Response to General Affiliate Marketing Question

This morning a client of mine sent me an email asking the following question about affiliate marketing. As a general background, I have been doing some basic organic search engine optimization for this client for a little over 4 months. His site is a high-end site that promotes and up and coming model.

The site currently receives an impressive amount of traffic, due in large part to a fairly aggressive PPC (pay per click) campaign the client started via his own initiative. The site competes in a medium to low competition niche, and does not have any revenue stream as its primary goal is exposure, publicity and generating awareness and industry “buzz”. Not knowing much about internet marketing a few months ago, the client has really shown an interest and learned a good bit about generating traffic to a website in recent months.

The site has great rankings in the new MSN, including about a half-dozen # 1 rankings for our targeted keywords. Rankings in Yahoo are adequate but still leave a fair amount to be desired. In Google the site may still be in the “sandbox” and has only minimal exposure as of now, but should improve over the next couple of months to catch up with rankings in other engines.

Hi Jon,
What would you suggest in finding hip companies geared toward young people that pay us after being directed to their site from ours? Is this possible?

My Response

“…Since you’ve known me now for a little while, you know that asking a question that gives me an opportunity to run my mouth or type up a storm is going to yield you quite a lengthy response. Indeed, I may recycle this response as a FAQ or something of the sort. Here goes…

Regarding this question, what you are referring to is known as affiliate marketing. Typically they pay Website A a percentage of the revenue their site receives when a visitor referred from Website A actually purchases a product on their site or fills out a contact form or takes some sort of action. Its rare to find a program that will pay you simply for referring traffic from one site to another, as this is too easy to artificially manipulate and/or can encourage low quality traffic that doesn’t necessarily yield sales.

If you should find a program that pays just for sheer traffic, be careful and make sure things are legit and their expectations are not unrealistic. At best case you might be able to send 10% of your traffic elsewhere, and in doing this people are leaving your site, and you are diluting your brand. These types of programs are typically great for informational sites and/or directory hub-type sites – but are not common with sites promoting a celebrity such as your site. In some cases it can even make the site look a little “cheap” and unfocused. However, with the right partners it can in some cases actually enhance and add to the site.

Regarding finding hip companies geared towards young people, Albert would probably be a better resource there. The web is so large now and there are so many sites that I don’t think there are many sites with real widespread distribution towards young people in general. Most are niche sites or topic-specific. Thus, maybe look for sites that deal with style and/or pop culture. and such are the obvious ones here, but this would not make a good affiliate program as most people who wish to visit already do visit it and don’t need to be prompted. Plus, as their average visitor is just a visitor and not a buyer, the payout for referrals is likely low or nill. For larger payouts you generally need sites that sell something, as since they have a potential direct monetary gain, they are more likely to reward you for your referrals.

More About Affiliate Marketing

Have you tried checking out Google’s AdSense program? This is basically the other side of AdWords, which you are already familiar with. Basically Google acts as the intermediary and enables you to run Google AdWords on your site. When visitors click on the ads for other AdWords advertisers (such as how you are getting much of your traffic), Google splits the revenue with you (the actual percentage rate is not disclosed). In your case, as your site is geared at portraying celebrity status, while appearing high-end and chic, I would advise against AdSense as the ads make sites look commercially and not as high-end.

As a side note, I’ve been impressed with your interest and motivation regarding online marketing. Have you thought about establishing a website for the general industry? Up-and-coming models or something like that? Maybe a directory or informational content portal-style site? You could even use this to funnel more traffic towards your current site, and could probably earn some nice AdSense revenue on that type of site, which is better suited to advertising. Its alot of work and takes a fair amount of time to set up, maintain and to obtain high rankings, but if you have the interest it can be done. Just a thought…

Hope this helps!!!”

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