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Affiliate Marketing Basics

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AffiliateForce 2001 Conference reportBy Linda Woods

For those of you who chose to ignore my advice and not attend AffiliateFORCE 2001 in Miami/Bahamas last week shame on you!

It was a heady mix of successful affiliate program managers, super affiliates, new solution providers, e-commerce players committed to excellence and expert speakers (including yours truly). The whole event was packed with so much information, networking and enthusiasm that we all forgot that there was any slow down in our industry.

The big message was - IT WORKS!

Despite the doom and gloom of the past few months, over 100 people participated in Herbyís AffiliateFORCE vision. I want to publically thank Herby and his AffiliateFORCE team for pulling off what many would have called an impossible dream. Like last year, the numbers of attendees was small, but the level of expertise and commitment to serious business was extremely high. The people who attend these conferences go because they KNOW that affiliate marketing works and they want to leverage that knowledge with as much additional ammunition as they can. Be sure to mark your calendar for AffiliateFORCE2002 it will happen!!

Hereís a few of the ideas Iíd like to share with you that I picked up at the event:

Quality not Quantity

This is a concept Iíve been ranting about for sometime but now Iím not the only one. There was mass agreement that working closely with a small number of focused, dedicated affiliates for the mutual success of both parties is the key to success. No one much cared about getting thousands of non-performing affiliates anymore, preferring to hand pick partners with individualized deals, or work closely with the top 100 (or less) of performers giving them virtually anything they need to succeed.

Communication is King

Use every possible type of way to create a relationship with your affiliates. Personalized email, direct phone contact, send postcards, do live chats, and even visit in person when possible.

Affiliate Program Managers like Shawn Collins at http://www.ClubMom.com and Lisa deJongat http://www.Genealogy.com have even started Yahoo!Groups for their affiliates who want to communicate regularly with them and each other about making money. Treat them with respect as a valued salesforce and watch your sales go!

Use Email effectively and often (Thanks to Michael Angier of http://www.SuccessNet.org and SteveVacchani of http://www.Qool.com )

Give Special Treatment

Prepare beautifully designed web pages that can integrate with affiliatesí sites well and are pre-loaded with trackable links. Give prizes for performance that include website makeovers. Get a separate URL for affiliates only offering a whole website of tips, suggestions, contests and winners.

Donít Forget the Basics

If your site isnít converting traffic to sales work on it! You canít expect affiliates to give up their prime real estate to send traffic to a site that canít convert them to buyers. Become focused on your customerís experience! (Thanks to Jim Gribble of http://www.LinkProfits.com )

Also, if you donít have enough margin to give a generous commission, then maybe affiliate marketing isnít for you.

GetCreative

Itís not about banners anymore folks. Hybrid deals, compound blends, swaps, and multiple text and content links are all working.

Some examples (thanks to Wayne Porter at http://www.AffiliateHelp.com - go there for even more great tips)

  • A merchant offers a premium affiliate of $2CPM (yes CPM! Keepreading) PLUS 10% and an additional 2% if more than 20 units are sold per month.
  • An affiliate guarantees premium placement in exchange for higher commission on sales PLUS gets $5 CPA for promoting a merchantís contest on their site.


Post Transaction Upsell

This simply means donít let that 'Thank You for Your Order page' go empty.

Merchants should become affiliates (or partners) with complementary programs and push those programs on this page. Your customer is leaving anyway why not get a commission yourself if you direct them where to go!

The other interesting development was the blatant absence of the big network providers at the event. No BeFree, no Linkshare and very surprisingly, no Commission Junction. These companies are all in short sighted cost cutting mode and they all decided to turn their back on the one event that celebrates the existence of Affiliate Marketing!

In essence, they turned their backs on those merchants and affiliates who MADE them successful by running programs that are dedicated to profitability using the very channel that these companies specialize in. Yet, where were they? Staying home worrying about their bottom lines instead of doing the ONE thing that would insure their long term success. Helping to train professionals in affiliate marketing best practices at a conference dedicated ONLY to this small niche field. I am appalled at this arrogant corporate behavior! Shame on them all.

Huge Kudos to Todd Farmer, CEO of Kowabunga Software and makers of MyAffiliateProgram, for showing up with his entire sales and marketing team. Their outstanding friendliness, knowledge, helpfulness and constant participation in EVERY event made them THE company to watch in the space. In a time where mass numbers of affiliates that belong to huge networks really donít do a thing for the overall success of a program, this web-based tracking solution makes sense. Use their in-house, flexible, reasonable, and feature packed SIMPLE interface to track your sales and use the money you save by firing your network provider to actively recruit good affiliates, pay better commissions and communicate with them more effectively.

PLUS, these guys have just launched the email marketers dream program called Opt In Pro and it is amazing. Solves all email challenges, has features of programs costing thousands more and is easy enough for anyone to implement. To find out more about these products and these fun, cool people, go to:

http://www.myaffiliateprogram.com/u/a/t.asp?id=10558

Lastly, for anyone who is serious about succeeding with their affiliate program, you have to read Shawn Collinsí new book, Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants. It is packed full of ideas, metrics, secrets and resources. This is a MUST HAVE!

Send Shawn an email at: scollins@clubmom.com and order it for $25, tell him Linda sent ya. Best $25 you ever spent on your business, trust me.

Well, thatís all for now folks. Look for more tips, articles and resources on my site over the next few weeks. And, if you have any questions or comments about supercharging your affiliate program just give me a call!

Business Blessings
Linda Woods
www.AffiliateGoddess.com

P.S. If any of you travel abroad or have clients that travel abroad and use a laptop to stay connected, please check out the outstanding service offered by Net-Roamer.com. They offer global internet access inhundreds of countries, that allows you to use your own email address for a lower minute rate that saves you big bucks on hotel access fees. Click here for more info:

http://www.myaffiliateprogram.com/u/netroamr/b.asp?id=1005

Linda Woods
AffiliateGoddess
Empowering Your Online Presence
http://www.affiliategoddess.com
805-963-7074
Santa Barbara, CA
linda@affiliategoddess.com