This was to be a later instalment in my series of articles to help anyone new to affiliate marketing succeed, as well as reiterate practises old hands know they should be using but maybe forgot. However, I had to write a report for a client, CanLookUp.com, recommending how they should approach setting up an affiliate program of their own. I decided to edit the report to use it as instalment three in this series, thus killing two birds with a single stone.
I have a few simple rules I follow faithfully when looking at developing a relationship with a merchant managing an affiliate program…
1. I email a merchant with an interesting affiliate program before signing up.
I will ask a generic question like, “Would your product/service sell well on my website Laughs4Free.com (or one of my more relevant blogs or websites)?” If they don’t respond, I try again. If they still aren’t responding I rethink my signing on as an affiliate. A lack of communication indicates there may be other problems to come, such as issues with my payments.
2. If the company website has what are called “traffic leaches” I’m gone.
Traffic leaches are links and banners to other websites that the merchant is being paid by. I never work with a merchant that has banners or links to other website, even Google Adsense ads.The merchant wants their affiliates to send traffic, but if they can’t sell prospective buyers their own products they send them to another ecommerce site. I know I’ll see none of the revenue from those sales, so I will not be sending my traffic there.
3. If I can’t see the product I want to sell where my affiliate referral link goes, I’m gone.
I probably promote one out of every 20 affiliate programs I sign up for and most I drop because of this single factor. If I am interested in a product and click on a banner or text link I expect to see the product photo, description and a buy button or link. I do not want to read about the company, nor do I want to watch a video. What I want right off the bat is to learn more about the product and the price… then, if I am interested, I want to learn about the company, who the payment processor is, what the return policies are, shipping cost, etc. etc. etc. I’m amazed at how many online merchants don’t get this, which probably means they’re amateurs.
I say amateurs because it’s a fundamentals of web marketing that it’s: 1st click is to reach the product, 2nd click is to learn about the product, 3rd click is to buy the product… and each page should have a trigger to bypass everything and buy now. A trigger is a button or text link that basically say “buy now”, and without seeing one, or worse seeing content that is irrelevant to making a product or service purchase, I know I’m dealing with an amateur merchant that is likely reducing their own conversion ratio by distracting a potential purchaser, so would do the same with my referrals.
Plan and simple, people shopping online want to buy something, but they do not want to be sold anything. A straight up merchant will make their product or service the focus. Then, if the buyer decides he or she wants additional information it’s either provided right there, on the purchase page, or linked to from it.
4. If the merchant’s website has broken links, I am gone.
I’ve visited many ecommerce websites that have broken links, but rarely seen them on the websites of serious, well known ecommerce merchants. Finding broken links is an indication to me that:
a ) The website has been abandoned, or that the online business isn’t taken seriously by the merchant.
b ) If links don’t work, there may be problems with the scripts used to take payments as well, meaning I lose sales.
c ) The merchant has cheapened out on website management, so is probably not to be trusted to pay me.
None of the reasons for there being broken links instils confidence, and with hundreds of alternative sites to shop at I’d be visiting one of them. I have to assume any potential customer I referred would do the same.
5. If I find outdated content on the merchant’s website or blog, I’m gone.
I love checking out merchants’ own blogs, about pages, press releases, etc. I will often learn m