Affiliate Marketing Glossary

affiliate marketing transactionAbove the Fold – indicates the part of a web page that can be seen without scrolling up or down. You want to make sure the most important content can be seen above the fold.

AdSense – The Google advertising program that pays web site owners a fee when their visitors click on one of Google’s ads displayed on their pages.

AdWords – The Google advertising program that provides space for advertising on the Google search results page (SERP) or for ads displayed on an AdSense partner’s site. Advertisers pay Google a fee whenever someone clicks on an ad (see Pay Per Click).

Affiliate – Also known as a Publisher. The web site owner who refers clicks to a merchant in return for a commission or other form of compensation.

Affiliate Link – The link on an affiliate’ site that goes to a merchant’s site or promotion. That link has a tracking code built in that identifies the click as coming from that affiliate’s link.

Affiliate Manager – The person, or team, that manages a merchant’s affiliate program.

Affiliate Marketing – The internet marketing system where a merchant (advertiser) pays a commission to an affiliate (publisher) when their referral results in a sale. Often called performance-based marketing because the commission is only paid when the referral results in a sale. That’s the benefit to the merchant. The benefit to the affiliate is they don’t have to stock inventory or deal with customers directly.

Affiliate Program – The Affiliate Marketing advertising program offered by a merchant that pays web site owners a commission for leads, actions, or sales.

Affiliate Tracking – The process of tracking a link between an affiliate web site and a merchant. This is usually done through a tracking code and cookies (see Cookies).

Anchor Text – In a text-based hyperlink, the actual text copy used in the link. This is important because the text can provide search engine optimization advantages when used correctly.

Associate – Another name for an affiliate or publisher.

Autoresponder – the type of email marketing where a series of pre-designed emails are sent in sequence to an email recipient. This is sometimes called drip-marketing. The goal being to build and maintain a relationship with a prospect. See Email Marketing for more details.

Banner Ad – The type of website advertising promotion that displays a graphical image with a marketing message. When the image is clicked, the link takes a viewer to an advertiser’s promotion. Affiliate Marketing banners usually come in certain predefined sizes and are usually in GIF or JPEG graphic format.

Blog – Short for Web Log. The website building tactic that resembles a journal or diary. However a blog and a static website are really not different. Both contain content but a blog content is often different from a static website’s content. Often a blog style site is not based around a particular niche or business area, but reflects the site owner’s views and opinions on various subjects. So in that sense it’s more of a way to add content to a website. A website can have a blog section and a evergreen static content section at the same time. The blog would have content that is short-term relevant (posts) and the static section would have evergreen content that would be useful over a long period of time (pages).

Browser – The computer software that interprets and displays a web page in Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) format. Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari are examples of web browsers.

Charge Back – An invalid sale that results in an affiliate’s commission being rescinded. Also known as a reversal.

Click-Through – The process of clicking from one web site to another through a hyperlink. Click-Throughs are a major component of affiliate tracking.

Click Through Ratio (CTR) – The ratio of click-throughs to impressions of an affiliate link or page. Higher ratios indicate greater effectiveness of a link and its marketing message.

Commission – The payment made for a referral from an affiliate site. Usually based on a percentage of a sale but can also be based on an action like a membership sign-up or for a visitor providing contact information.

Content Management System – a computer program that allows the building of web pages to be done through a web browser using a standard interface without needing to know HTML code. The advantage of a CMS is that it makes page building simple while still offering advanced capabilities. Examples of standard CMSs include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Cookies – A piece of information added to a web site visitor’s computer browser that can be viewed and tracked by other web sites. Cookies are a key component of an affiliate link and provide the affiliate’s ID and also the length of time that an affiliates ID has been active (see Return Days). Many websites, like Google and Amazon, use cookies to track a visitor’s behavior. They then use this profile to show ads based on the visitor’s previous actions.

Content – The information on a web site. Content can be textual, graphical, video or auditory.

Conversion Rate – The ratio of sales to visitors. If 1 visitor out of 100 buys your product or service your conversion rate is 1%. Conversion Rate is a major indication of the success of an online marketing campaign.

CPA – Cost per Action, also referred to as Pay Per Action. When a merchant pays a commission or fee for some action, usually a sale, that was initiated from an affiliate site.

CPC – Cost per Click. Also known as Pay Per Click. A fee is payed when a web site visitor clicks on a link to a merchant site. Google AdWords may be the best known Cost Per Click advertising model.

CPM – Cost per Thousand Clicks. When a fee is payed for a volume of 1,000 clicks to a merchant site. This type of program is used less and less due to click fraud.

CPS – Cost per Sale. When a fee is payed when a transaction/sale actually takes place. This is the most popular of the various types of Affiliate Marketing payment options.

CSS – short for Cascading Style Sheet – the HTML entity that provides styling to an HTML element. In modern web design using CSS to style a web page is more desirable than having formatting markup within an individual web page. The goal is to separate the web content from the styling of that content. It helps make web pages more consistent in terms of design and pages load faster as well.

Datafeed – A delimited database file that provides product information, images, and tracking links for a merchant’s products. A datafeed may provide data for hundreds of thousands of products or just a few.

Deep Linking – The ability of merchant links to land on interior pages of the merchant’s site closer to the shopping cart and further down the sales cycle.

DRM – Dynamic Rich Media – The type of affiliate tracking links that are usually in javascript format or another dynamic scripting language, and served by the merchant or network. DRM links are useful because they never need updating by the affiliate and automatically change when new products or promotions are available.

Email Marketing – the type of online marketing where prospects optin (signup) for a list and then are sent emails, either to grow a relationship, or to promote a particular product or service. Email providers like Aweber, ConstantContact, MailChimp and many others, provide services where lists can be segmented, managed and emails can be designed in HTML format.

EPC – Earnings per 100 Clicks – A measurement of the conversion ratio and commission percentage provided by a merchant. For example: A conversion ratio of 1 in 100 visitors and and average order size of $100 and a commission of 10% would equal an EPC of $10.

Google Analytics – the free website tracking mechanism provided by Google where activity on a website can analyzed and managed. By adding Google code to a website, things like where a visitor came from, how long they stayed, and what pages they visited can be tracked. There are many other metrics that can be tracked as well,  i.e. what browser was used, what type of device, and geographic location.

Hosting – the process of providing web pages to the internet from a server (computer) that is running special web server software. Hosting can be done on your own computer, but more often it is done through a hosting provider (BlueHost, HostGator, GoDaddy) that provides very powerful computers where you upload your website. Most major hosting providers offer shared hosting (many websites on one computer) or dedicated hosting (one website on one computer). Unless your website receives many thousands of visitors per day, then shared hosting is fine. I use and recommend BlueHost as a hosting provider.

HTMLHyper Text Markup Language – the programming format of all web pages as displayed in a browser. Web browsers translate the HTML code into viewable pages on a computer.

Hyperlink – In HTML, the coding on text, images, or other entity that, when clicked, moves the viewer from one web page to another or to a specific location within a web page.

Impression(s) – The count for how many times a banner, text link, product link, or DRM was displayed in a browser.

In-house Program – An affiliate program where the tracking is managed by the merchant directly and not through an Affiliate Network. See Network.

Javascript – A web programming and scripting language that offers functionality above and beyond the capabilities of HTML. Javascript is client-side technology that is processed on the viewer’s (client’s) computer. Some languages (PHP, java, ASP) are server-side and are processed on the originating server’s computer before the page is sent to the viewer.

Landing Page – The page on a  website that a hyperlink lands on. The significance being that in an online promotion, a hyperlink-based advertising link leads to a particular web page. The effectiveness of that landing page in converting the click into a sale is an important variable in the promotion.

Merchant – Also known as an Advertiser. In Affiliate Marketing, the company that sells products or services and pays a commission, or fee, to an affiliate (publisher) when their promotion results in a sale. See Affiliate Marketing.

Network – Term for a third party affiliate tracking provider that acts as a go-between for clicks from an affiliate site to a merchant and payments from the merchant to affiliates. The implication is that the network provides unbiased tracking and reporting. The merchant usually pays the Network a percentage of sales.

OPM – Outsourced Affiliate Manager – an independent Affiliate Manager that is not a direct employee of a merchant.

Parasite – Term for a web site, usually an affiliate, that uses unethical marketing techniques to steal clicks and sales from other affiliates.

Pay Per Click (PPC) – The advertising practice of paying a fee for click-throughs to a web site. Google’s PPC advertising system is known as AdWords. Most search engines and major social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn offers some form of pay per click advertising.

Performance Based Marketing – The type of online marketing that pays a fee only when a sale or action is completed. Affiliate Marketing is an example of performance based marketing.

Residual Earnings – When a merchant pays an affiliate for sales by one of their referred visitors even though the sale didn’t come from a direct click from the affiliate site. These residual earnings often come when a customer buys additional services or products like in a monthly payment plan.

Return Days – How long an affiliate cookie remains active and able to generate a commission. A return day amount of 90 days would mean the affiliate tracking would still result in a sale even though the visitor bought 90 days after the original click-through took place.

ROI – Return on Investment – In online advertising, the process of analyzing revenue return on an ad spend. As it applies to PPC, the process of tracking net profit or loss from an ad campaign.

Sales Funnel – The online marketing tactics and mechanisms that move a visitor/prospect through a sales cycle and gets them to buy a product or service.

SE – Short for Search Engine

Search Engine Marketing – the type of online marketing where an advertiser meets prospects in a Search Engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and displays ads either through Search Engine Optimization or Pay Per Click.

SEO – Short for Search Engine Optimization – This technique in web site development that uses specific design and linking practices to make a site friendly to search engine robots (spiders) resulting in higher positioning in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – the pages displayed on a search engine site as a result of a query.

Social Media Marketing – the type of online marketing where an advertiser meets prospects on Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. No direct selling is done on the site but often the prospect is brought back to the merchant’s website via a hyperlink.

Spider – The common term for the Search Engine robots that crawl the web analyzing web sites. SEs employ robots and algorithms to evaluate website pages and add them to their index of pages. The quality of the page is used to determine the ranking of the page in the results page (see SERP).

Tracking – In Affiliate Marketing, the process of managing clicks from an affiliate site to a merchant site and therefore the resulting sales. This is usually accomplished by adding unique affiliate ID coding to the hyperlink.

Text Link – The type of  hyperlink that is text based. The actual text used for the link is called the anchor text.

Two-Tier Program – The type of affiliate program that pays affiliates a commission for sales generated from another affiliate site that was enlisted by the original affiliate.

WordPress – a Content Management System (CMS) for building websites. Often WordPress is thought of as a blogging platform, but it is fully capable of building standard static websites as well. There are two versions — WordPress.com is their hosted version where you build the site/blog on their system and domain. And the self-hosted version is where you can install the WordPress CMS software on your own domain that you host using your own-hosting company. WordPress is open-source software that is free and updated and managed by a community of software developers who give their time and expertise at no charge.