Ten Tips for Successful Affiliate Marketing
By: Skip McGrath
Since moving over to my new affiliate program, I have signed up about 300 affiliates. But what is interesting is that each month I send over 90% of my affiliate commissions to the same ten or twelve people.
A lot of people join affiliate programs for no other reason than to earn an affiliate commission on a product(s) they buy. And this does work with my program, however like most affiliate programs we have a minimum payout threshold. Mine is $40. So yes you can earn a commission on your own purchase but you would first have to purchase over $100 total since our commission percentage is 40%.
Beside those folks, there are a lot of folks who join because they want to earn money, but they don’t have any experience with affiliate marketing. So I thought I would give you some affiliate marketing tips to help you.
In the event you are reading this and know nothing about affiliate marketing before we start with the affiliate marketing tips, here is a basic outline:
Affiliate marketing is the practice of a merchant rewarding their affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's marketing efforts. Examples include sites where they pay you a commission for referring a sale. This is usually accomplished by the affiliate putting a merchant’s banner or text link on their website, blog, newsletter or placing links in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. When someone clicks on a banner, it places a cookie in his or her computer that allows the merchant to track where the sale came from.
Most merchants pay their affiliates monthly. Some of the web’s largest companies have affiliate programs including eBay, Amazon and Yahoo.
With most affiliate marketing programs the buyer must purchase something to generate a commission, but there are merchants who will pay you for a sales lead. This usually requires a person who clicks from your link to the merchant to fill out a lead form with their contact information.
OK – so lets get started with the tips:
Affiliate Marketing Tip #1 – Select Your Merchants Carefully: A lot of affiliates select their merchants on the basis of who pays the highest commission, but like to select based on who has the best reputation and quality product. The next factor I look at is the sell-through rate –which merchants convert better.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #2 -- Integrity Matters: Never recommend something you wouldn’t buy yourself. Whether you promote from a blog, email or a website, it has your name on it and you don’t want to promote anything you would not buy or use yourself or something you would not recommend to your mother or your sister. There are plenty of excellent affiliate merchants out there, so you can afford to be very selective.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #3 – The Niche is Everything: You can’t earn money with affiliate marketing if you can’t get traffic to your website or blog. Competition on the Internet is fierce. Someone –or many others cover almost any topic or specialized area you can think of. Some competition is OK. In fact if you pick a niche that has a few competitors, that tells you that the niche is probably viable. But you don’t want to pick a product or a niche that is dominated by large professional affiliate marketers. Some examples of this would include mortgages, credit cards, lawyers, cancer treatments and so on. These areas have affiliate deals that pay huge commissions, but therefore they attract much more competition.
You are much better off with a smaller niche. So what’s a small niche? Well one of my in-laws has lived and traveled extensively to Spain. Whereas travel is a huge and highly competitive area, by narrowing it down to one country to write about you would have far less competition. If you really wanted to narrow it further, then you could even specialize in travel to the Costa del Sol region of Spain.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #4 – Relevance: To be a successful affiliate the product you are promoting should be relevant to the content of the site you are promoting from. For example, if you write a blog about Bass fishing then your affiliate links and banners should appeal to bass fishermen. If you have banners for food and wine companies or cruise lines on your bass fishing blog, you may accidently get the occasional click and purchase –but it will be very occasional. Whereas if your links and banners were to a company that sells bass boats, rods and reels and bass fishing guides, they you will see a lot of potential earnings.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #5 – Avoid Overcrowding: If success at affiliate marketing could be achieved from throwing up pages of banners - then the world would have lots of millionaires. A site with pages of banners or rows banners stuffed under content has the opposite effect on people. It also has the added bonus of making your site look pretty ugly.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #6 -- A Personal Recommendation Works the Best: I do use banners on my website and blog and they have their place. But nothing converts to sales better than when I make a personal recommendation. I only do this on products and services that I completely believe in and that I have tried myself. This goes back to the previous tip.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #7 – Track Results: There are literally thousands of merchants with affiliate programs out there. So why would you work with one that isn’t performing? Let me give you an example. I am a big believer in home business owners incorporating their business. So in my books and on my website, I used to recommend Legal Zoom. Two things happened: Sales were slow and after a few months I received a couple of complaints from readers I had referred. Ok – so I looked around and found My Corporation.com. Affiliate commissions from My Corporation.com are running double what I earned from Legal Zoom and I haven’t had any complaints. In fact, a few weeks after recommending them, I got an email from a reader praising them and thanking me for recommending them.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #8 – Use Multiple Merchants for Your Niche: You don’t want to overdo this, but don’t put all your eggs into one basket –or merchant. You can get away with three or four merchants and it is easy to spread these all around your site without overcrowding and pestering your readers with offers.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #9 – Create Original Content: There are a lot of article sites where you can get free content to use on your website or blog. There are free articles out there on almost any topic. But beware. Google looks for duplicate content. If they see an article on your website or blog that is identical to the content on others, they will penalize your site in the search results ranking. So always try for original content.
Affiliate Marketing Tip #10 – Change is good: Search engines are always looking for sites with new or changing content. You can build a static site and load it with content and it will get traffic for a time. But after a while, if Google visits your site and does not see any changes, it will not visit very often and eventually you will rank lower.
If you become good at building niche sites and the search engines find them, you can keep doing it. There are affiliate marketers who have dozens of sites. But once you get to that point, go back to each site at least monthly and add or change some of the content so Google and Yahoo will see your site as a place where readers will see up to date content.
Well – that is our ten tips. I hope they helped you.
When selecting affiliate merchants to recommend, think of your website or blog as very expensive real estate. You only have so much room for links and banners, so pick them very carefully and track your results at least monthly. If someone isn’t performing, take a minute to figure out why. Maybe its placement or maybe the merchant just does not do a good job of converting sales. If it’s the former you can experiment with placement. But if it’s the latter you should just move on to someone else.
My latest book, How to Make A Living Working From Home has an excellent section on how to do successful affiliate marketing, as well as instruction and information on five other online businesses you can start and run from home.
© 1999- Harry McGrath, Inc., DBA Skip McGrath, Auction Seller's Resource and Vision-One Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
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