Online Affiliate Marketing is a revenue sharing venture between a website owner and an online merchant. The website owner will place advertisements on his websites to either help sell the merchant’s products or to send potential customers to the merchant’s website, all in exchange for a share of the profits.

Affiliate Marketing Program
An affiliate marketing program is sometimes called an affiliate program, but also may be referred to as a pay-for-performance program or an associate program. whiskysteine An affiliate program is a marketing tool for the e-business that operates it, called merchant or advertiser and a source of revenue for the e-business that participates in it, called an affiliate or associate or publisher.

There are three ways to earn money through affiliate marketing:
1) Pay per Click or Cost-per-click affiliate programs: Every time a potential customer leaves the affiliate website by “clicking” on the link leading to the merchant’s website, a certain amount of money is deposited in the affiliate’s account. This amount can be pennies or dollars depending on the product and amount of the commission.
2) Pay per Lead or Cost-per-lead affiliate programs: The merchant pays the affiliate a set fee for each visitor who clicks through and takes and action at the merchant’s site, such as completing an online survey, registering at the site, or opting-in to receive e-mail.
3) Pay per Sale or Cost-per-sale affiliate programs: Every time a sale is made as a result of advertising on the affiliate’s website, a percentage, or commission, is deposited into the affiliate’s account.

The Amazon Story
The world’s biggest bookstore has one of the most successful examples of an affiliate program (called their associate program). Amazon now has well over 1 million affiliates! That is over 1 million websites actively promoting their products every single second of every single day. Amazon generates over 40% of its revenue through its affiliates program. That is over $3 billion in revenue every single year! As another (somewhat humble by comparison) example, Zeald generates over 50% of its revenue using its own unique affiliates program. Admittedly, not quite billions of dollars but that is definitely millions of dollars of revenue every single year.

Thousands of diverse e-businesses operate affiliate programs: E.g. barnes&nobale, dell,1-800-flowers, rackspace managed hosting etc.

Affiliate Programs as a Marketing Tool
The two major Advantages to merchant
1. Tie marketing effort directly to a lead or sales.
2. The merchant pays only for results.
The two major Advantages to affiliate
1. Additional source of revenue for affiliate who also sells products/services
2. Primary source of revenue for affiliate who offers entertainment or information
Two Approaches to Operating a Successful Affiliate Marketing
1. Acquire a huge and affiliate membership. e.g. The Amazon associates programs have over 1 million members as diverse as:
– RVPart – Sells parts for recreational vehicles and motor homes.
– Dilbert – Site for view cartoons, play games, send electronic greeting cards etc
– Books for Managers – Site for business reviews and lists of the currant top-selling business-related books provided by Business week, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other publications.
– HaperCollins – Its site to promote its authors and their books. However, like many book publishers. HaperCollins sells its books through bookstores and not directly to the public.
2. Acquire a smaller number of highly effective affiliates that have a high volume of website traffic and offer web page content, products and services that are directly related to the merchant’s products and services.

Affiliate Programs as a Revenue Source
Participating in an affiliate program and then getting the most out of your participation involves:
– Selecting the appropriate merchant and affiliate program for your e-business
– Understand the terms of the affiliate agreement
– Add custom links to merchant’s site from affiliate Web pages
– Build traffic at affiliate site to increase click-troughs to merchant site.