For many startup web hosts, advertising can be a chicken and egg dilemma – you need more clients to make enough money to afford advertising, which ironically would solve the first problem.
There is a better way though. Over the past decade, I’ve watched affiliate marketing blossom into a full-fledged industry. With household names like Amazon and Target.com offering affiliate programs, this form of advertising has officially hit the big leagues.
To be successful, you really need to think of Affiliate marketing as a symbiotic relationship between publishers and advertisers. One cannot exist without the other. Experienced online marketers can drive tens, even hundreds of sales daily to an advertiser. Similarly, with the right advertiser, an affiliate can improve his EPC (earnings per click) and generate even more revenue.
As a boot-strapping web hosting company, you need a form of advertising that will get you targeted exposure, with minimal fixed cost. This is where affiliates come into play. Aside from the operation of an affiliate program, there is no fixed cost for your affiliates. You pay your affiliates 30-60 days after your client pays you. When managed properly, affiliate marketing can quickly make a big difference in your bottom line, without the risk you would have with other ad media, like media buys and PPC.
There are two ways to begin your road to affiliate success: do-it-yourself and using an affiliate network. While affiliate networks are great at driving new affiliates your way, some have high deposits and other upfront costs to contend with. So, to help you play the game with minimal money, you’ll want to roll up your sleeves and go the DIY route.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, there will be a bit of a learning curve with setting the program up, but you should be able to get your affiliate program setup within a couple days. One key aspect to in-house affiliate program management is the management of affiliate commission payments. You’ll need to decide what your minimum payment will be (i.e. how much in owed commissions must an affiliate have to receive a payment), how long after the initial sale to wait before paying an affiliate, and how to audit your commissions to prevent paying commissions on any cancelled or fraudulent orders. These aspects are vital to keeping your affiliates paid on-time, every time.
With that out of the way, you need to focus on your offers and creative materials. I will say this just once – you must have a compelling offer and attractive payouts if you want to attract good affiliates that will send you sales. Compare yourself with your peers. Are your offers more appealing to prospective clients? How about your commissions? Are you offering your affiliates a more attractive commission or CPA (cost per action) offer than they could get elsewhere? These are important considerations that should not be ignored.
Finding new affiliates actually isn’t that difficult… its finding the affiliates that will drive massive traffic that is challenging. Be sure to advertise your affiliate program on your website and get some good press out there (i.e. through PRWeb or other distribution services) about it. After that, you need to hit the SERPS (search engine results pages) looking for super affiliates. Search for keywords within your niche and you’ll find, scattered throughout the results, affiliate websites. You may need to look closely at the sites, but chances are, if they are advertising a product that they don’t sell themselves, that they either are promoting affiliate programs or at a minimum will display your advertising for a flat rate. Reach out to these site owners and find out if they’ll promote your offers. It’s as easy as that.