Generally speaking, as an affiliate, it's not your job to "sell" a product. Your job is to get a prospect interested enough in the product to click through to the merchant site, where the merchant will do the selling.
Merchants have usually (hopefully!) designed their sales copy to answer all questions a prospect might have, counter all objections they might have, and convert as many of these prospects to sales as possible.
Sometimes, however, you might find an affiliate product where the merchant has created a good product and a good affiliate program, but the sales page itself is simply not up to scratch. In this case all your efforts to send traffic to the merchant would be undone by a poorly converting sales page.
In situations like this you should think about writing your own pre-sell piece. You can use this to get your prospects in the "yes" frame of mind before they click through to the merchant site. You could also contact the merchant and ask for a link to their buy button, so that you can send your visitors directly to the purchase page and bypass the merchant's sales page. It will seem to your visitors as if they're purchasing directly from your website.
Write a compelling headline that grabs your readers' attention and makes them want to read the rest of your page. See our lesson on writing effective headlines for some headline ideas.
Describe their pain. "Are you having trouble with your ABC? Don't you hate it when you DEF and then GHI happens? Aren't you sick and tired of UVW, only to find that XYZ?"
Then once you've reminded them of their pain, offer them a solution to their pain (in the form of the affiliate product.) You can briefly describe the key benefits of the product to grab their attention and show how relevant it is to their needs.
You need to offer some credentials for yourself. Why should they be listening to you? Are you some kind of authority? Do you have a lot of experience in this field? Have you suffered from the same problem? You can add credibility to yourself at this stage by including photos, an audio play button, anything that shows that you are a real person and you do actually exist.
Alternatively (or in addition to the above) you could add some testimonials here. Testimonials are more effective when accompanied by photos, full names, locations or audio. If the merchant has testimonials on their site, you might reproduce them on your own site, although this can look a little clumsy.
List the benefits of the product. Try to focus more on benefits than features. Benefits are what you can do with the features, and they're much more interesting for your reader. For instance:
Are there any bonuses available with the product? The idea of the bonus is to make the offer seem absolutely irresistible. Even when a bonus product is not sold separately, it should have a dollar value. When the dollar values of all the bonuses are added together it may even dwarf the purchase price of the actual product. That's an irresistible offer.
If the merchant isn't offering any bonuses, think about creating your own bonus package. You might pick up some resell-rights software or eBook that is relevant to the product, or you could create your own by pulling together some PLR articles into a PDF. Be creative. Tell your visitors that if they buy through the link on this page and then email you, you will send them the bonus package. (If there's a money back guarantee, sweeten your offer by saying that they can keep your bonus if they decide to return the product. There's no skin off your nose, and it might give a little push to someone who is sitting on the fence.)
Can you reduce your prospects' nervousness in any way? As mentioned above, is there a money back guarantee associated with the product? Can you reiterate your credibility or the product's credibility?
Now, finally, tell your prospects how much the product costs. If the merchant has "discounted" the price, don't forget to mention that.
A really good trick is to "justify" the price of the product: for a $30 product you could say "for less than dinner for two at a so-so restaurant" or something like that.
Try to make your justification compare to something that is of little lasting benefit, like a meal, a movie ticket or a haircut. If you say something like "for about the same price as a new shirt / CD / cell phone" it seems a lot less enticing your prospects may well think "hmm, I actually really need a new shirt / CD / cell phone", whereas nobody really NEEDS dinner at a so-so restaurant.
Don't forget the P.S! Remember that a lot of people scroll to the bottom of the page rather than read the whole thing, so grab them before they click away! Reiterate the important selling point(s) of the product - appeal to their emotions ("don't you deserve XYZ?"); give them something enticing to arouse their curiosity and get them to read the whole page ("Don't forget those 5 principles you MUST employ to be successful with ABC. Go back and read them again!"), and so on.
You can have multiple P.Ss, but it can begin to look a little ridiculous after about the fourth or fifth - don't shove your entire sales letter in the P.S section!
(Also: Remember that P.S. is followed by P.P.S, not P.S.S)
If your product isn't really a hard-sell kind of product, you might try a softer approach to the pre-sell, such as a full-page review. While full-page, comprehensive reviews of affiliate products can be less effective than short reviews at getting your prospects to click through to the merchant site, they can make quite effective pre-sells if done well.
The trick with a review is to tone down the hype; remember that you're meant to be an unbiased third party with no ulterior motive. For the large part you can follow the outline prescribed above, just switch off the hype. You can also discuss who the product would be suited to, mention your own experiences with the product and anything you found to particularly useful (or annoying).
Present the product in an overall positive light, but remember to sound like a real person! Think about the book or movie reviews you read in newspapers or magazines: they're not all exclamation marks and yellow highlighter.