Affiliate marketing isn’t that tough… if you’ve got attention and trust.
You can gain attention and trust through your relationship with people who agree to receive content from you. And you can gain attention from people via search engines because Google trusts your content.
Ideally, you want both.
Of course, there are ways to make money with affiliate marketing that don’t involve content at all. You can use search marketing to send traffic to pre-sell landing pages, and sometimes even directly to the merchant offer.
Different strokes for different folks… but I like to build online assets. Building a subscriber list is a valuable asset, because you can market to these folks over the long-term with multiple offers if you preserve the relationship. Likewise, a site well-positioned for valuable keywords in search engines is an asset that can bring targeted traffic and revenue for years.
Let’s take a look at three affiliate marketing strategies that build assets and sustainable businesses. The first focuses on list building, the next on link building, and the last on both.
List Building with Paid Traffic
This is a classic online list-building strategy that still works wonders in email-friendly niches (and things are still more email friendly than some of you might think). The goal is to drive traffic to a landing page that persuades the visitor to opt-in to your newsletter, either with effective copy or a sample of the content. Targeted traffic should ideally come from search engine pay-per-click ads, but other advertising methods can work if they’re cost effective.
List building is all about opt-in conversion rates and the value of each subscriber over the life of the relationship. This is where valuable content comes into play… you’re not going to get someone to give up their primary email address unless you promise and deliver valuable content in return. And your lifelong customer value will be lower if you don’t maintain a good relationship with your list.
Here are 3 quick tips that make this affiliate marketing strategy work:
- You can’t be shy about promoting, or else you won’t make any money. But you also need a balance between solid content and affiliate offers to maintain a positive relationship. Crafting content that offers independent value but also naturally leads to a product recommendation is one smart way to do it (more on this in the next installment of the series).
- You’ll do better with Google Adwords by having a high quality score for your landing page. The best way to do that is to host the page on a domain with plenty of content and a decent amount of inbound links. So consider marrying this tactic with a blogging strategy that provides the content links you send to the list.
- Beyond opt-in conversion rates, your main concern is recouping advertising expenses as soon as possible. One way to do that (and also make immediate profit) is to send the new subscriber to a highly-relevant affiliate offer as soon as they opt-in.
Link Building on Keyword Domains
This is primarily an SEO strategy that takes advantage of two key factors: Google’s current algorithmic preference for exact-match keyword domains, and social media link attraction strategies (aka link baiting). The idea is to build up link equity and trust in the domain itself and then rake in search traffic for lucrative keyword phrases.
Your first task is to invest in the right keyword-match domain. I say “invest” because if it’s an exact-match keyword phrase that pulls significant traffic, someone already owns it. And I say “right” keyword-match domain because these keywords must revolve around a topic that is supported by lucrative affiliate programs.
Next, you must come up with a social-media friendly content strategy. So while the main portion of your site is professionally designed to make authoritative affiliate offers (say for credit cards), your blog must contain a steady stream of Diggable and bookmarkable content. What you’re after are the links more than the direct traffic, because you want to build the overall authority of the domain from a search engine standpoint.
To pull this off, the content strategy is just as crucial as the domain name, and it has to be aimed squarely at what people have demonstrated they want. Social media news sites love big resource posts related to getting ahead and getting things done. So if you’re promoting a credit card site, you need to promote content with financial “life hacks” that show people how to get more for their money, eliminate revolving debt, and live life well for less.
Building Authority Sites
Building an authority site allows you to enjoy the benefits of subscribers and search traffic, and it can be done without advertising or expensive domain names. You’re more focused on building a real brand and a site that also ranks well in search engines. If you take the time to do it right, you have a truly defensible online business that can’t be crippled by an algorithmic alteration.
Authority sites come into being because they deliver great content that people have demonstrated they want, and they make money by covering topics that can be supported by (among other things) lucrative affiliate programs. Your overall strategy involves matching up desirable topics with profitable products and services.
You don’t need a huge audience to make good money from affiliate marketing, but you do need a strong relationship with the right people. Publishers often worry that they’ll lose part of their audience if they make affiliate offers, even if those offers are highly relevant.
My response to that is, unless you’re using the wrong tactics (which we’ll explore in the next installment), people who desert you for making relevant offers are not the right kind of people. Put another way, would you rather have an audience of 5,000 that makes you $10,000 a month, or an audience of 40,000 that makes you $3,000 a month?
Sure, you want subscribers… and when you dish out great content on a regular basis, you’ll have them. But when it comes to making money with affiliate marketing, what you need are buyers. People who won’t even consider buying are not good for your business.
Copywriting Tactics That Work for Affiliate Marketing
Up next, we’ll explore various copywriting techniques that can be used to maximize affiliate sales. The key is to match up the right copy approaches with your content model and audience.
Reader Comments (32)
Brett Borders says
Some golden affiliate marketing insight. Post like these remind me why I stay subscribed to Copyblogger and why I trust this source.
Thanks for this 🙂
Sometimes I realise I’ve been working my a** off, but doing the wrong thing. So all the hard work is for nothing.
Those realisations come when I read posts like these..
Thanks for the info.
Janice C Cartier says
Ask and ye shall receive. Thank you so so much, Brian. (okay I have mistyped your name three times this morning as Brain….is that freudian or what? 🙂 ) Bookmarked and in the plan. Look forward to the rest of the series. All best, Jan
Sonia Simone says
Very sharp stuff, thanks Brian.
Tim Patterson says
Sometimes I want to throw my laptop in the pond, build a yurt and grow beans.
Hi Brian, newbie here. Love the series and the posts. 🙂 Many other posts I subscribe to go into folders for “if I get around to it” reading. But yours get read right away. And all the way through!
Question: When you stated: “make money by covering topics that can be supported by (among other things) lucrative affiliate programs. Your overall strategy involves matching up desirable topics with profitable products and services.”
Should an affiliate marketer create one in-depth website for one particular product or product category? Or One website with separate landing pages for many products, related or not? Or should landing pages be just one individual websites with one affiliate product and few or no links?
I’m trying to get started here and need help with this issue.
Thanks for the help.
Brian Clark says
Angela, I like to create sites around topics, build authority, and then explore the universe of affiliate opportunities within that topic area. For example, the email newsletter Early to Rise provides content related to health, wealth and personal development, and those 3 areas are also some of the most lucrative for the direct marketing of products.
There’s a link in the authority site section that goes to an article by Sugar Rae, and she also does this stuff for a living. She has a great description of how she builds sites around topics, and then builds related satellite sites around products.
Great advice – build deep content based real sites and play by the tried and true rules of content is king.
Spammy sites need to slapped a bit and affiliates, including myself, need to create the authority you are talking about.
lawton chiles says
Now, this better not be a one time post 🙂
Latarsha Lytle says
My fave…regarding an expert site…
* “…If you take the time to do it right, you have a truly defensible online business that can’t be crippled by an algorithmic alteration.”
You hit it right on the nose!
* It’s about taking the time to do it right.
* It’s about creating an online atmosphere that’s characterized by a richness and tone that’s not found too often online…
— Now THAT’s the key that keeps you from being too worried about some future algorithmic shake-down from the search engines!
Thanks for sharing your rich insight!
* You never cease to amaze me!
Tom At The Home Business Archive says
Excellent article (Stumbled). I have started to build my blog into an authority site by writing content on a regular basis that is useful to my readers.It takes time to reach the kind of authority that converts into dollars.But, by writing excellent content it is just a matter of time.
Anne Moss says
I think that so many start with the “stick a banner on my blog” mentality to affiliate marketing and then are let down when this doesn’t work. It is a process and it is work.
Brian thank you for your great information. Any suggestions I can get to help me optimize my sites and increase my income is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
Affiliate marketing is certainly an art! But my key to success is to discover the top affiliates for any program and copy what they are doing. Surefire method to success which never fails me!
Good Luck, guys!
Great piece Brian. I like the example you gave about having the ‘right’ people on your list, instead of just tons of subscribers. Most people seem to overlook that key point, but it plays such a crucial role in the success of your affiliate marketing campaign.
Caffeinated Content Discount says
You know, from the beginning we heard build that list, and 80-90% of people don’t do it. You don’t have to do it all the time because sometimes all we can do off those people is make a quick buck, but in most cases you should do it.
The list does not have to be huge, but it is important to build it. I have few small lists, around 100 people each, and some even 25 people, and one list of 100 people actually made me over $600 and I still earn commission on some reoccurring sales. So make sure you do really build that list!
Link Building on Keyword Domains,
that’s right, and not only because of the algorithm effect advantage, but visual insta-credibility added trust, and its effect on brand building. If it’s a memorable 1 to 2 keyword domain. The compounded effects are huge.
Anyone can benefit from them.
and remember !
a good keyword domain is all of these in one
domain = business name = brand name = logo
Kenneth Rudich says
As often happens in this realm, I’ve stumbled onto this site only as recently as today. It is my good fortune that this has happened because there are many other titles I’d like to explore. Including your next one on copywriting. I appreciate the advice about being selective when it comes to cultivating an affiliate audience. I have to keep that one at the forefront of my mind.
I have been so busy with fine-tuning a multitude of site fundamentals that the creation of a subscriber list slowly slipped out of focus. Thank you Brian for assisting in returning my focus to a key aspect of affiliate marketing – The Subscriber List!!
Choosing the niche, making a research and competitor analysis are the first and probably the most important steps. After that there can be many different ways to approach the market and sell items or a blog, website or through social media.
Joseph Dabon says
Very informative but I guess it’s way beyond the comprehension of ordinary bloggers like me. For example you keep saying “inbound” links. What are they? And “keyword domains?” Can you give examples of these? For all I know, sifting through thousands of keywords is enough for one to spend the entire day on and yet, in the end, he still wouldn’t be the wiser which keywords to choose because these things keep on shifting.
Brian Clark says
Joseph, inbound links are links to your site from other sites.
A keyword domain is a domain name that features a phrase that people use to find the information you offer. In fact, you almost have one yourself. “Home biz” is short for the keyword phrase “home business.” Another keyword phrase people use in your niche is “work from home.” You do keyword research to find out the language your target audience uses so you can write articles that speak that language back to them.
Hope this helps.
Stephen Putnick says
This is a great article. Thanks for teaching affiliate marketing in an IMfSP sort of way. In the ‘List Building with Paid Traffic” section there is a link to an article about sending people to an offer as soon as they sign up. This is very interesting to me as I’ve been told that you shouldn’t send people an offer right away. Problem is the link to the Partick Coffey article is no longer there. I know you don’t control other people’s websites but could you link to another relevant article? Thanks guys. Copyblogger is the best!
Camilo Rodriguez says
}hey guys great stuff… but this link is not working: Read more about that from Patrick Coffey.
It´s a 404 error.
Sonia Simone says
Looks like the Makepeace site has removed the article for some reason, so I took out the link on our side. Thanks for letting us know, Camilo.
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