Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.
When you consider that most new successful small businesses take 2 – 3 years to show profit, why should we expect an affiliate business to show profit in weeks? Fortunately, expenses for affiliate marketers are generally extremely low. That means, it is possible to see success much sooner than most other businesses. But you should plan to work for 6 to 12 months without seeing a dime before you expect to see profit.
What the chart above doesn’t show is the role of the affiliate marketing network (e.g., Commission Junction or LinkShare). From the publisher’s point of view, the affiliate network is involved very early on in the process, generally supplying the ad creative and affiliate links used to refer traffic. They’re also involved at the last (and most important) step in the process: a portion of the commission earned by the affiliate goes to the network who matches them up with merchants and handles the various administrative functions.
Let’s say that you’re running a company that specializes in shoes. Your customer base knows that you’re a shoe expert but also values your input on other high quality products — like handbags. Maybe your customers have asked you about handbags, and you find yourself recommending the same options over and over again. As a shoe vendor, you’re acting as a marketer for the handbag company.
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When you have your own product or service you hold a lot more control of the funnel from beginning to end. But I’ve worked with many marketers to help them better control the best affiliate marketing funnel with banner ads, blog posts and social media. Once people move from those elements to the sales page – I help them control their message and email marketing campaigns and everything behind the scenes.