Sustaining Affiliate Program Success

Most of your affiliates are inactive. According to affiliate metrix, if your program is typical of most, as many as 95 percent of your affiliates have never even served up an ad impression for you.

Did you ever think about how you could improve the active rate of your program? Better yet, have you actually done anything to increase the activity of your affiliates? If you are not going to work with your inactive affiliates, you might as well remove them from your system right now. However, if you are interested in maximizing your affiliate channel, it’s time you did something about it.

Recently, affiliates of the ClubMom affiliate program were asked what advice they wish they had been given when they first started in affiliate marketing. Being the altruistic sort that I am, I’d like to share with you some of what they said.

No Free Lunch

There is a common misconception that it is easy to make money with affiliate programs. Sorry, but it involves a lot more than just putting up a few banners and links. It takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of patience.

You will have to work at frequently updating your site and your affiliate links. To attract new visitors and bring people back to your site for a 2nd, 3rd, and 10th time, you have to make your site a destination. Your visitors are not coming to your site to click on affiliate links. Keep your site evergreen (i.e., update it often), and don’t expect to make money right away. If you build and market it well, the commission checks will come.

Participate in the Community

Share your knowledge, spout your opinions, and ask questions. The collective knowledge of the affiliates for any given program is a great natural resource.

Yahoo Groups hosts community sites for a number of affiliate programs and enables a community of affiliates to participate in chats, an email discussion list, polls, calendars, and more. If your favorite affiliate program does not have a community set up, suggest it to the affiliate manager.

Test and Test Again

Did you ever give prominent placement to an affiliate program and wonder why the money was not flowing into your account? It may be that the offer is simply not attractive to your visitors, but it also may be that the link is not functioning correctly.

Test every link you place on your site to be sure the links direct your visitors to the correct page or product offering. Some HTML editors alter part of an affiliate link, which ends up scrubbing away your affiliate ID when the link is clicked. So test, and test again.

Increase Your Traffic

To achieve sustained success with an affiliate program, you must drive a consistent stream of new traffic to your site. Registering with the major search engines is a good first step. Before submitting your site, be sure to optimize the code (title, meta tags, etc.). Take a look at “Search Engine School,” a free e-book, to get an idea about the best techniques for search engine optimization.

Also, it’s very beneficial for your site to make friends and alliances with other like-minded site owners. Swap site links and email signature plugs to drive free, targeted traffic to one another.

Contextual Is Effectual

You should select affiliate programs that tie in with your site’s content. If you have a site dedicated to automobile repair, a link to a site for credit card sign-ups doesn’t make a lot of sense, even if it pays the highest commission of any affiliate program around.

Visitors come to your site looking for a particular subject matter, so you should take advantage of the targeted audience and deliver offers for products, information, and services that are relevant to your site.

How likely would it be for you to be able to buy a case of motor oil in the same place where you buy your underwear? Odds are you wouldn’t go back to that store again (at least for underwear purchases). It’s the same concept with your site — give your visitors non sequiturs, and they will never give you sales. Your affiliate programs and content should be difficult to distinguish from each other.

Also, don’t try to sell the product or the merchant’s site where you are an affiliate. That is the merchant’s job. Your job is to entice your visitors to click on the links.

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