Friday, May 8, 2009

5 Tips You Should Consider In Choosing Affiliate Marketing Software


Starting an affiliate program is a fairly intimidating proposition for anyone, especially those new to affiliate marketing and the software necessary to operate the program. Simply put, affiliate software (also referred to as affiliate program software, affiliate management software and affiliate marketing software) is the technology that enables sites to create affiliate programs. The relationships created by affiliate programs must be tracked organizationally in some method so each side knows how that relationship is working. Affiliate software can vary from small, one-function scripts to multi function applications to complete solutions that include access to an existing database of affiliates, also known as affiliate networks.

Adding affiliate tracking software to your site is one of the most effective ways to achieve more sales, more traffic and more search engine ranking!

Since competition in affiliate program software is fierce, the landscape is full of providers eagerly awaiting your business. But, how do you choose? Choosing the right affiliate software is simple once you've determined what you need and want from your affiliate program. Asking yourself the following questions will lay the foundation necessary to make an informed decision.

Is the software easy to use?
The last thing you need to do when starting a program is to spend huge amounts of time trying to learn a complex solution. Choosing an application that is self-explanatory or very well documented for the layperson is ideal.

Can I brand it to my domain?
Few affiliate software solutions come with the ability to match the look of the software to your site. Those that do generally charge considerable fees for branding your affiliate program, but there are exceptions. For instance, we offer direct linking as an affordable option for branding your program as well as increasing link popularity.

Is the affiliate software stable?
Whether you buy or lease an affiliate software, it must be stable enough to handle large amounts of traffic when necessary. Reliability and uptime are key factors to determining a solution's stability. has 99.9% uptime, having only been down for maintenance.

Can this affiliate software accommodate my growing needs?
There are those who use their affiliate software to track banner ads, link trades and ppc advertising as well as some email marketing campaigns. As your comfort level in both your affiliate software and the management of your affiliate program increase, you may feel confident enough to branch your advertising out into other media buys. If you feel this may be on the horizon, you'll need a solution that can accommodate you when the time is right.

Is the cost reasonable?
Starting an affiliate program should not be a bank breaking investment. Shop around for feature-rich solutions that target small to mid-sized companies working on a budget. Don't settle for poorly equipped solutions just because the price is right. Trying to add necessary features or expand the scope of such solutions could prove to be costly, and ultimately more trouble than it is worth.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

10 Tips for Making Your Affiliate Marketing Program More Effective


Marketers with successful affiliate marketing programs know that the affiliate channel is a cost-effective way to drive incremental revenue.

But as with any marketing strategy, if you don't consistently apply best practices to your tactical efforts, you're likely to have disappointing results. Here are ten things you should focus on to improve the performance of your affiliate marketing program:
  • Effective Creative: Publishers spend time and money promoting your products or services, so you need to make sure you provide effective creative to help them sell your products. Effective creative has consistent brand messaging and a consistent look and feel every place the consumer interacts with it in the buy-or-try conversion funnel, from the banner on a publisher's site to your landing page to your shopping cart or lead form. Effective creative also has a clear and highly visible call to action and a compelling offer.

  • Competitive Offers: Are your offers in line with your vertical or industry? Take a look at what your competitors are offering for similar products or services and evaluate whether or not your margins allow you to provide a comparable or better offer. The trend of offering free expedited shipping proved successful for online retailers during the 2008 holiday shopping season and is continuing to be popular with consumers in 2009.
  • Deep Linking: It's well known that deep linking (linking directly from your offer on a publisher's site to the landing page where the product or service can be ordered) converts better than linking to your home page. The fewer pages a consumer has to click to before reaching the item, the more likely that shopper will complete the purchase. An easy way for online retailers to provide publishers with their complete and up-to-date product catalogs is through the use of data feeds, which we can set you up with.
  • Optimized Landing Pages: Your publishers can drive quality traffic for you all day every day, but if your landing pages aren't optimized, then your conversion rate will suffer. Make sure that there's visual consistency between your ads and landing pages, that your copy resonates with your target audience and that you follow through on the promise of your ad by making it clear what shoppers need to do next to get the special offer.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC)/Search Engine Optimization (SEO): If you're not using paid and/or natural search campaigns to test the effectiveness of your ad copy, you're essentially just guessing at what works. Often the success you see in search can be the best indicator for the success of your affiliate program.
  • Simple Checkout Process: Streamline your checkout process to reduce the steps required to purchase a product. To prevent shopping cart abandonment, list shipping charges early in the checkout process and include thumbnail images of items next to their descriptions to provide a visual reminder for customers returning to their carts from previous visits.
  • Incentives: Top-performing publishers drive the majority of your revenue and expect to be compensated accordingly. So don't let them down by offering the standard commission you give to all your publishers. By offering special incentives that you tie to a specific product or to a volume or time-based goal, you're letting your best publishers know that you'll reward them for achieving the results you need.
  • Communication: Lack of communication with your publishers is the cause of many failed relationships. Make it a priority to communicate frequently and clearly with your publishers using the methods they prefer. Many publishers rely on email or instant messaging, but there may be times when they'd appreciate it if you picked up the phone or visited in person – this especially applies to your top revenue-producing publishers.
  • Professionalism: What you communicate to your publishers can be just as important as how. If you don't have marketing copywriters on staff, make sure to run your affiliate program description page and publisher newsletters by your company's corporate communications or documentation teams so they can flag typos and make sure the copy reads well.
  • Quality Online Presence: When was the last time you looked critically at your Web site? If it takes forever to load, has confusing navigation or amateurish graphic design, then consumers are likely to perceive your products and services negatively. Invest in a graphic designer or user interaction designer (or a talented intern) who is skilled at presenting information from a consumer's point of view rather than from a corporate perspective.


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