Promoting Products Outside the Affiliate Channel

October 6, 2009 Steve

Paul wrote in recently to ask the docs a question that I know has crossed my mind once or twice before: what do you do when you have a product you want to promote that isn’t offered via the affiliate channel?

Paul asks:


I have some domains that I would like to develop as small niches sites, but some of the merchants that I wish to promote are not offering their products through affiliate programmes.  I suspect that this is due to either a lack of awareness of AM, or they simply don’t consider AM as a viable channel.

Either way, what would you recommend when it comes to contacting a merchant to see if they would consider offering their products through affiliate marketing?  I’m aware that you did this with Secret Sales Kieron.  How easy is it for a small merchant to set up and where do you point them to find out the right information?

Many thanks.


Here’s what Kieron, Mark and Lammo had to say:


Kieron DonoghueDon’t let the fact that merchants you want to promote don’t have affiliate programmes yet.  Still promote them on your site, and when you’ve built up traffic and sent them a decent amount of visitors/sales then simply email/call them and ask for an advertising deal of some sort.  It doesn’t have to be a CPA based model, you can simply ask for a flat monthly fee to continue to send them traffic.  Sometimes this is preferable for smaller merchants who may lack the funds or technology to set up and integrate an affiliate programme into their site.  Once you have proved yourself by sending them traffic they will almost always pay to continue to have a presence on your site.

If you do want to steer the merchant down the AM route, then simply call them up or drop them an email saying that you know of similar merchants who have increased their sales by launching an affiliate programme, and best of all it’s on a pay-for-performance basis.  For small merchants, I would recommend one of the smaller networks that have low barriers to entry and no ridiculous monthly “management” fees.


Mark RussellHi Paul

It is really easy for any merchant to set up in affiliate marketing; the costs are relatively low and majority of that cost should be performance based.  So if you have merchants that you want to see in affiliate marketing, you can always send the merchant an email about your sites and explain what affiliate marketing is.

Another option could be to send the merchant a contact within a network or an agency that could explain the costs and benefits of the affiliate campaign.


John LamertonI would say the best thing to do is to develop the site, maybe whack Adsense on there and then show the potential new merchant the site that you’re sending loads of relevant traffic to their competitors with.

Once they’re biting your arm off to feature them on there, introduce them to your friendly network representative, who can explain the benefits in more detail to them.

I would say it’s fairly easy for a small merchant to get set up these days – you no longer need thousands of pounds in set-up fees or a small team of techies to get the tracking/feeds working.

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4 Responses to “Promoting Products Outside the Affiliate Channel”

  1. I’ve done something similar with one of my mini sites. The company was a wholesaler, but wanted to boost their brand in that niche, therefore they paid for monthly advertising.

    I like Lammo’s suggestion on adsense and competition though.

    Would be interested in an idea what affiliate networks are suitable for small businesses, as I get asked this quite a lot. (Networks are welcome to contact me via my website).


  2. Fantastic question Paul!

    I was going to say, contact them about getting an affiliate program created as they are losing out on sales and they could use an off the shelf solution, but Kieron’s suggestion sounds like a fantastic idea, Roll with it!

  3. Hi Dan,

    What network is suitable for you will depend on several issues. At Webgains we have focused a lot of our attention on SME clients with a great deal of success and there are others who take a similar approach. The main issue is how much time and resource you can devote to the program and how much you can realistically make as a merchant to cover the fees involved. This will influence your decision significantly. If you’d like to know more about what we offer just let me know.

  4. Thanks for your replies Dan and Keith. It’s definitely a good question as I often come across things I’d like to promote that aren’t on any of the networks; some great suggestions.

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