Of course, there is no prescriptive recipe you can follow that guarantees success. To me, the best marketers are those that can simply build experiments, test assumptions, and iterate over their ideas quickly. Affiliate marketing is really no exception. Here are just a few tips and heuristics I’ve picked up through my experiences that should be helpful!
What the chart above doesn’t show is the role of the affiliate marketing network (e.g., Commission Junction or LinkShare). From the publisher’s point of view, the affiliate network is involved very early on in the process, generally supplying the ad creative and affiliate links used to refer traffic. They’re also involved at the last (and most important) step in the process: a portion of the commission earned by the affiliate goes to the network who matches them up with merchants and handles the various administrative functions.
Before launching an affiliate program, merchants should establish their default commission structures. This is the base commission rate that will apply to all of your standard affiliates. You will still be able to customize terms for individual affiliates, but your base commission rate dictates how affiliates that do not have negotiated terms are paid.
All sorts of email marketing messages are clogging up inboxes. To improve your open rates, you must be strategic and make your recipients want to open your email marketing messages. For instance, email newsletters that are chock full of helpful tips and resources might be more effective for your audience than sales promos. Once you’ve earned trust and a captive audience, recipients may be more inclined to open up emails that are more promotional in nature.
When do you want to get started? If you are just starting and have no audience then some of the programs may not accept your application to become an affiliate, while others will let you get set up in minutes. If you want to get started straight away then make sure you’re applying for programs that are less restrictive. Generally the larger, network style places will enable you to get going quickly while specific niche programs may require you to have a certain audience size or characteristics.