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Four Questions Before You Look For Affiliate Programs

I’ve been receiving emails from people asking for my advice on which affiliate programs are the best, who pays the most and most often, and many other basic questions. I’d like to answer those questions on this forum, but I can only type so fast. I went out this weekend looking for content that I could publish here temporarily while I got down to writing. I had a hard time finding unbiased content. Most of the so-called reviews out there are infomercials, and that’s not what I was looking for with this blog. So you’re going to have to bear with me.

I’ve been looking and learning and reading and talking, and I’ve got a lot to say. I just need the time to write it down, and I will, starting tomorrow. No, really I will. In the meantime, you need to ask yourself this — are you ready for an affiliate program, or Internet Advertising in general? I put together four questions you should ask before you embark on your affiliate program or any Internet advertising. Before I get to the four questions you should ask before you enbark on your affiliate program, I am going to review two concepts that I use often here on Affiliateblog.

The first is what I call the macro view of your Internet presence: Incoming visitors - Internet Presence - Sales or Actions You are really running two campaigns with your Internet presence -- the first campaign is concerned with getting visitors to the site, and the campaign is ongoing. The second campaign is to get those visitors to do something. That something may be just to spend more time at your site, or it may be to sign up for something or buy something. The other represents the process of Internet advertising: Impression - Click - Action Most affiliate programs pay publishers in the last part of the process, the Action. I’ll be using both of these concepts in my questions. So here we go… 1. Do you know enough about your visitors? There are literally thousands of affiliate programs out there. While some affiliate marketing hubs are experimenting with context-sensitive serving of affiliate banners and banner rotation on affiliate sites, YOU will be the one to decide what kind of products and services you want to offer your visitors. This seems like a minor detail, but it is a major factor in your success. If you haven’t already, take a look at the stats for your web site over the past month or so.

Where do your visitors come from? Have you paid for Google, Yahoo or other search engine traffic? What are the keywords that people used to get to you? More complex and specific search terms tend to result in more immediate conversions, while broader search terms may result in sales later. If people get to your site using what you believe to be broad search terms, you need to be sure that the cookie life (the amount of time that passes between someone from your site visiting the affiliate merchant’s site and the sale) is long. Do you have textlinks or other advertising on other sites? Do you know the demographics of the visitors from those sites? Have you spoken to the webmaster, owner or manager of the sites on which you advertise and asked him or her about their visitors? Do you know the websites? Have you visited the sites that advertise on the same sites as you? When you investigate all of these things a profile of the visitors to your site should begin to emerge. Which search engine brings you the most traffic? If it’s Google, the user is slightly more apt to be male, and in the middle (of MSN, Yahoo and Google) as far as propensity toward buying something (42% more likely than the average user). There’s a terrific article on marketingvox.com if you want to see more details. You can also find some interesting demographic info on the major search engines from AQABA. You should pay particular attention to the domains of your visitors. If you have a lot of AOL traffic for example, you should consider that the profile of the average AOL user is 35 or older (77%) and married (62%). If you have trouble with textual representation vs.

graphical representation (as I do), there is a terrific product called VisitorVille that takes your web logs and animates them. The text is represented as pictures (buildings, people, buses for the search engines, etc). You can see it here. Disclaimer: I am a VisitorVille affiliate. After all this you should be able to sit down and come up with the profile of a typical visitor. This profile should hopefully include estimates of age, country of origin, education and income. Try to think like your visitors. Try to anticipate their interests and the products and services they might want to purchase. Affiliate programs raise the bar from PPC — your payment comes at the end of the Internet marketing process (the Action) rather than at the beginning (Impression or Click) like Google Adsense or Doubleclick. You need to apply more brainpower to the process, and you’ll make more money if you do it right.

2. Is your site perfect? You’re asking someone to buy something from your site. If the pages have sloppy html code, broken links or instability from a bad Cascading Stylesheet, it makes you look cheesy. We’ve all been uncomfortable buying something off a cheesy website. You don’t want to be that website. Let’s start with the html code. Are you sure there are no errors in it? Have you used an html checker like the one at W3C? I find mistakes in my code all the time. Unless you check your code on several browsers in several resolutions you might not catch an error. The validator will.


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