It’s the apparent simplicity of affiliate marketing that often leads newcomers down the wrong path. While the principles of affiliate marketing may be straightforward, the ins-and-outs of successful affiliate marketing are complex in the extreme.
Thousands of new affiliate websites and businesses hit the web worldwide on a daily basis. Of these, it’s unlikely that any more than say 5% go on to prove successful. Make things up as you go along and you’re doomed to join the 95% who end up wishing they’d never bothered.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
As mentioned above, the basic principles of affiliate marketing are simple to say the least. The whole thing looking a little like this:
- Sign up for an affiliate program
- Decide which products or services you intend to market
- Create a website to sell the products or services
- Market said website to your target audience
- Watch the commissions roll in
Unfortunately, this doesn’t represent a five-point checklist for success. Instead, it’s a basic overview of the fundamentals of building an affiliate business. The intricacies of what goes on behind the scenes will determine if and to what extent you succeed.
Mistakes You Could Be Making
If you’re genuinely investing your heart and soul in your affiliate enterprise and still seeing no success, you can’t help but feel deflated. You know there’s money out there to be made, but for some reason you’re getting it wrong.
The question being…where?
With a solid investment of hard work and commitment, you’re already halfway there. If this isn’t the issue, you may find it’s a case of one or more of the following rookie-errors standing in your way:
Signing Up for Too Many Affiliate Programs
Is it a good idea to put all of your proverbial eggs in one basket? No. So, should you sign up for a whole bunch of affiliate marketing programs to see which work for you? No. One of the most common mistakes among newcomers to affiliate marketing being the latter.
There’s nothing strictly wrong with trying your hand with a few affiliate programs as you progress. Nevertheless, the more thinly you spread yourself between affiliate programs, the less time, effort and focus you’ll be able to dedicate to any one programme. It’s important to remember that a single profitable affiliate program is worth infinitely more than a dozen non-profitable schemes.
As a rule of thumb therefore, it’s a good idea to start out with one affiliate scheme and one product or service to promote. When things begin hitting their stride and you’re confident you know what you’re doing, then you can think about adding others into the mix.
Expecting to Get Rich Quick
Ensuring you have realistic expectations is a fundamental rule for success when it comes to affiliate marketing. The simple fact of the matter being that no matter what you intend to sell and how hard you work, you simply aren’t going to get rich overnight. It just doesn’t happen.
Successful affiliate marketing businesses take time to build, promote, operate and optimise. The problem being that false expectations lead to poor decision-making and a complete lack of motivation. The more realistic you are with your expectations, the more likely you are to succeed given time.
Insufficient Marketing and Promotion
Working as an affiliate essentially means promoting the products and services of other businesses on their behalf. Nevertheless, you also need to invest heavily in the promotion of your affiliate website, if you’re to stand any chance of attracting customers. You cannot simply assume that people will find your site by accident – they won’t.
You need to remember that whatever it is you are attempting to sell, there are probably thousands of other entrepreneurs doing exactly the same as you. Most of which will be marketing and promoting the living daylights out of their respective websites. From SEO to PPC to all types of online and offline marketing, you need to get serious when it comes to visibility and exposure. If not, you’ll simply go overlooked and ignored.
Not only this, but the importance of focusing on mobile audiences for your affiliate marketing enterprise cannot be overstated.
Not Remaining Active on Social Media
Following on from the above point, your approach to social media marketing and involvement in general will have an enormous impact on your performance. These days, consumers worldwide respond positively to businesses and service providers they believe they can trust. Establishing a sense of trust means showing that you not only understand the needs of your audience, but are an important part of the audience.
Getting involved in the conversation and generating engagement on social media can be a great way of building your perceived authority and credibility. Particularly when it comes to younger audiences, many traditional approaches to marketing no longer have any real impact whatsoever. By contrast, build a strong following on social media and the rest often takes care of itself naturally.
Building a Substandard Website
Far too many affiliate marketers think they can get by with the most rudimentary website populated with little to no content whatsoever. A decade ago, this may have been sufficient to attract enough clicks to sustain your affiliate marketing enterprise. These days, it’s a case of mesmerising every visitor with an extraordinary user experience, or watching your business deteriorate before your eyes.
If you have neither the knowledge nor the technical capabilities to create a genuinely outstanding website, you’ll need professional assistance. If you’re unwilling to spend whatever it costs to design, develop and operate a winning website, you may as well walk away right now.
Once again, the combination of consumer expectations and competition makes it fundamentally impossible to get by with a substandard website. If they’re not immediately impressed by what you have to offer, they’re only ever a few clicks away from a more appealing website.
Not Providing Genuinely Useful Content
More often than not, it isn’t traditional standards like low prices, product quality or even flashy visuals that sell products/services. Instead, it’s the extent to which you go beyond simple sales to provide your customers with something they cannot access elsewhere.
In all areas of online business, provision of genuinely useful content often separates those who succeed from those who fail. At one end of the spectrum, you have affiliate websites that operate a little like online vending machines. Products, prices, offers, links – the end. At the opposite end, there are the affiliate websites that provide their customers with a rich and in-depth resources, helpful tutorials, industry news and updates, downloadable materials and so on.
The greater the extent to which you invest in quality content production and distribution, the more likely you are to earn the respect and loyalty of your target audience.
Insufficient Competitor Research
The key to success in all areas of business lies in establishing what your competitors are doing and doing something different/better. So it’s worth asking – how can you make this happen, if you’re not carrying out sufficient competitor research?
Given that there are probably hundreds or even thousands of other affiliates selling exactly the same product and services as you, the importance of competitor research cannot be overstated. Simply by taking a look at how they are (or aren’t) getting the job done, it can be surprisingly easy to pinpoint gaps in the market you could then work on filling.
Competitor research is great for gaining inspiration and ideas – even better for determining how you can improve on whatever it is they’re doing.
Choosing the Wrong Products or Services
If there’s one golden rule when it comes to choosing products or services for your affiliate business, it’s this:
Stick exclusively with products or services you understand and are passionate about.
Irrespective of demand and earnings potential, you simply cannot expect to succeed selling products or services you have no interest in. Or worse still, those that you have no knowledge or understanding of. Once again, this is related to the importance of providing your target audience with quality content of value and importance.
It may be a difficult pill to swallow if you’re already neck-deep in your current affiliate strategy. Nevertheless, biting the bullet and switching to a more appropriate product or service really could make all the difference.
Not Seeking Support
Last up, it’s worth remembering that it is in the best interests of affiliate program service providers to offer their total support to members of their schemes at all times. After all, your success is their success.
For some reason however, far too many newcomers to affiliate marketing seem reluctant to ask questions and seek support with their businesses. If you find yourself facing difficulties of any kind, the first port of call should always be the service provider in question.
If they are willing and able to provide helpful and accommodating support, great. If not, if you might want to question whether this is an affiliate service provider you really want to be working with.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t have to be convoluted, but should nonetheless be misinterpreted as an easy business option. If looking to build and operate a successful affiliate enterprise from scratch, seeking independent third-party assistance from the earliest possible stage comes highly recommended.