10 Tips For Your Affiliate Sites
The concept of affiliate marketing is a simple one. Drive targeted traffic to advertisers and take a commission for your efforts. However there are numerous pitfalls to be avoided, and several advantages to be exploited.
Here are our top ten tips that will help your affiliate sites rank and bank.
Choose your network well
Affiliate networks are not all created equally, some are reputable and others are not. Commission shaving is the practice of a network shaving a small percentage of commissions away from an affiliate that they should have legitimately earned. How often this occurs is a regular topic of debate in the affiliate marketing world. All networks claim they never shave. True or not, there is not really much that can be done about it as it is difficult to prove.
However, shaving is not the worst thing you will have to watch out for as an affiliate. Can you imagine how you would feel if you had ranked your affiliate site, earned commissions, and then never received your paycheck due to a dishonest network?
It is imperative that you research any affiliate network you are considering working with. Look on review sites to see if they payout, and get a feel for how big the company is. A bigger, longer established network is usually much more trustworthy than a newer smaller one.
Note: While lots of affiliates sometimes feel like they are having their earnings skimmed it’s not always the case and as far I know no one has ever been able to prove it. But what is more common is for networks/advertisers to spy on their successful affiliates, copy what they do and then close the offer effectively stealing the method from the affiliate. While not illegal it seems immoral as hell, so when looking for networks stick with the more well known guys. The Amazon affiliate program is excellent.
Choose your niche
Niche selection is one of the most important phases of the lifecycle of an affiliate website. It can literally mean the difference between success and failure. Many new affiliates make the mistake of signing up to numerous networks and attempt to promote large amounts of products in different verticals. This results in a lack of authority on a single subject. The website becomes a jack of all trades and a master of none. Instead, you should select a single niche, and focus all of your energy on it. Become a trusted authority on that topic.
You should also gauge the difficulty of the niche and compare it to your affiliate marketing experience. Are you experienced enough to compete in the hyper-competitive weight loss niches? Or should you focus on something a little less competitive right now?
When choosing a niche pay attention to what times of the year people purchase products in the vertical. Many niches can have huge amounts of traffic at certain times of the year, but only a slight trickle of traffic the rest of the time.
There is a reason that large supermarkets will give you discounts if you purchase products using a loyalty card. Data is valuable.
Setting up each link with a unique tracking ID will enable you to see exactly which pages on your site are converting. With this information, you can then analyze what is working for the successful pages and then scale it or replicate it across your site.
Most reputable affiliate networks make this process very easy for you and allow you to add tracking IDs to a link when you create it. Simple page tracking is enough to get started. All you need to do is create a unique ID for each page your link is on. You will quickly see the obvious value of this data when it starts to be collected.
Once you have set up a tracking system like we mentioned in the point above, you will have opened up the doors to the world of conversion optimization. Try A/B testing different sales page copies and layouts. Or perhaps try changing the locations of your call to action buttons and their appearance. The sky is really the limit here.
Conversion optimization is one of the most exciting parts about affiliate marketing. What we think will convert, is not always what actually converts. Surprises are common when testing, but if you trust the data and act upon it, you can dramatically increase your revenue without needing to increase traffic.
Never stop testing. Start with large changes like copy and layout. Then stick to the highest converting version. Then refine and test smaller and smaller details of this version until you have optimized it as much as you possibly can.
Keep Your Focus
One completed project that is producing revenue will be much more valuable to you than 10 half completed projects. Make a commitment to yourself that you will see a project through to the end before starting on something else. There is always a “low point” in any affiliate marketing campaign. The point where you have put in a reasonable amount of hard work and are starting to get a little bit of traffic, but you are not seeing returns.
This is when you need to double down and charge forward. Do not change niche and start on a new website or project. Don’t stop until you are generating enough revenue to be happy. If you never reach this point, then only stop when you cannot think of anything else to do to the site.
Being a trustworthy authority on your chosen niche is a surefire way to increase conversions. This is why many of the top affiliate marketers are the ones who have created a brand that is based on trust and community.
Be sure to create posts that are purely informational and are not sales pitches. Your website’s visitors will appreciate accurately researched and well-written content that answers their questions. You can then direct them to your promotional pages when it’s appropriate.
When you do decide to promote a product, your review should be impartial and honest. Don’t try to convince people that a terrible product is good. Most people will read several articles before committing to a purchase. If you are the only person presenting a bad product in a positive light, you are going to lose the respect and trust of the visitors of your website.
Create An Email List
This is one of the biggest mistakes that new affiliate marketers make. When executed correctly email marketing is still one of the most profitable traffic sources you will ever have.
Collect your visitor’s emails at every opportunity (without being too invasive or pushy). You can then directly promote to these highly targeted visitors just by sending an email. Don’t bombard them with sales pitches from day one. You should focus on building trust. Send purely informational emails that provide real value to your subscribers. You can sprinkle in a few promotional emails when the time is right.
Address Peoples Fears with your content
Trying to address fears and concerns is a highly effective conversion increasing strategy that has been used by offline advertisers for decades. It may sound a little bit immoral to some people, so it is not for the feint of heart. But if you are ok with the ethics of it, it works.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target market. Ask yourself what they would be afraid of, or what would they worry about. Connect with them on a human level by discussing these issues. Be sure to talk about emotional responses to these fears, and “real life” hypothetical situations. Then lead into your sales pitch for the product, explaining how it can make that fear disappear. (but be honest) For example:
Are you worried about not hitting that sales target?
Then you need this client management software.
Are you worried the girls won’t like you because of your acne?
Try this home remedy.
Are you worried you won’t pass your midterms?
Check out this study guide.
Play By The Rules
Affiliates are now legally required to disclose the fact that they make money from their affiliate links by the FTC and the UK’s ASA. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines. But don’t freak out just yet, not hiding the fact you are an affiliate isn’t actually a bad thing.
Publically disclosing your affiliate links can often help you build the all important trusting relationship with your visitors we keep talking about. It shows that you are an honest website and have nothing to hide. Most of your visitors will not mind you earning money while providing honest, and impartial valuable content.
Something worth experimenting with is the idea that your disclosure does not have to be formal. Quirky disclosures are often effective. It could be something as crazy as “I get a small commission from multinational corporations if you buy something by clicking my affiliate links on this page.”
No Hard Selling
Most of the time people who are coming to the website of an affiliate are not looking to be sold to. They are looking for unbiased information and solutions. Give them what they want by providing genuine feedback on products. Explain to them what you liked about it, and what you didn’t like about it. You should not be trying to put large aggressive call to action buttons in their face. The more obvious your bias for the product is, the less your sales copy will convert.
Convincing a visitor to make a purchase immediately is the job of the products squeeze page, not the affiliate’s website. You should be aiming to try and gently nudge them over to the sales page of the product you are promoting. By utilizing this tactic you can build trust and earn repeat visitors.