Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Leading Digital Products Affiliate Management System – ClickBank is the premier affiliate management solution for selling digital products online. You can sell your own digitally downloadable products through ClickBank or promote products from thousands of other ClickBank merchants from one easy affiliate administration panel. Best of all, there is no need to install any expensive scripts on your website and you can start receiving payments and signing up affiliates for your own product or promoting other people’s products within hours of opening an account. The beauty of ClickBank is that it integrates the affiliate management program with an in-built payment gateway. ClickBank is one of the most popular and easiest services to use for payment processing online. Sign-up is quick and you get approved and running, usually within one business day.

The ClickBank Control Panel is easy to use. You can get familiar with the whole system in no time. It costs $49 to open a ClickBank account to sell your own products. This is pretty cheap when compared with other payment processing systems. Once you open an account, all your transaction money gets deposited into your account. You are paid the full balance every two weeks. Of course, it’s free to sign up and promote other people’s products as a ClickBank affiliate. I’m a member of more than a dozen different affiliate programs, and have literally thousands of webmasters signed up in the programs I run myself. If you’re serious about earning serious money online, then you’re going to be spending a lot of time checking out affiliate programs and tracking your responses. Remember, affiliate programs are one of the easiest and most reliable ways to make money online. So far, we’ve talked about several different marketing strategies that can work to bring you traffic and sales on the Internet including banners, text links, affiliate programs etc. But your website isn’t the only way to get the traffic you need. In the next chapter, we’re going to begin discussing how you can use email to drum up business. QUESTION: Are you just reading this book for the fun of it or do you plan to start making real money online? Information is useless without action. You already know everything you need to know to make money on the Internet. The key is to act on your knowledge. Click here to launch your own money making website immediately!

LinkShare – Affiliate Network that Works offers affiliates a choice of hundreds of merchant programs. On the site, affiliates can join new programs, get links to put on their sites, and then see reports about how their links are performing and how much they have earned. When a visitor from an affiliate's site clicks on a link and goes to a merchant's site, LinkShare keeps track of all of the transactions that the visitor makes. If that visitor buys something on the merchant's site, you get a commission. In some cases, affiliates are compensated even if the visitor doesn't buy anything, just for having driven traffic to the merchant's site.

LinkShare also provides affiliates with customer service, notifies affiliates about new programs and opportunities, and offers resources for affiliates to learn about how to get the most out of their programs.

Classifying Affiliates for Better Management

The hardest part of administrating an affiliate program is deciding what your affiliates need to help make the sale. But by carefully categorizing your affiliates, you can easily determine what their needs are and how to accurately meet them. The plan given below helps in categorizing affiliates in order to manage your affiliate program better. The first step is to pick at least three types of affiliates. Take a look at your affiliates and try to determine one outstanding characteristic that can easily be compared across the board. Here are some examples:

Level of Sales - You may find that your affiliates are so completely different that it's hard to find something to classify them by. Try classifying them by the level of sales they've reached with you. You'll most likely find that you have a few forerunners that lead the pack with a number of sales, quite a few affiliates that have sporadically made a sale or two and some that have yet to make a sale. This will help you classify them based on sales. Products - If you sell a wide variety of products for specific interests/needs you may be able to classify your affiliates by product. For instance, a financial site could classify types like Personal Finance, Small Business Finance, and Corporate Finance. Industry - If you market commodities like office supplies, health and beauty products, house-wares and so on, you may find that your affiliates come from a wide variety of industries. You can most likely classify your affiliates according to their industry. The second step is to determine the needs of each type. Each of your affiliate types will have different needs; some of their needs will overlap, but you should find a distinct difference in many of their needs. If you find that all of them have the same needs, go back to step one and re-think your types.

Here are some basic things to look for:

Linking Methods - Different types of affiliates will need different linking methods. Let's use the example above where we had different groups based on sales. Your low-sales group may be satisfied with a banner or two to place on their site. Your medium-sales type may be interested in an article or two for added content on their site. Your high-sales group will probably pass up banners for articles, email ads and signature files.

Capturing visitors is what you want. In order to do so -- you have to know what they want. Visit your affiliates' sites to see what visitors are looking at and looking for. Ask yourself, "How does my product relate to what I am seeing?" Different types of affiliates may expect different commissions. You'll have some affiliates that have joined your program "on the side" and others that plan on earning a substantial income from the program. Determine what effort they are putting into advertising, how much other programs in your industry are paying, and the amount of time they devote to your program.

The third step involves the process of creating and compiling linking methods for each group of affiliates. Based on the needs you identified in Step Two, create and compile linking methods for each type. Here are a few linking methods to think about:

.. Banners - Though they aren't as effective as other linking methods, banners are still widely used and expected. Make banners in a variety of sizes to fit tops of pages, bottoms, toolbars, sidebars and other miscellaneous areas.

.. Articles - These are great for affiliates that need content for their websites and newsletters. Be sure that your articles are articles and not ads.

.. Email Ads - Your active affiliates may be interested in placing ads in e-zines or their own newsletters. Try writing a few ads in different lengths. .. Signature Files - Dedicated affiliates may even add your tag to their signature line. Give them a few witty lines to choose from.

.. Guestbooks: - Let your affiliates help you build your opt-in email lists with guestbooks. Offer them a commission for each email address they send you, or each resulting sale from the subscribers they send you.

.. Product Images - Give your affiliates images that show and link directly to specific products. They'll be able to choose an image specific to their site, or choose several images to display.

Review each affiliate type and match them up with your new linking methods. You may have some linking methods that overlap types -- this is okay. Just be sure you are concentrating on the affiliates' needs.

The fourth step is to decide commission levels. Your first decision will be to determine whether you want to pay a flat rate or percentage of each sale. Based on the needs you identified above for each of the affiliate types, decide on a commission amount for each type. If you have a two-tier program, consider the possibility of different second tier rates as well.

How to Attract Affiliates

One of the biggest fears new Affiliate managers have is in finding new affiliates. This fear is a stumbling block that stops many site owners from getting started with affiliate marketing. Interestingly, with a proper marketing strategy, getting affiliates is not very difficult. Given below are some tips that will help in attracting new affiliates. Find complimentary sites - "Complementary" sites are sites that sell products or services that compliment your offerings. If you sell "gardening tools", a site that sells books on "gardening tips" would be a perfect affiliate. If you sell software, try looking for sites that sell computers or computer parts. Finding sites that already attract your target market and can benefit from recommending your product or service to their visitors is the goal.

Find content sites – There are many sites that do not sell any kind of product or service but are mainly content-oriented sites. Such sites promote an idea, concept, study or belief. Content sites that are used as a resource for your target market are ideal affiliates. Finally, there are several sites on the Internet dedicated to listing affiliate programs. Get your program listed in these directories.

Evaluating Your Website’s Performance

Website statistics and affiliate sales figures are essential for evaluating the effectiveness of your affiliate programs. Before you start recording and analyzing data, it's worthwhile to know what statistics you're trying to calculate - and why. Following are some of the key questions that need to be answered periodically to ensure the success of affiliate programs.

.. What percentage of the website visitors become customers through affiliate programs?
.. What percentages of sales are new or renewals?
.. What is the average revenue per visitor?
.. What is the average revenue per sale?
The most important figure you need to keep track of is the visitorto-customer conversion. It tells you exactly how well you convince your visitors to buy your affiliate products. Average conversion ratios for affiliate programs range between .5 and 1.5 percent. Anything above 1.5% is really good. This figure, however, indicates the total conversion for all the affiliate programs. If you promote more than one affiliate program you need to also calculate the conversion rate for each of the programs.

Knowing how conversion rates compare between programs is useful when deciding how to direct your promotional efforts. For example, if you discover that Program A converts at 1% and Program B converts at 2%, it might be time to spend more time and effort romoting Program B. Most tracking software would give you detailed information about each of the affiliate programs promoted on your website.

All affiliate programs that have a low conversion rate should be dropped. While this may seem like a lot of work to go through to track your site's performance, it really is a worthwhile endeavor. Once your tracking mechanism is set, and you've done the inputs a few times, you'll be surprised at how simple it becomes. In fact, you may find that eventually you look forward to adding things up at the end of the month to get a clear picture of where your affiliate business stands.

Managing and Tracking Your Affiliate Programs

The key to any business is to promote your products and services to people who need them. Your affiliate business is no different. In order to earn commissions you must put your products in front of the people who need them. The beauty of marketing affiliate programs is that it is anybody’s ball game. This is the one place you can burrow deep into your own niche and stick it to the so-called “big wigs”.

Staying Organized

There are many affiliate networks that provide multiple affiliate programs and merchants. Keeping track of all affiliate programs in a single network is easy. You would generally be given one username and password as well as a single interface that controls all the programs. However, if you have many of your own affiliate programs or you promote several stand-alone affiliate programs from your website, the task of staying organized becomes a bit more complex.

There are many software programs available on the Internet that organize and keep track of all data associated with affiliate programs. These programs maintain databases pertaining to information about all your affiliate programs such as:

.. Program Name
.. Date joined or created
.. Contact Name
.. URL
.. Email Address
.. ID
.. Password
.. 1st Tier Percent
.. 1st Tier Sale
.. 2nd Tier Percent
.. 2nd Tier Sale
.. Total Income
.. Additional comments

Once the program information has been entered, you can add information about individual sales made and checks received. The program then keeps track of sales to date, amount collected and receivables. Some of the advanced software programs also provide analysis and comparison tools for all affiliate programs. If you take the time to input collected data about clicks, sales, page views, impressions, emails sent, etc. from your various campaigns and enter all of it into the program, it will show you:

.. Click-to-Sale Ratios
.. Impression to Sale Ratios
.. Amount Earned Per Impression
.. Amount Earned Per Click

Of course, the best affiliate programs will provide these kind of detailed statistics for you at no extra charge.

Here’s a few additional tips for managing your affiliate programs:

Always ensure that your website is up and running. On a daily basis type your URL into your browser's address bar, refresh the page and find out. The danger in not knowing that your site is down comes hen you are running a pay-per-click advertising campaign. The click costs add up whether your site is functional or not. If your site is down, you are paying for advertising, but no one is buying. Check your statistics daily, maybe even twice a day. This will give you a better idea of your income trends and highlight affiliate programs that bring your business. Visit the statistics interface for each network and individual affiliate partner and input your total revenues into any accounting software. Using such software frequently will also keep you informed about any overdue checks.

Be prompt in answering any queries from affiliate partners or customers, especially when these are about your products or services. This probably means that the customer trusts your site and is thinking of buying your product.

One of the main benefits of many affiliate programs is residual income. You've got to make the most of each and every customer you receive. The best way to do this is by promoting affiliate programs that offer residual commission.

Residual income affiliate programs pay you repeatedly for a sale you make one time. For example, if a visitor arrives at your site and purchases auto responder services, newsletter subscriptions, ISP/hosting services, you will collect a portion of the monthly fees for as long as they remain a paying customer. Membership sites are a good way to collect residual commissions and are steadily growing in popularity. There are many affiliate programs that offer residual commission. Click here to learn about the top residual income affiliate programs that I personally belong to and highly recommend to others. Finally, track all your affiliate links. The best way to accomplish this is by setting up tracking software for your affiliate links. There are a number of scripts that will do the job. Most tracking programs typically allow you to setup tracking links for any product you promote, telling you how many hits each product has received, and where the hits are coming from. A more detailed view of tracking and analysis is given in the section below.

If you have your own affiliate program, it is not enough to provide just a few banners and classified ads for your affiliates. You must provide as much help as possible for your affiliates if you want them to be successful. You should offer tested and proven endorsements, testimonials, signature files, ezine ads, and other unique tools and techniques including individualized training for your affiliates. You must also make yourself available, either through email, phone or a member’s support forum, to help your affiliates implement these tools and to answer any questions they might have. Whether you run your own or participate in an affiliate program, you must be able to determine what methods work best in a particular medium. For instance, which ezine ads work best and in what ezine, which banner ads produce the greatest click-throughs and from which sites or banner exchanges, and the most effective spot on your website to include a testimonial are all important factors to address. Some affiliate programs have implemented unique payment procedures to get affiliates their commission checks on a timely basis.

Some of these procedures include: online electronic payment services, direct bank deposits and checks by fax. If you can solidify your payment procedures from the start you will save yourself an administrative headache, and more importantly, keep your affiliates happy and working to promote your program.

Cooking Off the Spam

Any time you run a program where your affiliates rely on sending you visitors to make money, you will eventually have a problem with spam. One of your affiliates will inevitably get it into their head to blast the web with unwanted garbage. When this happens you need to be ready to take action. Otherwise, it will cost you! Your website hosting company can boot you off your server and you can find yourself blacklisted. If you get an email from someone claiming they received spam with your URL, then take it as an early warning. I am not advising you to immediately terminate the affiliate’s account, but be sure to contact them to follow up on the complaint. Let your affiliate know you received a complaint and advise them to remove this person from their list immediately.

If you only get one or two complaints, it’s probably not spam. The complainants might simply have signed up for an email list and forgotten all about it. You will know when one of your affiliates is spamming, because you will get anywhere from 10 to 100 complaints in the same day all regarding the same URL. The best thing to do in this case is to immediately terminate or disable the account of the affiliate URL that has spammed.