Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Importance of an Affiliate Program to Membership Sites

Join Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program isn't really a program. It's a business arrangement.

Affiliate programs are also known as associate programs, associates programs, referral programs and even bounty programs. Most affiliate programs are free to join. Affiliate programs are important to membership sites for a number of good reasons. Mainly, because they are a way to earn money without producing your own product.

Affiliate programs allow your membership website to generate additional (other than the membership subscription) income by advertising products that are relevant to your site’s theme. For example, let’s say the theme of your membership website is golf. You would recommend products that you like yourself such as golf books, golf magazines, golf videos and golfing gear.

When you have an affiliate agreement with the merchants selling those products, they provide you with affiliate links which you paste into your site. Then when members click on those links and buy those products, you earn a commission. Affiliates programs can earn you commissions in three ways: per click, per sale and per lead.

The members of your membership website are helped by the affiliate programs as well. They are given easy access to products that they would otherwise have to search the Internet to find.

Run an Affiliate Program

On the other side of the aisle, you can let other companies post your ad on their sites and pay commissions for sales of your product or memberships. Sure, you may give away 50 percent of your profit to an affiliate; but 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing. If you have several affiliates, you’ll undoubtedly make up the lost percentage in sales quantity. One hundred percent of $1,000 is a lot less than 50% of $5,000. It’s quite worthwhile in the long run.

Beware of Affiliate Spamming!

Since your affiliate marketer earns compensation based on a percentage of each sale, you can see where an affiliate marketer would be sorely tempted to send out email advertising the products he makes money for promoting. At one time, this resulted in so much SPAM being generated that anti-spam laws were enacted. Spammers are severely fined and the newest twist in the anti-spam laws are that the merchants, like you, whose affiliates spam are being held responsible for the spamming as well. So you are well advised to exercise caution when you choose affiliates, and then to supervise them closely.

If you are considering adding an affiliate strategy to your online sales channel you should research the different technological solutions available to you. As affiliate marketing has matured many affiliate merchants have refined their terms and conditions to prohibit affiliates from spamming. Some types of affiliate management solutions that help to deal with this problem include: standalone software, hosted services, shopping carts with affiliate features, and third party affiliate networks.

Spamdexing

Search engine spamming or Spamdexing is the practice of deliberately creating web pages which will be indexed by search engines in order to increase the chance of a website or page being placed close to the beginning of search engine results, or to influence the category to which the page is assigned.

Right now there is a lot of debate about the affiliate practice of Spamdexing. Many affiliates have converted from sending email spam to creating large volumes of automatically generated web pages each devoted to different niche keywords as a way of optimizing their sites for the search engines. This type of Spam is the biggest threat to organic search engines whose goal is to provide quality search results for keywords or phrases entered by their users.

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