Affiliate marketing is one of the most cost efficient ways for merchants to sell more products online. Since it’s purely performance based merchants risk nothing and have everything to gain in the form of more sales.
On the other side of the coin are the affiliates, and many are making millions.
I have personally generated tens of millions of dollars in sales for merchants and made several million in profits for myself from affiliate marketing, so it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the main methods I recommend for those who want to learn how to make money online.
So What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing refers to a way for merchants (the advertiser in the affiliate marketing relationship), to markets products for free through a network of affiliates to potential new customers. Since the merchant normally only pays an affiliate commission to the affiliate when a sale to a new customer is made, it is a virtually risk-free option for the merchant to acquire new customers.
To better understand what is affiliate marketing and how the mechanism works, check the infograhic below, or download it as a PDF document at the bottom of this article.
The Merchant (a.k.a. Advertiser)
The Merchant is the company/person who owns the product that they allow affiliates to promote in order to maximize sales.
The Affiliate (a.k.a. Publisher)
The affiliate is the company/person who promotes the merchant’s products, (normally on a website that is controlled by the affiliate, but not always), where he gets potential customers to click a link that directs traffic to the merchant website. This is often a review or comparison type of website, which offers potential customers in-depth and unbiased product information that is often lacking on the merchant’s website.
The Consumer (a.k.a. Customer)
The targeted client or potential new customer browses the Internet and finds the affiliate’s website where he/she clicks an affiliate link that is tracked by the affiliate network. When the customer makes a purchase on the merchant’s website the affiliate gets paid by the merchant for the effort of bringing in a new customer.
The Affiliate Network (a.k.a. Content Network)
The affiliate network provides a platform and service for affiliates and merchants to connect and work together. They oversee the administration and tracking of all affiliates sales and make sure that both sides are protected.
The Affiliate Marketing 6-Key Success Cycle
When you start looking for something to promote as an affiliate try to look for categories or niches within categories that interest you and you believe has good profit potential, rather than just individual products. There are several reasons for this, but the main ones are:
- Your affiliate website will have a lot more credibility if you are reviewing and comparing a number of similar products, compared to just promoting a single product.
- Affiliate offers come and go, and the terms of the programs change frequently. By focusing on a niche rather than a product you can easily promote other products if the terms become unfavorable for a particular product, or if the merchant is no longer offering a quality product or service.
- By focusing on a niche rather than a product you will find it easier to create quality in-depth articles about various goings-on in that niche.
Find Good Affiliate Offers
Once you have decided on your niche market it’s time to find suitable affiliate offers. Only use well established and trusted affiliate networks such as ShareaSale, Commission Junction, Clickbank etc. Here are some tips when you search for merchants:
- Look for merchants that have a great online reputation and customers love. Remember that your reputation as an affiliate is on the line just like the merchants when you recommend something to your website visitors.
- Never promote junk products just to get some more affiliate commission. Your online reputation is worth far more than that.
- If a merchant you would like to promote has less favorable terms than other merchants that you are less keen on promoting contact them. Negotiating terms will become a lot easier once you have proven yourself as a reliable affiliate with quality traffic and buyers.
- Don’t be afraid of listing negative features of the offers you are promoting. A good affiliate is always honest and up-front with their visitors, this always pays off in the long-term and adds to your credibility.
Build an Email Autoresponder
No matter how amazing your website is, the vast majority of your visitors will leave without making a purchase through your affiliate links. Many times 99 out of 100 customers leave without making a purchase, but they don’t have to be gone forever.
You have two good options to continue to promote to these potential customers, that obviously have an interest in the type of products you are promoting.
- Market to them with an email autoresponder sequence.
- Use re-targeting advertising to target to them again through online advertising.
Both of these options are awesome ways to continue market to your website visitors, but my favorite is to set-up an email auto-responder sequence to continue to market to them.
Once you have them on your email list you can continue to market to these potential customers for years to come, and not just one product either, but every product in your niche! Remember to treat your customers with respect and not spam them with too many emails though. Mix high-quality content emails with valuable information with product promotions and they will likely stay on your email list for a long time to come.
Build an Email Lead Capture Page
The best way to sign-up your website visitors to your email list is to send them to a so called “squeeze page”. On this page you give them an incentive to sign-up to your email list, like perhaps a free report on “The 7 Things You Must Know Before Buying Any Product Like XYZ!” or something similar.
Don’t overcomplicate this step and just use Leadpages if in doubt, it is by far the easiest and best way to quickly build squeeze pages for any type of website (or even Facebook).
Traffic is the lifeblood of any affiliate website, and what you want more than anything is targeted traffic. I would rather take a much smaller amount of laser targeted traffic over a massive amount of untargeted traffic any day.
There are many ways to generate targeted traffic such as SEO, Pay-per-click, video marketing, banner advertising, social media etc. Find the ways that work best for you and gives you the best ROI, or join my VIP Members to learn the short-cuts to generating more traffic than you can handle.
Get Paid and Repeat
Once you have developed your first successful affiliate website and autoresponder series it’s time to scale up. You can either go deeper into the niche and expand your product selection within the nice, or branch out into other niches.
As long as your niche is not too narrow I generally advice that you try to go deeper and become the go-to expert within your niche. Review and compare every product within your niche, and make your reviews the best they can possibly be. Then focus on driving traffic to make more money.
So I've explained what is affiliate marketing, but if you want to become an expert in this area of business you need a mentor.