Affiliate programs. Sounds like heavy stuff. What are affiliate
These days, it's so easy to set up your own webpage. If you
have a computer and internet access, you can simply go to a
site such as GeoCities or Yahoo and use ready-made templates
to construct a simple personal page. These sites will give you
a URL, store the content of your page and slap on some advertisements.
In an hour or two, Voila! Your page is on the Web!
But what if you have a content-driven website and want to make
money off your traffic? If you are an online merchant, how can
you get people to your site to buy your products? This is where
affiliate programs come in.
Simply put, affiliate programs, or associate programs, are arrangements
in which an online merchant pays an affiliate website a commission
to send them traffic. These affiliate websites post links to
the merchant site and are paid according to a particular agreement.
This agreement is usually based on the number of people the
affiliate sends to the merchant's site, or the number of people
they send who buys something or perform some other action. Some
arrangements pay according to the number of people who visit
the page containing their merchant site's banner advertisement.
Basically, if a link on an affiliate site brings the merchant
site traffic or money, the merchant site pays the affiliate
site according to their agreement. Affiliate programs work great
when selling products online, but it can also be a cheap and
effective marketing strategy. It's a good way to get the word
out about your site.
Here's a good example of affiliate programs in action. In 1996,
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, popularized affiliate
programs as an internet marketing strategy. Amazon.com attracts
affiliates to post links to individual books for sale on Amazon.com,
or for Amazon.com in general, by promising them a percentage
of the profits if someone clicks on the link and then purchases
books or other items. The affiliate helps make the sale, but
Amazon.com does everything else: They take the order, collect
the money and ship the book to the customer. With over 500,000
affiliate Web sites in participation, Amazon.com's program is
a resounding success.
Over the past few years, affiliate programs have grown enormously
in popularity, taking many interesting forms. For many Web sites
that don't deal much in e-commerce, functioning as an affiliate
is a good way to jump into e-commerce.
There are three basic types of affiliate programs payment arrangements:
Pay-per-sale - Amazon's affiliate programs mentioned above is
an example of a pay-per-sale arrangement. In this arrangement,
the merchant site pays an affiliate when the affiliate sends
them a customer who purchases something. Some merchant websites,
like Amazon.com, pay the affiliate a percentage of the sale
and others pay a fixed amount per sale.
Pay-per-click - In these affiliate programs, the merchant site
pays the affiliate based on the number of visitors who click
on the link to come to the merchant's site. They don't have
to buy anything, and it doesn't matter to the affiliate what
a visitor does once he gets to the merchant's site.
Pay-per-lead - Companies with these affiliate programs pay their
affiliates based on the number of visitors they refer who sign
up as leads. This simply means the visitor fills out some requested
information at the merchant site, which the merchant site may
use as a sales lead or sell to another company as a sales lead.
There are a number of other arrangements as well. But basically,
a company could set up affiliate programs based on any action
that would benefit them, and then pay their affiliates based
on the number of customers the affiliates send them who perform
Most affiliate programs also prohibit offensive content, but
generally speaking, any website could be involved in an affiliate
program. Although they are commonly called merchants, websites
don't even need to sell anything to benefit from having affiliates.
A lot of content-based Web sites get most of their money from
advertisers, which are attracted by high traffic numbers. Because
of this, traffic translates directly into profit for these sites.
There are all sorts of affiliate programs, from top Web sites
to small personal pages. Basically any website can join affiliate
programs, and if they choose well, they could just make some
money off of it. Some sites, such as Memolink and My Points,
are just big collections of affiliate programs. These sites
join a variety of pay-per-click or pay-per-lead programs and
then pay their visitors a fraction of the commission on each
click or reward them with prizes.