Affiliate Marketing Beginner’s FAQ’s

Affiliate marketing seems to be the new buzzword in town, every brave marketer want to test drive it  as  their is ample research to show that  affiliate marketing is future and undoubtedly it is growing at a rapid pace. The only dilemma about affiliate marketing is that for most of the people even to marketing managers it is still a unfamiliar territory. Every online marketer knows Affiliate marketing could be a very good income source  and its the only job that give you freedom to work sitting on your couch and working in your pajama’s. All you need is a laptop and a internet connection. This post as well as this blog is a  attempt to address frequent questions and  doubts that every curious Affiliate marketer have . To make things simple and to the point we tried writing it in question-answer format and non-technical language.  🙂

 

Q.What is Affiliate Marketing ?

In terms of a layman , affiliate marketing is: “web publishers (i.e. affiliates ) generating subscriptions/ leads or sales for merchants (advertisers), in return for a predetermined Commission each time they do so”.

Before we understand in detail what affiliate Marketing and affiliate program, its important to understand the role of 3 partners involved in affiliate marketing namely Merchant, Affiliate and Affiliate Network.

Q.What is a Merchant ?

Merchant (Advertiser):The Company who wants to sell its products and services or acquire customer base through its e-commerce enabled web-site and wants to reward anyone who brings in traffic (customer) on to its web-site that result in a valid sale. eg. OTA’s (online travel agent) like Yatra (www. yatra.com ), Makemytrip (www. makemytrip.com ) , Flipkart (www.Flipkart.com) .

Learn More – : Check out this list of Top Merchants in India with Affiliate programs.

Q.What is a Affiliate ?

Affiliates are business partners who generates subscriptions/ leads or sales for merchants (advertisers), in return for a predetermined Commission each time they do so. Affiliate (Publisher) can be a web-site which is content rich and has a capability to bring internet traffic of end-customers. Most of the Affiliates use techniques like PPC (Pay per Click like google ad-words) or uses very good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques to rank itself high in terms of search result. e.g. Coupon Websites, Cash back websites, Informational Portals.

Affiliates can also be people who buys media on different platforms like Facebook, advertisers or people who email marketing.

Q.What is a Affiliate Network ?

Affiliate Network is the most important link in the chain between the Merchant and the Affiliate. As a technology platform a Network enables a seam-less, transparent and reliable link between them and also acts as a commercial entity that collects commissions on behalf of the Merchants and distributes them to the affiliates, based on the individual recorded sales. A great deal of value-add also goes in the Account management activities that The Network has to exhibit whilst interacting with the Merchants. An important aspect is the correct selection of Affiliates for any Merchant programme. The Network uses a lot of discretion in approving the right affiliate for any programme.

These affiliate networks will get you registered as an affiliate and then let you apply to individual programs of different merchants. On the affiliate network website, you will have access to its platform where you get all sort of tools to get banners, links , feeds, voucher codes to your site with your tracking id. Most networks  also offer real time reporting to you. They will also do your account management and handle payments and tax forms. That way, for instance if you earn commissions from 20 different merchants in a month, you won’t get 20 small checks. Instead, the network will consolidate all of your commissions into one payment and will give you one cheque or will directly transfer it to your bank account.

 

Q.What is the Concept behind Affiliate Marketing ?

Affiliate marketing is a form of online advertising, which works on concept –payment only on pure performance basis. Advertiser’s (also Known as Merchants) products are promoted on website publisher’s (also known as affiliates) websites. When customers (surfers/visitors) click through from the affiliate’s site to the advertiser’s site and make a purchase, or fill a lead form a preset commission is paid to the affiliate. Affiliate marketing enables merchants to acquire more customers and affiliates to earn maximum revenue from their audience.

Q.How affiliate marketing Works?
An Publisher looking for products to promote joins Affiliate Network like OMG in India or some global network like CJ. Once succesfully approved by affiliate network he can choose and apply for programs he/she want to promote through affiliate network website. Once approved to promote a program affiliate can access creatives like banners, feeds, and links provided by affiliate network and place them on their website.

Q.When affiliate marketing works best ?
Affiliate marketings works best when your content is relevant to the prouct being sold. For example, let’s say you have a site about baby products, and you are an affiliate of  website selling babyproducts like Babyoye, firstcry, hushbabies etc. Mrs.X mom of a newborn comes to your website to do  and sees posts on offers selling baby products. Realizing that she could surely buy some products, she clicks on the link, goes to babyoye .com, and buys baby product worth INR1000 . Since you are the affiliate Mrs X to babyoye, you receive a predetermined commission.

Q.How Sales are Tracked?
Affiliate marketing works on the concept of cookie ( Cookie is a small text file which contains relevant information such as affiliate ID, merchant ID, banner ID,website ID,Program ID etc.). So whenever a user clicks on any banner/text link running on affiliate website a cookie gets set on user’s web browser. The information stored in the cookie is sent back to Affilate Network server whenever your tracking code provided by your network is called. As long as the cookie resides on the user’s browser any sale / lead/click happening through that system will be attributed to that particular affiliate.

 

Q. What Is An Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a system where you  posts a link to another website through your website (or through media buying or email marketing), and if a visitor to your website  clicks on that link and then buys something or fill a lead you receive a predetermined commission.
Q. What Kinds of Companies Offer Affiliate Programs?

There are literally thousands of companies with affiliate programs in almost all segments,sectors and categories ranging from big ones like Amazon.com (globally ), Flipkart (india ) to small companies in various niche’s like babyoye,firstcry in babyproduct .segment. etc

Q.  Are there any Joining fees or other costs associated with joining an affiliate program/affiliate network ?

A. No. It is free. Sometimes You also get sign up bonus 🙂 . However all networks have commission threshold i.e. you need a earn a minimum amount of commission before you get paid. e.g. We at AFFOY pays its affiliates only when their commission amount become more then INR 3000.

Q.Which are the Top Affiliates Networks in India ?

 Indian Networks – >Affoy ( I might be Biased) .

Q.Which are  the biggest international Affiliate Networks ?

CJ, Tradedoubler, Affiliate window,ShareASale, Linkshare, Google Affiliate Network

Q.When affiliate marketing works best ?
Affiliate marketings works best when your content is relevant to the prouct being sold. For example, let’s say you have a site about baby products, and you are an affiliate of  website selling babyproducts like Babyoye, firstcry, hushbabies etc. Mrs.X mom of a newborn comes to your website to do  and sees posts on offers selling baby products. Realizing that she could surely buy some products, she clicks on the link, goes to babyoye .com, and buys baby product worth INR1000 . Since you are the affiliate Mrs X to babyoye, you receive a predetermined commission.

Q. What Kinds of Companies/Advertisers/Merchants Offer Affiliate Programs?

A. There are literally thousands of companies with affiliate programs in almost all segments,sectors and categories ranging from big ones like Amazon.com (globally ), Flipkart (India ) to small companies in various niche’s like babyoye,firstcry in babyproduct segment. etc

Q. Are there any start-up fees or other costs associated with joining an affiliate program?

A. No. It is free to sign up, and free to add banners and links of your affiliates to your site. Web merchants are looking to gain traffic and sales– they are more than willing to not charge you anything AND pay a commission for your help.

Q. Do I need any special qualifications to be an affiliate?
Not as a rule. Anyone can be a affiliate.

Q. Do I need a website to be an affiliate?
yes for getting accepted to most of the affiliate networks and affiliate programs you need a website. If you are a media buyer or a email marketer, you could also sign up to some affiliate networks without a website.

Q What type of website should i have to get approved to affiliate Network or Affiliate program?
It depends from program to program and network to network. Its good to have relevant website with relevant content for e.g. if you are applying for a travel  affiliate program, apply with a website with travel content instead of applying from personal blog to maximize your chances of approval.Remember -Networks/Merchant are looking for specific qualities in their affiliates.

Q.How to get your affiliate application disapproved ?
Often, merchants/affiliate networks will not approve websites that are sexually explicit (unless you are applying for a porn program ), violent, violate international property laws, advocate discrimination, promote radical religious or political views, or advocate or promote any illegal activities.

Q. Do I have to have a Live  website before i apply to a Network/merchant?

A. No its not mandatory. You can usually register with a website that is under-construction, as long as you own the domain name. Just make sure that you use an email address associated with the domain name, otherwise it will be very difficult for you to get past the affiliate Verification Process.

Q.How merchants / affiliate networks verify my application ?
It completly depends from merchant to merchant and network to network.
Most network tally your domain registry records (who.is ) with details provided by you, followed by  verification by call or you simply need to put a verification code in your website HTML.

Q. How much are commissions?

A. Commissions vary from industry to industry, merchant to merchant and from network to network. It depends on margin merchant enjoys and average customer acquisition cost in that segment.  For lead/subscription campaign commission/payout is fixed e.g. Rs 30 per valid lead. For sales program 10% is probably the average however in India most of the programs give a fixed payout like Rs 200 on every sale.

Q Are commissions same for all affiliates?

Generally network show same commission to all affiliates. However in reality super affiliates (those who refer a lot of customers and generate a lot of revenue) get increased commissions when they cross a predetermined number of sales.  To get exclusive commission check with your affiliate manager if  performance based commission structure is available for the program you are promoting.

Q. How often will I get paid?

A. Most networks will aggregate your commissions and then send you a check or make a direct deposit to your bank account  or pay you through Paypal within 15 to 60 days from month end. Note -: Your commission amount should be more then predefined threshold level.

Q. What is a cookie?

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser (firefox, chrome etc)  while a user is browsing a website. When the user browses the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie can be retrieved by the website to notify the website of the user’s previous activity. Affiliate programs are based on cookies. When a user comes to your site and clicks on the link of a site you are affiliated with, a cookie is placed on that user’s computer. Then, even if they leave the site and come back a week later to make a purchase, you will get credit for the purchase and receive a commission. A merchant can make the duration of a cookie as long or as short as they want usually it is of 30 days for most of the programs.

Q What is affiliate data feed/Product feed?
A affiliate product feed is a system by which affiliates could easily choose, manage and modify the products you offer on your website on behalf of a merchant you are affiliated with. Product feeds are vital for online stores and other sales websites.Data feeds are converted into individual products and include descriptions, links for images, links for visitors to click, pricing and more. The affiliate can take the information in the feed and build individual pages for each product, or put multiple products on each page.

Q From where i can get data feeds ?
Affiliate product feed also known as data feeds are provided by merchants to affiliates to better promote and sell their products. You can get it direct from merchants or from affiliate networks.

Q How are data feeds delivered to an affiliate?
Through XML, CSV file – usually it involve the use of File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

Q What are advantages of using a data feed.

Using a data feed means keeping your content fresh and updated additionally its gives more exposure on the web. More exposure for your affiliate site, and more exposure for the merchant’s products. Using data feed you can create thousands of pages in a day whereas manually this no. will be 5, 10 or maximum 20. Just wonder how much traffic that would generate?

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