5 Keys to Better Affiliate Marketing

As you probably already know, affiliate marketing is the practice of finding new customers for an existing product or service that you didn’t create.

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Even if you’re a product-creating rock star and you’ve got a fat catalog of great stuff for your readers to buy, none of us can keep up with our most passionate customers. They’re always going to want more than we can provide. This is where a smart, thoughtful affiliate program can fill the bill.

And if you don’t yet have a great product of your own to offer, you can still give your audience the information, physical products, and services they’re looking for, and make some money for yourself while you’re at it. It’s just cool all the way around.
Generally, the vendor does all of the “selling” for you — you’re just providing a lead. In reality, though, a little judicious pre-selling on your part can make affiliate marketing work better for you.

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When you’re looking for an affiliate product to review or promote on your site, here are some of the guidelines that have worked well for us:

• Only promote products that are so good, you would promote them whether or not you were paid to. Many “gurus” will tell you to find a Clickbank product in your niche that’s doing well and promote that. While that’s a useful way to tell if a particular topic is viable, it’s also a great way to destroy your relationship with your audience unless the Clickbank product is terrific. Only promote great quality, whether it’s a $17 product or a $17,000 one.

• Make sure you’re selling something your audience wants. This seems obvious, but it’s where a lot of marketers fail. You can’t just offer something people need or could benefit from. They also have to want it. Don’t be afraid to promote products that are already popular in your topic. They’re popular because there’s a strong desire. You’ll use your own relationship and content to make people want to buy with your link.

• Look for high-dollar-value products. This is especially important if you don’t have tons of traffic. It might seem counter intuitive, but it’s true — you won’t necessarily sell more of a cheaper product. It’s not uncommon to find that a $197 product sells as many copies as a $19 one.

• Give some background. Reviews tend to do very well for affiliate offers, because they give the buyer some additional background on the product’s strong and weak points. Never be afraid to honestly address flaws in a product you review. You won’t hurt sales, and you will build your trust and credibility with your audience.

• Always disclose your affiliate relationship. Not only is it a good relationship-building practice to be honest with your readers, but the FTC in the U.S. also requires bloggers to disclose that you’re receiving financial compensation for your endorsement. This can get you into some very ugly hot water if you ignore it, so don’t. And yes, you can still get in trouble even if your business isn’t based in the U.S.

Why you’re going to be better at this than most people

Remember, you have some gigantic advantages in this business over the typical “make money now” system guys.

• You’ve got a unique voice and point of view.

• You care more about your relationship with your audience than you do about some affiliate commission (even a really sweet one on that expensive espresso machine).

• You’re building tons of high-quality content (not auto-generated or scraped junk) on your blog, creating a content net to support buyers over the long run and keep them coming back. If this offer isn’t a good fit for them, the next one may be.

This means your “ads” for these products don’t look like ads. They look like honest recommendations from a friend. Which is exactly the way you should think about themInternet-Marketing-Strategy.jpg

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