Steven Macdonald is a digital marketer based in Tallinn, Estonia. Steven has been creating blog content writing since 2010 and has appeared as a featured writer for Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs and Smart Insights. Since working with SuperOffice, he has led the growth from 0 to 2 million visitors per year. You can connect with Steven on LinkedIn and Twitter.
But this “old school” method of making money online is still going strong because of all the benefits it offers to small-scale, solo internet entrepreneurs. And it’s an especially powerful business model to those without much experience doing business online. Many successful online business owners make their first dollar online with affiliate marketing.
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.
For example, if a brand values the top-of-funnel traffic driven by content creators (bloggers, influencers, etc.), we’ll likely start to see more situational rules applied when they’re active along the clickstream, such as preventing more bottom-of-funnel-focused affiliates (e.g. coupon, deal, loyalty, etc.) from being paid a full commission. Similar commissioning options that are becoming more common include:
Since new customers are valuable, it makes sense to offer incentives to your affiliate partners to generate fresh traffic and new customers. You may already have new customer marketing incentives in place — perhaps a first purchase discount or another special offer. The same reason you offer those incentives is why you should pay affiliates more for generating new customers. No matter where the incentive is paid — i.e., to the customer or to the affiliate — the result is the same. You’re paying a bit extra to acquire that new customer because you know your ultimate payback is in the customer’s lifetime value.
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales.
I have come to media buying from the usual contextual advertising. Before that, I’ve heard a lot of information, which confused me: Adwords bans all media buyers, successful advertising campaigns can only be carried out through the use of dirty tricks like "cloaking" etc. But no one talks about how to advertise in a totally legal way. You must agree that it’s a real pleasure to work safely and be sure that tomorrow your account will not be blocked without any explanation.
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The web became a place where people could find information, news, products, opinions, inspiration, data. Terms like e-commerce, website traffic and banner ads emerged. As the world increasingly decided to spend their time and money online, marketers began inventing ways to leverage this communication channel, and opportunities for website owners to partner began. Content creators conceptualized ways to monetize their sites – ways to get paid for the exposure they could give merchants to their site visitors. Merchants found ways to reach new audiences and pay only when they converted.
Scan your email inbox right now. No doubt there are at least a few emails you get from merchants or other businesses with products you’re interested in. This is email marketing. And it’s a great tool for affiliate marketers. Essentially, on your website, a landing page, blog, or social media, you ask visitors to your site to provide their email address. Then you send them valuable content along with promotional offerings through email.
A sound product strategy is a must for new affiliate marketers. Ideally, you should choose a niche that you can make money online with and has a lot of product vendors. This will give you a wide selection of products to offer your online community. However, limit yourself to two or three products at a time, so that you become the expert others turn to and trust when reaching for their wallet.
On one hand, long and ugly affiliate tracking links are a straight giveaway to people that you want to sell them a product (and people may be uncomfortable clicking on them). Therefore, making your link shorter and "nicer" looking will it give a more professional appearance. One of my favorite plugins for making links look "pretty" is the Pretty Links WordPress plugin.
Of course, there is no prescriptive recipe you can follow that guarantees success. To me, the best marketers are those that can simply build experiments, test assumptions, and iterate over their ideas quickly. Affiliate marketing is really no exception. Here are just a few tips and heuristics I’ve picked up through my experiences that should be helpful!
The diverse array of companies involved in email marketing ensures that no one party can make changes that would have a widespread effect, and unlike Facebook or Twitter, if you invest the time and money into building and cultivating a great email list, your subscriber list will be an asset you own. Thus you’ll be able to leverage your list without the threat of someone limiting its effectiveness.
There are lots of platforms you can use to set up your Affiliate Program with little to no hassle. Ironically, I am not an affiliate for any of these (I do not get a kickback if you decide to sign up for one over another), but the one I’ve used most (and to most success) is Omni Affiliate. For a number of reasons, it’s super easy to use and extremely powerful. If that one does not look so appealing to you, there are tons of alternatives and I strongly recommend you do your research, demo a number of management softwares, and find the one that fits best for your needs. If you are hesitant to make the investment up front, you can always go the old google sheets route and manage it all manually.
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Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
Do you have an email marketing crush? We do. And it is Aesop! Their newsletters have everything you need – beautiful, simple illustrations, unique colors, and interesting content. In their emails, you can discover what to listen to, what to see, where to go. It has a very brief description, but if you want to continue reading, there is always a button for it.
Affiliate marketing is also called "performance marketing", in reference to how sales employees are typically being compensated. Such employees are typically paid a commission for each sale they close, and sometimes are paid performance incentives for exceeding objectives. Affiliates are not employed by the advertiser whose products or services they promote, but the compensation models applied to affiliate marketing are very similar to the ones used for people in the advertisers' internal sales department.