To those on the outside, affiliate marketing can seem like a black box. It’s inner workings are mysterious to most marketers and in many companies it’s not treated with the same seriousness as other channels. Some marketers, only familiar with the bad reputation acquired by some industry players in the 2000s, deride it as a source of spam and little more.
An elegantly straightforward process, affiliate marketing via reviews, blogs, social media, and other platforms is a new frontier in marketing that’s just waiting to be utilized. Follow the tips included in this article, and you’ll be able to engage your audience, convert passive readers into active consumers, and enhance your paycheck one click at a time.
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 phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
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.
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.
Note: I think the line where readers will push back probably will vary from blog to blog depending upon their readership. For example here on ProBlogger I get a little more negative feedback from readers on affiliate promotions. I suspect ProBlogger readers are a little more tuned into the issue and suspicious of some of the affiliate marketing that goes on around the web.
The fact that they sell anything means anyone can make money with affiliate marketing. You can make money selling to people who are into teapots, doll collecting or expensive watches. There are so many products to promote, the possibilities are endless here. The second important reason to sell with Amazon when you’re a beginner is that Amazon is a trusted brand; it’s a brand that is known worldwide. Just about any American has ordered one thing or another through Amazon by now. The fact that it’s a known and trusted brand is important if you’re looking to learn and not worry if you will get screwed over. Amazon’s terms for sale are really good, too. If you send someone to Amazon and they purchase a product right away, you’ll get paid the commission. If the customer doesn’t buy right away, you will have 24 hours to make money off a sale. And, if a customer adds the product to their cart, they have 30 days to purchase it for you to make a commission off the sale. Once again, that’s fantastic.
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales.
An e-commerce merchant that wants to be able to reach a wider base of internet users and shoppers may hire an affiliate. An affiliate could be the owner of multiple websites or email marketing lists; therefore, the more websites or email lists that an affiliate has, the wider his network. The affiliate that has been hired would then communicate and promote the products offered on the ecommerce platform to his network. The affiliate does this by implementing banner ads, text ads and/or links on their multiple owned websites or via email to their clientele. Advertisement could be in the form of articles, videos, images, etc., which are used to draw an audience’s attention to a service or product.