Submitted by Bill Stratford
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Affiliate Marketing Auditor
There are 10's of thousands of affiliate program (JV Program) providers out there dying to get your traffic and marketing - they make great promises of paying their affiliates that sign up, but we have found that more than 95% don't pay AND almost NONE live up to their promises.
There are several things to look for in a REAL affiliate program, and these do not include testimonials that could easily have been written by the providers or payment percentages, which only matter IF you get paid! Here are some important considerations!
1. Does the provider show you how many "click-through's" (leads) you provide?
This is very important and easy to provide. If you find an affiliate provider that doesn't tell you, RUN AWAY! It's astonishing that more than 85% of the 500+ affiliate programs we reviewed do not provide this most fundamental information.
2. What are your conversion rates?
An opt-in is someone that provides contact information (like email) to get something (info., membership, discount, etc.), and represents a prospect. Someone that buys is a customer. This is important because you need to evaluate your return on investment (ROI) per marketing campaign. If you are sending your hard-earned traffic to the affiliate provider (leads), you need to be able to measure your conversion rate, per campaign (leads versus prospects AND prospects versus customers).
3. Does the affiliate provider compete with it's affiliates?
Know if the affiliate provider is selling direct, in which case less than 100% of overall sales include affiliate commissions - this also means that the affiliate provider is working in direct competition with it's affiliates.
Shouldn't this be disclosed up front?
If the affiliate provider pays affiliate commissions on 100% of it's sales, you can be sure that it is VERY serious about paying it's affiliates and doesn't compete with it's affiliates. Almost none will tell you up front, and we have found none that provide LIVE statistics on this.
As an affiliate, you need to have information that lets you learn what works and what works best. If you can get the average for ALL affiliates about conversion statistics for the following, you can quickly determine if your efforts are working better or worse than average and then improve your marketing:
Remember that affiliate marketing is a business and this information is essential for your success. If an affiliate provider claims to have spent significant amounts of money on it's infrastructure and they do NOT offer this BASIC LEVEL of information to it's affiliates, watch out!
- affiliate link displays versus click-through's
- click-through's versus opt-ins
- opt-ins versus purchases
QUICK NOTE on ETHICS: By far, the most unethical practice on the web (worse than not paying you for work done) is charging you an up-front fee to participate in an affiliate program. Would you pay to work on a commission only basis? If the program works, and is commission only, AND if anyone can do it, how can an up-front fee be justified? The only reason for something like this is that the program does NOT work, and the only real income the affiliate provider can get is this up-front fee. Please do yourself a favor.... RUN AWAY from programs like these!!!
4. Has the affiliate provider had a 3rd party review it's program so that you as the affiliate can be assured that you aren't wasting your time and traffic?
Affiliate Provider Auditing is the next generation certification for affiliate programs. If you can find an affiliate provider that meets all of the above criteria AND provides a third party auditing process, you know you are working with a top notch company.
Most affiliate providers just PROMISE to pay, pull a TRUST trick preying on the most common human weaknesses (like fake testimonials), claim large amounts have been paid (where is the proof - the fake testimonials?), and make claims that YOU too WILL make a lot of money - ask if they have a 3rd party audit of their system that simply answers the first 3 questions above. Don't waste time perusing a program that nets ZERO income, or maybe a few pennies per hour.
5. Does the affiliate provider have a third party managing the referral process?
We have found several of these out there, but most fail to provide the first 3 items above and all fail to provide the third party audit (4th item above). Ideally the third party affiliate management service would provide an opt-in form that captures information about the prospect (person interested in buying), pass it on to the affiliate provider with the affiliate to be credited (most do this) AND keep at least some information available to the affiliate so that there is an audit trail - almost none take this last step. Having information about the prospects you provide makes your job much easier.
Think about an affiliate marketing program for what it is - a sales job. You are selling for the affiliate provider on a performance basis (commission only) - you sell and you get paid. It makes sense that you would have access to the people you sign up so that you can help close the sale. When YOU get someone to opt-in to the sales process, this someone is YOUR prospect. If you can maintain communication with YOUR prospects, you can audit your sales success directly.
In reality, most people attracted to affiliate marketing do NOT want that level of relationship - most are just looking for a quick buck and do NOT treat it as a REAL business. There is just one reason why there are so many affiliate programs out that use fraudulent techniques to GET free traffic - they get away with it - "quick buck" seekers don't ask the right questions.
Ask yourself a few questions here:
- Do you really believe in the product you are selling? Would you buy it?
- Are you willing to spend time selling? - That's what an affiliate does.
- Considering an affiliate provider's program? Do they provide the 3 stats mentioned above to help you sell?
If not, don't waste a minute of your time - because that's exactly what most people find - their efforts wasted.
Serious about sales and ready to develop relationships with customers? Programs that include relationship management opportunities work best. These ARE available, much more lucrative, and very easy to audit - direct contact with prospects and customers means no "middle man" - did they buy - just ask them!
For a free affiliate or affiliate provider consultation, call (615) 266-6386. Find or create an exceptional affiliate program!
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