Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program:

How an Effective Affiliate Marketing Program Works

By Sarah Jamieson

How an Effective Affiliate Marketing Program Works. As a merchant, you need a system to track and manage your affiliates, referrals, commissions, and payments.

This is the typical affiliate program process:

  • Affiliates sign up for your program. After signup, they each receive a unique ID and links containing the ID that will track their referrals.

  • Affiliates promote your products / services using the unique tracking links.

  • When a prospect clicks an affiliate tracking link to visit the merchant's website, the prospect is tracked with cookies to see whether he buys.

    Tracking cookies will often last for a month or more, so the affiliate will get credit for the sale if the prospect returns to buy later.

  • If the prospect buys, the affiliate tracking program registers a commission for the affiliate who referred the sale.

The image below shows how an effective affiliate marketing program can work.

On the left is the merchant's sales process, and on the right is the affiliate's marketing process.

Ideally they should work together, with the merchant training and supporting affiliates:

Affiliate Marketing Program

To be successful, affiliates need their own competitive advantage and value proposition that will attract visitors and keep them coming back to buy again and again.

Affiliates need their own quality content and they need to build their own email lists before referring visitors to the merchant's site. An email list is an asset affiliates can continue following up with for free.

For more on what affiliates need to do to be successful, see our Affiliate Marketing Training articles.

Keys to a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program > How an Effective Affiliate Marketing Program Works > Affiliate Tracking Software vs. Affiliate Networks >


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