» Build your own Sales Force Army With an Associate Program
What's the quickest way to increase your website sales and extend your reach on the Internet all at the same time? If you said with your own associate program, you would be correct. An associate (or affiliate program as they are some-times called) allows others to sell your products/services and receive a commission on each and every sale or click. Just think of having a sales force that can grow as big as you'd like... and you only pay them when and if they bring you a paying customer. Make no mistake, affiliate programs are powerful tools that can rapidly improve your online sales.
Associate programs can be set up in a variety of ways ranging inexpensive to pricey, depending on the route you wish to take. The important thing is to pick the one that suits your needs and your budget.
First things first: What are your options for setting up your own program? Glad you asked....some people "pay per click," crediting their associates a certain amount every time someone clicks through on their affiliate banners or links. But I prefer "pay per sale," which means that you only pay out when someone clicks through and actually makes a purchase. In this way you're not just paying for traffic but for actual results, which is the sale.
You basically have two options for setting up your own program: Purchase software or use a third party service. The nice thing about a third party service is they manage all the accounting issues, including click-tracking and sending your associates their commission checks, too. This takes a large load off of you so you can spend your time doing more productive tasks... but this luxury doesn't come cheap. Let's examine some of your options:
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3rd Party Associate Services:
1) Clicktrade.com: http://www.ClickTrade.com
Outsource your affiliate program to ClickTrade and they'll take care of everything from tracking to paying your affiliates. Your program can be set up on a pay per lead or pay per sales basis, they do charge 30% for all of their hard work and a $500.00 initial deposit.
Anyone who sells information products online can easily set up an affiliate program with Clickbank. Each of your affiliates will need to have a Clickbank account (which is free) so they can be set up with a special link for tracking their sales. They accept the payment for you by credit card and you'll be charged a percentage of each sale. Simple and easy. Clickbank accounts cost 49.95 for you to accept credit cards through them then 1.00 plus 7.5% of each sale made.
No software to be installed; just cut and paste a few lines of HTML code on your site to get your program up and running. Some of the features include pay per click, pay per sale, accept or reject affiliates who wish to join and much more. Flat charge for set up of 395.00 then you'll have to pay a monthly fee of 45.00.
You'll want to make sure whatever you buy offers the ability to track real time stats. If you'll be integrating it with your existing shopping cart, make sure they are compatible.
You can buy or lease their software which runs on their server. Choose the basic package or add on their check paying and promotion modules. Basic set up fee of 75.00 plus 34.95 per month. Simple templates are available to get you up and running quickly.
2) Affiliate Software: http://www.AffiliateSoftware.net
Pro-Track is inexpensive and easy to set up. Presently it only runs on UNIX servers. Pricing starts at 695.00 for set up on a single domain. Very powerful with many options.
3) My Affiliate Program: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/msmerle/article/
You design the look and feel of your program and how much you want to pay out. Simple seamless integration with your website. Easy to pay your affiliates with simple Quickbooks integration. You pay a set price for the software plus a small application hosting fee. Pricing starts at only 499.00 plus 50.00 monthly hosting fee.
4) Ground Break: http://www.GroundBreak.com
If you're at all good at configuring CGI scripts you may want to look at downloading this script and doing it yourself. If you need help with CGI, contact DavidBlack@thewavecave.com -- his work and rates are excellent.
Ground Break can be set up to work on your server quickly. Presently only works on Unix platform and cost 200.00. Can easily be integrated with most Perl based shopping carts. Your program can be set up to pay either per lead or per sales.
As you can see, the options for setting up your own associate program are numerous. It will cost you some time and money, but in the end it'll give you a powerful sales force which will extend your reach on the Net.
Whatever program you choose, make sure it's easy to setup and user friendly so you won't lose people before they even get started.