We don’t start an affiliate marketing website just to scrape by. We all want to rake in thousands of dollars a month. So, how do we distinguish the best practices with the highest returns from the mediocre strategies?
The best way to build a booming business is to learn from the most successful affiliate marketers and be consistent in our efforts to surpass them. Here are 9 habits of the most successful affiliate marketers.
1. Know the Niche
There are plenty affiliate programs available with endless product types, just waiting for us to recommend to our readers. However, selling everything under the sun doesn’t increase our earnings. In fact, it has the opposite effect in affiliate marketing where starting a niche blog is more effective.
The best performing and successful affiliate marketers have a clear niche market. They are focusing on a specific target market and serving their needs by offering a select group of products paired with useful information.
An excellent example is NerdWallet which only includes links to consumer finance products. Each of their web articles are highly informative which makes their brand appear more trustworthy. This in turn leads to a high search engine ranking and traffic generation. The more traffic, the more opportunities for conversion.
Understanding the needs of a niche means staying up to date on the consumer behavior and market trends. The website must stay relevant to the audience which means up-to-date blogs and live links.
In short, the most successful affiliate marketers with the highest conversions use their strong knowledge base to post relevant and useful information which builds trust with their audience. They remain selective in their links to best serve the needs of their target market.
2. Study the Competition
‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’ may sound like a cliche by now but in the affiliate marketing business it still features strongly. This is because knowing exactly what the competition is doing right gives us insight into what we can do better.
Here is another cliche; once it is out on the internet, it is there forever. Though this usually refers to social media, it also applies to a certain extent to successful affiliate marketers.
With the right tools and knowledge, a successful affiliate web page can be reverse engineered. Essentially, reverse engineering is studying which web elements make a specific page or entire website effective. Common elements to look at are keywords, content type, social media strategy and affiliate programs but the list can get much more detailed than this.
The best way to do the homework on our competition is by using the very same tools that we are already using to analyze the strength of our own posts. Plugins and software like SEMRush, Ahrefs, BuzzSumo and even Google Analytics all work for analyzing the competition, too.
Another option for people who are running paid traffic campaigns is to use a tool like Adplexity to see what others are doing successfully.
Don’t copy the competition, a web page should always remain original but learning from the effective strategies of other successful affiliate marketers is highly valuable knowledge.
3. Be Consistent in Content
In order to take advantage of search engine traffic it is important to ensure consistency in the subject matter, the posting schedule and types of posts.
Just like we are best suited to stick to our own chosen niche, the content must cater to that same niche. Returning visitors have a certain expectation, and disappointing a returning visitor means losing a loyal customer base.
For example, a unique visitor that landed on a website looking for a slow cooker recipe would be very confused to find a blog on toy cars on the same website. It takes away from the professionalism of the site and the visitor is unlikely to return.
Similarly, a customer that previously ordered a Bluetooth speaker through the site won’t understand why they are receiving an email notification for the 10 best online yoga subscriptions following that purchase. Unrelated email marketing lowers the open rate and sends the email straight to spam.
Finally, successful affiliate marketers post regularly. An active blog with a consistent posting schedule helps build a loyal following which is good for both traffic and conversions.
4. Content Over Links
Successful affiliate marketers create a good balance of informative content and product-focused posts. Aim for more informative content than product listicles because this shows authority on the subject matter which in turn improves your SEO ranking.
Websites that are pages and pages of product pushing posts are not as popular. The visitor knows it is a marketing ploy and is less likely to trust the recommendations. No trust means no conversion, means we lost a potential customer due to hard selling.
Google crawlers are also aware of this dubious marketing strategy which is why these kinds of web pages don’t rank as well as web pages with trustworthy content. Google is the starting point for a lot of online business so we would do well to follow their SEO rules.
In other words, don’t flood an affiliate site with affiliate links.
At first, this might seem counterproductive but remember that affiliate marketing is all about soft selling. Content is king, it makes the web page more trustworthy to both visitors and search crawlers.
5. Think Like the Audience
As mentioned, quality content is extremely important. Content is there to drive up conversions but don;t just focus on the conversion.
Treat your content as a service to that particular niche market. Think about what the audience is interested in and what they are looking for when visiting your web page.
Remember that visitors are not always looking to make a purchase. Sometimes all they need is useful information or inspiration. That kind of content is a chance for us to build trust and authority within our market.
Another way smart affiliate marketers place themselves in the customer’s shoes is by providing the product knowledge that a simple Amazon page is not offering. However, this is where affiliate marketing enters treacherous territory.
Expansive product reviews are a popular content format and they definitely lure in visitors and conversions. However, posting a review on a product we have never actually seen or used before sets us up for a mistake which creates distrust among the customers.
So, be very careful with detailed product reviews. If it is not possible to physically examine each product, mention that the review is based on other online sources.
6. Follow Metrics and Analytics
Keeping tabs on the most successful affiliate marketers gives us strong pointers on how to improve our own web pages but scrutinizing our own metrics and website data is just as important. Performing analytics gives us insight into the best functioning areas of the marketing strategy and areas that need extra attention.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools, but there are many more affiliate marketing tools that help us keep track of our metrics and suggest elements that make our web pages more effective in creating conversions.
There are two parts to doing affiliate marketing research. The first is identifying all the key elements that a web page should have, elements that drive traffic, ranking and conversions. This could be keywords, a specific layout design, opt-in forms, shortened URLs, attractive images and so on.
The second part is testing whether those chosen elements actually work. It is definitely worthwhile to perform A/B testing on our web pages. Check which headlines gain the most clicks, which product types are the most searched for and what kind of content is shared most often on social media and so forth.
Incorporating analytics into the routine is essential in growing and maintaining our online presence.
7. Successful Affiliate Marketers Join More Than One Affiliate Program
Don’t make the mistake of only joining one affiliate program. This puts your business at a serious risk because losing this affiliate program means losing all revenue.
Do some research on the different top rated affiliate programs that are available. Remember to consider both the short term and long term prospects of joining a particular affiliate program.
In other words, find out whether the profits are sustainable or if they are only short lived. Perhaps, the products or programs offering the highest commissions do not sell as well as certain products with lower commissions. Or perhaps, the program is focused on a fad whereby a steady stream of revenue is uncertain.
Look into the specifics of the affiliate program and whether their services and structure is compatible with your own specific skills and capabilities. There are many differences between each one so take the time to find the best match.
An alternative approach to joining affiliate networks is looking up whether vendors offer direct affiliate programs. These might offer better deals. Also, associating ourselves with a brand that we are already familiar with makes creating knowledgeable content easier.
8. Keep Learning
The world of e-commerce and online marketing is constantly changing and our business plans must be resilient enough to quickly adapt to these changes. Not staying up-to-date on the software and SEO developments makes our web pages stagnant and can negatively impact the ranking, relevancy and returns.
SEO is an integral part of affiliate marketing and keeping up with the trends and updates can seem like a full time job. However, no matter how time consuming it is, it should never be ignored. Just think about how we switched from ranking high because of keyword stuffing to dropping drastically because of the very same thing.
So, we can never feel too comfortable in our knowledge of what works best because what works best today might not be the best practices for tomorrow.
Besides technical knowledge, we should also spend time on expanding our product and niche knowledge. Companies are constantly releasing new variations, and consumer preferences change. For our revenue to keep growing, we must be aware of these changes and know how to react to them.
9. Stay Patient While Working Hard
Successful affiliate marketers do not become rich overnight. It is a long term game that we are playing, with very promising prospects in the future. What may start as many long days behind the computer screen can lead to a sustainable passive income.
The first few months of a launching an affiliate marketing business might not be fruitful enough for a primary income source. However, by following the good habits above, this can change within a year or even less.
An affiliate website does not become a cash cow overnight. There is a lot of behind the scenes work, even when it is already earning high revenues. Fortunately, part of this work can be automated and once the business earns steady profits, we can hire a team to put in the hours for us.