30 Affiliate Marketing Tips
2015-05-28, 05:54 PM, (This post was last modified: 2015-05-28, 05:55 PM by Gabriel88.)
Source: tricmayer

1. There is almost always a way to get a higher commission. Most merchants offer some type of VIP tier either on a short-term or long-term basis. You just need to show them what you are willing to do to get it. Offer them homepage, sidebar, or featured newsletter placement. Chances are good that they will at least give it a shot. Once you then show them that it is worth it, they will be more likely to let you keep the increase long-term.

2. Using Subids appended to your network links will help you better track your clicks and sales back to the exact posts, banners, or social media links. Every network codes these differently (ShareASale is "afftrack," CJ is "sid," etc. Grab my Cheat Sheet!). Rewards sites and affiliates with sub-affiliates under them use them for tracking every sale. Figure out what data would help you understand your sales better and use the subids to help you track it it.
3. Affiliate Summit is hands down the best conference for affiliate marketers in terms of overall education and networking. I went from doing Affiliate Marketing as a hobby to quitting my job and doing it full-time as a result of attending the conference. But you have to make sure you get out of it what YOU need to grow your business. At the top of the list for me in the beginning were: merchant relationships, education about various topics, and network contacts. Now that has changed and I come away with fresh ideas, joint venture opportunities, and enthusiasm about my work.

4. Use automation to keep parts of your site updated daily. If you don't want to constantly update your site but want products or coupons updated on it, look to technology like GoldenCan, ForMeToCoupon, or PopShops. Even the least technical person can figure out how to use them. If you have the time or technical skills, you can pull everything from the affiliate networks to update your site automatically yourself (including full product catalogs and coupon feeds). But there is nothing wrong with using some shortcuts in areas where you need help.
5. If a merchant is on multiple different networks, it might benefit you to run trials on each. You may find that one network converts much higher for the exact same merchant. If a merchant is on more than one network, you need to be sure that you are not losing sales as a result. If you test and find that your conversions are the same for each network, then default to the network where you most want the revenue. Some networks pay out the next month while others may hold your money for 2-3 months after the sales.

6. Use Boomerang to remind you of emails where you need a response from a merchant. You may have hundreds of merchants and they may have thousands of affiliates. Don't just assume that both sides are going to remember. In particular, use it to track whether they have responded to your requests for commission increases, vanity codes, etc. Boomerang is what helped me get to Inbox Zero and Inbox Zero is what ensures that I respond to opportunities timely. You don't want to miss out on limited time opportunities because they get buried in your inbox!
7. Ask your merchants for upcoming press releases or other "insider" information that you can write about and have ready to publish as soon as they make it public. This not only gives you content but also has you on the cutting edge of the news as it comes out. This might include having their products reviewed in a popular magazine or appearing on The Today Show. Be sure to never release the information before the merchant allows it and also ask whether you can cite the place they are being mentioned or not.

8. When running contests, Pinterest does not allow you to tell people specifically what to Pin. And the FTC now requires that the Pin descriptions indicate the contest entries. If you choose to use Pinterest entries as a part of your contest, be very careful to read all of Pinterest rules and FTC Guidelines so that you don't end up having the FTC sending you letters like Cole-Haan did with their recent Pinterest contest. Also with Pinterest, you are better linking to your own site than trying to include affiliate links direct to merchants. No disclosure is needed plus you have more control in case Pinterest blocks the affiliate link or the merchant drops you.
9. Collaborating on a small project with another affiliate will help you learn new things while also giving you both something new to promote. Consider swapping posts on each other's sites, collaborating on one post together, running contests with each other, or seeing what other ways you can help each other. My wine club site partners and I worked with someone in the industry that does graphics and crafts. She designed the crafts. We wrote the posts and spread them across our network. Both sides benefitted.

10. Create or find a seasonality calendar (http://www.tricia.me/calendar) to give yourself easy topic ideas when you don't know what to write about. When all else fails, you can post a funny Facebook picture about whatever the food celebration of the day is (there's pretty much a food for every single day). Use that calendar to plan in advance for big holidays/celebrations but also have the list of the little ones to pull from when you need quick ideas.

11. Ask merchants which products are currently converting best for them. Often they will tell you and you will have a better idea where to focus your efforts. They may be able to tell you overall what is converting best or even more specifically what is converting for your niche or site type. Sometimes it is surprising to affiliates what is actually selling.

12. Repurpose your content by working it into different media--blog posts, newsletters, graphics, etc. This is even more important with with how visual online marketing is becoming. Consider making a text blog list that is also converted to a snazzy image for Pinterest. Instead of posting the same things everywhere, tailor your text and graphics to the various sites. Pinterest should be "pretty." Blog posts should be useful. Facebook should be a combination of both. One idea can be spread across the different places in such a way that your audience does not feel like it is seeing the exact same thing but rather a reminder to read the blog post.

13. Always have a current Promotion Guide/Rate Card on hand that lists what merchants need to know about you, your contact information, and how merchants can participate more fully in your site. Consider changing it quarterly if you have different opportunities such as holiday newsletters or promotions. As a bonus, include your network IDs in the Guide so that the merchants can easily find you and extend offers to you. Hype up the best things about your site no matter what they are. Size, demographic, loyalty of visitors, etc.

14. Keep a couple of evergreen blog posts drafted in your account to be able to publish in a pinch if you are not working for a prolonged period of time. Don't worry about monetizing them. They are more for consistency of messaging and keeping your site fresh than trying to make money. Include a nice graphic so that you will have something to Pin that day as well. Evergreen blog posts with graphics do particularly well on Pinterest.

15. Understand the FTC rules for disclosure and be ready to point to your disclosure compliance in the event that a merchant or network asks for it. This includes your social media posts. Your site needs to disclose that you are an affiliate in a clear and conspicuous way. Tweets and FB posts with direct links to merchants need to be marked as "ads" in some way. If you don't want to mark them as ads, instead link from your social media to your blog post and include the disclosure there.

16. When possible, create links on your own domain that redirect affiliate links. This will save you a lot of time down the road if a merchant moves networks or closes a program. Pretty Link is a good choice, but there are others as well. The main thing is to be in control of them yourself, particularly links that you use repeatedly on your site year after year or in posts where you continue to get a lot of old traffic.

17. Curating content from others in your niche is a good way to come up with posts and also get the other people who you link to to publicize your post. Just don't be sleazy about it. Link to them properly and cite them as your references. I like to use Shareist because it's a quick tool. You can post individual links across your social media channels but then do a weekly wrap-up including all of those links as a blog post. This works great for niches in which a lot of people are writing and reporting and you don't want to reinvent the wheel on every story.

18. If you work a lot with a specific merchant, ask them if they can create a banner for you that is specific to your site or if they can create a landing page on their site with your branding. This shows your loyal visitors the strong relationship between your two brands. It works best when you have an actual "brand" yourself and a loyal visitor base that recognizes and trusts your brand.

19. "Vanity" codes are coupon codes for the same percentage that other affiliates get but your brand in the code. "Exclusive" coupons are ones that not everyone else is getting. Both have their uses depending on the type of site you have. Vanity codes are usually easier to get because it is just a matter of programming on the merchant's end. Exclusive deals are rare and you should jump on them when you have the chance. An example might be getting a merchant to give you one product really geared toward your audience at a reduced price for one day. Or a free shipping no minimum coupon code when everyone else only has free shipping on $25.

20. Not all merchants list coupon links under "Coupons" in the network. Be sure to check the text link section as well if you don't find any under "Coupons." Most of the time it is just because they don't really understand the difference and the significance to affiliates. If you find a merchant doing it and explain it to them, you just might get them to change their practice and it will help you in the long run.

21. Watch Affiliate Summit videos on YouTube. There is a delay in when they get posted, but these speakers are vetted by a lot of smart people before they are allowed to present. Be careful of information that changes often (like SEO tips) but many of the presentations contain information that is still solid year after year. What separates them from many videos on YouTube is that they aren't trying to sell you anything. They are purely informational videos from speakers you can trust.

22. Network like crazy. You have no idea how you might need someone's help down the road. For example, someone who is a fellow affiliate now might be an affiliate manager later. Someone who is an affiliate manager now for a product that you can't really promote may end up being the affiliate manager for your favorite brand later. People are always moving around and wearing different hats. I have been saved many times by being able to call on contacts that I have made in the past. It helps me gain into programs, earn higher commissions, get my work promoted, and solve problems when they pop up.
23. Newsletters are not dead despite anything you may have heard. While it's great to get traffic and clicks from social media sites and search engines, you can't rely on either of those. Having your own list to market to is never going to be impacted by Google slaps or whether Facebook is showing your updates to your fans in any given day. Build your list and then use it wisely to connect with your customers in a way that keeps them coming back to your site regularly. Use your newsletter not only to drive traffic back to your site but to your social media accounts as well.

24. Getting free products to review can be tricky. Everyone is asking for them these days so you need to be smart about your approach. One great idea is to ask for 2 smaller products rather than 1 big one so that you can review it plus give one away (like 2 $50 gift certificates rather than 1 $100 gift certificate). That will give the merchant more exposure. Also, be sure to spell out in your request exactly what you are willing to do with the review and when. For example, a video review takes more work than a written review. Tell them where you will publicize the review (your Pinterest page, Twitter, Facebook, your newsletter, etc) as well as the timing (before Mother's Day, during Back to School shopping, etc). Point them to examples of great reviews you have done in the past. Then integrate affiliate links into the review post for long-term revenue.

25. Get involved with the Performance Marketing Association. There are an increasing number of benefits but one of my favorites is the access to industry veterans. I attended a fundraiser of theirs in Vegas where there were CEOs of so many amazing affiliate marketing businesses that I was almost "starstruck." The Councils are chaired by people with great experience and you can learn something just by working alongside them. Your participation alone is going to help educate you plus build your network.

26. Join "Secret" sharing groups on Facebook. Right now I belong to about 6 different groups where people can post what they would like shared and how. Each group has a different focus (regional bloggers, members of certain associations, specific niches, etc) so although there is some overlap, there are probably 1000 or more different people across all of the groups I am in. Specific requirements ("you must share everything!") are bad because they can create trails. Look for groups that are more flexible that allow you to share only what works with your sites and in the ways that you like to share. When you consider that you should be sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, your blog, Stumble, etc. all on a regular basis, you are probably usually looking for content to share anyway. These groups are a great way to connect with people on your own terms, get shares of your work, and see what others are doing.

27. If you are going to use banner ads, look for merchants who auto-update seasonal banners for you rather than you having to swap them out weekly or monthly. This is especially true if they update their deals every week. There is nothing worse than seeing a "network" banner ad in your ad space because a merchant removed the banner you were using! If you are using niche-specific banners from a merchant, be sure to check them regularly to make sure that they didn't switch them to something that no longer matches your content.

28. Set up Google alerts not only for your brand name but also your niche and perhaps even the biggest merchants that you work with. Through Google alerts I not only get content ideas but have also seen how my favorite merchants are working with other affiliates. I can see when they are giving out exclusive codes or sponsoring contests. It gives me some leverage to know how I might be able to get them to work more with me and what my competition looks like.

29. Understand the difference between 1) linking to a merchant's main page, 2) deep linking to a category on the merchant's site, and 3) deep linking to a specific product on the merchant's site. Each has pros and cons. Sometimes taking people directly to a product is necessary because it will be hard for them to find it on the site and they just give up. However, when you link to a product in a post and that product sells out, you may lose the chance at a sale. If you had linked to a product category page, they might see other viable options. Know how your customers are using your site to determine which is best in each instance.

30. Make friends with Outsourced Program Managers. In my opinion, they are at the center of affiliate marketing right now and control the success of many of us. Because OPMs manage many different programs off and on, you never know what program they may end up with next. Even if they don't have anything for you now, that could change tomorrow. You want to be one of the first to learn of new programs in your niche. If you prove yourself to them in one program, you are more likely to get preferential treatment in another program they manage. The more OPMs that you can maintain a good relationship with, the more likely you are to be successful.

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