We all make mistakes in affiliate marketing – it’s an indisputable fact. Never was there an affiliate who just woke up, decided to promote someone else’s product, and nailed it from day one.
I’ll be the first to admit that I bumbled my way through a fair share of mistakes at the beginning, especially if doing so will help you avoid them. If you apply the info in this cautionary tale, it should allow you to save the forehead-slapping for a worthier cause.
Before I begin, I know that there is a wealth of knowledge on this topic already out there in the form of blog articles, podcasts, and books, much of which will echo through this post, but it was my authentic experience, and I know it can help you.
So, without further ado, let’s turn my mistakes into your good fortune. Ready to be enlightened? Let’s take a look at the 7 most common and harmful mistakes that affiliates make.
Believing that people should value a product as you do
Boy, did I screw up when I first started? My brilliant plan was to just blast random people on Facebook and Twitter with links. I wasn’t exactly delivering a seamless, value-added experience for the consumer. It was more like, “Hey, I’m a guy. Do you buy a thing? Buy now!”
Not to slam Twitter search, because it can be useful, but I definitely just used it to approach people in this awkward and ineffective way. I would just search to see who is looking to make more money, and then I would just comment on their tweet like, “If you want to earn money, then click here.”
SPAM SPAM SPAM
Once, after being told to “go to Hades,” I tried to reason with my silver-tongued harasser, explaining that the product wasn’t spammed. He would hear nothing of it, though, because while the product was indeed legit, I pushed it on him in the spammiest of ways.
I just thought, well heck, I learned from this product, and the offer had pretty sweet up-sell potential AND recurring commissions, so why would anyone pass this baby up? As you can tell, however, it did not go over well.
Why did it not go over well? Because I assumed that people already like the product when really, they had no idea what it was or who I was. I assumed that, just because people want to make more money, they would jump at my offer however I presented it.
I wasn’t connecting my product to the consumer’s experience. The consumer experience is crucial! I wasn’t framing my product as the bridge between where they are (not rich) and where they want to be (frickin’ rich). I didn’t take them on a journey. I didn’t allow them to picture themselves using the product. I just shoved it at them.
The takeaway? Well, do those things! Position your product as the answer to their question. Don’t just talk up its features – explain how it can take them from point a to point b. Explain how it will solve their problems, answer their questions, and so forth. If you just assume they’re going to like it, it will show in your approach.
Posting Affiliate Links to Social Media
Please, whatever you do, don’t just create a social media profile and slap your link in the “about” section. I’m not saying do it, I’m just saying don’t only do that and expect results. Do you think I had a ton of clicks when I did it? Negatory. The bounce rate was strong with me.
There’s nothing wrong with a balanced linking approach on social media. If you’re going to do it, though, provide some context. Enrich the space. Don’t just customize the link through bit.ly to “makemoneyrightnow” or whatever – provide some value-added content that lets people know who you are, what the product is, and how it will help them.
You can either hit ’em with an anchor text link (remember, using a relevant phrase) or provide a solid, content-rich explanation as to what the product is all about. Chances are, this may not even fit in an about section on most social media profiles.
Promoting A Product You’re Not Familiar With
In his book, Affiliate Marketing Secrets, Chandler Wright clearly and accurately hits on a major point: choosing the right product is a definite must.
As mentioned, we all make mistakes, but of all the mistakes to avoid, this is it. You do NOT want to get stuck promoting a product that you know nothing about. We affiliate sometimes have a habit of being blinded by the almighty $$$$$dollar sign$$$$$$, and that’s okay – it’s good to be hungry.
If you want to make it up that creek though, don’t take your only paddle away! Find a product that you use and believe in. If you really like the offer, and you’ve never used the product, just buy the thing and judge it for yourself. If you don’t, your words will be hollow. You’ll be essentially guessing.
Know your product, and content creation will come much, much easier. People will connect with you as a fellow user of the product, not just someone trying to sell them something. You can tell them (a bit of) your story instead of just copy/pasting selling points from your merchant’s website.
Relying On Paid Traffic
I’ve explained paid traffic before, but I want to emphasize now that paying for clicks on an ad and/or a landing page is not the fast track to that blinding level of success, fame, and fortune that you and I desire. It’s not as sexy as you think. Yes, you can automate it and turn a profit, but margins are slim on account of the ad spend.
There are a lot of moving pieces involved in a successful PPC (or solo ad, or whatever else) campaign, but I’ll get into that in a bit. Back to screwing up…
Look, I own up to my mistakes. When I first started, I paid a few grand down on solo ads and traffic brokers, hoping for that windfall of clicks would lead to a stunning ROI. Boy, was I wrong? I never looked back.
What I didn’t know at the time was that paid clicks need to be directed to your content. You know…your site, your lead magnet, your affiliate marketing campaign. You’re already losing out on branding power by not manufacturing the power yourself, so why make it even harder to build a solid following?
Another downside to paid traffic
At least only relying on paid traffic, is that you are always at risk of receiving low-quality traffic. It’s a pretty wide net, and they’re not all prize catches.
I didn’t understand early on that organic traffic is vetted; they’re more likely to convert because they’ve gone through more specific channels. They’ve invested. They actively sought you out. They didn’t just impulsively click on one ad. They care about your subject matter.
Even so, expecting a ton of sales from this first purchase of mine without providing any real value of my own was a huge mistake. Some may disagree with me, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing paid traffic, but I know I’m not the only one out there who learned the hard way that bought clicks aren’t always the best clicks.
Failing to “Warm Up” Your Traffic
Since we just talked about the importance of establishing as much of your own brand as you can, now’s as fitting a time as any to talk about cold and warm traffic.
Cold traffic is the paid ad clicker. They have no idea who you are. They probably haven’t heard of you, and their only connection to you is the two seconds that they saw your ad and thought to themselves, “Oh – that looks interesting.”
If all you do is sell to these people without getting to know them, your laughably small conversion rate will haunt your dreams. Dramatic, I know, but I’m trying to impress upon you a very, very important point: You have to warm up your traffic.
Alright, so what the heck is “warm traffic”?
Even if they started out cold, like our ad clicker above, you have provided a way for them to get to know you. They didn’t buy outright, but hey, they joined your EMAIL LIST.
Maybe they didn’t even opt-in, but your site was open on their thirteenth browsing tab, and they checked back a few days later to browse through all of your content. Maybe they added you as a friend on social media, followed your page, and so on and so forth.
You don’t have to knock the ball out of the park on the first impression. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Warm traffic will eventually convert at a much higher rate than cold traffic. They can’t do that, however, if you don’t have the systems I mentioned in place: email list, great content, social media, etc.
Just, like, be a person. You’re a person, right? Be a person!
Ignoring Tracking (and Analytics) Data
Alright, here it comes. Nobody (well, almost nobody) in the affiliate world loves tracking and analytics. I mean, smart affiliates love what it does for them, but they don’t actually love poring over screen after screen of metrics. Who would?
But there’s gold in those metrics, my friends! Gold, I say! If you’re too impatient to own up to your mistakes and check the data, then it will slip through your fingers every time. If you just bounce from offer to offer when each one fails, like I’m going to cover in a moment, you won’t have the opportunity to make the changes you need to make.
Bounce rate too high? Opt for an engaging video instead of those boring bullets. Are people staying, but not clicking? Maybe your CTA needs to be a little more direct. Getting a lot of link clicks, but not a lot of sales? You may need to adjust your content to better reflect the merchant’s selling points.
Those are just a few very vital adjustments that require tracking and analytics. I’ll say it a hundred more times if I have to: if you don’t use this, you’re going to fail. Just saying.
Bouncing Around Instead of Going Deep
To take the plunge into affiliate marketing is to enter a world of infinite promise. While the prospect of a fairly hands-off, hugely scalable business is a huge motivator for many, it can also drive impatience.
We want it to explode. We want to make a million dollars in our first year. We want the quick and sexy way, not the grind. So, when something inevitably goes wrong with a particular affiliate campaign – boom, we’re out of there. We either hop on a different offer or change markets altogether.
It’s much easier to just say, “Well, that other product looked cool, so I’ll probably have more success with that” then to take a hard look at your approach and dig deeper. I understand why you’re impatient – I was too, and sometimes, I still am.
If you never look under the hood, however, instead of just buying a new car the second your oil light pops on, you’ll never learn how to fix the darn car. You’ll never know what changes need to be made. It’s a hard thing to commit to on the first go, but it’s absolutely necessary for success. Don’t mistake your failure for the market’s failure.
Hey, we made it through all seven!
So remember do not:
- Assume people will value the product just because you do
- Post affiliate links to social media without context
- Promote a product you’re not familiar with
- Rely on paid traffic
- Fail to “warm-up” your traffic
- Ignore your tracking and analytics
- Bounce around and dillydally
By the way, if you went 7/7, don’t be upset. These mistakes are very, very common, and every failure brings you closer to success. Just own up to your mistakes and move forward. Now, go out there and *don’t* do this!
This article contains an Amazon affiliate link. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.