In a previous post we covered the origin and function of affiliate marketing. We have noticed that there is a major shift occurring in the affiliate world. The affiliate program marketers are turning their attention to direct sales and party plan independent representatives and actively recruiting them. What’s the motivation? Affiliate marketers are counting on the fact that if they recruit direct sales representatives, they will leverage existing customer relationships to purchase products through tracked affiliate links online.
You need to know about the challenges facing affiliate marketing today before you enter into an agreement so that you can have the best chance of long term success in using it to supplement your business. Most affiliates will seem very secretive; it is the nature of their business. With limited paid traffic resources they are unlikely to share best practices with you. Success secrets are typically held until they are no longer profitable and then shared as part of a larger success program. Pay close attention to the rules of each affiliate program.
To be successful you should have these skills or help from others in these areas:
You must be able to write!
Between ebooks, blogs, articles, social media, and email selling there is a lot of writing involved.
Find a reputable web design, web hosting, or WordPress service.
You may want to learn how to do this but don’t let your lack of knowledge hold you back in the meantime. This is something that you can hire a local service provider to do for you.
Purchase an email marketing platform.
You need to be able to get your message out to all of your contacts quickly and easily. The technological answer to this need might be something simple such as Aweber or MailChimp or it could be high tech such as Hubspot or InfusionSoft.
Develop an understanding of SEO (search engine optimization).
Find ways to help your site rank in Google and Yahoo/Bing without looking too spammy or getting into trouble with the search engines.
Find relevant paid traffic.
This might include sponsored blog posts, Google ads, Facebook ads, and email paid advertisements. It is easier to understand the value of traffic and the true cost when you stick to the industry niche you are familiar with.
Design your own affiliate relationships.
Do you know of a product that does not have an affiliate program? You can negotiate a good deal by offering a test affiliate program with a manufacturer. Where possible ask for a product bundle or sku that only exists for your affiliate program so there is no question about your effectiveness. Get your agreements in writing and have them reviewed by legal counsel.
Developing web properties and building your personal brand can be costly. Selling smaller informational products or products related to your direct selling niche can actually help you grow your business. You may already be paying several hundred dollars to acquire someone interested in your business opportunity. What if you could get in touch with many more people interested in a product related to your industry and create a customer relationship from there?
Here are is a few sample situations you might consider creating for yourself that are examples of how this might work.
Alice is an independent beauty representative selling a makeup item in her party plan business. Recently she has been looking for new people to host parties. She decides that her target market is brides to be. So she creates videos and ebooks on how to create three different makeup looks for brides. She begins asking people on social media to share these informational products and asks only for an email address in order to access them. As a result she ends up adding several email addresses to her contact lists and invites each of them to host a party in exchange for a free wedding day makeup artist.
Sam is a representative of a direct selling opportunity for a juice product. He has decided to target women over sixty, who he feels would benefit from his product. Realizing that there is a lot of interest in health topics on pinterest he develops an ebook about healthy habits for the new year for his target audience. In fact he also creates several videos about these healthy habits and encourages people to speak with a doctor about how these tips might benefit them. As a bonus he markets a special web site just for individuals that want access to free healthy living content he created and others that he represents for purchase as an affiliate. When these people purchase any of these affiliate partnership items he gets a share of the product price in the form of a monthly check.
You may be asking yourself. How do I find products that I can give or sell to my target audience and that can help me grow my list? There are a few reputable affiliate networks that represent many products and we recommend looking into the following:
• www.pepperjamnetwork.com (owned by ebay)
You also might wonder if there are any affiliate programs to stay away from? The answer is yes. You should always research any networks that you are considering joining. Ask questions and look around the web to see who else may be involved in their offers.
If you are approached by an affiliate marketing system or program, beware. The truth is programs that automate affiliate marketing rarely work and when they do work it is short lived. Affiliate marketing is best done by marketers who are constantly tweaking and testing their campaigns. As with any business there are no guarantees. Make sure you have a good accountant and legal counsel to advise you in the growth of your business.