Top 10 Commandments of Affiliate Marketing
1 Know Your Audience
The most successful way to use affiliate programs is to only promote products, services, and offers that match the needs and wants of your audience. Consider why they are coming to your site or joining your email marketing list. What are you providing that they are looking for? Make sure the affiliate products you are promoting provide a solution to your audience's problems.
If you are writing about sports, don't put up affiliate ads for printer toner just because everyone has a printer and those programs have a high payout. The people who are coming to read commentary or get stats for their favorite teams aren't thinking about those things when they're on your site.
The more relevant the ads are to your readers, the more likely they will use them. An interesting way of looking at affiliate marketing is this: educating your audience about relevant products and services they may be interested in can be considered a value added form of content.
If you haven't yet started and are still trying to decide what market you want to serve then see this article on how to pick a profitable niche for your online business.
See Also: Increase Affiliate Earnings by Engaging Your Audience
2 Be Trustworthy
Readers are savvy. They know an affiliate link when they see one. If you break their trust by promoting a product you don't believe in or take advantage of their visit with too many ads, they will leave and never come back.
It is your repeat visitors that will drive traffic. They are the ones who will give you linkbacks, spread the word, and recommend your site as the go-to place for valuable content. You need to build a relationship based on genuine content.
If your visitors don't think you're being honest or think that you are only recommended products and services due to a profit motive, they won't read anything else you have to say.
With this in mind, you'll want to make sure that your #1 priority is adding value to your website visitors and email list. Only share products that you know are relevant, useful, and can truly help them.
If you do that, you'll make much more money in the long run with repeat sales.
See Also: How to Increase Trust and Sales with Email Marketing
3 Be Helpful
Think of affiliate ads as additional resources that complement your content. Give value to your content by making it helpful, useful, and informative.
Don't put up a list of your favorite books, hoping people will click on the affiliate link, purchase the books (just because you listed them), so you can cash in on a sale.
Take some time to write a detailed review, and use affiliate ads to point them in the right direction if they decide to act on your information.
Even better, if you have a personal testimonial or case study to share; then include that in your review.
That's what affiliate ads are for. If you write a great review recommending a book and readers buy the book because of it, you should get affiliate sales sales credit for that.
But just throwing out links to products with no rhyme or reason will result in a quick exit by visitors.
Remember the main idea: always provide valuable content that adds value to the visitor experience.
4 Be Transparent about Affiliate Relationships
Always disclose your affiliations. Your readers will appreciate your honesty and will feel better about contributing to your earnings. If they sense that you are being less than honest about your affiliations, they are savvy enough to bypass your link and go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you referral credit.
Honesty and full disclosure is a necessary part to building a loyal reader base (and it's also the law!). They know they are supporting you by using your referral links. Make them happy and eager to do so.
In some cases, not only do you want to be transparent about your affiliate relationship, you may even want to offer a bonus or some type of incentive if they take action and use your affiliate link.
See Also: How to Brand Yourself as an Affiliate to Increase Sales
5 Select Affiliate Products Carefully
Take the time to go through all the different options for products or services available through different affiliate marketing programs. Put some thought into which products or services your readers may need or like. Also, change the ads around often, try different ones, and use different graphics and text to see which are the most effective.
It may take some time before you figure out the best formula, and you may also find that you need to continually rotate ads to attract more attention.
One thing you should strongly consider is promoting digital information products. These products are attractive for two reasons. First, they have higher conversion rates because the customers can get instant access and instant gratification when they purchase. Second, they typically offer much higher commission rates than physical products -- which means more profits for you.
6 Try Different Programs
If one particular program doesn't seem to be working for you, try another one.
Affiliate programs aren't all the same. They offer different products, services, and payment structures. Some vendors will have better marketing and sales materials than others.
Some programs will have a lifetime payout on sales while others will limit it to 30-90 days. Some programs allow much more flexibility in the types of ad units available, as well as colors and design so it fits better on your site's layout.
Also, check your favorite vendors to see if they run their own affiliate program. Sometimes you can go directly to the source. You're not limited to big affiliate networks.
Integrate systematic ad testing into your strategy to maximize your profits.
By continually testing different programs you'll see which ones convert the best and which ones your audience responds to the most - increasing your overall conversions and sales.
7 Write Timeless Content
Your old content can still be valuable even though it's no longer on your front page. Take advantage of the long-term opportunities by making sure you provide timeless content.
If visitors come across your older content first and find that it offers dated information, they will leave right away. Of course, information moves forward, so relevant content changes quickly. You can make your content timeless simply by adding links to your updated articles on your old ones.
Many platforms allow you to show "most recent" or "most popular" or "related articles" on every page, so no matter how old the article is, it will always show access to your new ones. Your old content can make money for you indefinitely.
Although writing about new and up to date information can be beneficial, another strategy is to focus on writing about "evergreen" content - that is content that is timeless.
This will give you more mileage out of your content and drive traffic for years to come, and you can always change up the products you are promoting related to the content.
The name of the game here is to have content that is relevant, useful, and up-to-date.
See Also: How to Get Massive Amounts of Website Traffic
8 Be Patient
Affiliate revenue grows and builds up with time. Remember that some programs offer lifetime payouts. If you refer a visitor, you may continue to make money from that one visitor even if he doesn't come back to your site. Also, as long as you have referral links still active in your old posts, they may still payout for you.
If you focus on promoting recurring billing / continuity type products you can continually earn commissions every month on the same products which can add up over time.
As an example, if you promoted a product or service that pays a $5 commission every month and referred 100 sales; you'd make $500 in that month. At the same rate and assuming all the sales stick; after just one year that would translate into a monthly recurring revenue of $6,000.
Also, as discussed above, sometimes you may have to test different offers, products, and services until you find the best ones that are a match for your audience.
Affiliate programs aren't a get rich quick plan, but it provides an opportunity to make passive income from your blog.
9 Stay Relevant
Keep up to date on the latest offerings of your affiliate programs.