Since the release of my Simple Affiliate Shop plugin I have regularly been asked, “What is affiliate marketing?”
You might think that in order to have a shop you need to have something to sell. In the case of Affiliate Marketing you are promoting products that are created and sold by others rather than creating and selling your own product.
As an affiliate marketer you make money by promoting another person’s product on your website and receiving a commission if the visitor you send to their site, via a special link, makes a purchase.
One of the most common examples I see is books promoted or recommended on a website. When you click on the book you find yourself at Amazon.com and you can buy the book. In this case Amazon is the merchant and the website where you see the book is the Affiliate Marketer. They will have signed up with Amazon and given a special link for their website that lets them tell when visitors arrive at Amazon after clicking on the link.
Why Sell Other People’s Stuff?
There are a number of Pros and Cons to selling other people’s products:
- Pro – One of the advantages of Affiliate Marketing is that you don’t have to worry about producing products, managing inventory or dealing with customers.
- Pro – You do not have to worry about the complexities of handling customer payment processing.
- Pro – You don’t have to wait until you have produced your own products before you can sell.
- Pro – You can promote products from a wide range of niches.
- Con – You need to make sure the merchant you deal with is reputable or you may find they get the sale and refuse to pay commission. Using an affiliate network can help vet both merchants and marketers.
Why do some merchants sell via affiliates?
Merchants can sell via affiliates to dramatically increase the reach of their advertising, in effect they have an army of sales people promoting their products. There are still pros and cons for Merchants:
- Pro – Payment is made for marketing that results in a sale (ie payment to the affiliate is usually only made after a sale).
- Con – There is a payment due on each sale that is made through an affiliate.
- Pro – The sale may not have happened without the affiliate marketer promoting your product. Affiliate sales can make a huge difference to the number of sales you may make.
- Con – There is a chance that Affiliates will use marketing techniques (spam etc) that is not consistent with the image the merchant wants to maintain.
What is an Affiliate Network?
One of the things to be wary of for both affiliate marketers and merchants is that the other party is reputable and adhering to a code of conduct / ethics. An affiliate network will gather together a number of merchants and affiliate marketers and provide monitoring, reporting and usually a code of ethics and behaviour.
Affiliate Marketing works well but it is not for everyone
Affiliate marketing can work very well but it does require work and may not be for everyone. Factors effecting your results include:
- Is your website getting enough traffic to get a volume of visitors to see your advertisements?
- Have you selected the right items to promote that will sell well and give a good commission?
- Are your advertisements enticing enough to get your visitors to click through and are they in the right mood to buy?
- If you are selling to an email list, is the list engaged enough to click through and purchase?
There are different types of Affiliate Marketing
Common types of affiliate marketing are Pay Per Click, Pay Per Sale, Pay Per Action.
Pay Per Click – Every time a potential customer leaves your website by clicking on the link to the merchant’s website, an amount of money is earned by the affiliate.
Pay Per Sale – Instead of paying for getting the potential customer to visit the merchant site they must actually make a purchase. The payment may be a percentage or flat rate and it may apply to any purchases for a period of time after visiting the merchant.
Pay Per Action – Payment may not depend on a sale but it will depend on the potential customer taking some action on the merchants website. This may include registering for a mailing list, taking a survey or some other agreed action.
Want to read more on ‘What is Affiliate Marketing?’
- Wikipedia has a good article on the history and technical background on Affiliate Marketing.
- Visit a few of the Affiliate Networks and research their membership
Why use the Simple Affiliate Shop plugin?
The PG Simple Affiliate Shop plugin for WordPress helps to present the products you have chosen to promote in a professional and stylish layout that can be customised to match your website. It allow you to promote the products in a shop, as a banner or by category without entering the details of the product more than once.
There are other more complex plugins but these are usually tied to a particular network or require payment in the form of a subscription to use it. PG Simple Affiliate Shop will always be free to download and use and I will endeavour to keep it Simple!
If you are thinking about Affiliate Marketing then it is a great way to get started. Download it directly from the WordPress registry now by clicking here!