The easiest way to manage an affiliate program is to use shopping cart softwarethat also has the affiliate module available, either as an add-on feature, or it is included in the basic package.
The system I use is 1ShoppingCart (you may have heard of it under a different name, such as KickStartCart). This is a well-known and respected shopping cart system that is used by the majority of Internet marketers I’ve come across. Apart from the affiliate module and cart features, it also allows you to set up ad trackers, auto-responders and ezines.
It allows you to create an affiliate program, have a web page where people can sign up, then the systems gives each affiliate his or her own link code for each product or service that you offer, and tracks visitors, sign ups, and purchases made that came from those links, for a period of time that you define.
In other words, if one of your affiliates sends you a visitor that signs up for your free ezine today, but makes a purchase a year from now, your affiliate partner will still get his/her commission.
Alternatively, if you’re technically inclined, you may choose a stand-alone script, orsoftware that you install on your own server to manage your affiliate program. I’ve never personally used any of these programs myself, so I can’t recommend any one in particular, but I do know that there’s one important advantage to having your own affiliate script installed, and it has to do with search engine optimization.
You see, if you’re using 1ShoppingCart, or a similar solution for managing your affiliate program, when your affiliates promote your products the links are always going to look like this: http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=94277&AdID=333732
However, if you run your own script, however, you can set it up that those links actually point to your web site, such as this http://YourWebSite.com/affid?2847
Why is this important? Well, from the point of view of search engine optimization, it’s better for you to have pages around the web have a link back to your site. However, if the majority of your affiliate partners are going to be using email to promote your products then this won’t matter.
To find about these alternative software solutions, simply Google “affiliate program software”, or, if you’re part of an affiliate program that uses one of these scripts, and you like its features, log in to your account and look at the bottom of the page. That’s where you can usually find a link to the person or company that created it.