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“A year later, I saw her at an event and asked her about it, and apologized if I offended her in some way. She said I didn’t, but that an average mailing for her did $50,000 in commissions… So when I kept hitting her up, I was pretty tone deaf to the fact that I had cost her a significant amount of money that day by mailing an offer that didn’t convert well to her list, and then I kept annoying her with follow up emails.”
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.[8][9]
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
Keep in mind, affiliate tracking links are only valid for a certain period of time. For example, when you sign up to an affiliate program that advertises a “30-day cookie”, that means you’re only eligible for a commission if your visitor makes a purchase within 30 days. If they buy something on day 31, you don’t earn unless they clicked the link again at some point.
As a business model, dropshipping allows anyone to sell products from suppliers on their own website. There is no need to carry any inventory at all. When someone purchases a product from the dropshipper’s website, they place an order with the supplier. The supplier then packages and ships the product to the customer. Dropshipping is a great business model for a first-time ecommerce entrepreneur or people who want to test categories of products on their audience. Ecommerce entrepreneurs have even been known to run their ecommerce stores while studying, or working full-time.
Merchants receiving a large percentage of their revenue from the affiliate channel can become reliant on their affiliate partners. This can lead to affiliate marketers leveraging their important status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL, or CPC commission structures, there are a lot of high paying affiliate programs and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.
“It is absolutely vital to provide them with real-time reporting. Obviously, this reporting needs to be 100% accurate with integrity. Some affiliates will be running 100+ different sources to your offer, and by offering them real-time reporting, they can quickly determine which sources are working and which are not. You save yourself money as well as your affiliates. This also helps scale quickly if you have a good performing offer,” he said.
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. However, both are distinct forms of marketing and the main difference between them is that affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations to drive sales while referral marketing relies on trust and personal relationships to drive sales
For example, say you want to sell tablet cases for the new iPad. You find a distributor willing to sell them to you for $10 each. You take them to your storefront and make a product listing for that product at $20. You go about doing the marketing, the outreach, and the customer engagement necessary to make people aware of your site and your storefront.
I suppose it could be a different story for me since I’m more focused on the blogging area of internet marketing. Speaking of, what do you think the benefits/drawbacks are of the blogging approach vs. the email only approach when it comes to internet marketing? A lot of SEO “gurus” out there say blogging is essential because of the extra link-power it can give your site. Obviously you’ve had a lot of success with both approaches – what’s your opinion on the issue?
There are lots of ways you can optimize your digital marketing assets for mobile users, and when implementing any digital marketing strategy, it's hugely important to consider how the experience will translate on mobile devices. By ensuring this is always front-of-mind, you'll be creating digital experiences that work for your audience, and consequently achieve the results you're hoping for.
Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
There are thousands of companies that will pay you commissions for any sales that you generate on their behalf, an arrangement known in the online business world as affiliate marketing. Promoting other companies’ products and services to your mailing list can be an extremely effective way to generate revenue if you can find a product or a service that is a great match for your audience. Even if your company produces its own products and services, you should still consider promoting other companies’ products because you can only talk about your products so much before your audience gets sick of hearing about them.
I really enjoyed this post. While Jim and Evan clearly have a lot of their own experience, many do not. You were able to explain clearly the difference between affiliate marketing and dropshipping, then share your honest opinion (oh, the beauty of blogging). I think this post would be a great help to a new entrepreneur when researching the possibilities for their new business.
I was able to make my first online dollars through Amazon Affiliate sales… It was never much and in the beginning I was just excited to make $10 in a month, which was enough for a free ebook or two. With regular updates and link inclusions in my posts over time I was able to grow the number up to like $300 a month–which I was pretty happy with. Of course the payout rates are paltry compared to a sale of an info product like one from Unconventional Guides, etc. Thing is, people seem to be more open to purchasing physical products rather than information products…
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