Affiliate Marketing

How to Get Other Websites to Sell on Your Behalf

Affiliate Marketing is a bit like recruiting extra sales staff to sell your products and can be a very useful way for a micro-business to reach a wider audience.

Affiliate marketing involves adverts placed on specifically targeted websites. Examples can be seen in this website where I might include specific adverts for website hosting companies on a page discussing websites, or for email despatch companies on a page discussing email best practises.

They are different from Google AdChoices because the choice of who and what gets advertised on AdChoices is up to Google, rather than me. I have limited control over it and can only hope that they are relevant to what readers want. But with affiliates I can choose which other companies I want to advertise and where to place their advert.

The company for whom I am the affiliate provides me with the artwork for the advert and I place it on my site. There will be a contractual payment arrangement set up between me (the affiliate) and the advertiser (the affiliate marketer).

How Micro-businesses Can Use Affiliate Marketing

The first stage is to create a clear profile of the types of customers most likely to purchase your product or service. For guidance in doing this, read Finding out who Your Customers Really Are and Segmenting Your Customer Base.

Then, with the profile and understanding of which types of websites they are likely to use, you can either approach website owners directly if they have an Affiliate Programme (such as Amazon Associates) or an Affiliate Network who will find them for you.

Affiliate Networks are like brokers in that they bring together the websites that will carry advertising with the companies that would like to advertise on them. This ‘bringing together’ is generally done on an automated basis although you will still need to complete a profiling form for your products and services if you wish to advertise through affiliates. You will then need to provide advertising artwork for an online banner advert to the Affiliate Network so that they can provide this to the websites which will advertise your products.

This is why the profile is so important – without it the Affiliate Network cannot place your adverts on appropriate websites.

Paying for Affiliates

There are several different types of payment arrangements available and you can decide on which is the most relevant for you.

Per Sale – in this arrangement a payment is made only after a purchase. It’s like paying commission on sales made.
Per visit – this is where payments would be made based on the number of visits to a website.
Per impression – sometimes confusingly called CPM, this is a payment based on the number of times an advert is displayed. The phrase ‘CPM’ comes from cost-per-mille, meaning per thousand.

The most appropriate will depend on what you’re trying to achieve and the overall sales process. If I’m advertising books for instance, payment will be on the basis of sales as it is a simple, straightforward purchase. But if it were a referral to a graphic designer then I would want a pay-per-visit because what happens after the website visit is not under my control. CPM is more appropriate for mass-market websites where brand-building is the main aim.

You might want to read Customer Purchasing Processes to see if Affiliate Marketing could have a role to play in your overall micro-business marketing activity.