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Getting Affiliates to Sell Your Product
M.K. Laing, CompanyWeb Staff Member

If you have a product to sell online and have used or considered using the virtual sales force to which we all fondly refer as "affiliates," you need to be mindful of the things that encourage people to sell your product, and those that will cause prospective affiliates to avoid your product like a nasty plague.

As a product marketer using affiliates, you have two distinct-but-related sales tasks; and you have to give serious focus to both of these if you are going to have any chance of landing a super affiliate or two, or even recruiting some modestly performing affiliates into your sales force.

First, let's assume that you have a top-quality product, a well-designed website, and a compelling story to tell prospects about why they should purchase your product. These things are for the potential buyer of the product, of course, but they are also very relevant for the prospective affiliate. If an affiliate marketer has any reason to believe that you have a poor quality product, or that the sales copy is unlikely to convert, s/he will quickly (and reasonably) conclude that promoting your product would be a waste of time and money. Result: you're left to sell your product on your own.

Obviously, the high-quality affiliates are looking for products with a superior compensation structure. If you are selling a downloadable ebook for example, the cost of delivery is likely to be modest enough for you to be able to offer a substantial commission on sales. We recommend offering at least 50% commission on the initial sale, as well as healthy percentages both on upsells and subsequent sales which can clearly be traced back to a particular affiliate.

But the most important thing to understand, however, is this: there must be no alternate payment mechanisms available through which an affiliate-generated visitor can purchase. No other payment links either on the landing page, or on any pages on your site or blog that are linked-to from the affiliate landing page. This is commonly referred to as "affiliate leakage" and it will ultimately be fatal to your affiliate program. Let's look at an example: an affiliate sends a new dog owner through his/her ClickBank link to your web site where you are selling an ebook named "How to Train Your German Shepherd Puppy." Once the dog owner arrives at your site, in addition to the ClickBank payment button, s/he is presented with various options to pay through e-junkie or paydotcom, or to send a payment directly to your PayPal or WePay account; maybe, s/he even has the option to send a check or money order directly to you at your postal mailing address.

If the problem with the above example is not immediately obvious to you, note that, if the dog owner purchases through any path other than the Big Orange ClickBank button, the affiliate who sent the visitor will NOT GET PAID. Moreover, the affiliate has NO CONTROL over this. In this case, what you have done here is that you have, (probably) unintentionally, "stolen" some of the affiliate's advertising capital. Experienced affiliates, i.e., those who know how to send targeted, buyer traffic to your site, will see this problem with your site immediately, and will look to promote one of your competitors' products instead.

In almost every situation, no one is going to contact you and tell you, "I was thinking of promoting your product, but I'm not going to do it because you have paths to your shopping cart that won't track my affiliate link."

Any path through your site that starts with an affiliate-sent visitor should end with an action that credits that affiliate. If the visitor buys, the affiliate that sent that visitor should get the commission; if the visitor signs up for your e-course or mailing list, thus allowing you to continue to work on him/her until s/he buys, the affiliate id should be tracked so the affiliate gets the commission if the visitor eventually buys. Affiliates greatly appreciate seeing this kind of sales model, and will happily promote your quality product if they believe that you will do everything in your power to secure their rightful commissions on their behalf.

If you have been wondering why it has been so hard to recruit good affiliates, or if it seems that you have fewer affiliates promoting your products after a site re-design, you need to audit all landing pages on your site to find any cracks through which an affiliate's commission could slip and disappear. If you don't know exactly what to look for, or if you find such cracks and don't know how to patch them, we can fix this. Contact us at , and we will arrange to examine your landing pages and make recommendations.

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