Last week Ashish Khazanchi-led creative and digital agency Enormous announced that it is joining The Stagwell Group’s global affiliate network. Through the partnership, Enormous will be able to leverage Stagwell’s
Today I am going to tell you what is Affiliate Marketing and how it works, what are the existing programs that you can benefit from and how to go about it like a pro.
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting someone else’s product or service.
The greatest way to start your career in digital marketing is Affiliate Marketing because this works only if you have a product, not the service. If you have a product whether in Digital Format or Physical Format, Affiliate Marketing will work for your business. Let’s begin by understanding What is Affiliate Marketing all about and how it actually works.
So Affiliate Marketing can be started by having a blog or website or landing page. And then once anybody purchase that particular product using the link that you share, you get to earn a commission.
Most companies have their “affiliate programs” for their products or services. Almost anyone can apply for these and they are typically free. These companies will happily pay you an “affiliate commission” for every sale you generate for them. These commissions typically range anywhere from 5% to 100%, depending on the product.
For example, the commission on a physical product might be anywhere from 5% to 25% average. There are typically smaller profit margins on physical products because of manufacturing expenses. Whereas the commission on a digital product might be anywhere from 40%-50% on average. There’s much larger profit margins and not as many expenses involved in it.
Examples of digital products are e-books, online courses, or softwares. The entire product is consumed online, so there is no printing, manufacturing or shipping costs associated with it. In some cases, companies will give a 75% to 100% commission to you for each sale you generate.
They know, they’ll make all of their money on the back end by upselling additional products to their customers. Some affiliate programs give you a commission on the front-end product AND the back-end product, which means you can end up making a lot more!
You can join them on the company’s website where it is usually advertised to potential affiliates. Once you join an affiliate program, you’ll get what is known as an “affiliate link”, which is what you use to promote a product or service with.
An affiliate link is what allows you and the company to track sales you generate. You’ll be using this affiliate link when you share the product with others – via e-mail, on your website, in blog articles, in YouTube videos, on social media, etc…
I only recommend products that I’m very familiar with. Preferably, these are products I’ve used before and that have helped me achieve something. If I’m not confident in the product and I don’t feel it will help people, I will not promote it. I never directly tell anyone to buy a product. I always recommend products based on my experience and in the context of what I’ve done or what I’m doing with it. Thus increases the trust building.
Relationships are everything. Having a relationship with your audience is the foundation of trust. It also allows you to get to know your audience in depth, so you can understand their needs and pain points.
If you’re interested in building a long lasting business, you need to take a longer-term approach about relationship building. First, you need to identify a target audience that has a specific pain, issue, problem, or goal. Exactly what they’re going through, you can discover ways to help them achieve their goals and overcome their problems.
The key is to not go into it with the aim of finding an affiliate product, but to get to know your audience and find solutions they can use. Start with the pain, not the product. How do you learn what your audience needs? You need to become friends with the people who visit your site and interact with you on social media.
Without that relationship, it’s much less likely that meaningful transactions will ever occur. By meaningful transactions, I’m not just talking sales transactions—I’m talking about email list subscriptions, comments, clicks, likes, follows, shares, and retweets. The hard part is, a relationship takes time to build. Thankfully, there are ways to speed up the process of building a relationship with your audience without compromising the quality of that relationship. So how can you connect with your audience more quickly?
The next step is to identify products you can recommend to meet your audience’s needs and help them in their journey. First, keep in mind that sometimes the products will be ones that allow you to generate an affiliate income—and sometimes they won’t.
You never want to start with a product or commission in mind. You want to start with the problem, then find solutions for it.
Trust and relationships come first. Once you’ve got to know your audience and their needs and pain points, think about a brand new visitor who comes to your website for the first time—what you want that person to ultimately achieve?
You need to know what you want your visitors to do, because if you don’t, then everything you recommend is going to seem random. You need your recommendations to be precise and targeted, so your audience can get what they need from you to reach their goals.
Next, you need to think about the products that will help your audience along this path. One of the best places to start identifying these products is through ones you’ve used yourself.
Whatever niche you’re in, spend a little time making a list of the tools and services you use. Those things that you used to help you achieve your goals can help your audience achieve their goals too.
• Digital Products
• Coaching Services
Often, you’ll need to look beyond the products and services you already know and use to find things that will be a good fit for your audience—which means doing some research!
• Word of mouth— Facebook Groups
• Amazon, to find books and products
Remember, your knowledge and your relationship with your audience can help them filter through all the noise and find the right solutions, because you’ve put in the work to understand what’s best for them.
Finally, it should go without saying, but if a product doesn’t make sense to promote—if it’s not a part of the audience’s success path—then you shouldn’t promote it.
You’ve found a product that will help your audience achieve their goals, Now what? Do you immediately start promoting it to them with your affiliate link?
Experience Sells. On Amazon, we read other people’s reviews—people we’ve never met!—to help us make a purchase decision.
That’s powerful stuff, so imagine how much more powerful your real-life experience with a particular product can be, combined with the relationship, you have with someone in your audience already.
So, before you start promoting your product to your audience, you need to get to know it yourself, share your experience to them.
Affiliate Marketing works best when you treat the products you’re promoting as your own. As a result, I really encourage you to use and test a product thoroughly before you promote it.
I’m talking about real, tangible proof. You can’t just say something will help your audience— you have to show them.
Proof is similar to experience, but it’s about focusing on the positive outcomes of using a product. If experience is about seeing the product in action, proof is about seeing it work.
The more you focus on building a relationship with your audience, recommending products that align with their success path, sharing your experience using that product, and providing tangible proof of that product’s benefits, the less important it becomes to actually pitch the product directly.
You need to make sure people have a way to click on your affiliate link to buy the product. This means creating a point of sale (POS) where you insert one or more calls to action (CTAs) to click on the affiliate link and purchase the product.
You have lots of options in terms of where to put these links and CTAs.
• Blog Posts
• Landing Pages
• Social Media Messages
There are a few crucial tips to keep in mind, when it comes to adding your affiliate links at the point of sale.
When you provide a link, always be clear that it’s an affiliate link that will earn you a commission for each sale. People will want to pay you back for everything, you’re doing for them.
Some people may not know about affiliate links and commissions, and will sometimes open a new window to buy a product.
By being honest and upfront that you’re using your affiliate links, you’ll help ensure that you’re getting all the affiliate commissions you deserve.
Give people more than one chance to click through your affiliate link, take blog posts, since they’re probably the most popular way to share affiliate links.
• YouTube Videos
Offering a bonus with an affiliate product is a great way to make sure your audience goes through your link and not someone else’s.
Lots of people use the bonus technique, but many don’t use it to its greatest potential. If you really want to knock bonuses out of the park, create a bonus that truly complements the product you’re promoting.
• A quick-start PDF guide (E Book) on how to use the product
• A coupon code or discount on a related product or service.
So finally, you got into Affiliate Marketing, it’s not for the commissions, it’s for your audience—to help them achieve something.
It’s your responsibility, as someone with a platform and an audience that trusts you, to give them the products they need to achieve success.
Your commissions are ultimately a biproduct of how helpful you are to your audience. So aim to be incredibly helpful, and you will earn more in the long run.
When you approach affiliate marketing in a way that keeps people around and doesn’t rely on the pitch, but rather everything that happens before that—the relationship, the product, the experience, and the proof—you’ll set yourself up for maximum success.
Content, information, freebies, high-value stuff, and sometimes even your own time, the more you give away, the more you get back in return.
Get on other people’s radar and have them do the marketing for you. Not for the affiliate products that you’re promoting, but you, or your brand.
Trust is earned faster through the friends and relationships people already have with each other. That’s why it’s important to give to everyone, no matter how big or how small they may seem to your brand.
Relationships with other people are extremely important to your success, and you won’t have sustainable success with your affiliate marketing until you earn your audience’s trust.
One of the biggest mistakes, people make when attempting to sell a product as an affiliate, is not knowing much about the product. Because if you really know the product, it will shape how you promote it, and the overall feeling people will get when you offer or recommend it. If you’re not extremely familiar with a product, don’t promote it.
The moment you decide to promote something as an affiliate, you attach yourself, your brand, and your business to that company and that product, and if that product isn’t going to be good for your audience, then it’s going to reflect ultimately on YOU.
This can help in the pre-purchase phase. If someone has any questions about a product before making a purchase, tell them to go through you, if a person clicks through your link and make a purchase, they’ll feel more secure with their purchase, again, since they know if they have any questions they can come to you.
You don’t necessarily have to be available 24/7 for customer service questions. But when you promote these products, you want to say, “Hey, if you have any questions about this, let me know. Because I know this product, and I want to show you how it can help you achieve your goals or address your pains and problems.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, one of those is a must-have: a website. I know a lot of people who are generating an income via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, without even having a website.
If you want to set yourself, you absolutely need a website. What if Facebook or Twitter were to shut down tomorrow? That probably won’t happen, but these sites can still make changes that can greatly affect your business. We’ve seen this time and time again, especially with Facebook. Facebook loves to make changes, especially since they went public and are trying to make money for their investors.
Affiliate marketing is your business, and so you need to take control of it, and if you put your business in the hands of something like Facebook, Twitter, or even Google, you’re risking everything. The smart approach is to create a website where you have full control over the experience of your audience and customers.
Platforms like Facebook are limited when it comes to delivering a custom experience to your audience. Twitter is extremely limited. LinkedIn and YouTube are limited in customer experience, and you want those places to be the start of a conversation and always drive people back to your website.
The website is where all the action happens. It’s where people buy stuff. It’s where people click and share things mostly, and it’s where you can get the most leverage. It’s where you can most easily build an email list.
If you’re receiving any compensation for promoting any other product or company, you have to disclose that relationship. You can do is just be honest and upfront with your links.
When you mention that you’re using affiliate links, you should also say you’re getting a commission, but at no extra cost to them, so if they are going to buy the product anyway they might as well buy it from you and help you make some cash too.
One thing you should always do with your affiliate links is keep track of them, where they’re located in your content, how many clicks are going through each one, and what your conversion rates are. This takes time to set up, but you have to know what’s happening to each of your links in order to understand what works and what doesn’t.
If you have just one affiliate link for every location—your videos, podcasts, blog posts, webinars, etc.—then how do you know where you’re getting most of your sales from? How do you know what campaigns aren’t working and which ones aren’t?
You don’t, unless you track, you can use a tool like Pretty Links, a WordPress plugin, to shorten your affiliate links into custom links that are trackable.
I would like to do when promoting a product is create a BlogPost about it and not just a review of it, but a full-fledged introduction, how-to, FAQ, best practices, and troubleshooting resource for anyone who purchases the product.
If you can show this much information to people before they make a purchase, they’ll be more likely to actually make a purchase. At the same time, the blogpost becomes an extremely shareable article, one with the potential to rank high for the particular product keyword in Google.
These videos should be embedded in your blogpost. This is an important strategy because YouTube is the # 2 search engine in the world. You can get a lot of traffic coming in through your affiliate link on YouTube, and the videos themselves can rank in Google too. Plus, by shooting multiples videos about a particular product, you create even more SEO opportunities.
Make sure to include your affiliate link in the video description, ideally in the first part of the description, so people don’t have to click on “show more” or “read more” to see it.
What should you cover in these videos? I recommend recording yourself from start to finish with it, then break it up into chunks. People like to watch shorter videos, and you get multiple opportunities to rank for various keywords related to that product.
If it’s a digital product, start at the moment of purchase and walk people through the entire process. And if you’re doing a physical product, consider an unboxing video.
Webinars are an extremely powerful way to share a message with your audience. They’re personable, they’re live, and you can treat them like an actual event.
The way, your promotion becomes a much bigger deal than just a regular affiliate link you dropped into a post. Combine this with owner of the product share high-value information, and even answer people’s questions directly on the webinar, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Make sure to record your live webinar so that you can embed it on your website as a replay for those who didn’t watch it live, as well as those who did watch it live but want to review the information.
To be honest, more people will probably watch it as a replay than live, and that’s a good thing—you just have to give them the opportunity to do so. I recommend recording using screen capture software like Camtasia Studio or ScreenFlow.
Although your website is the centerpiece of your affiliate marketing strategy, social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, can play an important role in your affiliate marketing strategy too.
But all is not lost in the affiliate marketing world, because you can do an indirect social media push, which means instead of directly linking to your affiliate links on Facebook or Twitter or any other platform, you’re instead linking to something of value that includes the affiliate link, such as a video, an epic post on your blog, or a link to sign up for a webinar.
The more trust you can earn, the greater the likelihood people will buy from you. You don’t want someone to have to click 100 times before they get to where you want them to go, but a few clicks is okay, as long as you give them enough information beforehand to help them make their decision.
In addition to promoting the affiliate product, give away a bonus to all of those who purchase the product through your link as a thank you. You’re not the only one promoting that product, so to get people to buy from you instead of the other guy, throw in a bonus that can only come with a purchase through your link.
So what could that bonus be?
Your email list is an integral part of any affiliate marketing campaign, and if you don’t have one, you need to get started building one Immediately. Emails are extremely powerful for marketing, which is why so many people say, “The money’s in the list.”
As with social media, I recommend indirectly promoting on your email list, I don’t directly promote anything on my email list. If there are any links in my emails, they point back to other content, usually on my blog, such as epic posts, videos, webinars, and the like.
This is another instance in which indirect linking is your friend. If you’re interviewed for another person’s blog, or asked to write a guest post, you can link back to a piece of content on your site that contains your affiliate link.
As with social media and email, you don’t want to hit people over the head with your links—and most of the time, if you try to link directly to an affiliate product through someone else’s site, they won’t allow it anyway.
If you’re promoting a product and you get the owner of the product to answer some questions about the product, which you post in a blog post, or a podcast, or maybe a video interview.
Or maybe you have that person on as a guest and he or she offers some really high-value content, with a small promo for the product at the end. This does a couple of things.
Most of the time, the actual sale of an affiliate item takes place on the website of the company that owns the product. Unfortunately, it’s complicated to keep the entire sales process on your own site, so you’ll need to be willing to send people to the company’s site to complete their purchase.
In some cases, you may be able to handle the purchase process on your own site, but that requires the company to agree to it, along with a lot of technical know-how. But there’s another, easier option that can help increase your audience’s trust and comfort in purchasing: having your own branded landing page on the company’s site.
When people click on your affiliate link, they’re taken to a custom landing page on the company’s site that has some elements from your brand on it. For an example of such a personalized landing page, see
When talking about the product to your audience, no matter what platform you’re using or methods you choose to deliver your content, always focus more on the benefits for your audience.
Figure out why and evaluate the circumstances, and try again knowing what you now know from what you learned. Then use what you learned and try another offer. It’s all about a learning process, one that happens through taking action, trial and error basis. That’s what affiliate marketing is all about.
In fact, the more things don’t work out, the better, because the more likely you’ll be to eventually get to something that does work. And the more you’ll learn along the way. Test, Test and Test. Test, how you promote, Test to see what your audience responds to. Test the placements of your links, Test the number of links within posts, whether they’re bolded or italicized, whether images work better, whether interviewing the owner helps, whether the webinars help, so you need to test everything you can possibly think of.
Be patient. No matter how quickly people say, you can make money online, realize that it’s going to take time, that’s the beauty of online business. You can have a site up today and start sharing content with the world, but in order to make an impact and really make money online, you’re going to need to get your message out there, and build relationships with people first.
In time, this will drive traffic to your site, and eventually clicks, sales, and affiliate commissions. Learn, but take action and keep learning as you go. Things take time, but by following these tips, and everything else you learn in this series, you’ll give yourself the best chance to make things happen as fast as possible for you with affiliate marketing.
The biggest affiliate marketing mistakes people make is not promoting a product that actually makes sense for their audience. This often happens when someone takes an income-first approach rather than a serving-first one.
Let’s say you recently started promoting a new product, and it’s working out well. Everybody’s happy—you, your audience, and the company. But then the company gets bought out, and new management takes over.
This creates a ripple through the entire company, affecting your audience’s customer support experience with the product.
In addition, you should cultivate relationships with the product owners, so they know how important your audience’s experience with the product is to everyone involved.
When recommending products, you should always very honest about what the product can and can’t do.
When you’re promoting your affiliate products, you need to make sure, you set the right expectations for your audience, you lose the trust of the person to whom you recommended that product.
If you’re not totally honest and upfront with your audience about the affiliate products you promote, you have to be careful, because if you make a mistake that skrews your audience’s expectations, you might lose them for good. You need to be totally honest about what a product can and can’t do, and make sure you’re not recommending it to someone who’s not a good fit for it.
I recommend you take time to build your own brand and grow an audience you can serve. Build that audience’s trust in you as the go-to resource in your area of expertise, not just someone they don’t know who’s only serving them ads.
This is how I teach online business: to help people become recognized for their efforts in serving an audience, whether that’s through creating their own products, blogging, podcasting, building physical products, or affiliate marketing.
Focus on building your brand and serving an audience. When you make this your primary aim, you’ll find that you have a plenty of options to make money with affiliate marketing.
With whatever path you choose to generate an income, make sure you give the people to serve a way to thank you. If you’re not thanked for the products you’re promoting, you’re doing affiliate marketing wrong.
My business was “to make the web and the world a better place.” So when you approach your business like that, it trickles down to everything you do. It affects how you advertise and promote.
I believe that the affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to serve your audience and grow your income. That’s why, I keep on providing all the information which needs to succeed with affiliate marketing.
Right now, these affiliate marketing tools will be helpful for you as you’re starting out, these tools can help you save time, money, and headaches and be more effective with your affiliate marketing. They’re useful for your online business in general. So a lot of these tools are simply great content creation business tools. Because affiliate marketing is about creating awesome, helpful content, and building a business that serves people.
• WordPress for building a website
• Pretty Links for cleaning up messy affiliate links
• Geniuslink for Amazon Associates international access
• Crazy Egg for affiliate link placement optimization
• Sony RX100 V Video Camera for product demos and unboxing videos
• Screenflow or Camtasia Studio for screen-capture video
• A content idea generator for creating awesome content
• CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer for crafting catchy content titles
• Speed Dial 2 plus LastPass or 1Password for affiliate tracking
• Buffer or Hootsuite for social media automation
• Google Alerts for affiliate product notifications
• Kit.com for a branded resources page
But when it comes down to it, nothing beats having your own website. Running your business from your own website allows you to control your destiny in a way, you can’t, if you’re handing over the keys to another platform you don’t own, like Facebook.
One that can change the rules of its platform at a moment’s notice. And as it goes for online business, like affiliate marketing, and if you want to be an affiliate marketer, you should have you own website.
If you don’t already have a website, I recommend using WordPress to set one up. It’s the world’s most popular web design and blogging platform, and for a good reason. There are plenty of free and inexpensive themes out there, and plenty of developers and designers who are familiar with WordPress and can help you customize your site when the time is right.
Plus, the plugin keeps track of the number of clicks for each PrettyLinks you create. By using PrettyLinks, I can shorten and customize the URL so it’s easy to remember, share, and track:
As an affiliate, I receive compensation, if you purchase through this link. I have more than 1,000 links set up through Pretty Links. Some affiliate links redirect through several Pretty Links URLs so that I can keep track of where on my site certain links are converting (or not).
That means if a person buys anything after clicking on your affiliate link, you get a commission on all of it, even if they don’t end up buying the thing you recommend, but here’s the thing, this only works if they live in the same country as you.
On the heat map, red areas show where interaction is “hot”—where lots of clicks are happening, while green areas are where people are not engaging. This provides a great way to see at a glance where people are connecting with your page and where they’re not.
Think of it this way, if you want to increase the odds that people will click on your affiliate links, you want to put those links where people are already clicking. Crazy Egg’s heat maps are great because instead of having to sort through a bunch of data, you can see at a glance what parts of your page are drawing people to click.
One of the best (and most underutilized) affiliate marketing strategies is to tell people in your own voice exactly what they’re going to get before they get it.
For physical products, this is pretty straightforward to do. Just take a camera and film yourself using the product you’re promoting. You can create a product demo, or an unboxing video, which have become very popular on YouTube in the past several years.
If you’re promoting physical products as an affiliate, creating unboxing videos and product demos can be a great way to share a product’s details, benefits, and drawbacks with your audience.
More than that, videos are so powerful because of something called mirror neurons—when you watch someone unboxing a product, it’s easy to imagine yourself doing the same thing. To create these videos, you’re going to need a camera i.e. Sony RX100 V.
If you’re promoting software products as an affiliate, you’re going to want to create walkthroughs and demos for your audience. With software-based products, though, it’s a little more difficult to film a video.
A regular old video camera isn’t going to do the trick here, so you’re going to want something that lets you create a video of your computer screen “from the inside.” That’s where a tool like Screenflow (if you’re a Mac user) or Camtasia Studios (if you’re a PC user) can help.
Using these tools, you can simply record whatever you’re looking at on your computer, along with your voice. Whether it’s your full-desktop view, or just a particular window, you can give people an insider look at programs, courses, and other things you use online and recommend.
This significantly increases the likelihood of someone clicking through your affiliate link, because like I said, people like to see what they’re going to get before they get it. Plus, as you walk them through the product, they’re going to feel more comfortable knowing that you’ve used it too, and also they’ll have an idea how to navigate it.
This strategy is simple, but very powerful. Finally, if your budget is tight, thankfully there are some free screen capture tools you can try instead. These include QuickTime Player (comes with Mac OS X), GameDVR (comes with Windows 10), or OBS/Open Broadcaster Software (Mac/PC). These free apps let you record your screen, but keep in mind they’re much more limited in terms of editing ability than paid options like Screenflow and Camtasia.
That’s where a content idea generation tool can come in handy, and I have two to recommend: Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator and Quandary’s Content Idea Generator.
They both work on the same premise: input information about your topic, and the tool spits back some content titles to jumpstart your creativity. HubSpot’s tool is a little more basic, if you input up to three nouns, and it gives you back a list of five potential titles you can use for a blog post, tweet, or almost any other form of content you can think of.
Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator does promise a longer list of ideas, if you’re willing to share your name, email address, phone number, and job information. But if you’d rather not give up that much info, Quandary’s Content Idea Generator seems like a good balance of sharing your email address to get some good content suggestions in return.
If you want to drive clicks to your affiliate links, you need to provide value to your audience, and a perfect way to do that is through helpful content, things like blog posts and videos.
To get people to engage with this content, you need to draw them in. That’s why it helps to make sure your headlines are as good as they can be. The headline is the first thing someone’s going to see.
You can write the best blog post in the world, or create the funniest, most helpful video ever, but if your title falls flat, you’re not going to reach nearly as many people with it. That’s where a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer comes in.
It’s simple to use, just enter your title, click Submit, and the tool analyzes it and gives you a score based on how many of the following types of words appear in it:
• Common Words. Words like “can” and “to” that make up the basic structure of the headline.
• Uncommon Words. Words used less frequently but that give the headline substance.
• Emotional Words. Words that stir an emotional response in the reader.
• Power Words. Words that command a reader’s attention and action. The Headline Analyzer also looks at the sentiment of your headline, neutral, positive, or negative. Headlines with a positive sentiment tend to lead to more clicks. The tool also considers the length of your headline, since headlines that are longer than 60 or 70 characters may be less than ideal, as they take longer to read and can get cut off in search results.
One of the challenges if you promote a lot of affiliate products is keeping track of all your affiliate accounts and the income you’re generating from each one every month.
But if you do most of your affiliate marketing with individual companies, that could mean logging in to quite a few websites each month, which can be a laborious and time intensive task, which is why I suggest you check out a handy tool called Speed Dial 2.
Speed Dial 2 is a Chrome browser extension that allows you to group websites into folders, then open all the sites in a folder at once in separate tabs with just one click.
With Speed Dial 2, I can open all of my affiliate sites super quickly, instead of having to type each URL into a new tab manually. Speed Dial 2 can save you even more time when you combine it with a password tool such as 1Password or LastPass.
These tools create a “vault” with all your web passwords that’s accessible via one master password, including the ability to auto-fill your login info on any site, as well as generate new, hard-to-remember passwords whenever you create a new account on a site.
If you have just one or two affiliate relationships, using Speed Dial 2 and a password manager may not make much of a difference for you. But if, like me, you’re up in the double digits in terms of affiliate programs, these tools can make a difference.
I find the combo of Speed Dial 2 and 1Password saves me at least 15 to 20 minutes of not having to manually open and enter my user name and password on each site.
If you’re going to use social media to drive people to your blog posts and other content where you share your affiliate marketing links, you’re going to want a way to automate your posts.
But trust me, manually publishing all your tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts is going to get old really fast! There are some great tools out there to help you schedule and automate your social media posts.
I’m talking about Buffer and Hootsuite, social media management platforms that allow you to batch your posts at one time, then sit back and let them do the heavy lifting. Buffer and Hootsuite let you create a pipeline of social media content ahead of time, then schedule it to send whenever you like. This way, you can batch your content creation and then schedule it to send over the course of the next week.
If you’re promoting something, it’s crucial to stay up to date on what’s happening with that product. This includes any changes to the product itself, news surrounding the company that makes it, and developments with any competitor products or companies.
Going out and searching for all those potential news items manually is a lot of work. If you’re picking up on the theme of these last few tips, it’s that automation is your friend. One of the easiest ways to automate staying up to date on your affiliate products is to set up Google Alerts for all your affiliate products and the companies that make those products.
If there’s been a negative development regarding one of your products, you’ll want to be out ahead of it as much as possible. For example, if a software tool you recommend was found to contain a security flaw that could compromise its users’ personal data, you’d want to know as soon as this information is made public. That way, you can research the impact of the flaw, alert your audience, and pause (or stop) recommending the tool until the problem is addressed.
On the other side, if there’s a positive development about one of your affiliate products, you’ll have more time to potentially capitalize on it. With affiliate marketing, as with everything online, nothing is static. So the sooner you can get out ahead of those changes, the better.
Today, we’re going to talk about the other way of making money on Amazon—by promoting products others are selling, through Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, known as Amazon Associates.
We’ll go into detail on how to get started with an Amazon Associates account, and how to get your first affiliate link. Then we’ll cover the benefits and upside of using this platform as a source of affiliate income, along with the downsides and challenges of using Amazon’s affiliate program.
Finally, we’ll go over some powerful tips to help you maximize success through earning an affiliate income from promoting Amazon products.
There are plenty of reasons to choose Amazon as an affiliate marketing option, but I want to start by talking about maybe the biggest downside of using an Amazon affiliate link.
Amazon’s commission rates—the percentage of the sale price you receive when someone purchases a product you recommend—are, well, not so great.
There are other affiliate networks out there that offer higher commissions. Some, like ClickBank, offer rates as high as 75 percent for certain products. In comparison, Amazon’s rates seem downright stingy.
So why bother with Amazon when there are seemingly much higher commission rates waiting elsewhere? Thankfully, there are some great reasons to do just that.
First, Amazon has something that tops all the others. You could call it brand equity, or trust, or name recognition. People know Amazon, and they trust it as a source to buy stuff.
In 2017, more people started their product searches on Amazon than anywhere else—49 percent compared to 36 percent for search engines like Google and 15 percent for retailers themselves.
But more than just that, 75 percent of shoppers shop on Amazon most of the time. And Amazon has awesome conversion rates—the rate at which a customer who visits the site actually purchases something.
If you’re talking about Prime customers, as many as 74 percent of them convert. That’s compared to an average of less than 10 percent for most retail sites.
So what Amazon may lack in affiliate commissions, it makes up in awareness, conversion rates, and shopper loyalty.
The next biggest benefit of using an Amazon affiliate link is, even if you have a link for a specific product, you can still make money on any product a person purchases after they click on your link.
Let’s say your affiliate link promotes a book. Someone clicks on it, lands on Amazon, continues to shop, and decides to also buy a mattress. You’ll get a commission for the book and mattress purchase.
You see, when someone clicks on your link, Amazon adds a cookie to their browser that tracks anything they put in their shopping cart over the next 24 hours and gives you a commission if they purchase it.
As you can imagine, this can add up nicely for you. So what’s the bottom line for you as an affiliate marketer? Is Amazon worth it as an affiliate revenue source? My opinion is that you should definitely consider Amazon as you’re building your “portfolio” of affiliate marketing options.
Despite the low commission rates compared to some other affiliate networks, there are a couple powerful benefits that “stack up” to help make Amazon’s a pretty strong affiliate network program.
Affiliate marketing on Amazon may not make you rich (at least right away), but it’s a really solid, reliable place to start. And even though, the commission rates may not be as high as some networks, your likelihood of a sale is greater on Amazon.
Plus, you can get a share of a customer’s entire cart if they click on your affiliate link—even if they end up buying something different from the original product you promoted. And the fact that it’s the most popular online marketplace in the World.
You’ve decided to go for it and sign up with Amazon’s affiliate program, which is called Amazon Associates, so you can get started on your path to successful affiliate marketing on Amazon.
First, go to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/ and click Join Now for Free.
You’ll see a page that gives you the option to either sign in or create a new Amazon account.
Next, you’ll start creating your account by providing your physical address, where payments should be sent. If the main contact for your Amazon Associates account is someone other than the person you list on the address, you’ll need to select “Someone else” and enter their details at the bottom of the form.
Next, you’ll enter the URLs of your website(s) and mobile apps (if applicable) you’ll be using to promote your Amazon affiliate links. You need to enter at least one URL.
Now you can choose an Associates Store ID. This is basically a user name that identifies your affiliate account. If your preferred name isn’t available, Amazon will suggest a similar one later on.
You’ll need to answer some questions about the type of site(s) you have and the kinds of Amazon products you plan to promote as well as a few more details about your site(s), including how you drive traffic to it and why you want to join the Amazon Associates program.
You’ll also be asked to confirm that none of the websites or apps listed are targeted at kids, which is not allowed by the terms of the Amazon Associates program.
Next up is identity verification. Enter your phone number and Amazon will call you asking you to verify a PIN number that will appear on the screen.
Click the checkbox agreeing to the terms and conditions of the Associates Program Operating Agreement, then click Finish.
Once your identity verification is complete, you’ll see a congratulatory page.
Click Finish, and you’ll see a page with your new Associate ID.
Now you’ll set up your payment details. You can choose to be paid via Amazon gift card, direct deposit (if you’re in the US), or check.
If you choose gift card, it’ll be sent to your primary email address. If you opt for direct deposit, a space will appear on the page below to enter your bank details.
And if you want a check sent to your contact address, keep in mind that the minimum payout is greater than it is for gift cards or direct deposit ($100 vs. $10), and a processing fee applies.
Then you’ll fill out a tax interview to make sure everything is legal with the IRS. Make sure to double-check everything you enter on this form!
Click Save and Preview and you’ll be given a preview of your W9 tax form.
Click through to the next page, and you’re all done setting up your account!
Let’s dig in to specific ways, you can increase your chances of success as an Amazon Associate.
Amazon’s biggest advantages as an affiliate network is the trust factor. People know and trust Amazon, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time convincing them that the site is worth buying from.
But that doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and relax, watch the affiliate sales roll in. There are several tips and tactics you can use to improve your affiliate marketing on Amazon, to increase your conversion rates and income and create a better experience for your audience when they purchase products through your Amazon affiliate links.
What makes people want to buy from you, or purchase a product you’re promoting as an affiliate?
What will get you lasting results is building a relationship with your audience based on trust. And only promoting products you know and have used and benefited from is a great way to establish trust, because it shows your audience that you’re not going to try to sell them on something you don’t already trust yourself.
One of the things about Amazon affiliate marketing, you need to watch for, is that, once you’re up and running as an affiliate, the barrier to entry to promote a new product is pretty low.
Amazon has a huge selection, and it’s so easy to generate an affiliate link for just about any product, it can be easy to fall into the trap of promoting an Amazon product without getting to know the product first.
As a result, it can be really easy to start promoting something you don’t know very well, and risking the trust of your audience in the process.
The biggest bang for your buck with Amazon is to show people what they’re going to get before they get it. Instead of just talking about the product or sharing a little information about it, then posting your affiliate link and leaving it at that, you can give people a much richer preview of their potential experience with a given product.
A great way to do this is to go into deep detail about what the product is and how it works, by shooting a video. The unboxing videos I’ve created for products I promote, both physical and digital, have worked really well for me in terms of driving purchases and affiliate income.
Videos are a great way to show the ease of use of a particular product, and give your audience a chance to imagine themselves using it.
Videos also make it easier to build a relationship with your audience; you can talk right to them, and they can hear your voice, and see your face, though that’s not always necessary.
Plus, not only are you sharing what the product looks like and how it works, since you’re the one who’s showing your audience how it works, you’re also building your authority with them as an expert they can trust.
Here’s another tip that doesn’t just apply to Amazon affiliate links, but is crucial to remember if you want to be successful promoting Amazon products, be honest.
The first place where honesty is crucial in affiliate marketing on Amazon is in how you represent the product itself. This may go without saying, but if you oversell or flat-out lie about what a product can do for someone, it’s going to backfire.
You can always find new affiliate products to promote, but once you’ve lost your audience’s trust, it’s hard to gain it back. This is why using a product yourself and getting to know it inside and out is extra important, because the chances you’ll misrepresent the thing you’re promoting are much, much lower when you’re an expert on it.
It’s just good practice to let people know that you’ll make money when they purchase via a link on your site. This can be as simple as adding a single disclaimer at the top of a blog post in which you’re sharing affiliate links.
Finally, when promoting an affiliate product on Amazon to your audience, offer to help them with the product. Be a source of support. If people have questions or people want to know more about the thing you’re promoting, make their decision easier and offer them that support.
A lot more people will see your offer of assistance and appreciate it. They’ll see you as an authority figure, and someone they can trust to help them out if they need it, someone who stands behind the products they promote, even if those products aren’t your own.
Plus, if somebody does come to you with a question about the product you’re promoting, that means they’re probably interested in buying it, and by being there in a support role, you can help move them closer to a purchase decision. That’s a win for them, and a win for you.
I showed you how to sign up for an Amazon Associates account on Amazon.com, which is the company’s US-based site. But this is not Amazon’s only affiliate site. In fact, it has affiliate programs in 11 other countries, including Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, Spain, India, Mexico, and Brazil.
And in order to earn affiliate income from those sites, you need to set up an account on each of them—your US affiliate account doesn’t automatically “cover” you on the international sites.
If you want to promote an affiliate link for a podcasting microphone on Amazon.com, you won’t get paid if someone in England clicks on your link but buys the microphone from Amazon.co.uk.
Create an account on the US site plus all 11 of the different international Amazon sites, and create 12 separate affiliate links for each product you want to promote, then add all 12 links to each mention of that product in your blog post?
That’s where Geni.us comes in. This tool lets you do two powerful things that can make your international Amazon affiliate marketing much simpler and more effective. First, Geni.us lets you identify where a website visitor is in the world based on their browser’s geolocation, then send them to a specific page based on that location.
Second, it allows you to create a universal link for each of your Amazon affiliate products that uses a visitor’s geolocation to determine which international Amazon store to send them to each Amazon affiliate product you’re promoting in your content. Then it does the work on the back end to send the person who clicks on your link to the right Amazon site for their location in the world.
This is super useful, and will help you make more money as an Amazon Associate by tapping into customers around the world. In fact, it’s so useful that I recommend it as one of the 12 tools you need to help you optimize your affiliate marketing efforts overall.
The holiday season is a huge shopping period—which means it’s also potentially a great time for affiliate sales. The lead-up to the holiday shopping period is an important time to promote your affiliate links, so you might want to think about doubling down on your promotional efforts in the fall.
At the same time, you’ll want to be careful not to over promote your affiliate products this time of year, people are expecting a lot of marketing, but you still want to be careful not to oversaturate your audience.
Amazon is known for sometimes coming down hard on sellers, affiliates, and other partners who don’t follow the rules. This is maybe the other big downside of being an Amazon affiliate—Amazon is big enough to boss you around if you step out of line, and there’s usually not much you can do about it.
Amazon will give you a warning if you’re not following one of their policies, but in any case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A big part of this is reading and understanding the fine print in Amazon’s affiliate policies. I’m going to focus on several excerpts from those policies that you should be aware of.
The first policy has to do with what kind of website you use to promote your affiliate links, amazon has a list of what it calls “unsuitable sites” that they won’t allow into the Associates program.
Amazon’s language: “Unsuitable Sites include those that:
Promote or contain sexually explicit or obscene materials;
Promote violence or contain violent materials;
Promote or contain false, deceptive, libelous or defamatory materials;
Promote or contain materials or activity that is hateful, harassing, harmful, invasive of another’s privacy, abusive, or discriminatory (including on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age);
Promote or undertake illegal activities;
Are directed toward children under 13 years of age, as defined by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506) and any regulations promulgated thereunder, or otherwise knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age;
Include any trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, or a variant or misspelling of a trademark of Amazon or its affiliates in any domain name, subdomain name, in any “tag” or Associates ID, or in any username, group name, or other identifier on any social networking site (see a non-exhaustive list of our trademarks here); or
Otherwise violate any intellectual property rights.” Translation: Amazon won’t let you join their affiliate program if your site is involved in anything illegal, deceptive, violent, or hateful. But even if this doesn’t describe your site (and I hope it doesn’t!), keep in mind that sites of an “adult” nature may not be allowed either. Also, even if your site is totally family friendly, if it’s focused on kids it may not be allowed, as Amazon says it won’t accept sites directed toward kids who aren’t teenagers yet. Next, Amazon’s policy on where you can use your affiliate links (what Amazon calls “Special Links”) and where you can’t. Amazon’s language: “… you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).” Translation: Don’t put your affiliate links anywhere except on your website, blog posts, or online videos. Period. That means no links in emails, lead magnet PDFs, printed flyers, ebook. If it’s not a blog post or web page, don’t use your affiliate link there. In fact, if you try to add an Amazon link to a Kindle ebook, you’ll get a message like this.
You won’t get a friendly warning like this if you try to use your affiliate link in an email, so just remember: blog post or web page only.
The next policy covers the importance of being honest about the Amazon products you’re promoting using your affiliate links. Amazon’s language: “You must not make inaccurate, overbroad, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims about any Product, the Amazon Site, or any of our policies, promotions, or prices.”
Don’t lie about the Amazon products you’re promoting. This seems pretty obvious, but this also means not overpromising or misrepresenting the products you’re promoting, even in a small way. (For instance, don’t say the camera you’re promoting has 20 megapixels when it really only has 15.) Now, of course innocent mistakes and typos can still happen to anyone, so double-check everything you write about the products you’re promoting to make sure it’s accurate. Finally, something you shouldn’t encourage your audience to do with your affiliate links. Amazon’s language: “You must not encourage customers to bookmark your Special Links.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t ask people to bookmark your affiliate link for later use. Those are a few of Amazon’s affiliate marketing policies I want you to be aware of as you’re getting started, but that’s definitely not all of them. That’s why I still recommend you review all of the policies for yourself too.
Don’t make Amazon your only affiliate marketing option. I’m a huge proponent of diversifying your income sources, and doing so has been a big reason for my own success.
I recommend diversifying is because, amazon commission rates tend to be lower than they are from other affiliate income sources. Amazon is not biggest source of affiliate income. But for some of you out there, it might be (or might someday). It’s just as important for you to diversify—maybe even more important—for the simple reason that relying too heavily on one source of income could leave you in a tough spot if that income sources were to dry up for any reason.
If you become wildly successful as an Amazon affiliate, hopefully using the tips I’ve shared, i still recommend you not put all your affiliate eggs in the Amazon basket—or any single basket.
Amazon is the most popular marketplace in North America and Central Asia, and it’s growing worldwide too. It’s the single biggest place where US and other shoppers start their product searches, so it’s definitely a smart option to add to your affiliate marketing.
To be successful as an affiliate marketer on Amazon, you need to understand a few important best practices specific to Amazon, including how to maximize your affiliate income potential across Amazon’s international sites, and how to promote your affiliate links correctly so you don’t go against Amazon’s strict policies.
But beyond these specific points, promoting affiliate products on Amazon really involves the same ground rules that apply to affiliate marketing in any form or on any other site or network.
That is, know the products you’re promoting, be honest in how you represent those products, and give people enough information to make an informed decision about the product.
Amazon is another tool that helps you help your audience and build their trust further, by promoting products that will help them achieve their goals.
Good Luck For Next Module.
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