Affiliate marketing is still alive and well in 2016, so affiliate marketing tips for 2016 are more important than ever. In this article, I delver more tips about affiliate marketing that you can possibly implement all at once, so be sure to pick and choose the ones that resonate with you and align with your business.
As an added bonus, I’ve categorized all the tips into four categories and condensed them into a nice PDF checklist for you. Click on the link below to have a nice 3 page summary affiliate marketing tips checklist delivered right to your inbox along with my free 5-day affiliate marketing eCourse.
Here we go!
Mindset — How to think about affiliate marketing
Most things that you do in life can be done better when you think about them the right way. When it comes to business, having a mindset that this focused more on delivering value than extracting it is quite often the most important key to success — affiliate marketing is no different. In this section, I offer you affiliate marketing mindset tips that help you think about affiliate marketing (and the people buying the products you promote) the right way.
- Deliver value – add to the transaction. One mistake that I constantly see affiliates making is that they often view affiliate marketing as a “something for nothing” proposition. They look at affiliate marketing as a conversion task — turning traffic into dollars. That’s the wrong approach. Affiliate sometime get so busy chasing after the click, that they forget that they need to earn that commission.The best way to earn commissions in affiliate marketing is to make the transaction better as a result of your involvement. Add value. When you give first you usually don’t need to “take” — customers are happy to support you buy buying though your links. In fact, readers sometime will email you and ask for your link as a way to say “thank you” before making a purchase.
- Work in the best interest of your audience. When you are chasing commissions, sometimes it can be tempting to operate in your own self interest. The best example of this is when an affiliate chooses to promote a product they are not quite sure about just because they’ll get paid a “good commission.”You may make money that way in the short run, but you’ll make more money in the long run if you always lead with the best interest of your audience in mind. As an affiliate marketer, if you take care of your audience, they will usually take good care of you.
- Relationships come first. It’s really simple — people buy things from (or base their purchases on the recommendation of) people they know, like and trust. Engage your audience. Put them first. If you are creating massive value (Mindset Tip #1) and working in your audience’s best interest (Mindset Tip #2) then you are will on your way to building trust.One of the best way that i have found to build relationships with an audience is to ask them questions about their successes and struggles. For bloggers, you can engage your readers in the comments. On twitter, reply to followers with personal questions. Invest in relationships with your audience.
- Always disclose your financial relationships. Of course, a key part of the relationships in item 3 above is trust. You can build trust (and do a better job of complying with the laws in the most countries) by openly and honestly disclosing your financial relationship with manufacturers, advertisers and affiliate networks.I’m no lawyer, but I think the most important way to do this is in plain English. Statements like “You should know that if you buy though my link, I get a commission” go a long way towards doing the right thing. Of course you will also want proper legal disclaimers and declarations, so consult an attorney.
- Promote things you use. Naturally, recommending things that you actually use is one of the best ways to build trust and authority. After all, if it’s good enough for you, your readers will know intuitively that you are not just promoting the product for the money.By the way, when you actually own a product that you are promoting, you can tell people what is wrong with the item too. After all, nothing is perfect. Pointing out limitations and issues with a product that you are actually using and recommending increases your credibility.
- Don’t Over Promote. See also Mindset Tip #1. If you are busy creating value, this won’t be a problem. But we’ve all been on email lists (for example) that simply promote one affiliate offer after another. Don’t be like that. Take a breath. The 80/20 rule applies to affiliate marking — 80% (minimum) valuable content, and 20% (maximum) promotion and product reviews.
- Be Honest And Transparent. Mindset Tip 4 about disclosure is the most obvious part of honest and transparency. If you have biases or other conflicts of interest (like you are friends with the owner of a company you are promoting, you should disclose that.For example, I often promote products from my friend Andrew Hansen, and I always try to remind people that Andrew and I are friends. I work hard to make sure that doesn’t color my reviews and recommendations, and letting people know is a big part of that.
- Be a real person. People trust other people more than they trust random anonymous pages on the web. You are a real person. Let buyers know that. Tell stories that humanize your offer or recommendation. Show a picture of your face in your marketing content. Be transparent (see Tip #7 above).
Content — Where to do your affiliate marketing.
Content Marketing is one of the most effective ways make affiliate sales. Creating valuable content (see also tip #1) on your own website (tip 9) allows you to build relationships (tip #3) over time. These next tips are all about where to do your affiliate marketing.
- Build up your own site. One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that you can do it anywhere you can leave a link. The problem is, building content and links on other people’s sites is like building a house on rented land. Why would you do that? If you lose the lease, you can’t take the house with you. It’s much better instead to build your brand an content empire on your own authority site and do your affiliate marketing from there.
- Add affiliate offers to existing content. If you do have a site (and you should), some of your posts are already more popular than others. Leverage your existing content by adding affiliate offers to your most popular posts. Think about this by putting yourself in the shoes of the reader: what would someone interested in this article benefit from. For example, you are reading an article about affiliate marketing tips. What would you benefit from? How about an affiliate marketing course? You get the idea.
- Create epic review posts. When it comes to delivering value, one of the best things that you can do to help people is to create amazing review posts. In my opinion, the best review posts have a lot of meat, summarize customer reviews (so I don’t have to read hundreds of them on Amazon), and talk about your experience actually using the product. Be sure to include pictures and video and stories.
- Promote within email. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to promote affiliate offers. If a visitor to your site is searching for the solution to a pain or a problem (or seeking to get better at something), many times you can help that person with a series of emails. If there is a product that can help, you can recommend that product in the emails as well.For example, if I were to help you with email marketing strategy, I might recommend an email service provider like Convert Kit (which is what I use). I would use my affiliate link for the recommendation (just like I did there) and get a commission if you signed up.The important things here is to remember Mindset Tip #6 – don’t over promote. The vast majority of your emails should be helpful and promotion-free. Also, be sure to check the terms and conditions of the affiliate program that you are promoting to make sure that email promotion is allowed. Many affiliate offers have rules that determine what sort of promotion is allowed.
- Promote in the sidebar – You can certainly put ads in your sidebar with affiliate links. While this can work in some cases, it is usually not as effective as reselling the reader on the product first (in an article) and then sending them to the affiliate offer.Because of this, sometimes it is better to send your reader from an ad in the sidebar to a review on your site instead of directly to an offer. This is something you can test to see what converts better.Generally speaking, your results will depend on the nature of your traffic. Bonus tip — don’t junk up your website with a bunch of ads. Google does not like that (and neither do readers).
- Promote on social media. In Marketing Tip #1 above I recommended that you focus on you own site, and I do think that is what you should do — at least most of the time. Occasionally it’s OK to post affiliate links directly to social media, but don’t overdo it.A much better approach is to create epic content on your site that ads value to the affiliate offer and promote that epic content on social media. That drives people to your site, adds value (Mindset Tip #1) and gives you a chance to pre-sell the offer (Sales Tip #18, coming up). You might also choose to capture their email by offering them a free epic bonus like this:
- Attach links to images. This tip is a bit controversial. Lots of people suggest that you should link from your pictures to the affiliate products that you are promoting. Here’s my thinking — if it make sense that clicking on a picture would take you to an affiliate offer, then go for it. If clicking on the picture and landing on a offer would surprise your visitor or you are linking the picture to “trick” them into clicking, don’t do it.Remember, you should be working in the best interest of your audience (Mindset Tip #2) and “tricking them” is usually not in their best interest. Also, you going to want to make these links “no-follow links” in most cases. This tells Google not to pass page authority to the affiliate link (see Tactical Tip #1 below) .
- Create a “tools I use” page. People who are following you often are often doing so because they want to do what you do the exact way that you do it. If this is the case, you should create a resource page (here is mine, for example — currently under construction). That way, people can buy the same tools you use (and buy them with your affiliate link).If your site is not one where you are teaching — but rather you are mostly reviewing products, they you can create a “products that I love” type of page.
- Link on thank you pages. If you are converting sales of products on your site or doing any email marketing, often times immediately after a transaction or opt-in your reader will be landing on a thank-you page. This can be a very effective place to mention an affiliate product that complements an action that your reader has just taken.For example, if your reader has just opted in to receive an email series entitled “learning to sew” an affiliate link to the most popular sewing machine for beginners might convert well. Not the best example in the world, but you get the idea.
Enjoying these tips? Great! I’ve created a bonus PDF with all the tips in a simple, easy to read format. It’s a nice PDF checklist that you can keep on your desktop. Just press the button below to have a nice 3 page summary affiliate marketing tips checklist delivered right to your inbox along with my free 5-day affiliate marketing eCourse.
Sales Copy — How To Convert Affiliate Offers
Once your are clear on how to think about affiliate marketing, the next step is to lear more about how to convert traffic (potential buyers) to actual sales. There are lots of things that you can do to enhance your conversions, each of which becomes especially powerful when you combine them with the mindset-focused affiliate marketing tips above.
Let’s dig into the affiliate marketing conversion tips.
- Pre-sell your offer. The best affiliate marketers “pre-sell” the offers that they are promoting. The art of pre-selling is too involved to cover here in full detail, but here are some things to think about. Most products in the world are designed to fix a problem or satisfy a desire. Put your reader in touch with their pain and/or desire in your pre-sell copy and help remind the prospect why they need a product.Likewise, focusing on the benefits and outcomes that a product provides (not just the features) can help the prospect imagine what like will be like after they make a purchase. There is a lot more to pre-selling, but that will get you started.One last thing about pre-selling. Remember Mindset Tip #7 — be honest and transparent. Your goal is to be helpful. The goal is not to trick people into buying. If you are not sure which side of the line you are on, back up a little. Better to be safe than sorry. This is one of the more powerful affiliate marketing tips you'll run across.
- Show real world use of the product. Noting brings a product to life better than stories about people that are actually using it. If you are promoting products that you actually use (see also Mindset Tip #5) this should be an easy one for you. In a lot of cases, video and pictures of you using the product help a lot (remember Mindset Tip #8 about real people).
- Make sure you focus on benefits. I mentioned this in the first sales copy tip above, but it’s really important that you focus on benefits, not features. Sure, that lens has a really fast f-stop of 1.4. That’s a feature. How does that help your prospect? What your buyer wants to know is that a lens with a low f-number can take better pictures in low light situations AND can give that nice “blurred background” that looks so cool.Your buyer will be able to get the results that the pros get with their new lens. They might even save money now that they won’t need a professional photographer. You get the idea. f=1.4 is a feature. Awesome pictures to cherish is a benefit. For added points, talk about how the benefit will make your prospect feel.
- Remind people of the pain and problem and empathize. Also mentioned in pre-selling Tip #01 above, you should bring the reason people are considering a product into focus. One time on an interview on my podcast, Andrew Hansen revealed that he had once promoted hemorrhoid cream as an affiliate. Yuck.But if you are suffering from that condition, you can instantly understand how powerfully motivating it is when you let your reader know that you understand their situation. Suddenly, they are not alone and their trust of you (and comfort) is increased.
- Create videos. We are in the age of video, and people love them. If you are in possession of the product, make a video. Bonus points if the video shows you solving a customer problem or taking advantage of a product benefit. Selling rifle scopes? Don’t just show pictures of the scope. Show video of the tight grouping you were able to achieve with that scope .
- Answer product questions. This may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to add value (Mindset Tip #1 ) is to anticipate and answer product questions that buyers might have. One great way to research this is to look at Amazon. If the product is listed there, often you will usually find questions as well. Answer those questions proactively in your content using your own words and based on your own experience.
- Summarize reviews. Another great content strategy for affiliate marketing is to read reviews that are out there and summarize what other people are saying. This is incredibly valuable if done well — I personally read Amazon review before buying all sorts of products, and it takes a while. Being able to read a trusted summary of all that content would be a big help to me when making a purchase.
- Offer a bonus. Want people to buy through your affiliate link? Offer them a bonus when they do — something that they can’t get anywhere else. The best bonuses enhance the product. If they buy a juicer through your link, send them a free copy of your juicer recipe book. If they buy some software, send them a free “how to” video showing how you use the software product in your business. Creating a bonus is a great way to add value (Mindset Tip #1) and to incentivize the sale — all at the same time.
- Negotiate special deals. Often times you can reach out to the manufacturer of a product and get special deals, coupon codes, pricing or bonuses for your readers. This is most easily done in the digital product space where high margins leave room for special discounts.
Tactics — Ways to Execute Affiliate Marketing
It’s one thing to talk about what you should do. It’s another thing entirely to talk about actual details of implementation. In this section, I give you some tips around some details of execution. Stuff you can actually go do today.
- Make affiliate links “no follow”. This is a technical detail, but in general you should mark your affiliate links “rel = nofollow”. This is a signal to google that this is not a “reference link” and therefore authority should not be passed from your page to the page pointed to by the link. If you are using the Pretty Link plugin in WordPress, you can make affiliate links nofollow by default.
- Use SEO. Any content you create for marketing purposes should be optimized for search engines (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization). When you do that optimization, you should consider targeting keywords with “commercial intent” — keywords that indicate that a searcher is ready to buy. For more information on how to optimize you content for search, check out this podcast on SEO.
- Always have a backup offer. Sometimes, your prospect won’t like the product that you are promoting. Often, this is because of price point or some other detail. If you can anticipate these objections, you can make a backup offer to those people. For example, if the stainless steel version of your product is too expensive, perhaps the painted metal version will do for some customers that need to save money.
- Track your links. Testing is a key part of affiliate marketing, and in order to do that well, you have to track. I use google analytics and pretty links to keep things straight. It’s very important to know which links are converting (and which aren’t). Are people buying from that sidebar ad? If not, then you might need to test a new image.
- Use lead magnets and email marketing. If you’ve done the work to get traffic to your site, it would be a shame to do all that work all over again to get that same visitor again. This is another reason to create content on your own site — where you can decide what to do with the traffic. The best way to avoid having to acquire the same lead over and over again is to capture their email. Then you can stay in contact with the lead and make them offers by email. Remember, deliver value first (Tip #1).
So, there you have it. More than 30 affiliate marketing tips and over 3500 words. Phew.
But wait, there’s more – The Free Affiliate Marketing Tips Checklist! Get It Now.
Did you like these tips? Great! Would you like to take them home with you? It thought you might. So, I’ve created a beautiful bonus PDF with all these amazing affiliate marketing tips in a simple, easy to read format.
It’s a nice PDF checklist that you can keep on your desktop and refer to each time to make a new affiliate offer. Just smash the button below (press hard) to have a nice 3 page summary affiliate marketing tips checklist delivered right to your inbox along with my free 5-day affiliate marketing eCourse.
Did I forget to include your favorite tip? Include it in the comments below.