Everyone knows that affiliates can make or break a company's success rate. Ken Evoy has a whole army of people motivated to earn click-through commissions on his Site Sell program. Marlon Sanders and Yanik Silver have made fortunes with (and for) their affiliates.
"If you've got an e-commerce website," I was frequently told by my internet savvy friends, "you have GOT to have an affiliate program." I took that to heart. "Ok!" I said, and when I created www.ArticleMarketer.com, I made sure that I developed a compelling offer for affiliates.
So what's the nightmare? Here I had created the perfect program for affiliates and what kind of results was I getting? None. Nada. Zilch. A big fat zero. There was no lineup of affiliates banging at the door.
Has this happened to you? Is your affiliate program going nowhere? Here is the step-by-step analysis of what makes an affiliate program take off, and how my results were impacted by each one.
Offer a good deal - make it worth their while
Affiliates will not promote your product because it "feels good". An emotional payoff might be sufficient for non-profit organizations or political campaigns, but that's not enough in the cold, hard world of e-commerce. Affiliates are looking for products and services that quickly convert to sale.
Affiliates don't mind pre-selling your goods to their lists and visitors, but you have got to make it worth their effort. Don't be cheap. Give your affiliates a good deal. Unless you're selling Lear Jets or Rolls Royces, that 5% commission you are thinking about isn't going to get anyone excited about being your representative.
How did I fare against this point? I nailed it. I made sure to offer 50% commissions and a lifetime customer program. Residual and recurring revenue are automatic. For any customer that one of my affiliates sends to my site, they get paid. Not just on the first sale either. They get paid every time that person spends money, renews a subscription, or buys something else.
But evidently that was not enough. I had my program set up to offer a good, profitable deal for affiliates. So I moved to the next point:
Provide personal service - be responsive
Affiliates are your business partners, not cattle to be herded. Treat them with respect, provide them with the tools they need to be successful, and be responsive when your affiliates ask for help, guidance or tools. In the end, it will make things better for you. Make sure you take care of your affiliates.
Well I am a naturally outgoing guy, so I have a tendency to reach out to customers, partners and business associates. It's just who I am. I like people. I send email, write articles, post in the blog - I'm a communicative guy. I've got my phone number on the site, and I personally answer my phone. So personal service couldn't be my problem. But still, why weren't people signing up to be affiliates? I moved on to the next point:
It's likely that you're not the only company offering the chance to sell a product or service like yours. Give your prospective affiliates a reason to choose your program over your competitor's. Do you do it faster, better, cheaper? Why is it going to be easier and more profitable to sell for you than for someone else? Why do you deserve their attention? Why do you deserve the attention of their visitors?
With 20 years of direct sales under my belt, I certainly know how to craft a presentation to crush my competition. I put direct comparisons to other article submission services right on my home page. I created an instructional video to make it easy to submit articles. Audio prompts explain every step of the way. I have a long listing of places that articles are submitted. There is no reason someone would want to do article submission on their own (because it's tedious) or with any of my competitors (they don't have the reach, and their prices are exorbitant) so I knew that there was no problem in this area. So I moved on to the final point.
Promote! Promote! Promote!
You have to be as diligent in promoting your affiliate program as you are in promoting your products. You have to let people know that you've got a great deal for them. You must let people know that you have an affiliate program, you must provide tools, banners, graphics, articles, ads, and links that they can use to drive traffic to your site.
This was my problem. I was suffering under a "If you build it, they will come" delusion, and it almost killed my response. I didn't even know how hidden my affiliate link was, until I had a conversation (remember, I'm a talkative guy) with a new affiliate. She was an existing customer. She had been to the site, pored over it, in fact, and had asked questions. She had used our services, so when I asked her what prompted her sudden interest in joining the affiliate program, I was shocked by her response. "I didn't even know you were set up for affiliates until I read it Michael Campbell's Internet Marketing Secrets newsletter. (www.internetmarketingsecrets.com) When I saw that he was telling people how great your service was, I said, "Hey, I can do that!"
So it wasn't until I started promoting the service that I discovered how important it is to promote the affiliate program as much as it is to promote the article submission service itself. To ensure that it's easy to find, I have moved the affiliate link on my site. It's now prominently displayed right in my main navigation and clearly marked "Become an Affiliate".
I hope that you'll take this story to heart and implement these four techniques. Start by adjusting your program, make sure you talk with your customers, check your value proposition, and then begin trumpeting your affiliate program from the rooftops. You'll see a quick improvement in your affiliate sign ups!
Chris Ellington gives effective and easy to implement marketing strategies to small business owners and home business entrepreneurs. His Article Marketer website drives thousands of targeted web visitors to your site by distributing your articles to editors and publishers around the world. Try it for free at http://www.ArticleMarketer.com.