This past decade affiliate marketing has grown in popularity as a way to earn passive income. As a result, most companies have come to offer an affiliate program for their products.
The reason for this trend is that affiliate marketing creates a win-win situation for all involved in the business exchange. This article will include a few insights from successful affiliate marketers about strategies they use, along with the top six affiliate marketing strategies you need to employ today.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other company’s products and earning a commission of the revenue. A three way transaction takes place within affiliate marketing.
An affiliate recommends a product and refers a customer to purchase the product from a company. This is accomplished through URL tracking links. The prospective customer can then click the link and then make a purchase at the website. The company gains a customer and shares the revenue with the affiliate whose link was used for the purchase. That’s all there is to it.
Most companies have a dedicated page for their affiliate program that specifies their commission rates and specific terms.
If you are not familiar with this topic, you can learn the basics in this separate guide about getting started with affiliate marketing.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Joining an affiliate program is relatively easy. The work in affiliate marketing is done in creating your own funnel that leads your audience to your affiliate links.
Think of affiliate marketing as another weapon in your digital marketing arsenal. And successful affiliates treat affiliate marketing as their business, meaning that they invest the time to build it.
Affiliate Marketing Mediums
Engage and educate audiences with the following types of affiliate marketing content:
- Blog articles
- Email Newsletters
- YouTube videos
- Online courses
The key is to interweave all of these channels to increase the opportunities of the audience finding value and clicking through the affiliate links.
In brainstorming your own funnels, think about your strengths. Perhaps being on camera comes naturally, or you are a good writer, or you have a tendency towards photography for social media.
Consider the following:
- Who your target audience is
- What needs or problems exist in your niche
- What you can do to help
This will help narrow down what kind of content to create and where to focus your efforts.
Many think of using platforms like Twitter and sending out generic tweets with affiliate links as affiliate marketing.
A Tweet with an affiliate link is not likely to generate any sales. A video course that is truly informative and mentions X product as a helpful tool is highly likely to yield better results. The Internet as a whole has become more savvy in avoiding links that exist for the sole purpose of making a quick buck.
The theory of affiliate marketing is simple. Yet many people attempt it and do not see immediate results. Context is everything, and affiliates should be advocates for the products they recommend if they want to perform well.
An affiliate is essentially a salesperson for the product they are recommending. In one way or another, affiliates are helping prospective customers learn about products and make buying decisions. The commission is earned in bringing customers to the company that they would not have gained without the affiliate.
A great example of educational content in action is popular affiliate marketer, Pat Flynn. Smart Passive Income examines how he leads readers to his affiliate content. As you read, you’ll realize this is not his primary objective.
Pat’s goal is to educate people.
I asked Ryan Robinson what made a difference for him:
“The best long-term decision I’ve made as an affiliate blogger over the years, was to choose a very well-defined niche to be the focus of the majority of my blog content. When I first got started with affiliate marketing on my blog, I was trying to publish (and rank) content on a very wide range of topics. While I was able to attract a steadily growing audience, my affiliate earnings remained pretty low compared to the amount of readers I was seeing.
It really wasn’t until I chose to go all in on creating the most comprehensive content I could within the blogging niche for my site. Finding the right balance between volume and purchase intent can be a fun challenge, but comes with potentially great rewards.“
6 Successful Affiliate Marketing Strategies
Acquiring readers and subscribers can seem like an uphill battle, although there are numerous ways to attract web traffic to your content. The more of these strategies you can utilize, the more your funnel will grow.
There are no easy recipes for gaining traffic. These strategies all require time and effort to learn and execute well.
1. SEO-Ranked Content
People these days use search engines to look for solutions, advice, and do research. Having your content be among the top listed search results for certain topics or keywords means that your content gains more exposure.
This is called Search Engine Optimization, and a vast topic on its own. The process requires time, keyword research, and planning to position your content favorably for relevant search terms.
2. Video Content
Video content is useful for visual tutorials and reaching audiences who prefer listening over reading. Spoken dialogue can be more powerful than text for influencing viewers. This is because videos allow you to convey genuineness to which the audience will feel a connection. In turn, your videos can lead viewers to subscribe and visit your other content on your website.
3. Social Media
This is not always the ideal primary method of promoting products, but daily doses can build your following and gain their trust. It provides another, less formal way of engaging with your audience. It should also lead the audience to find your other content and affiliate links.
4. Email Newsletters
Email newsletters are fantastic for distributing new information. For this reason, affiliate managers usually announce major sales and updates to affiliates with some advance notice. Building up your email subscribers only adds to our reach of potential referrals you can continue to sell to. It is easier to get someone to return to your content than it is to find a new visitor.
5. Paid Ads
This is the process of paying for ads on search engines and social media that lead to your main content. These are Facebook ads displayed in your feed or Google ads shown in search results. Because of the initial investment to place ads, this strategy is less used. But those who can fine tune their advertising budget and ad placements can see positive returns as commissions are earned.
The effort needed for this is in researching and testing ads and audiences that yield the most conversions. Affiliate managers can help with program guidelines and direction to help you get started.
6. Consulting or Word-of-Mouth
Affiliate marketing does not necessarily mean being an online influencer. Working with clients are great opportunities to recommend solutions. If a client has asked for your help and hired you, they must value your expertise. Most likely, there are affiliate programs relevant to your work.
Sometimes these types of referrals are higher revenue customers, so affiliate managers are more than willing to work with these types of affiliates.
3 Affiliate Marketing Strategies That Are Not Effective
Successful affiliate marketers are regularly refining the way they promote their products. They keep updated on market trends and opportunities to improve their performance. These are some tactics that may seem easy, but should be avoided if you expect to grow your affiliate business.
1. “Set it and Forget it” Approach
The set-it-and-forget-it approach is placing an affiliate link somewhere, and never giving it another thought. Imagine going fishing and casting your hook into the water, and then leaving your fishing rod there for good. That would not be the smartest approach if the goal is to catch a fish. It is not enough to place affiliate links and hope for the best. The next step is generating traffic to those locations.
This one might seem like a ‘no brainer’, and yet it continues to be done. This can take many forms, but generally-speaking, it is overloading your audience with your affiliate links. To them, it comes across as desperation to make a sale, and it will have the opposite effect. Too much selling is a good way to lose subscribers, and in the end will harm your reputation. Good affiliate marketers are able to find a good balance between adding value and selling.
3. False Promises
Like clockwork, you can search for affiliate marketing videos and soon after begin to see ads promising exotic cars and overnight income. Usually they are long video ads showing stacks of cash and selling a course for making money online.
No matter the affiliate product you are promoting, it is never right to purposely promote misleading information. The expectations of potential buyers should match what the product actually is. Otherwise, the sale won’t take place, or it will be cancelled.
Affiliates with high cancellation trends will attract the attention of affiliate managers and risk the possibility of being removed from the program. Some amount of cancellation is to be expected, and the data can be used to identify areas of improvement.
When sales are canceled, the commission is also reversed. Affiliate programs have this mechanism in place to prevent affiliates from cheating the system.
Note: It is important to disclose your affiliate links to comply with FTC regulations.
Optimizing for Conversion Rate
Driving visitors to your content is only half of the battle. Once the web traffic has found your content, what will they do?
Hopefully, they do not choose to click out and leave. You should always present some form of “call to action.” It may be to subscribe to your newsletters or buy a product. In this case, it is clicking and buying via affiliate links. Your goal in affiliate marketing is to increase your conversion rate, or increase the amount of those who visit your content and take the next action.
Conversion rate is calculated as clicks divided by conversions.
50 clicks ÷ 10 sales = 20% conversion rate
Many variables can affect conversion rate. Landing page design, product pricing, and the quality of your content should be considered to achieve the highest conversion rate possible. Any pieces that dissuade customers from completing the purchase should be changed. This is called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Your individual affiliate performance can be found in your affiliate dashboard. Most companies provide a login where you can track your earnings and find additional resources.
Uncovering what hurts your conversion rates can be done by A/B testing variants of price, design, and copy. That data is then used to determine what changes need to be made and create the optimal experience for potential customers. In the long run, this process results in more commissions paid to the affiliate and revenue for the company.
Neil Patel shared with me his thoughts on affiliate marketing:
“Persistence is what makes affiliate marketers successful. Most affiliate marketers run some ads or write a few blog posts, and quit when they can’t make ‘easy money’.
If you want to do well, you have to keep testing and keep at it. If affiliate marketing was that easy, then we would all do it and live life on a beach or an island.”
Sign Up to Become an Liquid Web affiliate Today
Creativity and patience are your allies. Affiliate marketing is interwoven into all other aspects of digital marketing. Understanding how all of the pieces work to generate a sale will help you know how to build a multi-pronged strategy.