Top 10 Commandments of Affiliate Marketing
Ten best practice tips for a profitable affiliate marketing business
Affiliate marketing can be a big source of revenue. The key to maximizing your affiliate earnings is to provide additional value and to engage your readers. Unlike traditional ads where you are paid for impressions or clicks, affiliates are only paid if or when a specific action is performed. The action might be something as simple as signing up for a newsletter to submitting their zip code information up to having a sale completed. Regardless, you are not paid until you've compelled your readers to take some type of action.
With that in mind, here are the Top 10 Commandments for affiliate marketing success to make sure your readers get value and take the actions you want them to take so you can maximize your success with affiliate marketing.
Know Your Audience
The most successful way to use affiliate programs is to only promote products, services, and offers that match the needs and wants of your audience. Consider why they are coming to your site, joining your email marketing list, or following you on social media.
What are you providing that they are looking for? Make sure the affiliate products you are promoting provide a solution to your audience's problems.
If you are writing about sports, don't put up affiliate ads for printer toner just because everyone has a printer and those programs have a high payout. The people who are coming to read commentary or get stats for their favorite teams aren't thinking about those things when they're on your site.
The more relevant the ads are to your readers, the more likely they will use them. An interesting way of looking at affiliate marketing is this: educating your audience about relevant products and services they may be interested in can be considered a value-added form of content.
Not only can knowing your audience give you better success with the products you are promoting, but it can help guide you on the best places to market, advertise, and promote your website to attract visitors in the first place.
The more you know your audience the better you can use demographics, psychographics, and other information the better target your audience when advertising on platforms such as Facebook.
If you haven't yet started and are still trying to decide what market you want to serve then see this article on how to pick a profitable niche for your online business.
The bottom line here is to promote products that are directly relevant to the audience you are serving. The more relevant the offers; the more sales you'll generate.
Readers are savvy. They know an affiliate link when they see one. If you break their trust by promoting a product you don't believe in or take advantage of their visit with too many ads, they will leave and never come back.
It is your repeat visitors that will drive traffic. They are the ones who will give you linkbacks, spread the word, and recommend your site as the go-to place for valuable content. You need to build a relationship based on genuine content.
If your visitors don't think you're being honest or think that you are only recommended products and services due to a profit motive, they won't read anything else you have to say.
If you promote products and services that aren't high value, they'll lose trust in your recommendations and stop acting on them; costing you sales and profits.
With this in mind, you'll want to make sure that your #1 priority is adding value to your website visitors and email list. Only share products that you know are relevant, useful, and can truly help them.
Also, you'll want to disclose any affiliate relationships you have with the vendors you are promoting. Most people are perfectly fine with this and the increased level of transparency you are providing can help you build more trust with your audience (more on this below).
If you do that, you'll make much more money in the long run with repeat sales.
Think of affiliate ads as additional resources that complement your content. Give value to your content by making it helpful, useful, and informative.
Don't put up a list of your favorite books, hoping people will click on the affiliate link, purchase the books (just because you listed them), so you can cash in on a sale.
Take some time to write a detailed review, and use affiliate ads to point them in the right direction if they decide to act on your information.
Even better, if you have a personal testimonial or case study to share; write a detailed post about it then include your recommendation with your affiliate link in your review.
That's what affiliate ads are for. If you write a great review recommending a book and readers buy the book because of it, you should get affiliate sales credit for that.
But just throwing out links to products with no rhyme or reason will result in a quick exit by visitors who don't take any action at all.
Remember the main idea: always provide valuable content that adds value to the visitor experience. The sales will follow.
Be Transparent about Affiliate Relationships
Always disclose your affiliations. Your readers will appreciate your honesty and will feel better about contributing to your earnings. If they sense that you are being less than honest about your affiliations, they are savvy enough to bypass your link and go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you referral credit (even though the price is the same it's just something people do; strange but true!).
Honesty and full disclosure is a necessary part to building a loyal reader base (and it's also the law!). They know they are supporting you by using your referral links. Make them happy and eager to do so.
In some cases, not only do you want to be transparent about your affiliate relationship, you may even want to offer a bonus or some type of incentive if they take action and use your affiliate link.
This is an extremely powerful tactic that can significantly increase the amount of affiliate sales you generate and a great way to stand out from other competing affiliates.
When there are many other affilaites out there promoting the same vendors, offering a bonus is a great way to make them want to purchase direclty from you - giving you credit for the sale.
Select Affiliate Products Carefully
Take the time to go through all the different options for products or services available through different affiliate marketing programs. Put some thought into which products or services your readers may need or like. Also, change the ads around often, try different ones, and use different graphics and text to see which are the most effective.
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.
In many cases, the product creators will provide you with a handful of ads to use on your site, on social media, and via email. Test different ad creative to see which ones work best for you.
You may also want to create your own ads (if allowed by the vendor) so that you can stand out from the crowd.
One thing you should strongly consider is promoting digital information products. These products are attractive for two reasons. First, they have higher conversion rates because the customers can get instant access and instant gratification when they purchase. Second, they typically offer much higher commission rates than physical products -- which means more profits for you.
Also, consider promoting higher priced products as well as products that renew monthly to get higher commissions and ongoing monthly commissions. Getting a monthly recurring affiliate sales is a great way to make the income in your affiliate business more predictable and stable.
Try Different Programs
If one particular program doesn't seem to be working for you, try another one.
Affiliate programs aren't all the same. They offer different products, services, and payment structures. Some vendors will have better marketing and sales materials than others.
Some programs will have a lifetime payout on sales while others will limit it to 30-90 days. Some programs allow much more flexibility in the types of ad units available, as well as colors and design so it fits better on your site's layout.
Also, check your favorite vendors to see if they run their own affiliate program. Sometimes you can go directly to the source. You're not limited to big affiliate networks.
Integrate systematic ad testing into your strategy to maximize your profits.
By continually testing different programs you'll see which ones convert the best and which ones your audience responds to the most - increasing your overall conversions and sales.
Also, constantly be on the lookout for new products and services that you can test and add to your affiliate marketing portfolio.
Another tip is to negotiate higher payouts with affiliate programs where you are doing well and driving a consistent amount of sales. Many vendors are happy to reward good affiliate with higher commissions.
Write Timeless Content
Your old content can still be valuable even though it's no longer on your front page. Take advantage of the long-term opportunities by making sure you provide timeless content.
If visitors come across your older content first and find that it offers dated information, they will leave right away. Of course, information moves forward, so relevant content changes quickly. You can make your content timeless simply by adding links to your updated articles on your old ones.
Constantly updating your older articles is also a great way to maintain or even improve your search engine rankings.
Many platforms allow you to show "most recent" or "most popular" or "related articles" on every page, so no matter how old the article is, it will always show access to your new ones. Your old content can make money for you indefinitely.
Although writing about new and up to date information can be beneficial, another strategy is to focus on writing about "evergreen" content - that is content that is timeless.
This will give you more mileage out of your content and drive traffic for years to come, and you can always change up the products you are promoting related to the content.
The name of the game here is to have content that is relevant, useful, and up-to-date.
You'll want to use both strategies in your content; for every two pieces of new and updated content consider writing an evergreen content piece.
Another tip is to remove the dates from your blog posts. Even though the content may have been written a while ago and the information is still completely relevant, many people will dismiss it simply because it has an older date. Removing the dates from your blog posts can easily solve this.
Affiliate revenue grows and builds up with time. Remember that some programs offer lifetime payouts. If you refer a visitor, you may continue to make money from that one visitor even if he doesn't come back to your site. Also, as long as you have referral links still active in your old posts, they may still payout for you.
If you focus on promoting recurring billing / continuity type products (as mentioned above) you can continually earn commissions every month on the same products which can add up over time.
As an example, if you promoted a product or service that pays a $5 commission every month and referred 100 sales; you'd make $500 in that month. At the same rate and assuming all the sales stick; after just one year that would translate into a monthly recurring revenue of $6,000.
Also, as discussed above, sometimes you may have to test different offers, products, and services until you find the best ones that are a match for your audience.
Affiliate programs aren't a get rich quick plan, but it provides an opportunity to make passive income from your blog.
Keep up to date on the latest offerings of your affiliate programs. New ad units, advertisers, and tools are constantly being added to improve usability and be more visually appealing. Small changes go a long way in motivating action by readers. You may be left out in the dust by being complacent with your strategy.
Don't get lazy about monitoring trends and exploring new opportunities. For instance, if a certain diet or clothing trend is no longer popular you may want to remove that content and recommendation from your site; or update your post to acknowledge and reflect that.
Constantly be on the lookout for new products that are useful and relevant to your audience -- the more products your promote and the higher the relevance to your audience, the more money you'll make.
Content Comes First
Above all else, your content marketing strategy must be your highest priority.
Your content is your foundation, the life blood on which the site exists. Without valuable and helpful content, readers won't come. Focus on providing excellent content and the monetizing strategies will work out.
Once you start compromising your content to cater to the affiliate programs or any of the other ways to make money online, you will lose your readers. Once that happens, you will lose the opportunity to receive any earnings from any of your ads, be they CPM, CPC, or referral based.
It can't be stressed enough that the quality of your content will be the single biggest factor in the credibility of your website, blog, or business.
Edited by Online Business/Hosting Expert Brian T. Edmondson