Affiliate Marketing Tools

Monitor money machineGreat merchants provide great tools to help their affiliate partners succeed. The days of just using banners to send clicks to a merchant are long gone. Banners still have their place but as web shoppers become more sophisticated, and a bit weary of heavy-handed sales tactics, more relevant and more subtle ways of motivating visitors are required.

Research has found that in-context text links may be the highest converting of all links. By in-context we mean within the stream of relevant, helpful content that meets the customers’ need for information. This content can be product reviews, product descriptions, or niche-focused narrative. The point is that both visitors and the search engines like sites that add value to the visitor’s experience…that gives them something useful for their time and effort.

Something that helps move them along the sales cycle is also helpful from the merchants point of view. Opinions on product value and outright recommendations help create trust and credibility for a product and a merchant. Coupons and special promotions or special seasonal offers are also always helpful in making the visitor move closer to the shopping cart. These are the kinds of links that turn visitors into customers and clicks into revenue for merchants and affiliates.

Network Tools

The Affiliate Network the merchant uses is an important factor in the tools provided. You want not only good promotional links but you want reporting that can help you know what links are working well — and which ones are not. To a large extent this is the job of the Network in the first place. Otherwise the merchant should go somewhere else for their tracking and reporting. Some in-house tracking systems can sometimes be even better and offer more advanced tracking tools.

At BitCom we constantly analyze the effectiveness of our merchants links. We track conversion ratio on a link basis and test so that we know what links are the highest converting. As we mentioned, textual links are very effective. We’ve also found that datafeed links work very well and anything that provides pictures of product. Other effective links are free shipping and special promotions banners and buttons. Product search driven links are also effective.

One category of link we have found works well is what are called Dynamic Rich Media links or DRMs. These links are usually javascript based and are served by the merchant so that they can be changed automatically by the merchant. These work particularly well for short term offer based promotions like coupons, limited time discounts, and hot seasonal products. Unfortunately not all Networks offer these. Some merchants get around this limitation by creating them for themselves.

You can find some background information on the various types of links available and how to get them here in our Education section, or click on the “What Is Affiliate Marketing” tab above.

As you get your Affiliate Marketing into high gear you’ll be looking for tools that help solve problems and optimize your promotions. Getting traffic, promoting products, and connecting with your audience at a high level will require some creative “solutions.”

Here’s some of the solutions we’ve found.