Affiliate marketing is a competitive space, that takes time, effort and of course dedication to get right. If you are looking to make a steady income from affiliate marketing, then you need to avoid a few rookie mistakes and have a firm grasp of the fundamentals before plunging in.
, an affiliate marketing expert and the FountainHead at Shoutmeloud talks to the community on what works with affiliate marketing, what doesn’t and what you need to keep in mind to be successful. In case you missed out, here is a quick summary of the highlights of the conversation:
Q1. In your opinion, what is the one thing an affiliate marketer should use from day 1?
A key element in affiliate marketing is knowing how much business impact you bring via your influence. Since it directly impacts your commission, you need to have impeccable tracking and attribution in place. Google Tag manager and of course SEMrush are good places to start. But there are certain other pointers to incorporate.
Link Cloaking Technique
All serious and genuine affiliate marketers protect their affiliate links – making it more visually attractive to the visitor while hiding their affiliate id. So, even with malware, these ids cannot be replaced by another affiliate id, thus safe-guarding your traffic and hence your commissions.
Link cloaking also helps you know how many clicks you have received via each URL, differentiates URL based on different locations, and most importantly allows you to edit the link in future. Considering these advantages, it would be really unwise to start out without link cloaking.
Clear Strategy and Goal
No marketing campaign can be a success without a clear set of goals and a strategy in place. Affiliate marketing is no different. You need to know what your ultimate goal is and how you plan to meet it.
It is highly recommended to have a dedicated webpage or microsite exclusively for you – so that each visitor gets some value-added information instead of simply being forced a sell. The more authority you build, after all, the better the chances of influencing the leads to convert. Having such a website will also help you highlight your unique skill sets, and that could be the USP that sets you apart from competitors. Using paid search, you can further attract audiences to your website, instead of only from sites where you share your link. That could provide the extra mileage you need to win.
Honesty With Your Target Audience
Don’t forget to tell your audience that it is indeed an affiliate program. Honesty and transparency in telling your leads what exactly you stand to gain everytime they click your link will help build a relationship and win their trust.
Once you have these basic elements set up, then you can get started with one affiliate deal. Focus on that, giving it your all and then slowly expand. In case you are wondering which areas to focus on – niches like software and even advice on gambling are quite popular and rewarding.
Q2. Do you think that it is possible to make affiliate marketing a part-time job? Why or why not?
Affiliate marketing has multiple advantages – it provides a recurring income that you can start earning in a relatively short span of time (1-2 months). With about 5 hours of work a week, you can definitely make decent revenue.
Don’t get carried away by ‘get rich quick schemes’ or grand plans of expansion though. It is typically, better to market service or brands that you have a passion for so that you can be consistent and regular in your efforts to promote it.
Remember that when you start out the income could be extremely inconsistent and rather undependable. Based on how you choose your commission, you may never know how much you get paid.
The amount of revenue you generate can also depend upon the niche you have selected and the kind of affiliate scheme you have taken on. You can, of course, increase the revenue by putting more effort into your business. But a lot also depends upon the kind of content and the strategy you choose for it – to foster trust and build a relationship with your audience and only that can have long-term rewards.
The quality of content is important in helping you build an audience and in term push your site as a part-time business. There are a number of tips across our blog on
how to create content for your blog
that will not only boost SEO value but shareability too.
An important thing to remember is that the amount of income you generate via affiliate marketing depends on your primary business value. Despite the many numbers of products to market or promote, if your basic value proposition is not lucrative enough, the affiliate marketing may also not be that big a hit.
Q3. What are the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to affiliate marketing? How can they overcome them?
Let’s face it – if affiliate marketing were easy, then everybody would be doing it and gaining spectacularly from it! The fact is that, though it looks simple, you can easily go wrong with it and fail. Here are a couple of details to watch out for:
Getting the Right Strategy in Place
You cannot just ‘wing it’. Before you jump in, you need to have a firm strategy in place, know the correct market segments to target and have solid competition research to back up your plan.
With regular marketing campaigns being extremely personalized and targeted, your affiliate marketing strategy can be no less. ‘Relevance’ is key to win. So, do your target audience research well and segment them right – instead of spraying them all with the content you need to sell. If you are not sure what is going to work, just test it out! Compare products and strategy and see which works best for you and how your audience like it. The more relevant your product is, the higher the chances of winning their trust and encouraging them to convert.
Picking the Right Product to Sell
By understanding your target audience (with all the research and testing you have been doing), you will automatically know whether you have chosen the right product to pitch to them or not. Choosing products that are too similar, promoting services only because they give you a higher cut may not work out well for you in the long term. The key to affiliate marketing is winning your audience’s trust – which will clearly not be successful if it does not add value or inspire confidence in your audience.
Choosing the Right Program
It would be really tempting to go for a lower percentage in competitive niches. However, the problem with that is it will not pay you well and will be a huge loss – despite the efforts you put in. So pick a program or a niche that pays well right off the bat.
Having Attribution in Place
To put it quite succinctly – your revenue ultimately depends on how many leads you bring in. If you cannot track them, that is money lost. Have the right tracking and analytics in place. Not only will it help you keep track of your audience, but also help you understand their behavior and show you what you can tweak to get better results.
Q4. What is the biggest thing that can hold beginner affiliate marketers back?
The biggest thing is the attitude – the underlying fear of ‘Can it work for me?’ ‘ Will I be able to do it?’ or worse ‘what will people think?’. A lot of times, the trepidation could be because of lack of followers or not having enough thought leadership capital in the niche segment to attract visitors.
Unfortunately, you cannot find out unless you take the plunge! Start out with the right attitude, stop waiting for the ‘right’ scheme to come along and get going.
Another big problem is not putting in enough or consistent effort – in terms of audience research or learning from every bit of traffic you win. Track, learn, improvise, and get the right tools to help you out. Pinching and scraping on the tool or being lazy about your strategy is a definite recipe for failure.
Finally, ensure that you select the right niche to market in. As already mentioned – it should have high business value. But, more importantly, it should be something you genuinely believe in. If you do not have the conviction or faith in the product or service, the audience will know. There is no way you can inspire the same in them. Also, if you pick the wrong segment, it will make it that much harder for you to be enthusiastic and consistent in your efforts.
Q5. What do you think is next for affiliate marketing? Do you think there will be any changes to the way we do it?
Customer behavior and buying patterns are evolving constantly – affiliate marketing will too – and you will need to keep up if you want to be successful.
Since mobile devices are becoming more popular, using interactive content that is mobile friendly is a must-have.
As a trend, people look to affiliate marketers as more of a helping hand in making a purchase decision. While they are already searching the internet and compiling their research, they look for added value from the affiliate marketers than what is already available in these channels.
Therefore, a winning strategy should fulfill three aspects:
1. Attract attention using creative methods – Eg. Podcasts.
2. Providing honest and strategic information that adds value.
3. Great quality product.
Ultimately, as with any marketing strategy, affiliate marketing is also about adding value and helping the customer make a buying decision. It is about building a relationship with your leads, emerging as a thought leader and thus encouraging the leads to convert. It will not be possible without knowing the pulse of your audience, thoroughly understanding the digital space and of course having a firm grasp of the pros and cons of the product you sell.
That is all for today! Make sure to join us this Wednesday to discuss “Launching, Managing & Measuring the Value of Social Media” with special guest,