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Beginner's Guide to Affiliate Marketing

Tyler Banfield, 11-01-2007
I. What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is one of the most profitable sectors of internet marketing. Super Affiliates like Amit Mehta, Marcus Tandler, Jeremy Schoemaker and Jeremy Palmer make tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars every month from affiliate marketing.

As the illustration below demonstrates, affiliate marketing is a straight-forward concept: affiliates (publishers like you) promote & sell products and services for other companies. Each time an affiliate generates a lead or sale for the company, they receive a commission.



II. How do affiliates get paid?


As an affiliate marketer, you will normally get paid your commissions once a month. Depending on the affiliate program's policies, the commissions you have earned over a specific period of time will be totaled, and then you will be paid via check, direct deposit or PayPal.

TIP: Although it may seem convenient, try to avoid receiving your payments via PayPal. Do you really want to give up 3% of your hard-earned commissions every month instead of getting your full commission via a check or direct deposit?



III. What products or services can I promote and sell?

Affiliate marketers have the luxury of choosing from tens of thousands of products & services to promote and sell.

There are three main methods for finding affiliate programs to promote:

Affiliate Program Directories: Affiliate program directories are organized like standard web directories and provide links to hundreds of individual affiliate programs in different categories.

Individual Web Sites: If a web site offers an affiliate program, it will normally have one of the following links in the footer or About page: affiliates, affiliate program, referrals, webmasters.

Affiliate Networks: Affiliate networks are generally considered the best option for both beginners and experienced affiliate marketers. An affiliate network is a collection of hundreds of individual offers. Once a publisher is accepted into the affiliate network, they can easily choose the individual offers that they want to promote. Benefits of working with an affiliate network instead of individual programs include extensive support, large amounts of promotional material (such as banners, landing pages & links) and timely payments.

To help you jump into the affiliate marketing game, we have assembled a short overview of each of the most popular six affiliate networks:



Commission Junction

Pros: Giant affiliate network with over 1900 affiliate programs available to publishers.

Cons: If an advertiser leaves Commission Junction without paying, CJ does not cover any lost revenues for publishers.

Requirements: Publishers have to fill out a two page application. Some of the affiliate programs will automatically accept you, while others require you to apply. If a program automatically rejects you and you think your web site is a good match for the program, you can contact the advertiser directly and they will normally approve your web site.

Best Programs: Web Hosting, Credit Reporting, Loans, Credit Cards



Azoogle Ads

Pros: Azoogle guarantees payment to publishers, even if they do not get paid by an advertiser. Many of the affiliate programs have excellent pre made landing pages.

Cons: Smaller network of affiliates (less than 500 offers). There have been several complaints around affiliate forums about various tracking issues.

Requirements: Azoogle has a fairly long application, and many applicants have to go through a phone interview. If you have at least one quality web site with steady traffic, you should be able to get approved. Although it can take awhile to get approved, once you are in, you are approved for every program that they offer.

Best Programs: Ringtones, Health and Beauty, Dating

NeverblueAds

Pros: NeverblueAds are highly recommended by respected affiliate marketers like Lee Dodd and Zac Johnson.

Cons: Some individuals have reported waiting several months to hear back from NeverBlueAds after submitting their application.

Requirements: NeverBlueAds has a four-step application. Once your application is submitted, NeverBlueAds normally calls within two business days and will review your application with you over the phone.

Best Programs: Dating, Diet, Insurance

Maxbounty

Pros: Maxbounty offers multiple offers which accept international traffic. Maxbounty also has staff members active in most of the major webmaster forums, which makes it easy to ask them questions and receive a public answer.

Cons: In the past, there have been reports of affiliates not receiving full compensation for the commissions they have earned.

Requirements: As long as you have at least one quality web site, Maxbounty will accept you after filling out their one page application.



HydraNetwork

Pros: The HydraNetwork is known for having some of the best

Cons: Some individuals have had problems getting in touch with Hydra.

Requirements: After filling out the one page application, most individuals report being accepted within one to three days.

Best Programs: Email Submits, Health, Ringtones



ClickBank

Pros: Access to over 10,000 digital products

Cons: There are a lot of worthless products on ClickBank, so it can take a fair amount of testing to find a profitable one.

Requirements: After filling out a short application, ClickBank will automatically approve you.

Best Programs: Software, Ebooks, Surveys

IV. How do I choose which offers to promote?

TIP: For those who are new to affiliate marketing, it's always useful to look to people in the field that are successful and experienced.


When it comes to selecting your first affiliate offer(s) to promote, here is Audrey Breheney 's (one of the most popular affiliate managers at Azoogle) advice for any new affiliate marketer:
Quote:
If you are just starting out in the industry you don’t want to select a vertical that is saturated or extremely competitive.

Health and Beauty has a great and wide demographic. You can target women AND men and the female demographic can range in age from 13 – 50+!

Just think about all the products that sell and appeal to women. Diet pills, lip plumper etc.

You want to make sure that the offer does not have TOO long of a form and TOO high of a cost to the visitor.

Do some research and just jump in!

You can also post questions to other people in the wickedfire.com forum or on digital point.

V. How do I promote affiliate offers?

If you have spent anytime reading any affiliate marketing blogs or forums, you have probably discovered that there are almost as many different approaches to affiliate marketing as there are affiliate offers to promote.

To get you started in the right direction, we've reviewed some of the most successful approaches to affiliate marketing and compiled a step-by-step guide that we feel will maximize your affiliate marketing success:

i. Select an Offer to Promote

ii. Register a Domain Name: The domain name should be something that relates to the offer you're promoting and is easy to remember.

iii. Create a Web Site: Although many affiliates skip this step and just create a single landing page (or even use the affiliate's landing page), most of the best affiliate marketers agree that creating a simple web site is the best approach to take. Regardless of whether you choose to use a web site template or a CMS like Wordpress, your web site should contain the following:

-5 to 10 Articles: You should write five to ten articles (200-500 words) about the offer you are promoting. If you need inspiration, use the Digital Point keyword tool to get a list of keywords and then incorporate the most popular keywords into the title/subject of your articles.

-Contact Page, Sitemap and Privacy Policy: Adding these elements will help your Google AdWords quality score.

-Basic SEO Elements: To help attract organic traffic to your affiliate web site, you should make sure that you incorporate some basic SEO elements into your web site (linking from your articles to trusted web sites, meta tags, internal linking). If you are also new to SEO, you can check out the SEOmoz Critical Components of Optimizing a Site.

-Analytics: In order to analyze and monitor your web site's progress, you will need to install at least one analytics program, such as Google Analytics.

iv. Create a Landing Page for Your Web Site: The most important element of your web site is a targeted landing page. A landing page is the page you will use to convert the visitors to your web sites into customers. The more targeted your landing page is, the higher your conversions will be.

Before creating your landing page, I recommend reading the following articles:

* Landing Page Optimization - from CTR to ROI
* What Landing Pages Convert? The Results Are In...

v. Promote Your Landing Page/Web Site: Now that you have a web site with a landing page, here are some of the ways that you can promote it:

-Classified Ads: Whether it's in newspapers or on web sites like Craigslist, you can use classified ads to advertise the offer you are promoting. However, as with most promotional efforts, be sure to advertise only in places that are appropriate or else you will quickly be labeled as a spammer!

-Email Marketing: Studies have shown that email marketing is still one of the most cost effective medium to generate new business (lead acquisition). Email marketing involves building a list of opt-in subscribers, successfully delivering your email and sending emails that convert the recipients.

-Forum Postings: By participating in forums that are related to the offer you are promoting, you will have the opportunity to include a link to your web site in your signature, along with any posts that you make where it is appropriate to provide a link.
TIP: Keep your links in forum posts to a minimum! If you continuously add a link to your web site within the body of your posts, most forums will ban you for spamming!

vi. Setup a Pay-Per Click Campaign: As any major affiliate marketer will tell you, PPC advertising is one of the best ways to make money from affiliate marketing. Although there are a variety of PPC engines, most experts agree that Google AdWords is the best place to start. Not only does AdWords send the largest volume of traffic, but once you have mastered using AdWords, you will be able to replicate your success with other engines (Yahoo, MSN, etc).

While some people have to spend days or weeks searching for information about how to setup a successful PPC campaign, if you read and apply the techniques in the links below, you will be able to create a successful PPC campaign:

-Basic Keyword Research: Five Steps to Effective Keyword Research

-Advanced Keyword Research: Keyword Research : Go Deep or Going Wide First?

-Create an AdWords Campaign: Excerpt from Adwords PPC For Beginners

Quote:
5 ) Setting Up An Adwords Campaign

Righto, you’ve found your merchant, you’ve sorted out your keywords, and the targeted parts of the site you will send traffic to. What next? All you need now is an adwords account, and some killer adtext to keep your click through rates nice and high. Adwords does not only rank ads by how much their author is willing to pay, but by their click through rates. Therefore, with a killer ad it is possible to appear above competitors with a much higher max cpc because yours is performing better.

You can sign up for an adwords account at: - https://adwords.google.com/select/

Now that you have your new adwords account, one of your first tasks will be coming up with compelling ad text. It is important that you make the text as relevant to different groups of keywords as possible to convince the browser that your ad is the one that he is looking for.

Adwords Checklist

1 ) Visual Appeal - make sure that the title and body of the ad contain the keywords your target market will be searching for. If you’re selling Calvin Klein perfume mention that in title and body, and have different adgroups to cover different variations of the term i.e CK, C.K. etc. You will be rewarded for this effort by seeing elements of your ads highlighted in bold within the search results. This will increase your click through rates and help you out-perform your less thorough competitors.

2 ) Text Appeal - You only have a small space to work with in a Google Ad. Mention any key selling points that will fit into the space available such as free delivery or gifts. A cleverly worded succinct ad will pay long term dividends. It is the most important part of this process and can be integral to your financial success.

You can set up multiple ads to run on a group of keywords. Early on, experiment with several different styles of ad and layout. You will quickly be able to see which are attracting the highest click through rates and learn what works as you go on.

3 ) Make the most of your keywords. Many newbies do not realise that Google has several different matching options that allow you to choose how your keywords are (and are not!) displayed. Using them all will allow you to run your account at optimum efficiency.

The keyword matching options plus the additions you need to make to your keywords to trigger ads in response to them are listed below: -

Broad Match - This is the default option and will show your ad for any query containing your key phrases in any order. For example adding the term “perfume shop” will trigger ads for “perfume shop” and “shop perfume”. Google will also show your ads for expanded match options including plurals and any relevant keyword variations.

“Phrase Match” - This will show your key phrases in the order you have entered them into the system. It may also show for phrases which contain other words in the same order. For example, adding “perfume shop” may trigger ads for that term and also for “cheap perfume shop”, but will not show up for a search such as “shop for cheap perfume”.

[Exact Match] - This will show only the exact key term you input, and nothing else

- Negative Match - This function allows you to specify words you do not wish your ads to be triggered for. For example entering “-cheap” would ensure that your ad would not appear in response to the query “cheap perfume”.

-Bid on Keywords: Super Affiliate Bidding Strategies, Part I and Part II

TIP: If you still have any questions about using AdWords, there is a good chance that this article answers them: 49 Tips on Adwords

vii. Test, Analyze and Adjust!: The key to long-term success in affiliate marketing is continuously testing, analyzing and improving your campaigns, landing page, promotional efforts and web site. From using your analytics data to discover new keywords to adding new content to your web site, minor changes in the long run can greatly increase your earnings as an affiliate marketer.

What other tips do YOU have for someone getting started with Affiliate Marketing?

Mike Peters, 11-01-2007
Great article Tyler!

To someone who is just getting his/her feet wet with Affiliate Marketing, with no money and no PPC skills, I would recommend -

Pick a single offer from AzoogleAds/NeverBlueAds that you can identify with. A product or service that you love.

Signup, get your affiliate link and make a purchase. Make sure the shopping experience is smooth (If it's not - pick a different offer).

Then call your friends and family and email them the link. Don't tell them you have a financial incentive to promote this program. Just say you signed up for it and it's great.

Try to gently convince them to check it out and pay close attention to any objections / excuses they bring up.

If all goes well, go on relevant forums, participate so that you have at least 50 posts and discussions with other members. Then promote your link there (cloak it first by hiding it behind a domain). Include answers to common objections your family and friends brought up, as part of your post, without making it look like a sales-letter.

Continue following this process until you've made at least 10 sales.

Use the profits to finance your first PPC campaign and create a landing page. But be prepared to lose all your money. Think of your first $1,000 PPC investment as tuition money.

Rinse and repeat.

-- Just do it.

Dganit Blake, 11-06-2007
My tips:

1. NeverBlueAds

2. Pick super wide niches like fashion, health, education

Marty, 11-06-2007
My tip:

photoshop that Shoe pic and add in a shadow for the check ;)

Tyler B, 11-06-2007
Marty,

As Shoe states on his blog:

"This is not a real check it was for a Magazine Ad for AzoogleAds."

However, someone actually took the time to correct the shadow.

chris, 11-06-2007
great post! Nice job of taking basic information as well as some of the more advanced articles and putting everything together in one place. As someone who is no new to affiliate marketing but still working on building lasting success, your article acts as a good "blocking and tackling" refresher of the basics needed for success.

Joy, 11-23-2007
That's Shoe..^^..I love listening to his show over the Webmaster Radio..but yup I have to agree this pic was photoshoped...just check out the shadow.

Adrian Singer, 01-10-2008

laplace, 05-05-2008
nice work teyler..
It is useful to the first time readers so that they easily came to know about this

Sherry, 03-10-2009
Great article

Medical Web Experts, 06-22-2009
Some of the essential things that can accelerate your marketing agenda that you need to budget for includes:
1) Logo and brand identity (colors you will use, typeface for materials)
2) Letterhead, envelopes, window envelopes, business cards, folder, appointment cards
3) Letter and press release announcing your new practice
4) Website that brands your practice and provides a reason to call you
5) Identifying your target markets and having a marketing strategy to reach them
6) Creative campaign to reach your target market as identified in #5
7) A promotional brochure
Advertising and marketing does work, but when you have not figured into the overall budget for starting a new practice it can be shocking. The good news is that in the long run, a solid marketing and ad campaign can get your practice off to a better start, bring in needed revenue faster, and more than pays for itself in the long run. Among all these, recently on the advancement and increasing globalization, every search for the doctors now deviates to the internet. Internet is becoming a great resource of marketing. Prolific marketing strategies and ideas can boom any company using some simple rules of web marketing. Web designing, marketing and advertising companies like www.medicalwebexperts.com practices the highest quality website design services. Some of the complex medical facilities are being getting over the internet. Facilities like Online Lab Result, Patient education, patient portal, appointment request, medical record access, and many more, if added to your website, can add to your patients list. Because of patient education and medical record access, patients can have a hassle free journey to a hospital, not forgetting their previous medications and scan reports, etc.

Richie, 07-11-2011
Great article, very consise and well put together.

Richie
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