programs are extremely useful for any e-commerce venture and should always be
considered. They not only offer you sales potential, but may give you a lot of
exposure as well. Considering that they are always based on pay for performance,
they take very little overhead, and if well planned, very minimal time to manage.
Please note that managing an affiliate program is key to its success. If you do not
support your affiliate and help him make money off your site, he will abandon you in favor
of greener pastures.
It is important to have enough resources to manage your
affiliate program. Let demand drive supply so don't hire someone to be a full time
affiliate coordinator unless you do have enough resources for that. On the other
hand, as you promote and nurture your program, make sure that you are giving it enough
time and resources, and make sure that you increase such resources as your affiliate base
grows. Affiliates are in essence unpaid sales people so make sure that they are
getting compensated by helping them perform.
Look at your marketing mix, if it is incoherent, your
offerings will not make sense to your customers or to your affiliates' website
visitors. There are two factors that are critical to your affiliate: Your business,
and his returns.
Your affiliate wants to offer his website visitors a
business that is useful to them. The more attractive your website and your products
are, the easier it is for your affiliate to "sell" you to his customers.
An affiliate to IBM or Microsoft will find it a lot easier to send his visitors to patron
such businesses than would an affiliate to a small T-shirt business in Albuquerque, New
Mexico. The least you can do to make your small business more attractive to your
affiliate's website visitors, is to have a clean site, easy to navigate, and easy to place
an order. (more on this in our design tutorial). The first interaction between your
business and your affiliates' website visitors is your advertisement (banner or text).
Invest time and money to make sure that the ad is a proper representative to your
business and portrays you in an appropriate image.
Your Affiliate's Returns
You affiliate is also interested in his returns for sending
you traffic. Not only should the commission be adequate, but you need to make sure
that your affiliate is rewarded for sending you "good customers" that come back.
While most programs do not reward affiliates for repeat purchases, consider a bonus
system that will account for that. The more money the affiliate makes, the more
resources he will allocate for your business.