Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase an item, I may earn a commission. See my terms of service for details.
Affiliate marketing is straightforward. Get enough clicks, and your conversions and commissions will take care of themselves. If only things were that easy. As an affiliate, you must continuously create exciting and engaging content. You must compete with and outsmart thousands of publishers in your niche. You must conquer changes, trends, and challenges that threaten your income, for example, Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP 2.0) browser feature. You must select profitable programs and partner with supportive affiliate managers. Finally, you must implement effective tactics to increase your commissions. In this post, I’ll highlight affiliate marketing strategies and ideas that will help boost your sales and earnings.
Affiliate Marketing Strategies
Make Affiliate Marketing Your Top Priority
Affiliate marketing is one of your top priorities, or it isn’t. Dedicated affiliate marketers often work full-time and spend most of their time creating content and sending traffic to merchants. By contrast, wannabe or part-time affiliates limit their activities to a few hours weekly. They might also be preoccupied with other online business ventures like YouTube channel development or e-book self-publishing.
I see many publishers sending traffic to social media platforms as much as they do advertisers. Directing traffic to where money can be made should be your primary goal. Getting more Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers shouldn’t, for example.
Track Your Income in a Spreadsheet
Signing into affiliate networks and checking commissions isn’t the same as tracking your income. By recording your earnings monthly, you’ll be able to spot trends and opportunities among your programs. For instance, I noticed a downward trend in revenues for a specific program, so I stopped promoting it (I also analyzed the reasons for the downtrend). Similarly, when you identify uptrends and positive developments, you should increase your promotional efforts for those merchants and goods.
An example of an income report.
|Affiliate network #1||$ –||$ 576.00||$ –|
|Affiliate network #2||$ –||$ –||$ 350.00|
|Affiliate network #3||$ –||$ –||$ –|
|Merchant #1||$ –||$ –||$ 413.00|
|Merchant #2||$ 233.00||$ 86.50||$ 172.00|
|Merchant #3||$ 175.00||$ 115.00||$ 77.25|
|Total||$ 408.00||$ 777.50||$ 1,012.25|
Note: You don’t have to record your earnings to publish income reports on your website. Most reports are likely fakes, and affiliates use them to increase sales and hype up themselves.
Promote the Best Merchants, Programs, and Products
You’re not going to succeed with programs that pay single-digit and low commissions, for example, Amazon Associates. Instead, you should participate in rewarding programs that pay high commissions with cookie periods of 30 days or more. In this post, I discuss how to choose affiliate programs based on 12 factors.
Use High-Earning Links and Banners
Many affiliate networks allow you to sort a merchant’s links/banners by earnings per click (EPC). Naturally, it’s an intelligent idea to use links that are converting and performing well.
Focus on a Handful of Merchants, Programs, and Products
I’m an affiliate to many programs but routinely focus on promoting four to six merchants. I call this exclusive group my “affiliate nexus” or “nexus.” Most of the content I create includes or relates to my nexus. By targeting a few merchants, I strengthen my relationships and increase my familiarity with them, which helps with content creation and marketing.
Another way to think about it is which “20 percent” of advertisers will satisfy your goals? The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, suggests that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. The concept applies to many facets of life. For example, you likely spend 80 percent of your time with 20 percent of your friends. You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. Twenty percent of Americans control 80 percent of the wealth.
Some publishers concentrate on one or two programs whereas others focus on too many. Committing to one or two programs puts your income at risk. A merchant could deactivate its program, lower its commission, get crushed by new entrants, or go belly up. Any of those scenarios would cause your commissions to decrease. By contrast, focusing on too many advertisers weakens your efforts and progress.
Remaining in programs for the sake of “keeping your options open” is usually pointless and inefficient. I recently ended roughly 70 percent of my affiliate partnerships. Those programs were unprofitable, unrelated to my niche, or paid low commissions. I also eliminated programs with low EPCs. Freeing myself of such programs gives me more time to focus on my affiliate nexus.
Add Enough Links to Each Post
The number of affiliate links you include on each page is critical. Adding one or two links will not result in enough clicks and conversions. You must add at least six to eight links, on average, to stack the odds in your favor. To increase your link count, you can:
- Deep link to helpful content. Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site.
- Deep link to articles that support or relate to your post, for example, case studies and examples.
- Add advertising banners.
On the other hand, don’t add links for the sake of increasing your count only. Links should appear natural and be useful to readers.
A call to action (CTA) is a word, phrase, or sentence that encourages a reader to take a specific action, for example, learn more, buy now, start your free trial, and click here (click here is slightly outdated). CTAs appear as text and images such as “Buy It Now” buttons.
- How to Create the Perfect Call to Action
- 8 Call-to-Action Tips Getting Real Results for Marketers Right Now
Reading is a passive and disengaged activity for many people. Therefore, occasionally prompting your audience to act will increase engagement and clicks.
Add a “Tools” Page
Many marketers and creators have “tools” pages that feature products, services, and software they use. Those pages attract visitors because people want to know what others are using. An excellent tools page will list five to ten items with descriptions of some sort. Also, the page is typically added to a site’s primary menu.
Be genuine. I dislike publishers who seem disingenuous, for example, an affiliate who recommends two or more hosting companies on the same page. Publishers who recommend multiple tools from the same category are likely putting profits before people, which is a practice you should avoid.
Add a Top Bar
A top bar is a rectangular element that appears at the top of a website. Users typically use top bars to collect emails, highlight deals, and callout CTAs.
WordPress users have many free options including Top Bar, Simple Banner, and WPFront Notification Bar. Premium options include Thrive Themes and OptinMonster.
Get Creative with Your Widgets
Featuring ad banners and opt-in forms in your widgets are so ten years ago. That doesn’t mean banners and forms aren’t useful, but there are more creative ways to use widgets. Case in point, I use footer widgets to feature “trending” articles (all are affiliate links). Let your imagination run wild!
Use the ThirstyAffiliates WordPress Plugin
The ThirstyAffiliates plugin is a must-have for affiliates who use WordPress. It allows users to manage, cloak, and track links from a central place. Free and pro versions are available. The pro version is packed with robust features including automatic keyword linking, advanced reporting, CSV import/export, and more.
Use the FooGallery WordPress Plugin
Instead of adding banners to posts the conventional way—Add Media—I insert and manage banners with the FooGallery image gallery plugin. The plugin is loaded with features and customizations. Any changes I make to banners/images will automatically cascade to relevant posts. That’s much better and more efficient than having to replace banners one-by-one. I can quickly update my banners to promote limited-time deals and sales events. The following is a banner I setup with FooGallery.
Add Links to Your Email Campaigns
Most email marketing companies will describe in their terms that affiliate links are okay, but affiliate marketing is not. For instance, MailerLite states,
Affiliate Marketing and Affiliate Links are two different things. Affiliate Marketing is prohibited in MailerLite, but Affiliate Links are fine in most cases.
- Affiliate Marketing (Prohibited)- is a type of business where you earn a commission by promoting other company’s products. We don’t allow this activity, because there’s no direct relationship between you and your subscribers. You are not allowed to send unrelated offers to your subscribers or pretend to be another brand.
You must be careful when adding links to your emails and consider context, but don’t be too cautious and lose out on marketing opportunities. If you subscribe to my email list, you’ll see how I combine email marketing with affiliate links.
Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is your top traffic source? Most of my traffic is “organic” and flows from search engines. That is by design and how you likely came to my site.
I took an SEO course a few years ago and wish I would have learned about it sooner. SEO is arguably the most critical skill an online marketer can possess because search functionality is everywhere including Google, YouTube, Amazon, and eBay. Implementing SEO best practices will increase your visibility, impressions, click-throughs, and conversions. Focusing on other traffic sources–like social media and email marketing–probably won’t be enough to reach your goals.