Not to be confused with referral marketing—promoting products or services to new customers through word of mouth—affiliate marketing is a form of marketing where associates are rewarded based on the traffic they bring to the company on their own. Since Google is always changing its landscape, it is important to know how to continue using affiliate marketing in a way that will benefit your company rather than waste everyone’s time and money.
There was a time in the early years of the Internet where affiliate marketing was the best way to showcase your products. With the growth and popularity of social media, some may think affiliate marketing isn’t as relevant as it once was. However, affiliate marketing may still be the best and only way to promote your products to the niches your potential affiliates already have an established reputation with.
Create a Relationship With Your Audience
There is no point in affiliate marketing if your affiliate’s website does not receive much traffic or they don’t have a positive relationship with their audience. If you are trying to sell a product the only way to do it is if you understand the people you want to sell your product to. Think about the people who would get the most use out of what you are trying to sell and then find your affiliates based on that information.
As with any form of online marketing, it is key for you to have a strong relationship with your target audience and this goes beyond just trying to sell a product. Look at a food blogger, for example, they never just give their readers a recipe—they also tell their audience a story about preparing it, what their kids thought about the meal, or the adventurous trip to the farmers’ market to get the ingredients. This strategy works for food bloggers because they know their core audience is other house parents planning meals for their families.
Regardless of the stories you decide to tell or “create” for your products, do not forget to actually be honest about the product. Whether you are selling a product online or in person, you need to be honest with your customers—this is vital in building a long-term relationship. Is the product something you would buy yourself? If it’s not then you really need to take that into consideration before reaching out to affiliates. Use your own feelings as a buyer to decide whether or not this is something you could sell to others.
Use Social Media
Signing up for a Facebook or Twitter page is the best way to engage with your customers. Social media gives you a direct line of contact with the people who may or may not want to buy your products. Facebook and Twitter are the most frequently used platforms because they give users the ability to share a wide variety of content to millions of users on a daily basis; therefore, it is necessary to have an active presence on some form of social media rather than just have a company website. Social media is the best way for a company to engage with its customers, which means it will probably be one of the first places a new customer will go to get a better idea of the products and brand you might be trying to sell—and what others think about it.
Twitter and Facebook have become popular methods for customers to reach out to post a complaint or comment. This direct line of contact should be used to give marketers and business a better sense of what works and what doesn’t and do what they can to fix the issue. When customers feel like they are being taken seriously, then there is a better chance they will make more purchases or recommend your services to their friends and family.
And remember, social media does expand beyond Twitter and Facebook. There are several social media platforms for niche markets you have to take into consideration when building your online marketing campaign, and reach out to the most influential members of those platforms to promote your product.
Focus on That Niche
Who is going to buy your product? Why would they be interested in this product? Where would people shop in real life to buy your products?
These are important questions you need to know the answers to if you want to maximize your affiliate marketing. If you don’t know how and where your audience is coming from, then you are not going to know what you might need to improve. When you decide what your niche is, it will make it easier to determine where to sell your product, which will also help expand your social media campaigns. Knowing your niche will help sell more product and will also prevent you from wasting your time trying to sell to those who would not be interested.
If you are selling a product targeted toward women, then you should consider developing a campaign on Pinterest—a visual based, online bulletin board catering primarily to women. Or if you are creating a product that might benefit or interest the seventeen to twenty-seven-year age range, then websites like Tumblr or Instagram may also be strong choices for a campaign on top of the obvious Twitter and Facebook.
LinkedIn is another—somewhat underrated—option for marketing a new product. Since LinkedIn is dedicated to connecting professionals, they offer a lot of great tools to promote products and services to specific industries. With a premium LinkedIn membership, you’ll be able to create whatever content you need to build and promote a unique marketing campaign.
Remember that not all social media platforms are built the same. Pinterest and Instagram are visual based websites that require some visual component to everything posted and Twitter is a platform that requires more daily content compared to Facebook. Just consider what these platforms will require before making your page.
You are operating or trying to help operate a section of a business. You are not going to do a very good job at selling anything if you don’t stay organized. Just as you would use files to manage and organize a storefront business, you should do the same to manage your online business and your affiliates.
Keep track of what websites you are using to market each product and what you have posted on those websites. If you are using several different web platforms to promote your products, it is important to know exactly what you’ve posted where because you these are sites that will generate traffic to yours and you need to know what is working and what isn’t working. Create folders to keep all your paperwork, customer complaints, receipts, and whatever else you need to run your business in order so you don’t have to waste valuable time searching for something in the bowls of your computer.
Another tool you should use to keep track of your affiliates is to use some kind of spreadsheet whether it’s on Open Office, Google Docs, or Microsoft Office. Spreadsheets are the easiest way to keep everything in your business (and life) in order because they can be customized to fit your needs. Just separate the columns into the basics (name, email, product) and into specifics (such as niche, vendor IDs, and login and password) if you have any.
Keep Track of Your Audience
How do most people find your website? What day of the week sees the most traffic? What keywords are being put into the search engines?
You can’t sell anything unless you are able to reach an audience and using sight analytics is the only way to do that. These statistics are going to help you get a better understanding of who is interested in what you are trying to sell, which will ultimately determine and better target your niche.
Google Analytics is a free form of site analytics that monitors website traffic under several variants such as: web browser, location (down to the city), how the website was found, and even the users Internet providers. There is also tracking software available for purchase from various vendors specifically designed for affiliate marketing. For example, CAKE is an option chosen by many because it comes readily equipped with features such as real time metric, fraud protection, and individual portals for your different affiliates. However, there are many other options out there depending on your needs, but if you aren’t sure or if you are just starting out Google Analytics is always the best, free tracking option.
If you find that one website generates more traffic then maybe you need to invest more money into advertising there and if one website if only bringing in a hundred people a week maybe you should consider dropping from that website or completely rethink the campaign designed on that website. However, there’s no way to know where your web traffic is coming from if you aren’t tracking that information.
Clickable Images and Links
Any images or banners used on outside websites should link back to what you are trying to sell. A beautifully designed banner ad will draw the customer’s attention and their click will bring them to your website. Most blogs and websites feature banner ads on their websites, so it won’t be too difficult for you to use this option. If this is the direction you want to go in, you should design your ads in-house and make sure they are eye grabbing without being tacky.
However, it’s not 2005 so you shouldn’t overload webpages with multiple banner ads. If you are trying to market through a blog you are probably going to be better off using text links because if someone is reading a blog—even if they are just skimming the article—the blue, hyperlinked words are going to grab their attention more than the banner ad off to the side. If there is a hypertext link embedded into the article then the reader is going to believe the product is something their trusted blogger is promoting and if they trust this blogger, they are going to trust you. It’s also a known fact that well built links embedded within text is also a great tool for Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a necessary evil to getting a higher billing on the Google Search Engine. To start, make sure you create a page for yourself or your business on Google+ and make sure you use strong keywords in your page’s description. Having an active presence on Google+ will immediately get you a high ranking on Google Search.
Since you are already using analytic software to keep track of your audience, you should also use it to decide what keywords to use in product descriptions, titles, and other content you actually write. It’s very likely that if someone is searching for these specific terms this is the content they want to read and if they don’t find it on your site then they are going to find it somewhere else.
There is still a place for a well-designed affiliate marketing campaign on the Internet. It’s all a matter of knowing your niche and creating appropriate ads based on the website(s) you chose. However, if you choose to pursue an affiliate ad campaign, remember the best way to do it is by staying true to your brand and true to your audience. It just might require some more research and patience than it did in previous years, especially with more and more users enabling ad block on their web browsers.
Understanding your audience and your product are they true key to maximize your affiliate marketing tactics. Understanding your audience will ultimately point you in the right direction of knowing what keywords to uses in product descriptions, what websites to develop ad campaigns for, and what websites you should avoid all together. Once the basics are taken care of, you will eventually be able to build an amazing ad campaign that will bring people to your website and help you to sell your products.
Lastly, let me know your thoughts and what other tips for affiliate marketing that have worked for you. Leave a comment below and I look forward to hearing from you.