Porting old affiliate applications to new uses

Porting old affiliate applications to new uses

Lonny Donegan

Some companies' affiliate tools are easier to create and use than others. For example, Amazon has a very easy-to-use link creation process. We've found some affiliate programs tools harder to use, though. When we talk about tools being tough to use, we're referring to both you, the affiliate, and your customer. Can you find the affiliate programs tools easily? Are there some instructional videos to show you how to use the tools, or are you left to figure them out on your own? You also have to consider your customers: Is it easy for them to use the tools and make purchases?

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We've always found it best to test tools. First, place the affiliate link on your site or your post. Was it easy to find the affiliate program's banners, pages, and buttons designed for use by affiliates? Was it easy to include the link on your page? Does it look good? Great.

Now go to your website and click the affiliate link you just placed on your post (don't go through and make the purchase, though). Does the link take your prospective customer where it was supposed to? Does it look professional? Does the message seem like it would appeal to your customer? Does it lead your customer to a purchase? If your answer to all these questions is yes -- great!

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If you're taken to a nonworking page, out-of-date information, an uninspiring message, or a complicated purchase process, those are signs that you may need to look for another affiliate company. We've found that, primarily with smaller programs that may have smaller staffs, tools are sometimes out-of-date or refer to sales that are no longer active. For instance in one case, a tool touted something that happened in 2007. My thought when I saw that was "If that's the best you can say about your product, maybe I should put my promotional efforts elsewhere."

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With most affiliate companies, going this far to evaluate the affiliate tools is sufficient. You can be pretty much assured that if your customer makes a purchase from Amazon through your affiliate link, she will get the goods she has paid for. However, with some smaller affiliate programs, you have to make sure the payment button actually works (don't actually make the purchase) and then monitor the programs to make sure the products your customers are purchasing are indeed delivered.

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In addition to the banners and graphics you can use on your website, many of the larger affiliate programs have training videos or training programs to help new affiliates make the best use of their program. For instance Amazon has a complete training program, which includes various reports, videos, and documents to help you. Their guides and training often show you what you should do and -- just as important -- what you shouldn't do.