Thursday, November 29, 2007

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.