We're well and truly into 2016 now — isn't it a bit late to be making resolutions?
Well... how many of your new year resolutions did you stick to? This is your chance to hit reset and start again.
A new year makes us all feel a little bit introspective. We set new goals and aim for new achievements with work and personal development, but sometimes we fall short and our resolutions go out of the window before it's even March yet.
I'm here today to give you a second shot at resolutions and to help motivate you to make your affiliate marketing shine by the time 2017 comes around.
If your affiliate website has started to look a bit old and you feel like you're stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over, then maybe it's time to set yourself some new resolutions, goals that you will apply to your affiliate marketing business.
If you want to make a change but you aren't quite sure where you should be focusing your efforts, I've got a great list of resolutions for you to adopt:
1. I Will Focus on ROI
Gone are the days of chasing every shiny new digital marketing distraction.
All of us have spent a lot of time playing around with social media, video marketing, blogging, content marketing, paid advertising... you name it. But if you're doing it without a particular goal in mind — without measuring the results for all your efforts — you're really just wasting your time.
In the new year, your no. 1 affiliate marketing resolution should be to stay focused on Return on Investment (ROI).
Every time you want to invest your time, money and effort into a new strategy for your affiliate website, be sure to assess the following:
What is the goal of this particular marketing strategy/ platform/ campaign?
For example, if you start a new blog on your website: Why do you think it will be useful? Is it to establish thought leadership, get more subscribers, for SEO....or for another, completely different goal? Starting with the goal in mind is very important so you always know what to work towards.
How will you define success (or failure)?
Once you know your goal, it's important to determine exactly what spells success or failure of a new campaign or strategy. If your aim is to focus on social media marketing in the coming year, will you define success based on the number of new followers you gain, or will it be based on how much traffic social media drives to your site? How many new followers do you need before you can call the campaign a success? Or, how much average daily traffic do you expect to receive from your Facebook or Twitter marketing efforts?
Have clear success metrics in mind for every new marketing effort you want to try.
What tools will you use for measurement?
Once you know what you're measuring, it's also important to figure out how you will measure it — i.e., what tools you will be using. Depending on what you're trying to measure, the tools you use will vary. For example, to measure website traffic, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools will be your best friends, but if you're focusing on measuring your conversion rates and sales, you might need other tools. Make sure the tools and services you use support the metrics you define success or failure by.
How will this fit into the overall goals for your site?
Apart from knowing your goals for specific campaigns and strategies, you must analyze every new marketing effort to see how it fits into your overall plan. As an affiliate marketer, the ultimate goal of your site is obviously to make money. So, when you try something new, always look it with an objective eye and ask yourself how your new marketing experiment or campaign will help you achieve your ultimate goals.
When you ask yourself these questions every time, you make sure you stay focused on ROI and don't just leap at every new opportunity that catches your eye. This will help you achieve your goals.
2. I Will Think Global, Not Just Local
When you're running a business on the Internet, your competition is no longer limited to your immediate vicinity (city, county, even state) — or even just to your country. So, it's time to ditch the small thinking and open up your mind (and business) to thinking on a global scale. If your current campaigns are limited to only certain geographical areas, you must make it one of your resolutions to look into international opportunities this year.
According to Remarkety's data on Global eCommerce Sales, Trends And Statistics 2015, China is the biggest eCommerce market, and shopping is the fastest-growing online activity in China. Brazil, another major economy, ranks number 10 on the list with $18.8 billion in eCommerce spending. The biggest emerging eCommerce market is India. Other places to look out for are Mexico and the Middle East.
Of course, established markets such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and even Japan continue to remain lucrative options.
With shoppers around the world keen to spend money online, isn't it time to make the most of these global opportunities through your affiliate website?
3. I Will Invest in Automation
With an increasing number of ways to market your business, do you ever find yourself wondering how you're ever going to find the time to do it all?
The key, my friends, is automation. This year, make it a priority to create and implement an automation strategy that allows you to really take your marketing efforts to the next level. How do you that?
- Start by listing all the tasks you currently undertake for your site, especially the daily tasks.
- Take a good look at your list and assess each task individually. Ask yourself if there is a way you can automate, either by turning the job over to someone else or by harnessing the power of technology.
- Some ideas for tasks you can automate include scheduling emails, managing your content, posting to social media, segmenting contacts, and gathering data.
- Spend the time to figure out a process for each automated task. For some you might need to hire a freelancer to help you out; for others, you can find useful tools.
A robust automation strategy will free up valuable time that you can then use to focus on other, more important tasks to grow and improve your affiliate marketing business.
4. I Will Add Value for My Audience
You would not have a successful affiliate website if it weren't for your audience.
In the coming year, promise yourself that you will lighten up on the hard sell. Instead of focusing on sales as your main goal, focus on providing value to your audience. Make it your mission to build a brand that consumers trust. They'll buy from you because they have faith in your recommendations.
According to Venture Harbour, brand building is a crucial part of every affiliate marketing strategy. Google is becoming increasingly brand-biased, so it's no surprise that many affiliate websites are focusing their efforts on providing value to their audience through engaging content, interesting offers and more.
What are you doing with your affiliate website? Are you providing interesting, relevant content your audience? Are you helping them with information about a certain problem? Are you helping them save money (with good deals, for example)?
It's very important to ask yourself what you're doing to not just sell to your customers, but to provide them with a valuable experience on your website. What sets you apart from your competitors? What keeps your audience coming back to you instead of another site? This should be an important goal for you in the coming year.
Look at Houzz or LastMinute.com as examples of successful affiliate websites that have become instantly recognizable brands for their customers. Thanks to the value customers receive from them, they will not think twice about making a purchase from these websites.
5. I Will Stop Creating Content for the Sake of Content
Speaking of providing value — this year, don't climb on the content marketing band wagon just for the sake of it.
Content marketing is important, don't get me wrong. But, thanks to the buzz around content, many affiliate marketers have assumed they will succeed by simply producing any type of content. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Content for the sake of creating content is a waste of time — yours and your audience's. The content that succeeds in this already-saturated world of marketing is both good quality and purpose-driven.
See the full infographic on Express Writers.
Make it one of your resolutions this year to only create content strategically. Remember Resolution No. 1: Focus on ROI. Don't just churn out blog post after blog post without any plan for building a readership or driving traffic to your site. If you're publishing product reviews on YouTube, make sure you have a strategy in place to ensure the videos reach an audience that is interested in them. If no one is reading/ watching/ listening to your content, you're doing it wrong.
Your aim: Create and publish content strategically and with a clear picture of its purpose — or don't do it at all.
6. I Will Pay Attention to The Data
Marketing in 2016 is not just about human intuition and creativity. Today, data drives every marketing decision.
Make it your job to pay attention to the data for your site, social media and any other marketing channels you may have. Learn to understand which metrics matter for your success and put them to use when making important marketing decisions for your site. If it's all too much for you, you could also hire someone who will do all the segmentation and analysis for you, and show you where your focus should lie.
5 Stages of Data Driven Marketing comic courtesy of Marketoonist.
Learn to start relying on data, not just your gut feeling, and your affiliate marketing efforts will definitely see an improvement.
7. I Will Diversify My Traffic Sources
Don't make Google the be-all and end-all of marketing efforts for your website. You could wake up one day to find a new algorithm update has killed all your traffic. The same goes for putting all your eggs in the social media basket. What if your Facebook page were to disappear one day — would you still be able to drive traffic to your website?
Promise yourself that you will spend time diversifying your sources of traffic. If you've always been focused on search only, maybe it's time to delve into social. Or vice versa. Make sure your audience is coming to you from as many sources as possible so if one goes down, it doesn't spell the death of your affiliate marketing business.
8. I Will Put Mobile First
You've probably heard us say this several times, but here it is again: Make mobile a priority!
Mobile is no longer the second screen, but often the first, and sometimes the only, screen.
Your resolution should be not just to make mobile a priority but to give it first preference when it comes to your affiliate marketing efforts this year.
According to the KPCB's Internet Trends Report:
...if you're not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you're not providing a satisfactory mobile experience you will miss out compared to competitors who are.
Mobile digital media time in the US is now higher than desktop time (51% compared to 42%).
Image source: Smart Insights
So where should you start? First (and most importantly), make sure your site is mobile-friendly and renders well on small screens. Make your content easy to read and ensure your calls to action are strategically placed and easily clickable. If your users have a bad experience when using your site on their mobiles, they are less likely to return and might end up making purchases from your mobile-friendly competitors instead.
Start by testing your site using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.
Once your site is mobile-ready, work on other aspects such as mobile advertising, mobile email marketing, and more.
9. I Will Continuously Experiment
The key to keep growing any business is to always stay ahead.
Don't get stuck in the same old rut.
The standard format of content, PPC and social media might be bringing you results... but what if you could do even better?
Affiliates need to ditch the mold this year and think more creatively about selling and marketing their products.
For example, this Comfort Zone Calculator is a survey designed to calculate a person's comfort zone. At the end of the survey, there are a few product suggestions based on your answers to the survey. Most of these products include an affiliate link. This is a very creative way of linking to some products.
Make it your year to think of different formats and ways to reach and engage with your audience. Resolve to keep trying new things to see what works for your business and what doesn't.
10. I Will Not Get Distracted
One of the most common reasons many affiliate websites fail to take off is because affiliates become easily excited about the variety of opportunities and fail to concentrate on one thing alone.
You start out a website, create some content but then instead of trying your hand at just doing SEO, you try to do PPC, social media, link building, content marketing and anything else that catches your eye. The result? You don't do anything well and you end up disappointed that your once-brilliant affiliate website idea is not really making you any money.
In another situation, you have had success with one affiliate website so you decide it's time to branch out and set up a few more sites in other niches. You take on too many niches at one go, and none of them take off as you have no focus and simply try to apply a formula that doesn't seem to work.
Your resolution for this year is simply to focus. When you start something, finish it before you take on a new project.
Don't try to do everything at once. Don't try to tackle too many niches. Take it one thing at a time until you achieve success.
So there you go: the 10 resolutions you should make for your business, no matter what time of the year it is. They are all actionable and completely practical. It doesn't matter whether you're a newbie or an experienced affiliate. Start small and see how a few simple (but effective) tweaks to the way you run your business can affect your affiliate income.
Make this your year of affiliate marketing success.