I learned quite a bit with the analysis. Enough to implement some changes. Even though I’ve been an affiliate marketer for years and have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions, I’m still learning new tactics and strategies all the time. Kinda makes this gig fun.
While not all clicks and merchants are created equal, if you want more affiliate revenue, you need more clicks on your affiliate links.
Assuming your niche site attracts people interested in your niche and therefore potentially interested in products within the niche, the more clicks on your affiliate links you generate, the more revenue you’ll earn.
This strategy is more effective at peak shopping times of the year so you may wish to only implement some of the ideas below during those popular shopping times such as
- Black Friday/Cyber Monday;
- Other statutory holidays/sales events when merchants have big sales;
- Sale events put on by merchants you successfully promote (I love these);
- Seasonal buying times depending on your niche (i.e. Spring for gardening niche).
I don’t think it’s smart to constantly bombard your audience with affiliate links every week of the year.
However, during peak shopping periods, it’s worth trying an “Affiliate Blitz”. You want those cookies planted so any ensuing purchases generates you revenue.
In fact, it may very well be worth building up audiences via email and social media and YouTube just so you can cash in during peak shopping periods.
A note about this post:
If you do affiliate marketing, there are definitely different mindsets depending on the niche.
The methods I set out below are really geared toward the larger, consumer oriented niche websites with more a corporate feel to them. In other words, they aren’t personal blogs.
You don’t want to be so blatant or aggressive with a personal blog. Fat Stacks is a personal blog. I don’t really do affiliate blitz marketing hoping to trigger as many cookies as possible. Yes, I do promote products as an affiliate on this site, but it’s more of a personal endorsement than an ad. Affiliate links on my other niche sites, on the other hand, operate more like ads rather than personal endorsements.
Of course you can do affiliate marketing anyway you see fit. Below are tactics I use on my other niche sites.
On-Site Affiliate Link Tips
One thing I’ve learned from generating revenue from display ads is I’ve learned where and how to attract clicks.
Affiliate links are no exception.
If you’re willing to create custom banner/ads for your affiliate links, you can get 10, 20 or even 30% click through rates. While this probably wouldn’t be worth doing for much of the year, during peak shopping periods it may very well be worth. The mindset being just get visitors to your merchants via your affiliate links.
Here are some ideas for getting more clicks on your affiliate links:
1. Underline your hyperlinks on your site. This makes a huge difference. Some themes don’t underline links out-of-the-box. If you include affiliate links on your site, you definitely want to tweak the theme so links are underlined. Moreover, make the links a shade of blue. I say blue because that’s the most popular color of links and therefore visitors know it’s a link immediately.
2. Add affiliate links in your navigation menus. This is admittedly a little sneaky, especially in the header. It’s akin to link units, except there’s no landing page… visitor goes directly to the merchant.
3. Create beautiful “discount” pages with affiliate links and promote those pages throughout your website. These are great pages to send email subscribers to if a merchant doesn’t permit you to use affiliate links in email newsletters. This works like gangbusters and if you rank a “discount” oriented keyword, you’ll print money from a page like this. I’ve had several of these over the years rank #1 in Google and they’ve generated $2,000 to $5,000 per month.
4. Create high-converting banner ads on your site. I find ads with arrows tend to do really well. Play around with this design concept as well as placement. TIP: Text / arrow ad above/below images will get you a lot of clicks, especially at the top of a blog post. I’ve seen CTR 30+% from this.
5. Write click-incentive link text such as “Up to 50% off” or “Click here for lowest prices”. FYI, Amazon doesn’t permit this so don’t do it with them. Yes, I specifically asked them via their live chat line. But with other merchants think link copy or banner copy using words such as sales, deals, discounts and “best price” angles. Again, just don’t do this with Amazon.
6. Charts and Tables: Charts and Tables are a very good website feature to get more clicks. If you use Tablepress, you can embed the shortcode anywhere on your site. I explain this here.
You can create charts and tables on all kinds of topics such as:
- X product vs. Y product
- Multiple product comparisons
- A table with a list of affiliate links
- A chart listing multiple products with review
- A chart listing the best online retailers for buying a particular product line.
Be creative – whenever you can use a table or chart to present info, use it because they convert very, very well.
7. Get exclusive deals for your readers: If you have the clout, ask your affiliate manager if they’ll run an exclusive discount for your readers. I’ve done this so many times with amazing success. It’s awesome and your visitors will love you.
What if your merchant won’t do this? No sweat. Just wait until the merchant has a huge sale and just tell your readers about the “special offer”. Don’t lie saying “it’s exclusive” but can certainly proclaim it’s “special”.
8. Create mystery: Another great link text to put at the end of a product description or under a product image is “Learn more here.” It creates mystery but it’s also pretty legitimate because they will learn more such as price and product specifications at the merchant’s site. I use this a lot.
9. The “Prize” ad: This is definitely on the sneaky side, but it works so, so well with the right offers. You’ll need to create a landing page with a really good offer somehow relating to the “prize” aspect of the ad. You may be able to work something out with a merchant directly too.
Here’s an example:
You could definitely get creative with this concept.
10. Replace ads with affiliate links during peak shopping times such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Let’s face it, some times during the year, it’s very likely anyone going to an e-commerce store will buy something.
11. One vs. Multiple Merchants: Each niche will differ here, but you must decide whether to focus on promoting your best performing merchant or get cookies planted for several merchants in your niche. Both strategies work. If you have one merchant that performs best by a long shot, you want to focus on promoting them.
12. One vs. Multiple Products: This issue depends on your niche. If you publish a personal blog, you might promote one product that’s an amazing deal at some point. However, if you’re in a broader, physical product oriented niche, you can easily promote several products, especially if they’re discounted heavily.
13. Swap related posts grids for affiliate product grids: Again, you don’t want to do this throughout the year but during peak shopping times this can work well.
14. Use Amazon native ad units: I love the Amazon native ad units. These can generate a really high CPM during peak shopping times. If you don’t typically have them on your site, they’re worth adding during an affiliate blitz assuming you have products on Amazon related to your niche.
15. Promote informational content on merchants’ sites. Assuming you can create affiliate links to any page on a merchant’s site, why not take the less aggressive approach, yet still trigger cookies and send traffic to informational info on merchant’s sites. More and more e-commerce websites have blogs, galleries, tools, tips and resources that you can send your audience to with custom affiliate links.
In fact, this approach is a great approach all year long.
16. Once you have some success with a merchant or two, reach out to the affiliate manager and ask for more resources you can use to promote the merchant. If you can show that you can generate sales, affiliate managers will be delighted to work with you and provide you plenty of resources to generate more sales.
17. Link images to merchant with affiliate links: I actually don’t do this all that much and I’m probably missing out. I do it a little, but I try to limit the number of affiliate links on a page. I can tell you this much though… people click images like crazy so if you want clicks to your merchants, link your images to the merchants with affiliate links.
18. Be helpful with tutorials & reviews: These are some of the oldest affiliate marketing methods, but they still work like gangbusters. Quality and helpful reviews can sell products insanely well. Tutorials which demonstrate how to use a product can also help sale more complex products such as software and electronics.
19. Create clickbait native ads promoting affiliate merchants: This isn’t easy to do, but it can work well. Native ads work well because they’re promoting interesting content. Well you can structure affiliate links in the same manner as native ads by making products sound interesting. This can work particularly well with digital products with free quality information. Basically you create “ViralNova” style ad copy to attract the clicks.
Again, this is only going to work well during peak shopping times or if your site attracts buyers.
20. Link to product reviews on merchant sites: This is particularly good with Amazon. Amazon is the best physical product review website in the world and therefore sending visitors to relevant Amazon review pages can be both easy and lucrative. Just don’t copy and paste reviews into your site unless you pull the review data via API.
21. Auto Affiliate Link Software: You could use something like SEO Smart Links or Thirsty Affiliates (I think you need the Thirsty Affiliates addon module) and create affiliate links automatically for any keyword(s) appearing on your site. This is a very fast way to create a lot of affiliate links. I don’t do this because I like having more control, but it’s a concept to try. Just be sure to no-follow the links.
Off Site Affiliate Link Tips
It’s important that you ensure any merchant you promote off site with off site affiliate links that you’re permitted to do so.
Amazon, for example, doesn’t permit affiliate links in email newsletters.
Another example is that some merchants don’t permit affiliate links on social sites such as Pinterest.
FYI, I spoke with an Amazon Associates rep today (November 23, 2016) and they told me you can only put Amazon affiliate links on verified Facebook fan pages, Twitter and YouTube. You can’t post Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest. Here’s the Amazon Social Media guidelines (see #8). Also, you MUST add your social media channels as websites in your Amazon Associates account. Don’t forget to do this.
As for other merchants, it’s a good idea to confirm with them which social media channels are okay to post affiliate links to and get it in writing.
22. Email newsletter:
If you’ve worked hard attracting email subscribers, peak shopping periods are a great time to earn your return from an email list. If you promote merchants that don’t permit email links, just make a landing page on your site and send readers to it.
Yes, you can now pin product images with an affiliate link. Avoid the temptation to spam such as linking non-related images with affiliate links. You could lose your Pinterest account. That said, there’s no reason you can’t make attractive collages of products from the same merchant and link to that merchant with an affiliate link. I’ve been using Canva.com to create beautiful image collages very, very quickly. Experiment with this a bit and see what happens.
Learn more about affiliate marketing on Pinterest with this really good (and simple) article.
If you run a Facebook page, one, two or three posts with affiliate links is a good idea during a peak shopping period. You must indicate it’s an ad such as “Ad” in the text area.
You can put affiliate links in the video description. Again, indicate it’s an affiliate link.
In a nutshell, post affiliate links anywhere that permits affiliate links and you can get eyeballs on them.
FYI, YouTube can be a great source for passive affiliate income. I still earn hundreds per month from videos I posted years ago… and YouTube is not a focus for me at all.
Peak Shopping Affiliate Tips
Since many merchants have 30+ day affiliate cookie duration, start your affiliate link blitz early during upcoming peak shopping periods. The big exception is Amazon which has a 24 hour cookie unless you use some Amazon affiliate software that provides you the “add to cart” functionality which extends affiliate link cookies to 90 days.
Look for Mind-Blowing deals
Check your key affiliate merchants and look for amazing deals. I know my merchants have insane discounts throughout the year.
Create and use custom affiliate links
Don’t just link to the home page of a merchant. It’s best you link to specific pages. For example, if your merchant has an “Up to 50% off” discount page, create a custom affiliate link for that page and send traffic to it. Most affiliate networks have the option to create custom link to any web page on merchants’ website.
Leverage your assets
Your assets include relationships with merchants, social media, email newsletters and of course your website. Leverage as much as you can during an affiliate blitz.
Your affiliate manager may have some terrific resources you can use to promote them. FYI, I do this all the time and get all kinds of resources not included in the affiliate portal.
Here’s a great Facebook tip: f you’re in a Facebook friendly niche, ask your affiliate manager if they have a terrific viral video you can upload to Facebook and promote along with an affiliate link in the text area. Videos can get a lot of views on FB. The affiliate link can be innocent such as “Source” link or “Watch more” if there are more such videos on the merchant’s site.
The point is leverage whatever assets you have in a method that’s working currently. Video is huge on Facebook, so think of a way you can harness video.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.