Affiliate marketing is an income strategy that involves promoting a product or company in exchange for a commission on each sale. With an estimated 35% of affiliate marketers earning more than $20,000 annually, it’s a potentially lucrative business. Industries like fashion and blogging are highly profitable when applied with the right affiliate marketing strategies.
Here are 35 affiliate marketing tips to get you started.
1. Learn to Outrank the Competition
Learning search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to outranking your competition in Google’s search results. This refers to the process of improving your website’s visibility in search engine results. While it can be intimidating, affiliate marketers must develop SEO skills to make their website more visible. Remember that your website’s visibility will help in driving more traffic to your website and, in turn, improve your chances of making a sale.
Some of the SEO skills you need to learn are:
- Mastering keyword research
- Understanding the competition
- Planning and optimizing one’s website
- Producing regular content
- Using Google analytics
- Link building
You can always hire freelance experts on marketplaces like Fiverr to help with these SEO tasks, but it’s also essential that you have some basic understanding of how they work. Consider reading SEO guides like “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” and subscribe to YouTube channels like “Whiteboard Friday” to keep you posted on SEO changes.
2. Do ‘Lazy’ Research
For successful people, research is a habit, which means that they are always passively on the lookout to learn about interesting things. As an affiliate marketer, you don’t have to spend hours sitting in front of your computer brainstorming content ideas. Instead, you can get new ideas while leisurely scrolling through your social media news feeds. You can take a screenshot and keep them in a file and use them as inspiration for your next campaign.
“Always be on the lookout for eye-catching affiliate ads as you browse the web. Keep a document or Pinterest board of great ads that you can reference. This helps you in a lot of ways―you’ll stay current on design trends, see what competitors are creating, and be inspired. Plus, when the time comes to create an amazing ad, you’ll be ready.”
— Danielle Edwards, Project Manager, Artonic Web
3. Select a Profitable Affiliate Program
It’s not easy to choose the right affiliate marketing program when there are so many options available. You’ll need to follow some guidelines in order to decide which products or services to promote. Start by focusing on your strengths as an expert and narrow your choices with ones that fall in your niche. This is important because you want to make sure you have enough experience and influence on the right audience to make a sale.
Choose a product with low competition instead of popular brands. This will give you better opportunities for converting your audience into customers for your affiliate partner instead of losing them to more influential and experienced affiliate marketers. When building your portfolio, always strive for quality over quantity, and limit your product portfolio with those that offer recurring commissions.
4. Believe in the Product & Company You’re Marketing
Your integrity and credibility as an expert are why you have a captive audience for your blog. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing an affiliate partner. Make sure your goals for an affiliate marketing partnership goes beyond just earning money and show your followers that you promote products and services in which you believe.
This is the same for the company with which you’re partnering. Remember that you are lending your name and brand to them as much as they are to you. Focus on building relationships with companies that you would stand by as a customer; this will add authenticity and integrity to your brand, and that builds loyalty.
5. Use Low-cost Tools for Your Marketing Campaign
One of the pros of affiliate marketing is that it’s low-cost. Use a free or “freemium” email marketing tool such as Mailchimp to allow you to build an email list and send out newsletters or offers. When looking to understand the quality of your affiliate partners, use a social media monitoring tool like Mention to track what customers say about the provider.
There are also free surveys or website popup tools to help you understand what kind of content your audience would be interested in. Lastly, using a tool like Google Ads, you can track and analyze how your affiliate marketing initiatives compare to other types of advertising on your site.
6. Avoid the Common Pitfalls in Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing becomes counterproductive when affiliates become unnecessarily aggressive with their campaign instead of waiting for the right time. This can happen when they flood their audience with emails and messages requesting to try products they are promoting or when they promote their affiliate products in irrelevant groups and forums.
Instead, affiliate marketers should devote more time in market research to find the right target audience for their product or service. They should also develop enough content to ensure that the people testing the promoted products have all the information they need.
7. Create Product Tables
A product table or product comparison chart helps to summarize product features that are being marketed on a website. Readers who like getting quick results would appreciate a more visual summary of data as opposed to reading paragraphs of information. The easiest way to do this is to create a list of all the top products along with prices, reviews, and features on one page, and insert a buy button with an affiliate link at the end.
There are many plugins like Tablepress and Amalinks Pro that can help you create your own product tables. Be sure that your table is mobile-friendly so visitors on phones and tablets will be able to view your content properly.
8. Regularly Check Your Site for 404 Errors
When users click links in your website and reach dead-end 404 errors, they get frustrated and may never return. Broken links restrict the flow of link equity throughout your site, which negatively impacts rankings. To avoid these potential pitfalls, you should check periodically for broken links on your entire website.
One way to do this is by using Google Analytics to check for bad links. Go to Content by Title on the dashboard and create a filter at the bottom by typing the title of your website’s 404 error page in the blank box.
“Something I’ve learned to do over the years is to check my site regularly for broken links. Retailers delete or redirect pages all the time, and there have been times where I’ve been sending people to deleted pages without realizing, missing out on a load of potential commission. I now use chrome extensions like Check My Links and tools like Ahrefs to regularly check my site for broken links to prevent this from happening.”
— Max Robinson, Owner, FishTankBank
9. Remember That Payout Isn’t Everything
High payouts rates are great, but a smart affiliate marketer will do some research and find out why those payouts are so high. Ask your account manager details about the campaign and check Google Ads for data on earnings per click (EPC), conversion rates, and geo-coverage of related keywords.
Your manager should be able to tell you if the campaign is highly competitive, or low volume, while Google Ads will help you determine if it will be difficult to land qualified leads with the keywords. You should also keep an eye out for expensive keywords.
10. Design a Professional Website
Designing a professional website is important, especially for individuals who are looking to create a great brand and build a reputation for themselves. They need a reliable website that loads quickly looks great and never goes offline.
Affiliate marketers will need a professional blog, but this doesn’t mean they need to spend a lot of money setting it up. DreamHost is a very low-cost web hosting service that offers just the right features to run your affiliate blog efficiently. It provides users with unlimited bandwidth, a domain name, and a one-click web apps installer to help you start your blog in no time for as little as $4.95 a month. Visit DreamHost today and take advantage of their discounts.
11. Learn From Top Affiliate Marketers
Affiliate marketing experts like Rae Hoffman and Pat Flynn offer a wealth of resources based on their years of experience. Learning from marketers like them may help you avoid costly mistakes, so conduct some research on how they have been successful and use it as your guide.
12. Focus on Being Helpful
Whatever affiliate marketing strategies you use, it’s important to focus on being helpful first and making a sale second. By doing so, your content will naturally sound less intense and more genuine because your primary goal―to be helpful―will be noticeable in your writing. Your readers will appreciate this and develop more trust in your opinion, making them be more open to your product suggestions.
Start by writing more personal content. Allow people to get to know you by sharing a personal testimonial. It can start from a problem that you or even a friend or family encountered, or a question that someone asked you as an expert in your field. Explain how your journey in solving this personal issue led you to using your affiliate product. The personal touch will encourage your readers to engage you with comments and questions, and eventually, sales will follow.
13. Beware of Affiliate Fraud
There are plenty of tactics that dishonest affiliates use, and new affiliate fraud threats develop constantly. As an affiliate marketer, it’s important to avoid these dangers at all costs to protect your business and reputation. The key to protecting yourself, your clients, and customers from affiliate fraud scams is being able to identify the threat and separate bad traffic from good traffic.
Some key indicators of affiliate fraud are:
- Uncommunicative affiliates: Affiliates who ignore your emails or are slow to respond when you reach out to them
- Recurring complaints: Getting similar customer complaints from the same traffic source
- Frequent chargebacks: Multiple buyers file chargebacks within a few days after the sale
Spotting fraud after the fact is reactive and you can’t do much about affiliate fraud once it happens. Keep in mind that your followers will be disappointed if you don’t proactively watch out for signs of fraud and avoid them at all costs.
14. Keep Your Content Natural and Engaging
Once you’ve started monetizing your blog through affiliate marketing, you may feel somewhat pressured to write which, in turn, can transform what was once enjoyable to a task you don’t want to do. While it’s true that you have to focus heavily on your content, you need to be able to find the right approach still to make your blog posts sound natural and engaging.
Here are some tips to keep you inspired with your blog posts:
- Share your honest opinion based on your personal experiences with the platform
- Be transparent and let your followers know you have affiliate links in the post
- Use your own images of the products as much as possible
- Only review products that make sense with your blog and for your audience
Don’t lose your personal brand because you are now monetizing your site. Keep the voice and tone you’ve already established on your site as this is what makes you an effective affiliate for your followers.
“Content marketing is at the core of affiliate marketing, making it beneficial to both businesses and customers. Customers benefit from the helpful content, and businesses benefit from the resulting sales. Affiliate marketing offers significant income potential to both businesses that offer it and professionals who employ it. Taking the time, energy, and money to create an affiliate marketing website scares away many would-be affiliate marketers, but I think if more people simply tried to affiliate market, they would find it’s easier and more profitable than they had imagined.”
— Simon Slade, CEO & co-founder, Affilorama
15. Reward Customers Who Refer Friends
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to generate more business and sales. The easiest way to do this is with a customer referral program. ReferralCandy is an easy-to-use plugin you can add to your affiliate blog or eCommerce store that lets you create customized rewards for customers who refer their friends. Customers get a unique, memorable referral link they can share with friends, and you can promote your program with beautiful widgets and email templates—no designers or developers needed. It also offers a free 30-day trial.
16. Understand the Legalities Behind Affiliate Marketing
Complying with governing trade laws is important, and you need to be aware of these before you start blogging as an affiliate marketer. For one, you’ll need to have a disclosure policy to promote transparency on your affiliate marketing website. Neglecting to do this could cost your business more in penalties in the future.
17. Work Within Your Field of Expertise
Affiliate marketers should work in their field of expertise because their audience will be comprised of people with the same interests. This means they will sense a blogger’s level of expertise easily by the type of content they publish and the way they respond to comments on their website. It’s also just natural that people will buy products recommended by experts. Affiliate marketers, therefore, can have an easier time earning as an affiliate if they work within their expertise.
Becoming an affiliate expert means you know what has worked in the past. While you don’t know what will happen in the future, you have the analytical skills to apply your knowledge of historical data to estimate future events conservatively. The most reliable affiliate experts promise to provide their followers with a legitimate advantage or skill instead of outlandish product or monetary benefits.
18. Choose the Right Price Points
When determining the affiliate commission rates, companies will often take into account a couple of factors. For pricing, generally, lower-priced products will have higher commission rates while products with higher prices will have lower commission rates. The other factor that affects affiliate commission rates is the value of the company itself, and the value it places on affiliate marketing.
You’ll need to factor in all of these variables when deciding on an affiliate program and determine if an affiliate is worth your time. Do the math, consider your audience, and compare how much you could earn per month with each program. Do these for a few affiliate options and then choose the program where you’ll see better payouts.
“The biggest mistake I’ve ever made for affiliate marketing is running ads for lower commission price points. This is especially true for platforms like Amazon Associates where commissions are typically around 4% and product prices are always low. While you will generate some commissions this way, it won’t be enough to cover your costs, and you’ll find that you’ll lose money long-term. Unless the payout is at least a couple of hundred dollars, it usually isn’t cost-effective to run ads in affiliate marketing.”
— Nicole Martins Ferreirra, co-founder, Linkiro
19. Use Link Localizers for Your Affiliate Links
Link localization means redirecting the visitors to a country-specific website. If a country-specific website is available, then the visitors will be redirected to the local website automatically rather than the global. This is important for affiliate marketers, because if you don’t use Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer for your Amazon affiliate links, then you won’t get paid commission for the foreign traffic you drive to Amazon websites from your blog or website.
There are several ways to add a link localizer. You can use plugins like VigLink and EasyAzon/ EasyAzon Pro. Some are free, and most of these tools even offer additional features to increase your sales and revenue.
20. Don’t Be Afraid to Voice Drawbacks
One common mistake that new affiliate marketers should be aware of is giving more praise to an affiliate product than it deserves. Doing this can erode your reader’s trust and damage your credibility. Instead, be more objective and raise drawbacks in your product reviews. You should be able to write this in such a way that you provide constructive criticism while sharing your concerns or misgivings about the product.
Drawbacks aren’t necessarily going to be deal-breakers, and your readers will most likely appreciate your candor. This might also convince them to eventually purchase since they know you’ve given them full information rather than half-truths.
21. Add Your Own Incentives
It doesn’t hurt to add your own incentives to motivate your readers into buying your affiliate products. You can be creative and avoid incurring additional costs while increasing your chances at closing more sales. For example, you can offer your readers special access to a private Facebook group that’s exclusive to people who have bought the affiliate product or service you are promoting.
Offer other incentives such as private consultations and exclusive access to gated content. Remember that your readers are already following you because they trust your expertise and making them feel like they are getting special treatment for buying your affiliate product will help to build stronger loyalty to your brand.
22. Use Tools to Analyze Your Sales Results
There are so many tools available online to help analyze affiliate sales. They are widely used because every affiliate marketer needs to know if their efforts on marketing affiliate products are producing expected results. Affiliate marketing can be time-consuming, but the data collected helps affiliate marketers decide on how to improve their strategy and whether to drop or replace certain.
“You have to have a tool that you can use to analyze your results from affiliate marketing. Most companies that utilize affiliate marketing will be operating online and therefore you need to be able to work efficiently. Examples include software such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, and Optimizely. If you decide to invest in an advanced affiliate online tool, you will sometimes have a dashboard in which you can check all your affiliate marketing campaigns and the results of those campaigns. I would recommend these types of software tools for large companies; however smaller companies can utilize software tools such as Google Analytics.”
— Patrick Dhital, co-founder, Honey Skin
23. Create a Mobile-marketing Strategy
With the recent holiday shopping trend proving that more and more consumers prefer to browse and shop using their mobile phones, it’s high time for affiliate marketers to boost their mobile marketing strategy. Mobile marketing goes beyond short message service (SMS) messaging. You can capture traffic through social media and mobile search and sending them to a preferably mobile-optimized site. These are free and can easily be used for your campaign.
There are also mobile-specific advertising tactics and channels like App Install Ads and Mobile Web Ads that can reach mobile audience and convert them into leads and customers. These ads will allow you to send traffic to relevant offers and similarly get a commission for successful sales. All you need to do is look for “mobile-optimized” offers on your affiliate platform.
24. Try the Product Out for Yourself
Affiliate marketing takes a fair amount of work upfront to build trust and get good results. To build this trust, start by trying the product for yourself and share what you learn. Include photos and videos of your experience with the product. Doing this will give you credibility and allow you to talk about the product or service in a natural tone.
Additionally, the effectiveness of this strategy will depend on how well you know your readers, so you need to know which benefits your audience would be interested in hearing. You should offer the product to your readers in the way that caters to how you think they will use it.
25. Engage Your Audience With Discussions
Every time you publish content on your website―not just reviews―it’s a great idea to ask your audience for feedback and motivate them to participate in a discussion. Create a dedicated space, like a forum or, better yet, a Q&A section following every post where people can speak their mind and provide their own suggestions and feedback. Giving your readers this platform will encourage them to leave reviews―user-generated reviews―which are tremendously powerful.
The more user reviews you accumulate below your own review, the better. A discussion thread makes a web page longer, which helps search algorithms in indexing and ranking your page better. When this happens, you increase your chances of getting more affiliate sales.
26. Make Improvements on Your Website
There are hundreds of ways that you can improve your affiliate marketing results by improving your own site. If you want to start generating natural traffic from the major search engines, knowing a little about SEO is a good idea. There’s also deep linking that sends your visitors to the specific product page on a merchant’s website that they are interested in rather than just to the front page of the Merchant website.
“One of the best actionable strategies for maximizing profit is to have exit intent popups with a promotion or deal for an affiliate offer. We have found this works extremely well for those who need that extra nudge. Also by adding a countdown timer, this drastically increases CTR [clickthrough rate]. Another successful strategy we have found is A/B testing our pages for button colors and button placement. Even making minor tweaks in color can boost conversions by up to 5 percent. After implementing these changes, we were able to drastically increase our monthly income.”
— Stephen Phillips, Owner, Host Reviews
27. Learn How to Write a Powerful Review
Consumers view online reviews similar to personal product recommendations, which makes them highly effective. Online shoppers nowadays look for online reviews before buying products that they already like. Brick-and-mortar shoppers also take time to search for online reviews before going out to purchase a specific product. This is why affiliate marketers should spend more time putting out quality reviews on their blog.
Some tips to follow when creating a powerful product review post are:
- Use the product, so you have a first-hand user experience
- Do considerable research on a product and brand background
- Use an unbiased tone, especially when writing about negative feedback
- Support your observations with data when possible
- Add comparative information for similar products
- Invite readers to share their ideas
Talking about alternatives will increase your credibility and reliability as a subject matter expert. Stay transparent and honest about your observations as readers can sense easily when someone is attempting to build hype around a product unnecessarily.
28. Focus on Building Quality Partnerships
It can’t be stressed enough how important quality relationships are in affiliate partnerships. As an expert in your field, you need to refrain from making decisions that will compromise your credibility. So, as an affiliate marketer, you need to make sure that you partner with a company with similar ideals. You want to ensure their efforts align with your brand and deliver the quality of products and services as promised.
Aim to associate with partners that help reinforce your brand. By prioritizing the quality of your partnerships over trying to maximize your sales, you will be able to invest in relationships that nurture long term success over quick money-making strategies that will be gone after a short while.
29. Don’t Rely on a Single Traffic Source
The rules of internet marketing are continually changing and keeping all of your eggs in one basket can be risky. For example, Google’s Penguin algorithm, which specifically targeted link spam and manipulative link building practices, caused massive changes in search result ranking. Affiliate websites that naturally thrived on link volume or building were heavily and negatively affected, causing many affiliate sites to shut down.
There is nothing worse than having to go to sleep worried about Google rolling in a new update and penalizing your website. This is why you should focus on diversifying and driving traffic through multiple sources.
30. Tap Your Email List
You can promote your affiliate products through numerous channels, starting a campaign before you even publish new content. People who subscribe to your email list are likely already engaged and interested in what you have to say, so marketing your affiliate products to the group should be easier.
“This has been my go-to strategy for the last three years or so. If you have a database of email addresses, make sure you are sending emails to your database every week with the newest offers, promotions, discounts, and so on from your affiliate advertisers. You can send them an email or a newsletter, introduce yourself and your product, and utilize affiliate links by sharing relevant articles. You can offer your promotions through a hyperlink and keep track of sales or send users back to your website to complete a purchase.”
— Jeremy Ong, Blogger, HUSTLR
31. End a Product Review With a Take-home Message
The last few paragraphs of your product reviews are a perfect space for sharing your opinion on the product. If you feel that your input will add significant value to the article, speak your mind freely. You can start by doing a recap of all the key points you covered about the product and let your readers know how much it cost.
Remember to use keywords like “Free” or “Try” to get your readers’ attention. Sprinkle these throughout your article and emphasize free options to get people excited.
32. Avoid the Coupon Sites
You will eventually come across coupon sites in your affiliate networking efforts. You’ll look at their large share of the revenue and think that they are performing well, but the reality is different. Coupon sites usually don’t drive new traffic. They don’t even help convert site visitors to customers.
“Once your website visitors decide they want to purchase, expect them to look for a discount on the internet. When they Google your company, regardless of whether you have a working coupon out or not, sites like RetailMeNot will show up. They even show up when you are not paying them to be an affiliate. Once your user clicks on them, their cookie gets placed and the sale gets attributed to them. That means, you’ll have to pay your affiliates a commission for a sale that would have happened anyway, with or without their involvement.”
— Melanie Balke, Head of European Markets & Growth Strategist, BAMF Media
33. Choose an Appropriate Affiliate Scheme
There are so many affiliate programs available that deciding which ones will work best for your style of marketing can be a challenge. An ideal affiliate scheme offers lucrative commissions, long cookie lifespan, and whose products belong to a vendor with transparent affiliate policies and a very recognizable brand.
“The affiliate scheme offering the highest level of potential commissions might seem like the most obvious one to pick, but this is not always the case. Often, schemes that offer lower commission thresholds offer a more realistic chance of making meaningful money as their products are more in demand or have a better brand reputation. Schemes that offer a variety of different types of commission structures, such as CPA [cost-per-action] vs. CPC [cost-per-click], that the affiliate can select based on their own choices are generally a good pick too. The affiliate can then choose the method that is most profitable for them. Also, choose a scheme that provides a comprehensive analytics dashboard to assess the success or otherwise of your campaigns and adjust them as necessary.”
— Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager, English Blinds
34. Be More than Just a Click-stream
Most affiliate marketers view their roles as just intermediaries. Their only concern is getting a qualified lead to make a purchase and directing them off to the storefront as quickly as possible. What new affiliate marketers don’t realize is that this is where they can stand out from the competition as even large affiliate marketers overlook this fact too often.
Use this opportunity to develop your own dedicated audience. Offer insights that consumers have been looking for, such as hands-on product review videos, custom product images, and use cases about how products fit into your daily life. All of this is a lot of additional work but increases your chances of outshining the competition.
35. Stay Focused on Your Affiliate Marketing Goals
Staying focused is important for affiliate marketers to succeed. It can be very easy to drift off the course you have set for yourself, and it is also easy to become complacent if things start to pick up. Remember that this progress will only continue to grow if you maintain your focus and work as hard as before. Although one strategy is working, you still need to try others so that you don’t come to rely on one method of attack.
“One of the main problems I see with newbie affiliate marketers is a true lack of focus. There is not just one end all be all method for affiliate marketing, but rather quite a few. Email marketing, search engine optimization, blogging, paid traffic, YouTube, Instagram―those are all popular ways of making serious money online. You’re not going to start making hundreds or even thousands of dollars a day online in a few days, weeks, or even months. Find a proven course by a trusted mentor and stick with it for three to six months or longer.”
— Jeff Lenney, Founder, JeffLenney
The demand for consumer attention is highly competitive, so marketers must be creative to stay ahead of competitors. Get your inspiration from our list of affiliate marketing strategies and turn your profits from extra income into a significant source of revenue.
Have more inspiring affiliate marketing tips? We’d love to hear from you. Share them with us in the comments below.