7 Tips to Learn How to Be Successful with Affiliate Marketing
You don’t have to learn everything at once and a lot of your experience and growth will come through trial and error; having said that, it’s best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can so that you can get started on the ‘right foot.’ Here are a few tips to help you get started…
1. Figure out who you are selling to
Defining a Target Market is a key task in building up an affiliate income. If you don’t know who you want to sell to, how will you decide what to promote? And dig deep here. Don’t just say ‘Men’ or ‘Parents’. Choose a people group that can be defined in just a few words; Like ‘Brand new single moms’ or ‘Older men with thinning hair.’
2. Make a list of what your target market needs
Sit down with pen and paper or a fresh document on your computer and think like your target market. What do they need right now? What do they consume a lot of? What do they want when they have extra money? You’ll probably come up with a pretty good list.
3. Choose affiliate programs carefully
Different merchants offer different commission rates. Scout out the highest commission rate with the best affiliate resources available. Check out the website and make sure that it is easy to navigate and buy from. Check things like Cookie duration to make sure that you have the greatest chance of profiting from your promotions.
4. Treat affiliate marketing like a real business
The more you put into your affiliate marketing the better your chances of gaining super affiliate status. Treat your affiliate marketing like a real business and it will grow and develop over time. Spend time writing reviews, articles and promoting the products you believe in.
5. Don’t plaster your website with affiliate banners
Introduce your affiliate recommendations in a natural way. A button or banner is great but may not make you too many sales, a product review or a personal recommendation will go further.
6. Don’t over promote products
It’s easy to get overexcited and over do the product offers with your subscribers. Keep some balance and give more than you take. This will keep your list happy and more willing to consider your offers. Of course, you do need to promote things to your list; after all this is your business, but try to find a balance between free information and product promotions.
7. Don’t give up too soon
Affiliate marketing is a business that builds up over time. You need to focus on developing your web traffic and email lists while you continue to faithfully offer your market what it wants and needs. As the months go by if you’re applying all the correct methods, your income will increase.
Those tips will give you a good starting point.
How to Promote Others and Make Money Out of It
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online. If you’re just getting started this is a good way to get your “feet wet” in the online business world without having to create your own products or services. If you’re an experienced marketer, affiliate marketing can add a nice amount of extra income to your business.
This report will help you get started in affiliate marketing and maximize your sales for super affiliate status.
What is a super affiliate?
A super affiliate is an affiliate who takes affiliate marketing seriously and doesn’t simply throw up a bunch of banners or ads on their site (these don’t really work too well). A super affiliate will take the time to review a product, write a comprehensive product review, and even set up a separate domain to promote a specific product. A super affiliate also knows the importance of building their list so they can further promote products to their customer base.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Simply, you sell other people’s products on your websites and blogs. When you see a product you would like to promote, you can sign up for the affiliate program and start promoting that product on your website. As an affiliate, you will receive your own unique ID which will track any sales sent from your site to the affiliate site.
A good affiliate program will also give you information on where and how you can track your sales, where your clicks are coming from and payment information.
You can find affiliate programs through networks like Commission Junction (CJ.com) or Clickbank.com. These networks act like “middle men” and take a certain percentage of every sale sold through them. You will also be paid directly through the network rather than from the vendor.
The plus with these types of programs is that you can choose as many programs as you’d like all in one convenient place and payment is quite easy to track.
The downside is you don’t often get the same promotional tools or training that individual affiliate programs will offer you. Many individual affiliate programs (especially those related to information products) will also offer you higher commissions.
Here are a few places where you can find affiliate programs to promote:
When you first get started in affiliate marketing, it can be a pretty daunting process. It can all look pretty confusing but by following a few simple rules you can get started and learn more as you go along.
Adding Effective Product Recommendations to Your Content
Part of an affiliate marketer’s job is to make product recommendations. You are recommending the products that you are promoting for your programs. So, how can you do so without sounding biased or like all you are interested in is selling a product?
Affiliate Marketing Today
Affiliate marketing has evolved. The FTC guides say that any endorsement needs to be truthful. In order to be truthful, the reviewer
has to have personal experience with the product. Otherwise, you are simply regurgitating what the sponsoring affiliate program has already said on their site. This isn’t good enough for customers or the government.
Why? There have been too many affiliates wearing “black hats” that have used not so honest methods for gaining clicks and making the sale. Loopholes in search engine algorithms were exploited so that recycled content or poor quality content made the front page of the results. Biased reviews were written in order to get people to buy the product.
The new regulations are designed to stop fraud and promote fair competition in the marketplace. Everyone deserves a quality product that is trustworthy.
Creating Quality Content that Promotes a Product
One concern is how to incorporate product recommendations without sounding like you are strictly selling the product. Here are some ideas for you.
- Provide the research – What percentages of people are using this product? What were the criteria they considered for
purchase? This is useful information. Let your readers know what others think about this particular product and the class of product it represents. Present it in simplest terms so that readers can decide for themselves. If you poll the visitors to your site, include the results in your content so readers can see what real customers have to say.
- Add personal experience – Do you use the product or have you used several generations of the product? What were your thoughts and experiences? If you had a mishap, work it into the content as a humorous anecdote. This lets your readers know
that you are human and deal with the same issues that they do.
- Show your expertise in the field – Craft content that shows you understand the product inside and out. Offer tips and tricks for managing issues with the product. For instance, if you have a blender that seems to burn up the motor when you make smoothies, ask readers to cut up their ingredients or used crushed ice to put less stress on the motor and preserve the product.
- Add images – Who says that content has to be only words? Include photos of you using the product with keyword-targeted captions. Search engines like that. Readers can see that you actually have used the product and know what you are talking
- Provide questions – Give your readers a place to begin when evaluating their need for your product. If you are selling jeans, offer guidelines for choosing which to buy like:
- Do you like baggy or fitting jeans?
- What color works best for you?
- Where will you wear your jeans?
- How tall are you?
Besides asking the questions, offer helpful hints for how to answer them. For instance, if you are below 5 feet, baggy jeans make you look shorter. This might not be true but it is just for the purposes of an example. You get the idea.
- Embed an interactive tool – This can work with just about any product you are selling. The tool’s job is to offer recommendations for the user from the product line you are promoting. It not only offers useful information for the reader but also helps to point them towards the type of product they want to buy.
- Become transparent with your audience – Emotionally connecting with your audience is imperative. When a person can identify with a product on a different level besides simply a want for it, they are more likely to buy. Create content that explores why you have bought the product. Why do you believe in it? What emotional need does it fill for you? If we use the jean example
from #5, perhaps you haven’t been able to find a pair of jeans that make you feel good about yourself until you found this company. You have now linked the product with the desire to elevate your self-esteem.
- Link to testimonials and feedback – Let them read the words for themselves. If you have a page for testimonials or for
feedback from previous customers, send your readers there with one click. Because you are sending them away from your content, be sure to include your affiliate link on that page too along with a call to action so they don’t miss out on purchasing when they make the decision.
Readers can see through blatant advertising. They want to be talked to not talked at. Use these methods for providing effective product recommendations within your website content.
How to Analyze the Best Affiliate Opportunities
Affiliate marketing is a great online business. It has been for years. An enterprising individual who wants to create an extra stream of
income can make serious money as an affiliate marketer. The trick: knowing what opportunities will net the best returns.
So, how do you choose the best affiliate marketing programs to get involved with? There are several factors to consider when making your choice. We are going to look at the ones that matter most and analyze them.
What Product Interests You?
The fact is simple. If you can’t get behind a product, then your efforts to promote it will be lackluster at best. Choose a product that interests you. Convincing others to try it won’t be as hard when you can personally see reasons why it can benefit for someone else.
Does the product mesh with your niche market? If you have already created an online presence, then it is less work to promote affiliate products similar to what you are already talking about or selling to your existing audience.
Is There Demand for the Product?
You might like nutrient spikes for your vegetable garden but are others clamoring for them too? Perform a keyword search to evaluate:
- What words are getting the most traffic
- Is the competition high or still low enough to bring a profit?
In a competitive niche with low search volume but high competition, the market is likely saturated with other marketers and your ability to gain leads will be harder. Instead, try for a niche or sub-niche that has a high search volume but not as much competition. To determine this, use a keyword search tool like the one offered by Google AdWords. It can help you determine the search volume for each word you enter plus an estimate of the competition level.
What does the Sponsor Website Look Like?
Visit the website sponsoring the affiliate program. This is important because if visitors are not impressed with the site that you are linking them to, your number of clicks will wane as will the number of conversions resulting from those clicks.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Is the site user-friendly?
- Are their images of the products available for viewing?
- Does it provide rich content?
- What are past and current visitors saying about the website?
Reputation is all you have in business. Online, when your reputation takes a hit, the bad news can spread like wildfire. Preserve your reputation by choosing reputable sellers to partner with for affiliate promotions.
What is the Conversion Rate for the Product?
Conversion rates refer to the number of people who actually buy the product after clicking on your affiliate link. You want the rate to be as high as possible and it is a percentage out of 100. For example, if a seller has 3 people out of every 100 clicks who buys a product, then the conversion rate is 3 percent. This is not bad but if you want to turn a profit, there is more to consider than this.
What is the Average Order Volume?
Also consider the average order volume (AOV). The AOV is the average amount of the purchase made by the consumer. Average orders that are below $100, for example, won’t pay you much depending on your affiliate commission. High average order volume with lower conversion rates can still become a profitable investment for you.
What is the Commission?
Now we are getting to the nitty-gritty. How much will you get paid for your advertising efforts? This, combined with the conversion rate and the average order volume, determine how much money you can make with each sale.
Let’s say that a seller offers you a 10 percent commission. If the average order is $80, you will make $8 per person who purchases the product. With a 3 percent conversion rate, that equals $24.
This can change of course. Larger order averages can balance out with lower conversion rate percentages. Do the math to come up with realistic numbers in order to compare programs before you invest your time and money.
What Tools are Available?
Every affiliate program needs to have an Affiliate’s Toolbox. These are the goodies that the seller provides to help you promote their product. It may be code for banner ads, text ads, your links, coupon codes and the like. Evaluate the tools to see if they will meet your needs for advertising. The lack of tools means that the seller is giving you no help at all.
Another tool that many overlook is the support. Is the affiliate program manager dedicated to helping you do your best work for them? If you have questions are they available with a ready answer? Lack of tools and support is a no-no.
Is there Competition for this Niche?
There will always be competition. The question is how strong that competition is and can you still earn decent money? You already have some sense of it from your keyword research in the beginning of this process.
Take a look at who else is promoting similar products. Evaluate them on the same basis as you have this affiliate program.
There are many affiliate programs out there to choose from. Avoid making a hasty decision without checking the facts and asking yourself a few questions like the ones posed above.
The Evolution of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is still a viable business model with low start up costs and the potential for high return. But, affiliate marketers have had to change their tactics as the competition has increased. In light of the regulations by the FTC, has this industry changed for the better?
What is Affiliate Marketing?
In the simplest terms, affiliate marketing is advertising done by others to promote a company’s products. It’s ingenious really. Amazon was one of the first to institute this model. Instead of a company spending big bucks to advertise their products, they allow others to help out with it for a share of the profits.
The advantages include:
- Wider circle of influence owing to the number of affiliates
- Lower advertising costs
- Several people focusing on advertising instead of one
- Opens the market to a larger and more diverse audience
- Increased sales
Affiliate marketing is a partnership that pays off for everyone involved.
Affiliate Marketing in the Past
Affiliate marketing has always been about promoting a product or service but the methods have changed over the years. For one, there are fewer banner ads. Remember when they were all the rage? The flashy ads scrolling across the top of the webpage caught a reader’s eye. They clicked to see what all the hype was about. Banner ads were all about getting the click for higher affiliate payouts.
Unfortunately, that led to a lot of gratuitous advertising on the part of marketers. The sale was the main drive and it resulted in concentration on enticing people to click instead of focusing on the product itself. Reviews were clearly aimed at showing the product in the best light possible even if there were negative issues. When given freebies, review writers felt compelled to shy away from detracting statements about the product.
As a result, people felt “had” with these biased reviews and advertisements. They bought the products but didn’t get what they were promised in the way of a great product or at least the product that was advertised. Not all affiliates have operated like that. Many have seen the wisdom of adding value to their affiliate marketing methods to:
- Build their brand
- Build their reputation
- Gain a faithful following
- Build their list
Competition has raised the Standard
For “black hat marketers” this means that tactics used to beat the system and make a quick sale are no longer making the profits they once were. Changes to Google search engine algorithms have weeded out those who provide lackluster content or recycled content on their affiliate sites. Keyword stuffing is a definite no-no as well as using PLR content “as is” to populate your sites.
To compete on search engine pages and not get dinged by the likes of Google, affiliate marketers are providing SEO rich content that informs instead of “sells” a product to their readers. Making money is still important (it is a business after all), but marketers are exchanging their products for value. Engaging the reader reaches them on a different level. When a person can emotionally identify with a product, you are more likely to make a sale.
Tools in the affiliate’s arsenal now look like:
- Social media interaction and social bookmarking
- Personal recommendations for products
Websites are user-friendly and contain a host of information and ways for the affiliate to interact with their audience instead of just telling them what to buy.
The FTC and the Future of Affiliate Marketing
Many affiliates are talking about the guidelines set down by the FTC. It is not as gloomy a forecast for the affiliate marketing industry as many are leading you to believe. These guidelines are there to provide internet users with what you would want for yourself – honesty and truth in advertising.
Learn more here: http://business.ftc.gov/
The guidelines advocate disclosure. We’ve seen how people react to public figures and non-discloser of their links with certain companies and products. Many television commercials with spokespersons also include a disclaimer at the bottom letting you know that they are paid for their services. If that makes a difference to you, then it will also make a difference to your website visitors and your promotion of affiliate products.
Compliance is not a hardship if you are already adding value to your affiliate marketing methods. According to the guidelines, endorsements must be “truthful and not misleading.” Use the product before you promote it. Personal testimonials mean that the information you are providing comes from your experience with the product. Consumers can tell when you have an in-depth knowledge as opposed to just glossing over the product’s highlights than anyone could write.
Mention the pros and cons of the product. Allow readers to make an informed decision based on all the facts and not just those that paint the product in a positive light. Otherwise, you are making the decision for them and that is misleading.
Provide a disclaimer. Let your readers know that you are an affiliate who uses the products and services that you are promoting.
Many of these guidelines have been around for a while but have been updated to reflect the advent of social media. Here as well, advertising claims need to be based on personal experience and reveal all sides of the product.
So, how has affiliate marketing changed? It has evolved for the better for both customer and the affiliate marketer who strives to build a brand that supports value and honest products.
50 Tips for Starting and Marketing a Membership Site
- Use a CMS (content management system) – Don’t do it by hand, unless you are HTML proficient. Trying to manage a membership site by hand is incredibly difficult.
- Do your market research. Look for unsolved problems or sub-niches that nobody else is addressing. Don’t do a membership site that’s the same as another established site on the market.
- Have a launch budget. It’s easy to accidentally spend way more money than you planned to if you don’t budget carefully.
- Do a test buy with a real credit card. Make sure your shopping cart is properly integrated with your membership site software.
- Try buying banner ads on related websites. Look for sites that your target market would browse and post ads on them.
- Have a SEOed site that feeds into your membership site. Most membership sites block their content from search engines, so make sure you do have a content based site that search engines can see.
- Get someone on Odesk to configure a WordPress multi-site for you or consider using a plugin like ManageWP. If you’re using WordPress and you own multiple sites, a multisite will allow you to control all your sites from one control panel.
- Try out PPC traffic. Once you have a few sales and have a proven funnel, use PPC traffic to drive new people to your sales page.
- Contact others in the industry to do JVs. Get them to promote your membership site.
- Offer an affiliate program that pays out every month. Alternatively, you can offer an upfront payment for their subscription. For example, for a $40 a month membership program, you can pay out $100 upfront for that subscriber.
- Give a lot of free content away. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your best content has to be reserved only for your free membership site. Free content helps build credibility.
- Recycle old content for SEO. Any content that you don’t use anymore, put it up for free.
- Don’t sell your membership right upfront. Instead, collect an email and let people get to know you before asking them for their money.
- Split test different price points. Don’t just assume you know the best amount to charge.
- Don’t be attached to high prices. Sometimes you’ll make more with a $7 a month membership program than a $20 one, because so many more people will sign up.
- Split test different delivery models. For example, if you do audios, try a $40 a month subscription where you actually send them CDs, as well as a $15 a month program where they just download the MP3s.
- Avoid open archives. Don’t let existing members have access to all your old content, or people will just wait to sign up so they can get more content when they sign up.
- Followup, followup, followup. If you don’t make the sale the first time, keep adding value and keep asking for the sale.
- Sell your specific month’s content each month. If you’re doing a download this month about “The 5 Top Running Mistakes People Make,” then do an email blast talking about how harmful these problems are and talk up this month’s program. Often time’s people won’t necessarily want to be on your subscription in general, but might sign up just so they can get this month’s program – And end up staying on.
- Give them a free trial. This often helps enrolment.
- Package it with a product. If you sell a $47 product, why not throw in a month or two to your subscription for free? If they don’t cancel, they’ll get billed, but make sure this is very clear in your marketing materials.
- Have more than one front end product. The more products you have feeding into your membership program, the more members you’ll have.
- Make it seem like an off hand add-on. Try selling your program hard, as well as try just mentioning it very briefly at the end of the salesletter.
- Deliver incredible content. This is really the best way to keep people subscribed.
- Vary your content so people don’t get bored.
- Give an unexpected bonus around the 3 month mark. Many marketers see a sharp dropoff at the three month mark. Giving an unexpected bonus can help keep people who’re on the fence on your program.
- Time monthly content with product launches. If you’re launching a product on “How to Increase Your Productivity,” this month’s content might be about “7 Productivity Tricks.” The buzz from your membership can help promote your launch.
- Do a content piece on a hot topic for your members.
- Use real world examples. People love hearing how people did things in the real world.
- Build your credibility through other avenues, like speaking and writing. This helps increase your conversions and your retention through increased name recognition.
- Have a higher end tier. Don’t just charge one price for your membership program.
- Think twice before starting a member forum. It’s very hard to populate a forum.
- Get it launched. Don’t spend ages getting it perfect. You can launch with just a simple autoresponder drip feed system.
- Ask your customers for feedback. Ask them how you can improve the program, or what content they’d like you to offer.
- Launch with a good amount of content. People shouldn’t feel disappointed when they first see your member’s area.
- Your member area should be well designed. Just because it’s not part of your main site doesn’t mean you can skimp on design. Remember: Paying members can cancel any time.
- Promise small and over deliver, rather than over promise and under deliver.
- Have a few months of backup content. This helps prevent dropped balls and missed content dates.
- Stay ahead of your earliest member. If you have a member that’s been around for 1 years and 2 months, you better have autoresponder content for at least 1 year and 2 months.
- Get a top notch copywriter to write your salesletter. It makes a big difference.
- Include a welcome package. Give people a ton of value the moment they join your program
- Give them discounts on your other products. This increases the value of the membership, as well as helps sell other products.
- Test a sales video. They often out convert pure text salesletters.
- Have members only contests. This builds a lot of buzz and excitement.
- Give surprise bonuses and content as often as you can.
- Get people from your offline network on your membership program. Send anyone who expresses curiosity about it to your site.
- Consider getting your program on Clickbank. A lot of affiliates use Clickbank as a resource for finding affiliate programs to promote.
- If you’re shipping CDs, make sure you get the CDs to fulfillment as early as possible. The time between getting them to audio and them being ready to shop can be longer than you think.
- Every once in a while, do something that focuses on you rather than your audience. For example, your background story or your personal thoughts and tips.
- Use a service like CloudFlare to ensure the uptime of your membership site. Among other features, CloudFlare will jump in anytime your site goes down to make sure your users can still access an archived version of your site.
Top 10 Services and Tools for Affiliate Program Managers
Managing an affiliate program requires juggling a lot of balls. You need a flawless tracking system. You need to be able to stay in touch with your affiliates. You need to have a good backend system for affiliates to log into. You need to know what your competition is running, what they’re paying and how they’re converting. You need to have all these things covered, not just once but on an on going basis.
Having the right tools and services will make your job a lot easier. It’ll reduce headaches, speed up processes and allow you to get things done with as little personal attention as possible.
These are the top 10 tools and services for affiliate program managers.
#1 – 1ShoppingCart
If you’re running a small to medium sized company, 1ShoppingCart can be a fantastic solution for all your affiliate tracking needs.
Affiliate accounts are easy to create. The process can be done by affiliates themselves through a web form, or by the administrator.
Affiliate links are tracked using a built-in system. If you choose to, you can continue to track a user’s cookies and award affiliate sales for sales made down the line.
Payment is not done through 1ShoppingCart. 1ShoppingCart will simply tell you what all your affiliates are owed. You have to come up with a separate payment system yourself.
If you want to create your own network of affiliate programs, Hitpath is one of the best ways to do it. Many of the world’s largest affiliate networks run off of the Hitpath software.
Hitpath allows affiliates to easily generate their own affiliate codes for each product they want to promote. You can even generate tracking IDs for each promotional method (banners, PPC, email, etc.)
Hitpath allows you to easily generate Earnings Per Click (EPC) data for both affiliates and for your network as a whole.
Hitpath is primarily geared towards large affiliate programs and networks rather than small individual programs.
LinkTrust is similar to Hitpath in that it’s an industrial-grade affiliate tracking software. LinkTrust supports pixel tracking, which is arguably the most reliable method for making sure affiliates get credited with their sales.
LinkTrust supports CPA, CPL, CPM and CPC campaigns. No matter what kind of format you want to run your affiliate campaign in, LinkTrust likely has the technology you need to make it happen.
At its core, InfusionSoft is a highly versatile shopping cart. However, one of its prime components is its affiliate tracking software.
InfusionSoft allows you to track customer sales back to unique affiliate IDs. These customers can be treated differently based on who referred the customer.
This allows you to customize your sales for each JV partner or affiliate that you’re doing deals with. In addition to sending online promotions, InfusionSoft also allows you to track and send direct mail pieces, postcards and other offline promotional materials to leads affiliates bring in.
#5) Shopify (with zferral)
Shopify is one of the simplest shopping cart systems on the web. You don’t need a merchant account to get setup with Shopify. That means no Authorize.net, no gateway processing and no bank hassles.
In addition to providing you with a payment gateway, Shopify also provides you with a fantastic looking store through which to sell your products. To top things off, by installing zferral you’ll be able to host and track your own affiliate program.
This is a great solution for startup to medium sized companies.
If you’re running an affiliate program for digital products, Clickbank is one of the best platforms to host that program.
For one, all your tracking is taken care of. Clickbank has a proven affiliate tracking system that works solidly. It also supports Tracking IDs, which allows affiliates to easily track where sales are coming from.
All your payment processing is handled. Affiliates know they’ll get paid on time, because their check comes from a multi-national corporation.
In short, for digital products, Clickbank makes your life very easy.
If you’re selling a digital product and you don’t need access to Clickbank’s base of affiliate marketers, you may very well be better off with PayDotCom.
Unlike Clickbank which pays vendors only once a month, PayDotCom pays you instantly via PayPal. If you make 10 sales today, that’s 10 paychecks you get today.
On the flip side, payments to affiliates are handled by you. PayDotCom will tell you who you have to pay and how much, but there is the little bit of extra hassle of having to do this bit by hand.
That said, it’s often worth the tradeoff in order to get instant payments.
When you’re putting out an affiliate program, you’ll often want to check the market to see what other kinds of programs are out there. You’ll also want to check what kind of payouts other affiliate programs are giving.
One of the best ways to do this research is through an affiliate program search engine. Using this search engine, you can find out exactly what all your competitors are doing, so you can better position your program.
OfferVault is one of the best such search engines.
One of the biggest jobs of affiliate program managers is helping affiliates succeed. Sometimes that can look like giving affiliates template emails and banner ads. At other times, it means letting affiliates know precisely which traffic methods work.
To help your affiliates succeed, it’s often helpful to know how other affiliates in your space are promoting similar products. That’s what WhatRunsWhere will tell you.
As the name suggests, WhatRunsWhere will tell you which of your competitors are running what ads – And where they’re running them on the internet.
You can pass this information along to your affiliates to give them a big leg up in the market.
One of the most important tools for affiliate program managers is the good old autoresponder. It’s an often overlooked tool, but it’s crucial to success.
Why is an autoresponder so important?
Just like you have to build a relationship in order to sell to customers, the same is true of affiliates. A lot of people make the mistake of just giving out affiliate codes and not actually building a relationship with their affiliates.
Make sure you get your affiliates’ email addresses during the signup process. Use an autoresponder to deliver messages, build trust and get them to promote your product.
These are ten of the most important tools and services for affiliate program managers. Leverage the power of these tools to improve your tracking and help your affiliates (and your business) succeed.
Top 10 Affiliate Networks for Affiliate Marketers
One of the most important things to being a successful affiliate marketer is finding affiliate networks that you want to work with.
Affiliate networks fulfill many roles. First and foremost, they’re the escrow system that makes sure your leads get track and you get paid. When you use an affiliate network, you can usually be sure that you’re getting credited for all the sales you’re making.
Second, they’re a source of offers. They aggregate vendors from all kinds of industry and put them all in one place for you, making it easy for you to find programs to promote.
Finally, affiliate networks can also be business partners and advisors. This is primarily true with CPA networks. A big part of your affiliate manager’s job is making sure you have everything you need to do your promotions. They tell you what offers are how and what traffic sources are working. If you have any questions, they’re there to help.
So what are the top affiliate networks you should be looking at? Here are 10 for your consideration.
Network #1: Clickbank
Clickbank is far and away the #1 network for selling digital products. That means eBooks, video downloads, audio downloads, membership websites, premium newsletters and so on can all be sold through Clickbank.
Because Clickbank has such a large base of products, it’s almost like a dream come true for affiliate marketers. You can find several products to sell in almost any industry.
Furthermore, because vendors don’t have any real costs, they’re often able to offer you as much as 50% to 75% in commissions. In fact, if you can deliver a high volume of orders, you can often negotiate that up to 80% or 90% as a side deal.
If you’re looking to promote digital products, Clickbank is one of the best places to look.
Network #2: PayDotCom
PayDotCom is another affiliate network dedicated to digital products. The big difference between PayDotcom and Clickbank is that you’re paid via PayPal, by the vendor. You’re paid once a month.
The range of programs on PayDotCom is significantly lower than on Clickbank. That said, the barrier to entry is much lower. You can make one sale on PayDotCom and get paid for it. On Clickbank, you need at least four different payment methods before you receive your first check – Meaning you have to make as many as ten sales to qualify.
If you’re just getting started and want to get some quick money in your PayPal account, PayDotCom could be for you.
Network #3: Neverblue
Neverblue is a CPA (Cost Per Action) affiliate network based out of Canada. They’re one of the longest standing networks in the affiliate marketing space and have a solid reputation for paying on time and supporting affiliates.
Neverblue is more or less a no-frills network. You won’t find crazy offers or crazy technology. It’s bread and butter, simply a great network with a lot of offers.
Network #4: Epic Advertising
Epic Advertising, formerly AzoogleAds, is one of the largest CPA networks around. They regularly have exclusive deals with advertisers, meaning you’ll find offers on Epic that you won’t find anywhere else.
They’re very used to dealing with high volume affiliates ($10,000 a day+) which means they’re highly familiar with sophisticated promotion strategies and techniques. A just starting out affiliate might have a tougher time.
Network #5: AdKnowledge
AdKnowledge, formerly Hydra Media, is a CPA affiliate network that’s gone through a bit of an identity crises. Instead of targeting the standard CPA affiliate marketing community, AdKnowledge is trying to go for higher end advertisers. To do so, they’ve severely limited the promotion methods they permit for their network.
In other words, AdKnowledge is doing their best to position themselves as “the whitehat network” in the CPA space. Advertisers who don’t want to be associated with unscrupulous promotion tactics come to AdKnowledge.
Network #6: Eagle Web Assets
Eagle Web Assets is another top CPA affiliate network. This network’s biggest selling point is their willingness to work hand in hand with affiliates.
Not only do you get an affiliate manager, but you’ll also get personal notes from the CEO and founder, Ryan Eagle. He’s personally available if you reach out to him for help.
What’s impressive about this network is that it came from seemingly out of nowhere and built a rock solid reputation in a short period of time. The reputation was primarily built out of taking care of affiliates.
If you’re looking for a CPA network that works in close contact with you, try Eagle Web Assets.
Network #7: Share-a-Sale
Share-a-Sale is one of the oldest traditional advertising networks around. It has a lot of big brands. Typical commission rates are around 8%. On Share-a-Sale, you’ll be able to sell everything from printer cartridges to contact lenses to furniture to flowers.
The culture of affiliates who promote on Share-a-Sale is very different than CPA marketers or digital product marketers. They tend to use consistent and traditional methods of generating traffic (SEO, PPC) rather than test uncharted promotion methods (mobile ads, PPV.)
Network #8: Commission Junction
Commission Junction is another top traditional affiliate network. They sport top notch advertisers like 1-800-CONTACTS, Match.com and various Fortune 500 companies. Don’t expect much hands on contact with CJ until you’re doing high volume.
Network #9: eBay Partner Network
Joining the eBay Partner Network (EPN) opens a whole new world of possibilities for you as an affiliate marketer. Basically, when your join EPN, you get paid for anyone who joins eBay from your affiliate link. You also get paid a percentage of what eBay makes when they create a listing or make a purchase.
What makes the EPN so unique is that you get to make money by selling goods at the cheapest prices possible. You can sell USB drives for a couple dollars or high end mattresses for 30% less than retail. With prices like that, there are a lot of ways you can promote to get people to buy.
Note that the EPN is relatively strict on how you can promote. SEO is highly favoured, as is building and marketing to your own audience. Borderline tactics like PPV are generally not accepted, while PPC promotions need to jump through hoops for approval.
Network #10: Amazon Associates
Finally, you have the Amazon Associates network. This network allows you to sell anything on the Amazon store for a commission.
You can sell music, downloadable videos and other digital content. You can sell books. You can sell appliances. You can sell clothes.
Amazon sports a whopping 12% site-wide conversion rate. That means that if you can send qualified traffic to Amazon, there’s a very good chance of you getting someone to buy.
These are the top 10 affiliate networks for affiliate marketers. We’ve covered networks for digital products, for CPA / lead generation, for physical products and for eBay and Amazon.
Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
Affiliate marketing is one of the most liberating and lucrative careers available to the solo entrepreneur. With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to own a product, handle customer support, worry about fulfillment or do anything except generate traffic. You just pocket a commission every time you make a sale.
Affiliates can span a wide spectrum. On one end, you have people making just a couple hundred dollars a month, doing a bit of work in their spare time. On the other end, you have affiliates making hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. Some of these affiliates are under 18.
Affiliate marketing is a career that can grow very quickly. You can go from making nothing today to making five figures a month in as little as six months. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the people who get into affiliate marketing never make it to the upper tiers. It’s not because they weren’t smart or because they weren’t willing to put in the effort. It was primarily because they made one of these ten mistakes.
These are the top 10 mistakes affiliates make. These can kill a campaign before it even gets started, or turn a budding affiliate marketing career into ash. Here are the 10 mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Expecting Success Too Quickly
You’ve seen the headlines:
“How a 16 Year Old Kid Made $16,000 in Under 48 Hours”
“In Just 3 Days, I Made $48,000 – Most Of It In My Sleep!”
“A Push-Button System So Easy, Anyone Who Speaks
English Could Make $200 a Day, Immediately!”
The list goes on and on. This kind of marketing promotes the kind of short attention span, “make money now” mindset that sets so many affiliates up for failure.
The truth is that affiliate marketing takes time. You need to learn your traffic sources. You need to test offers. You need to find what works and what doesn’t. You usually need to fail 5 to 10 times before finding one profitable campaign.
Success in affiliate marketing doesn’t come in hours or days. It comes in weeks and months. If you’re expecting to succeed by the end of the week, chances are you’ll be disappointed. If you’re going to get into this industry, get in it for the long haul. It’s rewarding, but it’s not a quick fix.
Mistake #2: Not Tracking Traffic Sources
If you’re not tracking down to the keyword level, or an equivalent level of detail in whatever traffic source you’re using, you’re losing money.
In PPC, the difference between bidding broad match for the keyword “dating tips” and bidding exact match for the same phrase is use. The keyword that might actually convert might be “dating tips for men.” They just happen to get in there through the phrase match. If you’re not tracking exactly what converted for you, you’re going to lose money on all your exact match bids.
The same applies to Facebook PPC. You might be getting a lot of conversions, but you don’t know exactly where they’re coming from. With proper measurement, you might find that the majority of your conversions actually come from women between 30 and 33, even though you’re targeting between 25 and 35. You can greatly increase your ROI by narrowing your age range.
The list goes on and on. For each and every traffic source, you want to be tracking your conversion back to the source in as much detail as possible.
Mistake #3: Not Testing a Wide Range of Traffic Sources
If you’ve managed to make SEO work for you, that’s fantastic. But that’s not a reason not to test AdWords, media buying, Facebook PPC, mobile traffic or other kinds of traffic.
As a rule of thumb, what you want to do is test as many traffic sources as possible. Figure out which one(s) work for you, then focus on it and scale it out. Grow it as large as you can, then go back to testing traffic sources. Again, find something that works, then scale it out. Rinse and repeat.
If you get stuck using only one traffic source, you severely limit the amount of traffic and revenues you can bring in.
Mistake #4: Thinking There’s Truly Free Traffic
There’s no such thing as free traffic. There’s only trading time for traffic. In affiliate marketing, you can either invest your time or invest your money. You can’t build a successful affiliate marketing business if you’re unwilling to invest either.
Many beginning affiliates think that investing time into SEO affiliate marketing is the answer. This can be a good way to get started, but it’s important to realize just what you’re valuing your time at. If you’re building your own links, writing your own content, doing your own SEO, you’re often getting as little as $3 or less per hour for your time.
Conversely, if you’re willing to invest a bit of money, your business can grow a whole lot faster. Growing paid traffic is much faster than growing SEO or organic traffic. An SEO website might take 6 months to get up to 10,000 visitors a month. A paid traffic site could hit that in a week, profitably, if your sales and split testing skills are strong.
If you don’t have money, use free traffic to get you started. If you do however, don’t be afraid to invest. Start small, test things out and then expand your investment once it shows progress.
Mistake #5: Promoting the Wrong Offer
Many beginning affiliates simply pick an offer out of thin air and start promoting it. Unfortunately, when you do this there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up picking the wrong offer. In this context, “wrong” means not earning the most you can per visitor.
In every major market, there’s going to be a whole bunch of offers you can promote. For example, if you wanted to sell a weight loss eBook, you have Fat Loss 4 Idiots, Fat Burning Furnace, Truth About Abs, etc – All of them trending very highly on Clickbank.
If you’re promoting a dating CPA offer, you can promote for Match.com, eHarmony, SinglesNet or any other well branded offer.
The list goes on and on and on. For every offer, there are at least three comparable offers you could promote. The key is to test out all of the comparable ones to figure out which has the highest eCPM (earnings per thousand visitors.)
Don’t just pick one offer. Test every offer. You’d be shocked at how big a difference it could make. Two offers that seem completely identical on the surface can convert at dramatically different rates. Test your offers, don’t pick your offers.
Mistake #6: Not Day Parting
Conversion rates can vary a lot throughout the day. For example, for a dating offer, it might convert best later in the evening when people are at home feeling lonely. On the other hand, a “work from home” offer might convert best early in the day, when people get in the work and feel disgruntled again. Some offers might convert better on weekends than weekdays.
On many offers, you’ll find that certain times of days don’t convert at all. You’ll still get clicks, but the people clicking just won’t buy anything.
Day parting allows you to separate out all the non-buying times from the buying times. This allows you to stop spending money on times of days that don’t work and only focus on the times that do. Don’t ignore day parting – It can increase your ROI by as much as 30%, which could be the difference between profitability and loss.
Mistake #7: Not Split Testing Enough
First, deciding just to do landing pages or just to do direct linking is a mistake. You should absolutely test both direct linking and landing pages.
If you find that landing pages do well, then you should absolutely split test a variety of landing pages. Even if one is working well doesn’t mean you shouldn’t split test another one to see if it could do better.
Even if you’re running SEO traffic, you should still split test. Let’s say you run a successful website and place an affiliate product banner somewhere on your site. You should still test linking directly to the offer, as well as linking to a review page you wrote.
Test, test, test and test. It makes a big difference.
Mistake #8: Not Networking With Affiliates in Person
If you look at all of the world’s most successful affiliates – Say, anyone making $100,000 or more a month – You’ll find they all have one thing in common: They spend time in person with other affiliates.
Conversely, struggling affiliates or affiliates making very little money tend to be people who’re working alone in their bedroom with very little contact with other affiliates. This is not a coincidence.
The only place you can really learn cutting edge traffic tactics is through networking with other affiliate marketers. You can go to events like Affiliate Summit and many others. Successful affiliate marketers aren’t going to put what they know into a $40 eBook. To really get the inside scoop on how other affiliates make their money, you need to actually meet them in person and become friends with them.
Yes, it costs money to go to conferences. Flights, hotels and registration fees do add up. But the networking opportunities and the lessons you’ll learn will make it all worth it.
Mistake #9: Not Developing a Relationship With Your Affiliate Manager
Your affiliate manager can be one of your most powerful tools. Most affiliate networks will assign an affiliate manager to your account. Your affiliate manager’s job is to help you maximize your income. If you’re working with small private companies, the company’s marketing director or even the company founder might be the affiliate manager.
You want an ally on the inside. How can an affiliate manager help you out?
- They could tell you what’s working for other affiliates. For example, if other affiliates are killing it on Bing PPC while everyone’s struggling with AdWords, that’s something you want to know.
- They can put you on non-rotating landing pages. If you’re sending traffic to a page, you want to make sure it’s not a page they’re split testing.
- They can put conversion cookies on thank you pages. This allows you to use any kind of tracking software you want.
- They can give you access to creatives. You can use their banner ads, their videos and other marketing materials instead of using your own.
- They can give you free product samples. If they’re going to launch a new initiative, having samples can really help you promote.
The list goes on and on. Having an ally on the inside can make a big difference. Befriend your AM. Call them or message them on instant messenger and build a relationship.
Mistake #10: Not Trying an Email List
Affiliates are much more likely to treat their visitors with a “hit and run” mentality than product owners and vendors. Affiliates tend to want to just rank pages and put up links, or just buy traffic and send them to the vendor. Very few affiliates take the time to build a list.
However, when you do take the time to build a list, you greatly maximize your earnings per visitor. You not only sell one product to the visitor, but can sell many, many products over the long haul.
This allows you to spend a lot more money per click to acquire new customers. You’re not just getting a commission on one product, but many commissions on many products.
When you’re building a list like this, do it around one specific industry or niche. Don’t do it around a specific product. You can have a primary product that you promote, but the list should be broad enough that you can promote a range of products.
This tactic works just as well for SEO as it does for PPC and other forms of traffic.
These are ten of the most common and most deadly affiliate marketing mistakes. Affiliate marketing, when done right, can be an incredibly lucrative and rewarding career. Just make sure you avoid these mistakes as you build your business.