The Seven Keys to Affiliate Marketing Success for Bloggers5 min read
Affiliate marketing can be a double-edged sword for bloggers. Handled correctly, it can create enormous revenue for both you and your affiliate partner, and even increase traffic numbers for your blog for great marketing success.
In the wrong hands, an affiliate marketing campaign can destroy your blog’s credibility, aggravate your partners, and plummet your blog’s ranking in search engine results.
For the uninitiated, a quick definition: Affiliate marketing is the process of driving leads (or traffic) from your blog to the site of your affiliate partner. You’ll get paid when your visitors click your affiliate links (known as pay-per-click, or PPC) or when they click your affiliate links before taking some kind of action at your partner’s site (known as cost-per-action, or CPA). This action may be anything from signing up for an email newsletter to actually purchasing a product.
Regardless of the payment system associated with your affiliate program, you’ll need to be creative if you hope to make money while preserving your blog’s voice and integrity. Here are seven things to keep in mind for affiliate marketing success.
1. Choose a Relevant Affiliate Partner
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you already have a blog of your own and you’re hoping to monetize it through an affiliate marketing campaign.
You may be tempted to choose whatever you think will be most profitable as you’re browsing through affiliate marketing programs, or whatever seems like it will attract the most traffic. While these are important factors to keep in mind, your top priority should be choosing a niche that’s closely related to your existing subject matter.
Let’s say that your blog focuses on portable technologies, such as smartphones and tablet PCs. Selecting affiliate marketing programs offered by wireless internet providers would make an excellent fit, since you’ll easily be able to work affiliate-related keywords and anchor text into your existing and future content.
[Related: Complete Guide to Content Marketing]
2. Optimize Your Keywords
Let’s say that your niche is streaming media services. People love lists, reviews, and comparisons, so keyword phrases such as “top five online video services,” “Netflix vs. Hulu Plus” and “pros and cons of VuDu online movie service” would all be excellent options.
As with the rest of your content, be sure to vary your keyword phrases and avoid stuffing them too heavily in your posts.
3. Research Affiliate Programs Carefully
As mentioned earlier, affiliate programs differ in how they pay their partners (you) and how they conduct their own businesses. The first step is to find an affiliate program that pays competitive rates. If the affiliate program lowballs their offer, you’re better off turning to a program that actually values your services.
Whether the program uses a PPC or CPA payment arrangement is also crucial.
With PPC, the onus is on you to drive traffic to the site. This is where high existing traffic volume really comes in handy. If the arrangement is CPA, you’ll need to rely on your traffic to actually take a predetermined action when they get to your affiliate partner’s site. If this action is purchasing a product, you’d better verify that the company actually has a decent sales record.
4. Move That Traffic!
Even if your site does have plenty of traffic, visitors may not automatically click your affiliate links. Aim for the highest conversion rate possible by emphasizing your affiliate links without making it too obvious that you’re doing so in exchange for a payment.
Your visitors should be able to find your affiliate links without too much scrolling. Be sure to vary the style of your links, with some being in-line anchor text and others taking the form of buttons or even banners. Adding some interesting photos should help as well.
5. Be Honest With Your Audience
Some novice affiliate bloggers make the mistake of thinking that they have to start running their sites like advertising portals just because they started an affiliate program. But pushing a hard sell is rarely an effective tactic.
Many affiliate bloggers take the strategy of writing reviews about the products sold by their partners. While this strategy certainly works (remember, internet readers love reviews), it needs to be handled carefully and honestly. It will look very fishy to your audience if all your reviews are glowingly positive, never finding fault in a single product or service.
Try to be as fair and unbiased as possible when discussing the items sold by your affiliate partner. People are very comfortable with buying imperfect products, so long as they still seem like a good overall value. Playing this angle will encourage your readers to click your affiliate links rather than assuming that you sold out.
6. Make Your Content Worth Reading
All your content should be written to inform your readers and deliver a solid user experience worth their time — not just to advertise. You could have partnerships with the most lucrative affiliate programs and a beautifully designed, perfectly organized blog, but you simply won’t make a profit if your content isn’t worth reading.
Tell your readers specific information about the products or services offered by your affiliate partners, not just the fact that you enjoy them. Again, one of your best angles is to explain why the products or services are a good value, not that they’re completely without fault. Discuss your own experiences with the product, if possible.
7. Assess Your Results Frequently
Assess your results after a month or two of running your affiliate marketing campaign. How much time did you spend researching, contacting, and arranging deals with affiliate programs? And developing or modifying your blog to accommodate those programs? How did it affect your traffic, if at all? And most importantly, how much money did you make?
By considering these and other factors, you’ll be able to decide where to take your affiliate marketing campaign next. You may find that it’s worthwhile to expand and sign on with additional affiliate programs, or you may decide to abandon your efforts and monetize some other way.
Get Help With Your Affiliate Marketing
Want more information about affiliate marketing, or some help getting started? Schedule a free consultation with a Marketeering Group strategist to discuss what affiliate marketing can do for your business.