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Affiliates, Your eCommerce Partners

If your goal is to increase sales or build your brand online, then affiliate marketing could be your most effective method. Why? Because affiliate marketing involves direct, immediate and trackable interactions with customers, and it's probably the least expensive branding campaign available. These channels are the most efficient returns on investment (ROI) online, with the added benefit that you can control the campaign.

In fact, in 2003, 83% of online spending will be pure cost-per-action deals or a hybrid of CPM. Furthermore, affiliate programs will drive 20%, or $53 billion, of U.S. ecommerce sales by 2005 according to Forrester Research. Why? Because it makes good business sense! Utilizing effective partnerships and affiliates and basing marketing spending on performance are simply good practical business decisions.

Not that your affiliate program should replace your online advertising buy. On the contrary, a properly implemented affiliate program supports your online media campaign by exposing your brand and products to audiences typically passed over in a media buy.

The first step is to understand how affiliate marketing fits into your company's marketing umbrella. Affiliate marketing is not, as many companies tend to believe, primarily a business development tool. The affiliate program is a marketing tool that generates sales and brand awareness through links that are strategically placed on a number of relevant sites.

If you have a good product, an outstanding compensation plan, a well thought out award or incentive system, a community of personal relationships with customers and offer excellent sales materials, your business will rapidly expand with the additional efforts and market reach of your enthusiastic affiliates.

But be aware! As an online merchant you must emulate the tried-and-true offline model to really grow your business, focusing on recruitment, compensation, incentives and service. As a 'bricks and mortar' company wanting to expand your sales reach, you would do so by hiring a sales force. Would you hire them without interviewing them and assessing their capabilities? Also, you would not think of sending them to sell your products without excellent sales collateral and constant motivational support. Conversely, a good salesperson would not consider selling your products if you did not pay good commissions on time and offered good customer support and a product they could believe in.

Therefore, providing tools, resources and personalized support to a small, but committed number of affiliates is the best way to see significant results. It is a fact that, working with strong affiliates a company can build its affiliate sales channel into a significant portion of overall revenues at a far lower cost than any other marketing media.

Remember, it is important to follow these traditional business principles in order to create a truly successful affiliate program sales channel.

To begin, you must not attempt to attract every affiliate within reach. Be selective. Do your homework. Think up great motivational offers. Treat your affiliates like valued salespeople and they will be loyal and productive. Recruit hot performers by looking for content sites that match your product and then offering them good commissions on relevant product offers, communicate personally with them, know their business strategy and enhance it with good collateral and exciting motivational support.

Why? Because then you will actually have a valuable, effective powerful sales channel that costs less than any other means available to develop. - J
ohn Shenton - September, 2002
 

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Articles in Focus
 

 

N.B.** The articles were first published in the Times (Montreal, Canada) and written by John Shenton as special contributor to the Times Technology Section. Articles and Reports written by us may be printed or displayed on your website providing they are kept intact and a link/attribution to this website or Internet Merchandising Systems plus authorship is displayed.

 

 

 

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