Affiliate Marketing Success 1
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
If you’ve been selling affiliate products for a while now, then you probably think you have a fairly good handle on how the process works.
It’s all quite simple: you get given a link, you promote a product using the said link, and you then get a commission on all the sales that come from that URL.
But do you know how this all works? Do you know how the product creators know the link came from you? And do you know how to protect your links? Let’s take a closer look at the nuts and bolts.
Cookies and Referrers
What’s actually happening when someone clicks on an affiliate link, is that a cookie is being left on their computer.
This then means that when they go to buy the product, they can be identified as having been sent by you.
This is why some affiliate schemes can still payout even if someone clicks on your link, goes away, and then comes back later to buy the product.
Whether or not that will happen for you though will all depend on how long the cookie lasts – most have an ‘expiry date’.
Likewise, it’s worth bearing in mind that someone could click on a second affiliate and then get a new cookie from another marketer.
Whether or not this replaces your cookie will depend on the system being used: whether it’s ‘the first click’, ‘last click’, or ‘lifetime referrer’.
Meanwhile, some potential buyers might try and sidestep your affiliate link altogether and go directly to the website to buy the product.
This is called ‘link bypassing’ and it’s the reason that smart affiliates will use another strategy called ‘link cloaking’ in order to protect their earnings.
This essentially means using a referral to disguise the link, though there are numerous ways you can achieve this. Something to think about!
Many people never question how things like affiliate links work, but by understanding the basics, it’s possible to make sure that you do everything right and maximize your earnings.
Likewise, you should also think about the legal aspects of affiliate marketing.
For example, the fact that you are using cookies means that you need to show a disclaimer in order to comply with EU laws.
Likewise, it is law in the US that you must announce that you are earning a commission.
You can do this easily with a plugin showing a small message at the bottom of the page, and likewise, there are plugins to help you become automatically compliant with EU GDPR laws.
Affiliate Marketing Success 2
Creating a Digital Product vs Affiliate Marketing
If you want to make money as a marketer, then you really have two main options.
One is to create a product and to sell that.
The other is to sell an affiliate product. Neither of these is the ‘right’ option.
The right option will instead depend on what niche you’re in, what you enjoy doing, what you’re capable of doing and more.
So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
With a digital product, you of course have the advantage of keeping 100% of the profit.
You also have the freedom and control to market your product however you like and even to edit it and alter it if you so wish.
This also makes it easier for you to create a strong brand – if someone has enjoyed one of your products, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in buying more from you in the future.
But then of course that means you’ll also need to actually create that product.
This in turn means you need to invest a lot of time and effort – or money if you plan on outsourcing – into the creation of that offering.
And what that means is that you can potentially end up out of pocket.
If you invest lots of time and money into a product that then ends up not selling, you’ll have lost money.
There are ways you can ‘validate’ a product to ensure there’s an audience for it, but ultimately you will always be taking a gamble.
On the other hand, if you choose an affiliate product that is already making lots of sales, then you’ll know for sure that it can sell.
All that’s left is finding the right audience. In some cases, even the marketing materials will be prepared for you.
In terms of profit, affiliate products still offer very high commissions – up to 75% in some cases.
If you pick a more expensive item then or sell multiple items, you can make just as much money as you can from having your own product.
There’s no right answer then but remember: you don’t have to choose.
Why not start with an affiliate product and use that to fund a digital product of your own?
Or better yet, why not use affiliate products to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then use that to help design the perfect product of your own!
(And of course, you should also look into PLR products!)
Affiliate Marketing Success 3
How Big Sites and Brands Use Affiliate Marketing
A lot of internet marketers will make money online by selling digital products such as eBooks and courses through affiliate platforms like JVZoo.com OR FunnelMates
These sites let them find products with zero overheads, and no storage or delivery costs.
They then allow them to select those products and sell them to buyers for a huge cut of the profits.
In many ways, this is the perfect business model for those that want to get set up quickly, who don’t have a lot of money to invest, and who don’t want to deal with complex admin-like fulfillment.
But if you take a look at any truly large brands – whether that’s Bodybuilding.com, Mashable, The Verge, or Wired – you’ll see that they don’t use this business model.
This is not to say that they don’t make money from affiliate sales! They just go about it in a different way.
Here’s how, why, and what you should learn from them.
What the Big Brands Are Selling
Big brands don’t typically sell third-party ebooks. Why?
Firstly, ebooks have a limited appeal: they only tend to appeal to those that are tech-savvy, in a certain age bracket, and also fans of reading. Conversely, physical products appeal to everyone.
The other reason is that – let’s face it – a lot of ebooks are bad value.
Paying $30 for a PDF is a rather big ask when the PDF is only 10 pages long and full of typos!
Especially when the ebook is free to make and produce.
Potentially, this could hurt the brand of the big site and prevent them from making future sales.
So instead, most big brands sell real products, and they sell services.
To do this, they use sites like Amazon, Best Buys, and like EDx (a site that lists online courses – including those from top universities).
Imagine what commission a site like The Verge might make selling an MBA! (Which typically costs thousands of dollars per year!)
How to do It
So how do you set yourself up with this kind of business model?
First, you need to track down and sign up for those higher caliber affiliate accounts.
You can sign up for Amazon easily, but to land something like EDx you will need to apply (which means having a big enough site).
Affiliate Marketing Success 4
How to Become a Thought Leader/Influencer to Sell More Affiliate Products
Selling affiliate products is a business model that appeals very much to people who want to start earning money as easily and quickly as possible.
That’s because affiliate marketing allows you to begin earning money immediately: you don’t need to build a product or spend a lot of money allowing someone else to build it.
This also means that you don’t need to take any risks.
But herein also lies the problem. Because affiliate marketing naturally appeals to those looking for quick fixes, it means that very often, they will attempt to take the fastest route to the point where they start making money.
The problem? The fastest route is not always the best. And by taking “shortcuts,” you can actually risk missing the highest earnings.
The Two Options
There are two ways you can earn money from affiliate products.
One is to rush to find a product, then quickly create a sales page (a single web page that is dedicated to selling that item), and then send people to that page through advertising.
The other method is to spend time building up an audience first.
To build an audience that trusts you and listens to what you have to say, you can then market a product.
This way, you are flipping the formula on the head: gaining an audience and then finding a product to match, rather than the other way around.
Let me tell you this: the latter option is by far the superior strategy.
Why? Because when you build an audience that trusts you, and that wants to hear from you, you have a direct route to an audience that is qualified and perfectly targeted.
This can be the difference between launching 500 orders on day one, versus working hard to gain a slow trickle.
When someone trusts you, they will trust your recommendation. And when you already have an audience of thousands, it’s FAR easier to get the word out.
How to Get There
It’s a challenge that many marketers struggle with, but the key is to play the long game.
That means spending time delivering amazing value and high-quality content and using this in order to slowly build up momentum.
You must have something new to say in your niche, and you must choose a topic that you are passionate about.
That will resonate with your audience, and as a result, they will hang on to your every word.
Affiliate Marketing Success 5
How to Prevent Link Hijacking
Affiliate marketing offers a very powerful way for anyone to make money online.
What makes this simple business model so powerful, is the fact that the marketer doesn’t actually need to create or acquire a product or service of their own.
All they need to do is to find one that they like the looks of and then promote that.
Seeing as some affiliate programs offer as much as 70% or more commission, that can potentially be just as lucrative as developing something from scratch but with none of the risk, none of the overhead, and none of the barrier to entry.
But that’s not to say that you can sleepwalk your way to success this way.
You still need to be vigilant and many people will overlook the smaller details that are so crucial for this to work.
What can you do to prevent people from simply using the URL to buy products without you getting the commission you deserve?
And what about those that would use the link to create their own affiliate link and profit instead of you??
Here are three easy things you can – and should – do right away!
One of the simplest and easiest ways is to use a redirect.
This might mean setting up a web page that acts as an ‘intermediate’ page and then simply sends the visitors onward to the product or offer. That way, you can ensure that the cookies are stored on the user’s computer but they won’t be able to spy on the destination URL without clicking.
You can take redirecting one step further by making sure that the user has never even seen the address of the destination site.
You do this by using URL masking which is also known as ‘stealth redirection’. Although the user is redirected, the URL will never change!
Use a Clickly
A Clickly link is a link that is shortened to be more attractive and shorter while of course also hiding the original URL.
This works just the same as a redirect, except that you’ll be using a ready-made service like Clickly URL or Google’s link shortener.
Either way, this is also harder to peak at and is also more accepted.
Many people use Clickly URL even for non-affiliate links, so this is a good way to fly under the radar!
Affiliate Marketing Success 6
How to Sell an Affiliate Product to a Perfectly Targeted Audience
Many people will make money from affiliate products by finding a product they want to sell (often an ebook) and then placing the affiliate link for that product on a sales page.
This is a straightforward business model, which is a big part of the appeal for many people.
But of course, just building the page isn’t enough though, because no one would be able to find it.
The next question is how you are going to go about making sure people find your sales page and start to click the link and buy the products.
This is the hardest part if you’re new to digital marketing but there are some strategies that will simplify the process considerably.
First of all, I want you to consider your routes to market.
This is a technique missed by most digital marketers but it is one of the most important.
A ‘route to market’ is essentially direct access you have to your target demographic.
So let’s say you have an ebook on martial arts you want to sell.
In this case, your target audience is martial artists and people who want to learn self-defense.
A ‘route to market’ is any way you have of reaching that audience.
What I want you to do that is a little different, is to think about what routes to market you already have.
In fact, you should ideally do this before you choose your product as that way you can pick something that you already have options for in terms of selling.
For example then,
if you are an active member of a martial arts forum and you are the webmaster for your club’s highly popular martial arts website…
then you have two routes to market already available to you that cater to martial artists.
So, it would be a smart move to pick an affiliate product in this niche and then simply paste the link in the forum and on the site.
Or perhaps you’re best friends with the owner of a website about gardening? Or a magazine editor?
Don’t choose a product and then struggle with how you’re going to promote it.
Think about the promotional opportunities already at your disposal and then choose the appropriate product.
Ultimately, business normally comes down to solving a problem and then presenting that solution to the right audience.
Affiliate Marketing Success 7
More Benefits of Affiliate Products That You Might Not Have Considered
Selling affiliate products is in many ways the perfect business model.
This is a strategy that lets you earn money by selling something that someone else created.
That means you don’t need to invest time, money, or energy into the act of promoting your products, but you can still enjoy a passive income and potentially scale your business indefinitely.
What’s not to like?
Well, all that is true.
But there are actually even more benefits to selling affiliate products that potentially make this option even better than selling your own digital product! Here’s what you need to know.
You Can Follow the Money
“Follow the money” is advice given by a lot of top business owners.
It basically means identifying what is popular and what is “hot” and then investing more time and effort into that thing. In other words, you might invest in a few items from multiple product lines to see what sells and THEN buy up hundreds of the items that everyone loves.
This is something you can’t really do with a digital product: you need to commit to that idea as it will take days or weeks to create!
But with an affiliate product? You can actually see how many copies it has already sold, and that way sell what is already a proven hit!
You Can Sell As Much As You Like
Similarly, there is nothing to stop you from adding as many additional affiliate products to your site as you like.
This in turn means you can potentially generate even more sales, while also appealing to a broader audience.
If you do want to make your own digital product, then this serves as perfect market research!
That’s right! While digital products require VAT in some countries (the EU counts an ebook as a digital service, meaning you need to charge VAT to buyers in those regions), affiliate products do not.
You’re just a salesperson! Therefore, you only get taxed at the normal rate and there are far fewer forms.
Finally, many affiliate products include sales pages, emails, and all sorts of other materials to help you sell.
This saves you time and effort and essentially means you’ve used a copy-paste business that you know has worked for other people.
That’s because your success means the success of the product owner!
Affiliate Marketing Success 8
More Considerations for Choosing Affiliate Products
Selling digital products as an affiliate is a great way to generate cash while you sleep (i.e. earn passive income) and to create a business model that is infinitely scalable.
But your success will depend largely on your ability to select the right products.
So how do you do that? Partly, it comes down to picking the right niche – finding something that speaks to your audience.
But there are many other factors to think about too…
More Factors for Choosing Ebooks
Another thing to look out for when choosing your affiliate product is whether it comes with any extra materials to incentivize the buyer.
If it’s an ebook for instance, then it might also offer free reports, a mind map, a cheat sheet, etc. in order to seal the deal.
If the whole package is more tempting, then it stands to reason that you should find it easier to sell it!
Oh, and one more thing…
make sure that the product looks good! If the product isn’t good then you’ll struggle to sell it and even if you don’t, you may find there are returns, etc.
Most importantly, if you believe in the product you are selling, then it will come across in your marketing and you should seem a lot more passionate and engaged during your selling.
Finally, consider the metrics.
How much does this product cost? How many other sellers are selling it? Is it currently successful? Consider this in light of your own audience too.
If you have an existing website with lots of viewers and/or subscribers, then ask whether they are likely to want to spend that much.
One of the biggest advantages of selling affiliate products OVER selling digital products that you own is that you don’t need to take a risk. You can find a product that is already selling and then simply start profiting from it as well.
This way, you know that the item appeals to buyers and that it is easy to promote.
This is FAR preferable to choosing a product and then hoping that you picked something that would be popular given the current zeitgeist.
Once you have chosen your affiliate product and you have all the materials and your affiliate links,
the next step is normally to create a ‘sales page’.
This is a single page that is dedicated to selling the product you want to promote.
There will be nothing else on this page (even navigation elements) save for your pitch that says just how great the product is.
Affiliate Marketing Success 9
The Guaranteed Method to Earn Money From Affiliate Marketing and PPC
Affiliate marketing means selling a product that is not your own online, in order to earn a commission on sales.
If you sell a digital product such as an ebook, this commission might even be as much as 70-90%!
PPC is ‘Pay Per Click’.
This is any kind of online advertising that only costs you when someone actually clicks on your advert.
Facebook Ads work this way and so does Google AdWords.
The two tools are a match made in heaven for marketers. And here’s why…
The great thing about PPC is that it means you now know precisely how much you are paying for each visitor.
If your ‘maximum bid’ for a click on your ads is 5 cents, then you know you are paying 5 cents tops for each visitor to your page.
Why does this matter? Because it allows you to crunch the numbers and guarantee profit.
Another figure you should be interested in is your ‘conversion rate’.
This is the percentage of new visitors to your site who become buyers.
Let’s say 1% for argument’s sake.
Now you can simply calculate how much each sale is costing you on average and then measure this against the profit you make per affiliate sale.
So, you need 100 people to visit your site to make a single sale and that is going to cost you 100 x .05 or $5.
As long as you are making more than $5 per sale, then you know you’ll be in profit!
Of course, this does require a very small loss leader while you get those first 99 sales under your belt.
And of course, some niches are more expensive to advertise in, while your conversion rate might also be much lower in some cases.
But either way, you can now mess with the numbers in order to create a perfectly automated cash generation system!
If your conversion rate is too low, you can try to tweak the sales copy a little to make it more persuasive, or you can check that the ads are well targeted (being shown to the right people).
If your ad clicks are costing you too much, you try a less competition niche or you just lower your maximum bid right down.
Eventually, you’ll find that magic formula that means you’ll be making money while you sleep.
And what’s even better is that you can then just repeat this process over and over again with hundreds of different affiliate products if you like.
You don’t have to spend any time creating them, so you can now set up something new every 24 hours.
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