Less than a decade ago, Amazon.com, an upstart little online bookseller, started a unique new business model: have other people's websites sell books for you. It made so much sense that other booksellers started doing it as well: have fishing websites sell fishing books, and needlepoint websites sell books on knitting and crochet. Any site that sells a book, they decided, deserved a piece of the profits made from the book.
Affiliate sales program today still make up a large chunk of Amazon's sales, although many other innovative online business models have come into practice. And with several years of experience, those affiliates have learned a number of tricks to maximize their book sales. These tricks don't work only with books, but with any number of affiliate programs.
Know Your Customer:
Affiliate sales sites that try to sell everything are going to be a turnoff to the average consumer. Even though the Internet is an anonymous electronic force, consumers want to feel as if the website owner knows about and cares about them as individuals, and a website that tries to be Wal-mart to you is going to get exactly what it deserves - nothing.
At the same time, if you understand the type of person coming to your website and you can deliver to them items that they really want and need, you're going to get a repeat customer. Ideally, your affiliated sales should take place within articles or in the right sidebar of your website, and when your customer sees the item you're selling, they should instantly want it.
Use Targeted Content:
Once you know exactly what you should be selling to your customer, you can target your content to support those sales. Consumers, more than anything else, want information on products they may want to buy. And those who sell products depend on "buzz," people like you talking about the product's advantages and disadvantages, to get those products sold.
Targeted content can be the obvious reviews of books, new products, etc. But it can also be things like descriptions of fishing trips where you drop in links to affiliated products you actually used. For instance, if you caught a huge bass last weekend using a particular lure, you can drop in a photo of the lure, linking the photo and a text reference to your affiliated sales page where you actually allow the consumer to purchase that lure.
This is a trick that television networks are just catching onto. While recent fashions may have been largely driven by the clothes characters wear in popular TV shows, there was no way to purchase those fashions without searching for something similar throughout stores. Just this season, networks are starting websites where you can purchase the sweater Jennifer Aniston wore, or Tom Welling's jacket, even funky new glasses frames. It's the ultimate targeted-content model, if they sell it right.
You probably don't have a network to sell your products on. But you can develop a dedicated audience that knows your recommended affiliate products are good, reliable, and exactly what you say they are.
Develop a Reputation:
The largest sales driver online is trust. This is a rare commodity in today's world of corporate scandal, downsizing, and sell-it-now trends. If you can develop a growing loyal customer base who know they can trust you, you are guaranteed success, no matter who tries to move in on your territory.
One of the best ways to do this is by writing excellent reviews. Another is by giving information away on your website. You must be able to write well to do all this, or at least contract with others who can write well and to your specifications.
To grow your customer base, you must expand your communications outside your own website. You must be able and willing to distribute articles to other newsletters, websites, and content distributors who are willing to print your information and retain your personal name and URL in a resource box attached to the article.
You also must be honest about the items you write about. If it's junk, you should be willing to say it's junk. You won't sell many of the junky things, but you'll gain something priceless: respect from your customers.