Build Your Own Sales Force Army With an Associate Program
By Merle,

What's the quickest way to increase your website sales and extend your reach on the Internet all at the same time? If you said with your own associate program, you would be correct. An associate (or affiliate program as they are sometimes called) allows others to to sell your products/services and receive a commission on each and every sale or click. Just think of having a sales force that can grow as big as you'd like... and you only pay them when and if they bring you a paying customer. Make no mistake, affiliate programs are powerful tools that can rapidly improve your online sales.

Associate programs can be set up in a variety of ways ranging from inexpensive to pricey, depending on the route you wish to take. The important thing is to pick the one that suits your needs and your budget.

First things first: What are your options for setting up your own program? Glad you asked....some people "pay per click", crediting their associates a certain amount every time someone clicks through on their affiliate banners or links. But I prefer "pay per sale", which means that you only pay out when someone clicks through and actually makes a purchase. In this way, you're not just paying for traffic but for actual results, which is the sale.

You basically have two options for setting up your own program: Purchase software or use a third party service. The nice thing about a third party service is they manage all the accounting issues, including click-tracking and sending your associates their commission checks, too. This takes a large load off of you so you can spend your time doing more productive tasks... but this luxury doesn't come cheap. Let's examine some of your options:

Third Party Associate Services:

Editorial Note: ClickTrade has transitioned into the Commission Junction service since this article was written. Commission Junction seems to focus more on pay per performance tracking but readers can check out the details at the Commission Junction web site.

Anyone who sells information products online can easily set up an affiliate program with Clickbank. Each of your affiliates will need to have a Clickbank account (which is free) so they can be set up with a special link for tracking their sales. They accept the payment for you by credit card and you'll be charged a percentage of each sale. Simple and easy. Clickbank accounts cost $49.95 for you to accept credit cards through them, then $1.00 plus 7.5% of each sale made.

3) Affiliate Shop:
No software to be installed; just cut and paste a few lines of HTML code on your site to get your program up and running. Some of the features include pay per click, pay per sale, accept or reject affiliates who wish to join and much more. Flat charge for set up of $395.00 then you'll have to pay a monthly fee of $45.00.

Software Options:

You'll want to make sure whatever you buy offers the ability to track real time stats. If you'll be integrating it with your existing shopping cart, make sure they are compatible.

1) Affiliate Tracking:
You can buy or lease their software which runs on their server. Choose the basic package or add on their check paying and promotion modules. Basic set up fee of $75.00 plus $34.95 per month. Simple templates are available to get you up and running quickly.

2) Affiliate Software:
Pro-Track is inexpensive and easy to set up. Presently it only runs on UNIX servers. Pricing starts at $695.00 for set up on a single domain. Very powerful with many options.

3) My Affiliate Program:
You design the look and feel of your program and how much you want to pay out. Simple seamless integration with your website. Easy to pay your affiliates with simple Quickbooks integration. You pay a set price for the software plus a small application hosting fee. Pricing starts at only $499.00 plus $50.00 monthly hosting fee.

4) Ground Break:
If you're at all good at configuring CGI scripts you may want to look at downloading this script and doing it yourself. If you need help with CGI, contact -- his work and rates are excellent.

Ground Break can be set up to work on your server quickly. Presently only works on Unix platforms and costs $200.00. Can easily be integrated with most Perl based shopping carts. Your program can be set up to pay either per lead or per sale.

As you can see, the options for setting up your own associate program are numerous. It will cost you some time and money, but in the end it'll give you a powerful sales force which will extend your reach on the Net.

Whatever program you choose, make sure it's easy to setup and user friendly so you won't lose people before they even get started. In part II of this article we'll examine some ways of promoting your newfound affiliate program.

About The Author

Article by Merle of "Where some of the BEST Deals in Ezine Advertising are Made". Buy & Sell Ezine Ads in a live auction setting! Pubishers sell off your excess inventory and Buyers pick up some Fantastic bargains.