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Developing and implementing an affiliate program is a marketing strategy employed by both larger and smaller online businesses. Not all online businesses appreciate the concept of paying commission to affiliates for sales that could have been made without them, but the benefits offered by cultivating an affiliate network is too substantial to be ignored.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a method of advertising utilized by many online businesses. Businesses and merchants develop marketing campaigns and pay affiliates to advertise those campaigns on their sites. The affiliates receive a commission for their services or a flat rate for any referrals. Most affiliate programs use special tracking codes and cookies to monitor traffic received from affiliates.

In addition to having affiliates, there are three major elements involved in affiliate marketing that can make or break a campaign. The most successful affiliate marketing campaigns have:

  1. Good Offers
  2. Strong Products
  3. Converting Website

When Should Affiliate Marketing Commence?

Affiliate marketing can commence the very day that an online business has the means to create a successful campaign. Having a good offer or multiple offers, along with a strong product or service, and a website from which to process sales is all that is necessary to begin a journey into affiliate marketing.

Why is Affiliate Marketing Necessary?

Large and small businesses have similar goals. In order to be successful they must:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Increase website traffic
  3. Increase online sales

The internet has transformed the world into a network of sites where anyone with a connection can buy nearly anything, almost anywhere, all with the click of a mouse button. Affiliate programs empower merchants and businesses by making them more visible. Visibility causes interest, and interest leads consumers to visit websites and purchase products.

Starting an Affiliate Marketing Campaign

Employing an affiliate program by forming direct partnerships with affiliates or joining established affiliate networks is a practical marketing strategy employed by some of the most successful companies worldwide. Companies choose to participate in affiliate marketing because the strategy works.

The easiest method to get started in affiliate marketing is to join a network such as Linkshare or Google Affiliate Network. Both networks provide tracking software, support, and commissions. Merchants and affiliates can both benefit from having a third party handle the transactions. These types of networks are well established with a large pool of affiliates to choose from, all ready, willing and able to market the products and services of network advertisers.

Costs involved in joining affiliate networks can vary. Businesses must perform due diligence in order to find networks that can best suit the businesses needs and finances. Finding an affiliate network that works isn’t too hard, and signing up is usually extremely easy and painless. Once a business is approved to begin attracting affiliates, the only work left to do is to offer an attractive commission and input links and banner images. It’s not hard, and most networks employ a step-by-step method to make things easier.

A word of warning, affiliate networks can make things easy for attracting affiliates, but they can make attracting the wrong type of affiliates easy too. Always check out affiliates and make the effort to approve affiliates manually. It’s better to be overly cautious than to partner with an affiliate who could cheat the system or damage a business’s reputation with malicious behavior.

Direct Partnerships are Beneficial

Businesses should consider using direct partnerships early in the game. Developing a relationship with an affiliate who has a website related to a product or service offered by a business is a huge asset. It can provide opportunities to test advertising and tailor offers to appeal to customer more effectively. It does take more work than joining an established affiliate network, but the rewards can be lucrative.

It’s best to consider affiliate marketing as soon as a business has developed its online presence. Attracting customers and establishing brand awareness are important factors in any business and should be engaged in from day one. Affiliate marketing is necessary for online businesses to be successful.