Growing your base of affiliates requires every bit as much thought and attention as growing your customer base - in fact, some might argue it's even more onerous. To lighten the load, you might want to take a look at what affiliate directories and submission services can offer you. Joel's been out there scouting these out, and is here to share his findings with you.
Having put last week's column into practice, you're ready to take on new affiliates. After all, making the most of the affiliates you already have feels great, but nothing replaces the thrill of watching your network grow.
With your sights on sources for new affiliates, hopefully you've gotten the message that a "build it and they will come" attitude just won't cut it when it comes to affiliate marketing. Growing your base of affiliates requires every bit as much thought and attention as growing your customer base. In fact, some might argue it's even more onerous. But when it works, it's totally worth the effort. Let's take a look at some web sites that can help.
Affiliate Marketing Yahoos?
Of course we all know the story of how Yahoo became the first web directory. What you may not know is that a whole crop of miniature Yahoos have sprouted up, all dedicated to affiliate marketing. With a little effort from you, these affiliate marketing directories will add your program and begin pointing eager webmasters your way.
While it might be romantic to tell the story of the first affiliate marketing directory (drawing parallels to Yahoo along the way), in truth it's not clear exactly which directory came first. (Think you've got the scoop on this? Let me know.) Most of the 40-plus affiliate marketing directories offer roughly the same content typically between 1,500 and 2,000 affiliate programs arranged by category (e.g., sports, jewelry) and/or payment method (e.g., per click, per lead, per sale).
Many also offer some type of rating system, presumably to allow fellow webmasters to make more informed decisions about prospective merchants. And no affiliate directory is complete without advertising. The quantity of ads on the home pages of almost every directory is just staggering, with literally dozens of ads stacked shamelessly on each other. Go to one of these home pages and you'll find yourself in the web equivalent of Times Square.
Enough! Where to Start?
One of your first few stops should probably include Refer-it.com, which at last check boasted 1,584 "quality" programs. Now owned by Internet.com, Refer-it has as its biggest category "Shopping," with 156 entries. At the same time, swing by CashPile.com. With 44 listings, "Shopping" ranks as its top category too. Another professionally maintained directory is Associate-It.com, which lists 1,758 programs. Here you'll find that top honors go to the "Internet & WWW" category at 376 listings. In terms of sheer quantity of programs, AssociatePrograms.com is perhaps the biggest directory at 2,369 listings.
Some affiliate directories offer a completely different categorization scheme. At i-revenue.net, "1 Stop Agents" has the distinction of being the largest category. All 269 listings feature merchants using BeFree, LinkShare, Commission Junction, Nexchange or another affiliate network - perfect for webmasters who want to minimize the number of programs they're required to join. Trying to cut through the clutter is ReferralMadness.com. Surprise! Its largest category is "Gifts & cards," featuring 26 listings, though "Food & groceries" isn't far behind with 25.
If affiliate directories have followed in the path of everyday search engines, submission services are the next logical evolutionary step. What's amazing is not that affiliate marketing directories spawned the need for automated submission, but rather that it's taken so long for such tailored services to develop. In fact, Affiliate-Announce.com seems to be the only service of its kind. At once it removes the tedium of submitting your affiliate program to all the major affiliate marketing directories and saves you the chore of slogging through the web trying to locate dozens of directories.
In a little more than the time it takes to submit your affiliate program to any one of the directories above, Affiliate-Announce.com collects the same information for submission at around four-dozen sites. This convenient service is not a bot - at least not yet; a real human manually submits each listing, all for only $79.
Growing your affiliate base is obviously a critical function of affiliate marketing. By submitting to the various affiliate marketing directories, affiliate marketers gain another forum for attracting affiliates. Time spent at the top half-dozen affiliate directories can give your program some added visibility for many months. Likewise, a submission service can cover the same ground on your behalf. It's not a question of how to get listed, but when. Happy submitting.
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Joel Gehman is the creator of AffiliateHandbook.com. He consults, writes, and speaks about the dynamics of affiliate marketing.
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