Does affiliate marketing work? Do people really make their fortunes from this online marketing scheme? These are the common burning questions people (newbies, in particular) seek answers to especially since all sorts of questionable schemes and outright fraudulent scams abound. If the aspiring online business tycoon isn’t careful, what is hyped up as the best thing since the advent of the dot-com era might end up as a shameful bust.

Affiliate marketing is not a creation of the online economy. It’s an established marketing practice that has been around since people started selling stuff. Practically any company that sells products through sales people (affiliates) on a commission basis engages in some form of affiliate marketing scheme.

How it works in the online world is not too different from the real-world version. Any person or business organization selling some kind of product can tap into the marketing and sales skills of individuals who have cultivated their own network of contacts and sales prospects. When the salesperson makes a sale, he gets a certain percentage of the sale as commission.

So does affiliate marketing work? It must work, because companies and individuals — offline and online — are making sales and earning income from this scheme. The principle is simple enough: sell a product, earn a cut. Insurance companies rely on insurance sales agents. Airlines have their travel agents. Pharmaceutical companies support armies of medical representatives and medical agents. Online powerhouses such as Amazon and eBay run established and successful affiliate programs. But so do corporate giants such as Sony, Dell, Gap and the New York Times.

But does online affiliate marketing work all the time, and does it work automatically? The answer to both questions is “no.” Many web entrepreneurs would like you to believe that online affiliate marketing is easy and automatic. It is neither. The success of affiliate marketing online depends on several factors. These factors include the quality of the product, its price, the existence of a robust customer base that can sustain the business, promoting the product successfully and implementing an efficient process that ensures the customers get what they want when they want it. Add hard work to the mix and you’ve got a formula for an online affiliate marketing plan that might succeed.

The goal of any marketing strategy is to position the product so that it sells itself. To succeed in online affiliate marketing you will need to be able to sell products in order to ramp up your income. To sell more products you need to build up your prospect base by driving traffic toward your sales site. Here are some ways to do this.

1. SEO your site
2. Create compelling, keyword-rich content
3. Drive targeted traffic toward your site
4. Offer freebies to build rapport and trust
5. Allow visitors to subscribe to periodic information; create segmented mailing lists then send regular newsletters and announcements
6. Explore social media

Affiliate marketing does work, but it’s not automatic. Like any other marketing initiative it requires hard work, consistency, patience and some luck.

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Filed under: Affiliate Internet Marketing

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