Should you Add Affiliate Sales to Your Marketing Mix?
Online sales from the corporate web site not all you had hoped for? Is the site barely
holding its own even though you've paid top dollar for a good design, your best copy
writers generated the text, and a search engine guru managed to get you decent rankings
in the search engine war?
If that's the case, it might be time to implement an affiliate program (a.k.a. associate program).
In short, affiliates are "commissioned sales people" who promote a merchant's product or
service on the Internet. In return, they are paid a commission for each customer they
bring in. Each affiliate is given a unique string of code that he or she places in a
banner ad, web link, or in an email message. When someone clicks on the special link,
they are taken to the merchant's web site. Affiliate tracking software monitors the
activity and tells the merchant which affiliate generated the clickthrough.
Depending on your operation, you might opt to reimburse your affiliates for sales, leads, or
clickthroughs. (i.e. the number of people who click through a special link and arrive at your web site.)
Noteworthy large companies currently using online affiliate programs include Walmart,
Payless Shoes, Boscov's Department Store and many others.
Affiliate programs work effectively for small businesses as well as large. Dr. Ken Evoy
of Montreal www.sitesell.com and
Cory Rudl of Vancouver
www.internetmarketingtips.com are perhaps unfamiliar names to many Canadians.
However, in the online community of international web marketers, both men are highly
prominent marketing gurus. Both have built lucrative online businesses primarily through
the use of affiliate sales.
Home businesses aren't excluded. Many a home biz operator has generated excellent sales
by incorporating an online affiliate program into the marketing mix.
As you might expect, not all affiliate programs are successful, and not all operate
without a glitch. Those companies with successful programs have figured out the secrets
to making a program work.
Binkley Toys Inc. has used an affiliate program to sell their teddy bears online since
1996. As of January 2003, the company has 7,846 affiliates. Rob Bishop, VP rates their
affiliate program as "more than successful."
Initially, Binkley Toys paid affiliates a sum for each clickthrough generated. "It could
get quite expensive, with no guarantee that a click (or 1000 clicks) would turn in to a sale.
Now, we only pay per sale. If there is not a sale, then there is no commission paid," Bishop commented.