7 Tips for Creating Great Affiliate Tools That Boost Your Sales

Affiliate Tools PageOne way to boost your sales is to recruit affiliate marketers. There are a number of factors that will influence an affiliate’s decision to promote a product, including level of commissions, their familiarity with the target audience, and the promotional tools available.

Most affiliates are going to be less likely to promote products that don’t offer them resources like banners, well written content, promotional videos, etc. The more good quality, easy to use tools you offer the more likely you’ll be to recruit affiliates.

If you are unsure which resources you should be offering the following tips will help you decide.

1) Consider Your Audience

Who is the audience that will buy your products and/or service? Who do you want your affiliates to market to? Once you know the answers to these two questions you can think about the best ways to contact your prospects. Knowing this will help you create better, more effective tools for your affiliates. For example, if a sizeable portion of your buying audience use Pinterest you’ll want to produce images that can be posted there. If they are more likely to consume the written word then you need to produce that type of content instead.

2) Ask Your Affiliates

Your affiliates are the people most likely to know what works. If you already have a few potential affiliates in mind ask them to help you come up with a list of the types of tools they would need to promote successfully. Do they need great artwork, brandable content, videos, or other tools to promote what you are selling?

3) Have a Budget

Creating affiliate tools can be expensive. You need to determine if your investment will pay off. You should have an idea of the cost of producing the resources you want to provide and how much your affiliates will have to sell to cover the cost of creating them. If your numbers seem reachable you need to set a budget and keep to it. You could even plan to create and release some resources only after you have reached a certain level of sales.

4) Personalise the Tools

The easier it is for your affiliates to personalise your resources, the more likely they will be to use them. If you offer various versions of resources like review blog posts, ad text, etc. the easier it will be for your affiliates to personalise their promotional content and avoid looking like they are one of many affiliates who have just copied something from a swipe file.

5) Make the Tools Easy to Use

Use any means you can to make using your tools easier. Affiliates are busy people too and if you can shorten or simplify a task the more likely it is to be done. For example WordPress Affiliate Builder enables your affiliates to enter their affiliate code once and have that cascade down through all the resources you offer, saving them time and making the whole process easier.

6) Use Experts

If you want to offer good quality resources you are probably going to have to hire experts. If you don’t have the expertise to create certain affiliate tools it will be better to outsource these tasks to those that do. It is much better to use experts in coding, graphic design, etc. than to try to produce something yourself. It will likely take longer and produce inferior results if you try to go it alone. Hiring these people should be built into your budget.

7) Provide Training

When you create a resource, don’t assume your affiliates will understand the best way to use it, especially if you are recruiting newer affiliates. Create training that shows how to use the various tools that you supply. This could be provided in PDF reports that include screenshots, video walkthroughs of processes, or both.

Recruiting affiliates is a great way to help you contact a larger audience, market your products and services, and increase sales. But you can’t do it effectively without providing great tools for your affiliates and the training to ensure that they understand how to use them.

Affiliate programs – The Elements That Can Help Boost Your Sales

Affiliate Program diagramMarketing your products by yourself can become expensive and overwhelming. one solution is to recruit affiliates who will put in the effort to expand your marketing.

An affiliate is a person who earns money promoting your products and/or services to their audience for a percentage of the sales. To recruit these people you need to offer incentives and support, and that is often best done based around an affiliate program. Some of the most effective programs have the following features:

  • Attractive income

This does not just mean paying out a high percentage of commissions. An affiliate will also be interested in other metrics, especially earnings per click (EPC). If you can reliably present this information to your potential affiliates it is more likely you will recruit them if the figures are favourable.

They will also be interested in how much of the lifetime value of the customer they will receive. An affiliate program usually uses cookies to track sales and commissions. The longer these cookies are in effect the more likely an affiliate would be interested in joining your program. Some cookies only operate for a month whereas others allow lifetime commissions and award the affiliate if a customer buys different tiers of products or services.

Speed of commission payout is another important factor. An affiliate would rather be paid weekly than monthly, and monthly rather than quarterly.

  • Easy to sign up to

The signup process should be straightforward and easy. The program should generate an affiliate code that they can use simply by copying and pasting.

  • Good quality marketing materials

Your affiliates should have access to good quality graphics, banners, infographics, sample blog posts, email sequences, and other marketing materials. These should be easy to use and easy to personalise so that your affiliates are more likely to use them.

  • Good communication

Set up an email list just for your affiliates. Keep them informed of your latest offers, products or services you are planning to introduce, and anything else they would find of interest or help them as an affiliate. If you decide to run an affiliate contest when you launch a product have all the latest details available for them on a dedicated webpage.

  • Provide incentives

Launch contests are a common way to incentivise affiliates. You can award prizes based on their position in a league table of affiliate sales or for reaching a certain level of sales. Often the prizes take the form of money or physical products, but they can take other forms. For example you could work with affiliates who reach a certain number of sales to plan an exclusive webinar or other event where you will speak directly to their audience, promote your product, and help them get more commissions.

  • Offer training

Some of your affiliates may need training to help them learn how to market your products. This is especially true if you don’t have the online presence or offer to attract the interest of bigger, more experienced affiliates. Nurture your affiliates and they are more likely to stay with you longer and generate more sales for you.

Good affiliates will also be influenced by other factors outside your affiliate program. Your reputation, the quality of your products and/or services, and your customer follow-up will help them decide if they are willing to help you promote your business.

EPC – The metric that could predict your success

There are a number of statistics or metrics you should know about your online business. One of the most important is called the Earnings Per Click (EPC). This tells you how much money you make for each unique visitor (‘click’) to reach your website or sales funnel.

To calculate your EPC for a product you need to be measuring the amount of traffic to your site and how many of those visitors buy your product or service (i.e. your conversion rate).

You work out the EPC as follows:

EPC = (Product Price x Conversion Rate) Divided By Amount of Traffic

Let’s take a look at an example to see how this works. Imagine you are selling a product for $10 and for every 100 visitors to your sales page you make 14 sales on average. This means your conversion rate is 14%.

So for every 100 visitors you make

($10 x 14 sales) = $140.

To work out your EPC you divide the amount of money you make by the 100 visitors it took to get the sales:

$140 / 100 = $1.40

The higher your EPC the better. You’ll make more money for a set amount of traffic, but this is not the real reason EPC can predict your success. EPC becomes much more relevant and powerful if you want to persuade affiliates to drive traffic to your sales page.

An affiliate will be looking to make money too. They’ll be looking for two things. A good quality product they can ethically promote, so there’s less chance of refunds, and a good EPC. If they are going to spend their time and effort promoting products they’re going to want to promote those that give them the best return, i.e. those that make them the most for each click they send to someone’s website.

If you want to make sales you’ll need lots of traffic to your sales page. One way to get that is to enlist the help of affiliates, and to do that you’ll need a good EPC. That’s why this metric can predict your success.

How to Recruit Affiliates – A step by step process and a great opportunity

Sign up for CommissionsA couple of weeks ago I said I would let you know how I was recruiting and encouraging affiliates. My initial plan was to approach people who have a list in the internet marketing niche and encourage them to promote for me. However in the last week or so a new opportunity has arisen. More on that later.

Finding people in your niche who can promote for you is fairly straightforward. Put some appropriate keywords into Google and take a look at the results. You will find potential affiliates selling products or maintaining a blog within the niche. If you find signs that the bloggers are collecting visitor’s details via an opt-in form then you know they’ll have a list they could promote to.

Your own email inbox is another great resource. If you’re receiving emails related to the niche you are selling in, you know the person sending the emails also has a list.

As you identify the potential affiliates you should note how to contact them, because this is the next step.

One of the biggest mistakes made when approaching a potential affiliate is to leap in with an offer, presenting it as if it is the best thing the recipient would have heard all year and they’d be a fool not to take advantage of the incredible opportunity you are giving them.

Why is this so wrong? The analogy often used is going on a first date. A proposal of marriage on the first date would be considered moving rather fast. Better to build a relationship slowly than propose an immediate partnership.

So consider how you approach these people carefully. Gather the clues from their blogs, emails and other communications. If they are open to offers and have an email address specifically set up for them then a more direct approach would be appropriate, but if they rarely send offers to their lists an initial request for advice might be a better approach. Do not make one of the other big mistakes and send out a blanket email that is hardly personalised to anyone.

Making contact is often the hardest part, particularly if you are unknown in the niche. It’s not the mechanics of getting in touch that’s hard, it’s the psychology. You have to realise you are contacting busy people and the most likely response is a rejection or no reply at all. You just have to follow the steps above, grit your teeth and realise this is a numbers game. Persistence is the key. Don’t despair and don’t give up. Sooner or later you’ll contact someone willing to take a closer look at your offer, so just keep going.

In addition to the above you should also create a set of resources to help affiliates promote your product. Graphics of the product, banner ads, emails, blog posts, articles and reviews can all help an affiliate promote for you. Ensure they are of good quality and set them up on a web page so you can direct interested affiliates there.

You can also set up a blog dedicated to the product launch and use it to introduce affiliates to the product, outline the launch process and schedule, and perhaps give details of a launch competition, if you intend to have one.

Now, until last week I was following the above advice. I had set up a JV Blog with a number of resources, made a list of potential affilates and was working my way through them. Then Omar and Melinda Martin and Dave Nicholson launched WP Affiliate Builder .

This is a product designed to help internet marketers set up a successful product launch. But it’s not just the product itself that has changed my plans. Affiliates have been desperate to promote this. Some have offered incredible bonuses, including the opportunity to promote your product to their list, but only if you buy WP Affiliate Builder through their affiliate link.

I can’t recall so many people offering this sort of bonus and, frankly, it’s too good an opportunity to miss. Consequently I have already bought through one affiliate link just for the opportunity to promote to someone’s list, and I’m contemplating purchasing a second time just to access a second marketer’s list.

Now these are high profile, busy marketers and if I want to take advantage of their offers I’ll have to fit in with their timetables. This could push my product launch into next year, but it’s a price worth paying if I can get my product offer in front of tens of thousands more targeted people.

So, this latest development has added a new twist to my advice for recruiting affiliates. In addition to the process I outlined above, it also pays to keep an eye out for marketers offering helpful bonuses. It won’t happen very often, but it will be worth considering when it does.

My Weekly Tasks – Anticipating Change As My Business Grows

To do list
Image by Courtney Dirks at Flickr

I have a number of activities that I routinely do on a weekly schedule. However as I work on my membership site I’m trying to plan ahead so I can slot in the extra tasks I will need to complete when the site is live.

So here’s a list of the things I do on a weekly basis and those I expect I will be doing once I have released my front end and membership products. I may have overlooked some things, but hopefully you’ll find this of some help and relevance to your own business.

Current Weekly Activities

1. Write a new blog post.

Ideally I should be adding new content every week. Then I want to encourage visitors by announcing each new blog post on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Visit other important blogs, forums and Facebook groups and leave comments if possible.

Although it’s time-consuming and only works if I’m actively engaged, commenting is one of the best ways I’ve found to get some traffic to this site. I can also discover what people in my niche are talking about, their problems and where they need help. This can give me an opportunity to help and could be useful information for future products.

3. Find potential affiliates to help promote my products

I am currently populating a spreadsheet of potential affiliates and JV partners who I can approach once I release my products.

Of the above tasks I only anticipate possibly spending less time on the second. Hopefully affiliates and JV partners will increase traffic to my sites and I will not have to spend as much time on blog and forum commenting. However as they can be such good sources of information I will not stop that activity completely.

Future Additional Weekly Activities

1. Reuse blog post content to promote my blog.

This will depend on the amount of traffic I get from other sources, but one task for the future is to turn some of my blog posts into articles and then post them in ezine directories.

2. Create content to send to my list

With the release of my front end product and membership site I should start growing a list. That means I’ll need content for email sequences and broadcasts. I’ll also have to start reviewing products and tools to see if they will be of benefit to my list and worth my recommendation.

3. Create content for the membership site

Although the site will launch with one month’s content already prepared I will need to add to that content as time passes. This will need time to research and create. Although this may not need attending to every week it is definitely something I will have to make time for.

The above seems to be the least required. In addition to these recurring activities I will also be creating more products and attending to all the other tasks required to run an online business.