Affiliate marketing has allowed many online users to earn extra bits of income every month in addition to full-time salaries depending on the level of the affiliates.
Basically, companies provide promotional material for their products that affiliates publish on their own websites and in return, once a sale is made the website owner earns a commission. Indeed, this is a very easy way to earn an income, not in the sense of making instant millions, but the methodology of getting into business is easy.
Because the affiliates are not required to hold any inventory nor do they require complex software to manage online payments, delivery of product, and resolution of customer complaints, the business model is safe for the internet business owner. Everything, except the promotion itself, is done by the company who owns the products.
To summarize, most affiliate marketing models include four key components:
• Merchant is the company whose products are offered and represented by the affiliate.
• Affiliate is the person who publishes and promotes the merchant’s products by way of his/her own website or marketing strategy.
• Network is the company that brings the affiliate and merchant together. Generally speaking, the network manages the interaction between the two, sometimes including functions such as payments, approval process, statistical tracking, and inventorying the promotional material. The network is usually a convenient place where the business owner goes to review and maintain his relationship with the merchant. Of course, not all merchants work through a network preferring to manage their own affiliate programs, but a large percentage use one of the major networks.
• Customer is the end user who purchases the merchant’s product via the affiliate’s website. Typically, the customer is not considered a customer of the affiliate and thus, the affiliate has no right to personal data. Admittedly, the customer is an end user and quite possibly a customer of the website owner, but once that customer purchases from the merchant, other than the commission paid, the transaction is between the customer and the merchant.
While most affiliate programs are easy to begin, there are nevertheless, rules and regulations to which the affiliate must adhere. Some merchants are stricter than others but in general terms, the affiliate is not permitted to use the promotional material on sites that are deemed illegal, may not use adware programs to promote products and earn commissions, may not say that he/she is an employee of the merchant, and must use the material in a fair and favorable manner (meaning that deceptive content will not be added).
Further, the merchant may impose restrictions on how an affiliate promotes their website. For example, they may not allow affiliates to use the legal company name or any trademarks in the course of advertising. This is especially true of website owners who engage in cost-per-click advertising. They may not be permitted to use the company’s name in their ads, thereby, outranking the merchant.
Depending on the merchant, commission types do range, but normally a percentage is awarded to affiliates. Payment thresholds are normal which means payment is not made to the affiliate until a predetermined sum is achieved. For example, twenty-five or fifty dollars worth of commissions must be in the account before a check is sent.
Lastly, affiliates should choose products that complement their websites and content so that end users are more interested in the offering from the merchant. By honing in on a specific niche, the affiliate has a greater chance of converting his/her traffic to bona fide sales.