Affiliate marketing is the number one source of passive income for online marketers. But not many people realize you can earn a lot of money online as a full-time affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketers have racked up a bad record and are regarded as 21st-century charlatans willing to sell you the latest youth elixir.
While there are certainly some affiliate marketers as crooked than a ram’s horn, most are trustworthy and follow a code as exacting as a samurai’s.
You want to be that kind of affiliate marketer. One that an audience can trust, one that won’t sell their soul for gold.
Affiliate marketing is essentially a type of internet marketing based on revenue sharing.
It is a system in which an affiliate promotes other people’s products and earns a commission on each referral sale they make.
Affiliates aren’t limited to promoting things like consumer products alone. In fact, promoting software usually pays off handsomely.
The B2B (business to business) and SaaS (software as a service) niche can be very lucrative. Businesses have and are willing to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to spend on software that can make them more productive and profitable.
Affiliates can also promote services such as consulting too.
If you already have a sizeable audience and you want to monetize, joining a good affiliate program is a step in the right direction.
Well, you can, depending on the size of your audience and how much credibility you’ve built over time.
I mean, Jon Morrow, owner of the smashingly popular Smartblogger, regularly makes thousands of dollars every month just by promoting products like the SiteGround hosting.
Smartblogger earns anywhere from $75 – $125 as commission from any user that buys Siteground hosting from links on their website.
When you factor in the hundreds of thousands of monthly visits, their earnings can easily add up to tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Before you get all excited at this proposition, just consider that Jon, by virtue of his many years of experience, has become an expert in the blogging niche and therefore has a massive following.
If there are only tumbleweeds on your desert-like website, there’s no way you can make a decent amount of money from affiliate marketing. Your first priority is increasing traffic and producing regular, quality content.
We’ll look at some of the most profitable affiliate programs in a bit.
But in the meantime, let’s first examine some of the finer differences between an affiliate program and an affiliate network.
To clearly understand the difference between them, and to avoid any confusion, we’ll have to look closely at the individual components that comprise an affiliate marketing system
First, there’s the merchant.
The merchant is the one who starts the ball rolling. The merchant creates products and services.
A merchant can create anything from a physical good to an intangible service.
Anyone or any company can be a merchant as long as they have a product they’re willing to sell through affiliates.
The affiliate, also sometimes called the publisher, is the party that promotes the product through specialized, affiliate links that track the sale to the advertiser. The ‘product’ could be anything from a consumer product like (skincare products), to a service like consulting.
The consumer is the most important part of the system. No consumer means no audience to market to.
Let’s examine the differences between an affiliate network and an affiliate program.
An affiliate network is a managed software platform that connects both merchants and affiliates. It provides a platform that allows affiliates to join affiliate programs.
The work they do is two-fold.
For merchants, an affiliate network offers reporting instruments, tracking technology and payment processing with the added benefit of access to a large base of affiliates.
On the other hand, it provides services like payment aggregation for affiliates and one-click application to new merchants.
An affiliate network is essentially a service that provides a platform for merchants to offer their affiliate programs and for affiliates to join those programs.
In contrast, an affiliate marketing program is an agreement between a merchant and an affiliate created, offered or initiated by the product creator. The merchant agrees to pay an affiliate a commission for directing traffic and/or sales their way.
However, to get paid commissions, the affiliate has to join the merchant’s program and agree to their terms and conditions.
In short, a merchant, in a bid to give his product or service some more exposure, creates an affiliate program where affiliates can join and then earn commissions for every sale they make for the merchant.
And Affiliate Manager is your advocate with the merchants in your network. They advise you on which affiliate offers work well for your audience and how to promote it.
Affiliate marketing is usually done via online media, like websites and blogs.
When an affiliate marketer signs up with a merchant, the affiliate gets a unique affiliate link (which they will add to their website). This affiliate link will be tracked by using cookies.
Cookies are a value stored on an end user’s computer, and in this case, they are used to track affiliate sales.
Cookies usually have terms like cookie length and cookie life to describe their life cycle.
If the user clicks on a link with a 30-day life (or duration) and a sale is made within that time, the affiliate is credited with the sale and consequently receives a commission.
In order to be successful with affiliate marketing, you need a lot of traffic, merchants with generous payout policies and you need to promote only products that are relevant and suited to your audience niche.
As easy as this all sounds, you can’t just throw an affiliate link or display ad on your blog sidebar and expect to roll in the cash. It’s not going to happen. You have to create a way to funnel your audience into the path of the sale. Which, as a blogger, isn’t nearly as hard as it may seem. Many affiliate marketing campaigns are straight forward and promoted with organic and paid traffic from social media and search engines.
If you are writing a blog post on fitness, you would appropriate affiliate products (like fitness clothing, exercise equipment, weight loss offers), that you can link to as you write your article. And with tools like Widgetly, you can create your own native and banner ads to sprinkle throughout the content.
By driving traffic to your site, either to specific blog posts or the root domain, you can increase the number of impressions (eyes that see the ads) and the conversion rate (people who buy).
It’s no secret. Not all affiliate marketing programs are created equal. Some are more equal than others. Bloggers who have a decent audience and want to monetize can join the following affiliate programs through affiliate networks.
We’ll examine each network and its pros and cons respectively.
This is the brainchild of the retail giant, Amazon.
Amazon associates is great for beginners as they take the sales process out of your hands so you can focus on bringing in as many leads as you can through your website.
Amazon associates can pay a commission of anywhere from 1-10 % depending on the category of the product. Items like clothes and luxury beauty products tend to have the highest commission rates which can be up to 10%. The commission on the sales of books can be even higher. They can be as high as 15%.
Although this commission rate isn’t so much in the affiliate marketing universe, it is quite plenty on the Amazon associates planet.
Amazon doesn’t hold its cookies for too long. They, however, do have a staggering number of products that virtually anyone can promote.
They are popular for another reason too.
If a user clicks on a link to buy a product on an affiliate’s website, and didn’t end up buying the product, but purchased another one instead, they still get a commission from this sale.
All in all, although the affiliate commissions aren’t as high as some others, Amazon associates is well suited to a beginner just learning the ropes of affiliate marketing. And with enough traffic, affiliate marketers can make a lot of money with Amazon associates.
This is another affiliate network that has been around for a while. They have, in fact, been in business for more than 17 years, and in that time, they have evolved and become more efficient while still providing a fantabulous user and customer experience
They previously used to allow just any product to be sold and promoted through their network.
This relaxed attitude towards quality control resulted in a profusion of low-quality products on their network. As you can imagine, affiliate marketers and customers alike were not happy. Fortunately, their policies became more rigorous and the overall quality of their service improved.
Clickbank is widely known for working with affiliate marketing newbies. Their service is free to use, and they still offer a myriad of programs that affiliates can join.
With a cookie duration of up to 60 days and commission percentages of up to 75% in some cases, Clickbank can easily become lucrative for newbies.
Commission Junction is another popular and well-established network.
With over 300 established big-brand advertisers like Go Pro and Priceline, and an impressive 43 % year on year growth in commissions, this network is definitely for the big players.
And occasionally for small players who aren’t so small anymore.
On this network, cookie life can be anywhere from 1-120 days, depending on the merchant.
This is another vast affiliate network. With over 3,900 merchants and 1 million+ affiliates, they have become a leader and a force in the industry
Some of their verticals include fashion, home and garden, food and drink, and even B2B products.
They are an affiliate network that is easy and intuitive to use and navigate. In addition to this, they pride themselves on their speed, efficiency, and accuracy. This platform is a solid recommendation for beginners who want to get their toes wet in affiliate marketing.
As you can imagine, the more exclusive the affiliate network is, the more lucrative it has the potential to be. Networks such as MaxBounty and Clickbooth are not for newbies. You need established and successful affiliate income and traffic history in order to promote their offers. These are intermediate and advanced level affiliate networks.
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Adwords vs Adsense vs Google Ads! Oh my!
Let’s start off by saying that Adwords and Google Ads are the same thing. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
Long before blogs were the rage and the internet was much less hectic than it is today, Google, the company that never rests, was secretly preparing something that would forever change the way people and businesses used and interacted with the internet.
And among all of Google’s revolutionary products, none has been more popular or generated more income than its advertising platforms, Adwords and Adsense.
Because of the ubiquity of Google’s advertising platforms, you’d think that all of Google’s products are unique and the first of their kind.
But this isn’t the case for all their products.
Although Adsense was revolutionary, it originally wasn’t Google’s idea. Or at least they weren’t the first to announce it.
Applied Semantics had announced its service and already called it Adsense in October 2002. But former Googler, Paul Buchheit, claims that the idea was talked about for a while at Google before they finally launched their prototype contextual targeting ads late in 2002. And since Google released its program around the same time, it supports the theory that they had at least been thinking about the concept just like Paul Buchheit claimed.
Google had deep pockets, and they did what Facebook recently did with Whatsapp and Instagram; they bought the company and then incorporated some of its technology into their existing ads program. They then proceeded to call their ‘content-targeted advertising program’ Google Adsense.
Unlike Adsense, Google Adwords, when it first launched on October 23rd, 2000, really was the first of its kind. It was a revolutionary idea, one that changed the dynamics of internet advertising.
This two-pronged hook would meet the needs of both businesses and consumers. It gave businesses the kind of exposure they couldn’t have gotten otherwise. It also simultaneously made it much easier for consumers to find the products and services most suited to their needs.
As the landscape of the internet has been remolded and reshaped by advances in science and technology, and as consumer behavior has adapted to these changes, Google deemed it fit to upgrade their tools and platforms to accommodate these changes.
They felt a change was necessary to adapt to the new digital landscape and to provide a comprehensive and intuitive platform for marketers who use Google products. In an article, Alessandro Antiga, head of Brand, Digital, and Creative Operations at Google, gave some reasons why Google rebranded. One reason they rebranded was “to help brands agencies, publishers, and advertisers better meet people’s needs by delivering meaningful and relevant messages.”
Over the years, Google’s customers had indicated that they wanted a single platform to “create, plan, buy and measure their campaigns.” Marketers who used Google’s tools were already using products like “Double Click and Google Analytics 360 suite products in tandem to create campaigns and measure their impact”.
In an interview that Google conducted, of almost 1,000 marketers, a staggering 80% said they wanted to use integrated marketing and advertising technology from a single vendor.
This wasn’t the only reason too.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s head of ads and commerce, also stated that they wanted to change people’s perspectives about the platform to more accurately represent all of Google’s offerings.
Sridhar, in an interview with Search engine land, said that ” with Google Ads as opposed to Google AdWords, it is moving the imperceptible default opinion that you get as an advertiser when you hear ‘Google AdWords’ … you think, ‘Oh, Words. Search.’ It’s a slight cognitive dissonance to all the other great things that we are doing in terms of both the format and surfaces these ads can show. And so, Google Ads, in our opinion, is a much more straightforward representation of what Google advertising can provide. It’s that simplicity and alignment of the core message from the first instant you hear the name, which is the goal.”
If you’re wondering, Google didn’t change its core functions either.
Managing Director for platforms, Dan Taylor said that although its look and feel the change, the core functionality of Google Ads would remain the same.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the rich histories that make each platform unique, we’ll proceed to examine how each platform works and how businesses and marketers alike can use both platforms to their advantage.
Adwords, in Google’s words, is a program that enables advertisers to creates ads which would appear on Google search results pages (SERPs), Google’s display network, Youtube, Gmail, and a network of partner sites.
The ads also appear in different formats, too, like text, shopping, display, video, and app installs.
Google Ads, depending on how you use the program, has the potential to be laser-like.
It can target users based on demographics like age, gender, location, sex, and a myriad of other demographics.
Careful consideration of demographics is crucial to the success of any campaign because, after all, there’s no point displaying your juicy steak ads to cabbage-consuming, kale-crushing vegetarians.
Doing so is contrary to what common sense would suggest.
Because of the almost nonexistent barriers to entry, most businesses can use Google Ads.
The platform itself is built primarily for businesses that either has a brick and mortar store or an online presence, or both.
Before we explore how Google Ads work, we’ll take a sneak peek at Google’s sneaky method of ensuring that advertisers continue to spend fantastic sums of money on ads.
When Google first displayed Ads, they appeared on the right side of the SERPs. But Google discovered that placing ads above the fold would increase clickthroughs, which would invariably result in more money.
Through A/B testing, they found ways to make ads even more inconspicuous.
Ads were previously yellow, and they would also have text alongside to emphasize their ‘adness.’
But as Google continued to test, and as users became more biased towards organic results and learned to blatantly ignore ads in favor of organic results, Google began finding even more subtle ways of displaying ads.
They went from using yellow to a subtle green, which more closely resembled organic results. These days although Ads still look like ads, they don’t scream ‘ad’ like the older ones used to. And you likely wouldn’t know if you were clicking on an ad or an organic search result.
While I may call this camouflage “sneaky” the truth is, advertising has always evolved to appeal to its target market. It’s the nature of marketing and we should all be following this trend. Design can make or break your ad campaign. So take note and give your customers what they want!
Any business, a remodeling company, for instance, can advertise on Google Ads by creating ads that are optimized for keywords like ‘cost of remodeling in SA’ or ‘tools for remodeling.’
Businesses can optimize for any keyword, depending on whether they’d like to reach a local audience or a larger international one.
But because of the high earning potential of the Google Ads program, many advertisers and businesses jostle for the most competitive keywords that rank the highest on the first page.
Google helps businesses more closely match their products and services to the most relevant audience by letting them bid for keywords and ad space on Google’s SERP (search engine results page) or display network.
In return, advertisers pay every time a user clicks on an ad. In other words, they pay per click, hence the acronym PPC.
However, whenever at least two advertisers bid for keywords that a lot of users enter, Google triggers an auction.
A Google auction is not like a typical auction where the highest bidder always wins, and the auctioneer rattles on like a machine gun. In a Google auction, instead of the highest bidder winning, the bidder with the highest Ad Rank wins.
This strategy is simple, click fraud – the process of repeatedly and intentionally clicking on an ad in order to increase revenue, whether by automated or human means – is common. Auctions based on quality is one way in which Google can try and mitigate this.
Ad Rank is Google’s system of determining whose ad is the most relevant. Ad Rank is calculated by multiplying the maximum cost per click bid with the quality score of the ad.
And the quality score is calculated by factoring in things like a page’s relevance to the keyword, clickthrough rate, and user experience.
Google triggers this auction to encourage and reward advertisers with the most relevant and most engaging content. They also reward these advertisers with higher ad rankings and lower cost per clicks. They, however, do the exact opposite to advertisers whose content isn’t so engaging.
Advertisers with low-quality scores will only get a high ad position if they pay a ridiculously high cost-per-click bid. If they cannot afford a higher cost per click, they have to settle for rock-bottom ad rankings.
Adsense works a bit differently.
Unlike the case of Google Ads, where businesses have to pay Google to advertise on the SERPs, Google’s Adsense program pays webmasters (those who own websites) to display other Adwords ads on their sites. Native ads and text ads are the most common.
In return, Google pays the webmasters a certain percentage of the Adwords average cost per click whenever users click on a particular ad.
To explain better, Adsense is one way that Google advertises businesses. So, other webmasters that have partnered up with Google (through Adsense) get a cut of the money that businesses pay through Adwords.
Just like in the case of Google Ads, the webmaster is paid per click or thousand impressions depending on the ad.
The webmasters have total control over where the ad appears on their website, the dimension, and the general appearance of the ad.
Adsense is a website monetization tool. If someone is scrolling through social media, sees an article that pikes their interest, clicks on the article ink, sees a relevant ad and clicks on the ad, they have been part of an Adsense monetization funnel. Congratulations! They have helped bolster the economy and further the success of many small businesses.
Adsense works best for those with a sizeable audience. The emphasis is on sizeable because Google Adsense isn’t as profitable as other networks. But even if the payout is small, it’s a start, so if you want to monetize your website, sign up for Adsense. Period.
Just like in the case of Adwords, advertisers bid for a webmaster’s advertising space in Google Adwords, and the one who bids the highest gets the space.
And the good news is that Google takes care of the billing so that webmasters can just sit back and watch the cash roll in. Literally.
The Google Ads platform allows advertisers to optimize their ads for the greatest ROI and click-through rate, but it doesn’t afford Adsense users such a luxury, as the position of the ad, it’s coloring, and the size are all at the webmaster’s discretion.
The whole process is automatic too. Businesses that enable the display network through their Adwords account will automatically have their ads displayed on relevant third party websites that have signed up to Ad-sense.
The caveat, however, is that unlike in the case of Google Ads, where there are almost non-existent barriers, and almost everyone can sign-up, Google Adsense is more rigorous.
We’ll get to that in a bit.
There are situations where Adwords is suitable and when it isn’t. The same goes for Adsense too.
As we’ve previously established, there are no absolutes when it comes to using Google’s advertising platforms, since they solve different problems for different people.
Adsense is for webmasters who want to sell advertising space to businesses, while Google Ads is useful for businesses that want to advertise on Google’s display and search network.
Although businesses can use both the search and display networks for advertising, they are best used in tandem for the best results.
When users see a display ad on another website, there’s no intent to buy; they’re just looking for helpful information. The logic is to use display ads first to create awareness of a product.
This works out well because it is much cheaper to advertise to a new audience through one of Google’s partner sites compared to the high CPC of using Google Ads.
Businesses can use the display network to increase brand awareness and to create brand recognition, thereby creating demand
With Google Ads, there is already search intent and demand, so Google Ads helps you to convert users who are already aware of your brand into paying customers.
Signing up for Google Ads is so simple and uncomplicated. All you need is a Google account.
You sign in to a Google Ads account using the same email address and password you would use for your Gmail account.
As we have established earlier, signing up for Google Adsense is much more rigorous and complicated than that.
To get a Google Adsense account, you would need to provide the following information:
Even after providing all the information required, you don’t automatically become a part of the Adsense Program.
Google still has to evaluate your site and approve of you. Google is trying to prevent consumers and advertisers from click-fraud and any other unsavory practice.
If they do that, you will then be given a code that you can use to display ads on your website. You may then customize the ads as you so desire.
As a consolation, despite the long and arduous process of signing up, Adsense is free to use, and you’ll hopefully earn boatloads of money.
There are no rules when it comes to advertising with Google’s major advertising platforms. You just have to outline your goals and make sure that you are using the platforms to achieve those goals.
And if the whole thing becomes too complicated and convoluted, and you find yourself out of your depth, hire a digital marketer. Or a digital marketing agency.
Neuromarketing. Nobel laureate, Francis Crick called it the astonishing hypothesis; the idea that all human actions, feelings, thoughts, and even consciousness itself are merely products of neural activity in the brain.
This is good news for marketers, especially affiliate marketers because neurobiology can help you optimize your website and copy so you can ultimately increase your conversions.
This is possible because you’re no longer guessing; you already know what is in your audience’ mind because you’ve been there.
Or at least seen what goes on inside it.
As with any subject that is heavily researched, the answers vary wildly. And some definitions just say the same thing but with different words.
Although there are many definitions, let’s look at two definitions.
Wikipedia defines Neuromarketing as “a new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the brain’s responses to marketing stimuli”
Wikipedia further states that researchers use fMRI to “measure changes in activity in parts of the brain…to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what part of the brain is telling them to do it.”
The online encyclopedia claims that ultimately, neuromarketing will be able to tell the marketer “what the consumer reacts to; whether it was the color of the packaging, the sound the box makes when shaken, or the idea that they will have something their co-consumers do not.”
However, Roger Dooley, neuromarketing expert, and writer and owner of the blog neurosciencemarketing.com takes this definition a step further and then simplifies it.
He defines neuromarketing as “…the application of neuroscience to marketing.”
He continues by saying in this post that
“Neuromarketing includes the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technology to measure a subject’s response to specific products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing elements”.
He adds that “in some cases, the brain responses measured by these techniques may not be consciously perceived by the subject; hence, this data may be more revealing than self-reporting on surveys, in focus groups, etc.”
We couldn’t agree more. The point of neuromarketing is to see what goes on in the customer’s head.
Although Wikipedia’s definition implies that neuromarketing is a new field, the opposite is true.
In the 1980s, as Pepsi began gaining ground in terms of marketing share, they began a marketing campaign (the Pepsi challenge) to prove that consumers indeed preferred Pepsi. The Pepsi challenge involved a blind taste test and predictably, the majority of participants in the Pepsi Challenge chose Pepsi over Coke. Notwithstanding, Coke still continued to dominate the market.
In 2003, Read Montague of Baylor College Medicine, baffled by Coke’s dominance of the market despite people’s preference of Pepsi, decided to conduct an experiment. In his experiment, he used the same blind taste test. But this time, he hooked consumers to an MRI machine to track their brain activities. During the blind test, most of the participants preferred Pepsi over coke. In the blind taste test, scans showed activity in a region of the brain called the ventral putamen which is associated with seeking reward when they drank their favorite drink (Pepsi). However, in a nonblind test, Coke was more popular. During the nonblind test, he observed increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (which is associated with higher thinking) and the hippocampus (which is associated with memory).
This led Montague to conclude that their brains were recalling the emotions, images, and ideas from Coca-Cola’s commercials which influenced their decision. Although Montague’s experiments pushed neuromarketing to the public eye, someone else had already applied neurobiology to marketing.
The concept of neuromarketing was first explored by Harvard marketing professor Gerry Zaltman in the 1990s. He went on to patent a technique called the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique. ZMET (Zaltman metaphor elicitation technique), has since been used by large companies such as General Motors, Nestle, Procter and Gamble, and ironically, Coca-Cola.
For one, neuromarketing isn’t cheap.
An MRI machine can cost as much as $5 million and twice that to set it up.
A single ad sample group of 20 people can also cost more than $10,000.
Consequently, only companies with deep pockets can carry out neuromarketing research.
Research from marketing schools shows how some companies (with deep pockets) have benefited from neuromarketing research.
· Google and MediaVest partnered with biometrics researcher NeuroFocus to gauge how users responded to their InVideo advertisements (the semi-transparent overlay ads on YouTube). Forty participants’ sensory responses were scored along with such criteria as attention, emotional engagement, and effectiveness.
· Microsoft uses EEG data to better understand its users’ interactions with its personal and laptop computers, including feelings of “surprise, satisfaction, and frustration.”
· Frito-Lay studied the female brain in order to learn how to better position its advertising. The company discovered that it needed to avoid talking about “guilt”—even “guilt-free”—and instead focus on making “healthy” associations in its advertising.
· The Weather Channel (TWC) was another company that partnered with NeuroFocus, as it prepared to relaunch its “When Weather Changed History” series. Using EEGs as well as eye-tracking technology and GSR (galvanic skin response), TWC was able to refine its commercials and programming for maximum impact.
Let’s talk about how neuromarketing can help you increase your conversions.
As we said earlier, neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience to marketing. One of the many theories and principles of neuroscience and psychology that can be applied to marketing research is the principle of normative social influence.
It is more commonly referred to as social proof.
One way to explain this concept is to use some real-life scenarios.
When you need to buy an item you want to get value for your money so you’re willing to buy something that is proven to be reliable and durable. As a result, you’ll look to friends and/or family for recommendations.
If you don’t have friends or relatives who have used the product you want to buy, you’d probably resort to looking at online reviews by people who have actually used the product. And it’s not just about reputability too; it’s also about what other people are doing, what they like, and what they’re buying.
For example, if you see a group of people standing in the street and chattering, your curiosity will immediately be aroused and you’ll want to know what all the chatter and buzz is about.
The same thing happens when an influential person like a rapper wears a certain brand, the item immediately gains mass appeal simply because it has been associated with a popular person. This is social proof demonstrated in all its majesty.
The term (social proof) popularized by Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence”, refers to the psychological phenomenon whereby a person who doesn’t know what to do in certain situations will look to other people and imitate their actions.
This is based on the psychological principle of social normative influence where people tend to follow a norm in a society so they can be liked and accepted by other members of the community.
There are two ways to look at social proof. Although both perspectives focus on social proof, the points of view are quite different. Here’s why. Social proof can be examined from two angles; liking and doing.
Further down this article, we’ll discuss research results that validate these perspectives.
If you really think about it, social proof can be framed in terms of actions (how many people have purchased this item?), versus preferences (how many people like this item?).
Most people can probably identify with this.
In fact, a certain eCommerce giant uses these phrases ever so often on their website.
Well for one, research done by Tu and Fishbach (2015) revealed why people are more influenced by the masses’ preferences than their actions.
If you’re like most people, you’d be inclined to think that preferences more significantly influence buying decisions.
People are in fact more influenced by other people’s preferences rather than their actions.
To apply this concept, simply change the wording of your copy to reflect preference rather than actions.
Solomon Asch in a bid to understand social influence conducted some experiments.
His research led to two conclusions:
This is why people trust referrals when making purchases and why they will trust referrals over ads of any kind, irrespective of how optimized or creative they are. Nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing or referral marketing.
In 2016, a Nielsen study revealed that the vast majority of Americans trust the recommendations of friends and family when considering a purchase. And up to 67% say they’re likely to purchase a product after a friend or relative posts about such a product on social media. In addition, up to 86% of Americans with incomes of more than $500,000 seek recommendations when considering a purchase.
The power of social proof is incredible. Even Instagram uses it. Have you ever wondered why Instagram shows when someone you follow likes a photo? It’s because they know that if someone you follow likes a picture, you’ll probably follow suit. If the above stats don’t convince you, here’s one more for good measure. Research by Mintel found that 70% of Americans are likely to visit use review sites or independent review sites before making a purchase. In addition, 7 out of 10 Americans will seek other opinions before making purchases.
In short, an affiliate marketer not utilizing social proof is missing out.
There are many different ways to show social proof.
Some of them include:
Below, we’ll take a closer look at these types of social proof and how you can use them to your advantage.
In any field or niche, there are always a few people who are regarded as influencers or expects. This is because, over time, they’ve established their authority by demonstrating their expertise over and over again. Having one these ‘experts’ give you a thumbs up is a great way to communicate to your audience that your product or service is worth their time, and more importantly, their money.
For instance, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive income and Neil Patel are ridiculously popular and an endorsement from people as influential as this can result in stupid amounts of money for you. This form of marketing is often referred to as influencer marketing.
Here are some stats that demonstrate the power of influencer marketing:
You may see all these stats and want these kinds of results. However, the key to getting sustainable results with influencer marketing is relevance.
This starts with knowing your audience. You need to know your audience well enough to be able to choose an influencer that they like and trust.
To prove this point, let’s exaggerate a bit.
Assuming that your target audience is teenagers who love rock music and you erroneously choose to work with an older influencer who caters to those who love classical music, they won’t fit with your audience. The soft flowing melodies of classical music are very different from the aggressive and punchy rhythms of rock music. I leave you to imagine how dissatisfied your hypothetical audience will be.
Again, unless you carefully match the influencer to your audience’s needs, your efforts are similar to boxing the wind. With influencer marketing, the key to success is relevance.
Influencer marketing can be profitable. Businesses are averaging $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. In the top 20th percentile businesses can earn up to $20 and more.
This is just like in influencer marketing. But this time, the people who endorse your products are celebrities. And celebrity endorsements can only work with products that have a general appeal. Things like skin and hair products, clothing, perfume, etc. It would be ridiculous if they endorsed products asides the above-mentioned products. Imagine asking Drake to endorse Ahrefs.
This is another powerful way to show social proof. As we established earlier, whenever people want to make purchases they are likely to seek out reviews or testimonials. However, there is a fundamental difference between reviews and testimonials. When users describe their experience using a product or service, it’s called a review. Reviews can be positive, neutral and even negative. And negative reviews will only give you negative social proof. Testimonials, on the other hand, describe a customer’s positive experiences with a certain product or service and extol a product’s virtues or advantages.
You should get this right because this is what will eventually compel people to pull out their wallets. Some industries like fitness and hospitality have benefited immensely from using testimonials. This is especially true of the fitness industry. Big brand names like weight watchers, Orange Theory and Tae Bo established their credibility using testimonials.
There are very few methods as effective as testimonials for showing the value of your product. But it isn’t all mindless praise.
In his book “The Brain Audit”, Sean D’Souza closely examines testimonials and what makes testimonials work. He says that the purpose of testimonials is to build trust and reduce fear in the first-time user, not to beautify your website. And if new customers only see sugar-coated testimonials with “wonderful adjectives and powerful verbs”, they may be skeptical about buying from you.
Therefore, good testimonials should address any objections new customers may have.
More and more consumers will trust your brand more than they would if you didn’t have testimonials. Research shows that people trust peer recommendations over advertisements.
One study revealed that 92% of consumers are likely to trust non-paid recommendations over any other type of advertising.
People like to follow the crowd. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as herd mentality. Whenever people observe a large group of people doing something, they’re more likely to join in. This translates to social media as well. People are more likely to begin following a page simply because the page has a lot of followers.
And while a significant amount of followers is a good thing to have, we don’t recommend that you use the number of your social media followers to measure your success as a business. This is because it’s a vanity metric at best. But if you must…
If you want followers, there’s a caveat.
Creating a follower base that will profit your business, in the long run, will definitely take time; there’s no way around this unless you have deep pockets and can afford expensive ad campaigns.
To grow your follower base organically, you need to be creating valuable content regularly.
Supplement this with some ads and you’re well on your way to being a superstar in your industry.
People generally want to buy from brands that are credible. What better way to show your trustworthiness and credibility than through awards? Awards validate your brand simply because they come from a third party who testifies to your excellence. And the more prestigious and recognizable the source of the award, the more valuable it is in showing your credibility. If your site has been mentioned on popular media outlets, mentioning that on your site can make a great first impression.
According to Voices.com, putting the logos of business customers on a website can increase conversions by up to 400%.
Another real-life example. In a bid to see if putting awards on their site would affect conversions, a former eCommerce company, Bag Servant decided to carry out an experiment. They created two versions of their website. On one, they put one of the awards they received from a well-known businesswoman at the top of their shopping pages. They then created a control version that included a button to follow them on twitter along with their follower count.
The first version beat the control version hands down.
The logic behind this is straightforward really. We’ve previously established that social proof can be viewed in terms of actions and preferences.
This method of showing social proof is why McDonald’s puts captions like “Over 9 billion served” on their golden arches; they aren’t afraid to emphasize the popularity and value of their services.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, Widgetly can help you achieve this with the notifications feature. Users on your website can see how frequently other people purchase your service or your product. This is the ultimate form of social proof as it’s proof beyond doubt that your service is indeed worth a user’s time, and more importantly, money.
Now that we’ve examined the various types of social proof and how they can benefit your business, let’s now proceed to explore some ways you can benefit from using social proof.
Widgetly can help you increase your conversions, and no, we’re not boasting. Widgetly has a feature called the notifications popup that allows you to show how frequently customers purchase your service or product.
You can even display where the product was bought and when the product was purchased. In addition to this, Widgetly also allows you to display awards or certifications you have gotten in the past. What better way to show your customers that you’re a badass to be reckoned with?
Yeah, we said brag, but make sure to do it subtly. Do it like McDonald’s. Like McDonald’s, just casually mention that you have served over 200,000 people across the world.
If your business thrives on social media, you should probably use this tip. When you get that coveted blue checkmark that very few people have, your credibility and your authoritativeness instantly goes up.
As only the top brands and celebrities have the blue checkmark, your possession this mark is one of status and prestige. At least in the social media world.
Admittedly, while we have a great product, it won’t work for everyone. For instance, some companies live and die on Instagram. They know Instagram algorithim intimately. If the algorithm so much as twitches, they notice. And we recommend that these types of businesses work with micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers aren’t as influential as influencers, but they’re usually very niche-specific and have a greater reach and influence on their followers. An example of a brand that has successfully worked with influencers is Daniel Wellington. Watch enthusiasts and purists all over agree that DW watches are overpriced. They generally agree that other brands give more value for money.
We don’t know about all that; all we know is conversion. But we have to admit, their marketing game on point.
This is proven by their 4.7 million followers. Over the years, DW has partnered with countless influencers to appeal to the fashion audience.
They have succeeded in dominating this market. We recommend that you do the same. Identify the big boys (influencers) in your industry and partner with them whether they be macro or micro. We don’t like to be salesy or pushy or anything, we just really believe in our product. And we want you to see how awesome our product is.
Before we deep dive into different types of traffic sources and traffic-getting methods, let us start by agreeing that the best website traffic source is a targeted traffic source. Without that, your bounce rate will be through the roof.
If you ever hear a top 1% marketer talk about traffic, they’ll probably say something like this:
“I’d rather have 1000 targeted buyers than 1,000,000, unmotivated browsers.”
What this means for your business is this: Both organic and paid traffic can deliver the right or wrong type of visitor to your site. The right kind of visitor, then, is based on the customer avatar the marketing team creates.
The following keyword research principles for organic traffic can be translated to any product or service.
For this explanation, imagine if you will, that you’ve got a SAAScompany offering project management software. And the marketing team has given you a detailed psychographic breakdown of your customer avatar, and what [they] want. The task at hand then is to turn that data into the most relevant keywords possible.
Okay, here’s how that would work. Let’s say your customer avatar is a man named Colin, and his role is to investigate and present project management software options. Chances are he doesn’t know what software he wants to go with, so rather than (going directly to a website), he is going to utilize (get to the website via a .
First off Colin is human, he wants to expend as little brainpower as possible, so he’s going to search the most straightforward terms that pop into his head, like:
Then, Colin is going to click on the search results, and then scan the article until he finds a subheader or picture that gives him the next piece of information he wants. It’s worth noting at this point that Colin might not even know what he’s looking for, and that’s why we help him.
In this example (but works for most things) the next bit of info Colin wants is a comparison chart. How easy is that for him to present a comparison of project management software to his boss? Super easy.
We don’t need to go any further with Colin’s journey. What I want is for you to think about the journey your customer takes, because the customer journey is the key to picking the right keywords. Remember our little ditty at the start about having a low number of super targeted people, well, that principle holds for keywords and organic traffic.
Look at these search results for “project management software” using Answer The Public as an example. The majority of keywords and phrases will have little to zero search traffic volume in an organic search, but anyone who searches using these succinct phrases is more likely motivated to take action.
To recap then, here’s how you create keyword silos to maximize organic search traffic.
Create a customer avatar
As a final note on organic search traffic, it’s worth cementing the idea of internal linking as generating “internal traffic.”
For example, the keyword “website traffic.”
The image below shows that the search term has zero, yes zero monthly searches, yet the competitiveness of the keyword is 48/100, and the second image shows that the biggest companies in the world are targeting the keyword.
To rank for the keyword “website traffic,” you have to be able to outperform:
If you cannot do you have to do two things:
1. Build long-tail keywords around your focus keyword, which you do by getting more specific in your focus. That could be as simple as adding “2019” to the end of the search phrase.
2. Use internal linking to push traffic around your website. Writing an article on website traffic is super valuable even if it’s going to be almost impossible to rank. (In a moment, I’ll show you how you can rank #1 for this keyword instantly)
The point of this demonstration is to get you thinking about the keywords you can win, and the keywords you probably cannot win organically. Push 80% of your resources into those articles which you stand a chance of ranking on page one, and 20% to those articles which drive internal traffic throughout your site.
Google analytics truly is a fantastic piece of software. With GA’s functionality, the segmentation of your audience is almost endless. And you can use that data to make sure you’re best serving your audience. The more you know about the people who are visiting your site, the actions they take, and the content they consume, the more you can use that data to keep them on the site longer and lead them towards a conversion.
What are your most popular articles? If you know this, you push resources into making that page even more valuable for your audience.
What are your exit pages? Figure out how to make that page better and encourage your visitors to stay on your site for longer.
Those are the main metrics to know, yes there are a lot more metrics and a heck of a lot more segmentation you can do, and yes average time on page is important, but as long as you know where people arrive, where they go next, and where they leave you’ve got a solid foothold in your customers behavior.
Have you ever used a to research a product, and then, as you scrolled through or any of your the next day, seen an ad for that or a similar product? Those are paid media advertisements. Advertisers will target a keyword because the on a warm audeience (someone who already is thinking about purchasing) is better than a cold one. This is a highly valuable , and advertisers are smart to integrate it into their social media .
You’ll notice the same phenomenon while reading a . As you read you are interested in, you will see on the or . These practices are common in and campaigns, and if you haven’t already adopted them, you should.
Earlier in the article, we highlighted the keyword “website traffic.” We said this keyword was almost impossible to rank for organically, but it is a great article to write for your internal traffic efforts. And the competition level for this keyword is crazy hard, and organic search is slow, especially if you’ve no traction in the SERP and are just starting. Paid traffic then, will get you to the #1 spot in the SERP instantly. And that comes with massive benefits, here’s a huge one.
Have you heard of Google’s Rankbrain algorithm? — No problem, if you haven’t, here is a quick summary. Rankbrain is a machine learning algorithm that assesses how people interact with your website and makes the decision whether or not to show your site to a searcher. And that means what exactly when it comes to paid traffic?
Let’s say you pay for the keyword, “website traffic” and people click, they read the article in full, and they follow the internal links, and they share one of your articles, and they spend a decent amount of time on the site. Well, your website is going to be looked at favorably by Rankbrain, you’ve proven to Google that you can satisfa ctorily answer the customer search query. And that is the entire basis of Google’s business model, serving up results that answer questions.
In this article by my theme shop, they list 149 ways to increase website traffic, yep, 149. But I’ll save you the trouble of reading it by telling you right now the key to maximizing both free and paid traffic.
High-quality content. Gosh, I wish I could have pulled back the curtain and revealed something that you did not know. But well-thought-out content that answers the reader’s questions, entertains them a little, and tells them what to read next (internal linking) is what separates the winners from the losers.
You can give up your annual vacation and spend the money on advertising banners, copywriters, FB ads or PPC, but if the destination content is weak, you are wasting your money.
However, if you create content that gives value to your readers, then people will share it. You might get lucky, and an influencer could share or link to your content. You could use software like Ahrefs to find backlinks, or linking opportunities to promote your content. You could also use software like Ninja Outreach and connect with influencers.
But the result is the same. If your content is strong, people will read and share it. If your content is mediocre, people will click away.
But despite the hype, this metric is not as important you might think.
The Google Analytics program calculates this metric by dividing the number of sessions of a page multiplied by 100.
But it isn’t always effective in doing this as it isn’t always applicable in some sites.
A good content strategy is the secret to a high-converting affiliate website, and some affiliate marketer’s sites are content heavy.
On blogs like these, bounce rates aren’t always a very accurate indicator of the extent of user satisfaction.
This may cause some webmasters to fret unnecessarily.
Only other Google metrics show this.
This is where you should really direct your marketing efforts. An immersive experience is what will ultimately drive your conversions through the roof. will make or break your , and the average time a visitor spends on your .
While the doesn’t accurately represent the quality of your users’ experience, it is, however useful in showing you how successful your efforts towards conversion rate optimization are.
Again, we’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to your bounce rates, we’re just of the opinion that you shouldn’t have sleepless nights over it; instead, you should focus on improving your experience.
His research also found that the highest was as high as 90.2%, and the lowest was around 27.33%.
Again, even from this research, you can see how unreliable this is.
Research shows that as many as 47% of users expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Also, slow-loading pages are among the leading cause of shopping cart abandonment for .
However, you can take the following steps to ensure that your loads blazingly fast.
This brings us to discuss clear design; not just clear design, but creative design.
Poor design is an indication of tardiness and unprofessionalism. Savvy web users will be turned off by shabby design.
You should only use conventions that users are familiar with. You shouldn’t confuse users in a bid to be creative.
When users visit blogs, they’re looking for information, and they need the information fast. So, it helps if your content is formatted in a way that makes your scannable.
So to improve scannability, use headers, bullet points, and break up your sentences so that your doesn’t look too formidable.
Users may love your content and want to look for other goodies on your . But an absence of a search bar will disappoint them, and a bounce could be the result.
How do visitors know which words are links and those that aren’t if you don’t clearly show them?
You’ll only end up annoying your readers.
You need to ensure that your is suitable for mobile users no matter how much it costs you.
When you present just one crystal-clear CTA to your users or audience, they are more likely to engage and this will lower your .
You need to decide to be relevant.
Users usually know what they want, and if your doesn’t serve their needs, they do the next logical thing which is to leave.
Maybe you don’t think meta-tags are important, but if you rely on Google to automatically pull your ‘s slogan or copy in your meta-tag, you won’t get too many click-throughs as Google doesn’t know what to optimize for.
If you don’t put some effort into writing meta-tags, users will bounce faster than you can say Google .
Use popups and widgets when they contribute something useful and can redirect uninterested traffic to something more appealing.
This is where Widgetly comes in.
User engagement is where we shine. It encourages your to engage with your site to decrease bounce rate and increase conversions.
Widgetly has some special features including split-testing, pop-up triggers, and customizable templates
As we discussed earlier, pop-ups can be annoying, but Widgetly with its pop-up triggers can target users in a way that enhances their experience rather than annoying them.
For instance, Widgetly can display pop-ups to users who are about to leave your site. This way their experience isn’t disrupted in any way and you get a chance to offer them something that may be more interesting.
Widgetly analytics also helps you test different areas of your page and lets you select a CTA that you’re sure will work.