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Crash Course To Affiliate Marketing

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Crash Course To Affiliate Marketing Powered By Docstoc
					Copyright: George Cozma

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       This report contains the introduction and the first chapter from a book that never
came to light and from a contract that went awfully wrong. Given that I found myself
with an unfinished book on my hands, it made sense to make something good out of it
and make it available to the general public.

       If you want commercial republishing rights for this report (rights to resell, modify
and make available without attribution), a flat fee of 50 dollars is required, payable
through RentACoder. You will receive the editable Word document together with the
aforementioned rights.

      If you are interested in further helping to develop the work, I am willing to pick
up where I left and continue to write the e-book, following a successful price negotiation.
 Crash Course to
Affiliate Marketing
                                        Introduction


        Question: What is the simplest and most fool proof way of attracting traffic to
your website? The answer that you have in mind is the wrong one. The way to
accomplish this task is much simpler. You print the website’s name on your t-shirt than
go on and bang on every door in your neighborhood urging the people to enter your site
and paying one buck if they do so. Of course, this isn’t exactly what most webmasters do
and there are plenty of reasons for it. First of all, this technique is very labor intensive,
second of all you would become your neighborhood’s freak, third of all you can only
reach that many houses or flats within a single day, next you would soon become broke
and thus finally the amount of traffic you would receive wouldn’t be exactly something to
be proud of. Not to mention that it is very likely that you will obtain a few restraining
orders in the process.

       The First Lesson

         This hypothetic scenario does teach us however about the basics of generating
traffic. What is simple is not necessary easy and effective, you only have a limited
amount of time/money at your disposal to accomplish this task, the amount of traffic
received per unit of time/money should be as high as possible and traffic generation
techniques should ideally be of the residual type. What does residual traffic mean? Well,
the term has been coined right now under your very nose, but the principle behind it is
rock solid. Basically a residual traffic technique will continue to generate traffic long
after the mechanism has been set into place, without further investment of time/money.
Its opposite is what I call flashflood traffic techniques which naturally generate traffic for
a very short amount of time or ongoing only for as long as time/money is invested.

      Sounds simple enough, but the devil is in the details. Let me give you 2 quick
examples that will show you clearly how the two types of traffic differ:

       1)         Imagine that you just bought a permanent link on a blogroll (the
                  collection of links found usually on the right side on a blog). Of course
                  the amount of traffic you will receive won’t be too consistent (unless it
                  is a very popular one), but the traffic will keep on coming for months if
                  not years, not to mention that the link will also get you some attention
                  from the search engines. This is a clear example of a residual traffic
                  technique.

       2)         Now imagine a different scenario. You have an article dealing with a
                  very controversial topic posted on Digg. Before you know it, your
                  servers can barely keep up, as the story made it to the front page. A
                  week later however, the traffic from Digg has stopped to a grinding
                  halt. Now this is an extreme example of flashflood traffic. Of course the
                  situation is not that simple if you think further. The story might be
                    picked up on forums or blogs, and the link to your website will remain
                    in place, but that’s already a different matter.

        This is basically how you will learn to quickly evaluate any traffic technique.
 Again here is the list that highlights these factors:

         1)         What’s the amount of time/money required

         2)         What amount of traffic will you obtain per unit of time/money

         3)         What type of traffic (residual/flashflood) does the technique generate

         4)         Are there any hidden benefits or problems?



                                        Affiliate Traffic



        The world of affiliate traffic is one full of misconceptions. So before I even start
 explaining in more detail, I will first point out what affiliate traffic ISN’T.


         1)        Setting an effective affiliate traffic program is not easy

         2)        Setting an affiliate traffic program alone, won’t bring you any sizable
                   amount of traffic. You will still have to promote your program through
                   other means in order to make it effective

         3)        Web surfers are not mindless simpletons that will buy anything if you
                   scream out how good your product is. You must avoid over hype and
                   build credibility

         4)        Most web surfers are reluctant to click an affiliate link/banner, if they
                   are aware of it.

         5)        There are no shortcuts. Affiliate traffic is one of the most labor intensive
                   techniques available, but is also potentially one of the most effective.
                   And no, this does not necessarily concern the actual affiliate platform
                   development, but rather the promotion.

         With these issues cleared, it is also important to realize that affiliate marketing is
perhaps one of the most effective tools that you have at your disposal to generate traffic
and sales, but again only when used in conjunction with other traffic generation methods.
Why sales? Because in traditional affiliate marketing, the traffic generated is only a side
issue, the main focus is on the sales figure. The traffic you might get can be relatively low,
but the conversion to sales is fantastic.

          Programs that encourage users to only subscribe to a newsletter, sign up to a
community or a forum and are not intended to immediately generate sales are not
considered to be part of affiliate marketing part, but part of PPA (pay per action)
campaigns which require a very different strategy and will thus be treated extensively in a
separate chapter. However attempting to capture e-mails or sign ups to further leverage
future sales is a technique used widely in conjunction with affiliate marketing, so do make
sure that you read the chapters on PPA and e-mail traffic/marketing

           Affiliate traffic is thus suited only to those cases which seek a direct conversion of
traffic to sales. Now there are two sides to this story. You might be either interested to
become an affiliate or sell your product through an affiliate program. Now the first case
doesn’t exactly concern traffic generation, but it is an issue you must be familiar with in
order to make your affiliate program that you manage actually work and of course if you
are interested in becoming an affiliate in order to properly monetize your traffic. Either
way, it is definitely a must read.

         Why doesn’t anybody click my links?
         The affiliate side of the story.

           If you have ever tried to make some money with affiliate marketing, by selling
affiliate products more exactly, that’s the question that nags you the most. This happened
most likely because you tried to apply blindly some sort of success recipe and you
considered that doing things only halfway through is enough. There are virtually endless
possibilities in which you could go about and generate income by manipulating visitors to
exit via the affiliate links, but each and every one of them must be done right in order to
have any sizable effect.

          The first question you should ask yourself is a very sensible one. Would you buy
the product that you are promoting? This is a key part, because the answer is most likely
NO. Why wouldn’t you buy the product? Is it because the product itself is of low quality?
Is the language used to promote it too full of hype? Do you have an aversion towards the
format in which the offer is available? Would you have a problem buying a product from
someone who is a mere middleman and not actually the manufacturer of the product?
These are the questions that hold the key to a more effective type of affiliate marketing.

         Let’s take each issue, one at a time:

         -   STEP 1 Picking the right product.

         The best affiliate product to sell that you will find is the one that you are familiar
 with. Forget the “hot” cliché. Anything can be sold if there is a niche to it and although
 the niche itself might be small, the competition itself will also be smaller. If you have an
 expertise in a certain field and you pick a product related to that field, you will have a
huge edge. Why? Because you will be able to understand your readers and thus act
accordingly. You will also be able to instantly recognize a quality product from the low
quality crowd and that will count a lot later on. In the long term, as time goes by and you
attract more traffic, you can build up a portfolio of affiliate products to sell to your
existing customers. The basic idea is to find a customer niche which you understand and
which you know how to cater to, thus being able to choose the right products for it.

        -   STEP 2 The death of the sales letter OR what format to choose

         Quite a scary title, eh? It was coined by Michel Fortin to acknowledge the shift
from classical sales approach to a Web 2.0 type of approach. Now of course, the sales
letter isn’t quite dead yet. On the contrary, based on how many of them are on the web,
you could easily say that the sales letter reached its peak. But this is not the issue we are
after. We need to know if sales letters are effective when it comes to promoting affiliate
products. And the straight answer is… sort of. Each technique has its own uses and used
right it can be extremely effective. Sales letters are perfectly acceptable if you are for
example selling seats at a conference about viral marketing or an info-product, even if
only because this is what the readers expect and react to.

        Generally speaking though, there are a lot of approaches available to sell. Put
yourself the next question: Why are people browsing the web? A consistent percentage
are indeed out there looking for a solution to a problem or simply looking for something
to buy, but most of them are only looking for general information and human interaction.
A sales letter thus although attractive to the first category does not deliver to the second
category of people. So the basic approach should be to cater primarily to the first
category and if possible to the second. Sell, solve, inform, interact. Basically you have a
choice: sales letter vs content website. Catering to a small, very likely to buy community
vs catering to a large, less likely to buy community.

        -   Choice 1: The sales letter

        The sales letter has both advantages and disadvantages. Its use is most effective
when used to sell info products or products which target a niche accustomed to this
format. Typically long sales letters tend to be more effective with “older” people, 23-25
years or above and less effective with the younger ones. Why is this happening? Well…
the sales letter format is actually a very old one and its transition to the online format
carries with it the advertising culture that created it, younger people are less accustomed
to the direct mail type of advertising culture and will thus be less likely to react to it.

       But what should you do when you try to sell info-products to youngsters? Let’s
say a guide to repair an Xbox 360. Well, a sales letter is still the best choice, but its length
should be considerably smaller and the whole copy should be straight to the point.

        So what are the advantages of the sales letter:
       •        There are no distractions. The sales pitch is all that there is to it and as
                the reader progresses and reads the copy, no exit points can be found on
                the page that he or she could follow. This means that if someone actually
                reads it the only choice faced will be whether to buy or not to buy,
                greatly increasing thus the conversion ratio.

       •        The SEO effort must only be directed at a single page.

       •        It takes relatively little time to develop

       As for the disadvantages:

       •        Some readers despite their purpose to buy or seek a solution have an
                aversion towards sales letters.

       •        You can only target that many keywords for SEO purposes and thus the
                keyword strategy must be chosen wisely.

       •        Some methods of promotion and traffic generation will be unavailable
                due to the inherent commercial purpose of the format.

       •        The format does not allow further development. If you want to sell
                additional products, you will have to make a new website.

        If you choose the sales letter format, you must be aware of the advantages and
limitations that it has and also actively seek remedies to alleviate the problems and
approaches to maximize the advantages. For example, you could use a template which is
more similar to a traditional website if your niche includes mostly people with an
adversity towards the format, you should get quality copy and possibly include
multimedia elements to increase the conversion ratio and you should also pursue as many
as possible traffic generating venues available to commercial websites.

       -        Choice 2. The general content website

        The general content website is pretty much a vague term. Several years ago it
would have meant a simple static site containing some articles/reviews. Nowadays with
the introduction of Web 2.0 there is a great variety of sub-formats which you can choose.
At the core of all this variety though lies the continuous quest to generate a more
interactive experience. Whether you are talking about the blog, forum or social network
features the ultimate purpose is the same.

       •        Make sure that your website has loads of content. Not all pages need to
                have affiliate links in them, but ideally all should have interesting
                content.
       •         As far as content goes you could cover industry news, new website
                 features, reviews of products (obviously), cover stories, “how to”
                 practical guides and so on.

       •         The ways to provide interactivity are extremely diverse. You can
                 conduct polls, you can run a blog, you can open a forum, you can use an
                 open source social networking platform such as Pligg (www.pligg.com)
                 to allow users to vote their favorite stories or submit their own, you can
                 run contests and so on..

         Now this sounds like a lot of work for only selling one product. Now who said
that you should only sell one? That’s the beauty of it. You can sell a whole array of
products if they are linked in a way or another to the expertise you have and the niche
you are serving. You might also choose additional monetization venues. Diversification
is the real name of the game.

        But there is another advantage to full fledged websites compared to sales letter
sites. The number of pages. This is an extremely important factor when it comes to search
engine optimization (as you will learn later on). What you need to keep in mind now is
the fact that the more pages are in a website, the better and you simply can’t achieve that
with a traditional sales letter.

        What other advantages does the humble website carry? Quite a lot of them
actually. Because the ability to mix different writing styles, instead of just sales pitch also
means that you have access to traffic generating techniques that a sales letter website
webmaster couldn’t even dream of. Can you imagine a sales page website on the first
page of Digg? Or discussed on forums and blogs? Or even successfully marketed via a
press release? I have a hard time imagining that. The array of methods available is simply
miles ahead for your good old, trusty website.

       -   STEP 3 Honesty sells OR how to present the product/s

         Over hype is a plague that is currently devouring the world of affiliate marketing.
It is also terribly ineffective. Let’s take an example. Suppose that you are selling
wrenches. Now take the two following approaches:

        Wow!!!!! This is the wrench that will change your life!!! It is the “bestest” of best.
You will never need another wrench again, ever. Wow. Such a great wrench! Buy it now!
It used to cost 1200$, but now you can buy it for only 5$. 1195$ saved is 1195$ earned.
You are actually winning MONEY. Buy this wrench NOW!

       And the second approach:

       The wrench is made of titanium-steel alloy and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It
has an adjustable head which allows it to be used for just about any imaginable bolt in
existence. The wrench comes at a reasonable price tag of 5 dollars. Click here to order.
The price does not include shipping.

         Now I strongly wish that the first example were a joke. About half of the sales
letters on the web are made this way. Yet it is painfully obvious that the second approach
will sell better. Further still, if you take the time to review the product thoroughly and
write honestly about it, you will make sales. That however will only happen if you
choose a quality product which comes at a fair price. This is all that there is to it. Honesty
and straightforward talk work better than hype.

     -    STEP 4 I’m not clicking that Or how to deal with affiliate links

        A major problem which you will face when dealing with affiliate links is the
reluctance that people have… well… to follow them.

        WARNING: Some of the techniques presented below might be considered in
certain circumstances to be black hat. These instances will be marked as such and the
dangers associated with them clearly presented.

        There are several techniques available to bypass this issue, varying in
effectiveness and amount of time/work necessary. Just to give you a complete rundown I
will not skip any of them. In the end you will probably stick to the last one presented, but
it is important to know the alternatives:

         1)       Be straightforward about it. Acknowledge that the link presented is of
                  the affiliate type. It’s that honesty factor all over again. In some cases,
                  this can work wonders and in other you can experience a backlash. The
                  thumb rule is: if your visitors are familiar with what affiliate marketing
                  is and are actually OK with it, this is the method to pursue

         2)       Use anchor text distraction. The least effective of the methods
                  described here, but very easy to implement and relatively benign. The
                  basic psychological mechanism behind it, is that people will not check
                  the actual link if the anchor text seems trustworthy enough. So if the
                  actual link is http://www.somesite.com/?ref=me, you can use an anchor
                  text that reads http://www.somesite.com. Most people will never check
                  the link itself, if they think that the anchor text is actually the link.
                  However this method can lead to a backlash if discovered, so there
                  aren’t any real advantages to it except the easiness with which it can be
                  implemented.

         3)       JavaScript link obfuscation. Although the method itself is not
                  controversial, its use in black hat SEO techniques (for creating the so
                  called invisible links) and phishing websites (which always employ
                  some sort of link cloaking), may lead to problems later on, so this
                  method really isn’t recommended unless you really don’t have any
                  alternatives. How does it work? Well through the usage of a JavaScript
                  snippet, you can control what is displayed in the address bar where you
                  would normally see the link, when the user hovers with the mouse on
                  the link. The exact code comes as it follows

                  <a href="http://www.affiliatesite.com"
                  onclick="parent.location.href=’http://www.affiliatesite.com/?ref=me’;
                  return event.returnValue=false">Click here</a>

         4)       Redirects. The most effective of the methods presented it is also the
                  most laborious one. The basic idea is to create an intermediate page,
                  which when reached will automatically guide the reader to the affiliate
                  page. This can be achieved through a variety of platforms: plain HTML,
                  PHP or ASP. Presented below is the methodology for plain HTML. The
                  code present in the intermediary page is at is follows:

                  <HTML><HEAD><TITLE>Hop page</TITLE> <meta
                  http-equiv="refresh" content="0;
                  url=http://www.affiliatepage.com/ref=me">
                  <HEAD> <BODY>Loading</BODY> </HTML>

                  Why is this method less controversial? Because the link to the
                  intermediary page is completely visible (no use for black hat SEO) and
                  the link will point to a page on an owned website which will then
                  forward to an external website (the opposite of how phishing schemes
                  work).

                  On the long run this technique will also pay up as it makes the multiple
                  link management process much easier. You could have for example 10
                  such intermediary pages and edit them according to the offers you are
                  presenting, modifying them accordingly as you change the promoted
                  products.

        Obviously each of the methods presented, except the first one, at least from a
visitor’s perspective, seem dishonest. This is something that you will have to live with
and is in fact an integral part of being successful in the affiliate world. However given the
benefits that link cloaking/ redirecting has it is definitely wise to use it. You will avoid
getting your affiliate commissions stolen, it will keep the array of products that yopu
promote at a reasonable level, it will make the outgoing links look more tidy and you will
get a better conversion rate.

        Of course, you could just as easily ignore this chapter, but as someone used to
say: “Ignore it at your own risk”

     -    STEP 5 Promote, promote, promote
        Somebody once said that opening a website is like opening a store in the middle
of the desert. The land is dirt cheap, but there are no customers in sight. This is true for
any start up website, not just affiliate ones. This means that your quest for traffic should
never end. You should also employ a diverse array of traffic gathering techniques. That
diversification mantra again. The more diverse, the better. Fortunately, you are reading
the right book and by the end of it, you will know what you have to do.

         The pains of being an affiliate manager

      Once you start considering promoting your products with the help of an affiliate
program, a choice emerges:

         A)        You can choose to develop your own in-house affiliate program from
                   ground up.

         B)        You can choose to use a third party affiliate platform such as ClickBank
                   (http://www.clickbank.com) or Commission Junction
                   (http://www.cj.com)

       Both approaches are valid and each of them has its unique advantages and
disadvantages, so obviously each of them will get a complete rundown.

     -       CHOICE 1 It’s on the house OR building an affiliate program from ground
             up

         STEP 1: The Software Dilemma

        Building the affiliate program from ground up is in itself a very challenging task.
It requires a great deal of effort and promotion, but it also has some important perks
along the way.

       The first hurdle you will encounter is the affiliate platform development. Here
you have 4 possible alternatives:

         •         Develop the platform yourself. Probably the most effective route, this
                   requires however some serious software development skills and a great
                   deal of time. If that’s something you simply don’t have, you should use
                   one of the alternatives.

         •         Outsource the development process. The costly way to handle this job,
                   this involves hiring a programmer to take care of the problem for you.
                   Now of course this approach has its own downsides and risks. If you
                   want to pursue this venue make sure that you read the “How to
                   outsource effectively” chapter first.
       •         Use a free/open source affiliate software. Free affiliate scripts can be
                 found pretty easy on the web. The problem usually is however, that they
                 are not of the highest quality you could think of. Further still these
                 packages will almost always require some degree of customization,
                 which brings us back to the first 2 points. The amount of time/money
                 required though decreases drastically. The best place to find such a
                 script is on Hot Scripts (http://www.hotscripts.com). They literally have
                 hundreds of free PHP affiliate scripts available there, so you can easily
                 make your choice. If on the other hand you prefer ASP as the
                 development language ASPin (http://www.aspin.com) could also work

       •         Buy an affiliate software. Probably the most expensive option, it is also
                 the most reliable as these packages also include support and installation,
                 which will probably come very handy later on. As for the alternatives
                 available PostAffiliatePro (http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro)
                 is widely considered the leader on the market, with IDevAffiliate
                 (http://www.idevdirect.com/idevaffiliate.php) being close behind.

       STEP 2: Deciding on the program’s software

       With this issue covered, the next step is to set up the affiliate structure and create
marketing materials for affiliates.

       The affiliate structure falls in one of the two categories:

       •         1 tier affiliate structure. The simplest approach of the two, this means
                 that you pay a commission for every sale or lead that your affiliates will
                 generate. Your affiliates will ONLY be promoting and selling your
                 product.

       •         2 tier affiliate structure. A more complex model, this structure separates
                 your affiliates in 2 categories: those who actually sell and those who
                 attract other affiliates. The first tier (those who attract affiliates) get a
                 percentage of what the affiliates signed under them sell, while the
                 second tier are those doing the grunt work and selling.

        Each of the approaches presented above is equally valid. The first one works best
if you have access to a large pool of potential affiliates and you want to keep it simple,
while the second works best if you have access only to a few, but very active affiliate
marketers and you don’t mind some extra complexity.

       STEP 3: Choosing the structure of the commission

        The second part of the commission structure is well, the percentage you are
willing to give. There are no strict rules here: a higher percentage means that you will
have more affiliates, while a smaller one brings more profit per sale, or at least this is
what conventional wisdom tells you. It’s basically a balancing act. To get a proper outline
of what to offer, a good idea is to check what the competition is doing.

        Going beyond the conventional wisdom though, you can offer extremely high
percentages. How? A single word. Upselling. What does upselling mean? It’s quite easy
actually. In the moment that you manage a sale you will automatically obtain various
details from the customer like an e-mail address or physical address and since the
customer already trust you as a retailer it will be much easier to sell additional products
for which you won’t have to pay a single cent in affiliate commissions. For this you will
have to develop multiple related products, a serious e-mail delivery system and you have
to be careful not to trigger a backlash, for more details please visit the e-mail
traffic/marketing chapter.

       STEP 4: Attracting affiliates

       By now you should have a fully functioning affiliate program, albeit not a very
successful one. The hardest and most interesting part is merely starting. How do you
convince online entrepreneurs to sell your product?

       Choice 1: Hiring an affiliate manager

       The simplest answer you can get to this question is: Hire an affiliate manager!
These guys however don’t come cheap and especially for start up entrepreneurs they
might be prohibitively expensive. They are worth every buck they get though. This is
because they have the know-how and they also have the contacts to get your affiliate
program producing profit in a much shorter period than you could possibly achieve on
your own.

         The best place to hire affiliate managers is through the forums dedicated to the
affiliate world or through sites specialized in intermediating freelance work (please refer
to the outsourcing section for more details). As a rule of thumb you should always ask for
proof of their previous performance and also clearly establish their goals and
responsibilities.

       Choice 2: Promoting the program on your own

       Of course you could also meet the challenge head on and try to obtain some
decent affiliates yourself.

       STEP 1: Get to know your market

        The first thing you should obtain prior to choosing this path is a list of places
where your potential affiliates congregate. Obviously the forums specialized in affiliate
deals are your best bet, but you could also try out larger, less specific forums dedicated to
online business in general. Once you have developed this list it is the time to make your
offer attractive.
       STEP 2: Making your program attractive to affiliates

        How? Well, make sure that your affiliates will not face more problems than
necessary. This means that the affiliate links should be easy to obtain, the registration
process should be quick and that the marketing materials at their disposal are diverse and
effective. Try following the next checklist to make sure of this:

       1.      The affiliate link that should be used should be visible in a friendly
               copy/paste format within the main page of the affiliate account.

       2.      The registration process should be separated into 2 parts. The initial stage
               which will not require any personal details from the affiliates, just a valid
               e-mail address and setting up the affiliate account (username, password,
               affiliate link). The second part should include all the necessary details
               required for the affiliate to receive his/ hers commission. This strategy will
               ensure that affiliates will get into the program quickly and if they manage
               to obtain some sales they will voluntarily add more consistent details to
               their account in order to get their payment.

       3.      The marketing materials should range from banners to PLR (private label
               rights) articles and sales copy. While the first is easy to understand, the
               second involves creating text which the affiliates can modify any way they
               want as long as they are promoting your product. This will ensure that you
               will attract a much more consistent click through rate and you will also
               attract more affiliates as they will be less reluctant to join your program
               since their amount of effort will substantially decrease.

       STEP 3: Promoting your affiliate program

        With the list of places available to promote and a decent affiliate program you are
now ready to finally make contact with potential affiliates. Now since these forums you
are going to use are probably new to you, you should make sure first to find out the
proper sub forum where to advertise your program. When describing your offer make
sure that you use a catchy title, but keep the message itself short and to the point.

        Fair and square so far, but what should the message contain? Obviously, the terms
of the program, percentage, structure and the type of niches that support the program. But
there is more to it. In order to have a successful thread in a forum you must have some
sort of conversation. If your post goes unanswered, in a matter of hours it will get
knocked off the first page and almost nobody will read it. This is the part where a bit of
social engineering would help.

       What are the alternatives?
       1.      You can ask some of your friends to ask questions in that thread and you
               can thus kick-start a conversation. Try to keep it natural: no “wow, this
               program is great” sort of replies, but rather “I’m interested, but I want to
               know if your program supports Paypal”, “How often do the pay offs
               come?” or “I have a website specialized in x, do you think that your
               product would be suitable for my site?” and so on. Be creative! As a rule
               of thumb you should avoid creating multiple accounts and rely on real
               persons to make the thread alive.

       2.      You can condition the entry in the affiliate program on a reply in the
               thread. For example, you could use an angle like “We are starting an
               affiliate program and the first 30 people who reply here will get the chance
               to get a preview.”

       3.      You can pay your way to get attention. This entails a contact with the
               forum admin prior to making a post and buying the endorsement of the
               forum owner and possibly the making of the affiliate program as a sticky
               thread, also ideally the thread should be created by the admin itself as it
               will definitely get much more attention this way. There are no rules
               concerning price here, so it always pays off to contact these admins, also
               the price is not always fixed so don’t be afraid to haggle a bit.

        Of course you can mix these strategies, depending on the specific situation you
are in, but basically this strategy should ensure a healthy affiliate population when you
start.

       STEP 4: Making your affiliates more effective

       Never overestimate your affiliates: some of them might be internet marketing
savvy, but really helpless when it comes to the technical part or the other way around.
Always make sure to give council to your affiliates, so they avoid making costly
mistakes. This means making them aware of the best choices available to them.

         A couple of articles in the affiliate section of your website highlighting the best
options would be highly recommendable and if you have the time you could also use a
newsletter system to send off weekly tips. The latter will also be effective in keeping your
affiliates active since there are many members in the affiliate scene who only try a
program for a short time and then move on to another.

       STEP 5: Increasing your affiliate base and quality over time

         The promotion of your affiliate program should never stop. I know that it is easy
to rest on your laurels once the first affiliates sign up, but you must press on. Those
threads you started in those forums should be updated as often as possible and you should
encourage your affiliates to put their genuine questions and achievements there. What
will this achieve? Well, your program will gain in credibility and exposure and if the
level of attention is high enough you might have the surprise of seeing some of the big
league players joining your program.

        As your sales mount up however, you will also gain access to a second category
of potential affiliates: your customers. There are several marketing gurus out there (like
Armand Morin) who use this base exclusively and also use it as a selling point. For
example in order to sell places to a seminar (where a ticket was worth around 3000$) this
guy only allowed referred buyers and these referrals were only obtainable from previous
seminar attendees. The affiliate commission was somewhere at around 50% and in the
price came the firm guarantee that for the next seminar those buying will be able to
become affiliate sellers. Very nice trick there. As far as I know this guy always sells
100% of the places available. Now you do the math.

        Of course this sort of technique might not work in all the circumstances, but it is
always worth the effort to look at your customer base with a fresh perspective and look
for potential hidden strategies which might yield consistently higher returns.

       STEP 6: Building further on your successes

        Once you manage to get your first affiliate program up and running, it will also
become increasingly visible of how painfully short a certain product can last on the
market before it becomes obsolete. This means that at some point you will probably try to
launch new products which come across as fresher and resolve a problem which is more
actual and acute.

        You will also contemplate the prospect of starting up a new affiliate program to
sell your new product. However at this stage you will benefit of several advantages which
were simply not there before:

       •       You will have a list of potential affiliates, together with their contacts,
               which trust you and will likely join the new program.

       •       You will have a list of potential customers, which especially if the new
               product is related to the old one might buy it and promote it to their
               friends.

       •       You have made contact with the forum owners and can more reliably
               predict what capital will be needed in order to buy advertising for your
               program in these forums.

       As a general conclusion, things do get easier once you establish the proper
contacts and you have a reasonably large potential affiliate base, but it is just as important
to always keep pushing and never assume that things will just happen to go your way,
you must be proactive and make sure that they do.

				
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