An Excerpt from Winning the Affiliate
-- By Declan Dunn
Affiliate programs may seem an easy way to sell. The
problem is, most people focus on a one shot sale. They
spend all their time chasing new customers, trying to
sell them, and then forgetting about them. Without a good
sales process and target marketing, sales will not be
high. Without generating traffic to your site, you will
not sell at all. If you do not follow up with your loyal
customers who have bought (talk about a sign of trust),
you are wasting your time and money.
The statistics prove this out; first time sales will
generate, at best, a 30 purchase rate. That would be an
excellent result; most often it is between 1-2%. That's
one sale per hundred visitors!
Repeat sales to a loyal, buying customer base is much
better; statistics show that customers who have bought
once will respond much better to your offer, more like 20-30%
purchasing. That's 20 customers per hundred compared to
one per hundred. Remember this statistic as you market.
Someone who buys from you once is more likely to buy
from you again and again. Make sure you treat your
customers with respect and build up your list of
customers. This is the most crucial part of your business.
Affiliate programs give you multiple products to offer
your customers, but make sure you take the same common
sense steps you would in the real world.
Becoming an affiliate for other Web sites' products
and service is a great idea if you take the right steps.
The following are things to look for, and ways to plan
out what you are about to do.
- Sell One Thing and Sell it Well
flea markets don't work for the most part. The
Web is a virtually free publishing medium that
allows people to offer anything quickly and
This is also the weakness of this "free"
distribution system called the Internet. It is
free in terms of printing costs, but not in terms
of time. A Web Site with tons of products and
services is a tricky venture to succeed with.
For example, most people have 3-4 books in
mind when shopping. Why would you approach them
with 3 million titles? The same logic applies to
what you are offering. Focus on a few good
products and sell them well.
So many Web Sites try to offer everything
under the sun; this approach is confusing and has
never proven to be a good basis to sell. Focus on
a few products and sell them very well; then
follow up to offer other products and services.
Think of it this way; if you have ever been in
a restaurant with children, you will notice that
waiters often approach them differently. Instead
of showing them a whole slew of choices on a
menu, they point the children to one or two
choices. The parents are happy, and the child can
make a simple choice. Apply this same approach to
your Web Site; focus your visitors on just one or
two products, and sell them very well. Do not
confuse the issue by trying to sell them
everything on one visit. People simply do not buy
things that way.
- Get Good Profit Margins
the leader in affiliate programs, which is
surprising. They pay 5-15 % per book. Books are
often sold for less than $20.
At best, you are working for tips like a
waiter, at $3.50 a pop. Unfortunately, if you do
not have a busy restaurant, this deal will yield
little or nothing.
Let's say you want to make $1,000 a month; you
would have to sell 286 books to reach your goal.
That is a huge volume.
Now compare that to a $50 book; your best case
scenario becomes $7.50 a book. You now have to
sell 133 books to reach your $1,000 goal.
Believe it or not, it takes the same effort to
market the cheaper book as the more expensive one.
Do your math and see which products sell the
best, and remember to lead with an entry product
that is not too expensive, and follow up with the
more expensive products later, after you have
built up the trust and name recognition needed
for a more expensive purchase.
- Don't just Display a Banner Ad and hope for
Many affiliate programs put up
banner ads; the visitor simply clicks on the
banner ad and goes to the company's Web Site to
make the buying decision. The problem with banner
ads is that 1-2% of people will actually click on
them; so if you generated 1,000 visitors in a
month, only 10-20 will even click on the banner
ad. If you even convert 30 of those to sales, you
will make only one or two sales a month.
It is all a game of numbers; if you have a
site with great traffic, this can change. But
volume businesses are difficult to profit from;
the bottom line is, do more than just put a
banner up at your site.
The same logic applies to posting at
newsgroups; because it is so easy to post to many
newsgroups, people believe that volume will
generate results. The results have proven to be
awful; mass newsgroups postings, like bulk email,
are dangerous and rarely yield the returns. They
are more a headache than a benefit in most cases.
- Use Content, Updates, and Keep your Site
Remember that you are selling a
product or service; you are not just posting an
advertisement at your Web Site. Use content to
enhance what you are doing. Amazon.com encourages
this in their reseller's program; you are urged
to review and recommend specific books for your
target market. If you just send people to
Amazon's Web Site, you get a smaller percentage
of the sale.
Amazon.com had the right idea; a product
recommended to a customer is more effective than
a million titles at your Web Site. A consumer
likely has 3-4 titles in their head when they
shop; point them to the right ones.
Give them a zillion choices and you confuse
them. So keep updating your site, keep it
consistent, and try to emulate the page that you
will be linking to. If it changes, it tells the
customer they are in a different retail space.
This may affect their purchase decision;
anything that makes them notice a difference can
interrupt their impulse to buy. Keep your
customers comfortable and within the same
- Target your Market
If you try to sell
to everyone, you will sell to no one. It is that
It is amazing how people do not target their
market. They try to sell everything under the sun.
Once again, it is the illusion of a volume
business. If you think this will succeed, go down
to your local retail store. Look at the small
profit margins they have to deal with. Retail is
a brutal game. My friend Jonathan Mizel has a
great saying; sell expensive products to rich
people. More importantly, target your market and
make sure they can afford what you have to offer.
And make sure you can afford to live on what
you will be earning.
- Market Your Site
The bottom line is
that you will have to market the site and the
offer. If you just put up a number of affiliate
programs, hoping one will pull, you are taking
the magic dust approach. It is like the lottery;
you may win, but the odds are against you. Take
the responsibility to market and promote your
offers; find out where the customers are and
drive them to the site.
By many estimates, you will have to generate
500 visitors a day to make decent money; that's
over 15,000 visitors a month. Your minimum amount
of visitors should be 5,000 for a successful
program; it is simple a case of math.
One percent of 5,000 is 50; can you make
enough money on 50 sales? Not if you are making $2
a book at Amazon.com. But if you are making $25 a
sale, you could make $1,250 per month. Keep your
expectations realistic; realize that marketing
and sales are a numbers game. Know the numbers
you hope to generate and focus on those affiliate
programs that give you the best bang for your
time and effort.
- Take Precautions to Make Sure you Get Your
Like any business, check out what is
going on. Affiliate programs are simply your
chance to resell other's products and services.
Make sure you believe in what you are selling.
Take the same precautions you would in the
real world; what will be your investment in time,
and money? Have you actually tried the product or
service? A personal recommendation and belief is
much more powerful than selling something simply
because it has a good profit margin.
Are you just generating leads for someone
else? I have seen affiliate programs that have no
intention of paying you for what they are selling.
One client had to wait six months after making
tremendous sales for a company to simply get paid
Make sure you get paid for what you sell.
Often this means waiting 30 days for a monthly
check. Sometimes it means quarterly payments,
like Amazon.com does.
This article is copyright © 1998 M.
Declan Dunn. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.
Declan Dunn is the founder of
the only Internet Marketing System proven in companies
large and small, The Right Now Marketing System, which
empowers businesses globally online.