Have you ever noticed how a lot of online recipes require a specific brand's tool or ingredient? Like a specific cookie cutter for making snickerdoodles or a particular can of spicy tomatoes for that game-day dip? Usually, the recipe comes with a link to purchase that product.
That's affiliate marketing!
In short, affiliate marketing is a way that you can create online content and get paid for it. And now that we’ve entered a new decade, affiliate marketing is expected to continue growing—already around 81% of brands and 84% of publishers utilize affiliate marketing!
US retailers spent $4.7 billion on affiliate marketing in 2016 alone, and affiliate marketing as an industry is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2020. Businesses are spending big to get content from actual people—not just big name influencers. Is it time for you to establish yourself as an affiliate marketer?! It’s a simple way to make big bucks while giving valuable insight and crafting creative content. 🤑
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
An affiliate program is a commission-based agreement between a company and an affiliate for driving traffic or sales. Anyone can be an affiliate marketer; it doesn’t matter if you’re a website owner, online marketer, blogger, vlogger, or just really love a product or service. You can earn money by telling your clients, followers, or friends about a company you find valuable.
How Can I Make the Most Money as an Affiliate Marketer?
It doesn’t have to be hard to make money as an affiliate marketer. Yet, it does require that you think strategically before jumping into content creation. To ensure you drive the most referrals, think about how you position yourself.
In this post, we’ll break down the main principles of successful affiliate marketing. Ready?!
To start, here are three basic tips for how to run a great affiliate marketing business.
- Establish yourself as an educated resource.
Do your research and make sure your audience knows you’re a voice that can be trusted. You make your money based on your audience's engagement with your content, so remember to put your followers first!
- Leverage your following.
Find an organic way to get in touch with your target market. Think about your goals and where your target audience is most active (email, social media, blog, etc.).
- Promote products or services that you can stand by.
Advocate for a company, product, or service that you truly believe in and know will benefit your followers.
Before you jump into creating content, consider these questions to help you identify opportunities for interaction and products to market.
- Who is my target audience? (age, gender, field of interest, location, etc.)
- What does my target audience care about?
- What information does my target audience want to learn about?
- Where does my target audience go to receive information? (what search engine, what form of consumption, what medium?)
- How will my audience get value from the content I am creating?
- What call to action am I embedding into my content?
How Do I Promote a Product That Will Sell?
To promote a product or service, you have to take content creation a step beyond a traditional sales model. Tell a story with the product or service you’re trying to promote. The internet provides us with constant overstimulation, so as an affiliate marketer, you must find creative ways to break through online clutter and entice consumers to utilize your suggestions. It’s important to create relatable and reliable content that’s personal rather than a blatant ad.
There are various ways to reach your target market from traditional email to social media. When choosing what type of content to create, don’t forget to think about what medium your target audience is most likely to utilize.
Remember that ultimately what matters is having successful customer referrals—again, your audience should ALWAYS be first!
Try to assist your followers through the buying process. Think about whether the product is a one-time purchase, a monthly fee, a high-value investment, or something else. What is the purchase process with this type of product? Think about it from the customer's perspective: what are the purchasing hurdles they must overcome before they buy?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make a content strategy as an affiliate marketer. Fortunately, we have a list of content types to help you make the most money as an affiliate marketer!
Types of Affiliate Marketing Content
A blog is a great way to create a story for your target market. There are tons of blog types you can tap into as an affiliate marketer: product reviews, listicles (list articles), guides, product roadmaps, etc. It can be hard to choose what’s best for your market base, but a blog is often a good place to start.
You're already reading a Botkeeper blog post, but we've been publishing a lot of informative content on the Botkeeper Blog as a way to connect with our audience. To make sure you don’t experience any blogging blues, we’ve outlined some major blog types below.
Product reviews focus on reviewing a product’s positive and negative attributes. If you decide to write a product review, it’s important that you don’t simply sugar coat the product, as you want to come off as a trusted source. It’s okay to lightly critique an item as an affiliate marketer, but ultimately, you want to be promoting products and services that you really recommend.
A listicle is a list of top products or services that might solve a certain problem or satisfy a desire. Listicles are great for giving multiple product solutions (like this example), but try not to overuse it as a blog type—it’s not always the best for telling a story or creating a relationship with your followers.
Guides are a compilation of suggestions to assist someone when visiting a place or trying to achieve a goal. Here’s an example of a guide blog on things to do in Florida, a guide on white sneakers (that's also a listicle), and a review blog for a credit card.
Of course there are more types of blog posts, but these main blog categories are proven approaches to getting your audience to pay attention to your messaging.
Want to hear something crazy?! There are 3.2 billion social media users worldwide, which is about 42% of the total world population. 🤯 That’s huge! But even more impressive: about 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals, and 49% of consumers say they rely on influencer recommendations on social media to inform their purchasing decisions.
Basically, social media is a powerful tool for influencing purchasing behavior!
If you’re able to establish a solid following on social media, you might be able to create a direct platform for reaching potential customers. Remember to consider your audience when determining which social media platforms you’ll spend the most time on—demographic data shifts between the major social media networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
A whopping 30% of internet users use Facebook more than once a day, making it a hub for a constant connection to customers. The odds are good that a large portion of your target audience—regardless of industry—is on Facebook.
If you’re interested in targeting professionals, LinkedIn is the perfect platform, as its function is to allow for networking among working adults.
Instagram, on the other hand, is primarily for visual messaging. Instagram is ideal for building a brand because 70% of Instagram users already purposely use the tool to look up various brands and influencers.
Creating content with the primary goal of education can be useful in establishing yourself as a guru—plus, it often comes off as an organic way to embed products without feeling like a sales pitch. Here, we’re going to look at two main methods of online education: courses and ebooks.
Developing educational courses that have affiliate marketing content embedded in the lessons is a tactful way to become a trusted advisor. People love learning things! Think about it—many YouTubers have extension courses that accompany their channels, and within their courses, they plant embedded affiliate marketing links that act as a way to create more cash flow. (You know those little buttons that appear in the corner of the screen when you’re watching a video? That’s what we’re talking about!)
Developing simple educational courses can be a creative way to captivate an audience. Think of all the knowledge you have in your field or niche target market, and find a way to share it! (We know you're smart! 🤓)
Creating an ebook with curated insights or key tips and tricks can get users to engage with your content. Ebooks tend to target a narrow lens and give an introduction to a topic or outline a solution. Here are a few examples of ebooks we've created: What's the Difference between AI and ML?, Cash Basis Accounting vs. Accrual Accounting, and Building a BotBrain.
Hopefully these examples help demonstrate how ebooks can tackle a wide range of topics and solutions. When choosing a topic, think about the knowledge that's important to your base and how that relates to the referral you're trying to drive.
Get this: more than 400 videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 😲 Now, that might be a bit disheartening as a content creator, but think of it another way: that’s a huge audience!
Some successful video types for affiliate marketers are product reviews, product comparisons, or hauls. While the first two are self-explanatory, a haul is simply a video in which the host talks about multiple recent purchases as opposed to just one. Here are a few examples: Fenty product review video, product comparison video on sleeping pads, and a beauty product haul at Sephora.
The key piece of a video product feature is to embed your personalized links into the video description, or else you won’t get credit for your referral. Don't make that mistake!
A case study can be a convincing tool for affiliate marketers to gain trust. Case studies are basically success stories where you record your results utilizing a certain product, service, or company.
For instance, let’s say you were a Botkeeper Ambassador, and you were going to write a case study on the effectiveness of Botkeeper’s services. You’d basically do a before/after comparison of your experience using Botkeeper. And as part of your case study, you’d give facts and numbers to support your claim. You could talk about how many hours you saved using Botkeeper that you once spent on reviewing or managing your bookkeepers (Hint: it’s usually more than you think!).
Some people might think email marketing is dead, but actually, email generates $38 for every $1 spent (on average), which is an astounding 3,800% ROI (return on investment). In fact, by 2022 it's projected that there will be 4.3 billion email users. Email outreach is still one of the most successful ways to drive referrals. And as an affiliate marketer, you can use email as a way to reach your base.
You can utilize connections you already have in your niche market, or you can create new leads through email outreach. And although it might feel a bit like old-school marketing, email is actually the most successful outreach method when it comes to ROI.
Consider creating a regular newsletter that you send weekly or monthly—talk about your products, link to your blog posts, invite your readers to follow and engage with you on social media. Basically, you can do a lot with email marketing, and it can help you bring home more bacon!
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A quick recap of what we covered here:
A successful content strategy makes you as an affiliate marketer stand out. Remember to be authentic and share your experience with others! People don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to; instead, they want to be a part of a story. Individuals want to read and engage with content that’s relatable and helps solve their problems.
As an affiliate marketer, you must find inventive ways to appeal to your target audience. Yet, more than anything, make sure to understand your target audience, and always put them first!