Saturday, December 02, 2006

When to say "When" to an affiliate program

http://www.affiliatematch.com/

How long should you promote an affiliate program before you make the decision that it just isn't going to work for you?

Let's face it, no matter how well a particular product may do on other websites, it just might not be right for yours. Statistics show that only a small percentage of affiliates for any given program actually make any money. What happens if you are one of those that falls into the category not making money? Is it time to take down the site and let the domain name registration expire?

No way! But it just might be the right time to make some changes to your strategy. Analyze your website and the programs that you have signed up for. Determine which of those REALLY appeal to your target audience. I said REALLY because I want you to look at the programs from the viewpoint of your visitors, not from the viewpoint of which ones are supposed to make you the most money.

There's a lot of advice out there on which programs to pick for your website, highest commissions, monthly payout, online reporting, etc, etc, etc. The fact is that you don't always have that choice to make. You need to concentrate on the products that your visitors will be the most interested in. What programs compliment your website's content and theme are much more important than signing up for every program promising to make you rich with only one sale.

I'm a great example of the above information. One of my websites caters to a highly targeted audience. I have tried many affiliate programs and advertising solutions on that site over the past two years. You know which program consistently beats all others? Amazon.com!

I get paid quarterly not monthly (make that a month or two after the quarter has ended), I only get credited for that visit, not repeat visits, and up until about a month ago had to wait until Monday of each week for my emailed statistics.

Believe it or not boys and girls, Amazon.com doesn't fit into the 'model affiliate program' mold that we read so much about. Now, I'm not trying to be hypocritical here, I too feel that you should do your best to find quality affiliate programs that offer all of the above benefits and then some.

I'm just trying to tell you that if you find a program that really appeals to your target audience, you CAN make some money with it. Don't pass up products that your visitors would really be interested in just because they don't pay you enough. Because if your visitors really do purchase from a particular program and you can show consistent sales you will be able to appeal to the merchant and ask them to increase their payout to you.

This happens a lot in this industry, especially if it is a good fit for both sides. Worse case you might be able to get away with telling them that if they don't cooperate with you, you're going to change to another program. Chances are they don't want to lose your business, and they will work something out for you.

So now we've done the easy part and dumped the programs that we know aren't appropriate for our site. What about the ones that are fairly targeted to our content and that our visitors might be interested in? How do we know when the amount that we are going to earn doesn't justify the time and effort to promote a particular program?

I once read that you should give at least 3000 impressions to any given program before making the decision to keep it or drop it. I don't quite agree with this statement. According to this, I post a banner on my site, and if it hasn't made me any money by 3000 impressions, dump it.

We all know (at least I hope we do!) that there is much more to being successful with affiliate programs than just adding banners to your rotation.

So how do we set a benchmark? This has to be determined by you. It is based on your website, your visitors, the program, and the amount of effort you have put into promoting the program.

Have you blended the product offerings in with your content? Have you given personal recommendations for any of the products? Have you displayed the links and/or graphics prominently so that the majority of your traffic has a chance to see them? Have you mentioned new product offerings to your newsletter subscribers?

If you can answer yes to the majority of the above questions, then you can make a determination as to how long to try the affiliate program. If you've done these things and your visitors have passed right by the offerings for a decent time frame and nothing has happened...its time to move on!

Find another program and give it the same due diligence. If you do this with each and everyone of your targeted programs, you WILL find a program that will perform for you!

This process should be familiar to you...many, many internet marketers preach this concept...simply known as...TESTING!! Your online career is a series of continual tests. Try one product, if it doesn't work for you, get rid of it and try another one.

After you have done this testing, then and only then, can you say "When" to an affiliate program.

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