Affiliate programs have been around for ages, but recently this earnings method has taken on new life. As the online community continues to grow and evolve, it is not surprising that trends in advertising and monetization continue to diversify as well. The imonomy team recently returned from the Affiliate Summit East, a full scale meet and greet for the online affiliate community, and after three intense days of handshakes, elevator pitches, and business card exchanges we thought we’d share some tips on how to go about choosing the best affiliate program.
Before getting too deep into it, a word on the difference between an affiliate program and an advertising network, and why the former has been gaining more force in recent years. While ad networks are great place for new website owners to start monetizing their pages, in the long run as the publisher begins to gather more intel on his users, affiliate programs will become the key to his onward success. An ad network is great for providing some base-level, generic ads that may or may not effectively catch a users attention. Affiliate ads, however, skip to a completely different beat. The major difference being that affiliate ads do not promote a generic product, or idea. Instead, affiliate ads come from big name companies, and allow the publisher to display a live offer from a well-known brand. This is where the magic can really begin to happen. A website catering to busy moms will see infinitely higher rates of success by signing-up with Walmart’s affiliate program, as oppose to displaying run of the mill ads from Google Adsense. If you haven’t figured it out already, once again the focus is on the user.
So now that we’ve mapped out which road is more traveled, let’s dive into the steps of going about choosing the right affiliate program for your website, and coupling these high-earning offers with an image monetization model for sure-fire success.
Step One: Let Your Users Guide Your Choice
Maybe you love wandering the aisles of Best Buy, and chatting up the sales people in search of the best deals on electronics, but do you publish up-to-date electronic product reviews and tech posts on your website? Choosing an affiliate program doesn’t mean choosing the company or brand you like the most, it means displaying the products and offers that best suit your users. While your interests should coincide with your website’s major topics, that isn’t always the case. When choosing an affiliate program, first consider your users, then consider yourself. Furthermore, the more information you have on your users the higher your chances are at getting it right. If you have a large following of users who all live in a specific area, try and partner with an affiliate program from the same location. It certainly won’t hurt your standings to try and get the attention of your users on a local level. Having stats on your the average income of your users as well as the general age group that visits your site will also give you a leg up when choosing an appropriate affiliate program. While couture clothing may make for a nice ad, if the your users range more within the middle class spectrum of the income scale, it might be best to shoot for a department store affiliation program such as Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s. Knowledge is key in this first step to choosing the best affiliate problem, and the more you know about your users the wiser you will ultimately be.
Step Two: Be Careful when Hitting the Nail on the Head
Here’s a catch. When choosing an affiliate program it is important for there to be some obvious fluidity between the ads being displayed and the content being published. That being said, being overly precise isn’t always to most effective bet. Take George, for example. George owns a successful sports website with a great baseball section. As oppose to affiliating with a professional maple wood baseball bat distributor, George plays his cards right and decides to go with Nike’s affiliate program for his website. How did George hit a homer on this one? Well, although he has a handful of baseball players who frequent his site, he also has a large following of people who just love the game. By choosing Nike as his affiliate program, George is attracting the hitters, the catchers, and the fans.
Step Three: Read the Fine Print
Many affiliate programs look attractive at first glance, but a skim through the Terms and Conditions document may have you thinking otherwise. When choosing an affiliate program, be sure to do your homework, and read through all the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Many affiliate programs will start out by offering some very alluring conversion rates, but after the deductions and fees, which are often overlooked in the Terms and Conditions page, many publishers are left with an underwhelming number of pennies. Don’t be afraid to ask your account manager as many questions as you to need in order to feel comfortable before you sign. For those of you who don’t have a knack for deciphering legal jargon, have a friend or professional read over any agreement, or contract before you finalize a deal. Checking and double-checking any documents before you sign will surely set you off to a good start.
Step Four: Stay on Top of your Game
Once you have chosen which affiliate program bests suits your website, the next important step is to monitor your progress. Many affiliate programs boast high-qualified teams of dedicated account managers, and for the most part that fact is true. While it is always nice to sit back and relax with an iced-cold bevie, it is important not to steer too far off track. Always stay on top of your website’s stats, even if your account manager assures you time after time that he will be keeping a close eye on things on your behalf. Keep informed on your progress, and what offers are earning, and which are not. The good thing about an affiliate program is the publisher has the control. As the website owner you can choose the offers you want to display on your website, as well, you will be able to browse from a variety of other offers that your affiliate program has in its database. Don’t shy away from shooting your account manager an email asking for suggestions of high-earning offers, and be sure not to sit back and ride it out if something isn’t going your way. Choosing the right affiliate program is important, but once you have chosen your player this next important step falls entirely on your shoulders.
Step Five: Finding the Optimal Place for your Affiliate Ads
OK, you chose your affiliate program. You’ve done your homework about which offers will work best for your users, and you are up-to-date with your stats and progress. So, what’s next? Now that you have your affiliate offers in tow, where are you going to publish them? You can easily plaster a bunch of affiliate ads on the sidebar of your web pages, but is that the optimal place for these offers? Image monetization is the best way to get your new affiliate ads noticed. By associating these ads to the images on your pages you are sure to get the attention of your users. The bottom line is, affiliate programs and image monetization pretty much go hand in hand. That user who is reading your latest post about your recent travels through the Panama canal would surely love some Hotwire hotel suggestions as he checks out the images from your journey. The trick to successfully monetizing with an affiliate network boils down to the level of user-engagement you are able to grab hold of and build on. In case anyone was wondering, images are typically a user’s best friend, so as you weigh your options and decide on your course of action be sure to focus in on how to couple an advertising and monetization model that will be guaranteed to turn some heads. Having an image monetization service, such as imonomy, along with a winner affiliation program will most certainly get you off to a great start.
So there you have it, the way to successfully choose an affiliate program and couple the offers with an image monetization model, as well as the steps to putting everything into action. If you are a first timer, don’t expect high-paying results right off the bat. Allow the trial and error period to run its course. Ultimately, the key is to focus on your users and to manage your affiliate program in the same way that you manage your day to day website activity. Many publishers have seen great amounts of success with affiliate programs coupled with image monetization, so why wait? Maybe it’s time for you to give image monetization and affiliation a chance on your website.
This post was co-written by Avishai Sam Bitton and Leytal Ross