Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.
Forms of new media have also diversified how companies, brands, and ad networks serve ads to visitors. For instance, YouTube allows video-makers to embed advertisements through Google's affiliate network. New developments have made it more difficult for unscrupulous affiliates to make money. Emerging black sheep are detected and made known to the affiliate marketing community with much greater speed and efficiency.
If you are reading this post as an online marketer who may want to become an affiliate, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll be happy to guide you. You will find this video of help, but for an advice tailored to your needs, shoot me an e-mail, and I will be happy to find good matches for your website, PPC campaign, or any other online marketing initiative.
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
Affiliate marketing works because it creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. Companies only pay commissions on sales that are generated which guarantees a strong return on investment. Affiliates get to earn more money which can eventually turn into passive income over time. It’s a low-risk marketing channel that benefits both advertisers and publishers.
For example, if I talk about how cool a product is, and then you find out that I’m an affiliate for them, wouldn’t you as a conscientious observer become skeptical as to whether my information is biased, if perhaps I’m only saying how cool something is because I can get paid for it? Wouldn’t that make you question my integrity with other things I say as well?
I didn’t realize there was a limit until a few years back when I hit the maximum. I wish Amazon would increase it! To be honest, I find their tracking system pretty messy and think it needs an overhaul however, it is great for testing what works and what doesn’t. Most of what I’ve written about in other tips in these articles was learned through tracking.
And of course I had an adorable picture of a puppy as the image. I also only targeted people over the age of 25 who live in the United States that own a dog and also “like” an animal shelter (I chose about 50 different shelters to target). And that’s how I got 25,000 followers at under 1 cent per like. Those 25,000 people can be marketed to over and over and over again with my Amazon Associates affiliate program link.
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates.
First of all, it’s a low-risk and inexpensive business. The bare minimum for getting started as an affiliate is having a blog, a website, or even just a social media profile. This makes it a very cost-effective method for earning money. It also means you don’t have to commit a lot of cash up-front since you can start small and grow your marketing efforts over time.
Don’t go insane and join a million at once… think first about what would make sense for you to endorse. If you’re a travel blogger for instance, becoming an affiliate for hotels, tours and travel gear may be appropriate. Most companies will have an affiliate program, or be part of an affiliate network. Your best bet would be a quick Google: “company + affiliate program”.
Okay, so far we’ve talked about some of the key strategies for success as an Amazon affiliate, focused mostly on the positives—the what to dos—along with a few things to avoid. Now let’s talk about a few more things on the negative side of the equation: the practices you need to avoid if you want to grow your affiliate income (and yes, avoid getting in trouble with Amazon).
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Most commonly offered by “Services”. With recurring commissions you are paid on the initial signup of the customer and continue to receive commissions as long as the customer continues to pay for the service. Example – if you refer a visitor to a hosting service that offers recurring commissions and they sign up, you will be paid a predefined commission for the initial signup and receive a predefined commission for every month the customer continues to stay with and pay their bill with that hosting program.
This next one is a short one, but it’s a big one. As you probably know (and have experienced!), the holiday season is a huge shopping period—which means it’s also potentially a great time for affiliate sales. The lead-up to the holiday shopping period is an important time to promote your affiliate links, so you might want to think about doubling down on your promotional efforts in the fall.
Translation: Don’t lie about the Amazon products you’re promoting. This seems pretty obvious, but this also means not overpromising or misrepresenting the products you’re promoting, even in a small way. (For instance, don’t say the camera you’re promoting has 20 megapixels when it really only has 15.) Now, of course innocent mistakes and typos can still happen to anyone, so double-check everything you write about the products you’re promoting to make sure it’s accurate.
The two main parties involved in the affiliate relationship are the merchant (sometimes also called “advertiser”), and the affiliate (sometimes called “publisher”). There are different ways to run, manage and promote affiliate programs, which involve more parties in the relationship, but the two main participants (without which the existence of the very marketing channel would’ve not been possible) are: (a) the party that has the product (or service), and (b) the party that knows how to sell it.
Even though I say that “content is not the only king“, by gosh it is dam important! If you haven’t got the information that your visitor wants then you can kiss your affiliate commissions goodbye. Excellent content is the main ingredient in your sale process so never just slap any old content up. See this article showing what I think quality content is.
Affiliate marketing enables you to generate more sales by tapping into other people’s audiences. These people or ‘affiliates’ earn a commission for referring customers, so it’s in their interest to write positive reviews and spread word of mouth. They’ll often write blog posts, promote your product on social media, and share it with their email list, in order to earn higher commissions. The best will leverage their social network with facebook ads, facebook messenger, or leveraging their affiliate websites.
Also, remember that you are able to receive a commissions on anything your referral purchases over a 24hr period. So, even if you refer someone to purchase an e-book but they also end up buying $400 worth of other stuff, you get a commission on that, too. So really, you’re playing a numbers game here, especially around the holidays. This is why the Amazon Associates affiliate program is so powerful. When people by from Amazon, they tend to load up that cart.
Recently, our friend Kent from Nicheup gave me an interesting insight. According to his findings, massive organic social share is good enough to rank an article to the first page of Google. Whether that is applicable to your situation or not, you have to make sure that you are using social media for your website. Consider your website as a company.
If you would like to take a more subtle approach, include a product or service from your company that relates into your blog post. For example, let’s say that you are a wine connoisseur and that is what your blog is based around. In any post that is enticing your readers to open up a good bottle of Merlot or what have you, it would be wise to embed an ad for a quality, easy-to-use wine opener, wine glasses or stoppers that keep the wine fresh.
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics, LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum, and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers. Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.
You’ll also have a better understanding of your target audience’s needs and desires. This is essential since it helps you build trust with your visitors. If they feel like they can rely on your judgment and recommendations, they’ll be more likely to click on your links and make purchases based on your suggestions. Therefore, the best niche will have plenty of potential consumers and will be something you can create knowledgeable and trustworthy content about.
Of course you want instant profits today. Who doesn’t? You can get your instant commission from selling other people’s products but always try and remember how the customer is also connected to your business. Can you connect with that person in the future? Are they signed up to your list, following you on Facebook, or maybe commenting on your content?
You might be curious about how the merchant knows which affiliate is responsible for the purchase. That’s actually the easy part since every affiliate is given a unique link that tracks each product they promote. This lets the merchant track all referrals using cookies to ensure that they know exactly how much money they’ve earned thanks to each affiliate (and what to pay them in return).
This book is perfect for a complete beginner. It shows you all the methods needed to get you started. Keep in mind that if you are an experienced affiliate marketer, this book probably won't provide you with a whole lot of information you didn't already know. However, if you're like me, and you're ready to start slowly dipping into the world of affiliate marketing, then this book is absolutely for you!
As mentioned merchants will pay publishers a certain commission when they’re directly responsible for driving a sale. So when you look for merchants to write about, or products you want to review, keep in mind what commission rate they pay. The better the rate, the more money you’ll make if you drive a sale. If you can combine a high commission rate with a product you believe in you’ll have struck gold.
Some of the most successful content in our network is repurposed for email, social media and other channels to enable publishers to share their expertise as widely as possible. If you’re an expert in your area, it only makes sense people will want to discover your content, get advice on purchases they’re making and act upon them in a channel of their choice. So think about how you can generate interest in your content from other avenues than search alone.
The dollar amount of commissions an affiliate has to accrue before being paid. Some merchants set a minimum payment threshold themselves (to lower accounting costs by paying less frequently to people sending very few sales) while others allow the affiliate to do so (usually to avoid receiving frequent smaller checks and instead receive one larger one).
If you want to jumpstart your success: I really do recommend enrolling in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It has helped me SO much in terms of starting out and getting in the right mindset for affiliate marketing. The Facebook group is amazingly helpful, and I have heard great feedback from blogger friends who have taken it based on my recommendation. If you are a beginner, this course will definitely help you. To sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a copy of my Affiliate Marketing for Travel Bloggers eBook for free if you buy the course from my affiliate link. Remember, there’s a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so there’s no harm in giving it a try.
Just like ClickBank, Commission Junction is an advertising platform that works with suppliers. Commission Junction works with big brand names. But they are still a middleman. You won’t be working or dealing with the individual companies yourself, which can be nice and can be a pain. Commission Junction does have higher requirements for joining their program. It’s not impossible if you’re serious about affiliate marketing.
A two-tier affiliate program allows affiliates to not only earn commissions on their own sales, but to also get a percentage of the commissions (usually much smaller) earned by people they've recruited into the affiliate program (either directly because they knew them or indirectly – meaning someone signed up to be an affiliate by using the first affiliate's link).
I do find the rejections strange sometimes, and you are SO right that often there doesn’t appear to be a good reason. Just yesterday I got a rejection from a program I applied to months and months ago citing that “my site wasn’t a good fit”, but I had actually been accepted to them through CJ Affiliate when I first applied and have been generating pretty consistent sales haha. Oh well! Guess we’ll never know the “inner workings” of it all, but thanks for reading Robert 😀
Fun fact: the “Amazon Associates” program actually has a different program for a variety of different countries, meaning yes, Amazon.COM has a different program than Amazon.CA, and Amazon.CO.UK, and Amazon.FR, etc. etc. If you want to, you can sign up for all of them without being residents of these countries. What’s important is where your readers are from.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations.
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.