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Calling All Affiliates: Cash in on Lead Generation

Posted on 11.22.2011

Marketing, especially on the Internet, is largely about generating leads and creating long-term relationships with consumers. For affiliate marketers, gathering leads also means ensuring that you will be able to maintain contact with the users to which you are advertising rather than just sending them off to merchants and losing them afterwards.

One of the biggest (and costliest) problems that affiliate marketers face is sending traffic to merchants for a small fee, but never getting crucial information about them such as names or email addresses that can be used to establish long-term relationships.

The process of generating leads doesn’t take a lot of extra work on the part of the marketer, and it can present great opportunities in the future for moving traffic and generating revenue. All it takes is collecting and validating the information, and there are a variety of great platforms available to help you do it.

Collecting Leads
Gathering lead information from customers can be a huge boon to an affliate marketer. While getting paid for driving traffic is necessary for an affiliate, it is not the end of the road. In some cases, conversions aren't made immediately after a customer clicks an affiliate's link to a merchant's site, but it happens later, so there is a good chance that marketers are driving conversions for merchants and not actually getting paid for it. Lead generation allows affiliates to "claim" these customers for themsevles before sending them to merchants.

Exactly what “leads” are, and what makes them important, is largely based on what your specific needs are and the best way for you to maintain a relationship with these consumers. Usually, this manifests itself in list-building where you collect pertinent information about consumers that can be used to contact them in the future.

The most common route for marketers to take is to build an email list by gathering the names and email addresses of the customers, which gives affiliates an easy way to keep in touch with these consumers by sharing information with them that will build your credibility as an authority in your marketing area(s). Some ways to do this include sharing unbiased product reviews, industry newsletters that you’ve compiled or links to information like whitepapers or infographics. This will help you build up trust with your customers, meaning they will be more likely to acknowledge and take action the next time you recommend a merchant or product, which will ultimately increase your overall conversion rates.

One way to collect this lead information is to drive your visitors to a “squeeze page” on your site (see image below), which you can do by including a link on your page, in forum signatures, in YouTube videos or anywhere else you’re distributing content or information on the Web. Trickier affiliate marketers can even link customers to these squeeze pages before or concurrently with a merchant’s product page when consumers click a link to go to a product.

You still have to convince them to sign up with you, though, which can best be done by incentivizing the process. Offer consumers free content, such as videos or reports, or free products, like a new blog theme you’ve developed, to entice them to sign up to be included on your list. The key here is to make sure that the incentives are quality and worth the customers’ time.

Validating Leads
Of course, if you’re giving away cool free stuff, it’s entirely possible that some users may sign up using phony information. It’s a sad but true fact of life.

However, sending emails to invalid addresses is more than just kind of annoying, it will also negatively affect your “sender reputation” with major email providers such as Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail, Gmail and others. Sending out mass emails to addresses that don’t exist make you look like a spammer, and as your reputation gets lower, more of your emails get filtered out of user inboxes.

Since most properly formatted emails with domains configured to receive mail will be accepted by your vendor, it is important to have a way to make sure that the information you get from users is real, and the best way to do that is by using a link-validation platform. These platforms will verify email addresses to assure you that they’re deliverable, which will help you keep up (and improve) your reputation with email providers and optimize your email marketing campaign.

Some the best platforms currently available for lead validation are LeadSpend and Cake, among many others.

Lead the Way
So, what are you waiting for? It’s as good a time as any to start increasing the monetization of your affiliate marketing strategies by generating leads for yourself that can result in long-term customer relationships. No longer will you simply have to be content with getting paid for some of the traffic that you generate for merchants, because now you can also help drive these customers towards other products that you market and increase your productivity in the process.

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