Way back in January, this column covered some basics of affiliate program promotion. Judging by recent reader email, it’s about time for an update. Not surprisingly, some things have changed since then. First we’re going to review some of the best places to get your program jump-started. Then – in another bow to your requests – we survey U.K.-based and other non-U.S. resources.
By now, regular readers of the column have gotten the message that sometimes more really is, well, more. Specifically, why join only one network when you can join several? So, your first stop should be to look at all the various networks, do your homework, and launch already. Think of affiliate networks as shopping malls. As long as each mall offers access to a different set of customers, sign up.
After you’re up and running, it’s time to go through the compulsories. Your program needs to be listed in the affiliate directories. Since our last roundup, some new directories have emerged, while others haven’t kept up. First, love them or hate them, there are the must-haves: CashPile, Associate-it.com, Refer-it.com, and AssociatePrograms.com.
There are really too many good affiliate directories to mention. I currently track about 40 directory sites on my own – and I’m missing probably another 20 or so. Perhaps best known for its discussion lists, ReveNews.com also operates its own can’t-be-overlooked directory. Another of my favorites is the excellent MakeMoneyNow.com. In fact, after meeting its proprietor, Dane Arden, at a recent affiliate conference, I was surprised to learn it’s far from new, having been around since 1997. Another long-standing directory that I’ve only recently begun spending more time with is kresch.com. Specialty directories are even beginning to emerge; for example, Woo Doggy! provides pointers to free content providers.
One of the other goals of your promotional activities should be to validate your program in the eyes of affiliates. In fact, you should be aware of Affiliate Union, which has been organized by affiliates hoping to establish minimum acceptable standards for merchant agreements. While Affiliate Union sorts out its model agreement, affiliate marketers would do well to get in front of some its board members, including Glenn Sobel of AffiliateAdvisor.com and Wayne Porter of AffiliateHelp.com (which was just recently transformed by an excellent redesign).
If you’re thinking this seems like an incredible expenditure of time, you’re exactly right. Fortunately, there’s Affiliate Announce. This excellent service is operated by Neil Durrant, who also operates Affiliate Marketing, which is targeted to affiliate marketers. Briefly, Affiliate-Annouce.com is a service that submits your program particulars to nearly four dozen affiliate directories, including just about every directory mentioned above. I’ve used Neil’s service for every program I’ve ever run. Another similar service is Affiliate Broadcasting, though I have yet to use it myself.
Another British Invasion
A number of merchants outside the U.S. are embracing affiliate marketing. Seemingly overnight the U.K. market has absolutely heated up. There are now at least six different networks, not to mention the international expansion of several existing U.S. networks.
TradeDoubler not only operates in the U.K., but also throughout Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, and Spain. In fact, TradeDoubler claims to be the leading European provider of performance-based marketing solutions and affiliate programs. Company materials indicate more than 100 merchants have signed up, including Bidlet.com, Autobytel.com, JobLine.com, Dressmart, and Wideyes.
ukaffiliates.com has signed up at least 16 merchants since launching at the end of March. From a payment standpoint, ukaffiliates.com offers a “me too” recruitment bounty similar to that of Commission Junction. Just a few months later, in July, AffiliateWindow launched. It boasts a baker’s dozen of merchants and the same “me too” five percent affiliate recruitment bounty.
MagicButton.Net was founded in early 1999, and currently operates out of London, with designs on Scandinavia, Spain, France, and Germany. Launched in August, yourcheque.com is playing very aggressively. Consider these offers: for affiliates, a #5 sign-up bonus, plus a #5 referral bonus and five percent override commissions for life – plus an incredible 10 percent commission on ALL sales, from DVDs to clothing. For merchants, yourcheque.com has a sweet deal, too. No setup fees, no monthly management fees, and a pledge to be up and running in 24 hours. In less than 60 days, nearly two dozen merchants signed up. And, as if the U.K. needed it, there’s another network. Launched last month, Panprofit is a subsidiary of ad agency Panlogic. Its site is heavy on flash (literally), but light on substance. Stay tuned.
Of course there is iMediation, which goes beyond mere affiliate marketing and represents its own class of solution. iMediation’s software and services enable business partners to jointly sell products and services online, while better managing their brands and complex sales, marketing and distribution relationships. More than 60 companies around the world use iMediation’s solutions, including Comet/Kingfisher Group, Conrad Electronic, Deutsche Telekom, Hewlett-Packard, HMV, L’Orial USA, Philips Electronics, and Wards. In September the company announced it had received another $52.5 million in funding, bringing its total funding to $88.5 million.
Finally, there are the U.S.-based networks that are themselves moving abroad. Perhaps more than any other, Commission Junction is setting the pace. The company now has offices in Amsterdam, Oslo, Hong Kong, and London. Additionally, CJ now offers its site in 11 languages, while making payments to affiliates in 28 local currencies. Commission Junction claims 130 international merchants and more than 100,000 international affiliate sites. Be Free is making inroads of its own with offices in Paris and the U.K. In the last month, Be Free announced the addition of several European merchants to its network.