If you've ever purchased a product online, chances are the product was either an affiliate product – where the site you found the product listed was actually a 3rd party person promoting the product – or it was the website's own product, but one that you could become an affiliate of and promote it yourself.
Affiliate marketing is very popular on the Internet. It's a way to promote other people's products for a commission. From the product creators perspective, it's great to have an army of affiliates going out promoting and selling your products, and from the affiliate marketer's perspective it's great to make money promoting a product that you didn't have to create.
I'm going to tell you more about affiliate marketing and how you can make money becoming an affiliate marketer.
The topics I'll be covering for you in this article will be:
- Is affiliate marketing still an effective way to earn money in 2022?
- Understanding your audience & their needs
- Why having a mailing list is important even when you're an affiliate
- Stop promoting (random) products and start promoting solutions
- Simple strategies for increasing your affiliate income
- Making the most of ad placement locations
- Why tracking clicks & sales is so important
- An important, yet often ignored part of affiliate marketing
- Effective ways to promote products
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's okay. I will do my best to explain everything. I'll do my best to help you learn more about affiliate marketing and how to make it truly work for you.
Is Affiliate Marketing Still an Effective Way to Earn Money in 2022?
The first thing I want to talk to you about is whether or not affiliate marketing is still an effective way to earn money.
You've probably heard that some states have been banned from becoming affiliates for companies like Amazon.
As of the time of this writing, the states that are banned by Amazon are:
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
I won't get into the tax laws because it is just too complicated (and convoluted) but rest assured that there are plenty of other affiliate programs that you can join even if you live in one of the states mentioned above. The key is that Amazon is a registered business in the states above so that makes them libel for paying sales tax in those states if an affiliate also promotes the products in the same state and they don't want to.
But the truth is, most people who have affiliate programs aren't big corporations. They are people like you and me who created a product and want other people to promote it. What's more, you're likely to make a lot more money promoting products from individuals who are not part of a super large corporation like Amazon, anyway. So, this should not affect you at all. You can still become an affiliate marketer and probably become even more successful by not wasting your time with low profit margins offered by huge corporations.
So the answer to the question is an inequitable yes. Absolutely. It's a great time to become an affiliate marketer. While in the old days, it was probably a lot simpler to throw up a mini site and promote products you never used, intended to use, or cared about — today affiliate marketing requires a whole lot more effort and honesty on your part — to me this makes it an even better time than ever to embark on affiliate marketing as a career.
You can be proud that you're an affiliate marketer, a career that requires advanced marketing skills and knowledge of your audience including their needs and desires. Plus a high dose of honesty and integrity. To be a great affiliate marketer you'll need to learn the ins and outs of online marketing and that's what I want to talk to you about in the coming weeks.
If you really want to become an affiliate marketer who makes enough money to quit your day job, you can. But, please, don't quit your job right now. No, you can start this on a very part time basis and given time, effort and commitment work your way up to earning six figures plus. That's right. The amount of money you can make with affiliate marketing is truly unlimited. You write your own ticket, give yourself raises when you want to, and you will see a return equal to your efforts.
If you want to make money promoting other people's products and / or services and make a commission on every sale there are so many opportunities that I could never list them all. It wouldn't matter if I did anyway because you should promote products and / or services that are unique to your target audience.
You'll need to learn how to develop a traffic generating websites, build content that speaks directly to your target audience while bringing in targeted traffic as well as builds relationships with your customers enough that they trust and follow your recommendations of what products they need to purchase.
Understanding Your Audience & Their Needs
No matter what type of product / service you want to promote it's imperative that you understand who your audience is, and what makes them tick. In fact, the beginning of any type of business is to find out who your audience is and get to know their desires, wants, and needs. Find out what problems they have, then look for ways to solve them. If you can offer solutions to your audience you'll do a much better job at promoting any type of product or service. It will be the answer to their prayers.
Once you know your audience you'll have a better understanding of how to speak to them and write for them. You'll understand them so well that they will feel like they know you and they'll realize that you are also committed to providing them products and services that they not only want, but truly need. Not only that, they'll quickly realize that you're a real person, and one that they can count on and trust.
Affiliate marketing is an awesome way to earn money. Real money that you can pay your bills with, go vacation with, and maybe even buy your wife (or husband) something really special with. But, the real money won't come unless you truly understand who your audience is and what they need.
In order to get to know your audience:
Start with what you know — Most of the time it will be easier for you to market to an audience you already know. You can be in your own market. If you found a problem and solved it for people just like you, that's a great place to start. However, if you've found a solution to an audience outside your own demographics for which you're passionate about that can work too.
Research what you want to know — Even if you want to move outside of your comfort zone to an entirely new market unfamiliar to yourself and what you already know you can do market research to find a target audience. In fact, even if your market consists of people like you, you should still do research. Our own experiences are subjective, so you need some objective information to ensure that you really do know that audience.
Determine audience demographics — You should be able to, through market research, pinpoint the age, gender, income, education and marital status of your ideal audience. If you can't, you don't know enough about your audience to start marketing yet. Keep researching.
Ascertain audience lifestyle — Values and lifestyle are super important for you to understand about your target audience so that you can find products and services that solve problems that they have in which they can afford to purchase. It's also important to know how they form their opinions and get their information and whether they are early adopters, or slow responders.
Create a customer profile — Once you have completed your market research, you should then be able to create a customer profile. Just create a profile of one customer that you will write and create all of your marketing material for. It's so much easier if you give that one person a job, an income level, and even a name and assign them children if that is your target market. This fake persona or prototype will be the person for whom you write all advertising copy, all blog posts, all social media comments and so forth.
Examine and grow — Like with all things Internet and technology, things change. People change, and society changes. Continuously examine and monitor your target audience so that you can change your marketing efforts (and product and service offerings) as they change.
Only with proper market research can you determine who your audience is, and finally, what they need. You're only going to choose affiliate products that solve problems for your target audience, and once you do that, you'll start making more money than you ever thought possible.
Think about your audience. Who are they, what do they do, and what do they really want and need?
Why a Mailing List is Important
Some people will tell you that email marketing is dead. I call BS on that. Honestly, it doesn't matter what kind of marketer you are, the saying: “The money is in the list”. Is as true for them as it is for you, maybe even more so. As an affiliate marketer, if you build super targeted email lists, you're going to be able to use that list to give yourself a raise pretty much whenever you need it. (Seriously)
In the marketing world, email marketing is considered “permission marketing”. This is a term coined by the best affiliate marketer of all time, Seth Godin. Seth tells us that collecting someone's email information provides us the “… privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want them.”
By getting people (not just any people, remember who your audience is) to sign up for your mailing list, in order to receive relevant and timely information about issues that they care about, and the ability to learn about solutions that they need, you are being afforded more than just permission to market to them.
You're being given a responsibility to provide them with unique and useful content, products and / or services that will make their lives easier.
Most people need to hear about a product or service multiple times before they buy it. Plus, most people want to get to know the people who are recommending products and services to them so that they can develop trust. Your email list is the perfect place for all of that to occur. Sure, some people are going to go to your website, and buy what you want them to buy the first time they go to the site, but most people aren't. Most people are going to sit on it and wait. While they're waiting, they might as well receive important information from you via their email inboxes which can help them make the right choices. (The right choice to buy what you're recommending.)
If you have not been building a mailing list because you thought it was all about social media, or websites today, you're making a huge mistake. Email marketing is not dead. Email marketing is still the main source of marketing that works very well today. It works better than any other form of marketing ever in the history of marketing.
Of course, there is some danger of starting an email list before you're ready. When people sign up for an email list or a email newsletter (whatever you choose to call it) they want your information. If you don't send them information right away, they will get disappointed at first, but then later they'll forget about you.
In fact, if you don't send them info right away and they forget about you, then you remember you have the list and start sending them information, they might even get mad. So, don't make that mistake. Create an email list now, and start sending the people who sign up information now. Fortunately, email list software today, like Aweber, is simple to use, and allows you to pre-load information for your sign ups. So, there is no excuse not to start now.
As you build a targeted list you'll be able to market to that list 24/7 365 days a year. Most of your marketing will practically be automatic. You'll have to get people to your website and to your sign up form with great content targeted to your ideal customer, and then give them a good reason to sign up. You can provide a free ecourse, a weekly newsletter about you niche, a free eBook or eReport, a checklist, or something else entirely. Use your imagination but work toward getting your target audience to sign up for your list.
This list is going to give you the most opportunity to make a lot more money. I promise you that.
Stop Promoting (Random) Products and Start Promoting Solutions
Once you have completed your market research and you completely understand who your target audience is, and you've developed your customer profile take a look at that person whom you've created and ask yourself what type of problems this person has.
Write down a list of problems, and if you already know the solutions write them down too. If you don't know the solutions, search for them. As you find solutions, find out if there are affiliate programs that offer solutions to your target audience for the problems you've decided they probably have.
If you have found more than one solution to each problem you'll need to try to get your hands on a test copy, or actually purchase the product to try it out. It's better to not promote products or services that you've never used or seen in action for yourself. Why? Because, how can you truly 100 percent claim that a solution works, that their customer service is fabulous, and that nothing is wrong with the solution if you've not tried it out for yourself?
Try to stick to one solution per problem. Often, if you find a great solution to a problem that same product creator will have other solutions that you can also promote that can also be promoted as either up-sells or cross-sells to the main product you're going to promote. It's also better that you focus on one problem and one solution at a time. Keep your list handy so that once you've promoted the first solution to the first problem completely out, then you can focus on the next. Do the same process, try out the product or service first, before you recommend it.
If you stick to this process you will never be ashamed to promote something, because you will have used it and you will know that it works and is of superior quality. The only caveat is if the product is from the same publisher or creator. Typically, a particular publisher who has produced at least one product that you've tried, and been pleased with, will produce other products that you may want to promote and you can usually feel safe promoting the other products and / or services without trying every single product of that one publisher.
The other advantage to actually trying the product or service is that you can write an honest review about it. Due to disclosure rules you must reveal how you got the product that you are reviewing, and it will mean a lot more if you purchased it yourself. Now, that's not saying there is anything wrong with getting a preview copy of any product, that's fine, but do reveal that honestly to your audience. They will appreciate it.
It can get very tempting to just throw a bunch of random products on your website or blog that are loosely related to your niche, but you won't be doing yourself any favors and you won't make more money. For instance if you have a blog that focuses on helping writers improve their craft, and your start selling “How to Make Money From Home” items, you're going off the deep end. No, writers really do want to find out how to write better. They want to know how to stay organized in terms of their writing. They want to know how to develop characters, and so on. They already know how to make money from home. They are writers.
Choose the products and / or services that you will promote very carefully with your client profile in mind. Think about if you had the problem, is this product or service something you would personally use? When you are very choosey and particular about the products or services that you promote to your audience they will stand up and take notice. They will grow to trust your recommendations with every product that they purchase through you, because they will know that it meets certain criteria.
When you test out a particular product or company you want to ensure that the product meets your criteria. It must of course, solve a problem that your ideal customer has. Then, it must be of superior quality, easy to use and offer excellent customer service. If it's difficult to get any customer service, the client might actually come back to you to try to figure out why. That can make your life super difficult.
In addition, and this is just for your sake, you should make sure that the product has a high converting sales page, as well as offer you a well thought out affiliate program so that you can track views, clicks, and payments. The affiliate program should also provide great marketing materials, graphics, and timely payouts. You want to steer clear of programs that don't pay you what they owe you. It is understandable for them to wait for charge backs and returns, but it is not understandable for them to make you pass a high threshold before paying you what you're due.
Simple Strategies for Increasing Your Affiliate Income
The awesome thing about affiliate marketing is that you do not have to spend one dime or one minute on product creation. You can simply locate and try out products and services that solve problems for your target audience and promote them.
You simply do all the leg work for your target audience to find the products and services that they need the most, and then tell them all about it, delivering it on a platter for them to buy and use. What could be more fun, or more satisfying?
But this is not to say it's no work at all. It is. In fact, if you're not taking it seriously as work then you're probably not making that much money, if any. If you just find a product and toss up an affiliate link, or a 125×125 box, or even a long top of the page banner add, you're just not going to make that many sales. You really are going to have to dig a lot deeper.
These tried and tested strategies are really simple, but so powerful that once you start putting them into practice you'll wonder why you didn't get it all along.
1. Blog with purpose
Every last blog post you create for your niche website needs to have a purpose. It is going to be to entertain, educate, engage or encourage. Plus, every last blog post needs to have a call to action. That call to action (CTA) might be “sign up for my list to learn more”, or it might be to “click here and buy now” or it might be to “download my eReport” or “join me on Facebook” but it better have a CTA that is obvious and direct in order for it to have any meaning whatsoever.
2. Build a mailing list
If you are not already collecting email addresses and information from the visitors to your online real estate you're making a huge mistake. You can use the mailing list to do more entertaining, educating, engaging, and encouraging for a longer period of time. Like blog posts, every message you send needs a purpose and a CTA to be effective.
3. Promote solutions
Do not promote random products, as we discussed earlier, you want to promote solutions that you've tried and tested to be effective and solve a problem that your target market has. When you focus on solutions, rather than products, your target market will start craving for more.
In addition to your blog and mailing list it's a good idea to use social media creatively. Why not start a hangout on Google+ or a Facebook group that is just for people who are in your target audience? The more places you can be that your target market hangs out, the better.
5. Write product reviews
Every time you come across a new product or service that will solve a problem for your audience, it's a good idea to try it out, and write an honest review. Be sure that you're honest that you'll be earning money if they use your affiliate link, and also be honest about the product or service too. It's a good idea to go ahead and put up reviews for products you did not like and would not recommend too. That way you have a good balance.
6. Improve SEO
Search engine optimization is an important part of your website and / or blog because without good SEO no one will find you. Read all that you can about SEO so that you can utilize it for best results. Google webmaster tools will give you a lot of the information that you need.
7. Host a webinar
A really great way to tell your audience about a new product or service is to host a webinar. You can invite other people, even the creator of the product, to participate in the webinar which you will promote. It's a fun and wonderful way to get more mailing list sign ups, and often if you can get high participation the creators of the products will love you for it.
8. Track & Measure
Everything you do, every task you undertake needs to be studied, tracked and measured. If you're not setting goals, and then measuring your results against those goals you're just spitting in the wind. You can know what is working and not working by looking at the numbers.
9. Use Split Testing
You may have heard of A/B testing, or you may not have. We will talk more about this later, but it's always a good idea to test different forms of advertising and marketing to see what works best. Does advertisement A with the big headline work better than advertisement B with the big buy now buttons? How will you know if you don't conduct split testing?
These are all strategies that you can implement simply and easily once you know how. Next week we'll talk about making the most out of ad placement, don't miss that very important blog post.
Making The Most of Ad Placement Locations
Location. Location. Location.
We all know that it's super important for all kinds of things. From where your business is, to where you place ads, to exactly where you put advertisements on your own website. Location is very, very important and should never be overlooked.
First, let's talk about where to place ads
As in what networks should you use? Networks like Google Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn.com and perhaps, blog networks and newsletter networks. There are many places that you can place your advertisements. But, there are some things to consider before you get started. It's very important when you place ads for your affiliate products that you 1) understand your goals and 2) only place them where you know your target audience will be seeing them.
It's imperative to know what the goal of your advertisement is. Well, you say: It's to make sales. Okay, but maybe it's not. Maybe your goal to placing an advertisement is to get people to sign up for your email list so that you can market to the person longer term. Maybe your goal is to get more likes on your Facebook page, or more people to join your Facebook group? Again, you want more joiners so that you can have them as sort of a captive audience so that you can better market your solutions to them.
So, now that you know your goal, you'll need to ensure that you have the ability, and the budget, to properly target your advertisement. For smaller budgets I highly recommend using social media advertising because you can set a smaller budget and get more results that are super targeted. It is a lot harder to make a success of Google Adwords on a small budget. I also recommend that you use ads for growing your list, or social media followers rather than selling a product out right.
Next, let's talk about where to place affiliate ads on your blog or website.
You have a lot of choices with your blog in terms of real-estate that is available for advertising. You can use a top banner, a side box, or you can place ads within and between your content. It's important that you do a little research here, as well as testing to find out what works best. As we've discussed previously anything you promote should be high quality and tested, as well as a laser-focused solution for your target audience.
Every product that you promote should have at least one or more blog posts, one or more social media posts, and several emails sent to your targeted email list regarding that product or service. In addition to that you can choose to place a banner ad, a side ad, and contextual ads within the copy of your blog posts and other content on your website. You can also place the same type of promotions within your email newsletter.
The way that you determine where is the best location to place your ads is determined by many factors, but it mostly comes from testing different locations. Most affiliate marketers will say that contextual ads work best inside of copy and blog posts over banner ads. But, if you take a look most bloggers who earn money through affiliate ads also have ads on the side, within the copy of their blog posts, and on top and bottom banners. The important thing is not to clutter up your page with too many ads. Focus on certain ads, and spots, and don't keep adding more.
Do remember that ads above the fold will be more likely to be seen. However, ads that are within the context of the blog post and content will do a lot better than banner and graphic ads. So, it's always best to do both and then test and track.
Why Tracking Clicks & Sales Is So Important
The truth is, no matter what you do on line, you should set goals, then study the numbers to ensure that you are reaching those goals. Because if you're not, then you need to retool how you are doing things and come up with new strategies and tactics to reach your goals. The only way to truly do this is to check the click-throughs and check the numbers and see what products in what placement are giving you the sales.
You can study clicks via your email account as well as via Google webmaster tools. You can also look at your numbers via your various affiliate accounts that you have with vendors. Each account will give you a different variation on the tools but all will allow you to see what ads are getting the clicks and which ones are making the sales. If you want really amp up your success it's important to understand the numbers and know what you're measuring against.
You need to know how many people open your emails, how many people click the links in your emails, then how many people buy once they click through the links in your emails or other marketing material such as banner ads, newsletter ads, or contextual ads. Knowing this information will help you learn to make every aspect of your sales funnel work better.
For instance, let's say you have sent out an email marketing message. You have a 30 percent open rate, and a 20 percent click through rate, and then 2 percent are answering your call to action (CTA). A conversion rate of 2 percent may or may not be good in your industry. If you've set some goals in advance based on industry standards, which you can find out via research, then you can determine at what point in the process you need to improve. In this example, based on your research, you decide that the open rate is good, and the click through rate is good, but the 2 percent who are answering your CTA is low.
You can take that information and tweak the information that your customers view after clicking through to try to improve upon the conversion rate. Maybe you figure out something is wrong with your vendor's check out process and people are abandoning the checkout. You may need to notify them, or you may need to choose a different product and vendor if you can't get answers. You will only find this out if you're tracking clicks, and sales. So, as you see, tracking clicks and sales is extremely important to your entire process if you want to make more money.
An Important Yet Often Ignored Component
So, if you're serious about making money through affiliate marketing, and since you've read this far with me, I am betting you are, you'll learn all about this important element of affiliate marketing. That important element is split-testing. I mentioned it earlier and talked about it a little bit in my blog post called: Simple strategies for increasing your affiliate income.
Simply put split-testing is setting up at least two slightly different versions of the same advertisement, offers, landing pages, sales page, keywords, email and more to find out which one leads to better conversions. You will then go back and do what I talked about in the last blog post, which is study your click throughs, and sales numbers to determine which version works best to bring home the money. By changing only one small part of each version, you'll be able to tell what is working and what is not working. You don't want each version to be vastly different because then you don't really know what is causing the different response.
If you want to be really super successful you can start with four to five very different advertisements (or whatever it is you're testing), then choose the one best performing ad out of those to start your A/B testing. Using that best performing ad change very slight things about it to improve it to find out what converts better. You might change the size, wording or color of the headline. You might change the size, location or color of the “buy now” button. But remember, it's better to do at least the A/B testing than no split-testing at all if you can't start with more ads first.
Do the same thing with all the other marketing that you're doing. Split-test subject lines for email marketing messages. Split-test landing page headlines, or buy button sizes, shapes, and locations. Really, what you can split test is endless. It's important to do it so that you can make all of your marketing better each time. By finding out which of two different options are best, you can improve upon almost any type of marketing collateral.
You can also use split-testing to figure out when is the best day, and what is the best time of day to send email marketing messages. Simply send out the email marketing message with the same subject line but send it at different times of the day, and on different days. If you are checking open rates, and click throughs, and sales, you'll be able to easily tell by looking at the numbers what is working and what is not working.
Effective Ways to Promote Products
No matter what kind of products or services that you choose to promote there are effective ways in which to get the word out about the products. Most people choose a combination of all the ways I will talk about below to market the affiliate products that they choose for their target audience.
Pay Per Click
We have talked about PPC in an earlier blog post. Simply put, PPC can be done on various social media networks and search engines such as Facebook, or Google via Google Adwords. You simply set up an account and choose the targeted options, be it a keywords. or a specific demographic in which to market your advertisements to. In my opinion, PPC is best used for higher priced items with very effective, tried and tested sales pages with high conversion rates or to help build your email list.
Social Media Marketing
By setting up and fully using the right social media networks, you can promote your products and services without being pushy and obvious. The key with social media is to engage with others, share other people's stuff, make useful comments, and give your audience valuable information to read by linking to your blog or other content that you've developed.
Try to only join social media that your audience uses, and don't join any social media that you do not plan to actively participate in. Fill out all your profiles fully, and then develop a content strategy only for that social media. It's boring to just repeat the same exact thing across all social media networks. There is simply no point in that and people will get bored quickly.
I've told you that the money is in the list, and I mean it. If you don't realize it by now you must build an email list of your target audience. If you're not collecting information from your social media, website or blog visitors you're wasting a truly valuable opportunity.
By collecting information about your target audience, then using email to educate, engage, interact and enlighten your audience, over time you'll explode your affiliate marketing income. There is truly no better way to give yourself a raise than via email marketing.
The point of content marketing is to create keyword rich content that is interactive, educational and inspirational with a clear call to action. To use content marketing to promote your affiliate products you can do any or all of the following:
- Article Marketing
- Create a website
- Create Memes
- Create YouTube Videos
- Design Infographics
- Develop a Whitepaper
- Publish an eBook
- Write an eReport
- Write Social Media Posts
- and more
All of these ways to market affiliate products and or services involve creating content. Content can consist of text, images, sound or a combination of all of them. The important thing about content is that it is targeted and performs a specific function such as to teach someone how to do something, or tell them why they should do something, or otherwise gives them the information that they need at the time they are searching for it.
Eventually, you'll learn what works best for your target audience, but you can't figure that out without getting started. Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to make a full time living from the comfort of your home, or the local coffee shop (it's up to you). But, like most things in life there is a right way and a wrong way. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. Others, have already made all the mistakes and learned the best way to do things. Learn from them and you'll be surprised at how much you'll start making.
Conclusion – So Is Affiliate Marketing Still Worth It In 2022?
Wow, I can hardly believe we've come to the end of our time together. I have enjoyed telling you what I know about affiliate marketing and I truly hope that it helps you create the kind of business you have always dreamed about.
We've determined that affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money. I have talked to you about how to understand your audience, and choose products that solve their problems rather than random products without a point. I've also given you simple strategies to increase your income, and told you how to make the most of ad placement.
I've explained how tracking clicks and sales and studying your metrics is an important part of having a successful affiliate marketing business. I gave you the low down on split-testing and why you need to do it even if you don't think it's fun. After all, making money is fun, and if you do it, you'll make a lot more of it.
I also went over ways to effectively promote affiliate products using what we've learned. I've really enjoyed blogging for you the last few weeks. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you start with just one thing to improve upon what you're doing now you'll see a huge difference in your bottom line.
Take your business seriously, and realize that affiliate marketing is here to stay and is going to be a great way to earn a living for a long time to come.