It's starting to become common-place to hear of a company whose affiliate program has hit the 10,000 or higher mark.
And I'm sure its a great feeling for those companies when they do hit that target.
But the question that always comes to my mind when I read these fantastic announcements is:
"Yeah, but how many of these are actually making them money?"
Its a numbers game, I know. Everyone has read the articles stating that a small percentage of affiliates actually make any sales at all, and the top few make the majority of the money for the company, and themselves.
So it makes sense to assume that if it is based on percentages, then the more affiliates you have, the more money you will make.
Plus, even though those at the bottom aren't making any money, they are advertising your company and your products for free, right? (That's not necessarily true, but I'll leave that for another discussion.)
In my little fantasy world, I sit back and wonder what would happen if you changed your focus from "the more affiliates I have, the more they will make me," to "the better they are at what they do, the more they will make me."
How much better would things be if you spent your time and efforts educating your affiliates on how to build a successful website? What if you taught them how to get more traffic to their site, more targeted traffic? What if you taught them how to start, and how to grow a newsletter?
Think about it for a moment...the affiliates that are making you the most sales and sending you the most visitors are those that know how to generate traffic, have a successful newsletter, know how to pre-sell the visitors to help convert more of them to customers.
Is it better to sit back and wait for those types of sites to knock on your door? Or, you can do the research and find these types of sites yourself and knock on their door.
But, what if you grew your own successful affiliates? Think of the loyalty they will have towards you if you help them do better not only with your program, but with their website in general?
Don't tell me you are already doing this...I mean GET SERIOUS AND MAKE THIS YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!
Sure you gave them 15 different banner choices, and there was that 'killer ad' that you gave to all 10,000 of your affiliates. Oh, and don't forget the autoresponder that you set up for those that want to know how to make more money with your program.
I'm talking about 'real help' in creating a site that is geared towards drawing traffic and making money.
Now lets imagine for a moment. What if you changed your business plan from '10,000 affiliates by the end of the year' to '500 Internet success stories by the end of the year'.
Which of the following press releases would you rather send out?
Company abc hits the 10,000 affiliates mark!
Company xyz uses outstanding new affiliate marketing strategy and creates its first Internet millionaire!
Now, this isn't rocket science here...quality vs. quantity is not a new concept...but it is one that is forgotten by many in the Internet age. We all know that it is better to make a few pennies off of a few thousand, than dollars off a few.
Going back to what I said earlier, we hear all the time about someone hitting the 10,000 mark. But what we don't hear is "50% of our affiliates make the minimum payout and get a check every month!"
Now that's something to brag about! Even if you only have 500 affiliates, who cares? If you keep the same commitment that is helping the 250 take home a check, then when you have 1000 affiliates you will still be blowing the doors off of the ones with 10,000 making nothing.
Note: Don't lower your minimum payout to 0 just so you can publish statistics like those above. :-)
Work with your affiliates. Help them to grow their site. Teach them how to become successful. Take some of the money you would have spent on affiliate acquisition, and redirect it to training materials.
See if you can talk to Ken Evoy and get a discount if you buy a copy of "Make Your Site Sell!" for each of your 500 affiliates. Even at regular price, $8,500 is not a bad investment to help your affiliates become more successful. (In case you've never heard of Ken Evoy, you can read about his book here: http://www.sitesell.com/helpmakemy.html )
Create a section on your site with training materials that only your affiliates have access to. Give them information on how to improve their website and newsletter, not more marketing materials.
Offer your affiliates a bonus for the first 100 that prove that they have implemented some of the ideas in the materials you give them. Or a bonus for the most-improved website.
Hire someone to do nothing but visit your affiliate sites, and tie his bonus to the number of sites he helps improve.
I visit hundreds of sites every day in my surfing, and it amazes me how many make the same simple mistakes. If you create a top 10 list of the most important items that every one of your affiliate sites should have, you will be way ahead of your competition.
When an affiliate comes up with a great idea for improving sales, make a REALLY BIG DEAL about it. Tell all your other affiliates right away. Send out an all-points bulletin. Recognize these efforts in a big way and you will find that more of your affiliates will start to come up with great ideas of their own.
But, even more importantly, they will use these ideas as well if you show how great it is working for others.
Try to create a team spirit with your affiliates. Don't let them think they have to compete against each other. Make them realize that there are many 'fish in the sea.' There are millions of people on the Internet, surely they can find different segments to target.
Teach your affiliates how to joint venture with each other to increase traffic and sales for one another. If you can help to foster good will between your affiliates, you will benefit greatly!
Hopefully at this point you see where I'm going with this train of thought. Focus on better affiliates, not just more, and you just might find yourself setting new records in many different areas.
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About the Author:
Chuck McCullough is the owner of AffiliateMatch.com offering FREE articles, tips, hints, and real-world advice on how to make money with your website. Visit his site or join his FREE newsletter, The AffiliateMatch Informer by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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