Archive for Affiliate Marketing

Explaining Affiliate Marketing

There’s a reason I put my explanation of Affiliate Marketing right at the top of this site.

Whenever I tell someone who isn’t in the “biz” about my job, I get the blank stare and head shake and then “I still don’t get what you do?”. It isn’t the first time someone has tried to simplify the explanation or the definition. I’m not sure I even managed to do it now.

But for my friends who follow a link and end up here, the explanation is now here.

Big Gap

There’s a pretty big gap between the last post in April and this one today. I’ve let this site sit idle for months while I worked on a new project and today was the day to stop and sweep up a little.

Affiliate Summit is in less than 2 weeks!

In fact, if the stars are aligned the way I hope, this time two weeks from now, I’ll be at the ShareASale Under the Stars party, or depending on the difference in time zones, waiting at a cab stand for my transportation. SAS always has the best party at any gathering of affiliate marketers, so I’m really looking forward.

To get back to my topic, this site is the one that gets listed on business cards and web registrations because it’s my own name and not very useful as an anonymous niche site.

So it was time for some major clean-up and tweaking of the theme. I was only one version from being updated; I always wait about a week before jumping in.

Now that we’re just about functional here again, I’ll add some more marketing bits and pieces here. I intend to keep my ears open at Summit to find out what new affiliates are trying to figure out. Other managers have done a great job assembling the A,B,C s of Affiliate Success, but I think there are things I can contribute.

Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing generally means marketing done online for the benefit of an online merchant, usually in the form of ads on websites, blogs or other social media in exchange for payment, which is monitored by 3rd party networks.

Wait!  What?

  • You have a website or a blog. (You’re the publisher AND the potential affiliate)
  • Online merchants are willing to pay to advertise on websites and blogs. (They are the advertisers)
  • Affiliate networks put publishers and advertisers together and provide the framework for tracking response and payment.
  • Affiliate managers (sometimes called Program Managers, and further identified as Outsourced or In House) manage the affiliate sales channel for the merchant. This could mean anything and everything from advice, recruiting publisher/affiliates, setting up network accounts, ad creation, campaign and promotional ideas, and probably another hundred things like reporting, tracking and networking.

There are many ways that publishers can get paid:

  • PPC: Pay Per Click means that you, the publisher, are paid a set amount if someone clicks on the ad.
  • PPA: Pay Per Action means that something more has to happen before you earn any pay. That might mean a completed sale, or it might be a form filled out or even a zip code or email address provided.
  • Ad Placement: You have priced the available space on your web page and the merchant pays that amount directly to you or an agency on your behalf.

Which way is best?

The answer to that question depends on your specific website and your business model. Let me provide a few examples, which are not even close to a complete list:

  • You’re a beginner and you don’t have very many followers or readers yet. Your writing is about one specific topic or lifestyle.
    In this scenario, you could start out with Google ads placed around your content, which is a PPC (pay per click) method. When you have enough of an audience interested in the topic, a network would be the place to look for related online stores to advertise.
  • Your blog is the “go-to” place for the topic and you have a huge list of people who subscribe to your feed or your newsletter and wait eagerly to see what you’re going to talk about next!
    You are in the enviable position of being able to negotiate paid placement! You can provide the stats to show advertisers how many unique visits you get daily, how many average page views and probably the demographics of your audience.
  • Your site idea is more about general shopping and you want to offer several possibilities in more than one category. Maybe it’s about gifts, maybe it’s about sports, maybe it’s about travel or fashion or babies.
    The place for you to start is with the most common affiliate marketing scenario: pay for action, which is another way of saying commission on sales. An affiliate network usually has hundreds or thousands of merchants to review; learn how to pick the right ones and you can surround your blog posts or review pages with relevant ads and get paid when your readers make a purchase!

Start from scratch

My apologies if you stopped by in the last 3 weeks and I wasn’t here.  I had to trash a database and start over.  It’s just as well because all the current topics of interest can have center stage now.

What I’m working on:

* Arkansas just passed Act 1001, which is that crazy attempt to make Amazon heel and start collecting sales tax.  State after state jumps on the bandwagon only to find the buckets of money they anticipated are not really there.  And even though they might not care to look under the floorboards of said bandwagon, if they did they would find that small affiliate marketing businesses (like mine) have lost a huge percentage of their ad revenue as merchant after merchant terminates their agreements to avoid sales tax nexus in the state.

* Online merchants, especially the mid-size kind, are realizing what brick and mortar stores learned a long time ago:  coupons are a huge PITA.  What to do?  What to do?  That question generates passionate discussion on forums all over the online marketing world.  I think that’s worth some attention here, too.