Affiliate programs can help your site gain revenue. You agree to place a link on your site to send the affiliate traffic. The affiliate agrees to pay you for one or all of the following actions by the consumer who sees the link on your site.
This can involve a simple click on the link, sending the consumer to the affiliates site; an action such as filling out a questionnaire or profile on the affiliate site, signing the consumer up for marketing offers (this is called a lead); or a purchase by the consumer from the affiliate.
You will generally get more for a sale (pay per sale – commission) than you will for a lead (pay per lead), and more for a lead than a click( pay per click). You can also get payment sometimes for continued purchases from a previously referred consumer (residual) or for recruiting other sites to be affiliates (two-tier programs). Sometimes you see pay per view programs, which basically pay just for visitors coming to your own site and viewing the banner (pay per impression) but these are few and really more like an advertising agreement than being an affiliate.
Affiliates can be huge (like Amazon or eBay) and have their own affiliate program in house so to speak, or they can be part of a larger affiliate network. Networks can be all right if you are running a fairly generic site, but the key to making money with affiliates is to sign up for ones that have a greater relevance to your site. It wouldn’t help me much to sign with AutoZone if my website is PetStyles.
My main goal with affiliates is to encourage customers’ interest in them, so I personally don’t deal with any affiliates I wouldn’t personally use myself. If a customer buys a product from an affiliate after being directed there from my site, and then has a bad experience with the product or company, I don’t want that raining down on my head.
Since I actually believe in all my affiliates, I have no problem promoting their products on my site, so I can add some articles or content that nudges customers in that direction. If one of my affiliates is Cozy Cat Quarters, selling elaborate cat houses and hideaways it would behoove me to post a few cool pics and maybe an article – doesn’t have to be a sales pitch, it could as easily be a comic piece relating to the cats’ antics and mentioning in passing that the house is a Cozy Cat Quarters item.
The ad is displayed right there on your site, so the hope of course is that the laughing customer is intrigued and clicks for some more pics and info from the affiliate site. (You will want to make sure all of these open in a new window, so the consumer doesn’t leave you completely – gotta look out for number one!)
And of course, there is Ad Sense – which we will touch on tomorrow.