Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reflinks And Netiquette

What is a reflink?

When you join an affiliate program, the program owner needs a way to keep track of the visitors you sent so he can properly credit you when a visitor you sent buys a product. The most common way to do this is by using reflinks (referrer links). Reflinks are unique urls that contain a string that identifies your affiliate account.


Reflinks and webmaster referrals

Most affiliate programs will not only pay you when a visitor you sent buys a product, but they will also reward you when you bring in new affiliates. This is usually done on a revshare (revenue sharing) basis. When a new affiliate you brought in makes a sale he will receive a percentage of that sale. You will then receive a small percentage (usually 5% or 10%) of the money that affiliate made on that sale. Just to be clear. That affiliate makes the same amount he would have made if he hadn't signed up through your reflink. The program owner pays the additional percentage out of his share.

Why would an affiliate program pay you for bringing in new affiliates?

Because those new affiliates bring in new sales. Let's say a product costs $100 and an affiliate program operates at a 35% revshare basis. When an affiliate you referred sends a visitor that buys the product, 3 people make money:

- The affiliate earns $35.
- You earn $1.75 (5% of $35).
- The program owner earns $63.25.

So it's a win/win situation. The program owner gets a new sale he otherwise would not have had and pockets $63.25. The new affiliate gets paid for his work. And you get rewarded for referring a new affiliate.

The good thing is that program owner only needs to pay people when they actually deliver. The new affiliate only makes money if he can make a sale. And you only make money off of this arrangement if you can bring in an affiliate that actually makes sales.

Reflinks and webmaster boards

As you probably have noticed by now, every webmaster forum has different rules and customs. What is acceptable on one board may get you flamed or banned on another. One thing that often gets you strange or hostile reactions on certain boards is posting a reflink in response to a question. Sometimes someone will ask for recommendations on products to promote on sites in a certain niche or on what affiliate programs are reliable and pay on time. On most boards, people won't mind if you reply with a reflink for a program that matches the original question. On some boards however, people will get hostile and post the following type of responses:

"That's a reflink, you only post that to make money."

Let's analyze that response for second. What if someone only posted that to make money? What's wrong with that? The OP (original poster) is also planning to make money so why shouldn't the one replying be getting paid for taking the time to post useful information in response to his question?
And even if he posted that link in an attempt to make money, he will only make money if OP signs up and earns money himself. So if someone posts a reflink on a webmaster forum in an attempt to make money, he has no reason to post reflinks for programs that don't convert or don't pay because that way he won't make any money himself. The only way one makes money off of that reflink is if OP makes money too.

So there's no reason to question people who reply with reflinks because they actually have an incentive to recommend programs that will make you money. Because if the program doesn't make you money, they don't get paid either. It's the people that don't post reflinks that you should be worried about.