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					Table of Contents
	
  

Introduction .......................................................................................................................3	
  

Chapter One .....................................................................................................................4	
  

       Back to Reality ..............................................................................................................4	
  

          Understanding Your Role ..........................................................................................4	
  

          A VERY Brief Look at SEO and PPC ........................................................................5	
  

          The Role of Planning .................................................................................................6	
  

Chapter Two .....................................................................................................................8	
  

       The Big Ten ..................................................................................................................8	
  

          A Quick Solution ........................................................................................................8	
  

          Management Mistakes ............................................................................................10	
  

          Marketing Mistakes .................................................................................................11	
  

          Money Mistakes ......................................................................................................12	
  




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Introduction
	
  
Affiliate programs are one of the most popular ways for people to earn a small “side
income.” When you are the owner or manager of a website, however, an affiliate
program can also be tremendously lucrative.

The problem is that they are “heavy” in terms of maintenance and management, and
they can often be a bit of a challenge if someone is not properly prepared. It is the lack
of preparation that tends to lead to trouble because it forces the manager to dedicate a
lot of time and attention in order to keep the affiliate program functioning, and this leads
to “burn out,” which results in the failure of the program.

This book is going to look at the ways that you might make some deadly mistakes in
your affiliate program, but also how to avoid them.

While no one will ever perish from the mistakes possible, the programs themselves
certainly can reach the end of their lifespan, and quite rapidly. Fortunately, most of the
mistakes appear in the earliest stages of the programs and can be due entirely to a
failure to make suitable plans.

We will cover all of the deadliest mistakes made in an affiliate program (or in its
creation), and we hope we can help you to steer your affiliate programs far out of harm’s
way!

	
  




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Chapter One

Back to Reality
You got into an affiliate market program because you were told about the massive
potential that they offer. This is absolutely true, but the REALITY is that these programs
are not care free or self-managing. This is one of the primary reasons that successful
programs tend to utilize an affiliate network to help with the management of such a
complex system as an affiliate program, and many have website managers and
specialized software to support them too.

Understanding Your Role
This means that it is hard work to run any sort of affiliate program as the “merchant”
involved. Do you know the various “roles” involved in an affiliate program?

For example:

   •   As the manager of the program, you will most often be called the “merchant”,
       even if you don’t technically sell things.

   •   Your “affiliates” are the folks who are seeking to help you to drive traffic to your
       site through the posting of links, banners or boxes, and special graphics on their
       own related sites.

   •   The “consumers” are the people who use those links and who can then be
       “converted” into leads or paying customers.

Within these three “roles,” a lot of mistakes can be made, and this often leads to failure
of the affiliate program. Let’s not confuse failure of the website with the downfall of the
affiliate program. However, let’s not also overlook the gravity of the issue. If you lose
out on the huge financial opportunities represented in the standard affiliate
program…well, it is a terrible shame! While it is a shame, it is not the end of the

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business. This means that one of the biggest mistakes that people make is to consider
the affiliate program MORE than the business!

#1 – The Biggest Mistake is a failure to build a strong business, and only then to
begin affiliate programs.

This means that we do not recommend that you roll up your sleeves and develop your
affiliate marketing program until you have done all of the hard work of getting the
business (or the content based website) up and running. We also do not suggest that
you begin the affiliate work until you have paid proper attention to SEO and PPC.

A VERY Brief Look at SEO and PPC
Perhaps you already know about SEO and PPC, but if not, it is vitally important that you
do so right now. This is because you cannot consider alternative methods of driving
traffic to your website (which is the fundamental reason behind any affiliate program)
until you have exhausted your opportunities for “organic” SEO and purchased PPC.

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” and it creates the most “organic” results
where search engine results are concerned. True SEO is done in many ways, but the
most common include:

   •   Identifying the strongest “keywords” for your industry, site, or products

   •   Embedding these terms in all headings, tags, and relevant text related to the
       primary website and HTML coding

   •   Relying on back links from other related sites

   •   Using social networking, blogs, and videos to enhance results

   •   Formatting the website in a way that makes it far easier for search engine
       “crawlers” to read it and index it accordingly




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This is a very dramatic summary of SEO, and you could easily spend weeks reading
about it, mastering it, and putting it to work for your site. Most professionals, however,
tend to work with SEO experts who can give them a bit of help with their efforts.

The experts tend to also suggest the best “paid for” methods of making a site highly
visible to relevant “traffic” (visitors), and this usually includes the PPCs.

PPC means “Pay Per Click” advertising, which indicates that it is unlike SEO and not
organic at all. As a website owner, you simply purchase ad space from the major search
engines (currently Google Adwords is the biggest name in PPC ads) and they place
your ads on pages that are directly related to them. For example, if your site sells
sneakers for women, the PPCs will appear in search engine results related to women’s
fitness, clothing, etc.

When you do a lot of SEO and partner it with PPC ads, it is likely that your site will
appear or “rank” highly in all search engine results.

The Role of Planning
By now, you can begin to see that proper SEO and PPC involve planning. Just as you
drafted a business plan or designed the content-based website, you need to spend this
time planning your online activities and directing effort towards marketing through SEO
and PPC.

It is only when you have really established the site, formalized the content, and gotten
good “footing” in managing these things that you can feasibly direct your attention to the
affiliate program.

Your work in SEO and website design will have gotten you good placement in relevant
searches. This means that you are also going to get attention from those who work, or
have sites, in related fields. You can simply apply all that you have learned about these
things to begin enhancing the amount of attention that the affiliate program can attract.
Soon, the people who are looking for information or products directly relating to your site
will run across the details relating to the affiliate program too!
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You will also be ready to advertise the program directly on your site as well, and will be
sure that the web page design incorporates a very bold and clear link to the affiliate
marketing area of the site. This is the point when ALL of that planning and preliminary
work will “kick in” and pay off big time!

Unfortunately, it is also where any gaps in planning will lead to problems. In the next
chapter, we look at the top ten issues that tend to appear if planning was not done, and
if certain choices were not made.




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Chapter Two

The Big Ten
This book is going to help you to avoid the top ten worst and deadliest errors that occur
in affiliate programs, and how you as the merchant/manager can easily avoid them. The
ten are split into common categories or headings based on the area of the business in
which they tend to occur.

For instance, there are:

   •   Management mistakes

   •   Marketing mistakes

   •   Money mistakes

Any of these can, sadly, lead to serious harm to the program. Some of them might
become such major issues that they bring the affiliate program to a quick end. The good
news is that you have total control of the issues and can prevent any of these things
from ever occurring.

A Quick Solution
Before we look at those ten issues, we’d like to take just a moment to point out that
there is a quick set of solutions to all of the problems about to be identified. While we
have already told you about the importance of planning in advance, we also have to
mention the use of affiliate networks.

What is an affiliate network? There is no short answer to the question, but they are,
fundamentally, websites that work as directories, which can guide interested parties
towards the kinds of affiliate opportunities that might be of the most interest to them.
Many people look for them as a way of finding an additional income stream, but the
ways that they can help affiliate managers are fairly substantial. This is because they
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tend to function as the traditional “middle man” in a business arrangement. They bring
the interested parties to the merchants who can provide them with the affiliate program,
but they then take on as many administrative functions as the merchant would like to
have handled.

For instance, they can:

   •   Recruit new affiliates

   •   Provide them with the entire “setup” process that includes any web page
       creation, URL creation, and customized link creation

   •   Track all of the activity directly related to any affiliate, including the number of
       visitors received through their links, the number of sales or leads generated, and
       even when any payments are due (and the amount)

   •   Generate reports for the merchant site in order to facilitate bookkeeping,
       management, etc.

What does this mean in financial terms to a merchant? It means that the merchant has
to share a percentage of any affiliate-generated profits with the network according to a
pre-arranged system. Usually, this is quite reasonable when compared with the
managerial and administrative expenses that would have been associated with the
affiliate manager doing the work independently or with additional professionals such as
IT specialists, website managers, and accountants or bookkeepers.

Consider too that the affiliate networks will provide the various “tools” that are required
for a successful affiliate program. These tools are the customized links that the affiliates
use at their sites in order to direct traffic to the merchant site. These will have to include
things like the special ID number for the affiliate, various links to pages and storefronts,
and more.




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Are we strongly advocating networks? If you can afford setup fees, we believe that
these are usually the simplest and most effective ways to avoid the Ten Deadliest
Mistakes.

Management Mistakes
Below are several mistakes that tend to be the result of ineffective management, poor
planning, or bad decisions.

   1. Not Managing the Entire Program to the Best Levels Possible – You may be
      doing the affiliate program on a DIY basis, or you may be relying on the help of
      some professionals. You may even be using an affiliate network as
      recommended above, but none of these choices means that you can allow the
      affiliate program to run on its own at any time. You have to be prepared to “check
      in” on the program on a daily basis and to handle regular managerial tasks to
      ensure efficiency.

   2. Canceling Inactive Affiliates – You need to understand from the very beginning
      that ALL affiliates matter. Whether someone seems to be working on their
      program or not, you must never close the proverbial door to possible leads,
      contacts, or visitors. By all means, create a system that communicates with an
      affiliate who has not shown any activity, but be aware it could be due to a
      problem with links, because the affiliate has not yet had time to do the initial
      work, or for many other valid reasons. The point is to NEVER cut them out of the
      process!

   3. Not Having a Terms of Service Arrangement – Any affiliate program has to very
      clearly itemize the terms of service. How much is paid? How many clicks are
      required? When will payments be sent? What are the terms of the contract?
      Remember that we have already said that a failure to plan is often the death knell
      of an affiliate program? Well, failure to do this basic type of legal documentation
      is much worse than a simple failure to plan, it is actually setting yourself up for

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       HUGE headaches. This means that the basic planning stages must incorporate
       the creation of all obligatory legal documents.

   4. Not Responding to Affiliate Questions – How do you feel about a company when
       they totally ignore you? Do you REALLY want an affiliate to view you in that
       same way? Probably not, and that is why you have to check in with the program
       every day, tackle all of the emails sent, and respond to any affiliates straight
       away. Remember, the question that they have could lead to a sale or lead, or it
       could identify a problem with your system and allow you to handle it before it
       grows out of proportion! It is also just good business to behave courteously
       towards colleagues!

Marketing Mistakes
You may be surprised by some of the marketing mistakes that can lead to the failure of
an affiliate plan, but each of them have been made in the past and with disastrous
results.

   5. Promoting the Affiliate Program NOT the Merchant Site – While you might have
       all kinds of enthusiasm about that affiliate program, and it may be your actual
       only official “job” within a company, if you notice that too many resources and too
       much attention is directed at the affiliate program…well, you’re headed for
       trouble. It is hard to be affiliated with any business if it is a flop or is not well
       marketed. This means that you must be realistic about the energy you give to the
       affiliate program because you cannot use it if the business is built on sand!

   6. Do Not Ignore the Value of Leads – One of the BIG marketing mistakes is to
       overlook the value of data. If you have a visitor to the site, you can eventually
       convert him or her to a customer. There are all kinds of statistics that show it can
       take from four to a dozen or more visits to a website before a visitor becomes a
       paying customer. This means that if you fail to gather the vital information for a
       “lead” (meaning name, address, email, etc.), it means you have actually failed
       altogether.
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   7. Failing to Pre-Sell – You might see that you are paying out a lot of money in
       affiliate commissions on leads, but your sales are not increasing. This is because
       you are not “pre-selling” the site or products accordingly. For instance, you create
       a strong landing page for the affiliate links, but what do you “do” with the visitors
       once they arrive? Unless you have pre-sold the goods, you will lose the potential
       sale.

Money Mistakes
There is nothing that can kill a business or affiliate program as fast as the
mismanagement of money. Here we can see the biggest affiliate program killers where
money is concerned, and all of them are easily avoided.

   8. Paying Affiliates Late – If you created Terms of Service and developed a formal
       affiliate program, it had to have included all of the specifics about the ways that
       your affiliates would be paid their commissions. This, however, does not mean
       that the document outlined what YOU would do with the monies generated from
       your affiliates’ hard work. What we suggest is that you never view any profits
       from affiliate programming as entirely yours. Instead, instantly reduce the
       percentage that you have guaranteed to the affiliates and set this aside in a fund,
       account, or other area where it cannot be used by accident or even intentionally.
       You can then pay them (or have the affiliate network pay them) directly out of this
       fund or account, and according to the terms that you provided when they joined
       your program.

   9. Not Having a Good Commission Rate – In the essential planning stages, we
       suggest that you find out what other related affiliate programs are paying their
       participants. We then suggest that you “plug” such numbers into your budget to
       see if they can work. For instance, you should know what it costs to get a client
       and to serve a client. This will let you understand how much you can reasonably
       afford to direct back to the affiliates for each sale, lead or enrollment they have
       provided.

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   10. Choosing the Wrong System – did you provide your affiliates with a “residual”
      system when it should have been a “tiered” system? The planning stages of any
      affiliate program will show you which of the two most common systems to use.
      For instance, if you are going to have visitors come to your site once through an
      affiliate link, and then use your homepage to “log in” in the future, you don’t want
      to pay a commission to that affiliate for future sales. You have to understand the
      nature of the traffic coming to your site through the affiliates, and only then can
      you choose the best system.

Though we have covered the most common blunders made in an affiliate program
management, there are certainly many more. We encourage you to plan, plan, and plan
some more before launching an affiliate program. It is only through SEO, market
research, and good planning that you will be able to create a system that rewards your
business or website, as well as those who help you promote it, through affiliate
marketing!




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