Monday, August 18, 2008

Affiliates 101, Part II

A Tale of Two Sites

I wanted to start off with two examples of good affiliate websites. The problem is, the sites I wanted to use as examples are ones that I encountered many years ago, and I no longer remember their addresses. They might not even exist anymore. Still, I can describe my experiences with them, and use that to help us all learn what makes a good affiliate site.

The First Example: Affiliates for Dummies

I had been searching the web for only a few minutes, looking for a particular Dummies book. You know, those books that take a supposedly complex topic and teach you about it in simpler, non-technical terms. The theory is that even a dummy could understand it and learn it if you teach it on the right level.

I clicked off this search engine to a site that had hundreds of these books. They had reviews, text clips, featured books, all organized by topic. I searched through them, found the one I wanted, confirmed that it was, in fact, the correct one, and clicked on the link to buy it.

And suddenly, I was at the page for that particular book, ready to complete the purchase.

At the time, as now, I was avidly studying internet business, and so it struck me really hard just how ingenious this strategy was. Most of the affiliate sites I’d encountered up to that point simply included a link to the main page. This one allowed you to link to a specific product. The affiliate site owner could select products, introduce them to their site visitors, recommend buying them, and finally, send them off to do that. I could tell, even back then, that this would be a far better model than simply sending people off to the main page of a retailer site and hoping they found something they wanted to buy.

It also showed the site owner as a very clever entrepreneur, seeing business opportunities where none had existed before. I mean, here he set up this site selling the Dummies books. He didn’t have to get any stock, he didn’t have to find a dropshipper, and he didn’t even have to get permission from the publisher or sign up as a dealer/distributor. All he did was build a site and send people to to buy.

And all he would have to do to make that site successful is to make sure that there was plenty of traffic coming in the front door.

The Second Example: Doctor, Doctor…

Another example of a great use of an affiliate program crossed my path not long after the Dummies book site. I was checking out the website of a particular doctor. His site was actually very well done, as far as doctor’s office websites went. I don’t remember his specialty, but the site was filled with content articles and information about the various infirmities and treatments that his practice dealt with.

And, as is often the case in academic writing, at the bottom of each article was a bibliography. By chance, I moused over one of the books mentioned in the article, and suddenly saw my cursor flip from the arrow to the pointing finger, indicating a link. I was intrigued. I wondered where the link would take me. I clicked.

Again, I was suddenly at the page for the book in question, ready to buy.

This doctor had found a slightly different way to apply the same concept. The only thing he did “wrong” (assuming he was actually trying to make some money off the book sales), is that I had to accidentally mouse over the book title to discover that it was a link. There was no underlining, no announcement, no nothing to instruct me to click on the book title. Even a simple “For more information, click here” would have directed more traffic there.

So, from these two experiences, I learned several excellent lessons about how to use affiliates effectively.

  1. Fill your site with content about a specific theme.
  2. Find products that relate to that theme
  3. Link directly to those specific products in your affiliate links.
  4. Let people know that those links are there to be clicked on.

If you’re going to do a site with affiliates, it’s best to make them be as strong as possible right from the beginning!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment