Affiliate marketing is one of the primary sources of income for large number of professional bloggers. Today, there are thousands of affiliate programs covering almost every niche giving you the flexibility to handpick products. It's very easy to sign up for these affiliate programs, but selling these products through your blog is altogether a different story. Let's try to understand the dynamics of successful affiliate marketing and how you can implement it on your own blog.
In my early days of blogging, I used to sign up for almost every affiliate program related to my niche. The end result was large number of affiliate accounts with nil earnings. It was very discouraging and I nearly gave up turning to pay-per-click ads. Gradually, I discovered how others are doing it successfully and how to replicate the same process on MintBlogger. Before I go ahead, let me tell you that you don't need tons of followers and massively popular blog to be successful in affiliate marketing. Yes, it does make things easy if you have one, but that's not a pre-requisite. Affiliate marketing works on a simple principle.
- Identifying buyers needs. (research and evaluate)
- Bringing them to your shop. (blog or landing page)
- Creating a strong desire in them. (persuasive text)
- Offering a solution. (unique selling proposition)
- Giving various options to avail the solution. (showcasing your affiliate products)
Choosing Right Affiliate ProductsThe very first step involves choosing the affiliate programs that matches your niche. It's not just the relevancy, but several other important factors decide whether an affiliate program will be good for you and the buyers.
Quality products - Undoubtedly, one of the prime factors that should govern your decision to choose an affiliate program. The best case will be your own experience with the product. If not, make sure you have taken feedback from the actual users of the product. Quality products have huge fan following with positive reviews across the web. Googling about the product can give you fair idea about the quality and features.
Dynamic creatives - Affiliate marketing involves enticing advertising banners and links. For every program you sign up, pay special attention to the available creatives. Their quality, their type and their size should give you enough flexibility to experiment. Tip: Every quarter or so, make sure you change the creatives and custom ads for best results.
Decent commission structure - It may happen that you do all the hard work and make several sales only to discover that you're getting peanuts in return! Carefully read the commission structure for direct sales, affiliate sign ups and indirect sales commission (via sub-affiliates). Good affiliate programs share anywhere between 30% to 50% of the sale. Anything below 10% is not worth signing up.
Proper reporting - Tracking sales and click activities is an essential part of every affiliate program. Some programs provide detailed reports including raw clicks and impressions, while others provide concentrated statistics. Just make sure you have one of these including e-mail alerts for every sale with transaction details.
Flexible payment modes - Payouts is an important issue and must be easy, quick and transparent. It is seen that paypal is the most popular payment mode encouraged both by affiliates and product owners. In case, you are only left with an option of check delivery, make sure you're provided with proper tracking options for the dispatched courier with an option to raise a check re-issue request in case of unsuccessful delivery attempt.
Proven track record - And last but not the least is checking the overall goodwill of the affiliate program. As I mentioned earlier, the web itself can give you enough information about the program popularity. Make sure you don't go by paid reviews. Read real testimonials, reviews and experiences of actual customers.
In-Content Links Or Banner There are two popular methods to sell affiliate products on a blog. First approach involves writing persuasive blog posts and smartly embedding affiliate links within the text. The second much popular approach is displaying different formats of affiliate ads at prime locations. Both techniques work well, if done correctly.
In-Content links - This method is very effective and requires excellent copy writing skills. The placement and anchor text of the embedded links is one of primary factors that contribute to high click rate. You can embed your affiliate links either in a regular post or in a review post. In either case, disclosing the presence of affiliate links within the post is entirely on you.
Custom/Banner ads -The second much popular alternative is banner advertisement.
- Pre-made creatives - Almost every affiliate program comes with pre-made creatives in different sizes. Perhaps, the most popular among them are 125x125 banners littering the sidebars of countless blogs. For many popular niches, readers are almost blind to these small banners. I've tried this before with almost nil conversions. Try large size creatives and experiment with placements.
- Large custom ads - This is my preferred methodology and it works very well. Instead of relying on pre-made creatives, I normally prefer to design a large custom ad, which is a mix of graphical banner and text. An example is shown below.
These custom ads are very effective and conversion rate is much much higher than pre-made 125x125 banners in your sidebar. The fact that they are different from regular banners helps in immediately attracting the attention of a potential buyer. I'll strongly suggest you to take some time and design these large custom ads and place them at prime locations.
If you have a fairly popular blog with decent fan following, you'll find it very easy to sell affiliate products. The 'Trust' factor plays a major role in affiliate marketing. As I said before, it gives a push adding more sales to your kitty. On the other hand, if you have a new blog, there's no need to be disheartened. A potential buyer coming from organic source with a credit card ready in his hand won't even bother about blog and author. If he gets what he wants, you're bound to get good conversions. I'm saying this with my own experience and all you need is experimenting with custom ads.