From my very early days as a blogger, one of my main goals was to learn how to make money affiliate marketing. This monetization avenue promised the opportunity to finally get off the hamster wheel of trading hours for dollars as a service provider. And it could be more passive allowing me to make money even when I wasn’t working. Who doesn’t want that?
Over the years, I’ve seen bloggers bringing in handsome profits from their affiliate efforts – myself included. But, I’ve also seen a lot of bloggers totally miss the mark walking away from blogging feeling frustrated and disappointed. What did the two groups do so differently?
Today, I’m breaking down ten affiliate marketing tips that can help increase your sales. What changes can you make?
1. Promote Relevant Products
New bloggers often find themselves being seduced by the lure of making large commissions off high-priced products without even given a second thought to their target audience. By promoting affiliate products that aren't completely relevant to your target audience, as well as the content those links are to be included in, you'll only confuse and annoy people. For example, if you run a food blog, there's no point in trying to sell gardening equipment, just like there's no point in including affiliate links to virtual assistant courses on a gardening blog. Successful affiliate websites are always highly targeted in nature. If you are looking for a few great programs, check out these affiliate marketing programs for beginners.
2. Provide Valuable Content
In the early days of affiliate marketing, when it quickly earned a reputation of being a major cause of online spam, people would often quickly knock up a website and plaster it with unoriginal placeholder content that offered nothing of value to readers. Oftentimes, these affiliate websites even consisted only of useless squeeze pages with long and rambling sales pitches. These days, if you're not publishing valuable content that's genuinely interesting and/or useful to people, you won't get very far at all. In other words, you need to have a genuine passion and knowledge in your niche to be able to create content that people want to read and will build trust. That trust is what sells.
3. Use Sustainable SEO
As was always the case, many successful affiliate marketers rely heavily on traffic from the search engines. However, the search engines are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be, and they no longer prioritize content visibility based purely on things like the number of times a key phrase is found in an article. Instead of using dated and spammy SEO practices, such as prioritizing keyword density, you should focus on providing valuable content. However, keywords are still important, particularly when you base your content on answering questions people are asking in Google. Just make sure to prioritize the human experience and not the search engines.
4. Improve Website Performance
Internet users are notoriously short on patience, and attention spans tend to be vanishingly small to the extent that even a loading time of four or five seconds can be enough to turn many people off. Improving website performance, particularly on the small screen, is essential for retaining your visitors and, consequently, increasing your sales. If you're using a good content management system, such as WordPress, combined with a well-optimized and mobile-friendly theme, you shouldn't have much of a problem with performance. However, other major influential factors include the quality of your hosting company and the size of your images and other media.
5. Leverage Product Reviews
While the products you advertise on your website are ultimately the seller's responsibility, you can end up risking your own reputation as an affiliate if you're promoting products that your readers aren't happy with. As such, you should always check out what other people are saying about products and services you are thinking about promoting to make sure that they're likely to be genuinely suitable for your target audience. Maybe you bought something a few years back that you absolutely loved, but things have gone down over the years. Maybe you had a great experience with a company but a lot of people out there haven’t. By researching existing product feedback, you'll also be in a much better position to build authority. Point out the possible negatives upfront and address them. This will make you a much more trustworthy resource to visitors.
6. Be Transparent
7. Don't Hard Sell
The hard sell is the bane of any spammy affiliate marketing strategy, and it's not very effective either. People expect to be exposed to the hard sell if they're going directly to an online store, but it's quite a different matter if they're visiting a website to learn more about a subject. If your content doesn't answer people's questions, entertain them or provide something else of value, then all that's left is the hard sell that offers absolutely no valuable content whatsoever. People want to visit your website to read interesting content and, as such, the affiliate marketing element should always be peripheral to that. And the great thing about blogging is that your story is what sells. Share it!
8. Build a Mailing List
Email marketing is often overlooked by affiliate marketers, but research has consistently shown that it continues to offer the highest return on investment of all digital marketing strategies. It costs very little, if anything at all, to get started with email marketing as well. Building up your mailing list will take some time, so you should always have a clearly visible subscribe box on every page of your website.
9. Analyze Everything
One of the greatest advantages of any online activity, such as affiliate marketing, is that there's a wealth of data generated. Making sense of this data can be difficult, but tools such as Google Analytics and your affiliate program dashboard reporting make things a lot easier. Using the right tools, you can easily see who is visiting your website, how long they're viewing your content and how many of those visitors are converting into sales. You should analyze everything right from the outset to find out what's working and what isn't worth spending your time on. You should also regularly rotate your ads and affiliate products as you find out what sells and what doesn’t.
10. Be Patient
Affiliate marketing isn't a way to get rich quickly, especially if you intend to take the sustainable and, ultimately, more profitable approach. It takes a lot of time to build up organic traffic to any website, and it will typically be anything between three and six months before you start seeing a significant traffic from the search engines. You can use paid advertising to raise awareness of your website earlier on, but doing so can quickly eat into any profits you might make from affiliate sales. The best approach is to be patient and committed to regularly publishing great content on your website. Eventually, you'll start earning valuable traffic of the type that converts.
Done right, affiliate marketing can be both rewarding and profitable, but it comes with building yourself up as an authority in your niche. For the most part, a successful affiliate website answers the question of ‘what's in it for me' by offering genuinely useful or entertaining content. If you have the skills, confidence and patience to create excellent content, then you already have everything you need in place to start working on increasing your affiliate sales.