Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website.
Most businesses require startup fees as well as a cash flow to finance the products being sold. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, meaning you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There are no affiliate program fees to worry about and no need to create a product. Beginning this line of work is relatively straightforward.
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.
However, identifying the right strategies to market your business is often likened to rocket science. How do you get your message to the right audience and do it effectively? How do you boost visibility and increase sales while sustaining a profit with a converting offer? Today, with so much vying for our attention from social media, to search engine optimization, blogging and pay-per-click advertising, it's easy to see why most are ready to pull their hair out.
Strategic planning typically begins with a scan of the business environment, both internal and external, this includes understanding strategic constraints. An understanding of the external operating environment, including political, economic, social and technological which includes demographic and cultural aspects, is necessary for the identification of business opportunities and threats. This analysis is called PEST; an acronym for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. A number of variants of the PEST analysis can be identified in literature, including: PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental); STEEPLE (adds ethics); STEEPLED (adds demographics) and STEER (adds regulatory).
The convenience and easy accessibility of the Internet has created a global B2C e-commerce research facility, for a vast online shopping network that has motivated retail markets in developed countries. In 2010 between US$400 billion and $600 billion in revenue was generated by this medium. It was anticipated that in 2015 this online market will generate between $700 billion and $950 billion.
This is stimulated by product-enhancing websites, graphics, and content designed to attract casual "surfing" shoppers, researching for their particular needs, competitive prices and quality. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), a successful business is significantly contributed to by gaining knowledge about customers, competitors, and the associated industry. Market research creates not only this understanding, but is the process of data analysis regarding which products and services are in demand.
In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing. These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums. The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994. The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
Strategic planning focuses on the 3C's, namely: Customer, Corporation and Competitors. A detailed analysis of each factor is key to the success of strategy formulation. The 'competitors' element refers to an analysis of the strengths of the business relative to close rivals, and a consideration of competitive threats that might impinge on the business' ability to move in certain directions. The 'customer' element refers to an analysis of any possible changes in customer preferences that potentially give rise to new business opportunities. The 'corporation' element refers to a detailed analysis of the company's internal capabilities and its readiness to leverage market-based opportunities or its vulnerability to external threats.
Strategic analysis is designed to address the first strategic question, "Where are we now?"  Traditional market research is less useful for strategic marketing because the analyst is not seeking insights about customer attitudes and preferences. Instead strategic analysts are seeking insights about the firm's operating environment with a view to identifying possible future scenarios, opportunities and threats.
As the speed of change in the marketing environment quickens, time horizons are becoming shorter. Nevertheless, most firms carry out strategic planning every 3– 5 years and treat the process as a means of checking whether the company is on track to achieve its vision and mission. Ideally, strategies are both dynamic and interactive, partially planned and partially unplanned. Strategies are broad in their scope in order to enable a firm to react to unforeseen developments while trying to keep focused on a specific pathway. A key aspect of marketing strategy is to keep marketing consistent with a company's overarching mission statement.
Dun & Bradstreet is another commercial source of market research that offers an abundance of information for making marketing decisions. It operates the world's largest business database and tracks more than 62 million companies around the world, including 11 million in the United States. For more information, visit the Dun & Bradstreet Small Business Solutions website.
Focus on reviewing products and services that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product or service you are promoting. Almost anything sold online can be reviewed if there is an affiliate program – you can review physical products, digital software, or even services booked online, like ride sharing or travel resort booking. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
Affiliate agreements can be entered into by any type of business, from sole proprietor to corporation. Affiliating with another company is a good way to promote your business and make more money by joining with someone who has a proven track record and a larger customer base. But before you join an affiliate program of any kind, consider these questions (from Leslie Truex, Home Business expert).