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  1. #1
    Join Date
    July 26th, 2007
    Niche seller thinking of joining network

    We have recently set up a new website selling very niche products. We plan to have over 200 lines soon ranging from 10 - 1000. None of our products are consumables.

    We have been asked by an affiiate network to sign up with them, I am however slightly cynical about it. They look quite above board and have some major names in their client list. However they want upfront and monthly fees to get us set up and keep us managed.

    Our market is fairly small and specialised and I therefore take bold claims from internet marketing companies with a pinch of salt. I like the idea of affiliate marketing, the 'pay for results' aspect of it really appeals. The 'pay us regardless of what happens' aspect of the network however is far from appealing.

    Can affiliate marketing be effective for these small industries that sell niche products? Any hints or tips very welcome.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Mansfield, TX
    You're good to be skeptical. Small, niche merchants typically don't see enough performance to justify the high fees charged by the largest affiliate networks. You might consider ShareASale as an alternative. Compared to the big three, their $550 setup fee and $25 monthly minimum network fee is a drop in the bucket. They also run one of the most ethical networks and have an incredible team of people running the company.

    Small niche merchants can certainly do well with affiliate marketing. As with just about anything, you'll get out (at most) what you put in. It'll take some very active research and recruitment to find and motivate affiliates within your niche (or affiliates willing to try your niche). It can take a while before you start seeing good results. Also, make sure to look at each category of general affiliates (coupon sites, search affiliates, comparison sites, etc.) to figure out how you can most effectively work with them.

    One option would be to hire an Outsourced Program Manager. There are dozens represented here on ABW. These typically cost about as much (in fixed costs) as an in-house affiliate manager, but they're experienced in the industry. They'll have plenty of contacts, will know how to effectively recruit, and they know what typically works and what doesn't. Even with an OPM, however, keep in mind that it can be a long process before you start seeing the results you expect. It's not uncommon for it to be 6-12 months or longer before things really start to ramp up.

    If you choose to go it alone, you can find tons of helpful reading through the links in my signature. Even if you do utilize an OPM, a good affiliate education will help you understand what your OPM is doing and help prevent you from making some of the mistakes that will impede your affiliate program.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    July 26th, 2007
    Wow... thanks for this extremely informative reply. The network that is trying to sign us up wants 500 GBP to sign up then 200 per month for a minimum of twelve months, so 2900 all in... which is a lot of money to throw on the bonfire if it falls flat on it's face. Thats for a fully managed serviece though.

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