Apologies in advance if this is an oft-covered topic (I dug through the archives to no avail), but ...
I'm a publisher who is interested in offering merchant's products on my site. But here's the problem: Many of the merchants I'm looking at are small businesses that do not have established affiliate programs.
What I'd like to have is the ability to approach these merchants with an affiliate gameplan. I'll set up the tracking and develop *my* content/shopping site. In return, the merchant will pay me XX percent of every sale. It's very simple on its face, but I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. I need a cost-effective way to run an affilate campaign even though *I'm* the affiliate. I also need to cover both my behind and the merchant's behind -- I want to make sure I get paid for the paying customers I send to the merchant and I want the merchant to know he or she is receiving traffic and customers.
Is there a third-party service that might work? Or, should I simply establish a traditional affiliate program even though I'm not a merchant?
I've found that amateur merchants typically have very low conversion ratios. They just don't get it. Their sites and checkout processes aren't optimized for conversions. They don't have the credibility of the big guys. They often don't have the technical ability to implement an affiliate program.
What works better with the smaller merchants without affiliate programs is to just charge them per click or a flat sponsorship fee. Not only is that much easier to implement than a full-fledged affiliate program, but it also avoids the poor performance from smaller merchants.