Why Affiliate Marketing is a Win Win Model for Online Businesses

The very term affiliate marketing is tightly related to the growth of ecommerce, denoting one of the most attractive models for online businesses and individual merchants. Although affiliate marketing somewhat resembles traditional marketing practices such as multi-level marketing, the cyber space offers considerably better opportunities for putting this strategy to work.  

Among the most important factors that make online marketing lucrative is its measurability, which enables both sponsors and sellers to properly asses where they stand. With a variety of analytics tools and tracking services, an online merchant or business owner can monitor their users’ behavior and better understand their demands. Similarly, sponsors or companies that provide affiliate programs have a detailed insight into how affiliates perform and can make different changes to make their offering more attractive and efficient. 

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why affiliate marketing is so popular, but let’s have a look at some more specific benefits for both sides.  

Benefits for affiliates

Affiliate marketing is conceptualized as a way to create a competitive advantage for the sponsor and performance-based earnings for the sellers, which has made it a popular and virtually irreplaceable ecommerce model. For those who decide to earn money online, affiliate marketing offers an opportunity to: 

-    Sell a wide variety of products and services in your niche;
-    Reach global audience;
-    Earn performance-based commission even when you’re not working;
-    Have someone else make money for you;
-    Find new, creative ways to enhance your results.

However attractive these options may seem, one of the greatest misconceptions about affiliate marketing is that it’s an easy way to make money. Although this might be true for those who have been in the business for a while and who truly understand both their audience and their sponsors, those at the very beginning need to work a bit harder.  

For starters, having a clear idea on how you can expand and what networks you can join to achieve this goal is essential. Therefore, you need to find the programs that work within your industry in particular, which is where our CCBill Affiliate System comes in. The CCBill Affiliate System integrates all the important tools an affiliate marketer or a program owner might need to jump-start, manage and track the performance of his or her sales and commissions.  Moreover, it is a form of a hub of businesses that offer payout and revenue sharing programs, where you can find the ones that make sense for you to connect with in an easy way. More importantly, our Affiliate network allows you to easily upgrade to advanced programs and expand your business according to your plan. 

Benefits for sellers

For sellers, there’s an evident benefit of tailoring referral programs for a particular audience. Working with the people who actually have interest in their products or services, sponsors get an access to the global audience. For them, the key benefits include: 

-    Working with industry professionals on expanding the buyer network;
-    Make precise calculations about earnings in order to make the plan more cost-effective;
-    Get creative with reward programs for the best affiliates.

For sponsors too, promoting their affiliate programs is essential to grow. They constantly need to work with new partners and new affiliates in order to ensure their products or services will constantly have fresh audience. The CCBill MerchantConnect platform aims to assemble both
CCBill sponsors and affiliates in a single place and let them all grow business together. Picking the right partner for business growth is essential at all levels of business operations and MerchantConnect streamlines that process. 

Affiliate marketing is here to stay.  

Despite different predictions that affiliate marketing is dead or at least dying away, it’s very much alive and will be so as long as we have the Internet. It’s simply way too valuable for both sellers and buyers that there’s virtually no reason for it to go away. Of course, it’s definitely changing, a greater emphasis being put on features such as platform integration and valuable content. In fact, it is also gaining a new name in the mainstream industries, where it’s now referred to as commerce journalism, as suggested by Gobala Krishnan

Whatever the reference term, one thing about affiliate marketing remains the same. Those who are able to offer value, build a community around their offering and maintain partner relationships will continue to prosper. For those who are not willing to keep up with the pace of change – they may lose that competitive advantage. 

Social Business Transformation with Digital Asset Management Software

With online presence being a key requirement for modern business growth, continuous content production and distribution become imperatives for businesses of all sizes. This means that website owners need to keep offering fresh and diverse content to keep their audience engaged.

In real life, this translates into producing, managing and archiving enormous volumes of digital data in the forms of text, high resolution videos, images, etc. The volumes of such content tend to be particularly large in the entertainment industry, where website owners mainly work with multimedia material that can be quite challenging to manage. 

One way to make this process simple and more effective is to use Digital Assets Management (DAM) solutions, which are becoming more and more popular among online merchants and small business owners. Namely, earlier in 2015 MarketsandMarkets report revealed the growing adoption of DAM solutions by online merchants and business owners. DAM clearly offers some notable efficiency and scalability benefits and can be a key to innovation and growth.  

Understanding DAM

According to TechTarget, DAM can be defined as:

“A business process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions. Rich media assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts and other multimedia content.” 

The software solutions designed to streamline this process include different features that automate all these potentially boring and confusing functions. Essentially, they simplify digital content access and management for organizations that take digital business and online media development seriously. 

The perks of working with digital asset management software 

The organizations that use it often quote the ability to properly utilize all the resources and minimize asset management costs as the major advantage of DAM. Namely, a report by IDC and Adobe shows that around 30% of all the marketing content in respondents’ organizations goes unused. DAM, on the other hand, helps them categorize all the assets, archive the used ones and tag everything for easier management and research. More specifically, DAM helps them see the following benefits:

Evidently, there are some obvious advantages to relying on DAM for more efficient online marketing processes and these are valuable for companies in different industries. Although the largest portion of DAM users are creative agencies, DAM can be helpful for any organization working with large volumes of multimedia files. 

In fact, even a one-man digital business could be producing more multimedia materials than a small organization that is not as heavily focused on online strategies. This is why every website owner should consider using DAM solutions to keep track of what types of content are already created and why. Basically, the most important benefits of using DAM come down to the following:
  • Organize bandwidth-heavy assets such as high resolution videos, raw photo sets and 2257 release documents;
  • Tag content for a more intuitive organization, storage and archiving;
  • Use archiving and analytics options to keep track of content performance and plan future improvements.

How to find and implement the right DAM solution for your website

Over the last few years, DAM solutions have grown in both number and variety, now providing opportunities to everyone - from small website owners to large corporations. When it comes to finding and implementing the right one, this mainly depends on your own needs, meaning the amount of content, the purpose of the website, the website traffic. Yet, some of the recommended tips for choosing a DAM solution include

  1. Choose the right hosting: DAM solutions may be hosted in-house or come as a SaaS. If you choose a SaaS solution, your implementation worries pretty much stop here because your vendor remains in charge of maintaining and configuring your data. With in-house hosting, on the other hand, you might need a team of IT admins, who will work on setting up the solution for you. The most important thing to have in mind here, however, are the associated rules and regulations that you need to understand before choosing what service to implement.
  2. Examine scalability options: the volumes of content you produce will grow parallel to your business expansion. If you’re starting small, but thinking big, you need a provider that can scale according to your own needs.
  3. Consider pricing and buy-in: some website owners may not really need DAM. If your in-house team doesn’t find it particularly challenging to manage all the content you work with, there’s not much point in investing in a new solution.
Finally, it could be said that modern businesses need to rely on the implementation of adequate new tools in order to succeed and DAM is one of them. The very fact that the digital asset management market grew considerably over the last few years speaks about the popularity of these solutions. Regardless of the size of your business or your niche, you can likely find a great DAM solution for your needs and make your digital strategies more efficient. 

Streamline your content management strategy to attract more visitors, engage them and turn them into subscribers. As for the next steps, leave everything to the team at CCBill – we’ll make sure both you and your consumers have the greatest possible payment experience. 

How WordPress has Impacted the E-Commerce Industry

You would be hard-pressed to find many people in 2016, that haven’t used or at least heard of WordPress. The blogging software has become the preferred tool for nearly a quarter of websites around the world.

Yet rarely does a word spark so much debate between experienced webmasters, designers, and programmers. We’ve heard everything from revolutionary and simple to heartbreakingly complex and bloated. Opinions around this ‘all in one’ solution run the gamut, all the way to both extremes.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an open source blogging software and content management system (CMS). Designed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little in 2003 and based on the framework for the b2 blogging software, WordPress has grown into the full feature solution you know of today. Used for websites of all sizes, including those of fortune 500 companies, WordPress has revolutionized the way websites are launched and managed. 

What does that mean to those of us in the e-commerce industry? 

The early e-commerce sites took a dedicated focus and dedicated resources to get up and running. In fact I would say that many companies were unwilling to create an e-commerce website due to the high cost and difficulty in managing them. 

Over time, we began to see a rise in simple website creation tools. Tumblr, Blogger, WIX, and WordPress, were all created with the intention of allowing individuals and small companies to create their own websites.

These and other systems of its ilk, were a catalyst for the explosion in websites, by removing the required HTML, CSS, and PHP skills to manage a site, and replacing them with a simplified plug and play solution. We were starting to see more and more websites, and more importantly quality websites, from people who wouldn’t be your traditional webmasters.  

Early payment integration was still difficult, whether that was a payment solution such as Authorize.net or going for a payment processor such as CCBill. To accept payments you either had to implement the processing yourself or find an available plugin. 

Plugins were occasionally available, but the ones that could be found, were all ‘pay to use.’ Even those ‘pay to use’ plugins, which could run as much as $100 or more, came with minimal support. If you were lucky enough to get someone to respond to your need for help, in many cases, you were still left on your own to cobble together a solution using subpar code.

As people realized the substantial revenue opportunities online, we saw a rise in the e-commerce plugins available. Modules soon began to be added faster than ever before, and for nearly any purpose you could imagine.

It would be impossible to name off even a small portion of the available e-commerce plugins available today, but a few we offer include WooCommerce, WP eCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and Jigoshop. More and more plugins are being added each day to help manage every aspect of an e-commerce site.

Online competition is stiff with an exponentially larger pool of websites launching their sales each period. You need to make sure you can set yourself apart from the pack, and partnering with a payment processor like CCBill, is a good way to go about it.

So how can you use WordPress and CCBill?

The simplest way would be using one of the CCBill WordPress modules available on CCBill’s Partner Integration page at ccbill.com/integrations.

If you are going to be building a store based website, WooCommerce works excellently. CCBill’s WooCommerce module was designed by CCBill, and we offer you the assistance of our 24/7 Merchant Support Department to assist with getting it set up.  

If you are looking to do a membership based website, then I would recommend either the aMember plugin or the Magic Members plugin. Both have been developed to specifically work with CCBill and have been used widely since their release. 

The great thing about WordPress is that you are not required to use a plugin. While they can certainly simplify the creation of a website it may come with restrictions that aren’t suitable for your needs. In these cases a custom solution may be needed. 

One low-cost solution could be using our CCBill User Management System. This system is based on an htaccess authentication system, and is offered at no extra charge, to anyone with a CCBill account. When a user signs up for a membership to your site, CCBill will automatically add a user to your authentication system. Once that user’s membership has ended, the system will automatically remove that user’s access, by removing them from the authentication system. This type of automated user management is low cost, yet provides a seamless user experience. 

If you want more control over your system, you can also use one of the many APIs available. The most common setup is using the Webhooks system (a version of instant payment notification) to manage users. When a transaction occurs, the CCBill system well send out a webhook that can be captured by a script, which can then add a user to your authentication system. When that user’s access should be revoked, the system will send an additional webhook, which notifies your authentication system to remove the user’s access. Alternatively, our Datalink system can be used to query a user’s access level, adding or removing them as necessary. 

Systems such as the CCBill upgrade system can be used to offer multiple ‘tiered’ level access, such as a bronze, silver, and gold access. By automating the multiple levels of access your website becomes more attractive to a potential customer. 

This level of customization, the themes available, the plugins available, and the ability to use a number of different available APIs, make WordPress much more than just the blogging software it originally started as.

When starting your next project, take a look at WordPress and see if it might be the right tool for you.

Ray Kelsey

CCBill Sales Engineer

Automated Accounting Options for your Business

Most Businesses control their accounting internally. Whether it be accounts receivable or accounts payable, it is all managed in-house and the burden of dealing with tax preparation is taken on. This can be quite risky, as tracking has to be quite detailed all year long and the business is required to stay up to date on regulatory issues. 

So their value is undeniable. But let's be clear, a good accountant or decent accounting service is not generally cheap. As with any type of support service you may hire or contract for your business, those resources can have a direct impact on the success of your bottom line. 

Since 1998, CCBill has quietly focused its integrity and systems on providing reliable, stable, but diverse accounting options for your business – all built into the CCBill platform and available to our merchants at no additional charges.

And quite frankly, the range of our services go largely unsung. Most people know about CCBill automated affiliate payouts, which are touted as one of the most reliable in the industry, but not many people know about the rest of the options that we have in the same reliable accounting section of our platform. CCBill can automate a majority of the financial and payout functionalities.  This can save you time and money that would commonly be spent on accountants or accounting systems and softwares.

How do we do that?

AUTOMATED AFFILIATE PAYOUTS ANYWHERE: As mentioned, CCBill tracks all sales via the CCBill affiliate system, calculates your set revenue shares and distributes payouts automatically to your affiliates on a weekly basis. Anywhere the affiliates want their portion sent, we can accommodate. 

AUTOMATED MERCHANT PAYOUTS ANYWHERE: CCBill has a variety of options such as payment thresholds, scheduled payments, account splits, account grouping, super accounts that provide an automated distribution of funds on schedule to the people that you want them to go to. Automated. And all under your control.

SPLIT PAYOUTS: CCBill can split your account settlement to any number of different bank accounts, business partners, joint-ownership, affiliates, or even employees. Once setup, it is all handled automatically by our system and accounting group. Even the delivery is automated on our side, so you do not need to process payments or manage splitting accounts manually. All you need to do is run a report and see who and when they are paid.

GROUPED PAYOUTS: Just like splitting, CCBill can group any series of accounts, or even a series of subaccounts on one account into specified payouts, which, again, are fully automated by our system. You set which websites or account to bundle and we deliver the right bundle of funds to whomever you choose.

REAL-TIME SALE NOTIFICATIONS: Our automated email notification system can be set to notify you immediately of a new sale, a new affiliate sale, or any cancellations. Plus you can notify an individual or a group of recipients automatically. Customize the information sent with custom email templates featuring dynamic fields to send the info you want.

PRECISE SETTLEMENT: CCBill payouts or settlements can be set to be at a specific timeframe or at a certain balance threshold. Choose your minimum payout or choose monthly or quarterly payouts. Set it how you want to get your money.

EXPORT OR INTEGRATE: End of year reports are much easier with the ability to export reports in four different formats. But for companies with their own accounting software, CCBill has WebHooks push notifications for virtually any action related to a transactions or an affiliate – and our DataLink system can pull data when you want or need it.

FEE SPLITTING: Expert processing does come with a cost. But you can set how and who you want to pay the fees on your CCBill account down to a subaccount level – or you can split the fees with your affiliates or your partners automatically before you distribute the funds.

YEARS OF REPORTS: CCBill’s traditional reporting automatically provides you with any processing on your account going back to when you created the account and we started providing reporting. And in the graphical and interactive reporting of FlexStats, you can visually view up to four years of data in one view on our dynamic, interactive charts.

PAYONEER:  As part of our distributing funds anywhere, we can even distribute funds to the Payoneer bank directly to allow Payoneer to distribute funds to your affiliates.

Flexibility. Automation. Reliability. Isn't that what you're looking for in accounting system? CCBill is an e-commerce billing platform designed to expand your resources, without the added costs or loads of extra work.

Don't do it alone. That's the power of a resource like CCBill.

Don't know how to use these tools? Have a new project requiring some financial automation? Contact our 24/7 Merchant Support Specialists for help using any of our exclusive features at merchantsupport@ccbill.com.

Don't have an account with CCBill yet? Our sales associates at ccbill@ccbill.com can get you started using the proven resource in taking payments online. You can also call them directly at 855-4-CCBILL.