The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.
While affiliate marketing can be used to successfully monetize a site, there are risks involved that marketers need to be aware of. The one area I see consistently under-acknowledged is the ever-increasing danger of fraud. Affiliate marketing has its own unique range of fraud challenges. Cookie stuffing is a great example. That’s where the affiliate, unbeknownst to the advertiser, attaches cookies from multiple advertisers to every visitor — whether that customer clicked on an ad or not. If the shopper later makes a transaction at any of those sites, the affiliate can attempt to claim a commission.
Giving away a free informational product such as an e-book, an email series or a mini-course is a popular tactic many affiliate marketers use. Usually, your readers will have to provide their email addresses to receive the product from you. You can then use this to sell to them via email marketing. Additionally, an informational product can generate interest in the actual product you're trying to sell. If your product is popular enough and brings enough traffic to your site, you could also monetize the traffic in other ways, such as AdSense.
Always fill out the comment box to “sell” your platform. If you are given the opportunity to explain why you are interested in a program, do it! Use the space to highlight why you would be an asset to the program. Talk about how your audience is their audience. Talk about the size of your mailing list (if it’s significant). Talk about your success with similar programs. Talk about where and how you will promote (hopefully you’ve done a bit of research so you know what they’re hoping for). Don’t sound desperate and certainly don’t lie about anything, but be upfront and honest about how this will be a win for them.
If the above locations do not yield information pertaining to affiliates, it may be the case that there exists a non-public affiliate program. Utilizing one of the common website correlation methods may provide clues about the affiliate network. The most definitive method for finding this information is to contact the website owner directly if a contact method can be located.
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What kind of commission do they offer? One-time commissions or recurring commissions? For example, many programs pay you one time for sending a customer. On the other hand, some programs like membership sites or SaaS (software as a service) programs will pay you a commission as long as the person you referred is a paying customer. Recurring commissions are great when you can find them!
Content marketing is at the core of affiliate marketing, making it beneficial to both businesses and customers. Customers benefit from the helpful content and businesses benefit from the resulting sales. Affiliate marketing offers significant income potential to both businesses that offer it and professionals who employ it. Taking the time, energy and money to create an affiliate marketing website scares away many would-be affiliate marketers, but I think if more people simply tried to affiliate market, they would find it’s easier and more profitable than they had imagined.
Beginners in affiliate marketing should first work through partner networks — do not try to directly contact advertisers. Young sites are often ignored. In this case, partner networks, in turn, provide the ability to connect to many major sites. You can collaborate with several partners since the stakes are generally the same but not always. With partner managers, you can agree on higher rates.
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