Affiliate programs - rules

Rule Number One:

Go for quality! You want to examine the product or service they offer. Make sure it is a quality product or an excellent service! Look at the people who are recommending it, and talk to people who have bought it. Make sure you are recommending a high quality product that comes from a company with great customer service, and is reputable enough to back up what they sell.

And make sure there is good value for the money. In other words, be sure they are not charging a ridiculous amount of money for something, which is not worth much at all!

This is pretty important since you are putting your reputation on the line by advertising or recommending the product or service you link to. It's almost like you are endorsing them. So, you need to make sure you are dealing with a company that's going to reflect well on your reputation. Don't ever promote something that's going to hurt your reputation!

Rule Number Two:

You've got to earn good commissions. In other words, if someone is only paying out 5% or 10% per product sold, this is pretty low. You want to deal with someone who thinks about the life-time-value of a customer and who will give you a fairly high payout. These Affiliate Programs are few and far between simply because most companies don't understand the value of a customer and will only give you a small percentage of the profit.

Let's use my company, The Internet Marketing Center as an example. We pay over 60% of our net profit to our affiliates. The way we work our Affiliate Program is we give our affiliates $65.00 for every course sold through their link to our site, whether it be a banner link or a text link. After the hard costs of the course such as customer service, credit card accounts, hosting fees and other expenses are calculated, we actually pay over 60% out to our affiliates. In other words, we pay out a very good commission! We even have a sub-Affiliate Program… which means that if you refer our Affiliate Program and they join underneath you, they get paid $65 per sale (just like you), and you get paid $20 for every sale THEY make. Just think if you had a few really hot affiliates who signed up underneath you making 10 sales a month… you would be earning over $500 a month just in the work THEY are doing. Basically you keep getting paid as long as they keep selling courses.

You see we believe in the life-time-value of a customer and are willing to give away a lot of our profit to our affiliates and offer them as many benefits as possible. Finding an Affiliate Program that thinks this way should be one of your top priorities when shopping for an Affiliate Program.

On that note, if you feel that you have a website,
newsletter, or customer base that would love to have this Internet Marketing Course, feel free to join our Affiliate Program. It's FREE (and you earn $65 per sale). Go to tml for all the details and instructions how to join. Another thing I should mention is that even if a Program is paying out a high commission, if people don't buy from them, you're back in the same boat! You have to make sure that not only are you getting a high commission, but that the Affiliate Program site you are sending them to is a site which turns visitors into sales. The site must have a good conversion ratio.

You want to deal with a site that has a 1% conversion ratio (which means that one out of every hundred customers you send to them turns into a sale). There are not many sites out there which are "experts" at turning visitors into sales, so make sure you go with an Affiliate Program which has sales copy and website design that "makes you want to buy". After all, you are sending them the potential customers, but it is their job to turn those potential customers into buyers (so you can earn your referral fee). The more they can turn those potential customers into buyers, the more money your make.

Going back to our numbers game example from before, if 5% of the visitors to your site click-through to your Affiliate Program site and THEY convert 1% of your visitors into a paying customer... you'd be making 1 sale for every 2000 visitors to your site.

2000 visitors to your site X 5% click-through rate = 100 potential customers X 1% buying ratio = 1 buying customer.

As I said before, it’s a numbers game!
Also keep in mind your pay out amount. If you are earning a $50 referral for that one buying customer, you are doing well… but if you are only earning a $10 referral fee for that one buying customer, you will want to rethink things.

It's worth your while to keep experimenting with different Affiliate Programs if you want to, because you can join and drop most of them as often as you like.

Rule Number Three:

Match the product or service to the theme of your site. If your site is about horses and horse products you don't want to be advertising music CD's or weight loss products (unless of course it is a weight loss product for horses! ). If you are selling horse products you'd probably want to be involved in an Affiliate Program which recommends other horse related products or maybe even become involved in and recommend great horse books. Make it something that has to do with your site or your industry. If you try to recommend website hosting services when your site is all about how to train a horse, you aren't going to get very far.

You need to target your clientele so that you are selling or recommending something that relates to what your visitors WANT. I can't stress this enough, it is very important! Provide links, services and products, which are related to what your visitors want! I am shocked almost daily by people who build a site and have products and Affiliate Program that are in no way related to each other.

Rule Number Four:

Another thing to be concerned about is the tracking software the Affiliate Program uses. You want to go with a company, which has good tracking software, shows your statistics (stats) in real time. You want stats that are easy to understand and that you can check at any point in time to see how you are doing.


If you post an Affiliate Program banner, you will want to be able to see how much the banner pulls for you, and how many sales it's generating. The same goes for a text link, personal recommendation, or an endorsement to your customer base… you want to be able to see how many visitors you are sending to the site and how many sales those visitors are generating.

Having real time stats allows you to compare the
difference in results between putting a button up and putting up a whole page recommending the product or service. Having real time stats so that you can go and check anytime and see how your promotional efforts are working and their effectiveness is really important. So it's important to see real time tracking, which gives you instant information on visitor and sales results.

You also want to be comfortable that the software they use is sophisticated, reliable, and will track all your sales. Why I emphasize "all" is because you want to make sure they track online, phone, fax, and snail mail orders. Many companies only track online orders (which means you get no credit for all sales generated by phone, fax or mail). Other companies use certain "inferior" software that will allow the sale only to be tracked about 80% of the time (which means you lose out on 20% of the commissions that are rightfully due to you). Other companies will only pay you if the customer visits through your link and buys right there… if they come back later and buy, you may not get credit.

We will talk more about this in other parts of the
lesson and go over it in great detail in the next…but for now, just be aware of it. I am not saying to not do business with a company which may have these problems with their Affiliate Program, I am just saying that you need to be aware of it before your become an affiliate.

Rule Number Five:

Be careful that you don't allow Affiliate Programs to clutter up your main site or the main goal of your page. Don't go crazy with Affiliate Programs and find 10 different Affiliate Programs that are perfect for your business and promote all of them on your site at the same time! It just clutters up your site and makes it look worthless. Concentrate on one, two or three Affiliate Programs (if even that many), this number all depends on the type of business you are running and what kind of clients you have.

I have joined a few Affiliate Programs and use them to promote other quality products to my clients (we will talk a little more about the power of this near the end of this lesson). I wouldn't want to join a pile of unrelated Affiliate Programs and start offering website hosting packages, get-rich-quick schemes, books, CDs, etc. It is tacky and simply doesn’t work.
I only recommend products or services that my target market wants. This is extremely important, so I'll repeat it again. I only become part of Affiliate Programs for sites that have products or services that my target market wants. Notice I did not say "needs" here, I said "wants"… there is a big difference. People buy things impulsively because they "want" them, not necessarily because they "need" them. There are very few products in the world which people "need". Don't get caught up in the “more is better” attitude, it generally isn't. Just because one vitamin a day is good for you doesn't necessarily mean that 5 vitamins a day are better! If you put up too many Affiliate Programs on your site you end up flooding your market, confusing your visitors, and you won't end up making a whole lot of money. So remember to stay targeted!

Rule Number Six:

Deal with a reputable company. If you are ever concerned about a company you are thinking about doing business with, ask for references and do some checks on them. You want to make sure they are very professional. For example if you phone them and they are rude or put you on hold forever, or if you get an answering machine - be concerned about that as the customers you recommend to them will be getting the same thing. If you email them, they should respond within a couple of days, at maximum, and hopefully within the same day if at all possible. You'd be very surprised at how many companies will put you in "voice mail hell" or will not respond to your emails within a couple of days - or ever.

Customer response is a very important thing. When you have a problem or a concern (maybe you didn't get your check on time or you have a question about a sale)… and you call or email a company, you want to know that they'll take care of it right away. If you are asking questions about a company's Affiliate Program and get no answer (or a delayed answer)… be wary. If they can't even take care of you when you express an interest in becoming an affiliate, then you probably have a pretty good idea that they won't take care of you when you have a problem. You can also guess that they won't take very good care of your customers either!

So be very careful, the company you deal with should be very professional and willing to help you out when you're in need. On that note, although it is a little off topic… customer service and the speed at which you respond to email or phone messages, is critical.

For example, we now get over 500 emails a day at this office, and we make it a point to answer all the emails (barring a natural disaster) by the end of the day (48 hours if there is a natural disaster) - weekends excluded. I attribute this attitude as a major reason for the incredible success of my companies on the Internet.

A Couple of Important Side Notes:

The truth about bulk email and Affiliate Programs!

One of the myths of Affiliate Programs is that if you join a few, put them in an email message and then bulk email thousands (or millions) of people, you will make lots of money. That's not the way to do it. In fact it's probably one of the worst ways to do it for a few reasons:

The first reason is that unsolicited bulk emailing millions of people (i.e. spam) who have not qualified themselves as interested in your product is not very profitable and in a lot of cases you can end up losing a lot of money! I talked about the pros and cons of this in the lesson on bulk email.

Generally speaking, most Affiliate Programs have a spam email clause in their agreement that says that if you spam, you can get terminated from the program and not get paid for any commissions you've earned up to that point. There's also a good chance that if you spam, you'll probably lose your reputation, your Internet connection, and you won't get paid for any commissions you have owing to you.

Wouldn't that be a waste of your time and money?

There are even recent examples of companies billing for the time taken up with dealing with the complaints and administrative problems caused by people who spam their Affiliate Program URL! So you could end up paying out money instead of making money!

When you spam an Affiliate Program URL that is assigned to you, it looks like the company is spamming the recipient directly as the URL you are using is for their website… this can damage their reputation and cause an unlimited amount of problems.

I talk from experience… we've had problems with affiliates spamming in the past. We have had to adopt some very strict spam policies and if any one spams with our Affiliate Program we will terminate him/her instantly and all commissions they have earned are forfeited.

It's very important you don't do this, as it will cause you more havoc than anything else. I can't think of one Affiliate Program that will actually allow you to spam to get sales.

Another thing to pay attention to is exclusivity clauses in the agreement. A few Affiliate Programs state, "they can be the only retailer of a specific product on your site". So say for example you join up with a book selling program, they may state in their contract that you can only sell "their" books and can't be a part of any other book related Affiliate Program. Or say you join an Affiliate Program in which you are recommending a website designer... they might have a clause in the agreement that says that you can only recommend and link to their website design company, and no other. So just be careful not to restrict yourself if that isn’t what you want to do.

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