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How To Make Your Customer Stick With You - Part 4

Aug 17, 2007
If you're selling products or services via the web and you're not already running an affiliate marketing program, it's time to start and reap the rewards. Every day thousands, if not millions, of merchants rely on affiliate marketing to drive their businesses.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best online marketing programs available for businesses. Why? Because there's no risk. You only pay if the customer makes a purchase, signs up for your newsletter, joins your emailing list, or takes whatever action you want them to take.

It allows retailers to place advertising links and even individual products on affiliated web sites across the Web, greatly expanding their shelf space and their online presence. While affiliate marketing has proven to be effective, it's not a get-rich-quick scheme and retailers must manage their programs and develop strong affiliate relationships to make their programs successful.

In order to recruit the high-quality affiliates necessary for an effective sales force, retailers must maintain a competitive program and open communication with their affiliates. With these ideals in mind, retailers can gain the attention, trust, and profitability of quality affiliates.

However, affiliates' loyalty is not easy to win. To encourage affiliates to be loyal to your affiliate program, you have to do something really special to stand out from the crowd.

Some of these techniques require considerable time and effort. However, it's a wise investment because the alternative is so much worse: spending time and money hunting for super affiliates, who then switch to other programs.

If you succeed in creating loyal affiliates, they will not only stick with your affiliate program and promote it enthusiastically, they'll recommend it to other top affiliates.

Help your affiliates. Give them all the tools they need to succeed. Provide lots of precise, detailed, how-to marketing info online. Keep them enthusiastic with tips in your affiliate newsletter. Consider adding a toll-free number for affiliate support.

Put someone knowledgeable in charge of answering affiliates questions promptly in simple English.

Pour special recognition on your high-earning affiliates. Send them flowers, champagne or chocolates. Horrified at the thought of the cost? You'll spend a LOT more finding new super affiliates.

Praise your top affiliate marketers on your site. This serves three purposes. It teaches other affiliates what works. It rewards your top affiliates by sending them traffic. The public recognition increases affiliates' loyalty.

Pay special affiliates a special high commission. You know that key affiliates in key positions of influence are very valuable. Pay them accordingly. Don't embarrass them by forcing them to ask for the special rate which they deserve.

Residual commissions and two-tier commissions also win favor with affiliates. However, don't assume that a high commission alone will be enough. You have to get everything else right, too.

Before you launch a two-tier program, ask yourself if there are affiliates in key places of influence who are likely to want to recommend your program to other affiliates. If there aren't, forget the idea.

Two-tier commissions aren't nearly as effective as they were several years ago. This is because, these days, affiliates tend to switch rapidly from one program to another, always looking for something better. Instead of having two tiers, you might be better to pay one large commission.

However, affiliates are always going to be interested in earning residual income or lifetime commissions. I can't imagine that going out of fashion.

Learn from your best affiliates. You'll probably receive a far more useful response if you ask your loyal super affiliates how to improve your program. Many of these winners will know the best features of the best affiliate programs on the Net. They'll be happy to give you useful tips on how to improve your programm.

Study what your top affiliates do. You'll probably find that they're earning money in all sorts of creative ways you've never thought of. Their knowledge can help your affiliates earn more.

Treat your affiliates as business associates. Respect them or they'll switch to someone who does. DON'T siphon off some of the traffic they send you to products on which they don't earn a commission. When referred customers arrive at your site, all money-earning links on that page should earn a commission for your affiliate.

Do provide real-time statistics. Serious affiliates need to know immediately whether their promotions are achieving results so they can test repeatedly, fix mistakes, and maximize their sales.
About the Author
Don Resh is CEO of WebForce, Inc. A more detailed bio is available at:

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