By Paul Parcellin, Staff Writer
June 3, 2014

Affiliate marketing can provide a good way to earn money from home. You may not become a tycoon overnight, but over time it can provide additional cash, if not become a main source of income.

Some may think that lead generation affiliate marketing is nearly effortless, but that's far from the truth. Anyone earning income from it is probably working hard and devoting many hours toward developing their at-home business.

As an affiliate, you'll probably set up a website - or multiple websites - targeted at selling products or services. Your affiliate network will connect you with businesses that will pay you a commission when visitors to your site convert. Converting can mean that the visitor bought a product through your site, or perhaps simply left his or her contact information on your website.

This may sound simple, but your success in ushering visitors through the steps to complete these transactions can depend on your abilities, creativity and determination to excel at lead generation. Like most business endeavors, affiliate marketing works better for some than for others. Choosing the right affiliate network can also play a role in your lead generation success.

Steps to Lead Generation

Here are some tips that can help you avoid some typical startup missteps. They may even guide you to becoming more successful in lead generation.

You can begin by finding a popular product or a lucrative market and then try to find an affiliate network that handles that lead generation market, but sometimes it's quicker to do the opposite. Find the affiliate program first and then market products and services that it supports.

Affiliate trainers Affilorama suggests three points that can make an affiliate program either a profitable endeavor or a waste of time:

  • Your commission should be 60% or more, except when there is a high price paid for lead generation, say $155, then a 50% commission is still worth your time. Also, with subscription-based items that pay you each time a customer pays his or her subscription, it's OK to accept commissions as low as 40%.
  • A high "Gravity Rating" - a term one affiliate network uses to rate the demand for a given product - is usually desirable in lead generation. One exception is Internet marketing products. Affiliates purchase these products through their own links because the commission provides them a discount. But that skews the numbers, so it's a good idea to look carefully at each product and determine whether or not it is really in as much demand as the numbers might indicate.
  • Of course, low Gravity is not necessarily unprofitable - especially for new products. They may do big business after an initial warm-up period. However, if a product does have low gravity, then you need to dig a bit further to work out whether it will convert well for your lead generation purposed. Check the sales copy affiliates are using to sell the product, and then check competing products and the sales copy being used to market them. If affiliates are posting short sales copy and the product isn't doing well, and those selling a competing product post longer, better sounding copy and their sales are good, then that may be the key. Short copy doesn't tend to convert well, so you might consider making a more detailed presentation of the product if you do decide to do lead generation for it.

Avishai Sam Bitton, VP of Marketing at imonomy and founder of Go Social, says let your users guide your choice. "Choosing an affiliate program doesn't mean choosing the company or brand you like the most, it means displaying the products and offers that best suit your users. While your interests should coincide with your website's major topics, that isn't always the case. When choosing an affiliate program, first consider your users, then consider yourself."

Below is a video with tips for online lead generation:

Cookies and Lead Generation

Another factor that could have a big effect on your success in lead generation with an affiliate network is cookie duration. The cookie allows the network to record your referrals to the merchant website. That's how you get credit for each referral and in turn get paid for it.

Sarah V. Bundy, CEO of All Inclusive Marketing Inc., says, "If the merchant is offering a 30 day cookie, this means that the customer has 30 days to go back to the merchant website to complete their purchase (if they did not already complete the order on the first visit) in order for you to still get commission for that order. If they return to the merchant website after that cookie has expired, you will not get commission for the sale. So, from an affiliate standpoint, the longer the cookie, the better."

When choosing a network to work with, it's important to read the network's terms of service before you agree to them. According to Bundy, the terms spell out how you can market your affiliate links, their placement and the keywords you can't use as well as those that you can use. It may also stipulate whether or not you can link to their website using direct search or if you can use search at all for lead generation. If you miss any of the restrictions and inadvertently break the rules you may have to forfeit any commissions you would have earned.

Post Script

Affiliate marketing for lead generation can be a good option for those who want to start a home-based business. It's not a sure and speedy path to riches, however. Success often requires hard work and patience. Successful lead generation affiliates usually set up a website, or many websites, as vehicles to market products, and they are paid commissions for customer referrals.

Also, it's a good idea to bear these points in mind:

  • You can find a product that you'd like to market and then seek out an affiliate network that markets the product, or to get started sooner, connect with a network and select a product or products that the network offers, and do lead generation for it.
  • Seek out a network that offers at least a 60% commission, although sometimes it's a good idea to make exceptions.
  • Be sure that the product that you will market is in demand.
  • Offer products that your visitors want, not merely the products that you like. The customer comes first.
  • Be aware of any restrictions that the terms of you agreement with an affiliate network will demand.
  • Note that cookie duration may have an effect on how much you will earn with a network.

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