Just lately I’ve had several business owners approach me for advice and support in adding an affiliate program to their business. And quite often what has prompted them to think about adding this additional income stream is that someone has simply said to them “do you have an affiliate program that I can sign up to?”
Just because someone asks you this doesn’t mean you need to run out and get one set up. There are some critical steps you need to take BEFORE your business is ready to have an affiliate program added to it.
Before we get into these critical steps let’s just take a look at what an affiliate program is and what it can mean for your business…
Basically an affiliate program is your own personal sales army of people (a.k.a. your affiliates) who will go out and recommend your products and programs for you and in return you’ll pay them a commission on everything they sell. The commission amount can be whatever you want it to be, but my own preferences are 50% on digital products and 20-25% on group programs.
You will provide your affiliate with a unique affiliate ID which they will then place in their ezines, on their blogs and websites, share with their social networks etc. telling everyone about your products and programs. A visitor will come along to their blog (or wherever they’ve placed their affiliate link) read all about YOUR products and programs, click the link through to YOUR sales page, and then BUY your product. Because they came from your affiliate’s website (and the system knows this because of the unique affiliate ID that your affiliate has) your affiliate will earn commission on that sale. And it’s all automated so the system takes care of the sales and commissions.
In a nutshell, what an affiliate programs mean for you and your business is that you:
- Have your own personal sales army
- Can use it as a list-building/web promotion tool
- Can build your business through joint ventures with other business owners
- Can get others to promote your products and programs
- Will generate a consistent revenue stream i.e. additional product sales
And this is why affiliate programs are so popular and why every business should have one — when they’re ready! There are three critical steps you need to have in place before you can add an affiliate program to your business:
1. The first step is having either products and/or programs available for sale, and having them available for sale directly via your website. Without a product and/or program in place there is nothing for your affiliates to sell.
2. The second step is having the right system in place to support an affiliate program. Ideally you want a system that is an all-in-one ecommerce and database management system so you’re using the same system you sell your products and programs through to manage your affiliate program. Two of the most popular programs for doing this are:
- 1ShoppingCart (the one that I use); and
- Infusionsoft (excellent service, with lots of bells & whistles, but more costly)
3. And finally, having a library of promotional tools (e.g. articles, adverts, graphics etc.) all ready to add into your affiliate center so that it’s very easy for your affiliates to promote you.
In summary, for an affiliate program to work properly you need:
- The affiliate program to be part of the same system that you use to sell your products & programs
- Individual product & program sales pages for affiliates to point their networks to
- The affiliate program to be able to track individual affiliates and provide them with a unique affiliate ID so that cookies can be tracked and affiliate sales applied appropriately
- To have all your promotional materials all ready to go to make it super-simple for your affiliates to promote you.
When everything is part of the same system then it all becomes automated and much easier to manage and track.
(c) 2010 Tracey Lawton
About the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches online solo service professionals how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed so that they can create a more streamlined, systemized, and automated online business. Check out http://www.officeorganizationsuccess.com for fr.ee how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools, and sign up for your fr.ee “Office Organization Success Toolkit”.
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