If you want to make money with affiliate marketing, I’ve got a question for you:
A crappy light beer here is a crappy light beer there, right? What’s the difference where you get one (or eight)?
Well, Larry’s Watering Hole on 3rd and Lake has that really funny bartender who yells your name across the place when you walk in, and everyone else who works there is funny and nice, so you’re going there.
See what just happened? You weren’t “sold” on the light beer alone. You didn’t need some scientific reports indicating which bar had the most advanced keg refrigeration system. Simply you chose the brand that you trust and like the most.
And so it goes with affiliate marketing. One of the toughest parts about learning how to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners is acknowledging and measuring this immeasurable force:
If you’re a “numbers” person, that’s great, because as an affiliate, you will certainly have your hands full. Click-through rates, ad impressions, bounce rates, split-test ad results – you name it, you can track it.
Except for brand loyalty.
Sure, you can get a general picture of where your brand is from all the numbers (i.e., if conversion and everything that’s supposed to go up goes up, of course, then your brand is strengthening). But no single number directly expresses the power of your brand to inspire and influence others into making that decision.
My point is two-fold.
Understand that branding is both objective science and subjective art. It requires more than just tweak, measure, repeat. It requires that immeasurable, human element – the “Larry’s Watering Hole” element.
Secondly, and this builds off of number one, if you want to make money with affiliate marketing, you have to promote YOU, not your link.
Not everyone will agree with me on this, and that’s okay because it contributes to the fun debates that make this an awesome field to be in. Regardless, I can’t emphasize this hierarchy enough: It goes you, your content, and THEN your link. That’s how you build your conversion engine to last.
This is the part where you say, “Alright, I get it, but how?”
Not to be negative, but I want to start with how not to go about it first, just because so many people fall into this trap.
Wrong-Way Of Branding
Unfortunately, the majority of beginners trying to make money with affiliate marketing just focus their efforts on throwing wave after wave of traffic at their offers. They throw down a big chunk of money, click “activate” and wait. Sure enough, the campaign ends and you’re stuck there wondering why you’re in the red.
These people often think that they’re “branding” by slapping a logo onto the top corner of their site and calling it good, but branding is so much more than logos (although they are super important).
The logo is just the thing on the wrapper. Your content is what’s inside the box. I’m emphasizing this because people get so caught up in the aesthetic that they allow their content to suffer. They throw up a landing page, maybe a logo, drive that ad traffic and tank their profits.
The moral of this grim tale is to stop pushing the offer above everything else.
Right Way Of Branding
Instead of pushing the offer. Provide people with insightful, relevant, human content. This is how you build your brand. Even without talking about yourself (unless to share a personal story or two), your content and the way that it’s delivered reveals who you are and what you’re about.
So, step one is to focus on brand-consistent content. You can even refer people to a mentor who can provide them with great content if they have a question that goes beyond your purview.
Let’s dig a little deeper into how exactly you can prioritize content over links. First, get your ducks in a row across all your online assets. Those are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, branded site, blog, and the list goes on and on. Make sure everything is populated with helpful content so that users won’t be sketched out! That’s marketing 101, really.
After people warm up to you because of your credibility, trustworthiness and awesome content, they will be more open to purchasing what you recommend. That is when the link is provided! You have to first become a funny bartender. Well, you don’t have to be funny specifically, but the point is that you have to build a rapport first.
This only works as long as you are providing content to the right niche/specialized market. If you are promoting a product that is in the romance/dating niche, and you have a following of people who are in the wealth and finance niche, GOOD LUCK! Your conversions won’t be high.
So, promote yourself to the right people.
Along the same lines, the sale is rarely made on the first go-round through a sales funnel. However, through the power and influence of a value-packed email campaign that highlights the product with excellent content, you can earn a sale eventually.
Low-Cost Effective Branding
I know that many of us affiliates are in it for the quick, sexy route, meaning we want to be the next person to make 500k with a single funnel, but that’s statistically unlikely, to say the least. You need to take a hard look at sustainable practices if you’re seriously committing to the affiliate life, and that means building a relationship.
I have squeezed the topic of email marketing into many of my posts, and for good reason. It’s simply unbeatable in terms of brand loyalty.
I mean, think about it. You have these invisible salesmen that work around the clock for free, and they build a dedicated, growing audience of people whom you can provide content and offers to for as long as you want.
The more you commit to email marketing, the less money you have to spend reaching into that pool of “randos” via paid ads. And who do you think is more likely to convert, someone who has been receiving your content for a year, or someone who clicked on an ad once?
In closing, I want to echo my opening example because it is so very important that you get into this mentality.
Your product is not new, even if you think it is. Your product isn’t “different.” If I Googled your product, I will probably find dozens of people selling it.
So, why should I choose you? That’s what you need to ask yourself, and the answer should be…
because you’re promoting yourself, not the product.