Tough Choices in Affiliate Marketing

Getting started with affiliate marketing requires only a little bit of background and oversight. There are a number of different types of affiliate marketing programs, each of which varies slightly in method. Each of the methods offers a somewhat different pay structure. Making the right selection depends on the nature of the affiliate content, the kind of traffic expected, and the overhead time and money investment required from the affiliate.

It’s important for a new affiliate marketer to conduct a little research before joining a new program. Learning the basic definitions of terms most often encountered is important in order to ensure effective and thorough question-and-answer sessions. Knowing ahead of time some of the typical guidelines and restrictions potentially will save a lot of energy in the long run. Some of the following questions may help to guide a new affiliate marketer in the right direction:

What’s the affiliate structure? Affiliate programs can range from a direct commission of sales or services to simply the funneling of traffic through paid advertisements.
What’s the payout? An potential affiliate should learn the commission percentages on referred product or service sales. Commissions of fractions of a percent may also be offered just for clicks. Some affiliate programs offer a tiny payout merely for impressions, regardless of whether a click, page hit, or sale results. Profits of this size are merely a trickle but can accumulate into real residual income over time.
What is the tier structure? Many affiliate programs refer to their structure in terms of tiers. In a one-tier system, affiliates earn money through sales that are generated directly by the affiliate. A two-tier system essentially allows affiliates to connect to secondary affiliates. From each of the sales of the secondary affiliate, the primary affiliate also earns a bit of profit. These primary affiliates also earn straight profit from their direct sales, just like in the one-tier system.
What is the expected efficacy? In other words, how many hits or clicks are expected in order to generate one sale? A good affiliate program should have overseen metrics which can generate these numbers with precision. Working with this figure ahead of time will ensure that the affiliate marketer can take the necessary steps to attract the right kind of traffic to his or her website.
What kind of metrics does the affiliate program offer to its affiliate marketers? Affiliates should be able to access detailed, comprehensive reports in order to confirm the hits to sale ratio, to observe trends in efficacy over time, and to further tailor his or her website traffic. This is an important and often-overlooked benefit of affiliate marketing.
Potential affiliate marketers should also take into account membership fees. Programs which require a large overhead investment should be avoided unless their credibility is absolutely established. The best affiliate programs seem to be cost-free.

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