This is the last post in our series on affiliate marketing, and we’re summing up with a close look at affiliate marketing best practices. There are six posts in the series, and you can find the others at these links:
Today we’re going to look at affiliate marketing best practices, and I’ve boiled this topic down to a simple list of dos and don’ts. Check you’re following these guidelines each and every time you promote an affiliate partner.
Don’t promote things for the wrong reasons
It’s tempting to promote something that you don’t use, don’t love or don’t need because it has really high commissions, quick payouts or super bonuses. Unfortunately, some programs of questionable quality offer a high commission just to attract affiliates and ensure that they’ll continue to get sales.
Stick to products you use and can genuinely recommend.
Do find highly relevant programs
Notice that I mentioned above that you might promote something you don’t need? If a product isn’t highly relevant to your niche, useful to you in your everyday life, and fit for purpose, you probably shouldn’t be promoting it.
It’s fine to promote a product that’s useful for beginners (I promote Blog Writing Bootcamp and the Write to 1K program for example) but that you don’t personally need because you’re no longer a beginner. It’s not OK to promote something you’ve tried and found unnecessary just because you’re now a member of their affiliate program.
We’ve talked about this before it this series. You don’t want to sound salesy in your content. Your content should provide free stand-alone information for your readers. Your affiliate offerings should be an extension of your content. Let your affiliate’s sales page close the deal.
Pre-selling is simply warming your readers up to the idea of possibly making an investment in something you’re offering. It aims to get a click on your affiliate link, but again, the sales page is what will finally convince your readers to buy (or not).
Don’t be spammy
We all know spam when we see it, and unfortunately inexperienced affiliate marketers can accidentally produce it. If you look at something you’ve created and it looks spammy, go back to the drawing board.
Do be enthusiastic
Natural and genuine enthusiasm for a product or service does help you make affiliate sales, so let your excitement show. Tell readers why you love this product and exactly how it’s helped you (and why that’s so exciting for you).
If you stray into the ‘OMG… this product solved all my problems and you absolutely have to buy it right now,’ arena, you’ve gone too far, and landed in spammy and salesy.
Don’t violate the terms of service
Always read the terms of service. Most affiliate programs have them and they’re generally not very long or complicated, but they are important. Amazon, for example, doesn’t let you post ‘offline’ links, so you shouldn’t be putting Amazon links in emails or ebooks. All Amazon links should be on a live page on the web.
Not every program will insist (or even remind you) that you should disclose. The Federal Trade Commission does, though, so it’s important that you do. You can put up a disclosure policy (here’s mine) but always disclose in every post (and email) that contains affiliate links.
Don’t throw links all over social media
Especially in your friends’ Facebook feeds. We talked about affiliate marketing on social media in this post. Go back and revise if you need to ;). There are a few best practices around affiliate marketing on social media that you need to pay attention to.
Do use your email list
Most of your buyers will come from your email list, so don’t be afraid to either mention affiliate products in your emails OR direct subscribers to your latest post (where you promote a product).
Do check your affiliates’ areas carefully
Each program will usually have an affiliates’ area where you’ll find graphics, banners, sales copy and other promotional tools. Spend a little time in there, looking at what’s available and making a (written) strategic plan to use as much of it as makes sense to you and your audience.
Don’t put a ton of flashy banners on your site
Just because a program provides banners doesn’t mean you have to use them. Occasionally they convert. Mostly they don’t. Many people who consume online content have ‘banner blindness’ and skip over anything that looks too much like an ad. At worst banners can make your site look cheap or spammy and interfere with basic but important stuff like your brand colors and fonts.
Don’t expect a quick return
Be patient. I recently read a Facebook post from someone who was giving up on affiliate marketing after less than a month! Few people make money in the first six months or so, unless they’ve already build a significant audience. Get your links up, promote them, and wait a while.
On the other hand, if you’ve been blogging and affiliate marketing for a year and never made a sale, you’re doing something wrong. Go back over this series to see if you can work out what. Want to really fast track your affiliate marketing learning curve? I totally recommend the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course. Yes, I’ve taken this course, and yes it was totally useful to me, even though I was already making money from affiliate marketing. I made a lot of tweaks based on the information in this course, and my affiliate sales increased almost overnight. Scroll down to find out how to pick up a bonus if you’re considering investing in the course.
Do make your affiliate links nofollow
Google prefers affiliate links to be nofollow. Most blogging platforms make links dofollow by default so you’ll have to change this manually. The easiest way I’ve found, on my WordPress site, is to use the Pretty Link plugin, and check the box that says ‘make this link nofollow’.
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