During the last few years, affiliate marketing has gained ground as one of the most profitable marketing tools for bloggers to increase their revenue. According to forecasts, it is expected that affiliate marketing spending will grow up to $4.474 billion only in the US in 2016.
Today, both the merchants and the affiliates are fully aware of how beneficial affiliate marketing can be for them. While business owners see it as an effective method of advertising their product at the lower cost, for affiliates like bloggers it is an easy way to make money by doing what they love.
The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
Today, affiliate marketing has definitely become one of the most profitable monetization techniques for affiliates who want to effectively raise their income. Basically, it is the digital equivalent to business referrals.
The main aim of an affiliate is to post a special, affiliate link to a product or a service so that the consumers can check it out themselves. However, is not just another run-of-the-mill link we are talking about. It’s the affiliate link containing your unique affiliate ID.
This entire process is based on affiliate cookies that get dropped on your visitors’ computer once they visit your blog and check out the merchant’s site. So, once the purchase is made, the merchant identifies your affiliate ID by using the cookie from the customer’s computer and pays you the agreed commission.
Obviously, the entire concept of affiliate marketing is about creating a firm relationship between these three sides:
- Advertiser, or a merchant, is the first link in the chain of the affiliate marketing. This is a web-site owner paying affiliates to send traffic to their site, generate leads and promote their product.
- Publisher, or simply an affiliate, is the bridge between a customer and a merchant. In this case in particular, that’s you – a blogger. Once you earn the trust of your visitors, it would be logical to start promoting relevant products you believe won’t compromise the content and quality of your blog in exchange for commission.
- Consumer is, of course, the final piece of the puzzle here. What you need to keep in mind is that everything you do on your blog, from providing quality content to linking to particular online businesses needs to be relevant for your followers. Only this way will they decide to either convert or move from your blog to the advertiser’s website and make a purchase.
Types of Affiliate Marketing Payment Methods
Parallel with the skyrocketing popularity of affiliate marketing, the number of its types continues to grow at a rapid pace. On the plus side, this provides you with more options to choose from when you decide to dive into this sort of practices.
Pay-Per-Click marketing is one of the basic affiliate marketing programs, especially popular among the rookies in the blogosphere. What’s most beautiful about this marketing program is that an affiliate gets paid for every visitor that referred to the merchant’s website, regardless of whether the purchase is made or not.
PPP marketing has become one of the most lucrative affiliate marketing types. Unlike PPC, it is based on a pretty strict principle, where an affiliate gets paid only when the follower undertakes a desired action, such as making a purchase or asking for some sort of information on the product.
PPP can be further subdivided into the following programs:
- Pay-Per-Sale Marketing – In this affiliate program, an affiliate gets paid for each sale they generate. Therefore, if you refer a visitor to the merchant’s website and this visitor makes a purchase, you will get the percentage of the sale as a commission.
- Pay-Per-Lead Marketing – This type of marketing is usually employed by the companies that want to grow their business by generating leads. Here, the main purpose of an affiliate is to help the merchant expand their customer list by offering their products to as diverse target audience as possible.
To Personalize or not to Personalize: Always Mind the Effectiveness of your Affiliate Strategy
One of the safest ways to build a killer affiliate marketing strategy is to promote the products you use yourself. For example, you’ve tried a particular product, you loved it and now want to recommend it to your followers. This will be especially effective if you already have a relationship based on trust with your clients.
But, if you are a rookie in the blogosphere, things are not as simple. In this case, you could also go for what’s called the unattached affiliate marketing, meaning that you won’t have any specific authority in the niche you’re promoting. In this, of course, less recommended option, there is practically no connection between your blog and the end customer.
Monetizing your Blog Means Investing in a Solid Strategy
The mere thought of monetizing your blog through affiliate marketing sounds pretty lucrative. However, it takes up a lot more than being active online and providing valuable content. It’s a whole set of steps that would later pay off in the long-run.
Integrate your Content with Affiliate Marketing
In the last few years, the blogosphere has started expanding at a rapid pace, thus creating a competitive landscape. In order to run a respected, trusted and profitable blog, you need to find the way to stand out.
The first step in achieving that is investing in a valuable content. Regardless of what first attracts visitors to your channel, it is the quality of your content that would either scare them away or make them want to stay. Like in any other relationship, this bond relies on mutual benefit.
When trying to implement any of the affiliate marketing strategies to your content, you need to stay as unbiased as possible. Sure, a positive endorsement is always a plus, as well as a personal recommendation, but this strategy poses several risks.
The study conducted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management only goes further to show how marketers who openly advertise products usually have lower success rate than those who do so more discretely. Neal J. Roese, a professor of marketing at the school and co-author of the study, states:
If you’re in this maximizing mindset, no matter how good the product is, consumers are/going to be unsatisfied with it if it’s anything less than the most amazing thing ever. It’s a hidden danger that marketers need to be aware of.
Choose the Right Product to Promote
As the main channel between your followers and a merchant, you need to get to know your target audience well. This means that you need to do a detailed research and learn what their major expectations and needs are. Some of the most important things you should keep in mind are:
- Do you, or would you, use the product yourself?
- Are your readers really interested in the product you promote?
- Is the product you promote really something your target audience expects to see on your blog?
- Are the products you promote offered at different price points?
- Does the product have a money-back guarantee?
Research your Audience
In order to promote a product successfully, you need to research your target audience first. Babson University has extensively written about this issue and here is what they emphasized:
By the same token, you must also know and understand your audience. Marketing your product to anybody is akin to sitting on a park bench with a product in the hope that someone who needs it will suddenly swing on by. It’s unrealistic and foolish. To excel at affiliate marketing, you must be able to literally visualize your target audience sufficiently enough to be able to address him or her in a natural way.
Never Underestimate the Aesthetic Value of your Blog
There is nothing unusual in adding affiliate links to your blog, but it should never disregard its aesthetic value. Even though affiliate links help increase your income, they must not be allowed to damage your site’s integrity since a lapse like this can even have an adverse effect. For this reason alone, you should always try to find a perfect balance between monetization and user experience.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that the majority of your content needs to be completely ad-free. Apart from this, you should also link to the pages from your sidebar or footer, so that they are always visible and still that they do not over-encumber the rest of your blog.
To sum up, the success of your affiliate marketing efforts requires investing both a lot of time and effort. Remember, affiliate marketing is about making real money, but by no means about making easy money. Therefore, the key to having a killer affiliate marketing strategy lies in moderation and making money through affiliate marketing program is a marathon, not a race.