Category Archives for "affiliate marketing"

New to Affiliate Marketing? Here Are 4 of the Best Affiliate Networks that Can Bring You a Hefty Amount of Monthly Passive Income

affiliate marketing

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.

Ethics aside…

What is affiliate marketing?

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.

Can I make a lot of money from affiliate marketing?

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.

Affiliate Marketing Checklist

New to Affiliate Marketing? Make sure you’re doing it right with this free checklist. Download now!

But wait.

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.

What is the difference between an affiliate marketing 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.

How do affiliate programs work?

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.

How does affiliate marketing work?

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).

Some of the most lucrative affiliate programs for beginners.

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.

Amazon associates.

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.

Click Bank

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 (CJ affiliates)

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.

ShareASale

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.

The Big Dogs

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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How A Widgetly Client Generated An Extra $7,812 In 30 Days Without Increasing Their Advertising Budget

In this case study, we are going to cover how Widgetly helped one of our clients make an extra $7,812 in just ONE MONTH with site visitors that were already leaving his web page – and how you can re-create their success.

Finding the right tools to manage and track your ‘customer journey’ is just as important as finding the right offer, selecting the right media channels, and creating the perfect ad image or text.
Do you…
  • currently use paid advertising, SEO, or any other means to drive people to your website.
  • want to increase the number of leads or sales you are currently getting.
  • want to reduce your bounce rate and keep site visitors on your site longer.
  • want engage your site visitors and get them more excited about your product or content.

If you answered yes to any of the above situations, then continue reading to see how a small change to your web page can have a big impact on its success. This one tweak produced 204 EXTRA conversions in just ONE month!

The Run Down

Our client combined just two of our pop up features, notifications, and exit-intents, to make campaigns work in his favor, and take full advantage of each click they were getting to their site, to help combat the rising cost of advertising. They allowed us to share the actual stats from their campaign – just for you! By simply adding a snippet of code to their site, they took a failing campaign and made it profitable, which earned them an extra:

  • 35,246 clicks
  • 204 conversions
  • $7,812 in revenue

It’s important to note that he accomplished this without any additional ad spend. So, how did they do it? It was all about shifting their focus.

By the way, we are offering an exclusive FREE trial offer to our readers. If you are interested in learning more, CLICK HERE.

Their Story

Before Widgetly, our client spent thousands of dollars and multiple months optimizing campaigns, testing several ad angles (with hundreds of ad combos), landing pages, and offers to find out what would convert best for them. After months of investing their time and money with very little success, they were scratching their heads trying to figure out how to turn a profit. While they were doing optimizations to their landing pages, they forgot about something fundamental – Visitor Retention.

Keeping site visitors on your site longer allows you to serve them additional content, other offers, special discounts, and more. Once our client started focusing more on the actual people that were coming to their site, they were able to come up with specific messages for each step within their funnel.
They were able to quickly test multiple angles on each page of their funnels, such as notifications that showed recent purchases and reviews for their different products. They tested various pop-up angles, which included exit-intent pop-ups, timed pop-ups, and page scroll pop-ups. Here are some sample pop-ups similar to what they used. (Understandably, they didn’t want to share all of their secrets!)

What they Used

Notification Pop-Ups

Our client loved the Notification widget options. They said that they were “a great way to showcase their customer reviews, show recent purchases, offer special discounts, and show other articles we knew our site visitors would be interested in.   With Widgetly, we were able to easily split test multiple angles to quickly find the right solution for each funnel page.”

Page Scroll, Exit-Intent & Timed Pop-Ups

Our clients quickly realized that just throwing an “Exit-Intent” pop up on their site wasn’t the right answer for most of their funnel pages, however, using page scroll and timed pop-ups gave them great results and helped to increase their CTR by almost 16%.

Campaign Details

  • Traffic Sources: Taboola, Content.ad, Rev Content
  • Campaign Type: Anti-Aging Skincare Advertorial
  • Widget Tools Used: Native Ad Widget & Exit Intent Pop-Up
  • Duration: 30 days

As you can see from the numbers, they were barely breaking even; their campaign had a lower CTR and a high CPA. (They wanted me to note that their actual spend was less than $54,108, but in their tracking system, they like to over-estimate their costs. 😃 So consider yourself informed!)

As we look at the screenshot above, I would hope that these three things stick out from the “Pop Up” campaign…
1. The overall CTR is almost at 16% – And they had multiple widget angles that are close to 20%
2. The spend is $0 – Their only cost was the cost to use our platform.
3. They tracked an additional 204 conversions ($7,812) – Sales they received from visitors who clicked on their pop-ups.
These stats show that 153,223 visitors went to their site and over 150,000 who didn’t purchase anything. Our clients are now taking that on as a challenge to show each one of those site visitors better content, better discounts, proof that their product(s) are worth the price, and overall better value as a site and brand.
Now, we think that the most intriguing fact about this strategy is that it cost them almost nothing. It only costs some time to set up and learn our platform.  After that it was all testing. Since they made $7812 using Widgetly, we are confident that we added tremendous value to their funnel process.

Why Does It Work?

Thanks to the popularity of content ad networks like Taboola, Outbrain, and RevContent, website visitors are used to consuming the content of a page and then click on related topics from a panel of “Recommended Articles.” That conditioned response shows in the 16% CTR on the different pop-ups our client used in their testing, even though the articles and ads were still trying to similar and in some cases the same product (Just using a different angle).

Additionally, in Widgetly it is straightforward to look at the data provided in real-time, and control how the ads are rotating, by smoothly turning things on/off and by “weighting” the ads so that they show more or less often. This allowed them to quickly test multiple widget types, angles, images, and text all at the same time, on the same web page to see what performs the best.

Widgetly is Easy

The best part about Widgetly is the setup. It doesn’t require any advanced knowledge of coding. Widgetly provides you with a simple snippet of code that you place on your website. We have many different tutorials that will walk you through the simple process, so whether you are using a custom-built website, a WordPress theme, Clickfunnels, or anything else, you will be able to get our pixel installed quickly and easily. Once you have placed the code, you’re good to go. From there, you manage all of your widgets on our platform, which will help to save you a lot of time in the future.
We appreciate you taking the time to read through our case study, and again we want to thank our client for their trust in use and for sharing their results. Widgetly works people!
In case you missed it, Widgetly is offering a ‘7 Day FREE Trial’, plus we are always adding new templates to our platform for our clients to use, so if you have a template you want users to build out, we will get it done for you! Get more info by CLICKING HERE.

 Why bounce rate isn’t as important as you think it is and what to focus your marketing efforts on instead

Bounce Rate
As an affiliate marketer, you dream of conversions rather than lush green meadows full of yellow sunflowers and colorful butterflies; conversions are your raison d’etre. And most gurus will be quick to tell you that reducing your bounce rate is the magic pill that will increase your conversions. 

But despite the hype, this metric is not as important you might think.

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first, what is bounce rate and how is it calculated?

Bounce rate is a metric in Google Analytics that shows you the percentage of website visitors– new or returning, who enter and exit the same page without clicking on another link. The page they exit could be any page. As long as they visit the entrance page, and do not click on another link, or engage with your calls to action, Google Analytics calculates this as a bounce.

The Google Analytics program calculates this metric by dividing the number of sessions of a page multiplied by 100.

Thus if 10,000 people visit your website and 2,000 of them visit only one page, your bounce rate is 20%.

Why bounce rate isn’t as important as you might thinkBounce Rate Doesn't Matter

What the bounce rate metric really tries to do is show the quality of a web page and primarily how it affects the user experience.

But it isn’t always effective in doing this as it isn’t always applicable in some sites.

Here’s an example that illustrates this point.

A good content strategy is the secret to a high-converting affiliate website, and some affiliate marketer’s sites are content heavy.

Sites like Jon Morrow’s Smartblogger and Adrian’s Ablogtowatch, are content-heavy but still make stupid money from affiliate marketing.

On blogs like these, bounce rates aren’t always a very accurate indicator of the extent of user satisfaction.

A visitor may click on an 8,000- word post and post and get value from it; but if the same user exits the page without clicking on another link, Google Analytics still records this as a bounce. No matter how much time spent there.

This may cause some webmasters to fret unnecessarily.

A high bounce rate also doesn’t show returning users who eventually buy.

Only other Google Analytics metrics show this.

What to focus on instead.

Instead of obsessing about the troublesome bounce rate metric, what you should really focus on is making your user experience as immersive and delightful as possible.

This is where you should really direct your marketing efforts. An immersive experience is what will ultimately drive your conversions through the roof. User engagement will make or break your bounce rate, and the average time a visitor spends on your blog.

Moving forward, is website bounce rate totally useless?

The short and honest answer is no.

While the bounce rate metric 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.

It can show you which pages aren’t converting well and which ones are. The pages that convert well typically have low bounce rates.

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 user experience.

I know that I shouldn’t worry too much about trying to reduce bounce rate; but what is a good bounce rate to aim for?

There isn’t any straight forward answer to this.
This is because bounce rates vary wildly from industry to industry (another factor that shows the unreliable nature of this metric).
Jay Peyton at Rocket fuel blog, after analyzing the website data of over 60 websites over one year, found that the bounce rates of websites could fall anywhere between 26% to 70%, with the average being 49%. 

His research also found that the highest bounce rate was as high as 90.2%, and the lowest was around 27.33%.

He goes on to say that an “average bounce rate in the range of 26% to 40% is excellent, 41% to 55% is roughly average and 56% to 70% is higher than average”, and “anything over 70% is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.”

Again, even from this research, you can see how unreliable this metric is.

However, the following steps will show you how to reduce your bounce rate by improving your users’ experience.

  • Faster load times
  • Clear, intuitive design – The following are elements of good design.
    • Inclusion of a search button
    • Smarter blog formatting
    • Responsible linking
    • Setting external links to open in new tabs
    • Optimizing for mobile devices
  • Clear calls to action
  • Optimizing for relevance
  • Testing and tracking

Faster Load Time

Before new website visitors even have a chance to read your clever captions, your compelling copy, and your creative calls to action, a slow website can stop them cold.

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 e-commerce websites.

All of these stats emphasize the importance of fast load times. Even Google hates slow sites and will penalize your site for taking too long to load.

Why Bounce Rates Don't Matter

Solution

As many factors contribute to the load speed of a website, there could be any number of steps to solve this problem.

However, you can take the following steps to ensure that your site loads blazingly fast.

  • Optimize images
  • Remove unnecessary scripts and tracking codes
  • Remove plugins you don’t use frequently
  • Remember that fewer than 10% of visitors bounce when a page loads in two seconds while more than 30% bounce if a page doesn’t load in seven seconds.

Clear, intuitive design

If you succeed in increasing your site‘s load speed, the visual elements of your site will now determine whether users will bounce or not.

This brings us to discuss clear design; not just clear design, but creative design.

Your website’s design and overall appearance can give users an impression about your business, and you want your first impression to be a good one.

Poor design is an indication of tardiness and unprofessionalism. Savvy web users will be turned off by shabby design.

On the other hand, good aesthetics aren’t the only thing to consider when designing your website; your website also has to be intuitive.

You should only use conventions that users are familiar with. You shouldn’t confuse users in a bid to be creative.

Users should be able to easily and seamlessly navigate your site. If they attempt to find any page on your website and are met with difficulty, they’ll likely leave your site.
You can do the following to make your site easier to use.

Smarter formatting

When writing for an online audience, it’s important to note that they read differently than they do in print.

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 content scannable.

This is the opposite when they’re reading print. In the case of print, reading is much more leisurely.

So to improve scannability, use headers, bullet points, and break up your sentences so that your content doesn’t look too formidable.

Users are inherently lazy, and if you make them do too much work, they’ll bounce.

Include a search bar

Most webmasters underestimate the need for a search bar.

Users may love your content and want to look for other goodies on your site. But an absence of a search bar will disappoint them, and a bounce could be the result.

Link responsibly

This is another thing you need to get right.

How do visitors know which words are links and those that aren’t if you don’t clearly show them?

Linking correctly is one way to lead your audience through the gallery of your website, showing them your masterpieces one at a time.

Warning!

Don’t link as Wikipedia does,

You’ll only end up annoying your readers.

One last thing

You can set external links to open in new tabs. If your external links open in the same tab, users will need to click back to get back to your page. This can be frustrating. And unless they really love your content, they’ll just leave; this will contribute to high exit rates and bounce rates.

Optimize for mobile devices

More and more users spend the majority of their time on their mobile phones and to not optimize for mobile device users is to shoot yourself in the leg. Figuratively, of course.

You need to ensure that your site is suitable for mobile users no matter how much it costs you.

If your site takes time to load on a mobile device, users will bounce.

Clear and compelling Calls To Action (CTA)

You need to be clear when you include CTAs. They need to be specific and direct and limited. There’s no point in including as many as three CTAs. This will only confuse your users and make them indecisive.

When you present just one crystal-clear CTA to your users or audience, they are more likely to engage and this will lower your bounce rate.

Remember to be direct and specific.

Make sure your content is relevant

One thing that leads to a high bounce rate is if your content isn’t interesting to visitors.

You need to decide to be relevant.

If you target a keyword on your page and you attract clicks, you need to ensure that the content you provide on your page is relevant to the keyword you optimized for.

Users usually know what they want, and if your content doesn’t serve their needs, they do the next logical thing which is to leave.

If for instance your audience is more interested in Apple products than Samsung products, and you bombard them with information about Samsung, say bye-bye to them.

Pay attention to your meta-data

If you don’t put some effort into writing succinct meta-tags you’ll find that your click-throughs will decline.

Maybe you don’t think meta-tags are important, but if you rely on Google to automatically pull your site‘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 write your meta description with keywords in mind, your site is more likely to attract clicks; and if your content doesn’t disappoint your bounce rate for that particular entrance page is likely to below.

If you don’t put some effort into writing meta-tags, users will bounce faster than you can say Google Analytics.

Be strategic with ads and popupsWidgetly Helps Bounce Rates

There is a lot of debate among marketers regarding the use of popups. Some say they should be entirely done away with, while others insist that they should be used to increase conversions. But as many as 70% of users find popups to be annoying. That’s a hard statistic to ignore. So it’s good to know your audience and cater to your ads to their needs and habits. Do your research.

Use popups and widgets when they contribute something useful and can redirect uninterested traffic to something more appealing.

For example, you can use internal or external links with a popup when your visitor tries to leave your site. You can track the number of visitors that click through to decide which headlines and offers convert better. You can also use notification popups can build trust by showing your credibility through social proof. It helps customers know they aren’t the only ones interested in your offer.

This is where Widgetly comes in.

How can Innovation Exchange and Widgetly help?

User engagement is where we shine. It encourages your traffic 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.

Affiliate Marketing: 10 Things We Do to Avoid Success

affiliate marketers

“Affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.”  How many times have you heard that one? If you’re anything like me, it will be something along the lines of “so many times I don’t even pay attention to it anymore.”

The problem with that analogy is that it implies that marketing is still a race and there is a finish line.  One that can only be won, or lost. And that the faster you run that marathon, the better chance you have to win.

I think a better sports analogy would be Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (aka Gracie Jiu Jitsu).  I’ve been training BJJ for about two years. I have three beautiful stripes on my dingy white belt.  It took me less than nine months to get those three stripes and then… dead stop. Nothing, nada.

Zilch.

And you know what I learned?  It’s all about the mat time. I can go to all of the lessons, watch all of the videos, read all of the books, but if I don’t put in my time on the mat, in live rolls, with real people who are also trying to get better, I’m not going to progress.  That blue belt is just out of my reach and the only thing keeping me from it is my absence from the mat.

I’m a 5’4” lightweight woman who rolls with 200-pound men on a weekly basis.  I get my ass handed to me every time. When I first started, I would come out of training with bruises so large and dark nothing could cover them up.  Twisted wrists, pulled neck muscles, black and blue jaw, I’ve had it all. I almost broke my neck when I rolled too hard with one guy. It was a risk every time. But I kept showing up.  And before long those former football players weren’t so heavy, and they couldn’t smash me with the same effectiveness before. And I got quicker. Quicker than they were. And I got stronger.  I saw my biceps for the first time in my life. “You’re stronger than you look” became something of a mantra among my gym mates.

Affiliate marketing is no different.  Read all the books, search all the forums, watch all the videos, heck, buy a couple of courses and consume that content like a hungry toddler on Halloween.  If you don’t put that stuff into practice, in the end, you’re just a consumer. But that’s not what you signed up for. You’re here because want to make money.

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Most people who start in affiliate marketing don’t make it passed the baby stage.  You start out with a blog, sign up for Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, and maybe one or two more, and throw a few affiliate links into an occasional blog post.  You make pennies for a commission, but never any real money.  The idea of passive income seems great but the time involved for just a few affiliate commissions doesn’t seem worth it.

It’s time to stop ducking out of the game as soon as you might get a little sweaty or because you’re afraid you might lose.  You ARE going to lose. And it’s the losing that makes you stronger. It makes you better. A LOT better!

At some point you need to accept the fact that you’re playing too small and your profit margins are puny.  So let’s talk about the top 10 things new (and experienced) affiliate marketers do to avoid success. Master these 10 things and you’ll be well on your way to your black belt in affiliate marketing.

1. Investing – You’re Not Doing It – Newbie mistake!

“Wait, what?  I can make money by promoting other people’s stuff?? Sign me up!  Wait a second, what do you mean I need a website? Landing pages? What’s that? Tracking software?  Hold on, you want me to BUY AD SPACE?? Can’t I just share my links with my friends and they’ll share with theirs?  I could be a millionaire by the weekend!”

Sorry, honey, that’s not exactly how it works.  And not just because if you want your friends to STAY your friends, you can’t keep peddling products to them every few minutes.  Affiliate marketing works.  But you have to do it right.

Statistically speaking, the average conversion rate is between .05% and 1%.  That means you need to get that product in front of 100 to 200 people in order to have one person buy it.

Let’s break it down with an example.  Let’s say you find this awesome book that changes your life.  And you want to share it with the world. Your Amazon Affiliate link will give you a 4.5% commission on every sale.  SWEET!

Which means at $16.77, you’ll pocket $.75.

Let’s say you’re a Facebook friend superstar and max out your friends at 5000.  IF all 5000 people click that link, statistically speaking you can make as much as $377.

5000 people times a generous 1% conversion rate times .754 commission per book sale.

And that’s it.  Because you only have 5000 friends.  But let’s be real, we all know the Facebook algorithms are such that only the friends who interact with you are going to see it.  According to Business Insider, only 35% of your facebook friends see your posts in their news feed. So let’s factor that in.

5000 people times 35% times 1% times your .754 commission.  That comes to $131.95.

And you’ll need to share 75 books with your Facebook friends in order to make $10,000 in one week.

Cool!

Wait…

How long until your friends catch on and decide to unfollow you.  Before long you’ll end up with a bunch of people who see your name, and just scrolling.

That’s not affiliate marketing.  That’s trying to leverage your friends and family into cash and pretty soon you’ll be the one no one wants to invite to Thanksgiving dinner.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “don’t s*&t where you eat”? This is it.

Don’t be that guy.

In order to be successful, you need to have a structure in place where you can scale.  A way to drive hundreds of thousands of people to your offer without overselling to the same people over and over again.  You’ll milk that social media cow dry!

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Affiliate marketing is a business and businesses have expenses.  Being an affiliate marketer makes you a business owner. Goodbye Scooby-doo, hello Don Draper.

Which brings us to mistake number 2.

2. As an Affiliate Marketer, You are not treating it like a business

I’m not just talking about legally, but your mindset.

First, you need a business plan.  An industry like affiliate marketing is heavy with the competition. If you don’t have a plan, you’re going to be eaten alive. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but you need a plan!  Again, you aren’t Scooby doo. You can’t just stumble your way into success. The really great people got to where they are by taking calculated and strategic chances that paid off in the end (and if I thought any of you were old enough for a Man Who Knew Too Little reference, I’d make it).

You don’t need fancy reports or complicated analyses on the market.  It’s not a book report, dude. But you do need to know who your customers are, what you are trying to sell them, a way to get it in front of them, an idea of how you will convince them to buy it, and a way to keep your content relevant and new.  You need goals, a budget (so you don’t spend too much on stupid things and not enough where it would help), an idea of how you will spend your time (so you don’t waste it), and a way to gauge whether you are making progress, even if you aren’t profitable yet.

You need to sign up for an affiliate network so you can give your audience a lot of options.  There are millions of affiliate products you don’t even know about.  Be Don Draper.  Think like an advertiser, look like a blogger.

 

3. Going too wide, not vertical enough

A “vertical” is a really fancy word for “niche”.

It’s a little more complicated than that… but only in terms of technical definitions, for practical purposes at this stage of the game, they are the same thing.

Successful marketers know that the riches are in the niches.  The narrower you can get, the more successful you can be. To give you a very crude example, let’s talk Legos.

My kids love them.  And when I’m building with them, I love them, too.  Cleaning them up? Not so much. The other day my six-year-old dumped my huge plastic bucket of legos on the floor and proceeded to spread them around the entire room.  Asking him to clean them up involved much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. And I can’t blame him. The sheer volume of debris was enough to overwhelm anyone. So instead, I asked him to narrow his focus.

“Just pick up the red ones.”  And he did. Then he did the green, then the blue.  Before long, he managed to get the pile small enough that he wasn’t overwhelmed anymore and could finish cleaning up his mess without too much complaint (he is six, after all).

Stop trying to sell everything to everyone.  It’s too much for you and it’s too much for your audience.  Just pick one, say weight loss. If that is still too overwhelming, dial it in a little more.  Weight loss supplements. Not enough? Supplements for females. More? Supplements for female bodybuilders.  Narrow your focus until you feel like you can get a firm grasp on your product, your customers, and your traffic sources.

4. Not knowing your product or your customer base

Now if you asked me to sell weight loss supplements to female bodybuilders, I would fail.  I just don’t know that much about it. All it would take is using a key term in the wrong context while writing the copy on my landing page and poof… I lose all credibility.

Because I wasn’t credible.  At least not in that particular niche.  But if you ask me to sell an app to single mom documentary photographers, I am your woman.

When you are starting out, pick ONE niche and research the hell out of it.  Become an expert. And just for the sake of making it easy, pick a niche you think is cool and a product you believe in.  If you do, selling it will be so much easier.

Sales copy for a product you love, for a customer you know, almost writes itself.  Why do you think I can sit down and write a 3000-word article on marketing? Cause I like this stuff.

No.

I LOVE this stuff.  I listen to marketing podcasts, read marketing books for fun, and when my poor, sweet children come to me and say “mom, I want to sell my drawings”, I rub my hands together and start designing their websites.  I eat, sleep, live and BREATHE this stuff. It keeps me up at night. I go to sleep thinking about content and lead gen and profit margins.

And that is why I can do it well.

Once you have one niche dialed into the point that you can pretty much let it run (with a few tweaks here and there) and are turning a consistent profit, then you can expand.  Maybe into supplements for male bodybuilders.

While you certainly could start from scratch with a brand new, unrelated vertical, that seems a wasted opportunity.  Why not leverage your current knowledge into another offer with minimal effort? So, if you’re totally clueless on the subject unless you are dying to get into maternity fashion, just leave it.

***WARNING***

Do NOT, under any circumstances, chase the money here.  Yes, we want money, money is good (that’s why we’re here, after all).  But you’re going to make more by sticking with what you know rather than chasing high commission rates on something you don’t care about.

Unless you can afford to lose thousands of dollars in this kind of gamble, don’t do it.

And if you can afford it, dude, have fun!  You’ve earned a little playtime and could hit gold!

5. Not building a list

Sometimes affiliate marketers think they get to play by different rules than “regular” online marketers.

Bull.

Everyone is selling something.  You’re just selling other people’s stuff.  You need a list. Which means you need a website and server.  And a way for people to give you their information, and way to contact them.

First of all, list building will give you the number one most valuable traffic source you will be able to find.  People who are willing to give you their email addresses are more valuable than the random person the Facebook algorithm shows your ad to.  We are beings sold to every second we are on the internet. So, people are pretty protective of their email addresses these days. If they give you their email address, they are instilling a little bit of trust in you and your message.  They are more likely to open your email, click that link, and buy. And if you’re building a personal brand alongside your affiliate offers (and you should be), some of these people will end up buying just because YOU are the one selling it!

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Secondly, you own your list.  What happens if you wake up one day to find that your Instagram has been hacked.  Poof! All of your carefully curated content and along with your 875k followers… gone.  Facebook could very quickly go the way of MySpace. Google could wake up one day and decide advertising is for suckers and get out of the ad biz.  None of that is likely, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for it.

If the name and email address to everyone you ever sold to is sitting pretty in a spreadsheet on your home computer (with a backup in the cloud), your list is safe, even the internet as we know it is completely upended.

And if the internet itself is gone forever?  Well, let’s just say we all will have more important things to worry about.

Lastly, a well planned and written email marketing campaign can gently guide most fence-sitters into loyal, paying customers.  Do this right and you’ll have them shouting your praises from the rooftops. The quality of your traffic will go up, your list will grow, you’ll make more money… all good things.

6. Wasting Time

This one is big for everyone.  Business owners, affiliates, parents, and children alike.  For whatever reason (either we’re overwhelmed or we’re misguided), we play around at things that make us look busy, but don’t make a difference in our bottom line (or sanity level).

The biggest, and most crippling time waster in the marketing industry perfectionism.  And the worst part is you don’t even realize you’re doing it! If you’re agonizing over your sales copy, spending hours on a couple of paragraphs… sorry, hon.  You’re a perfectionist.

Knock it off.

7. Dumping campaigns too early

Let’s get real here.  We got in this game because it’s fast, easy, and has the potential for massive rewards.  Except it’s not really that fast. And it’s not really that easy. And if you think it will be, your reward won’t be worth the time and effort you put into it.

You spend weeks researching and carefully creating an offer for your audience, you toil endlessly over getting the sales copy just right, you invest your hard earned money into an audience with a ton of potential, you go live and…

Crickets.

Nothing happens, for like HOURS!  So you go to bed, dreaming of the cash you’ll be rolling in by morning.  You wake up. Nothing.

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Instead of letting the campaign mature and, you dump it.  And either switch to something your AM friends have had some success with, or you throw up your hands, curse the sky, and go back to your 9 to 5.

You’re planting a garden here.  You have to give your seedlings time to grow.  Or, to go back to the Jiu Jitsu analogy, you have to put in the time on the mat.  Go slow when you are starting out. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. But you have to slow down and get it right before you can speed up.  You can’t figure out where you went wrong if you abandon ship every time your numbers stagnate.

One solution is to set aside a separate budget for new campaigns (if you’re just starting, this is your entire budget, if you’re experienced and trying a new vertical, this will help you avoid the new campaign freak out since all of your other campaigns are still humming along nicely).

Another suggestion is split testing.  Create two versions of the same campaign, that way you can tell where you are going wrong.  Is it the copy? The images? The audience? The traffic source? Is there a broken link somewhere?  Is it a better offer for mobile but you’re delivering via desktop? Was your ad account disabled?

If you know you’ve set things up correctly, it’s a good idea to let things just run for at least a week before you start changing adjusting.  If things get better, awesome! If not, and you know the offer is good (and it SHOULD BE), then maybe take it down, do a complete overhaul and launch it again.  Keep launching it until you start to see some traction. This is how it is done in EVERY industry. Affiliate Marketing is no different.

Just because you’re playing a different game, doesn’t mean the rules have changed.

That being said, don’t marry the thing.  If you dedicated the time, effort, testing and it’s just not working, say, “it’s you, not me” and move on.

8. Being a lone wolf

Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re in this thing alone and that everyone else is only around to take advantage of us.  But when we play our cards too close to our chest, we lose our ability to expand in new and exciting ways.  There is an unlimited amount of success out there.  Partner with others, mentor those who are trying to learn.  Share your knowledge!  Trust me, you aren’t the only one in the world who has ever had this idea.  If you don’t change the world with it, someone else will.

Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats.  Be the rising tide, not the guy hoarding a dirty bucket of water.

9. Putting all your eggs in one basket

This means different things in different stages of your affiliate marketing career.  For the newbie, it means not quitting your day job until you have a predictable, steady stream of income.  That also means signing up with several different affiliate networks, running multiple campaigns at a time, and working on building your personal brand and overall following.  Blog.  A lot.  Focus your marketing efforts and marketing campaigns on building your audience before you start to leverage them.

If you’re experienced, this means having a variety of traffic sources, multiple verticals, and backup offers.  If you’ve been doing this for a while, it’s important to hold on to some of the old, reliable, campaign templates that, while not exciting, are consistent and profitable.  That way when you experiment with new offers and angles, you aren’t betting the farm. Set aside a separate budget and have fun with it, knowing the bulk of your income is safe.

10. Avoiding the Mat – Just DO THE THING!

You heard me!  I just gave you gold, man! Now get off your butt and start doing this stuff.

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