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Associate Programs

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Associate Programs
Why and what are they?

Companies or individuals that have a product or a service that they would like to sell on the internet quite often do so through the use of associate/affiliate programs. These programs rely on resellers also known as affiliates to do the job of finding customers for them.

The affiliate acts as a referral agent and directs the customers to the merchant from their web site or from other forms of advertising. The whole process of handling the order, the collection of payment, and the shipping of goods, is done by the merchant.

This type of arrangement benefits both the affiliate and the merchant. The affiliate is paid a commission based on the value of orders made by the customers that were referred by them to the merchants web site. The merchant benefits because the affiliate does most of the marketing while the merchant simply processes the orders.

The Internet provides cheap or free advertising to a global audience providing both the merchant and the affiliate a "Golden Opportunity" not otherwise possible.

Anyone that owns a computer and has access to the internet can become an affiliate. If you own your own website, you already have a place for the posting of your own ads for free. If you don't own one yet there are plenty of ways to obtain one. Some programs go as far as to create a website for you so that virtually anyone can have the opportunity to cash in on these income-producing programs.

When choosing Associate Programs there are several things to consider.

1. First and foremost if you already own a site choose programs that will compliment your site. In other words you need to target your audience. For example, if your site is a sports related site an associate program for a merchant that sells pet supplies probably wouldn't generate much income, where as providing a merchant that sells sporting goods would fit very well.

2. What kind of commission does the program offer? Commissions for sales should be at least 10% with some programs paying in excess of 50%. Products that provide residual income, in other words a monthly commission from renewals, are great income producers that continue to increase your revenues from month to month as your number of active accounts increase.

3. Check out the company first. Send them an email inquiry and see how quickly they respond. A quality site should be responsive to any and all inquiries. If it takes more than a day or two for them to get back to you chances are they are less than reputable. You should also check to see how ethical the company is. Do they offer their customers any guarantees along with refunds?

4. Does it cost anything to become an affiliate? My general rule of thumb is to avoid those that do but there are a few exceptions. Most programs are totally free while some charge a one time set up fee and then there are the ones that charge a monthly fee. Whether you should pay a fee mainly depends on what you are getting in return.

There are hundreds of associate programs so you can be selective when choosing which ones to promote. Use the criteria above when the time comes to choose your associate programs. It can be tempting to place a large number of programs on your site but quite often you end up overloading it and are unable to properly promote all of them or any of them. Quality is more important than quantity!

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