Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 26, 2010
I participate on a lot of industry forums where web designers, seo guys, AdWords campaign managers and other Internet service providers hang out and talk about a variety of topics. Year after year I see the same question come up where someone just getting started with one of these businesses is looking for a domain name affiliate program.
In case you’re not sure what an affiliate program is, it’s a way for you to become a virtual salesperson for someone else’s product or service. Meaning, you get paid sales commission whenever you make a sale but you don’t have to ship any product or do any support on the back-end.
If you have clients of any kind, you should be recommending a way to them register domain names. Many people use GoDaddy or Network Solutions or one of thousands of other domain name registrars, for example. Not all domain registrars have affiliate programs. Some do, but they have heft up-front charges or pay next to nothing commissions or are just plain shady somehow.
About every six months I poke around the web to find the latest and greatest domain registration affiliate program that might meet or exceed my stringent criteria of endorsement. And, every year, I come back to the same system I’ve used since 2003 and have recommended to who knows how many thousands of business owners, authors and speakers.
Here are my qualifiers of what I look for in an affiliate program for domain names:
Proof of Residual Payment – If I’m going to put my effort into promoting anything online, I want to be assured I’ll be paid for my efforts and I want my commissions to be automatically deposited into my bank account. And, I want those payments to be recurring by the month and year.
The one I use: Pays every month right into my bank account and every time a customer renews a domain name, I get another commission payment. These add up over time and every year those renewals just double! Never has a payment been missed; it’s always automatic and I can cross reference my payment with online reports down to the day of the transaction.
Proof of Domain Name Rights – I remember a client that had some hosting company in Australia that gave them a free domain name with their website hosting. After repeated downtimes, the client decided to change their hosting. Their Australian hosting company told them to go fly a kite! Any system I recommend to others has got to give the client rights to their own domain name.
The one I use: It is your domain name, registered in your name, controlled by you when you login to your own account.
Proof of Process – The system has to “work” and be easy to use by even my most non-technical clients. After all, the domain names will be registered in their names by them.
The one I use: Yeah, well, it has a bit much on the upselling attempt which might get a little in the way of usability for the customer, but even when the company upsells one of my referrals, I get even more commission for the sale.
Proof of 24/7 Support - Nothing is more irritating than having a domain name registrar company that only supports your domain names by email. There are just some times when you have to pick up the phone and call someone, y’know?
The one I use: When the support department answers the phone, the person on the other end is always English speaking and answers in the voice of the name I gave my domain name registration website, which is “U Own it Domains.”
Proof of Involvement – I want the affiliate system to allow me to be involved. If I recommend the domain name system for someone to register domains and then they do so, I might get a call someday with a question on the operation of the system. Say for example, the customer cannot get logged in and for whatever reason they don’t see the support phone number on the registrar’s website. They’re probably going to track me down and contact me as the recommender (yes, this has happened before). I need an administrative area where I can login as the affiliate and find that customer and at least get access to their customer number so I can help them get support. This demonstrates to the customer that I am involved in the process and the product. And, I will have a devoted domain registration customer for life as a result.
The one I use: I have a simple and secure login admin console to login to that gives me all kinds of reporting capability to help my customer when I need to.
Proof of Longevity – A new domain name company that just started up yesterday is not one I’m going to put my trust in being around next year. Most of my domain names I register for 5 years or more. I can’t afford to have some bigger company buyout some little registrar company I’ve signed up with only to have their entire process, back-end management area, support methods and pricing change on me mid-stream. It’s just not one of those things I want to worry about.
The one I use: GoDaddy uses the same technical backbone. Think of GoDaddy as a big giant affiliate for this company where the actual machinery is stored to make the domains happen. That’s some pretty big longevity factor there!
Proof of Protection – If someone is trying to steal my domain name, I want to know about it and I want to know that my registrar has protocols in place to identify when domain thieves are at work.
The one I use: You can hide your domain name identity from public view with some slightly higher paying costs for each domain and if anyone tries to steal your domain by transferring it, you will get email notices which you can de-authorize and keep the rights to the domain name.
Proof of Competitive Pricing – If I’m promoting someone’s domain registration system, I should get a discount on domains I want to buy for myself. Plus, people I refer to the system should see that my pricing is competitive too. Which brings me to my next point…
The one I use: Sure, there are systems promoting $3 domains now….but you have to get a hosting account with them or buy other services for a certain amount. Prices with my system are low enough to be competitive and stand on their own.
Proof of Partnership – As an affiliate, I need to be able to prove to my clients and people I recommend the system to that I am in affiliation with the domain registration company. The way that happens is by the affiliate company supplying a website and purchase process that has my name on it; a way for me to integrate my name and my message on their website. Think of it as “co-branding” where both the registrar and I share ownership in a website.
The one I use: Allows me to have a custom header image. So, I can add anything I want. My logo, my name, the affiliate company, whatever.
Proof of Customization – Finally, I need to be able to get into that website offered by the domain name affiliate host so that I can customize my message to people I’ve referred.
The one I use: Can customize many areas of the website and all of the pricing. Plenty of customization to allow me to make it my own for sure.
Proof of 2-Tier Affiliate Tracking – This seems to be a serious limitation of other registrar affiliate systems. Once I find an domain name affiliate system that accomplishes all of the proofs I need as listed above, I need to be able to recommend it to other service providers who might become affiliates too and get a commission from sales THEY generate. This is called “tier 2.”
The one I use: Gives me a completely separate website that I can customize to promote as an affiliate program. After I signed-up for the 2-tier affiliate level, called a Super Reseller, I was able to login to one area and get access to the control panels of both my main affiliate account and also my Super account.
“So, okay Marty, let the cat out of the bag already! What is the golden egg system you recommend?”
Well, first of all, let’s put it this way…
#1) If you’re looking for a great place to register domain names, I suggest BestDomainPlace.com.
This website is my affiliate website. So, when you buy domain names through it, yep, I’m going to get a commission from the sale. There are several reasons why I recommend this website to my clients for their domain name registration, but two additional important reasons are cost savings and control.
But, look at the “partnership” between the two companies, affiliate and affiliate system provider. It’s obvious that I’m promoting it and it’s obvious that there’s some other system that I personally endorse.
#2) If you’re looking for a domain name affiliate program to recommend to your own clients, go to BestResellerProgram.com and you will see the two options. Pick the one that is only $97 setup fee. I think they charge this amount just to weed-out those who are not really serious about promoting the system. To someone that has two or three small clients to recommend to will be totally turned off by a $97 affiliate price. But, heck, I make that back every year just by the “discounts” I get on the domain names I purchase for myself! Then, tack on the year after year residual income I get from my domain customers renewing their payments. It all adds up, I can tell you that for sure.
#3) Once that $179 pays for itself, you will want to tell other service providers (like I’m doing here) that an affiliate program for domain registrations exists. If you have contacts in the Internet marketing or business area (and who doesn’t these days??) consider signing-up for the higher level 2-tier affiliate recommender level for the $197 also found on the same page at BestResellerProgram.com.
And, once you do either of the 3, (sign-up to buy domains, sign-up as an affiliate, sign-up as a Super Reseller), be SURE to send an email to me at Marty@HereNextYear.com so that I can send you my personal checklist for a whole slew of tips for using these three tools.
So, there you go. My recommended process for evaluating domain name affiliate programs and my official recommendation for the system I use. Now go get signed-up and start referring this system to your clients! It just works.
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