If you have a website or blog you will no doubt have come across affiliate marketing programs and affiliate marketing strategies. You may have looked at your own affiliate program, as a means of increasing sales of your own products/services, but the majority of people are on the other side of the fence. There is the potential to create a strong long-term income stream by joining third party affiliate programs, advertising them on your website and collecting commission for sales introduced by you.
Affiliate marketing is relatively simple in principle but requires detailed structure and planning in practice. You need to pick the right affiliate programs for your visitors, market them correctly and ultimately maintaining focus. So, let us take a look at affiliate marketing strategies and how you can increase your income.
Web hosting affiliate marketing
Whether you have an e-commerce website or a blog which offers advice and guidance, there is every chance that your visitors will want to replicate your success with their own website. To do this they will require guidance and assistance with web hosting opportunities – this is where you can utilise your knowledge and experience. The majority of web hosting companies will have their own affiliate program (note this is very different from a reseller package) which you can join and market.
There is nothing more honest than promoting the web hosting company which provides your web hosting services. You have been there, you have done it, you have first-hand knowledge of their services and you can portray this to your visitors and potential affiliate clients. If you feel uncomfortable marketing your web hosting company affiliate program then you have to ask yourself, are you getting value for money?
Types of Affiliate Commissions
If you look across the board, there are literally thousands of affiliate programs active today but the types of income available are split into two main categories:
- Sale commission
- Lead commission
The idea of receiving commission for each sale that you introduce to your affiliate partner is fairly simple. When joining their programme you will have access to an array of banners and text links which have your unique affiliate ID tracking code so they can identify sales you have introduced. You simply place these in the appropriate area of your website, promote them without being over aggressive and hopefully wait for the money to roll in. When a visitor to your website clicks on your affiliate link they will be taken to your affiliate partner website. If they follow through with a sale you will receive a commission. Simple!
All of the traffic which you introduce to your affiliate partner is tracked using cookies which tend to have a set duration, normally around 30 days or sometimes more. As not all visitors to your affiliate partner website will buy on the first day, if they acquire any services or products within the cookie duration period you will still receive commission. This ensures that you are given maximum opportunity to create a long-term income stream which is good for you and obviously good for your affiliate partner – increased sales.
There are some affiliate programs which offer lead commission which is basically a set payment for every validated lead which you refer to them, using your affiliate link. Lead commission tends to revolve around services such as for example a form of legal action (mis-sold PPI cases are a good example of this). There are two main reasons why lead commission tends to be more appropriate for services, which are:
- It is not always as simple as buying a service online. The potential customer may need to chat directly with advisers and a decision to proceed may not happen for some time
- Using knowledge of the percentage of validated leads which will ultimately convert to full-blown purchases allows affiliate partners to set their lead commission rates
As lead commission programs tend to involve fairly specialised services, the onus is on you to do your research and ensure you know everything about the services you are selling. The quality of your content, guidance and the positioning of the appropriate affiliate links will ultimately dictate how successful you are. You also need to ensure that your affiliate partner offers and delivers the services promised to your leads.
High Quality Leads
The majority of affiliate companies will offer some kind of tracking service allowing you to see the number of visitors referred from your website and those who ultimately acquired services/products. This allows you to calculate the conversion rate which is ultimately a reflection of the promises you made on your website against what your affiliate partner was able to deliver. There are a number of factors to take into consideration such as:
- Text affiliate links tend to do very well if they appear naturally as part of the content your visitor is reading
- Banner adverts should be positioned anywhere between the top left and bottom right of your website because research shows this is the most visible area.
- Using a mixture of text and banner adverts in your content, with some at the start and some at the end, tends to work well
- Offers and promotions will likely increase your conversion rates but be careful, ensure that all of your banners are up-to-date and you are not promoting expired deals
Know Your Visitors
If you mention affiliate marketing to any of your friends and colleagues who have websites, they will likely have their own comments, views and experience. One thing many people fail to consider is the simple principle of “know your visitors”.
For example, you are more likely to sell fitness clothing/equipment via an affiliate program if you own a fitness blog or website. You know that your visitors have arrived looking for content and knowledge about fitness and the jump to acquiring fitness clothing/equipment is not a big one. If for example you have a website covering business ideas and how to set up a website, the mind of your visitors will be focused on business orientated subjects as opposed to fitness and exercise. They may have an interest in buying fitness clothing/equipment but the likelihood is they would be more susceptible to an affiliate program based around business ideas and important matters such as website hosting. The connection, where possible, needs to be seamless so visitors do not need to think too much.
Type of business suitable for affiliate marketing
If you have a website, whether e-commerce based or an informative blog, you will be able to find a suitable affiliate program to mirror the interests of your visitors. When looking at the type of businesses suitable for affiliate marketing its probably useful to consider your content, benefit to your visitors and traffic numbers. The more successful affiliate income streams tend to have a few similar characteristics which include:
- Significant website traffic – the more traffic the more chance of successfully promoting your affiliate links
- Focused traffic – many people have gone for the one size fits all approach when a more focused type of traffic and clientele is often more successful
- Informative content – the quality of your content will be reflected in the popularity of your website, the more informative, the higher you will rank in the search engines
- Update banners and links – there is nothing more infuriating than clicking on an affiliate link which takes you to an invalid offer or a page which does not exist
Those who expect to make a fortune from affiliate income overnight are likely to be disappointed. You may need to split test your approach to affiliate marketing, find the type of content which attracts most interest and ultimately strategies which create the best conversion rates. The Internet is littered with ecommerce entrepreneurs who have tried affiliate marketing but given up after just a few months or even weeks.
You need to remain focused, match your content with affiliate offers, match your affiliate offers with your website visitors and look at the longer term picture. Even if you hit on a successful strategy you should always look to make tweaks and improvements where possible. Trends change and user buying habits are often difficult to predict. So you need to monitor the more popular pages on your website, the more popular content and mix and match these with appropriate affiliate programs.
After 20 years building and creating websites, I still remember that first £25 affiliate commission confirmation which dropped into my inbox like it was yesterday!