25 Affiliate Marketing Keys To Success You NEED To Know

03 Nov

Whether you know it or not, affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online… and it’s also one of the most lucrative. But that doesn’t mean every affiliate marketer earns it big; if it were that easy, everyone and their mom would be doing it. With good reason, simply promoting products doesn’t result in waking up the next day with a loaded up PayPal account. It takes time and a great deal of dedication. It also takes plenty of on-page optimization and A/B testing to maximize the conversions of your product reviews, videos, emails, or wherever else you might be using to promote other’s products, services, and so on. Below are 25 tested tips that’ll help you do just that.

  1. Make a detailed, well thought-out plan and execute it. Affiliate marketing is hard. Going in blind is going to end with you falling on your face – or rather, your time wasted and barely anything to show for it. No one craves becoming a $5/day affiliate marketer. Go big or go home! Spend days, even weeks thinking about your plan. Draw it out. Sleep on it. Edit it. Justify everything. Make day-by-day or week-by-week goals and meet your goals (if not exceed them). Most importantly, make your goals realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
  2. Diversify – think articles, videos, and emails. There are a lot of ways to earn from affiliate marketing. You can write product reviews with affiliate links embedded… you can create videos and include a link to your review in the “info area” – you know, the box underneath the video… even build a targeted list and market affiliate offers through email marketing. There are a large number of ways to earn from affiliate marketing, and limiting yourself to just one method may lead to smaller paydays. Note that I said it may. If one is working extremely well for you, for example video marketing, keep going with it – scale – and focus. If first beginning and attempting to find what works best for you though, I’d recommend trying a little of everything… then once finding which you prefer and which becomes the highest earner, you can then scale down your diversification and start to really focus.
  3. Never, ever lie to your readers and subscribers. There’s no doubt that making money as an affiliate marketer is a long-term process. Assuming you want to earn for years to come and not just make a quick buck, building a trusting relationship with readers, subscribers, etc., is a great route to go. Continue providing them superb information and continue letting them know about great products that are released; assuming funds allow it, they’ll continue to make purchases if the previous ones you’ve promoted were highly beneficial to them. If you, however, promote a junk product and people end up buying it, you’re the one who referred them. You’re the one that convinced them to waste their money. Think they’re going to trust you on the next product? Absolutely not. They’re going to unsubscribe from your list, un-bookmark your site, and probably never get back in touch with you again (unless sending an angry email).
  4. Don’t market weight loss plans to those interested in making money. Targeting your potential buyers with the right offer is the biggest determinant of your conversation rate. You’ve probably seen some silly websites where the content is focused on a specific niche and the advertisements are about all sorts of things. Advertisements completely unrelated to the content! Think the conversion rates on these sorts of websites are good? Absolutely not. Chances are they’ve never even made a sale unless the website is receiving thousands of hits a month. On the other hand, if the advertisements are very targeted to the visitors you’re receiving, your click-through rate will skyrocket and hopefully your sales will too (assuming the offer’s sales page and funnel is well-made).
  5. Create a relationship before selling. Having a product review site is one thing – they work, and they’re a perfectly fine online business to get into… but unfortunately you’re then left at the will of Google. That’s why many people prefer building a list of readers, interested buyers, and so on. These people want to hear from you, buy products you approve of, and that sort of relationship isn’t created overnight. It takes a great deal of time to build trust. Remember to not jump in to monetization too soon. Provide value first. Let it be known that you’re an authority in your niche so that way when you promote a product or launch something, those people who trust you will then be a great deal more likely to pay to acquire the information, software, or whatever else it may be.
  6. Build your list from the start. Piggy-backing on the last point, you don’t want to leave your wallet on the line with Google (or search engines in general for that matter). Take matters into your own hands, and the best way to do that is by getting everyone, and I mean everyone, opted-in to your email list. Build, grow, and segment your lists in to buyers, leads, and interested readers. Foster your relationship with these lists and they can provide an excellent addition to your online venture’s income. On top of any affiliate marketing efforts you have on your website, in YouTube videos, etc., who knows – the commissions generated through email marketing could end up being your biggest earner. It’s all in the realm of affiliate marketing, just different avenues within. As for your autoresponder which is a must, I recommend taking a look at AWeber and Constant Contact.
  7. Do your research on the product before promoting it. There’s nothing worse than promoting a bad product. It causes you to lose all of your credibility, even after building it up for the past several months. Poof! – just like that you can go from appearing as an authority to a good-for-nothing scam. It’s not that hard, though… just do your research. Purchase the product beforehand if you must, or ask to take a look over the product. Chances are the product owner will send you a copy to review in the hopes that you’ll promote it. And see what other people are saying about the product. If everyone is calling it a complete waste of money, chances are it’s just that: a complete waste of money.
  8. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers. So you’re promoting an offer that people will potentially spend their hard earned money on. If you wouldn’t spend your money on it, why would others? Is the product you’re promoting actually worth it? If not, don’t promote it! You might be able to grab a couple commissions promoting something like a junk eBook, but consider promoting excellent products like HostGator’s hosting and AWeber’s autoresponder. Or Internet marketing guru’s training which can sell for thousands of dollars. Products and services that are known for their quality. Not only can they provide bigger paychecks, they’ve been around for years and will be around for years to come. The owners aren’t some guys that wrote an eBook and may never respond to an email. Wouldn’t it be better promoting products and offers made by people with reputations that they wouldn’t dare risk? Or companies with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of happy customers? I’d say it’s a smart decision! Then again, promoting newly released popular Clickbank products can be profitable too, so decide what path you want to go down… there’s really no “right” way to go about it.
  9. Network with product owners. One great way to earn commissions is offering something special for signing up through you. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can contact the product owner and see if you can offer something special. Maybe you have an email list, and you want to offer a 20% discount on the product for purchasing through you. You then get a special discount code from the product owner and can send an email to your subscribers with the affiliate link and discount code made just for them (which your list is bound to love you for, assuming the offer is relevant). Second, you can offer an extra of your own. Maybe it’s another product or maybe you’ll send them some money through PayPal after the refund period is over (a less-popular yet effective affiliate marketing tactic). Product owners will do anything for affiliates, especially the ones that drive them sales. If you’re considering promoting something, especially a Clickbank product or something similar, shoot the owner an email. Network with them… see if they’re interested in some sort of joint venture… chances are they will be game.
  10. Learn from the best to jump over inevitable hurdles and mistakes. A great way to start earning is to find a mentor with a long track record who will teach you how to succeed. This will help you jump over mistakes you’re bound to make as a beginning affiliate marketer. Unfortunately there are a lot of penny-earning affiliate marketers who claim to be big earners and are willing to mentor you. These are people you don’t want to teach you. If they can’t earn money for themselves, there’s no way they can earn money for you. Always do a thorough check on the person and request screenshots or a video of their affiliate accounts that show their earnings.
  11. Don’t worry what converts for others, worry about what converts for you. If there was one best affiliate program to be a part of, everyone would promote it, it’d become saturated, and its profitability would go down and down until it was useless to promote. That’s why there are so many affiliate offers and programs in virtually every niche out there. Just because something works best for Joe Shmoe doesn’t mean it’ll work best for you. In fact, finding offers that aren’t popular and are widely unknown may end up providing better results than anything else. The most popular Clickbank products, for example, are promoted by thousands of websites.  Promoting an offer where you rank on the first spot in Google for “[insert product here] review”, even if getting a hundred searches a month, could easily earn you regular affiliate income month after month. How much that would amount to would depend on the product’s price and commission percentage offered.
  12. Recurring commissions rock. Some of the best commissions are the ones that keep coming every month. They allow you to earn $20 (or however much) a pop, but then that same amount every month thereafter until the subscriber cancels their subscription. Maybe they’ll stay active as a subscriber for a year – that’s $20×12=$240! If you’re earning $60 a month for a year, that’s $60×12=$720! All of a sudden a single commission turned in to 12 commissions without you even lifting a finger. Looking for these sorts of recurring payment offers is something you definitely want to consider.
  13. One $97 commission is better than 5, $7 commissions. So many products nowadays due to competition are priced extremely low – I’m talking single digits. Receiving 75% of a $9 product isn’t anything special unless it converts at an astronomical rate. Keep your eye out for big offers – in my opinion, mid-to-high double-digit commissions minimum. Preferably $100+, even $500+! Spending your time to earn these commissions will bring in much bigger paydays. Wouldn’t you rather 2, $500 ($1,000 total) commissions over 50, $10 ($500 total) commissions? You’d need 100, $10 commissions to receive the same payout of 2, $500 ones… and that’s assuming 0 of the 100 buyers request a refund. Certainly unlikely, especially with info products. Promoting high-end rather than low-end products can make earning a full-time income much easier.
  14. It’s not all about front-end commissions… consider the upsell commissions too. Referring back to tip #13, it’s not all about that initial commission (i.e. $10 vs. $500). A powerful sales funnel with one or more upsells can turn a rather small commission into a massive payout based on the buyer’s decision to increase their purchase from the $7 product to the $97 or $497 product, for example. Make sure to consider a) the upsell amount, b) if the commission percentage for the upsell is the same as the front-end offer, and c) what the upsell has been converting at. If promoting a product from a network such as JVZoo, WarriorPlus, etc., make sure you’re approved for both offers (the front-end and back-end), otherwise even if the person purchases the upsell(s), you won’t receive any compensation for it.
  15. Provide incentive to buy through your link (think “bonus”). As mentioned in tip #9, it’s all about incentive. If someone is about to purchase, for example, HostGator hosting (which pays out $100 per sale on Commission Junction (CJ.com)), they’re going to sooner or later buy their hosting. Maybe in 5 minutes, maybe the next day or next week – regardless, someone should receive a commission for it. Heck, $100 is a good amount of money! But when reading reviews from 10 different people, the last affiliate link clicked is the one that receives the commission. Why buy through your link? Are you offering money back? Are you giving them something extra? Make it a no-brainer… make the potential buyer want to bookmark your page so when they’re ready to buy, they’re going to come to your page and click your affiliate link before checking out.
  16. Find the amount of promotion that your audience desires. Some buyers expect and thrive on “hype” – they love it. Think about those long sales pages you’ve seen going on and on about how great a product or service is. Some of those long sales pages convert like crazy… because the target audience expects it. In another niche, perhaps weight loss, the same can’t be said. Again, the target audience in the weight loss niche isn’t the same as in the Internet marketing niche. Know who you’re marketing to, and research what makes them buy. See what’s currently out in the market and selling well, and see what’s not selling well too. So where am I going with this exactly? Okay – say your product review involves tons of hype, then the potential buyer is directed to a sales page that has the same amount of hype. The momentum grows, and the potential buyer is turned into an actual buyer because they’re convinced of the value. If your review involves no hype and is quite boring, then they’re directed to a super-“hypey” sales page, the potential buyer gets confused, considers buying the product but then backs out last minute and you don’t earn a commission. Make sense? Find your market, research your market, and provide your market with exactly what they’re looking for.
  17. YouTube is the second most popular search engine (that’s right – above Yahoo! and Bing). Heck yeah… YouTube is popular. People love watching videos. In most cases, they prefer it over reading text (think about it: do people watch TV more or read books?). Video marketing has become extremely popular because of this. YouTube does have some pretty strict rules though. In general, you aren’t going to want to direct traffic straight from your video to an affiliate link (as in, through the info box below the video). Instead you’ll want to direct to your website where you have a review written and affiliate links embedded within. Whether the affiliate links are throughout the article, at the end, or elsewhere else, that’ll depend on your A/B testing to see what converts best for your site.
  18. Go with affiliate networks over individual affiliate programs. Most affiliate programs have minimum payouts around $50-100. That means you need to hit those thresholds before getting paid. Using affiliate networks such as Commission Junction, ShareASale, and so on mean these thresholds combine together. When talking about 10 different affiliate programs, reaching the individual $100 threshold may take some time. If all 10 are together, such as on affiliate networks, reaching that $100 mark becomes a great deal easier. On affiliate networks you can find so, so many programs too… for example, Commission Junction alone has over 100 web hosting companies (a personal favorite of mine – both the network and promoting hosting companies!). You’ll also have to give your social security number (SSN) out fewer times and won’t have to worry about companies holding out on sending deserved payments your way.
  19. 19.   Don’t rely on Google… they’re becoming tougher and tougher on affiliate sites. As alluded to several times prior, diversifying yourself is something important to think about. Not necessarily important to do depending on your online strategy, but definitely important to consider. This is especially important when your main source of income is dependent on search engines. Your ranking on Google can make or break your business and this isn’t a great spot to be in. You could make a lot of money on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then all of a sudden make $0 on Thursday if your page falls off the map. This does happen (called the “Google dance”) for seemingly odd and random reasons, and especially with affiliate sites… Google is cracking down every time they change their algorithm. While affiliate sites used to be easy to rank and profit from, it’s now becoming harder and harder.
  20. A small niche doesn’t mean small potential… nor does a large niche mean large potential. Don’t think the size of the niche you enter is all that important. The forex niche is huge – think entering it means you’re definitely going to make money? Or think entering a tiny niche such as model train building means you can’t earn a penny? The size of the niche really doesn’t make or break the potential of what you can earn. If there is a large market, there are a lot of affiliate marketers trying to enter it. Say there are 100 buyers searching for forex and 10 people promoting it – that hypothetically leaves you with 100/10=10 potential commissions. Say in the model train building niche there are 25 potential buyers and 2 people promoting it – that leaves you with 25/2=12.5 commissions… so as you see, a smaller niche, and more earning potential. Sure there are tons of factors to consider such as the size of the commissions and so on. While the size of the niche doesn’t limit your earning potential, its size also doesn’t guarantee earnings in any situation, regardless of the size of the niche.
  21. Don’t promote affiliate offers with opt-in forms on the sales page. Some product owners, mainly those just starting off, put an opt-in form to gain subscribers on their sales page. As an affiliate marketer, your sole purpose is to drive sales, not increase the size of someone’s email list. Generally to opt-in, an incentive is offered such as a discount on the product or some sort of freebie… and as you may have guessed, this causes your conversion rate to drop dramatically. Many of your referrals are simply being sent to the sales page and causing the product owner to gain free leads from you while not having to pay any commissions. That’s why you never see veteran product creators have opt-in forms on their sales pages… they know they’re not going to gain quality affiliates that way.
  22. Provide alternatives to the product you’re promoting. When searching for information on a product or service in hopes to figure out whether they should purchase it, an individual is undoubtedly interested in alternatives as well. They want to know if the option they’re choosing is the best, or whether another option out there is more optimal. For example, say you have a review on VerticalResponse, an email marketing provider. You can bring up alternatives such as AWeber and Constant Contact and discuss how one may be best for someone on a budget, another may be best for someone with a small or large list, etc. Use respective affiliate links for each of the companies so while someone may have come to read your review thinking they were going to go with company A, you may have convinced them to go with company B. Perfectly fine – they’re happy and you’re happy!
  23. Your call to action is more important than you could ever imagine. Getting your affiliate link clicked on is essentially the most important thing you need to do. The actual selling process for the most part is on the company’s end that you’re promoting. You’re sending them targeted traffic and they’re the one providing the actual product or service… meaning they handle all support questions, invoicing, etc. Take a look at lots of affiliate marketer’s websites to see what they’re doing. Some people prefer a “buy now” button. Others embed affiliate links mid-text, sometimes at the end, other times through a pop-up advertisement or a banner on the sidebar. There are literally hundreds of places to insert your affiliate link, and while it’d take years to test all of them for conversions, you’re going to want to choose your top several options (perhaps 3-5) and test them to see what works best for you. Use #1 for a week (or month), #2 for the second interval, and so on. There isn’t a single best way to go about it; depending on the rest of your site and the offer, results can vary like night and day.
  24. People don’t care about features of a product (this is public knowledge!)… they care about your opinion as well as pros and cons. It’s better to appear as a user of the product or service than to appear as simply an overseer or someone clearly just looking to earn a commission of the sale. Whether you’re writing reviews or making videos, whatever you do as an affiliate marketer, keeping this in mind is key. Anyone can recite features… for example, how much something costs or its dimensions. Providing your opinion on it, how it’s beneficial, why it’s great (or not great), discussing any discounts that can be taken advantage of, any notable downfalls… this is information potential buyers want to know. These are questions that must be answered before someone is going to fork over their payment information. On another note, any form of affiliate marketing with vague language doesn’t convert. “This product is good and can help you make money online”… does this make online marketers want to buy a product? No – but this might: “I purchased this product last Friday and the investment has already paid for itself – including an extra $600 in profit!”. Ooh, sounds like a product worth checking out! More clicks, more conversions, and more money in your pocket.
  25. You’re crazy if you’re not cloaking your links. Cloaking your links, if you don’t know, allows you to change a weird looking affiliate link (such as http://www.dpbofve.net/click-5425532-10813662) to something more… pretty (such as http://www.YourSite.com/Go/AWeber). It increases clicks and increases the trust of the clicker. With the number of scam artists out there, everyone online is wary about clicking strange-looking links. Not cloaking your links means you’re passing up a great deal of potential commissions. If you’re using WordPress there are tons of link cloaking plugins, one of the most popular being Pretty Link Lite (and Pro). LinkTrackr is a great piece of link cloaking software as well.

Well, that’s all folks! Affiliate marketing is a great “game” to play – it’s fun waking up every morning crossing your fingers that some big commissions came through. It does take work, and you do have to keep on top of things. You always want to do things ethically as well; in the long-run, you’ll find much more success.

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