Thank you for the referral …

TeambuildingIf you have a product or a service that you offer, chances are you want to use every method possible to spread the word. You have many options to broaden your client/customer base, including one of the most popular, and a service we offer – viral marketing. Affiliate Networking is a type of viral , it serves as great linkbait for viral campaigning, and even better, it acts as an entire sales team motivated and working to build your business. The affiliate broadcasts your product to their entire audience, and you have no ongoing marketing costs unless there is a sale.

Using an affiliate system is a very simple piece of the marketing puzzle… all you need is a website and something to sell.

Here is an overview of the process:

You create a sign-up page (refer-a-friend||affiliate) where your affiliate prospect enters their contact information, preferred method of receiving payment (having a PayPal account is handy here), and agrees to your terms and conditions.

You need to be sure you are very clear in explaining the compensation for your affiliate service.

  • Will you pay a set commission?
  • Will you offer site credit/points or free products?
  • Is the commission perpetual or first-sale only?
  • Is it a single-tier or multi-tier commission?
  • How often do you pay?

Once the form is complete, a random and unique url (http://yoursite.com/xxxxxx) is generated, which is linked to a page describing the product or service being promoted. You should also provide resources to your affiliates (banner ads, images, online brochures, FAQ’s) to make it easier for them to market your product/service.

Here is how the sales are tracked.

  1. The affiliate places the unique url (ie: https://www.paypal.com/us/mrb/pal=XTSWT9LTNZE96 ) on their website, in their email, blogposts, forums, comments, or anywhere it will be noticed. Paypal for example has provided us with the html code to place this image that has our unique url imbedded. This is ideal to show our customers that we accept Paypal, and also to have a chance to make money from a referral if someone wants to try the service.

    Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

  2. Someone clicks the link and goes to your site! A script (set of commands that automate a process) places a cookie (small file used to identify a user, track movement within the site, and store shopping cart information) on the visitors computer. Even if the person were to leave the site, and then come back by typing the basic url (ie: http://www.paypal.com) they will still be associated with the referring partner.
  3. A report is generated daily/weekly/bi-monthly/whenever-you-want that details the metrics of your marketing network, and what monies are due each affiliate. A script could be used here to automate the process of issuing credits, writing and printing a check, or sending affiliate payments via paypal.

Once you are set-up for affiliate sales, it can become an extremely effective marketing tool. Especially when you start being creative with your incentives. A few examples:

PfaxPfax (an unlimited fax-to-email service for $3.95/month) offers us a month of free service for any referral we send, and also offers a free month of service to those we refer. This method helps to create an incentive for the affiliate, and for the new customer to use the affiliate as well. Their service, however; uses coupon codes (ours: hwmvd24085)to track affiliate sales, which can be an ineffective means without some incentive to the customer.

iContactiContact (an email marketing and blog management tool) offers us a perpetual commission for every user that signs up. That means that we make a commission every month for as long as that person is a customer… which is sure to be a long time, as the service really is outstanding!!! Grape Thinking also offers content writing and assists with set-up and email acquisition, so the partnership has been working out great.

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