Sustaining Affiliate Program Success

This week I’m back with more handy advice for those of you who are serious about improving your affiliate programs and increasing the number of your active affiliates.

KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Make your navigation simple and easy to understand for the visitor. Leave the whiz-bang stuff to somebody else. Create pages that load quickly, and provide pulldown menus, navigation bars, and search functionality for your users.

When it comes to banner ads, check the load time. Some banners may drastically slow down the loading of your page. Images should be kept to a minimum, as some banner ads have more bytes than the entire HTML of your page. When using larger banners, place them near the bottom of your page. Visitors can begin reading the text at the top while the page is still loading.

There are free JavaScripts that can easily be added to your site to help with navigation, including menus, redirects, and pop-ups. When you add a search feature to your site, it serves a dual purpose: navigation and finding affiliate promotions to make updates. When affiliate programs are placed on hold, or when time-sensitive offers must be replaced, you can use the search box to find the links that need to be revised or removed. It helps to add the name of the merchant or product to your keywords when adding a link.

The Freshness Factor

It’s important to refresh links often (no less than every three weeks) or use rotating links to keep the offers fresh. Newsfeeds, horoscopes, and other features, such as free email, message boards, and chat, will also give your visitors a reason to return.

Your site must have a purpose and a reason for people to stick around. The one-page site with lots of links to affiliate programs (the banner farm) is just no good for anybody. Visitors will never come back, and you will never make any commissions.

When you create content, you should use it on your site as well as in a newsletter. Turn your visitors into subscribers by publishing an e-zine or newsletter. Visitors come and go, but most subscribers stick around. By marketing to your visitors via email, you can encourage them to revisit your site while delivering your affiliate offers to their inboxes.

Go Beyond the Banners

You have to do more than just post some affiliate banners on your site. Just like you, your visitors are immune to banner advertising. To maximize the clicks through your affiliate links, try writing a recommendation or review.

Dedicate an entire page on your site to each affiliate program that you recommend; there, you can explain the benefits of going to those sites. Such testimonials are very effective, because your visitors trust your opinion.

You can also leverage your opinion and reputation by writing reviews for the product or service that you promote. For instance, book reviews are a natural place for an affiliate link.

My Friend, the Affiliate Manager

Don’t be afraid to contact the affiliate manager to ask for special links. The average affiliate uses the links that are provided to everybody. The average affiliate also earns infrequent, small commission checks. If there is a product or service on the merchant site that you would like to link to directly, just ask for it.

If the affiliate manager can’t be bothered to create a special link for you, don’t be bothered with his or her program. Develop a relationship with the affiliate managers, even if you’re not yet a top performer. Offer feedback, and ask questions about how you can improve your performance.

The Numbers Game

It’s vital that you stay on top of your statistics. Know which programs are working for you. Don’t just look at the total amount of money; look at the average order size, as well as the click-through and conversion rates. This will tell you which links to promote more and which ones to drop.

Also, make an effort to promote a limited number of quality programs rather than a large quantity of lower-quality programs. You should be very picky about which affiliate programs you join, because if you join every one that looks good, you will be quickly overwhelmed.

It simply will not do you any good to make a few cents from 100 different affiliate programs. What you need to do is make more money from a few great affiliate programs.

These are by no means the only ingredients for improving your program’s recipe, but they do make it a little better. Share them with your new and inactive affiliates, and you’re likely to see your active rate increase. After all, an affiliate is a terrible thing to waste.

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