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Does anyone have any experience with strong affiliate sales over several years. Do they just keep increasing with your hits, or do they eventually fade?
Almost 2 yrs and sales have increased. But, I actively manage and improve the sites and add more affiliates and so on. I think your question just depends on a lot of factors. Some months can be great, than the next month it tanks, then shoots back up the next month. Lots of weird factors can affect people's spending habits.
As long as you put some time and effort into the programs, your earnings should continue to go up as you learn which links, banners, "calls to sales" have the best response.
Once you have this figured out, then the next step is to either increase your sites visitors, or if your site is product specific, create a new site with some more good content and using your best call to sales and affiiate links.
Programs like netsetter and coolsavings don't earn anything like they used to. Can you imagine the difference now if you were an early x10 affiliate?
But for niche stuff, I agree with JamesR and eljefe3 - things do tend to have peaks and valleys, but you should generally grow over time. However, it doesn't do this by itself - you must constantly work at it.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone had experience with, for example, book sales, perhaps through Amazon. My point is that by now, there can't be many people who don't know to go to Amazon for books, and so the question is, is having the interesting content, which happens to have affiliate links to Amazon enough to get the commission off those people who already knew about Amazon.
I guess in theory there's no reason why not - I mean if webmasterworld had links to, say, web-coding books at Amazon I'm sure they'd make a few bucks (THIS IS NOT A SUGGESTION!!), despite the fact that the readers here are the most web-savvy in the world and know everything they need to know about Amazon :)
Anyway thanks again - still interested to hear what anyone else's experiences are.
So the reader finds your site on your topic, and likes your info. You link to amazon for said book, and they buy based on your reference, even though they knew about amazon. They weren't looking to buy a book to start with, but you planted the seed and offered a link. The amazon brand actually helps in this scenario.
However, great success also depends on the affiliate program itself. You may make a few bucks off of amazon's program, but don't count on getting rich. Their model is one of the worst for the affiliate with stipulations like: users must immediately buy on initial clickthrough, only 5% commission on non-specific-book links, no recurring commissions, and quarterly payments.
I worry that eventually people will find the real site and miss me out
I think it depends on your audience and the program. Two factors are at work here:
1) Whether you have a relative static audience or one that's constantly turning over. (A travel site like mine, for example, tends to draw new visitors through search, and they haven't been exposed to my affiliate ads.)
2) Whether the affiliate merchant credits you with referrals of customers who have bought from them before. If the affiliate agreement gives ownership of such customers to the merchant, and if repeat visitors make up a significant portion of your audience, you may well see a decline in sales for that merchant over time.
side note: how do you all make those nifty little boxes for the quoted text?
My only affiliate site has been around for only a couple of months. Because it's new, I put a link directly to the 'real site' on every one of my pages explaining that I am an affiliate and why the user, web surfer, should buy though me. I tell them that I just present the information in a different way, possibly a better way. Further, the 'real site' has been around since 1993, I hope that that adds some credibility to my site.
I have no idea if this is the way to go, but the site is making a couple of C notes a month... so who knows.
I have always believed that the customers on the other end are smart enough to realize who fulfilled the order. Plus, in my case, the 'real site' is promotion and campaign heavy and only credits me for the direct sales. So, without me telling the user to come back to me, the 'real site' will suck them in and make them forget about little old me.
I read this with interest. I have run numerous affiliate schemes over the years, and only found one to work well. It's one that brings us a recurrent income of $160.25 per month - this has built up since October last year and is continuing to grow.
Basically, people visit our site to submit to our search engine. When they are approved they are told about a tracking device for the site (an advanced counter, if you like) which costs them $5 a month. We get half of this revenue.
What I'm interested to know about is any affiliate schemes like this that others have found worthwhile - not ones for trackers, etc. - rather ones that bring steady, recurrent income.
I've tried Amazon, Commission Junction, etc but they don't compare. They just bring sporadic one-off payments and no assurance of study revenue.
Any ideas folks?
I would have thought (if the site is the one mentioned in your profile) the travel line would have tons of good affiliate possibilities - as europeforvisitors seems to suggest!
I'm reluctant to mention my specific line (which also brings in a steady $200 so far - see my first post in this thread) but basically it's something that people look for something for free and there are some free items on our site, but also direct product links to buy the item. This means on each page we know that person is interested in the item we are pushing, but they also come back to the site as we have the free content.
You have a couple of things to consider here:
1) Increasing number of visitors means increased number of potential customers
2) Perhaps more importantly is to make sure you lever each visitor as much as possible. For example if you have 2000 uv per day and they never buy anything, then increasing traffic to 4000 uv per day might not help much.
It is worth making sure you get (2) right first, that way you have a fair idea of how you can increase revenue by increasing traffic.
Another factor is to "sell in context", whatever the subject mater of your site, try and sell related products. Web users rarely purchase something they arent actually looking for. With regard to Amazon, yeah, everyone knows all about them, but, someone might be looking for some info on a certain product - the content of your site - they find your site helpful and they are pleased, then you suggest they can get even more info from this book that can be bought from Amazon. Everyone is happy.
To ensure your affiliate sales dont fade away you must make sure you keep developing both of (1) and (2) above. Also, if you are providing specialist, interesting or up to date info then your site will aways be a good starting point regardless of whether the visitor knows of Amazon or not. If you can build a community atmosphere in your website then people will treat your website as their "first port of call", making you the first selling point as well.
Hope the helps, cheers
Thanks for that. I think the community point you raise is particularly valid. In fact, I think that's the key to the whole issue, if you are a strong port of call for the subject area you can convert those hits more easily. It's kind of a simple point, but you've help clarify it for me - cheers.
But what is community building? It feels like something more than just a good old forum. News too I guess . Anyone have any interesting community-building ideas that go beyond these?
Perhaps you can populate your site with some thought provoking articles, encourage users to respond to these.
Offer other services too (of course still related to your subject matter), these will no doubt vary from site to site, but they could include things such as comparison tools, knowledge bases, utilities etc. Basically, if you can think of something that will benefit your user, give it to them and they might just come back.
Of course, don't give it to them all at once because you want them to keep coming back time and again!!
Another thing to bare in mind is that careful use of affiliate links can be particularly useful to your visitors. eg, you might have a detailed discussion on a given topic, but on occassion your users might want to explore that subject further, give them the opportunty with carefully selected, highly relevant aff links. This should be done so that the user sees it as more of a tool of your site than a marketing ploy.
although the immediate purchase thing with Amazon can be a disadvantage - remember that you get sales from anything bought in that user session. I only link to CDs but recently have received fees for a years subscription to the Wall Street Journal, a set of stainless steel cutlery, and a chainsaw!
But I think more importantly, there are very few successful affiliates. I would voucher to guess that more than 95% of affiliate sales occur through less than 5% of the affiliates (and often through a list of the top 20). Have you ever seen those top 10/20 lists (Ashford used to do this)?
Those affiliates can either offer something more than a link to a merchant, or they are email/online marketing professionals that have an audience that they can consistently get great conversion rates from.
I think an interesting topic would be, how to you move from being an affiliate who gets "private offers" (increased commission rates) and actually get commission that is more in line with the merchant's marketing expense. Or at point to you drop the affiliate provider (BeFree, etc) and go direct. Or at point to you go to drop-shipping. It's hard to build a business on affiliate revenue!
A side point: How many of you have seen those articles in which a CEO of an e-commerce company boasts of how little they pay their affiliates (and how the affiliates bear all the risk)?