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Q & A with the Experts...

logo_assocprograms.gif (1062 bytes)Allan Gardyne,
AssociatePrograms.com

Allan Gardyne's AssociatePrograms.com is filled with books, step-by-step instructions, guides, newsletters and tips, tricks, tools for anything having to do with associate or affiliate programs. Allan lives in Tuan, a tiny fishing village in sub-tropical Queensland, Australia. Allan recently quit his day job to concentrate on AssociatePrograms.com. We recently asked Allan to answer a few questions on affiliate marketing, his answers follow.

Q: In your opinion, who has a worthwhile affiliate program and why?

A: Of the many hundreds of affiliate programs available, I have experimented with a few dozen. The best have an excellent product or service, a site which is clearly designed to sell, a generous commission structure, good graphics, and they offer useful marketing advice. Usually they can be promoted in three ways: using graphics, text links, and in your newsletter. One which qualifies is every respect is Declan Dunn's new book, "Winning the Affiliate Game", launched a few days ago. This has all the makings of a runaway best-seller because there's a desperate need for concrete examples on how to make money with affiliate programs. It also has a two-tier commission structure, so as well as earning 25% from the sale of the book, you earn 10% from sales by sub-associates (like the first two levels of multi-level marketing, but without the bad connotations - so far). Declan provides innovative HTML code which combines graphics and text. He is a consultant on affiliate programs - and his expertise shows in his marketing of his own books. (http://www.associateprograms.com/)

John Ferber's TeknoSurf Adwave is an interesting one, a pay-per-click network with a built-in intelligence, serving more of the banners which achieve the most clicks. He has tacked on a referral program, paying $5 (US) for every new site and then also paying a commission on THEIR earnings, giving you a residual income. It actually pays out in four different ways. John has a high rejection rate - TeknoSurf is suitable for serious e-marketers only. (http://www.teknosurf.com/)

WebSponsors network recently added a referral program, paying 10% of the earnings of sites you persuade to join, as well as its pay-per-lead payouts. One current offer pays $16 (US) merely for downloading a trial version of taxation software. An unusual feature of WebSponsors' program is that for you to qualify to earn those second tier commissions, your own site must be earning $15 a month. About 90% of people who sign up for two-tier programs are beginners or amateurs or lazy people hoping someone else will do all the work. WebSponsors is clearly making sure that if you join the program you have to use it yourself, or you don't receive most of the benefits. (http://www.websponsors.com/)

I'm sure you've heard of Corey Rudl's home-study marketing course. It has a two-tier commission, paying $65 and $20 so with payouts that generous, you don't need many sales to earn useful money. Until a few days ago it was my top-earning program (overtaken in two days by Declan Dunn's "Winning the Affiliate Game" (http://www.marketingtips.com/t.cgi/7134/).

Thomas Harpointner's AIS offers a series a products and services, a two-tier commission structure and he makes things simple - when you sign up for one you are automatically signed up for the lot. This means that you could advertise his credit card facilities hoping to earn $175 commission and find that people are joining his iLynk Wholesale Network which offers TVs, VCRs, designer watches, jeans, computers, software, CDs, stereo equipment and sporting goods at 70 to 90% off normal retail prices. (That is what happened to me - so I switched to promoting iLynk.)

AIS has a brilliant tracking system. I can alter the last four digits/letters in the following URL and I'll be able to tell if a sale resulted from this e-mail. (http://www.ilynk.com/id.cfm?AG45xMITC)

People want hard facts. OK. Here are two examples:

LendingTree.com has produced an income for me of just over $4 per 1,000 impressions, from a small graphic tucked way down the bottom of a page with a lot of good links on it. Joshua Reimer of http://www.PromotionWorld.com has found that Web Cards banners produce an income of $5 to $6 CPM.

However, simply pasting in the code for a banner is the most ineffective way of promoting a program. Personal testimonials and text combined with graphics work much better.

Q: How important are affiliate relationships to the overall marketing plan, what is its relevance to other parts of the plan? (banner ads, email mktg., directories, etc.)

A: For a business, affiliate programs provide the cheapest, most effective form of marketing. You have an army of salesmen paid only on results. Reel.com found it was paying an average $30 to attract a customer through banner advertising, compared with $1 through its affiliate program. If you used a generous two-tier commission structure for an excellent product, I'm sure you could launch a business using no other marketing method and no paid advertising. Your army of salesmen would attract new salesmen . . .

Affiliate programs are wonderful for filling unsold gaps in your advertising inventory. They are easy to join and usually very simple to operate. Many of them can be promoted in e-mail newsletters. Some people do this with a huge stack of classified ads. I usually weave the ad into useful information - while making it obvious that I'll benefit if people use my special URL.

It's pretty easy, for example, to add a note to new subscribers which mentions a program that is doing well for me, or suggesting that they have a look at my Top 10 page.

Q: What are the red flags folks should watch out for when setting up and/or getting involved in an affiliate program, and what are the larger issues facing affiliate marketing?

A: Some companies set up programs offering self-replicating web sites and automatically approve *every* applicant. I think that's asking for trouble. Imagine a company in the offline world automatically approving every person who applied for a job as a salesman! That's what is happening online. I think it's crazy. However, it's cheap. Companies have obviously weighed up the risks and decided they are worth taking. If you're setting up a program, you will need staff to monitor allegations of spamming. That can be very time-consuming.

People will do dumb things, ignore your rules and generally make an ass of themselves, all in the name of your company. Some companies offering affiliate programs don't put their name on the site. In the real world, would you agree to represent an anonymous company? Of course not.

Some companies blather on for page after page, telling you how much money you can make. It's easy to get caught up in the hype instead of examining the product or service offered.

Q: Are you aware of Web sites or publishers who have seen affiliate programs become a viable revenue stream?

A: Yes. If you have a large mailing list and people have learned to trust your opinion, you can make good money from affiliate programs. I recommend that webmasters use affiliate programs to supplement their income. A few brave individuals are hoping to make a living from them. I think that's extremely risky. One often ignored - but highly successful - tactic is to buy a new, memorable domain name for the purpose of marketing *one* affiliate program. Make it a fairly simple site, and use WebPosition to help you get it ranked well in the main search engines. That works well.

That is described in the article "But that's not a REAL business!" by Lesley Anne Lowe (http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/newsletter032.html)



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