Over here at Affilorama, we are all about affiliate marketing. For the uninitiated, affiliate marketing is a type of online marketing in which you, through your compelling content, promote the products of a company in exchange for a commission for each product bought. By doing so, you become an "affiliate" of that company, helping them secure sales. Head on over to our lesson detailing the practice for a brief primer.
Affiliate marketing seems like a daunting prospect, but as long as you’re willing to learn about the industry, it really isn’t all that difficult. That said, understanding what this type of marketing is all about is critical if you want to make it work for you. Background knowledge is a must before taking that first step towards financial freedom.
Once you have those basics nailed, it’s time to come back here. Today, we’ll take a look at some kick ass online marketing essentials for affiliate success.
1. On-Page Optimization
The core of affiliate marketing is dependent on the page that hosts the link that enables the purchase in the first place. It only follows that you want to make that page as accessible as possible, and on-page optimization what you need to do to make it happen. It lets your page be readable by both search engines, and more important in this case, humans. On-page optimization will more easily allow your page to be indexed into the top search engine rankings, increase the speed of loading the site (making the entire user experience much more tolerable and even pleasurable), which will lead to more conversions.
What do you need to look out for? Even though it's 2013, and search engines are getting smarter and smarter, the basics still apply. Keywords are just as important as ever, provided they’re used sparingly and as naturally as possible. Titles continue to guide search engines as they determine the content of your pages. The URL of the page, if well thought out, will help readers determine what the page is all about even on the search engine results page. And last, meta tags for the title and description remain useful for giving search engines more information. Just steer clear of the keyword meta tag—that’s only for sites appearing on Google News.
2. Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the act of inducing engagement actions in your existing visitor base. In other words, it’s when you increase the number of sales on your site, without a corresponding increase in your user base. This is essential because conversion is the life blood of affiliate marketing, and mastering this practice will net you more revenue without putting out investment into attracting more visitors.
Conducting effective CRO will be a great step in getting the edge over your competitors. It takes minimal effort, but that small step will be the factor that determines whether or not you gain a sale. All of the money from investing in CRO, if it results in sales, goes straight to you.
What are the most effective CRO strategies? The first is to conceal your affiliate link with a redirect link. Most affiliate links are strings of code, which may appear like gibberish or worse, spam or a malicious site. Second is to promote a product that you are intimately familiar with and actually use, so that your content promoting it is sincere. Make sure that your content is thoughtful, personal, and well-written, so that customers will be compelled to click. Initiate a contest dependent on user comments, so that they will realize just how much they desire the product.
As you put your CRO strategies in place, tracking them becomes important so you’ll know which are effective and which are not. You can use tools like ClickBank; the pay-per-click trackers from Google, Yahoo, and Bing; or external software like Optimizely. You need to pay attention to metrics such as traffic sources—which ones are coming to you directly, from search, or from other customers?—and conversion from new visitors as well as from returning visitors. How many times are they converted per visit?
3. Content Audit
When you perform a content audit, you identify your site’s extant content and plug it all into a master list. Afterward, this content is checked, and you examine how the different elements of your site interact with each other and whether items that should relate do relate, and eliminate unnecessary red tape.
It sounds tedious, but it is vital to your affiliate marketing strategy. Conducting a content audit will let you trim the fat from your site, update obsolete articles and media, and reorganize pages so that they’re easier to find. Plus, getting into the nitty-gritty of your site will let you uncover insight into your site structure that you would not have been able to otherwise. If you have terrible content that you didn't know was there, you’ll never find it otherwise.
Content auditing is justifiably intimidating, and to get the best results, a full content audit is necessary. Still, if your site is massive, you can narrow your sample a bit. Get a reasonable amount of high-, average-, and low-traffic pages, and limit your survey to the past six to twelve months.
Categorize these pages by the metrics you deem important, like page views, bounce rate, and location data. Associate this raw data with more qualitative parameters, such as relevance, contemporaneousness, style, and purpose. The final step is choosing what to do with the page—does it need to be revised, pruned, given more promotion, removed altogether?
4. Link Building
The days of putting together a profitable website with tons of affiliate links with next to no content are practically over.Google knows what’s up, and has very little tolerance for sites that are "thin affiliates". Thin affiliates are sites that have product pages that are virtually indistinguishable from the merchant. These add no value to the site—the customer would be better off just going to the original merchant, with what little content the thin affiliate is providing.
When building your affiliate site, it is important to remind yourself of the reasons why someone would visit you first instead of going to the merchant directly. Understand that the products you promote should be ones that you know well and are highly suited to your target audience, making your affiliate strategy all the more seamless.
Contextual affiliate marketing is the trend now, with well-written content supplementing affiliate links. Give an in-depth review of the product, show off what it’s capable of, entice the user into wanting to purchase it. Create the compelling content first, and then integrate your affiliate links in. Use video reviews, guest posts, and contests to keep your community interested and actually willing to purchase whatever it is that you’re selling.
These strategies not enough? You want to delve deeper into marketing? We’ve got just the tips for you.
Marketing Tactics You Can Do as an Affiliate Marketer
In affiliate marketing, it's not just the value and the reputation of your merchant that matters. You’ve got to build up your own site (Hat tip: Thanks for the main image Geno!) as one that is an excellent partner of the merchants with whom you are an affiliate.
How do you do that? An excellent first step is in your domain. Create a domain name that is memorable and associated with your niche—a prime example is Shopping.com, one of the world’s largest affiliate marketers.
Another approach is to cultivate a community—you can't be the only voice on your site, or that will appear to be a dictatorship.
Encourage user interaction and content, and instigate community activities. You’ll be building up a reputation for customer service in the process.
Remember that branding is all about crafting your identity. Ask yourself what kind of company you want to be, and the kinds of people you want to cater to, and your branding direction will organically follow.
2. Analytical Marketing
Analytical marketing is the practice of understanding what your target audience wants, and then giving it to them. This was a labor-intensive process prior to the proliferation of the Internet and social media, but now it can be applied to your site with just a simple survey.
Whenever they convert, invite your readers to answer a simple, unobtrusive questionnaire that aims to determine their demographic data and preferences. You can then cross-reference that information with a database, using it to create targeted content that will increase conversions.
3. Email Marketing
With hip new things like Facebook and Twitter, contacting people via email may seem like something only a fossil would do. However, an effective email newsletter has been shown to increase income by at least 100%, if not more. By creating an opt-in newsletter service, you can provide added value to your customers by including content and promotions that are only available to them.
However, you should avoid selling through email—keep it strictly informative, with value added through incentives. The goal of the newsletter is to lead people to your site, and that is where you can work your affiliate marketing magic.
Staying ahead in affiliate marketing is part of the whole process. But stick to these fundamentals—continue to use quality strategies instead of cheap tricks—and you’ll be able to build up a brand that is well known, trusted, and most importantly for you, provides a steady, stable, stream of revenue.
Thanks a lot for reading, and if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you below.