"All Internet Businesses Are Not Created Equal!"
When building a successful Internet businesses to promote affiliate products and services, you must first have a solid understanding of market research and testing skills. All Internet business opportunities and affiliate programs aren't created equal. Affiliate programs, associate programs, referral programs or partnership programs are only as good as the businesses behind them.
Make it your goal to identify the very best affiliate programs available in your niche. Research and test until you discover which businesses have the products, services, and marketing systems in place to convert the traffic you send them into profit.
Free franchise anyone? Identifying the best affiliate programs is like finding successful small business franchises, except they are absolutely free. The types of business owners that are best to target will already have designed, tested and optimized a sales & marketing system that their affiliate sales force can easily plug into and profit from. Affiliates can then concentrate on referring as many qualified prospects to the company's web site as possible.
Affiliate Program Checklist:
Here's a great list of criteria to consider when evaluating affiliate programs to promote in your internet business:
• Make sure the web site's tracking software works properly. Some affiliate tracking software isn't as accurate as you would like, so be sure that your affiliate id is tracked accurately throughout the system all the way to payment.
• Look for an automated follow-up system promoting your affiliate links. Most sales conversions are made after several e-mail follow-ups are sent. Very rarely do customers buy on the first visit to a web site, so you need smart auto-responders with follow-up sales letters going out automatically to your referrals. This may be in the form of an e-mail course, an e-zine or a newsletter that contains sales messages promoting your affiliate links. If you can access and replace the links with your own tracking urls, that's ideal. For full control have smart auto-responders installed on your own web server and create your own series of e-mail follow-ups.
• Affiliate Marketing tools. Look for pre-tested ads and e-mail copy, affiliate banners, satisfied user testimonials that you can include in your own pre-sales copy, viral reports and e-books, etc. Wherever possible, personalize the affiliate programs' sales & marketing materials and add extra value to the offers. You will want to do this because, in many cases, you're competing with hundreds of other affiliates for sales.
• A strong affiliate management program is needed. This means a responsive owner or affiliate manager who is easy to contact and provides multiple forms of contact such as phone, an online support desk and e-mail. The main thing is that a quick helpful response is provided.
• Internet marketing training. If you're counting on earning income from the sales of Affiliates that you've referred to a program, take into consideration that many of these people will be new to the internet marketing business. In order to succeed, they will need a good training package.
• An accurate visitor and sales tracking software system you can access online. An affiliate's virtual office where the number of visitors, sales conversions, and statistics can be tracked to determine what traffic & advertising sources are profitable.
• Multiple forms of payment that can be accepted on a secure server. Some of the major payment forms are major Credit Cards like Visa & Mastercard, Debit Cards, eCheck, Paypal, eGold, etc. The more options offered the better. This includes you pay and not just customer payments
• Strong back-end products that you will profit from. Check that the program allows you to further profit from other products that your referral buys while at the affiliate web site. The program should give you a commission for every product bought not just the one you have referred a subscriber to. One sale should lead to another, each product creating a desire for more.
• Long-term credit for sales made after the first visit. Lifetime is best, a year is good, 6 months is a little bit too short and less than 30 days is too risky. Since most subscribers won't buy on the first visit, if they choose to buy it will be after receiving about 6 or 7 follow-up messages.
• Pay structure that's fair to you and to the company. How much will the merchant web site be willing to pay you? There are several ways to earn commissions such as earnings per click or payment for a visitor who follows the lead from your site to the merchant site. Or pay per lead, which requires a visitor to submit details on a lead form. You find this information by requesting it from the program manager. You should not consider programs that are under $.10 as they will not produce enough income.
• Quick payment schedule. Look to get paid as quickly as possible. Most programs pay once a month although there are several that pay bimonthly and there are even a few where you can get paid daily.
• Low commission pay out threshold. This is the amount of sales commission you must earn before being paid. It should not be too high. If you don't get paid for a month's commissions because of the threshold, make sure that the payment gets rolled over to the next month.
• Residual income potential. You can leverage your time and effort by selling subscription based services like membership programs that bill monthly and pay residual commissions. This way you receive a monthly income from each referral as long as they stay members. You can also create residual income by promoting multi-tier affiliate programs that pay you for recruiting or referring other webmasters as affiliates.
• Fast automated product fulfillment. The quicker the customer receives a good product when they order, the better the chances of them purchasing more products in the future.
• Great customer service. Make sure that the merchant web site has a good customer service program available for your referrals should they have comments, questions or need further assistance.
• Good reputation. Does the merchant web site have a good reputation with both their customers and affiliates? This is one of the most important factors when dealing with a merchant site. To get an idea of the reputation of the merchant company, speak to other affiliates who are part of the program. They will tell you whether they are happy with the treatment they receive.
Many good programs don't fill all of these criteria. But, the more support they do have in place the better your chances of building a successful small business income marketing on the Internet."