility introduces significant risk, which comesin three flavors.Affiliate Network Marketing Risk:(1) Not enough businessYou have put significant time and resources into building an Affiliate marketing campaign. Youhave commissioned all types of marketing creative, website design and even bulked up your salesstaff. Despite this preparation, your offer is not a money maker for the publishers, and they are notmarketing your campaign. Your expenses have increased in anticipation of increased sales thatsimply never materialized.(2) Too much businessYou hit the nail on the head... Your offer is hot and the publishers love it. They love it so much thatsales flow in faster than you can handle. Your call center can handle 50 leads per day but thepublishers are generating 200. For each sale or lead made you must pay a commission whether ornot you can address it. You are literally downing in too much business, and your pocketbook canthold out long enough to expand accordingly.(3) CheatingYou didnt invest much effort in validating your sales or leads. Your affiliate marketing campaign isgenerating a lot of leads, but sales are not happening. You are receiving numerous disconnectedphone numbers, invalid credit card numbers or people who say "I only signed up for the free gift."Leads are coming in, but a bunch of crooked publishers are submitting fake information to get paidas if their data was real. Notice how that last lead had a Texas area code, their zip code was"12345," they stated they live in Alaska and gave you the credit card number"4444555544445555."Many Affiliate marketing networks will also ask if they can run your campaign exclusively. Thismeans that they are the only affiliate network that can provide your offer to the world. There aresome distinct advantages and disadvantages to running your campaign exclusively with onenetwork.Exclusive Affiliate network Campaign Advantages:Your Affiliate marketing campaign manager may pass your campaign on to other affiliatemarketing networks, and manage your account for you. This saves you considerable time by nothaving to seek out new networks, organizing campaign launches, marketing creative, and othertasks required to launch a new campaign.You will not have to pay startup fees or sign contracts for the affiliate marketing networks that youraffiliate manager passes your campaign on to. You simply work under your single agreement withyour affiliate manager. This can save you thousands of dollars in startup costs, and lots of time.
  3. 3. Affiliate marketing networks use exclusive campaigns as "bragging rights," and often give priorityto their exclusive campaigns. Your campaign is more likely to be advertised to the publishers andgiven special attention. This helps to get your campaign noticed by the publisher, and ultimatelyincreases sales or lead flow.Exclusive Affiliate network Disadvantages:Your campaign manager will outsource your campaign to other affiliate marketing networks. Youwill not know exactly who is marketing your offer and therefore the quality of the web traffic cominginto your website is unknown.Your affiliate manager may not be as ambitious as you. Your campaign may not get passed on toother affiliate marketing networks, and because it is an exclusive offer you cant pass it on to othernetworks. Growth may become stifled.The publishers who run your campaign through outsourced affiliate networks will not receive ashigh of a payout (sales commission). There are effectively two affiliate marketing networks: Yourdirect affiliate network and the outsourced network. More hands are in the pot, taking money andleaving less for the publishers themselves. The decreased publisher bounty with result indecreased interest in your campaign, so the outsourced affiliate marketing networks will not be asproductive as if you worked with them directly.Most affiliate networks will want to incorporate email marketing into your campaign. This isstrongly recommended, as sales or lead generation volumes could be significantly higher. If youdo allow your campaign to be email marketed, you will need to be able to maintain an emailsuppression list. The suppression list is a list of email addresses of people who want to opt-outfrom receiving your offer. An opt-out link must be provided on your email marketing creative wherepeople can opt-out from your offer. You must then supply the suppression file to your affiliatenetwork so they can in turn pass your suppression file to their publishers. This is a part of the Can-Spam law and it can be effectively managed with a small opt-out landing page connected to asimple database. Make sure you provide an updated suppression file to the affiliate networks atleast once per week.Launching affiliate marketing campaigns that convert:Your goal is to generate a campaign that puts the most money possible into your publisherspockets, while also generating a profit yourself. Keep in mind that a break-even campaign is also asuccessful campaign as long as you can re-market to your clients and generate additional sales,upgrades, etc.Design your campaign to maximize conversions. Minimize the clicks needed to purchase aproduct, or have your lead generation form on the home page. Dont collect information that youreally do not need, or that people do not like to give out (like an SSN.) You may have to build aunique website for the affiliate marketing campaign if your current website is not fine-tuned foraffiliate marketing.You are competing against all of the other campaigns on an affiliate network, not just ones sellingthe same thing you are. Publishers optimize the offers they market and drop the poor performingcampaigns. Design an offer that works both for you and your publishers; your affiliate managercan help.Make the steps necessary to allow your campaign to be email marketed by the publishers. This
  4. 4. means you will need to create Can-Spam compliant email marketing creative, an opt-out pagelinked to a database, and provide access to an updated suppression file (a text dump of yourdatabase suppression file.) Email marketing will significantly amplify your campaignseffectiveness.Develop a large selection of various marketing creative, lots of standard size banners, multipleemail creative, multiple email titles and subject lines, various text links and so on. Your affiliatemanager will provide you a list of critical media types and sizes, but try to provide more than theirminimum requirements.Stay on top of lead quality and fraud. No matter how advanced your validation system may get,someone will try to sneak fake data past you. Make sure that you can track all lead sources,including the subIDs that are passed on through the affiliate network.Every time you make a change to your website, submit a test to ensure that the affiliate campaignis still running as it should be. If your website has an error preventing sales conversions orintroduces tracking problems, you may be asked to pay the publishers for their lost business.Remember that your broken website will affect many companies who stuck their neck out for you.Be prepared for large volumes of leads, or no leads at all.The risks associated with affiliate network marketing are many, and they are significant. You mustbe on your toes, thinking ahead and quick to move if things turn sour. But if you come preparedand design an offer that the publishers love, the financial rewards can be enormous.About the Author:Chris W. Sharp is the founder and President of SharpNET Solutions, and industry leading Internetmarketing company since 1999. You can visit SharpNETs corporate website for additional articlesand Internet marketing services at Source: ====Learn More About Affiliate Marketing ====