Now that you have selected an affiliate to promote and bought a unique domain name it is time to fill your box with some basic tools.

1. YOUR OWN SITE –  LANDING PAGE

The good thing about affiliate marketing is that the better affiliates already have collateral material ready for you including the “long sales letter” if you want to use it.  You could just redirect your new domain name to your affiliate URL – that way the traffic goes directly to the vendor’s site and buys the product.  You get the commission.  Easy as pie.

But you really want more.  You want to capture that buyer’s name and email address so that you can send your newsletters, emails, updates and valuable information to your customer.  That is where your own landing page …  alternately referred to as a squeeze, portal or capture page comes in. Now each of these have shades of difference, but basically their main job is to entice the visitor to give you their name and email address.

This is merely a mini site that is a page long – in this instance a “page” is not a designated size, it can be a short 5 x 8, a typical 8-1/2  x 11, or, go on and on like a roll of paper.  On this page you offer an ethical bribe so that the visitor gladly fills out her name and email address.  That ethical bribe can be in the form of a free ebook, a video or cd, a subscription to a free newsletter or if you can afford it a discounted price to the affiliate product (limited number, limited time), but in order to receive these they need to register through your landing page.

2. HOSTING

If your blog is already self hosted then that is where you host your new affiliate domain name.  I use Hostgator . This was the host that was recommend when I was going through the 30 Day Challenge last summer. I find their customer service to be excellent and their pricing is competitive with other hosting companies.  Another company I see cropping up more and more often is Blue Host.

3. AUTORESPONDER

An autoresponder manages your list.  It is a way to stay in touch with your prospects, to build rapport, establish credibility and promote new products and services.  You can program a thank you page to show up after a product has been purchased.  You can keep your prospects and customers updated on new developments in your business.  An autoresponder can have sub lists so that your customers are separated from your prospects, or perhaps they responded to different promotional material that way you can customize your messages to sync with their interests.

One of the most important features of an autoresponder is that about 90% of it is on autopilot – periodically you will want to interrupt pre-loaded messages with something new and fresh with a broadcast.  Use and abuse your autoresponder, it is there to serve you, your business and your subscribers – the more you know about how to use it, the stronger your business will be. A good autoresponder starts at about $10 per month and increases as your prospect list grows.  I use iContact . It was recommended to me by my mentor as a user friendly service and indeed I found that the learning curve was minimal.

4.  LINK TRACKING

Test, test & test again and make sure that everything you do to market your affiliate is tracked precisely.  What link tracking does is that it gives you information on every URL that you have published, whether it is by email, advertisement, articles, pay-per-click, even offline. A link tracking software is way over and above the statistics that your platform system or hosting company provide – those are just an overview of traffic and the source of that traffic. 

As you become more comfortable with your affiliate marketing efforts, you will want to mine deeper into which ad or words or  title drew the most traffic and converted in sales.  You can subscribe to a monthly link tracking software such as Website Gear from $10 a month or buy from about $300 upwards.

5.  LINK CLOAKING SOFTWARE

You don’t always need link cloaking but it is a good practice to get into.  What does link cloaking do?  It changes the original URL to a different one, while still leading the visitor to the same destination – in other words, the original URL is cloaked, or hidden. One of the reasons you may want to cloak the original URL is for sheer appearance.  Have you seen URLs that take up a whole line, something like (not a real URL)

http://www.valentinasaffiliates.com/linktracking=img&affID12345

I have seen URLs that are twice the length of the above.  Not only does it look cumbersome but it is much easier for the link to break, or it can be so long that your prospect needs to cut and paste it into the browser bar – some just won’t bother and another sale is gone.

Another reason to cloak your affiliate URL is, well people can be funny.  Onliners are becoming insreasingly savvy and recognize an affiliate URL when they see one.    Sometimes, for whatever their reason might be they don’t want to have someone make a commission on their purchase so they eliminate that part of the URL that is affiliate sensitive and buy directly from the vendor… I know, the price is the same, go figure!

There are URL shortening services such a Tiny URL which are free.  The problem is that you have no control over how long the redirect will last.  Affiliate Cloner Software will do the job for a one time fee.

There will be other tools that you will want to add to your toolbox.  The five mentioned here are a good start and signal  your professionalism.

To Your Awesome Blog Income Life!

Valentina

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