Affiliate Marketing: What is It and How Does It Work?
As you might have already known, the digital realm offers many opportunities for making money online. One of the most attractive options is affiliate marketing. While passive income and making money while you sleep sounds captivating, you have a long way to go before you can start making affiliate profits.
If you are interested in affiliate marketing, we are ready to provide you with the information you need to get started. In front of you is the guide that will lead you through the process of affiliate marketing and show you how to use it to start making money as an online business.
What is affiliate marketing?
While it may sound like a relatively new form of marketing, it is as old as online selling itself. You receive a commission every time a person buys an online product based on your recommendation. So, what would be the definition of affiliate marketing then.
Affiliate marketing definition
“Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s or company’s products.”
The mechanics of this process are simple. It starts by finding an interesting product that you like, making an effort to promote it to other people and, in the end, earning a piece of the profit (commission) for each successful sale.
The three pillars of affiliate marketing
To be successful, all parties involved in affiliate marketing have to connect and communicate actively. The vital part of this connection is the relationships formed between the advertiser, publisher, and consumer.
An advertiser in affiliate marketing can be any company that sells products (cosmetics, kitchen appliances, electronics, cloth, etc.) or services (software, cloud storage, video games, etc.). There is also one more distinguishing characteristic that defines you as an advertiser. You have to be ready to pay other people to help you sell your products and promote your website.
An individual who promotes an advertiser’s product or service. In exchange, the publisher earns a commission. Usually, there is a contract that binds a publisher and advertiser. As part of this contract, the advertiser is the one who provides a publisher with text ads, links, and banners. The publisher then uses it on their website (if you don’t have a website learn how to build it) to promote the advertiser’s products and services. The publisher is also known as an affiliate – the future you.
In the end, as the last involved party in affiliate marketing, we have the consumer. The consumer is a person who sees the ad on a publisher’s website, takes action (clicks on it, submits info) which leads them to the advertiser’s website to complete an action (make a purchase, subscribe to service). It is what marketers call a conversion.
Conversion tracking is one of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing. Knowing from which ads your sales came from and what triggered the visitors to purchase a product, you can increase your business.
Finding the right product
In affiliate marketing, you can promote any product or service. Experienced affiliate marketers say that they have achieved the best results by selling products they are already familiar with. If you choose to promote a product or service that you have already used and it has helped you solve a problem or achieve something, there is a higher chance that you will succeed in promoting it.
If you are confident in that product and you can stand behind your promotional activities, you have picked the right product. If you are clueless and not sure how to find an affiliate product that you can promote, here is how to look for it:
- Check the affiliate marketplace such as ClickBank and ShareASale to find companies that offer affiliate programs.
- Sing up with Amazon Associates and find millions of products that you can recommend to your audience.
- Perform a google search on “Product name + affiliate program” to see if the desired product has an affiliate program available.
If you already created a blog, try to find products from your niche. For instance, if you are writing about smartphones and computers, you can try to find an affiliate program for these goods. Such a product has a name in affiliate marketing – a niche affiliate product. If your not sure where to start, you can also find niches using Google Trends.
As an affiliate marketer, one of the most important things to work on is your credibility as a product reviewer. That is why we recommend first to try using the product or service before writing a review and recommending it to other people. Until you work up your skills, you may want to try promoting recognizable brand products. And work your way to reviewing and recommending products of less popular brands.
Finding the target audience
Now that you have picked a product and your niche, you have to get to know the people behind it – your target audience. Finding the target audience is important. It will allow you to find out who your target audience is and what they need and want.
You can start figuring out your target audience by focusing on reading the reviews in your niche. You can also spend some time on forums and read the comment section on blogs that cover your niche topics. If you notice some unanswered questions emerging over and over again, write them down. Your audience needs them answered, and you can do it for them. Or you can do an online search for the best niche blogs and see how they are structured.
When you are scouring the web to meet your target audience, make sure to pay attention to the following:
- Problems and concerns of target audience
- What your audience wants and doesn’t want
Let’s go through an example to make things clear. Let’s say that your niche is Protein Power Bars. After reading only a few of the reviews online, we can gather many useful information crumbs. Your target audience is mostly made up of men in their 20s and 30s. There are several women, but predominantly your target is men in their 20s and 30s.
These are some of the concerns and questions men have when buying a protein bar:
- How does it taste?
- What is the best carbs/protein ratio?
- Which type of protein does it contain?
- When is it best time to eat it?
When you know what is important to your target audience, it is much easier to find what to write about.
Creating a website that unifies your audience and product
Once you know which product you are going to promote and who your target audience is, you have to answer one more question. What are you trying to convey about that service or product in particular? A website has to allow users to get more connected to the product you are promoting. You’ll need high-quality photos, reviews, tips and tricks, and all that packed in an attractive design.
Fortunately, today you don’t need to have technical skills to create a blog or build a website, and get your site up and running in no time. When it comes to design, you can always check out the most popular color palettes and designs in your niche. But make sure not to lose sight of your target audience.
A well-developed blog section on the website can certainly help your affiliate marketing career. You can write articles to answer your audience’s questions, as well as articles where you compare products and services. If you give these people value, they will keep returning to your website.
Promotion and growth
To reach more people from your target audience, you will need to learn some of the most effective online marketing strategies. Here are some things you can do that will help you grow and earn more as an affiliate marketer:
- Increase the traffic to your website
- Maximize the activity on social media platforms
- Get more subscribers and build an emailing list
- Make YouTube review videos of the products
In case you want to run your own affiliate program check out this partner and affiliate software.
One of the traditional ways of promoting affiliate products is PPC. It consists of bidding on relevant keywords. To know which keywords are related to the products you are promoting, you will need to work on your AdWords skills and perform proper keyword research. The key is to identify the keywords that inspire conversions.
SEO is also a viable way to promote affiliate products. When you have your website where you are promoting products or services SEO is the smart move in the long run. It will improve your website visibility and help you increase your website traffic.
Email marketing is a powerful asset when promoting products and services. Before you can reap the benefits of this method, you will need to build a mailing list.
Affiliate marketing is a good way to earn a living, but before you can start counting your commission earnings, there are a lot of things to be done. You need to find the product or service you want to promote, identify your target audience’s needs, and adjust your website for affiliate marketing purposes.
Steady passive income only follows well-planned and executed activities. Making substantial efforts across all channels will help you to establish yourself as a credible promoter and reviewer, a position every affiliate marketer craves for.