What is Affiliate Marketing?
It could be written “How can I tell folk about this new product or service and earn money doing it”
Remember back in school, when you delivered the morning paper to the neighbourhood, sometimes there would be a flyer from the local takeaway inserted in the paper. Or, as happened to me, the circus came to town and someone from the show turned up at my TV shop one morning , He offered me a few free tickets if I would hand out the circus flyers to all my customers and put a circus poster in the window.
How many times have you noticed some new product that your neighbour bought and you asked about where you can get one, or maybe the other way around – “hey, nice sneakers, where did you buy those?”
These are all examples , that are or could be used to gain a commission or “kick back” for increasing sales. All of the above of course are done “Off line” . With the internet came the opportunity to sell to the whole world , getting huge audiences to look at your products.
Join Some Affiliate Programs
So Online you first look for an affiliate program. Many big shops like Wallmart, B&Q, Amazon have affiliate programs that are free to join. Some of them outsource the affiliate program admin to Affiliate Specialists like Affiliate Window or CJ Affiliates. Usually if you Google “affiliate program” + name of the store, you’ll be able to find it easily.
Once you are a member, they will give you your own Affiliate Link . You simply promote, including this link in your articles and Adverts some product or service belonging to the owner in exchange for a commission, once you successfully make a sale.
To make the process better, promote your article and test versions of the Ads until you find the best one.
Actually there is another simpler form of Affiliate marketing, called CPA (cost per action) where you only have to provide LEADS, not even make the sale! Very easy, can be very lucrative. More on this later
Examples of Affiliate Marketing
These are easy to find all over the web. Ever seen those boxes at the end of a magazine blog article?
At first glance they look like articles, but of course these are ads, more exactly they are Native Ads. They don’t stand out as Ads, plus the headlines are usually extraordinary, making them highly clickable. Advertisers are getting really sneaky. They can check your IP address and include some relevant content, lets say you are in Kentucky USA, this can be made to trigger a Headline “ Kentucky Woman First to Win Over $4,000,000 in lottery” or “ How Kentucky Woman makes $4000 a day doing this…”
I wouldn’t advocate such things, but just notice them next time you’re reading online, you will be amazed how often it happens.
Whats the Purpose of an Advert?
This is a key point. The answer most people give is “ to sell stuff”.
No – I would argue the purpose is simply to get your attention. The selling is done on the bridge page and by the sellers’s own product page or VSL ( video sales letter) which is a very popular method at the moment. One of the most successful marketers today Gerry Crammer makes simple images like hand-drawn faces or anything out-of-the-ordinary, for example in a recent Ad, a giant squid on a beach. That particular Ad was responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in sales.
What Kind of Ad Works Best?
Just do what is already working. Pioneers are great, but you only hear about the few that are successful, not the majority, who lost a ton of money trying a new method, then gave up. Facebook advertisers can look at Facebook’s library of Ads, to discover what has been working, completely free and open to everyone.
What kind of Product is Best to Promote?
Sell what is selling NOW. Here we will have to do some research. Google Trends is a good tool to check for product popularity. One fairly easy strategy is to follow the native ads, in the example click through to the end, find out which products are being sold. There is one simple truth here, no one pays for ads, continuously, unless they are making money.
Next, find the product’s home page. Look up the amount of traffic ( web visitors ) that page is getting, one great, free resource to use is similarweb.com, for which you can sign up for a free account.
Type in your product page address and see how much traffic they are getting, where it is being referred from ( eg Facebook ads, Bing Ads….), and what country are these visitors from. You now have all that is required to start a successful ad campaign going.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Actually Work?
This is one example scenario, our user is on Facebook, sees an ad for some products he is interested in, he clicks the ad and is taken to an Affiliate bridge Page where there are more details, like price, size, color etc finally he clicks to buy and is taken to Amazon on a link which has our Affiliate ID on it, so Amazon recognises our sale and rewards us with a commission. There are simpler ways and more sophisticated ways to make an affiliate link, but this is the basic model that most marketers use.
Why bother going to a bridge page I hear you ask. Why not go straight to the Offer-Page from the Ad? Well in most advertising scenarios, the ads are seen on big platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube etc. They all have their own Terms and Conditions one of which is usually No Affiliate Links.
In most cases, it would be ok, if you are promoting your own book, for instance. But promoting slimming pills – definitely would not, in fact, Facebook has become very intolerant of any such links and is very likely to ban your ad account permanently!
Anything to do with the very popular niches like ‘weight loss’, ‘dating’ or ‘make money’ must be carefully composed. Any images even slightly pushing the boundaries – before-after images, too much-exposed skin or claims that are even slightly exaggerated, are also likely to be banned.
Facebook’s ad industry is huge and they are top dog…. at the moment and they wield a powerful sword over their advertisers. Advertisers love FB because they have so much demographic information available, to laser target the potential customers.
I note that This month saw Australia put a limitation on Facebook as regards ads, so this might be an indicator of the way things will go in the future.
So that is basically why we should use a bridge page. The linking to the product then takes place OFF Facebooks page, so your account is safe again. The bridge page should be totally congruent with the subject, so a slimming product could be linked from within a Bridge Page about “How to Maintain good health when on a diet” for example. This avoids direct mention of anything medical or Weight loss oriented.
Whats in a link?
The links take our visitor to the next place, so part of the link is an HTML ‘anchor’ which has the web address in it. The rest is usually unique and has our Affiliate ID, this is sometimes disguised, just in case someone tampers with the link to divert the sale commission. Eg.
Here the offer vendor is Clickbank and our ID is hidden along with the product code in the bit before “.hop.” This link has an extra tracking section ( tid ) on the end, used to distinguish this offer from other offers. We can make use of this when setting up our tracking software.
The FTC Federal Trade Commission requires that you disclose the fact that you make a commission with each sale on your site, so make sure it is there. As everyone is obliged to do this, its no longer a disadvantage to see this on a website.
Which Platform is Best for Promoting my Products
This depends on your own preference in most cases, although videos on YouTube are superb for anything visual or explaining “how to do…..” if it’s a practical matter like component assembly. However, videos can be included in a blog easily, so you get the benefit of the visitor being able to skip through to the part that he or she is interested in , quickly and include a lot of detail in graphs, lists, links to other sites, images, coding, downloads and many other things.
YouTubes algorithm is simpler than Google’s. YouTube videos will rank more easily if you include the right tags, tags are a big help and the main way YouTube searches work. If you are going to use YouTube as your platform, install Tube Buddy or Vid IQ in your browser. Either of these will allow you to find out which tags are in all your competitor’s videos.
Although YouTube videos rank quicker, at the moment Google is still putting blogs in the majority of the top 10 for each search result (SERP). It is well worth the effort of writing many articles, which will rank for many search terms and you will appear in multiple sets of SERPs for your search term or keyword.
Relevance is the key. If you want to sell tents, write about all sorts of tents, tents for high temperature, low temperature, windy conditions, waterproof materials used in tents, price points on your selection of tents, durability of tents , cover the subject thoroughly.
These 3 links give you the easiest way to make an insertable text link, Image link, or both. Write your article reviewing the item and insert the Text+Image link at the end
This is the HTML code, the image is served by Amazon’s own server. Very importantly – as Amazon serve the banner, it comes with the correct price.
You can see, similar to the previous example, the affiliate ID xyzmarketing and the product code ( asin) = B083V589M5
Even if you don’t use Amazon directly, many affiliates have stopped since the recent downturn in commissions from Amazon, at the height of the first Covid lockdown, Amazons profits rose tremendously and they decided they did not need so many affiliates. Amazon does provide us with amazing research tools though. Their products are arranged so you can easily compare similar ones and then promote them directly through the manufacturer’s own affiliate programs.
Amazon’s Best Selling category is so useful to pick good products to promote. Amazon’s reviews often tell of particularly good or bad lines.
How to start Affiliate Marketing without investment using Free Traffic
Is that a real thing? Yes, but for long-term products. All of this article so far has relied on paid Advertising- which works instantly and you get the results instantly.
It takes so long to get a website ranking well enough – in the top 10 on page one, for a search term. That is will only work for long-term things. One exception to this is Pinterest traffic. It IS possible to build up a Pinterest account fast, so you’re getting that traffic flowing. But it only works in certain niches, great for USA traffic and feminine-type products, although this too is changing slowly. I wrote an article outlining a Pinterest strategy on this blog.
My First Affiliate Site
My own first success was with Halogen Ovens. I built up a website with a page per review plus comparison tables and other pages devoted to maintenance and recipes. It became very popular with several number one positions for various search terms. All the products were from Amazon making research very easy and quick. I even expanded the site to cover UK and US products. One month of solid work on the site gave me a good few years of income, it still earns a little even now 8 years on.
So – don’t expect anything other than evergreen products like kitchen appliances, household cleaners, and maybe financial products to last long enough to make it worthwhile building up a blog.
Free traffic is marvelous. For beginners in IM, it is usually the chosen route, as mistakes with anyone inexperienced with Ad accounts can be very costly. Also, the results with free traffic from Google will last a long time; But with a lot of products changing rapidly, ads are really the only way to get your affiliate funnel up and running fast enough to make a good return. The reason many big Aff marketers use funnel builders, rather than the basic WordPress editor, is because they need the pages up very quickly to take advantage of new offers.
Does Affiliate Marketing Still Work
Yes, absolutely. Many marketers are very successful once they find their own favourite niches and have some experience. Four, Five and even Six figure per year profits from Aff Mktg is totally possible
My Own Preferred Strategy
I see many articles and posts online, so obviously written to try to sell.
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Writing a Review but use your own experiences
One of the best ways is to help your prospect. For example, you are promoting a good web Server: Clearly, website builders need a Server. Simply write about your experiences with the server provider, or rank the Server speed, Server performance, facilities, helpline, technology, and software against all the other top Server providers.
This achieves two things. Google loves DATA and will rank your article better for providing easily understood information ( for humans AND for Google – computer program). Also, your prospect is much more likely to read an article with a genuine user’s experience or review in it.
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