For anybody whose business depends upon a constant stream of new customers, the eternal question is: where do I find new customers on a limited operating budget? Of course, hiring a sales staff (for brick-and-mortar companies) or running an SEO or pay-per-click campaign (for online companies) are the traditional answers. But, these solutions cost money.
Another alternative that is much more cost-effective is that of the affiliate marketing model. It works like this: the affiliate promotes your products or services, sending hot prospects your way. If the prospects buy from you, you pay the affiliate a fair commission. If no purchase is made, you pay not a dime to anyone. Very different than the traditional advertising model, right?
It is no understatement that affiliate marketing is one of the wonders of the marketing world. Essentially, it involves getting other people to spend their time working to procure for you valid sales referrals – and you only have to pay commissions if and when those sales are actually made.
If you are thinking about setting up an online affiliate marketing referral program to promote your business, here are 3 tips that can help get you on the right track:
1. Online affiliate marketing entails zero downside for your firm:
The very best thing about this marketing technique is the total lack of risk to you, the firm with the products and services for sale. Theoretically, you could have a hundred or more affiliates working for you and, if no sales are ever made, you do not pay a dime in fees.
2. Be generous with your commissions:
If you decide to set up an affiliate marketing program, be sure to be generous with your commissions. It is tempting to get greedy here, but think about this: the typical affiliate will generally work to promote not only your products and services, but many others as well. If they find they are able to make more money (per hour, on average) promoting someone else’s products because you have chosen to pay very small affiliate commissions, they will stop spending their valuable time promoting your site. In the end, your greed will cause your affiliate program to fail.
Instead, you need to set a reasonable figure for what you are willing to pay for each sale. Whether it is an absolute dollar figure or a percentage of sales, just make sure that whatever figure you come up with leaves you with a viable profit margin – but makes the affiliate want to come back for more.
3. Ensure fairness for both you and your affiliates:
The final step to a successful program is to ensure that you are setting up the proper controls and policies. To protect yourself from paying commissions on returned items, set up a one-month delay between a sale and a commission payment. And, to protect the affiliates, make sure you have a fair, transparent way of tracking their sales so that they can be confident they will get paid for services rendered.
All in all, as long as you design it intelligently, a good affiliate program is a win-win for everyone: you, your customers, and the affiliates themselves.