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Affiliate programs can be a great way to reach customers that traditional marketing methods miss, as well as confirm that you are the best source for a particular product or service and generate more sales. Instituting an affiliate program isn't a simple 1-2-3 process - it takes strategic planning for time, resources and marketing. Before you launch an affiliate program, you need to evaluate whether you're properly positioned for affiliate success. The following article answers the question: Are you ready for an affiliate marketing program?
The first thing to consider when deciding to launch an affiliate program is whether you're already primed for sales. Your website should already receive ample traffic and your products or services should be selling at a reliable conversion rate. These are things the best affiliate marketers will want to know before they promote your products. An affiliate program should not be your primary marketing tool; instead, it should serve as an extension of your other marketing efforts. For this reason you can't rely on affiliate marketers alone to make you a success.
Affiliate program managers are expected to provide marketing collateral to their affiliate marketers in the form of online banners, e-mails, articles, information and other resources. In addition, these materials should already be tested and proven to motivate click-throughs. After all, you want the best conversion rates and plenty of happy affiliate marketers to continue promoting your products. Have your collateral created by professional graphic designers.
You must also consider how you're going to promote your affiliate program to affiliate marketers. Where will you find them? You can find affiliate marketers through an affiliate management firm, conducting online searches, contacting industry-relevant blog owners, posting on forums and even attending affiliate and internet marketing trade shows. If you do visit trade shows, make sure you have plenty of print collateral such as brochures, business cards, flyers, media kits and more on hand.
What terms will you offer to affiliate marketers? You must decide on commission rate, how long cookies are active (many affiliate programs credit an affiliate marketer within 30 days of initial customer visit from the affiliate marketer's link), and if you are able to offer a product data feed to help affiliate marketers automatically update their websites. Other considerations apply, including how payouts will be distributed and the legal mumbo jumbo of your terms and conditions.
Managing an affiliate program takes time and resources, and if you don't have an in-house team dedicated to your affiliate program you might want to consider outsourcing its management. There are many affiliate program management firms out there.
If you already have a successful online business, have a collection of marketing collateral available, know where to find affiliate marketers and how you're going to manage your affiliate program, it's time to take the next step. You are ready for an affiliate program. If you're a bit ambiguous on any of these points, or have not yet achieved business success, you should fill in the missing pieces before instituting an affiliate program.