Here I am trying to help people escape the rat race and live life without limitations and this same objection keeps showing up over and over again. I mean, think about it. Affiliate Marketing A marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals. While they might seem similar, affiliate marketing is in a completely different universe from MLMs.
MLMs are based on a specific business model that relies on the multi-level network to be successful. The product prices and profitability are structured around that model specifically. Affiliate marketing is simply the act of taking real products with a real business model, promoting them, and getting rewarded via commission for sales that come from that promotion. They promote dozens or even hundreds of brands. Affiliate marketing is based on basic economics and marketing.
Affiliate marketing is also a great branding tool. Bluehost, for example, has exploded in popularity and brand awareness because major influencers like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas promote their web hosting packages. They just sit back and let their promoters do the work. They pay great commissions, the same way companies pay sales teams, and everyone is happy. In order for there to be an affiliate marketing relationship, there has to be a product. A publisher is a promoter — typically someone with an audience or someone planning on building an audience like a blogger, podcaster, or social media influencer.
A network is a place where tons of merchants can register their business and their products. This makes it easier for them to find publishers to connect with and it makes it easy for publishers to find merchants to connect with. Clickbank , Commission Junction , and ShareaSale are three examples of popular affiliate networks. Most merchants are running their business in a very traditional sense. Their marketing strategy spans across many different channels — their affiliate network is just one of those channels.
Okay, so now you know how affiliate marketing works from a top down perspective. In order to be successful with affiliate marketing, you need to build an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you. How do you build an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you? You pick a niche and you show up consistently in that niche, either by being useful or entertaining. Or both. Ideally, you pick a niche where passion, proficiency, and profitability intersect.
Gaining know, like, and trust is critical to making sales. When I tell my audience to host their website with SiteGround , they take my suggestion. Get it? If you have a website, you can use lots of various digital marketing strategies to drive traffic and then focus on converting that traffic to your email list. Chase Reeves is killing it on YouTube with product reviews.
He reviews bags and backpacks and such. Does he have a website? I always think people should have a website so your audience has somewhere to go should your profile get shut down on one of these other channels or an algorithm change kills your reach, or whatever the case may be.
The point is that you need to build an audience — which means capturing people as subscribers of some sort — so you can promote to that audience. Not all products and services will have affiliate programs, though. So part of your merchant search needs to include a quality audit of some sort. For example, since I use Convertkit email marketing software I knew wanted to promote them as an affiliate. Convertkit uses a network called Ambassador to run their affiliate program.
When I share my unique affiliate link, visits and sales are tracked through that link so that I get the proper credit when a purchase is made. This is how affiliate marketing works at the actual promotion level. Targeting individual brands that you already know about is a good starting point, but ultimately a limited approach. Clickbank does a great job of showing you important stats about the products you might want to promote. Highlight the link and copy it. This plugin allows you to create redirects from custom URLs on your domain to your affiliate links.
That pretty link is super easy to remember and share. It helps you identify the affiliate programs that are most likely to be working and doing well! Sites that are heavy into affiliate marketing will typically have a resources page with a ton of their affiliate offers on it just like I do.
As you can see, Pat is using the pretty link strategy I mentioned to redirect URLs on his site to his affiliate link. There would be no other reason to create a branded URL and redirect. Aside from the resources page, you can also look in the sidebar of their blog. Last, but not least, join their email list.
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Take note of the copy they use, the angles, the appeals to emotion, etc. Real quick before moving deeper into this I went deeper into the steps in the video, for sure Before you jump into the tactical how to… You must understand how affiliate marketing works from a broad overview and a mildly technical perspective. Online merchants, e-commerce stores, or vendors add a specific tracking system to their website that offers every affiliate a unique ID and tracks clicks or referrals from each affiliate all the way to the checkout process and completed sale.
When you sign up as an affiliate you get a special link.
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This is your affiliate link and contained within this affiliate link there is a tracking code that works with a tracking cookie. When your visitor clicks through your special affiliate link the tracking cookie on the merchant site picks up your affiliate ID and stores that data on the user's browser. When that user completes the checkout process, the merchants website recognizes your affiliate ID in the cookie on their browser and the sale gets attributed to you as an affiliate, thus earning you a commission.
Every affiliate program has the freedom to set their own cookie duration… Amazon is set to 24 hours, where most products are 30 to 60 days… Sometimes as long as 6 months or days.
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The cookie duration is how long after the visitor clicks on your affiliate link you are able to get credit for the sale. Two super-quick examples using Amazon and their 24 hour cookie duration so this whole concept makes sense:. Example 1 - A user clicks on your affiliate link today and completes the check out tonight 5 hours later for a new set of headphones.
You earned the commission because the click was attributed to you and the sale was completed within the cookie duration window. Example 2 - Another user clicks on your link today and completes the checkout two days from now 48 hours later for their headphones. You do not earn the commission because the cookie expired before the user completed checkout. What you need to remember: The longer the cookie duration the more time and opportunity you have to close the sale and earn a commission! Amazon's 24 hour cookie window is one of my biggest challenges with the Amazon affiliate program, but that's a topic for another blog post!
I prefer a 30 day or 60 day cookie duration. Now that you understand the tech, let's look at the theory behind successful affiliate marketing. There are three parties involved in you making money as an affiliate marketer and they each have different goals and responsibilities. Every product ever sold is either moving the customer towards a specific desired outcome or goal… Or moving them away from a specific problem via a solution.
From Ferraris to Tylenol, every transaction in the history of man falls under these two categories. The psychology behind the users search for solutions, or their goal seeking can get quite deep… Often there are deep emotional reasons that guide their purchase behavior, NOT LOGIC! You can learn all about these emotional reasons people buy in this video so you can integrate these ideas into your marketing:.
I'll be honest with you… The more you understand the psychological and emotional reasons that customers buy things, the easier this whole affiliate marketing game gets! Your responsibility is to build trust, educate and presell the item to the end user Your job as an affiliate marketer is to build trust with potential customers, and increase awareness for the merchants solutions to those individuals searching for a goal or solution.
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This is called 'Pre-Selling'! Most people get this part wrong And this is why there are very few super affiliates earning tens of thousands of dollars per month. Most people approach the affiliate marketing game thinking "great, I just run some ads for some products and all earn commissions when people click and buy. This is how people get their ad accounts banned! The customer does not trust you, they don't trust your advertisement, they don't trust the merchant, they don't believe the item will actually solve the problem or help them achieve their goals… The customer is filled with doubt and skepticism.
Until you help that visitor get over their doubt and skepticism and help them believe they're making the right decision that solves the true underlying emotional needs or desires… Nothing happens! But when you communicate in a way that builds trust, amplifies the desire, and helps them see the emotional benefits of completing the sale… You are well on your way to earning full-time income as an affiliate marketer. At this point you've learned a lot about affiliate marketing from the parties involved, their goals, the tech the cookie duration and even your job to pre-sell not sell You also learned the power of psychology and the importance of building trust and finding the emotional needs that the products you're promoting solve.
Well… There's actually several ways it can work depending on the types of products and the types of traffic that you're focusing on. You are about to read a few stories that outline some specific examples to paint an extremely clear picture about how affiliate marketing works when done the right way.
Affiliate Marketing Success Scenario 1 - A busy soccer mom named Sally has four kids and a husband who works full-time from home is ready to go on a smoothie kick. She has been eating too much fast food, is a little overweight and had a few green smoothies at a friend's house recently. She not only feels better when she has a midday smoothie, but she doesn't feel the fast-food craving….
Just this little insight paints such a big understanding of her, her challenges and her reasons for buying. Obviously she's looking for a blender And maybe some Organify greens a kick-ass Clickbank affiliate product. But she is looking for more than just a blender This process of learning more about the end user, their life, their 'story' is required and I call it creating a customer avatar.
Click here for my ultimate guide to creating your customer avatar post. My best guess is that she will turn to Google in her busy life, probably on her cell phone, to find the exact blender she is going to purchase. She will type in a phrase that we call a keyword phrase… And it will probably be a longtail keyword phrase meaning she's going to search more than "blender. Well in this scenario, a content heavy website that is focused on either blender reviews, getting fit through green smoothies, or countertop appliance review sites could all have a great chance of ranking well in Google for her specific search phrase.
For help learning how you can create this type of content FAST Content that will be useful to your audience and will rank well on google, click here and watch this video. She sees your post title in the Google search engine results and thinks "aha, this is exactly what I'm looking for…" And then she clicks. Now it's up your copy to do the job of pre-selling the right blender for her. She's already sold on a blender… So no need to sell the idea of a blender. Just help her find the right one that fits her needs! In the content of this page you need to find the benefits of the blender and help translate those to your readers specific emotional needs… Where can you find these benefits?
Often times the five star reviews in Amazon contain some of the best reasons why customers love their blenders that you can leverage. So if it is dishwasher safe… You help reiterate how fast it is to clean by throwing it in the dishwasher because busy moms don't have time to hand wash blenders. She really understands that you get her when she reads content like this Now I'm not in the blender world so I'm gonna stop with this example here… But you carry on finding all of the different benefits and translate them to her specific needs… And you also can compare the different benefits of the different blenders to help her make an educated decision.
When you help her realize that getting healthier with smoothies can be fast, easy, and fits her budget… She's closer to taking a recommendation clicking through and purchasing from you! Let's look at another example that takes a totally different approach to affiliate marketing…. Affiliate Marketing Success Scenario 2 - A year-old machinist who works swing shift in a manufacturing plant Tennessee gets off of work every night at midnight and has a very difficult time falling asleep….
He thinks he has insomnia and gets frustrated as he lays awake until the wee hours of the morning sometimes not falling asleep until the sun is up and feeling like he only got a nap. If you've ever had challenges sleeping you understand how big of a problem this feels from his perspective.
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Now, since he thinks he has insomnia… He's probably not going to be searching Google for his solution… Although he may and the above approach used with the blender example could work here. But in this situation you could also probably encounter this individual and millions of others who have a hard time sleeping at night through Facebook advertising. Think about… What do you do when you can't sleep?
Watch Netflix with your phone in your other hand, browsing social media? Millions of people spend their evenings this way. You offer your free e-book in a Facebook ad through an affiliate marketing funnel. You obtain their email address in exchange for the e-book… And you have your first opportunity to present an affiliate offer on the thank you page they see after the often. This is called the bridge page and it works best when you put a video introducing the affiliate product that is the ultimate sleep solution….
Now a quick note here, you should only be promoting products that you've tried, purchased, and had a great experience with yourself! Remember, your goal is to build trust and to offer actual solutions to their actual problems… How do you know if it's a solution? You try it out and see if it works for you first! Your e-book is simple. You maybe even had it ghostwritten by a writer on UpWork Maybe you wrote it yourself. Doesn't really matter! Out of the seven options, you might link over to Amazon for a specific herbal tea that helps induce sleep… That can be an affiliate link for a specific physical product!
Maybe you recommend the blue light eliminating glasses that help people fall asleep as an affiliate… Now your book has two affiliate links inside! Not every option here should be an affiliate link… Recommending people have a healthy diet and get good exercise don't require affiliate links. But there's probably a way to get them in there if it's more relevant excavation point.
Then finally you have an audio program you recommend that is the ultimate sleep solution with specific audio programs that are scientifically proven to help people fall asleep when they listen to these audio MP3s as they lay down for bed. Ultimately the user should take all seven recommendations in order to sleep better… But three of those recommendations they can click through and purchase immediately from their phone!
Don't forget! This is my favorite approach to the game of affiliate marketing because you are capturing their contact information in a way that gives you the right to send email marketing messages in the future… So you can take more time to build the relationship, give more value, and ultimately present more offers… Further increasing your odds for success as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate Marketing Success Scenario 3 - Golfers are notoriously passionate about the game. It is well-known that a golfer is willing to spend large amounts of money to remove strokes from his game so he can get bragging rights in the clubhouse for beating his buddies after a round of golf.
From physical products to fitness products and even membership programs like revolution golf… There is nearly an infinite number of ways to promote the different aspects of golf as an affiliate. For this example we are going to take the expert approach. I like to call this " Building a niche authority site ". Ok, our individual in this example is Donna. She is a 61 year old lady who just retired early from years as an executive. Her husband was also an executive, is a few years younger and they just relocated to a golf community and bought a house on a golf course.
Donna struggles 'keeping up with the guys' off the tee. She just doesn't have the distance. Her fairway game is good Her chipping game is rough and her putting needs work But she is a great at getting out of the sand traps because she always finds herself in them! Immediately, you can see that there are many 'areas' within her game that she will focus on as she continues to hit the links now that she is retired She will probably start with her perceived 'biggest problem' or the most psychologically embarrassing problem first, then she will work on the next biggest problem, then the next, and so on.
Donna has the chance to become a repeat buyer with a very high lifetime value, by the way If you hadn't noticed! Now, for every 'Donna' out there who may relate better to a female content creator, there are a dozen or more Mike's out there who are her husband who have their own challenges The slice off the tee, can't hit the driver, etc.
So if you are going into the golf world as per our example here, the first step is to niche down and focus in on a very narrow segment of the golf niche. You are going to become the most helpful person online to people searching for solutions around that segment. Learn more by watching this video, now. Niche'ing down could mean you focus on helping people with putting… Could be chipping… Could be eliminating a slice… Could be yoga for back pain relief for golfers!
But it must be specific and not just 'golf tips'! This works best when it's around a solution that you found for yourself to a problem that you had yourself. In the expert example, your "zero to hero" story becomes the driving force in the products and solutions you offer. You overcame a large problem and improved your game… Now you're going to show them how to do the same! Since golf is a visual sport… I'm going to use YouTube as the content creation example here. Writing blog posts and even podcasting are both valid approaches to this content creation segment.
Create content in the manner that is easiest for you! Meaning: if you hate to write, don't write! Or if you fear being on camera, don't make YouTube videos! Through the basics of keyword research you can find all of the questions people are searching in regards to your little subset of the golf niche. You then move forward creating one unique video that is excellent, for each keyword phrase you find. This is called content marketing… I recommend you start by publishing 90 videos in 90 days and what I call a 90 day content marketing challenge!
This process of publishing 90 pieces of content in 90 consecutive days forces you to become comfortable and competent as a content creator. Just like your first game of golf and how bad you were then… Your first video will suck too. My first video definitely sucked! But like your golf game, as you practice more you got better! Your videos will get better as you publish more videos too!
There is no way around the learning curve. No one is a good golfer the first time they get on the links. You will not be a good content creator the first time you publish content!
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That is okay! So let's just condense down that learning curve to 90 days and get you to become a competent and confident content creator with a 90 day challenge. You are now content marketing machine and your noticing that your audience is growing. People are finding you on YouTube Well done! You continue to put out great videos that help them learn tips, strategies, tactics and techniques that will help them shave a stroke here and a stroke there off their game….
All while reinforcing through your actions of consistent publishing, that you are the one helping them beat their friends so they get those bragging rights they care so much about in the clubhouse! Your fans are rapidly falling in love with you because they are taking your tips to the links and they are seeing improvement And you haven't even asked for money yet!?! Now, once you get traffic rolling and your channel gains a bit of authority… Do you start bombarding affiliate links at them at this point?
You create a free report, or a free video training series they can access in exchange for their email address… And you begin email marketing and email list building! This is called your 'lead magnet' and the following video explains what makes a great lead magnet:. Your big goal in the expert model is to grow in email list because that is your largest and most valuable asset for an affiliate marketing business. Once they are on your list and they have had a great experience with your training, you can offer a few more tips and then share the main affiliate link via email, whether that is a Revolution Golf affiliate link or a specific physical product on Amazon… It does not matter.
And in this model you continue to alternate giving value in three or four consecutive emails with a new affiliate offer. This is called the jab, jab, jab, hook approach to email marketing Which is a boxing reference if you didn't notice.