This is the last post in a five-part series on affiliate marketing. The fifth thing you need to make affiliate relationships work is a promotional plan.
Banner ads and text links are the two most common ways to promote your affiliate relationships. You can use these in a variety of formats. Using an e-mail list to sell the product is also a great way to promote your affiliate links (see the first post in the series, on list-building). Less common are print pieces.
As I talked about with steps 1 and 2 — building your list and developing additional online venues to showcase your affiliate relationships, you’re likely to generate little or no affiliate income if you don’t have a promotional plan in place.
For example, if you have a website, blog, and e-newsletter, you want to develop a schedule for when you will promote which affiliate relationships, and in which medium. You might have a banner ad on your website, which stays pretty constant over time. You might decide to run an ad in your e-newsletter every issue. But you should also plan your content. For example, writing an article on using the product or service for your blog and then excerpting pieces of that article in a couple of issues of the newsletter. If you don’t plan this out ahead of time, when it’s time to put your newsletter together, you might forget to include the ad and/or excerpt.
You can expect some support from your affiliate marketing partners when rolling out your promotional plan. Many of them offer pre-developed “creative” -- which is basically the “artwork” you’ll put on your blog or website. This is often in the form of customized code that you can copy-and-paste into your website code or onto your blog. Some offer affiliate newsletters, which alert you to new offers they are promoting, or provide you with articles that you can customize for your customers.
Some affiliate programs offer contests and other special bonuses. For example, last year, Ellen Britt, of Marketing Qi (pronounced “CHI”), who offers information products for social marketing, had a promotion for her affiliates called a “Ice Cream Social Media Sale.” She put together a package of information products from herself as well as a couple of other social media gurus and offered it over a multi-day promotion. You could purchase it for as little as $57 the first day, and it went up each day, until on the last day, you could purchase the same package for $197. She mobilized her affiliates to promote the program, offering them 50 percent commission on the sale … but also offered a couple of additional prizes. The affiliate that sold the most packages received one day of hands-on training with Ellen in Atlanta (it included one night’s lodging at a resort, but the winner had to pay his or her own transportation), and the second prize was an ice cream maker. You can see this promotion at http://icecreamsocialmediasale.com/.
You might also get ideas on how to market your products and services from the affiliate advertiser. Some will provide you with case studies of their most successful affiliates. Others offer tutorials or videos.