Affiliate marketing is seen to be one of the easiest ways to build a revenue stream using the internet, and the income potential is believed to be limitless (or as I prefer, limited by your own beliefs). A lot of the tasks relating to affiliate marketing can be delegated to a virtual assistant or freelancers who enjoy doing routine tasks. The first step to affiliate marketing success is understanding what the business is all about.
What is Affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is promoting and selling other people’s products and/or services in order to earn commissions.
How does affiliate marketing work?
You sign up to an affiliate program, confirm your details and you’ll be issued a unique, identifying code to use. Sometimes you’ll be asked to to list your marketing methods ie email marketing or via your website.
Take not of any rules when you sign up to your chosen affiliate program – you may not be able to use paid traffic and you might not be allowed to use certain PPC terms or negative keywords. Your affiliate link will be used to track every purchase made by your lead (prospective buyer) so that the sale can be properly credited to you.
Your role as an affiliate marketer is to entice your lead to click your affiliate link.
And by entice, I mean be accurate and honest in what you do – don’t be tempted to get clicks by subterfuge. You’ll lose trust and sales, and you’ll wonder how come you could never earn any money as an affiliate. The affiliate link will go to the product owner’s sales page. The sales copy on the sales page will close the sale for you. It’s important that you check out the sales copy before you promote a product.
If you have strong ethical beliefs then you need to make sure these are not compromised before you sign up. If you intensely dislike a marketer’s style, no matter how good the product, you’ll struggle to promote it. Check out the sales copy before you become an affiliate for the product. When your lead decides to buy the product or service, you earn a percentage of the sales proceeds also known as a commission.
Below are six tested-and-proven affiliate marketing methods, I’ve left the most powerful method till last. Successful affiliate marketers combine two or more of these methods to bank thousands or even millions of dollars in affiliate commissions. I have to confess I don’t personally know anyone who has earned millions but I have friends who affiliate market very well and earn several thousand pounds each month.
Most successful affiliate marketers have blogs. Why? They use their blogs to build their brands, establish themselves as authorities in their respective niches, and build relationships with their targeted buyers. The very same reasons that everyone should have a blog. People buy from those they know, like and trust.
People tend to trust authority. One way to build authority is by providing useful and relevant information to your target buyers in a blog. That way, they will see you as knowledgeable and rely on you to point them to a product or service that will satisfactorily meet their needs.
There are a number of free blogging platforms online such as Blogger and WordPress.com. but sometimes your affiliate marketing efforts are limited or restricted on these sites. However, it is best to have a self-hosted blog. If you need one, then get in touch via the hire me form and we’ll work together to create an affiliate friendly blog. That way, you will have complete control over your content and how you market and build relationships. Besides, if you use a free blog, you will not be able to do anything should the owner of the blogging platform decide to delete your blog. See this post on digital sharecropping – it’s a long one, I was on a real rant when I wrote that post.
2) LIST-BUILDING & EMAIL MARKETING
Your email list is comprised of the people who have given you their email addresses and have allowed you to send them emails containing really useful information every now and then. To build a list, you must have an opt-in form on your website or blog. Mine is under this post. An opt-in form is where your target buyers can enter their names and email addresses.
To persuade them to fill out the opt-in form, you must offer a valuable information product for free in exchange for your target buyers’ information. This is also known as an ethical bribe. The Ethical Bribe could be a report, a podcast, an email course or access to some instructional videos. Whatever it is, it should be valuable to your ideal reader or ideal prospect.
To save time and a lot of effort, an affiliate marketer must use an autoresponder to send emails. See this post on sequencing your autoresponder. You may promote affiliate products or services to your email list. However, you should not try to sell right off the bat. It hacks people off no end. I know there is a school of thought that says strike whilst the prospect is hot, and they must be hot as they’ve just signed up to you list… but… …You must build a relationship with your list first. A relationship first means your list will not burn out and you’ll get to know their needs and preferences sooner and you’ll build trust and all of that equals more sales in the long term.
3) SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
People are social creatures, which is why social networking sites are popular. People just love to share photos, videos and information with their friends and families. As an affiliate marketer, you should know how to take advantage of the social media phenomenon and work it into your marketing strategy. The best way to get the attention of your target buyers is to share something that has potential to become viral. Viral photos, videos and quotes are usually funny, shocking, weird or awe-inspiring.
Facebook is undoubtedly the most popular website in the world. Some successful affiliate marketers have Facebook pages. Some of them even build communities through Facebook groups and listen to the needs of their group members. Some promote their products by running a contest through a Facebook application. If you are going to be an affiliate marketer, make sure that you have at least a Facebook page, or you will be missing out on the huge promotional / viral potential that Facebook offers.
Twitter is the second most popular social networking site. You should not ignore the power of the tweet. Millions of people around the world look to the ‘Twitterverse’ for quick information and bits of news. 20 billion searches a month are performed on Twitter, so someone, somewhere could be looking for the products you are promoting.
Another notable social media site is Pinterest, which is currently the third most popular social networking site. Pinterest is a website that allows its users to share photos and images that they find interesting. You can post images related to your business on this site including images from Amazon, books, films and your Amazon affiliate links.
4) ARTICLE MARKETING
Affiliate marketers submit articles to directories such as Ezine Articles, Go Articles and Article Alley. Most article directories used enjoy a high page-rank in Google and other search engines and often have their own communities, who’ll read your article and then click though to your site. Nowadays many article sites will not allow you to send traffic to a landing page or an affiliate link, but it’s still a good way to send traffic to your site and grow subscribers. I personally like EvanCarmichael.com for article marketing, they allow you to offer free downloads to your readers.
Article directories allow you to put your blog’s link in a section usually called a resource box. This is where you must persuade the reader of your article to click the link by telling them that you have more information about their problem or needs. If your article is well-written and helpful, the reader will see you as an authority in your niche and they are more than likely to click the link in your resource box.
5) PAY-PER-CLICK ADS
Pay-per-click, as the term implies, is a type of advertisement that you pay for every time somebody clicks the ads. See this post in search engine marketing basics for more details but the basics are as follows. The ads are usually displayed on a wide range of websites, including search engines. On search engines, the ads are usually placed on top of search results so that they are easily noticeable to people who are looking for specific information on a certain product or industry.
When buying pay-per-click ads, you place bids on keywords that your target buyers are likely to use on search engines when looking for information on the product or service that you sell. This can work out expensive for common or popular products and you may find you are competing with the product’s creator or manufacturer (and they tend to have bigger budgets). A lot of the time, you will be asked to write a phrase that describes the product or service.
To see whether your ad campaign is working, you need to track conversions. A conversion occurs whenever a person who clicked one of your ads performs a desired action, which usually means that the person who clicked the ad makes a purchase. PPC ad campaigns must be carefully planned. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of money. However, when done properly, pay-per-click ads can help your affiliate business grow by leaps and bounds by building your commissions and your email list.
Webinars are Web Seminars. They are the fastest and easiest method to list building and one of the most powerful ways to convert a sale. Think of a webinar as a way to attend a conference without leaving home. Using your computer and telephone, you can hear a presentation (like a conference call) and also see the presenter’s slides (watching over an internet connection).
Most webinar hosts also allow attendees to ask questions (mostly by typing it into a chat box) and some also allow for live interaction over the phone. You don’t even have to have your own product to hold a webinar, you can use them to market someone else’s products with your affiliate links. You will need to research your target audience, work out their problems and what keeps them awake at night, and then put together a presentation on how the product or service will help them resolve that problem. The best webinars are educational rather than promotional.
There are other affiliate marketing methods, but these six are the most commonly used by successful affiliate marketers.
One of the most effective ways that affiliate marketing has worked for me, has been to combine the above methods. For example on EvanCarmichael.com I add a free branded report to download and they sometimes contain an affiliate link. I tend not to use social media channels very much and I prefer only to promote products that I have tried and tested – like the Dynamik theme and Premise. I have promoted these by blog post and by email marketing with good results.
Other affiliate marketers combine webinars and email marketing to great success. Whilst you are getting started with your affiliate marketing, there is nothing to stop you from trying all the methods listed above and seeing what works best for your target audience.
Master the methods I’ve outlined above and and you will be well on your way to earning a good income from your affiliate marketing. Also experiment and see what works for your industry and market place. You can do some research online, or learn more about these affiliate marketing methods is by investing on courses developed by affiliate marketers who have already succeeded in the business. These can be expensive but worth it, depending on how much you wish to earn from your affiliate marketing, searching down free information may be more time consuming than you think!
Come and share with me your affiliate marketing experiences, and tips for better affiliate marketing are always welcome.