Monday, November 4, 2013

Affiliate Progams Are Great - But Beware Of The Fine Points

So you are looking around for extra revenue and figure, "Hey, being an affiliate sounds great. Let me try and get a few extra bucks from selling legitimate stuff on the web!"Great idea, and you go on your happy way applying to some of the affiliate programs and affiliate farms out there. So here are some really important pointers for those who think affiliate programs are a piece of cake. Don't expect to make money. If you do, then great. If you don't then just don't think the whole world fell on your shoulders.1. Not Every Affiliate Program is the same.2. Not Every Affiliate Program is the same.
AND3. Not Every Affiliate Program is the same.Affiliates work by giving you special code to put on your HTML in your web site. This code is either HTML or Javascript code. Google for instance works with Javascript and calls their program Adwords. Most others work with HTML, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.But here are some of the really sticky points you must know.1. Never mess, touch or change affiliate code unless you are 100% sure you know what you are doing. For instance: Most affiliate code does not really care that when your users click on the banner or text they will navigate away from your site to their site. You obviously don't want that. So you want to add into their code the "target=_blank" or "target=_new" code which belongs in href statement. If all that is Greek to you...then another article of mine will deal with it. But if it is Greek just don't touch their code!2. What does this affiliate code do? Typically, it shows the banner or text, and adds a link code after that. For instance:
That is a short version by the way. What happens is when the user clicks on the banner, they are redirected to the web site, and the affiliate is SUPPOSED to be able to pick up that click with that special code. Thus the affiliate can tell you how many clicks were made on a specific banner.Guess What? NEVER TRUST the affiliate unless you have been working with them. Some affilliates are great and their code works fine. Others will pick up all your banner impressions, (the times the banner is served out on your site) but the ability to pick up those clicks of your users is severely impaired.So why should you care? Well, if they are not picking up the click correctly, they are not going to pick up the sale either and credit it to your account. In that case you could have 100 people spending loads of money on your web site and you won't get one dime from it. The Big Players are all safe. Google, Amazon, B&N etc. All tested.Other affiliates you have to test and test again, until you are 100% sure that they are picking up every click on every banner you put on your web site. Do not expect to see your results in real time either. Some affiliates take an hour or 24 hours or even 48 hours to report correct click stats. That is fine. But if a couple of days go by and you are not seeing your test results show up in your affiliate statistics page, then something is wrong. Write them, call them, get an answer. If all you get is "stats are working fine, thank you for your letter" then drop the affiliate or affiliate farm as fast as you can.If you are using an affiliate farm, the nasty thing to do is to contact one of their customers, and tell them you really wanted to sell their products at your web site, but in testing you found that your clicks were not getting picked up and they should look into it. If you are sure of the fact, then search for another web site on the net using the same affiliate farm, and write their webmaster as well.Trust me, they will look into that in a blink of an eye. No company wants to deal with an affiliate farm that cannot handle the recording of clicks correctly. Remember, some of these affiliate farms have data collection routines that are really problematic or just don't work right. So be careful.You do not want all your hard work to go to the garbage, in placing the banners and the correct code in just the right place on your web site, and then have people click on the banners and purchase something - only to find out you are not credited with the sale because the affiliate farm is not picking up the clicks correctly. And there is almost no way to prove the click came from you unless you do some serious weblog mining or have an official notarized letter from the purchaser.Be Careful. Pick Affiliates and Affiliate Farms that are known and if the affiliate farm is known look at who their customer base is. Who will you be selling the product for? Remember, if a customer has a bad experience with your affiliate, they will not buy from the affiliate again, but neither will they click on your banners again!In another article I will deal with affiliate code more closely, and also some pointers in how to get the affiliate farm to work for you.