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HOW TO BECOME AN AFFILIATE MARKETER

Introduction

If you currently own a business or are thinking of starting one up, chances are, you are going to need some information about how to get the word out about your product or service. That is when you (Marketer) need to think about marketing and building a marketing strategy.

With the World Wide Web being the major source of information sharing and communications in the world, it is natural that you would want to use this as a major focus for building your marketing strategy. That is what this e-book is for; to teach you how to become a major player in the field of business that you choose by taking advantage of the internet and using affiliation as your marketing strategyís foundation.

Of course, before I can show you how to become a master affiliate, I think it would be best to begin with a basic introduction to marketing in general. So in this introduction to becoming a master affiliate, I will give you a basic explanation into marketing because this will help you to better understand how an affiliation can be done with expert precision.

Most people are aware of what marketing is, but most do not realize everything that is involved in marketing. Marketing is not a temporary thing. Marketing is more than sales. Marketing is actually an entire process of activities that is used to:

1. Get your potential customer’s attention 2. Motivate them to buy

3. Get them to actually buy

4. Get them to keep buying

Marketing is how you define your product, promote your product, distribute your product, and to maintain a relationship with your customers. All of this is important if you want to run a successful business. When you become an affiliate, you are just gaining access to a world of customers instead of just being available for a local customer base. It simply allows you to reach millions of potential customers instead of hundreds. With this kind of potential, is it a wonder that so many people are relying on the web as their marketing hub.

In order to get the consumerís attention, you will need to know who they are and where they are. When you use affiliation, you can cut some of that work in half. When you are an affiliate, a lot of your customers will find you. This is a business feat that is just too good to be true, and if you know what you are doing, the benefits are simply awesome!

About Online Marketing

Your first interest in any type of marketing campaign is to start developing a marketing strategy that is going to be focused on who you will need to determine your target market is. This is exactly who you think will be your consumers. For starters, you need to know how to break down your consumers.

Target market is the group of potential customers that will be selected for the reception of your marketing strategy. It certainly makes it easier to develop your strategy if you know exactly who/how old/where people live when trying to sell things to them. If you are looking to segment the market, you need to determine the different target markets for each segment. For example, if you are selling tires, (which everyone needs) you will need to divide your market by knowing how people shop for tires, and who they are.

If you are selling high cost/quality tires, you have to market to a market that is likely to buy them such as middle aged and established consumers as opposed to teens and twenty-somethingís who may not be able to afford them.

There are different means that are used by professional marketers that help you to find your target audience. You can use both of them that are within your means. Some of these methods include:

1. Researching the market through surveys, interviews, and setting up shop in a mall to see who questions you the most etc. to see who would benefit the most from your product and be most likely to buy.

2. Host experimental sessions for people to try out your product and give their opinions for improvements etc. so that you can ensure that you giving the people what they want or need.

3. Host trial websites that are geared toward finding the market by letting the market come to you. You can best do this by utilizing keyword centered articles that will let you know who is coming toy our website.

It really doesnít matter if you stand on your front porch and just ask people what they want in a product or service like yours or not, as long as you get a good handle on who your market audience is. If you are selling T-shirts, you will likely want to appeal to younger people who are more likely to wear them; which means that you should market your wares to those people. To do this, you will have to begin your strategy where you know you will find themÖ.on the internet.

When you are using the internet to market any product or service, you must understand the basics of what internet marketing is. When you are marketing on the internet, you are looking to reach a larger audience and therefore, you need something that will catch their attention and bring them to you. In order to do this, you will have to bring these people to your website.

Once you have your website built, you have to work on getting people to visit not just once, but over and over again. You can start this by using your website to do more than just sell stuff. You should always try to host a website that is also informational. It is generally the websiteís that offer up to date information as well as sell wares.

It is through the information that you establish yourself as a trustworthy authority to your consumers. Doing this establishes trust with your consumers and brings them back again all of the time. Nobody wants to visit a website that is profiling outdated information in a month. It is the up to date websiteís that get and keep clients. These are also the website that the search engines find relevant during a query.

A nice tip for keeping your information up to date; especially if you are selling a product or service that is rarely updated is to keep a weather program or stock ticker program running on your website because the search engine spiders and robots will view this as new content and still return to your site on a regular basis.

If you are running a website that can sell things directly or order services and make payments there etc. you will want to generate as much sales as possible. What this means is that you need to make search engines come to your site for a particular product or service before others. It is because of this need that search engines have to become your best friend, which I will explain what these are below.

Search Engine Basics

Search engines are computer programs that are used to explore the internet in search of web pages. They do this by using “spiders,” “crawlers,” or “robots” which are used to search for the most up to date information on any given search request. This may seem like an odd place to introduce you to the search engines, but I can assure that this section is well placed. Giving you the basics here will help you to understand what I am saying in the later sections.

AnywaysÖ.back to the basics and explanation of search engine spiders.
These spiders (like those that are used by Google) are able to follow the links present on web pages that are located by specific keywords. When spiders are searching for a new webpage, they copy all or parts of the text present on the page into their search engine database. Other spiders revisit these pages on a regular basis so that they can register changes or dead links. The wait time varies greatly from search engine to search engine. It is for this reason that your website should stay current.

The search engine will have hundreds of millions of web pages in its database. In order to deliver relevant results, the search engine companies have developed special ranking algorithms that calculate the order of search requirement results. The keyword or keyword phrase the visitor enters into the search form of the search engine will determine which web sites get picked up by the query. The pages the search engine find most relevant will be listed first. This will determine where you will be listed upon search requests.

For instance, if you are searching for “Beethoven,” and the search engine finds a main headline on that page containing the phrase “Ludwig von Beethoven,” it will assume that this page is fairly relevant to your needs. If, on the other hand, it finds the phrase only once, and it is buried in a long text, it will ignore it because it will assume that this is not important. That is why so many websites use special keywords more than once in a particular article or webpage, because that is how the spiders pick them up and place them higher in the results of a search.

What does this mean to you as a business person? WellÖ..this means that in order for you to even consider affiliation; you must first have a website. If you want your website to get attention, you have to appeal to search engines first.

Many potential affiliates will not want to associate with just anyone prefer a site that gets traffic. Knowing about search engines and how to appeal to them will get you this traffic. I will offer more on traffic in another section later. Right now I would like to get you started with website affiliation because that is what this book is about and I have already given the basics about marketing in general.

The Fundamentals of Website Affiliation

As you can imagine from the above section that spends a great of time focusing on the basics of internet marketing, you must realize that it was all just an informed lead in to the affiliation, which is the whole reason that we are here. The first thing that you have to think about when getting into the affiliation game is how to go about it. In order to understand this, you will need to know exactly what it is and get basic knowledge about it.

Affiliate programs are an excellent way to generate income for your site or someone elseís, and it is a pretty good introduction into ecommerce, however but it’s a numbers game. Basically, the more people who visit your site, the greater your chances become for creating a good income, especially if the programs you participate in are related to your site topic. Chances are you have probably come across many commercial sites that claim to offer the best affiliate program. What you will often learn is that this is simply not true.

So what exactly is an affiliate program, you might ask? An affiliate program is where a company offers to pay you a certain amount of money for either a click through from your site, or a fixed amount for a lead (where the visitor signs up for a newsletter, etc.) or a percentage of a purchase made by a visitor as a result of a click through. Even if the visitor does not make a purchase on the advertiserís site right away, most programs will offer ìcookie durationî of usually around 30-90 days.

What this really means is that as long as the visitor has the cookie in their cache; even if they return to the advertisers site one month later, you will still receive the commission from the sale however, as in all things that are business related, cookie duration is not a guarantee when you sign up for an affiliation program and is something that you need to check for before signing on.

Looking for the best affiliate programs

The best way to try to explain this to you is to give you some of my personal experiences when looking for an affiliation program.

When I first started searching for and implementing affiliations with various companies; it was one of the largest parts of time wasted during my day when it came to managing my website. I spent a disgusting amount of hours searching for suitable affiliate programs, implementing the links and then keeping track of what they did.

If you are hoping that marketing a website affiliation is going to get you rich quickly, forget about it. You will have to spend a lot of time in your project if you want to make it work for you. Then again, all money making ventures do, just ask Donald Trump.

Of course, the income that was generated from each program was actually pretty low at that time because at that time the number of visitors to my site was not high either. With this in mind, it was not particularly uncommon for companies to disappear on me without warning me about it and since most affiliate programs only pay out at around the $25 mark, I would lose a lot of revenue in the end.

The other part of affiliation that I was not happy with was the idea of another companies bannerís being plastered all over my site, if you place too many of them on any given page it only serves to confuse and irritate your visitors. think about it; how do you like it when you visit a site. Any more than one animated element on a web page can be very distracting which leaves you with nothing gained at all, and many affiliate programs insist upon this type of bargain when signing on. By now, you must realize that I learned a lot just by trial and error.

Affiliate tracking can also a problem. After you have successfully applied to become an affiliate for a company, they will usually supply you with some personalized code or link. It is very important that this code is implemented correctly into your page; because otherwise you may be sending the company visitors without being reimbursed. Most snippets of code contain a unique user id; which is used by the company to distinguish which site sent traffic. Even if you do implement this code in the right way, it has been my experience on occasion for it not to function correctlyî.

Having heard of my experiences, you can see why I would not really recommend that you hunt around and sign up without much research and thought first when finding a good affiliate program. Your time is too valuable and could be better spent creating content and updating your site. But there are some excellent individual companies offering affiliate programs out there.

What I have discovered to be very successful is to take advantage of companies like Offers Quest or Google for text link advertising. Text links are a great resource as they are bandwidth friendly, and when they are implemented properly add valuable content to your site which can also assist in search engine rankings.
When it comes to website affiliation, you will also need to know how to conduct a market study because this is how you will find your target audience.

Without a targeted audience, your marketing campaign will not be effective. Below I have begun to give you an outline of what you should include in your market study. It is best to write it down; especially if you are hoping to entice someone else into investing in your marketing venture. That and it is a good way to keep track of your objective and provides a good guideline of what needs to be done.

Marketing Study OutlineóWhat you need to know

In order to be able to conduct a decent targeting and marketing campaign, you must first understand the fundamentals of finding out who they are. They only way to do this is to follow a specific guideline for you to follow. Check out the guideline below.

1. Your Objective to the Research

• Explain in one paragraph why the research is being done, what you hope to learn and for what purpose the information that you attain may be used

2. Description of the Market

This should be general like one paragraph Who is your Target Market(s)
• Why you chose this particular market
• Get a complete profile of your market (e.g., demographics, psychographics,
behaviors)
• What benefits does your market seek (i.e., what points-of-pain or problems
are being solved)
• What factors can affect their decision to purchase or use your
product/service
• What attitudes do they have about the products/services that are currently
not on the market
• How is the product used
• Products and Services that appeal to the target market
• In general terms, what is currently so appealing to this market
• If there are no current providers, what types of products/services may
appeal to this market in the future (i.e., what is used now to solve the problem).

3. Market Metrics

Get many Size estimates (current and future) for all of the following:
• Overall market
• Current size as it stands
• Potential size for the future
• Actual penetration of current products/service within the entire market

Individual market segments

• Current size
• Potential size
• Actual penetration of current products/service within the total market
• Usage rates
• Frequency of product purchases
• Growth estimates (current and in the future) for:
• Overall market
• Individual market segments

Competitive Analysis

You must include a Summary of who your Current Competitors are
Listing the competition by market share ranking (by each target market if possible) is a good way to size them up. You can also be more specific by searching for individual points listed below.

Current Competitors – full analysis of top competitors including:

• Products & Services (e.g., description, uniqueness, pricing, etc.)
• Their Market share at current
• Current customers (targeted audience)
• Positioning and promotion strategies
• Partnerships/Alliances/Distributors
• Recent news

SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
It is extremely important to focus attention on the SWOT section of this report. While most other information in this report can be gleaned from company and secondary materials, much of what appears in the SWOT section is based on the researcherís own opinions of the competitor based on the information that is collected. Consequently, this is often one of the hardest areas of the report to write as well.
Potential Competitors (any competition in the future)

• You will need to get an explanation (though it need not be as detailed as
Current Competitors) on who they are or maybe and why they are seen as potential competitors

5. Additional

• Extraneous Variables

o Discuss factors that may affect this market (e.g., technological,
social, governmental, competitive, etc.)

• Market Trends and what is expected to happen in the future

If you can follow these basic tips for finding and selecting your target market, you should be ready to search online and check out the competition and their rankings in the search engines. Below are some general guidelines for you to follow in creating your competitive analysis which is the most important factor in being an affiliate marketer. Knowing your competition just as well as your audience is the key point which is going to keep you on top of the competition.

GUIDELINES FOR DOING A COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

The competitive analysis section works best when it follows a format like the one that is shown below. In general, I would recommend that this report would be made about each of the major competitors. While most of this report is intended to focus on the overall analysis of the competitor, you should recognize that you are primarily interested in how this information may impact your company and, specifically, a product or product line to you affiliates.

For this reason, you should make sure, where possible, to focus your information on how it impacts the markets in which your products will compete with theirs. That is how your report will stand out among the other marketing affiliates in a merchantís eye. It should be included in your proposal whenever it is possible. I have listed the guidelines in sections to make it easier for you to read and then furthered the report guidelines for you as well for easier
reading.

Please note each sub-section within a section will contain 1-5 sentences that explain the sub-section.

• General Company Information which includes name, location (headquarters, other locations of importance), website address

• Summary of the Business which includes a section that will summarize the company, business units and the general nature of the business

• Business Overview should include sections on the history, ownership structure, types of businesses, mission, strategy/objectives, and key executives

• Recent News/Developments such as important company developments within last 6-12 months (e.g., reports from news sources, press releases, financial statements)

• Financial and Market Share Analysis ñ includes sections on corporate performance, trends, market share for product

• Marketing in general should include sections on products and services that are offered, target markets, positioning, customers/users, pricing model, promotional efforts, sales force, and distribution

• Other Miscellaneous Issues like adding sections on technology capability, partnership arrangements, and intangible issues

• A list of your Competitors where you will list key competitors facing this company

• SWOT ñ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Below, I am going to actually pin point what should be included in the market study like I did above, however in more detail and with explanation on how to write it. I am listing them in steps rather than points to make it easier.

1. The information that is provided in a market study should be based on the research that you have collected AND NOT on oneís own perceptions, guesstimates or other unsupported statements. This information should be based on fat alone! The only exception to this may be within the SWOT analysis; however, even most of this should be supported with some evidence.

2. If you are unable to find any specific bit of information it is probably a good idea to make this known so that the person reading the report would know of this potential limitation of the market study and be ready for it. Obviously you need to collect good research so you do not end up having too many of these statements.

3. It is generally a good idea to define the most important terms and concepts when you first introduce them so as not to confuse the reader. This will benefit those reading the report who may not already
possess knowledge in this area. Alternatively, you can create a glossary or definition section in the Endnotes area of the report.

4. Wherever it is necessary you should explain how the research was conducted or how data was collected (e.g., explaining how survey was done). This just helps the reader to understand your methodology so that they can decide how trustworthy the information is.

5. Make note of any limitations of secondary research (research you obtained from other sources) that you used. Unless there are very any significant limitations you can generally include this as an endnote.

6. If you are investigating a new/different way of doing something with present customers, then you will need to provide a discussion of the cost/benefit of alternative options. That is, what will customer give up to use something new versus what they will get from using the new product?

7. Remember to reference as much stuff as you have to in order to get the best information. I would suggest using endnotes instead of footnotes of texts because this gives you the most accurate account. Endnotes appear next to the sentence, word, quote, number, etc. but usually not as a superscript and usually in parenthesis like this (1). The full reference would appear at the back of the report in an Endnotes section.

Once you have completed your market analysis and target audience, you will want to present it to the companies that you are looking to affiliate with. That is what the next section deals with. It is going to show you how to create partnerships with the merchants.

How to Deal with Online MerchantsóCreating Partnerships

When you decide to become an affiliate marketer, you are basically just asking another web host to add a link to your website to theirs which will bring your website more traffic and hopefully generate more sales for them, which gives you a commission sale. Of course, there are some things that affiliates look for in a website before they will sign you on as an affiliate. Before you even consider signing on as an affiliate, you should make sure that your website has something to offer that theirs doesnít.

To be more specific, even if you are going to a ìlikeî website as an affiliate, you donít want to approach a site that is selling the exact same thing as you because that makes you direct competition with you. For example, if you are selling designer clothing of a particular label, you do not want to try to go to a site that is selling the exact same items as you, but a like site that may offer the same brand, but not the same items. That way, both sites are selling the same label, but can push each otherís sites for the items that they donít carry.

Once you know exactly what type of website you want to run and which web companies are actually offering you the right revenue sharing opportunities for products and services that complement your web site genre, you canít just offer to put up banners and buttons on their behalf. It is best to begin by writing up a review page of the product or service and how it will definitely help boost sales, especially if you are recognized as being knowledgeable in your field.

One of the best ways to show that you know what you are doing is to offer articles and reviews on your website about your items for sale. Keyword articles are best for getting search engine to come calling. You can also put in a brief history of the productís inception etc. Basically just put in as much information as you can about your product or service so that visitors and merchants will know that you are on top of things and know what you are doing. Here are some more things that you should do when dealing with potential affiliates that you are trying to get in with.

Talk to People

Talking to people could not only increase your sales, but also save you some heartache in the long run. It is very easy to talk to an affiliate company, and you can start by contacting the merchant, let them know what you are doing to promote their product and ask their advice as to how you could improve your marketing technique. Think about it, it is always best to approach a potential affiliate with a standing technique in mind as well as an outline of what you plan to do to help them. If you have the means, try it out for a while so that you can approach a merchant with solid facts backing you up.

When you ask the merchant for advice you are setting yourself in great standing with them and showing them that you understand their knowledge. After all, the merchant knows their product best right? They would also have a very good idea of the strategies that are used by other affiliates to boost sales. Donít bother checking for this information on an affiliate site because you will not be getting to the nitty gritty of it.

By contacting the merchant yourself, you are also showing your enthusiasm for marketing their products and services and that you are working to become known as a “power” or “super” affiliate! Any merchant who understands affiliate marketing knows that over 90% of sales are generated by less than 5% of their affiliates. A good merchant will see your efforts and give you further information and resources and may even boost your commission fees as a result of your efforts and success. All of this means more money for you both!

Dealing with merchants directly:

When you are dealing directly with a merchant, there are some things that you have to realize. You need to know how to deal with them but also what to expect to encounter from the as well. That is what this section is going to help you with. Letís take a look at some of the various things that you can expect to hear and deal with when going through a merchant.

a) If you are going to go to the trouble of emailing a merchant and they don’t respond the first time, do not worry about it, be persistent because many merchants receive countless numbers of emails daily and take time to sift through them and weed out the spam. If they still fail to respond to your, think twice about continuing promotion on their behalf because a lack of communication can also be indicative of other problems such as payment or just plain disinterest. You should also bear in mind that some merchants work on the shotgun principle. What this means is that they make big promises, set a high payouts knowing full well that few affiliates will ever reach it. Next thing you know, they get as many affiliates promoting their products and services as possible which will give them the maximum exposure, with the minimum cost and effort on their part. It’s not a good business model for them to use in the long term and after a while affiliates drop away, but not before the company has raked in thousands. Many MLM (multi-level marketing) programs also work on this principle and only the guys at the top generate any serious revenue so you need to expect this and watch out for it.

A good way to protect your payments from merchants is to sign up for affiliate programs that are extremely well established ad networks such as Offers Quest or FastClick if you want to get paid for your work. When you are working with a major ad network means that even if you only make a few dollars from each program, those dollars that are generated will all feed a common account, accumulate rapidly which will allow you to reach the payout threshold in a shorter time period. Most ad networks work with merchants on a “money up front” or monthly “pay as you go” basis because this decreases the risk of those merchants who are suddenly disappearing with your hard earned commissions. For this to work, you need to demonstrate your web marketing prowess

b) Unless you have a web site that already generates high traffic, don’t ask the merchant for higher commissions in the first communication. So many affiliates do this and end up being totally ignored because most affiliates probably can’t deliver on their promises due to the fact that too many of their claims are unachievable. If you don’t have a solid sales record for the product or service you are promoting, you’ll need to prove yourself to merchants off the bat and put some thought into your promotion and rack up a few sales before attempting to secure higher payout rates. Be professional in your communications

c) When you are communicating with merchants, you have to make sure that you use a professional manner not the laid back style that you use when talking toy our friends. If you have suggestions of how a merchant could improve an offer that would convert into more sales, let them know, but be very polite and constructive in your feedback ñnot insulting by saying things like: “Your banners suck” because this will alienate them.

d) You have to remember that the Internet as a trading place is still very new in comparison to the business platforms of the last few millennia like regular advertising through television or newspaper ads. Some of the quality companies that are offering an affiliate program may be just breaking into this side of marketing and will appreciate any feedback you can give them.

e) A smart merchant understands that good affiliates canít be found everywhere as is often assumed and hoped. Merchants need someone that acts business-like and treats them with respect, assists with resources, and provides prompt payments. Smarter affiliates understand that a merchant wants a quality promotion and sales performance for minimum outlay. Successful merchant/affiliate partnerships happen when both parties understand these points and work together because that is when the money starts rolling in.

Prosper Dougoli

Prosper Dougoli, also known as a Bomzydget, is a young Ghanaian tech content creator with extensive experience in Internet blogging.

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