How To Set Up A Powerful Affiliate Program
Affiliate programs (also known as reseller programs,
associate programs, etc.) are an opportunity for you to get
hundreds, even thousands of web sites all driving traffic
to your site and making sales for you…
And the best part is you don’t pay until AFTER they make
That’s the opportunity (and it really is a great one) but
I’m going to give you my realistic assessment from actually
doing it. In only a few years I’ve built a sizable
affiliate network of 28,422. Right now my affiliate program
accounts for 50% of my traffic and 40% of my sales so
obviously I’m very happy with the results!
It’s been a tremendous success starting with the first
month. It brought in approximately $2900 in sales and I
paid out $1400 in commissions. From my start-up costs
of $650 ($450 for software and $200 for additional design
work) this came out to a $900 profit, or a 138% return on
investment (ROI) in the first month. Six months later, it
provided me with a 1900% ROI and I know it will continue
paying off for many years to come.
Let me give you a little background first and then we’ll go
into specifics of using this powerful strategy.
Amazon.com was one of the first companies to build an
affiliate program and right now they’ve got approximately
150,000 affiliates working for them, just sending them
visitors and customers. Their affiliates get paid every
time someone clicks on their link and buys a book.
I believe Amazon.com created their own software to run
their program – but now there are several companies that
can provide you with affiliate software to run your own
There are two ways you can start your own affiliate
program. The first way is to have a service bureau take
care of nearly everything for you. They’ll handle
recruiting (to an extent) and administrative functions like
sending out checks, tracking, reporting, etc. But normally,
you’ll pay a much higher percentage than if you did it
yourself (which is the second way) – in fact, a very
healthy percentage in many cases. If you don’t think you
can handle some of the administrative tasks of running a
program in house then you should consider outsourcing to a
company like Commission Junction (www.CJ.com)
The second way is buy your own software and run it in-house
(that’s what I do).
Affiliate Software For In-House Management
http://www.assoctrac.com/ (Platinum member Corey Rudl’s
http://www.synergyx.com (Software combines digital
delivery, shopping cart and an affiliate program. This is
what I currently use.)
http://www.1shoppingcart.com (Software that gives you an
affiliate program, shopping, database systems and an
affiliate program all together in one.)
It’s the software that is making the Web such an exciting
and easy place to set up your affiliate program. It makes
it completely easy to track 100, 1000, even 100,000
different affiliates’ sales. Try doing that in the offline
world without a major headache.
How To Build A Successful Affiliate Program From Scratch
1. Good Product
This goes almost without saying but I’ll
mention it again – you’ve got to have a good product that
delivers on your promises. This is especially true if you
want to attract ‘Super Affiliates’ (the top of the top
affiliates – we’ll talk more about this in part 2).
2. Web Site With A High Closing Rate
This is the #1 mistake
I see most people making when trying to set up their
affiliate program. They open it up before they know if
their site even sells. Wrong! You need a web site that
sells! Unless you have numbers that prove your site sells
you shouldn’t move into marketing your affiliate program
yet because you’ll simply succeed in getting top affiliates
upset at you.
3. High Commissions
Bottom line – the name of the game for
most affiliates is how much money they can make. It’s a
simple notion of opportunity cost. For top affiliates there
is only a limited amount of space on their sites,
endorsements, emails they can send out – if another program
brings them $1.50 for email and yours is only making 25
cents – guess which one they’ll pick? No contest!
I suggest you give as much as you can to your affiliates to
help motivate them. It’s much easier to do that for a
digital product than a physical product. I give 45% to my
affiliates. My affiliate program is also 2-tier. However
unlike network marketing, it doesn’t expand past the second
level. On my second level or tier, I pay 5%. For example,
let’s say Bob is my affiliate. Bob refers John. And John
also becomes my affiliate. When John makes a sale, Bob will
get paid 5%.
I place a heavier emphasis and commission on the first
level because I want my affiliates going out and making
sales instead of trying to recruit more and more sub-
affiliates under them.
I try to provide my affiliates all the tools and
assistance they need to be successful. This is absolutely
critical. Most affiliate programs only give their
affiliates a couple banners. That doesn’t help.
Remember people are lazy, so you’ve got to give them
everything that they need. I created something called my
“Affiliate Tool Box” for my affiliates to provide them with
all the tools they needed to promote the program and do
really well. We provide our affiliates with text links,
sample emails, banners, articles, etc. etc. You can see my
example here – www.surefiremarketing.com/tools/
Once your site is making sales and your affiliate program
is set up – it’s time to announce it and really put
everything into overdrive with Super Affiliates. That’s
what we’ll cover now plus, I’ll let you in the backdoor of
the very successful and innovative Kennedy Inner Circle
affiliate program that I head up.
Welcome back to Part II. Last month I gave you an
introduction to why Affiliate programs are one of the most
powerful online marketing weapons in your arsenal. In this
month’s article I want to share with you some of the
advanced affiliate strategies and secrets I’ve been using.
The first step to any kind of successful affiliate program
is to make sure your site actually sells. This is
critically important! Once you have a proven sales process
on your site and you’ve double and triple-checked your
affiliate software is working correctly – you can start
promoting your program.
Announcing Your Affiliate Program
You should start with your existing customer base. Simply
send out an email announcing your program and providing the
link where they can sign up. I had a feeling my affiliate
program would take off because I had customers emailing me
asking if I had an affiliate program they could join.
(That’s definitely a good sign.)
Next, you can announce your affiliate program to the
different directories of affiliate programs on the Web. I
announced my new affiliate program to about 20-30 affiliate
Below is a list of Affiliate Program directories you should
submit your information to:
Directories of Affiliate Programs:
Also, if you don’t want to announce your program to all
these sites (plus others) there is a service called
Affiliate Announce (www.affiliateannounce.com) that will do
it all for you.
The top place you definitely need to announce your new
program to is associateprograms.com run by Allan Gardyne in
Australia. Your announcement’s listing needs to stress the
benefits to affiliates for signing up. Good benefit-driven
copy is important.
What you want to create with your affiliate program is a
set of raving fans or ‘evangelists’. You’ll be surprised at
how much affiliates talk about their best programs or what
they’re promoting now.
When my program first got underway I was lucky enough to
get some people that are endorsing it as their best of the
best affiliate programs. And not only that, but I started
getting endorsements from people that owned emails lists
that numbered in the thousands. So everything just seems to
snowball when you get past the initial start up.
But there is one way to make your program and profits grow
The most difficult and elusive affiliate to recruit into
your program is called a ‘Super Affiliate’. And these are
the top 1% of 1% of all affiliates who can instantly shoot
your profits through the roof. These super affiliates are
people who control the search engines or Ezine owners with
thousands upon thousands of subscribers, or a webmaster who
gets mega traffic to their site, or marketers who own a
huge customer list.
One good way to recruit these people is to do a search
under your search terms in the main search engines and then
contact the web site owners who come up in the top 10.
Another great ways is simply networking. At a recent
seminar in Boulder I was fortunate enough to meet several
heavy-hitters who I signed up for my affiliate program.
Trust me, it’s much easier when you’ve got numbers behind
your site to prove they can make lots of money.
You want to stay on these guys and keep following up with
more and more success stories and stats from your website
and other affiliate partners.
Okay now I want to show you 2 new discoveries I’ve been
using with our affiliate programs…
New Affiliate Discovery #1: Viral Ebooks
Viral ebooks are designed so that people will (hopefully)
keep passing them along over and over again. And in the
process build your list and sell your products if done
correctly. I believe in the future you’re going to see less
and less overtly commercial messages on many of the top-
visited websites. Instead you’re going to see a lot of
‘branded’ content being distributed.
For example, if you sell a dog training video you could
create an ebook giving some great ‘what to’ info but not
the exact ‘how to’ training that dog owners would want to
pass along. This ebook then directs interested people to
buy the full video series at your website.
This is pretty good – but let me show how to combine
affiliate marketing and viral ebooks and make this even
more powerful. You let affiliates give away this new ebook
with their links ‘branded’ and ’embedded’ inside. So if
anyone clicks to buy the product they get the commission.
Now they have an even greater incentive to provide the
ebook to their visitors. But let’s go one-step further. You
should also give the affiliate the opportunity to have a
link built into the ebook that directs people to their
site. Now that’s double the incentive.
We’ve been giving our affiliates the opportunity to brand
and customize several of our ebooks using a proprietary
“on-the-fly” PDF creator at www.viralebookcreator.com. This
technology is not available for sale but it might be in the
future. For now, there is a bulkier and less graceful way
of doing it at www.viralpdf.com
New Affiliate Discovery #2: Dead-End Links
More and more people are getting more hip to the fact that
many products have affiliate commissions. So if a website
owner or a newsletter editor makes a product recommendation
– people are reluctant to click on a link that looks like
an obvious affiliate link or they will simply cut off the
affiliate id# portion to go to the root domain. (i.e.
That’s why last year I created special domains for some of
my key affiliate partners who were promoting a rights
package I offered. I went to www.MakeYourNameStick.com and
registered a brand new domain that let me manage unlimited
sub-directories (yes, even I could figure this out because
it’s a control panel). For instance, I registered
www.megaresellrights.com as a domain with the sole purpose
of letting top affiliates use it. Then I went ahead and
set-up a bunch of different sub-directory names like –
http://firstfifty.megaresellrights.com, etc instead of the
much longer, uglier and easily recognized affiliate link of
And the other really slick thing is the “dead end page” we
set up if someone types in www.megaresellrights.com
directly. It tells them they have to type in the full URL.
This way affiliates feel safe that nobody is ‘hijacking’
their affiliate links. (Side note: I picked this up from
Now since this worked so well – I’m using a variation of
technique to run Dan’s affiliate program for the Gold
We set up each of our partners with their own domain name
like www.dk3monthspecial.com/trial/ or
www.dk3monthspecial.com/freebie/. You’ll notice each of
sub-domains is a word that actually makes sense and not an
affiliate id#. We are using the dk3monthspecial.com site as
the main site with the dead-end page if someone tries to
bypass the sub-domain.
Plus, something else that really works well is having an
endorsement and picture from the endorser right at the top
of each person’s page. This takes some customization work –
but it’s worth it.
The results from Dan’s program so far have been extremely
encouraging. The pages have a 12.8% sell through rate once
someone hits the page. Dan’s affiliate program is also
interesting because we pay affiliates on a recurring basis
after the special 3-month trial is over. However,
affiliates don’t like to wait for commissions so we
engineered an immediate upsell to occur after a new member
signs up for their 3-month trial. This way an affiliate can
make immediate commission on products offered plus
recurring monthly commission on the membership. And top
affiliates have been paid $1,500 – $6,000/month in
Frankly, my affiliate program is the single biggest traffic
and profit generation source I use in my business. If you
follow the information from last month and this month – you
can be on your way to building your own powerful affiliate
Copyright Yanik Silver
Just 32-years old, Yanik Silver is recognized as the
leading expert on creating automatic, moneymaking web
sites…and he still doesn’t know how to put up his own
He is the author, co-author or publisher of several best-
selling online marketing books and tools, which can be
found at http://www.SurefireMarketing.com