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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HOW TO GET MAJOR AFFILIATE DIRECTORIES

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I'm a big believer that smaller is usually better when it comes to affiliate programs. What I mean is that I believe that the closer you are to the person that's running it, the less hassles you are likely to get from them. I would suggest that if you have little money to start with, you should try to steer clear of the BIG brand name affiliate programs like Google. Here is a list of some of the places where you can find affiliate directories.

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com

At this website, you can find a more deluxe revenue stream . . . The AssociatePrograms.com directory helps you find the best associate programs which are also known as a referral, partner, revenue sharing or affiliate programs which help you to earn money from your website. No "adult", multi-tier or MLM programs or scammer companies make it onto this site so you are
safe here.

This is one of my personal favorites. Not only does Alan Gardyne filter out all the bad people, but every single affiliate program is rated by the public. The site is well presented and it's easy to find the information I'm after. The newsletter is awesome too. It is one of the best sources of new programs, affiliate news and selling tips available today.

Please remember the name: AssociatePrograms.com

http://www.2-tier.com

Since The idea behind an affiliate, or associate program is to recruit other webmasters to help you sell your wares, by paying them for each visitor or sale they bring you. 2-Tier is a directory of two tier affiliate programs. It features a searchable directory of associate, reseller and partner programs. It also works to include recommended sites, news and articles.

http://www.affiliatesdirectory.com/

This website can be your source for affiliate programs and associate programs. Over 2700 listings including new programs, recommended programs, top ten, two tier, most popular and top rated programs out there today. This is a great directory for you to go to.

http://www.affiliateadvisor.com

Don’t believe the hype! AffiliateAdvisor.com claims that they are NOT an affiliate or associate program directory. It's a resource for merchants and affiliates who want to make more money by participating in the explosive growth of affiliate marketing. The focus here is on educating you and consulting to merchants and third party providers, and program recommendations for affiliate sites.

http://www.refer-it.com

This web site is the authoritative guide to internet associate, referral, and affiliate programs. Refer-it also features resources, a discussion forum, interviews, downloads, and an article archive. It will really help you no matter what level you are working from.

http://www.affiliatetips.com

Here you will find Affiliate marketing tips, resources, industry news and interactive email discussions. This is a true one-stop resource for learning about affiliate programs and finding new ways to profit from your website. Their email discussion list is one of the few that is world wide and that is entirely dedicated to affiliate marketing.

http://www.revenews.com

This is a cool website that will give you all of the latest news on revenue sharing, affiliate and associate programs. ReveNews.com is dedicated to providing expertise, education and resources to the growing community of "revenue sharing" web site participants. They are very focused on providing you the advice and opinions to participate effectively in these new revenue sharing
opportunities. This is like a one stop shop for news.

http://www.affiliateforce.com

this is the official site of the internet affiliate marketing summit. Its purpose is to bring together all of the solution providers, merchants & affiliates. The largest congregation of affiliate marketing experts to date.

For the inexperienced

Personally, I think that Commission Junction is pretty good to start with if you are not sure what you are doing. What I did was phone up or emails each the top solution providers / affiliate directories. I'm pretty much an expert when it comes to html, but not everyone is as good as that. When you try to call and emailing each one of the BIG affiliate companies for tech support and you’re not an HTML expert, you might just need a little help with the tracking code. Larger companies assume that you already know all of this if you are an affiliate, but they are also hoping to make money off of those who do not.

I tried signing up for an affiliate program that claims to be the biggest affiliate software company as an experiment. I tried purchasing something using my links and the sale was not tracked. The affiliate software company actually blamed the merchant and vice versa. All I was left with was a tracking number. A month later the merchant said the problem was resolved. forget it! It just isn’t worth the effort if you are not really good at HTML code.

One affiliate program refused my membership because my site did not have enough content in it. That just amazes me! I tried to explain that my site is a web store, and most of my valuable content was subscription based and inside of password protected directories. All that I actually managed to get from them were a bunch of stock replies. When I finally did get an answer from a real human being I basically had to hear “so what that is how we work.” With the fourth or fifth largest company, I really needed support because I could not get their code to work no matter what I tried to do with it. I managed to get a half interested email from some technician. We emailed back and forth a few times and then it just kind of petered out. I just got sick of it and quit.

Commission Junction, finally, a big affiliate directory and solution provider that I can work with. With them, I got a very informative answer from a very polite technician. I find that it is a very good option for the newbie because the help is useful and polite.

Basically, Commission Junction creates alliances between affiliate sites that have interesting content and online merchants that sell products or services. We enable affiliate content sites to leverage their content and engage in e-commerce, by placing merchant ads, products, and services at the point-of-interest to their consumers on a pay-for-performance basis. In other words, Commission Junction asks you to find products that match your content. Create instant shopping on your site. Earn commissions for every impression, click, lead or sale. Manage your entire merchant network through a single interface. Of course, by the time you reach this part of the book, you have already done that, so it will be a snap!

Affiliate Tracking

This information was received by an article written by Todd Farmer & Jeff Doak Affiliate Managers and many other web marketers have started to use a variety of tracking technologies and strategies, over the last few years, in their quest for accurately keeping track of their referred customers. Tracking customers "from click through to sale" can be accomplished with various tracking methods, such as:

Simple Direct URL Links

CGI/URL Tracking

Cookie Tracking

Self Replicated Pages

Sub Domain Tracking

Database Record Match Tracking

One of the good things about these methods is that each of them has strengths, and each has weaknesses. However, you'll see that Cookie Tracking (which I mentioned in an above section) is the clear winner as the preferred single tracking method when it comes to reliable, flexible, and convenient tracking.

When you are searching through the different tracking methods, an affiliate manager has to consider these things first:

How flexible is the method? For example: Can you track everything that you want to track and will it work with my shopping cart or ordering
system?

How easy is it for the tracking to be started and completed? Ask yourself: ‘Do I have to exert much effort re-designing and maintaining my website to work with the tracking method?’

How much can you count on the tracking method?

How easily can an affiliate with a lot of experience defeat the tracking method?

Does this tracking method affect the performance of your website or web server?

Direct URL Links


A Simple, Direct URL Link is the most basic and the most limited form of referral tracking technology. The affiliate ID is only visible to the customer in the URL when you are using this method because it passes the referring affiliate's ID directly to the URL of a specific page that the affiliate or YOU choose (which must be equipped with an order form).

This specific page is then coded with a script, which reads the referring affiliate's ID in the URL, and passes it into a "hidden field" in the order form on the page or to a visible "reference number", that can be printed or reported by the visitor to the website.

While this simple method is good at keeping track of immediate sales on a single-page sales site, it cannot track the affiliate ID if the customer leaves this page and returns later. In that way it is inconvenient. Since the affiliate ID is visible in the URL, customers can easily defeat the tracking by simply removing the affiliate ID from the URL.

CGI/URL Tracking

CGI/URL Tracking is a relatively effective, but sort of inefficient means of tracking that passes the affiliate ID throughout the merchant's entire website. How it works is that the affiliate ID is visible in the URL just like in the above method and "follows" the visitor until she reaches the ordering system, where the ID is detected from the URL string. This how it follows the customer throughout the site and, in most cases, by processing all internal site links through a Perl script or JavaScript that does the following:

1. reads the current URL

2. grabs hold of the affiliate ID

3. Appends it to the URL of the next page.

This method is a bit of a fragile one because it requires a great deal of careful design of the website and maintenance of every link that is included inside of the merchant's site. Of course, when the site exists under heavy traffic, the script can become a "bottleneck" to the merchant's web site. In addition, if the script ever fails, the merchant's site will fail.

The CGI/URL Tracking method is usually used in conjunction with "cookie tracking". This combination allows for the tracking of customers who have disabled their cookies. CGI/URL Tracking, however, is losing its popularity as a backup mechanism because in most circumstances, Internet users who are security-conscious enough to disable cookies are also savvy enough to navigate around the CGI/URL method as well. Customers today can easily disable the tracking by simply removing the affiliate ID from the URL and re-entering the
site.

Cookie Tracking

Cookie Tracking is the most popular and annoying method to track customers "from click through to order", because it is simple to implement & use, it doesn’t require any significant web design considerations, nor does it impact the performance of the web site or web server. This method works by simply writing a small text file, which is called a "cookie", to a user's browser when they click on an affiliate link. This cookie holds the referring affiliate's ID, which can be identified at the merchant's order page to credit affiliates for referred sales.

Cookies make tracking affiliate-referred-sales very convenient for the webmaster. The cookie can be read and used on any page or on any form, and can be used in conjunction with almost any ordering system. Not to mention, the cookie that records the affiliate's ID can "live" for as long as the merchant wants it to. This is how the affiliates get credit for customers who clicked on a link weeks, or months, before finally purchasing or making a repeat purchase. Cookie Tracking is essentially invisible to the user, because cookies are written and read "behind the scenes". Unlike the other methods, the merchant's URL does not need to display the affiliate ID for the tracking to work. The only drawback with cookies is that a small number of web users intentionally "disable" cookies, and therefore, they cannot be tracked.

The number of Cookie Enabled browsers is growing, because a majority of web surfers' favorite sites require cookie use; plus, the option to disable cookies is not obvious in the two major browsers like internet explorer and Netscape. Those users who take the trouble to disable cookies are, oftentimes, the same users who will probably be wary of other tracking methods and have learned to intentionally bypass those as well.

Self Replicated Pages

Self Replicated Pages (SRP), offer affiliates a web page that is based on a template, or multiple web pages, that is found in their own directory at the merchant's website. SRP's are an effective and reliable form of affiliate tracking, but their use requires careful planning, the creation of template web pages, and ongoing maintenance in order to be effective.

With SRP's, the affiliate receives one or more pages at the merchant's website that is exclusively used for that affiliate's referred web visitors. Since the affiliate's website is designated by a directory name, the affiliate's ID is actually located within the URL. Because of this, customers who do not wish to be tracked can defeat this tracking method by removing the affiliate directory
from the URL, and re-entering the site.

In order to be able to offer maximum benefit, SRP's are oftentimes used in conjunction with cookie tracking: the SRP provides the affiliate with a URL to which he can point his customers, and the cookie tracking takes over from that point.

Sub Domain Tracking


Sub Domain Tracking is a great deal like Self Replicated Pages, in that it provides an affiliate with a full URL that can be used by the affiliate to direct customers. Unlike Self Replicated Pages, though, this method gives affiliates an actual sub domain at the merchant's site, not a simple directory path found at the merchant's main domain.

The Sub Domain process is one of the more time consuming and demanding tracking methods. The process requires that the:

DNS is configured to point this new sub domain to the appropriate web services on the web server

web services are created for this new sub domain as well as the main pages

web services point to the appropriate files for surfers to view the sub domain. The web files must either be created (just like SRP's), or the web service must point to a predefined root directory.

When merchants use this tracking method, their customers are able to see some form of affiliate identification, because the affiliate ID is shown in the URL as the sub domain which makes it a lot easier. Although customers can see this identification in the URL, since the sub domain is part of the URL, attempts to defeat the system by removing the sub domain from the URL and entering the site with no sub domain is less likely than with other URL Visible affiliate tracking methods.

The Sub Domain Tracking method is actually very server intensive, since web services must be created for each and every sub domain used, and it may require additional hard drive space to be wasted. The website may need to undergo a major site overhaul and maintenance to handle sub domain tracking. Not to mention, this method requires the intervention of a web server and DNS administrator, or expensive scripting that can automate the process. When you are considering the use of this method, affiliate managers have to carefully plan the ordering system and its integration with the sub domain option, and cookie tracking should be used as a backup.


Database Record Matching


Database record matching (which is also called "lifetime affiliate tracking") is the least used of the methods because it is difficult to operate and maintain, and must be used in conjunction with at least one of the other tracking methods; it cannot be used alone. Why am I including this information then; you might ask. Well it is best to know beforehand right?

Database Record Matching rewards affiliates for returning customers, but does nothing for new customers. The initial sale must employ some other form of referral tracking, and then store unique contact information about each customer as well as the referring affiliate's ID. When that customer returns and buys again in the future, the customer database can be searched to find that the customer is "owned" by an affiliate. This affiliate will receive commissions on that customer's repeat purchases for the life of the system so trying to get in now is a waste of time for you.


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