Many merchants will still give credit for this sale to the affiliate, even though the visitor came directly to the site and not through an affiliate link when they completed their purchase. This is a fair solution in many cases, since many customers take time to make a decision and commit to a purchase. In the scenario above, the affiliate still provided a valuable service to the merchant–getting the customer to their site–and deserves to be compensated for that.
The best way to think about affiliate marketing is quality over quantity. There are a lot of small websites that will promote your product, but the key is finding a small number of partners that will deliver conversions. For example, an equity management services firm has over 20,000 affiliates in its system, but only about 25 affiliates generate 85 percent of revenue.
Affiliate marketing is very appealing to some publishers as well, because it can allow them to make considerably more money than they would under an alternative monetization strategy. Though the specifics of payout arrangements can vary a bit, in general affiliate payments will be significantly larger than the revenue generated from a click under a CPC pricing arrangement (or the effective CPC under a CPM arrangement). For high margin products such as e-books, for which there are no material costs, affiliate margins can be as 50% of the total purchase price. So it’s not unheard of for affiliates to generate $100 or much more from each referral.
If you’re struggling to get affiliates, you can use coupon affiliate sites like Coupon Craze or Ebates to share a discount code for your customers while paying a commission to the brands. You’ll need to pick discounts and affiliate rates that allow you to stay profitable. You need to be making more than a couple of dollars after the fees have been paid to ensure that your business has long-term growth.
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.