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What Is Affiliate Marketing... Really?

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Many years ago, direct mail campaigns and buying lists were the big buzz in marketing. (I remember those days!) With the internet came a whole new way of getting access to lists of potential customers, on a more personal level. Now you can send out marketing materials by referral, in the form of affiliate campaigns.

An affiliate is anyone who has a large or like-minded email list who agrees to help you reach a broader audience than your own list or online presence can reach. Affiliates offer your products to their contacts (customers, colleagues, friends and family) and include a personalized message introducing and recommending your brand. Many, but not all affiliates will expect to receive a portion of the revenue you earn as a result of their efforts. (You can also use affiliate marketing to create a viral explosion for your free products.)

Key elements of affiliate marketing:

  • Address the WIIFM question. What's in for me is the biggest question on the minds of your affiliates. You need to answer it upfront so that they can assess the benefits quickly.
  • Get to the point quickly. You are likely approaching busy people
  • Keep your emails warm and personalized. Send out individual emails and don't blast a whole bunch of affiliates at one time -- personalize each and every email
  • Offer bonus gifts, discounts and limited-time offers
  • Approach this process from a place of prosperity so that your confidence level will be up when you contact your potential affiliates. Offering something of great value makes it easier for your partners to commit.
  • Require only a minimal effort from your affiliates. Write the copy for the emails to their subscribers including the appropriate link for simplifying the purchasing process. You can also offer to provide them with scripted social media posts with the link included.*
  • Don't take rejection personally. If a potential partner says "no" they are rejecting your offer, not you. Be prepared to provide them with more information to make business opportunity impossible to reject.
  • Let the numbers work for you. There are millions of websites today, which gives you many opportunities to find companies willing to collaborate on product sales.
  • Don't agree to buy any lists. You are too susceptible to having your emails marked as spam.
  • Commit to the process. It will take some time and effort to find the right affiliates for your products. Once you do, make sure you reciprocate and promote their products.

If you are still wondering why someone would send out an email on your behalf, consider the fact that you are helping them! Many entrepreneurs and businesses run out of ideas for ways to connect to their subscribers without being self-promotional. An email written by you focused on their client's needs allows the affiliate to demonstrate their desire to consistently add value to their list and stay top of mind. It's a win-win.

In my follow-up blog I will show you how to organize your efforts for finding quality affiliates for your viral explosion.

In the meantime, what strategies have you used to successfully gain affiliates for your products or services? Share them here.

*If you are unsure of the specific regulations for promoting products and services on social networking sites, go to ftc.gov for details.

Peggy McColl is a New York Times best-selling author and an internationally recognized expert in the field of personal and professional development and Internet marketing. As an entrepreneur, business owner, mentor and professional speaker Peggy has been inspiring individuals to pursue their personal and business objectives and achieve ultimate success. She provides effective Internet marketing solutions for entrepreneurs, authors, publishers, professionals, and business owners, who want to establish an online presence, achieve bestseller status, build their brand, grow and/or expand their business online. You can find out more about Peggy at her website, Destinies.com. destinies.com