Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

Nearly everyone can get started with affiliate marketing, no matter what type of business you own. As long as you’re online, you can earn income (i.e. commissions) for referring business to different brands. Read on for a quick introduction to affiliate marketing and tips on how to get started with generating income from affiliate ads on your website.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simply a practice which rewards “affiliates” based on each customer acquired by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. In other words, brands will pay commission to their affiliates for referred business (typically through advertisements on your website, email newsletter or social media pages).

As an alternative to Google Adsense or banner ads, affiliate ads on your website or email newsletters could be a great way to generate extra income for your business. It is relatively easy to get started with affiliate marketing, since, depending on the type of business you operate, many of the companies you wish to work with already have programs in place. Signing up for an affiliate program sometimes can be as easy as visiting a company’s website and filling out a form.

Types of Affiliate Models

Cost per Lead

Cost per Lead means that a company pays you each time someone clicks on an advertisement on your site and does one of the following: creates a profile, fills out a form containing their contact information, or signs up for a free trial. The payout for each lead is typically lower than the payout for each sale in the Cost per Sale model, but, since the visitor does not actually have to purchase anything, visitors will typically convert into leads at a higher rate than they would convert into sales. Not all companies offer the Cost per Lead model.

Cost per Sale

Cost per Sale is a great way to keep your marketing costs low while building a relationship with any company you are advertising. Before going in to a cost per sale relationship you should consider a few things: the amount of traffic you plan on receiving, the amount of traffic you believe you will be able to send through the advertisement, and how much the company is willing to pay you per sale. A cost per sale payout should be significantly higher than Cost per Lead or Cost per Click contracts, since the company will only write you a check when someone goes to your site, clicks on the advertisement and then buys a product. Keep in mind that this type of affiliate model depends on two questions:

1.    From the number of people clicking on this advertisement, how many people are buying the product?
2.    How many visitors to my website does it take to produce one sale from the advertisement(s)?

Cost per Click

Cost per Click simply means that each time someone clicks on your advertisement, the company you are advertising for pays you a fee. The payout per click is usually very low, and you will typically only see it practiced on sites with extremely high traffic volume or on sites that advertise products which aren’t very relevant to the content of the website (example: a car advertisement on an extremely high traffic sports website).

Where to Find Affiliate Programs

Here are some well-known affiliate networks that offer a large number of advertisers to work with:

If you don’t find a specific company you want to work with on any of these networks, you could also try contacting the company directly to inquire about affiliate programs. Some companies will already have affiliate programs set up, while others may not.

If a company you want to work with doesn’t currently have an affiliate program, inquire about setting one up to work with you. If you’re approaching a company that is selling a product or service that goes in tandem with or compliments your own, you’ll probably have a relatively easy time trying to set up an affiliate relationship.

Should I get into affiliate marketing?

There are no hard rules when it comes to affiliate marketing. Simply do what makes the most sense for your business. You may decide that putting ads on your website that take visitors off your own page doesn’t work for you. Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone, but if you decide to get into it you’ll find it’s a lot easier than you might expect.

*If you own a small business and want to learn how to utilize affiliate marketing to spread the word about your business, keep reading our blog for future posts in this series.

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