Affiliate Marketing has become a confusing category thanks to a variety of sites using that term for their programs. A closer look at these programs will show that many of them do not really fit the term. Just What Is Affiliate Marketing?
True Affiliate Marketing Programs follow a simple formula that can be described as commission sales for the modern world. The affiliate is a salesperson, while the company with the products is the merchant. The affiliate promotes the merchant’s products – usually through the use of tracking links – and when someone buys, a commission is paid. For best results, these links aren’t just left hanging in the open with no context. Instead, they’re paired with sales pitches or other content that is meant to both motivate people to buy the items and to get search engine rankings.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a big part of the strategy for many affiliates. It’s how their sites get traffic, and without it, the success of affiliate programs would be much lower than it is. This sometimes surprises merchants who think that the extra sales will happen by magic. In reality, they will find that their affiliates are competing with them in the search engines. This shouldn’t be seen as a problem by merchants, but instead, as a welcome relief from having to do their own SEO. Affiliates take all of the risks associated with playing the Google algo, and in exchange for merely paying a commission, the merchant gets more sales.
One thing to keep in mind when defining this sort of marketing is what is not it. It is not multi-level-marketing (MLM). MLM programs may offer commissions, but they also require substantial investments from participants and success usually depends on building a big downline instead of drawing in sales directly. Such a setup is not an affiliate program. The real thing requires no fees from affiliates to join the merchant’s programs, and there is rarely any kind of downline involved. If there is a downline at all, it’ll offer only a negligible bonus and will usually disappear completely once the program has grown enough.
Those looking into the sales side of this business usually want to know about the Best Affiliate Programs. It’s harder to call one “best” than someone may think. In fact, it’s far easier to define the worst! The worst are the ones that have unreliable tracking, ban people for invented reasons, and otherwise find ways to not pay out. When it comes to the best, things change greatly. Best is not the same as biggest; often the biggest programs have so many affiliates in them that the competition is tremendous.
Because of these things, the Top Affiliate Programs should be seen as the ones that are the most likely to bring success and to pay out. Look for programs that deal with items that people want to buy, but that aren’t so obvious that there are already 10 million other affiliates out there trying to sell the same things. Also, look for ones that are on networks like CJ; independents seem to disappear without paying far more often than network programs. Finally, don’t overlook Amazon. It’s huge and it’s independent, but it also has millions of different products to focus on and is known for always paying. The amount of different products involved makes it easy to avoid the problem of market saturation, and Amazon Affiliate is likely the single top affiliate program out there right now.