Affiliate marketing is a great way to build an online business. And it doesn’t get much better than this — you don’t have to deal with inventory, no customer service and the only limit to your income is your imagination. But not everyone has a knack for building a successful affiliate business. So what’s the key? Let’s start by looking at some of the best practices for affiliate marketing.
It all starts with a product and an affiliate program, but how do you go about marketing effectively? What different avenues should you explore? What steps should you take, and what best practices should you follow?
Affiliate Marketing is a great method to discover new products and make money online.
Best Practices For Affiliate Marketing
If you’ve ever Googled how to make money in your sleep, then you’ve probably heard of affiliate marketing. While it has been around since the internet’s early days, recent trends in digital advertising have directed more interest toward it. Today, 81% of brands around the world have affiliate programs.
It’s not as simple as it sounds, though. Running an effective affiliate marketing plan takes work—a whole lot of it. Luckily for you, there are numerous techniques to get you on track. In this article, we’ve made a list of affiliate marketing strategies to help you explore and make the most of this approach.
5 Ways to Earn More in an Affiliate Marketing Program
- Choose Affiliate Programs Wisely
Not every affiliate program is created equally, and not every affiliate program will make sense for your customer base (we’ll cover that in more detail in section two). In addition to those factors, there are other considerations you’ll want to make:
Choosing quality over money. Sure, you can probably make a higher commission if you sell a lower quality product, but people will probably be less likely to buy because most have wised up to cheap products. Plus, promoting junk can seriously damage your credibility.
Consider promoting digital products. Some of the best affiliate programs to make money are online. These often have high conversion rates because they provide instant access and instant gratification to purchasers.
Consider promoting products that renew monthly. It’s okay to promote products or services that generate a single commission, but receiving a monthly recurring commission makes your affiliate business more predictable and stable.
Choose vendors that will negotiate. Find vendors who will renegotiate your commission if you start to consistently generate a lot of affiliate sales for them.
Choose vendors with a good landing page. Reconsider partnership if landing pages have an outdated design, are full of ads, contain way to much text and spelling and grammatical errors, have too many calls to action, or contain a phone number (you probably won’t get commission if orders are placed on the phone). Remember, if a page turns you off, it will turn off your visitors too.
Look for programs with lifetime payouts. With these affiliate campaigns, you make money if a visitor continues to purchase from the affiliate vendor even if they never come back to your site again!
- Understand Your Audience
Studies show that people don’t hate ads—they hate bad ads. One aspect of a bad ad is irrelevance. Let’s say you run a fishing website. It wouldn’t make sense to run affiliate ads for a computer just because almost everyone probably has a computer at home. Your customers aren’t there for this type of content; it will confuse them, annoy them, make them think you’ve run out of content or, worst of all, make them think you’re trying to sell something shoddy to make a quick buck.
Successful affiliate marketing means promoting only items that match the immediate needs and wants of your audience. The more relevant the product or service, the more likely they are to buy; in addition, educating them on relevant products or services can be considered value-added content, not weird or unexpected advertising. So, always think about why people are coming to your site, joining your email marketing list, or following you on social media.
- Be Trustworthy
Some people use affiliate marketing only for profit, not to benefit their customers. Some will even mislead their audience with spammy, dishonest affiliate ads and promotions, or they try to hide the fact that it’s an affiliate link. Here’s a tip: most readers can smell them a mile away—and that’s okay, if you’re honest about the intent!
If the product or service you’re promoting is relevant to your audience, they won’t mind the content. However, if they feel you are trying to scam them or take advantage of their readership with too many irrelevant ads, they’re liable to leave and not come back.
Remember, it is your repeat visitors who are most valuable to you; they are the ones who will give you linkbacks and recommend your site, growing your customer base—not the ones you lured in one time by misleading them. You need to be honest and ethical with your customers, building relationships with genuine content. If all they see is a profit motive—that you don’t ultimately have their best interests at heart—they won’t be back.
Pro Tip: One way to show your trustworthiness is to address any weaknesses of your affiliate product or service. Wait…what? It’s true! If you advertise something as too good to be true, they’ll never believe it.
Instead, highlight the strengths, then address a weakness to gain trust (but, always include a work-around to show how you make it work regardless of the weakness, or note that almost all similar products or services share this weakness, etc.).
- Offer a Bonus
When you disclose an affiliate relationship—and you should, because as we already noted, building trust is a must—consumers will appreciate your honesty and won’t mind contributing to your bottom line by using your link (the opposite can be true; if they feel you’re not being honest about your affiliations, they may go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you the referral credit!).
Of course, by disclosing an affiliate, they still have the opportunity to go directly to the vendor (and they’ll know that other sites are probably hosting the affiliate link too). So, consider offering an incentive to use your affiliate link. This is a great way to give your affiliate sales a boost and differentiate yourself from the other competing affiliates out there!
- Create a Variety of Ads
Typically, a vendor will provide you with a variety of ads to use on your website, social channels, and through email. If they don’t, you’ll have to do all the work, so keep that in mind. However, even if they provide you with some assets, you’ll still want to create your own ads (if they allow it) so that you can stand apart from the affiliate competition.
Once you have a good arsenal of ads, you’ll want to change them up frequently and test different versions to see which are most effective with your customers. It may take some time before you figure out the best formula, and you may also find that you need to continually rotate ads to attract more attention.
Pro Tip: Easily rotate your ads with an ad rotator plugin. These plugins will automatically rotate ads and track clicks so you can eliminate those that aren’t earning you money—freeing up space for the ads that are profitable (as well as any new ones you think up).
- Keep Your Ad Strategy Relevant
Don’t be complacent when it comes to your affiliate ad strategy. Keep up to date on the latest product and service offerings of your affiliate programs and swap out ads as soon as they become available (or create one yourself if you’re allowed).
Also, stay on top of the current trends and always be willing to explore new opportunities. For example, if those hot weight-loss pills have cooled off, or a particular clothing trend has died out, replace that content with something new and popular to reflect your timeliness.
Finally, you should always be on the lookout for new products that are useful and relevant to your audience; the more you can promote, the more you can earn.
Create Great Content
They say content is king, and it’s true! Content is what gets people to your site—and then take notice of your affiliate ads. There are some things to remember when it comes to content:
Create timeless content that will always be valuable. You may occasionally update links, specific information or dates, etc., but for the most part, the content you create should be “evergreen.”
Create new content on topics that are trending. If your platform allows it, this should appear in a “most recent” or “most popular” section.
Create content around your affiliate products or services—but only if it’s relevant and may be entertaining, useful, and/or informative. You might consider a product or service review, a personal testimonial or case study, or even an interview with someone directly involved with the product or service. Just don’t compromise your content to cater to the affiliate programs or you will lose your customer.