Affiliate Marketing links are the marketing equivalent of a cash register in a grocery store.
With every visit you potentially earn money – unless customers end up not purchasing anything.
Given this crucial function, the link is the foundation of a successful affiliate marketing business.
Affiliates usually have a few links.
Actually, they have quite a lot – some of our clients have thousands of Amazon affiliate links.
Who better to ask for advice than the practitioners themselves.
Here is what they said.
Note: This is part of our TableLabs Academy Guestspeaker series, where we ask industry experts to provide guidance on topics related to website optimization, audience building and affiliate marketing.
- 1 Stick to your knitting and brand
- 2 Personalize, personalize, personalize ….
- 3 Link a product overview in the beginning & end of your post
- 4 Give a “So What” before every link
- 5 Sell every link
- 6 Match linking strategy and keyword intent
- 7 Build an audience
- 8 Tracking, Rinse, Repeat
- 9 Omnichannel: The cherry on the cake
Stick to your knitting and brand
Let’s start with the first step.
Would you buy an engagement ring at a car dealership?
Unless you are Tiffany’s, you must build credibility among your following.
Knowing your audience is essential to build trust.
And with trust, conversion rates will be substantially higher than without.
I buy spare parts from a car dealership, because I have trust in their expertise.
However, the broader you go, the more difficult it is to establish yourself as an expert.
There is a reason why in affiliate marketing circles you read about ‘niche’ websites and ‘long-tail’ keywords.
The smaller the niche, the easier it is to build trust.
Smaller application means fewer fields of expertise are required – maybe even only one.
Understanding where in the Amazon Affiliate Marketing Funnel, you have a competitive advantage (& where not), is key.
Going deeper into a specific topic signals that you understand the nuts & bolts.
“The mistake that many affiliate marketing hopefuls have in common is that they try to offer everything under the sun rather than focusing on a specific niche market” says Harriet, Co-Founder of Cocofinder.
“I and my team take time to learn about the products or services that we offer and as well as our target audience so that we can improve our content for our website that builds our credibility”.
A deep understanding of the products leaves a lasting impression among your audience.
That doesn’t mean that if you are a car dealership, that you can only be selling car parts.
When expanding the scope of your brand, start with adjacent fields first.
Personalize, personalize, personalize ….
Speaking about brand – what is yours?
Knowing exactly what your website represents, is essential to select the right affiliate products.
Once you know, you can write content that reflects your brand.
People don’t come to your website to find a package insert. They come to read from YOU.
Personalizing your content and links differentiates you from others.
Affiliate marketing is like celebrity endorsements: It works well when people can relate.
Your audience can only relate if you are trying to actively engage them with your personal note.
“I only promote products that I have personally used and then share my experiences with how they have benefited my blogging business. Before purchasing an affiliate product, people want to know about your experience with it”, writes us Amira, the voice behind A Self Guru.
Beyond just the basic product features, sharing how you interacted with the product is true personalization champion technique.
It allows you to go from “this is a shoe and it has these characteristics” to “I ran with this shoe, here is how it felt”.
Personalization makes your products recommendations relatable, which increases chances of someone clicking on your affiliate links.
You don’t have to buy every product you recommend. For some products, it might be impractical or even irrelevant.
In those cases, personalizing the content around your links becomes even more crucial.
If you can’t share your experience, share your perspective.
Let’s say you did not personally test a graphic card that you’re recommending. Write how, given the product specifications, customers will be play a certain computer game.
Now that you know your brand & personalized your content, let’s take a look on how to implement links.
Link a product overview in the beginning & end of your post
The longer it takes your visitor to understand what your product review is about, the more likely they are to bounce.
Never reading your thoughtful insights or clicking your links.
Showing a table, chart or list in the intro with the products discussed in your product review, helps the audience to recognize what things the author considered.
More often than not, readers are intrigued by a comparison and want to read on.
The overview in the beginning has a second advantage. They are the most likely to be clicked. You can even benefit from someone that does not follow your recommendations (or even read your article), but clicked a link. You can still earn a commission if that person would buy any product on Amazon within the next 24 hours.
While a product overview in the intro incentives readers to read on and get a few quick clicks, the overview at the end serves a slightly different purpose.
Some of your visitor just want to know, which product is the best. Who wouldn’t.
They just scroll through the article to the very end to see the “winner” of your product review.
If your visitor then just finds a “the end” rather than a “winner”, then they bounce. Without click.
Creating a good product overview can be an easy & painful way with affiliate plugins.
For instance, TableLabs makes it easy to create Amazon product comparison chart.
Product comparison tables are an incredible method to visualize (dis)advantages of a set of products.
That doesn’t mean you should NOT place affiliate marketing links in the middle of your article.
You absolutely should.
Which brings us to our next section.
Most successful affiliate marketing post are long. Really long.
After thousands of words, it’s only too easy to get lost in the weeds. During writing, but also when your visitors reads the article.
As an affiliate marketer, you are adding value by providing context around how features influence your product experience.
Just listing the features of a certain product makes your article seem like an ingredient list in the supermarket.
For example, saying “this contains blueberries” is just a start. Your readers want to hear why this is relevant, let alone if that is good or bad.
A better way to describe the product would be: “This contains blueberries, which is rich in anti-oxidants that are great for your immune system”.
Giving the “so what” brings the product to life.
When going deep in a product reviews, Vishal, founder of ScoreGuitar, says “Talk more on benefits rather than just mentioning the features of a product. Always ask questions like Why, What to each feature and go deep into the benefits part.”
Outlining the relevance of product characteristic goes a long way in audience engagement.
To make sure your reader walks away with key messages, help them with an easy to grasp conclusion.
Yes. Sell every single one.
Placing links throughout your article, increases the chances of someone clicking a link.
After building your “so whats”, you are giving relevant product recommendations.
To take home that extra layer of attention, make sure you give an incentive and/or reason to every link in your post.
This sounds simple, but often just putting a link, without the extra care it needs.
After all, attracting clicks with a engaging anchor text are called Call To Action buttons for a reason.
For example, let’s imagine a blog post about a running shoe. You’re describing the advantages of a particular Adidas shoe. At the end of the paragraph, in the very last sentence, you embed link using something generic as anchor text like “Adidas” or “shoe”.
That wouldn’t be a great reason, nor incentive.
Here is what we can do: Summarize the benefits of the shoe in one sentence.
“This shoe has the most cushion, making it a great shoe for runners with weak knees”.
And we can make it even clearer to where the user is going.
“This shoe has the most cushion, making it a great shoe for runners with weak knees, check it out on Amazon”.
Anchoring the link either on the product benefit and/or the affiliate partner gives your audience a reason to click, while being transparent on where they are send to.
“People aren’t going to click the link if you just link to Amazon without any other words.” says Grace, founder of HouseFragrance.
“You have to sell your link in your post, tell people to click on the link to go to Amazon, and tell people what the benefits are of doing so”.
Placing links throughout articles gives you quantity, and the quality comes from making sure you’re selling them properly.
Customers will reward selling every link with more clicks (as they are more enticed) and higher conversion rates (as the links are more transparency).
The ‘keyword intent’ is purpose for the search. If your affiliate marketing links strategy is out of sync with the users intent, you’re unlikely to get satisfying results.
Broadly speaking there are two intent categories: Informational and Transactional.
Informational keywords, like how to run a marathon, The user intent here is to learn about a certain thing.
Those keywords drive a lot of traffic, however, since the intent is to learn, not to buy, you usually see lower conversion rates here.
First and foremost, the focus is on information. Your intro should make it clear that you want to educate.
Imagine clicking on a link on “how to run a marathon” and then seeing a comparison of multiple running shoes. It’s not a good match and you likely going to see a high bounce rate.
If you focus on informational keywords, make sure that you affiliate links take a sub-dominant role.
For our marathon example, maybe your first paragraphs are about a proper warm up and what to eat before a race. Seeing then a paragraph about the proper gear, which mentions a good running shoe, this is a great place for an affiliate link.
In contrast, affiliate links should take a dominant role for transactional keywords.
Users expect product reviews from transactional keywords like best fill in the blank.
For example, if you are looking for the best running shoe, and you land on an article that first talks about warm up and food, you are probably not sticking around.
Rather you want to see an overview of products right in the beginning.
For affiliate marketing, transactional keywords are often preferred as the user willingness to buy a certain product is much higher.
Harman, the founder of Your Girl Knows, shares with us: “When a person is searching these types of keywords, they have made their mind to buy something and now they just want the best suggestions to choose from. These types of articles guarantee a buying behavior hence make sale conversions easy for you.”
Since the user comes with an intent to buy, affiliate links should be displayed visible with a clear call to action.
Hence, links are placed more aggressively, which contrast the best practice for informational posts.
That’s why it’s important to match your affiliate link strategy with your targeted keyword.
Build an audience
You build great content, now you have an amazing affiliate link strategy.
Posting articles will drive organic traffic to your website.
All set, right?
Not quite – organic traffic requires patience. Specifically for new websites, it takes a LONG time.
In our experience, you can expect first results after three to six months.
And those results might be disappointing, as only some of your articles will result in a top ranking.
While you wait for Google to include your posts, you want to increase your chances of getting eyes on your site.
You want to build an audience.
Meaning, on top of providing quality content, you want to create relevant traffic.
Relevant traffic can either come from targeted advertising or industry peers.
For targeted advertising, you’re picking your keywords and it’s a simpler “return on Investment” approach. If you earn more commission than what you pay in fees, it’s worth pursuing. And you can turn it on & off like tab water.
For industry peers, that a longer term, somewhat sustainable strategy. In addition to be able to share best practices, a connection to industry peers has also a positive SEO effect. Having links (both inbound & outbound) helps you with your Google rank.
A good way to get your network started is writing “resource”-like pieces, where you provide your information that is relevant to your audience. Readers appreciate if your website lead them to a discovery and are more likely to return with higher likelihood to buy.
Plus – featuring other business, experts, products might be viewed positively by the counter party. This will entice them to link back to you. And voila, you just earned a relevant backlink.
Brent, a Senior Affiliate Manager from Today’s Business shares with us: “The biggest thing that can help create success is to build relationships before trying to monetize them. Try collaborating with like-minded individuals or bloggers by exchanging content, ideas, posts, skills, etc. If you can grow an authentic audience, the monetization becomes much easier in the long run.
Building an audience is the product market fit for affiliate marketing.
By trying to building you get free career advice. If you have trouble convincing relevant peers that you can add value in your niche, you might be in the wrong niche.
This brings us to our next point – how do know if you’re doing well?
Tracking, Rinse, Repeat
Tracking the success of your affiliate marketing links is your bread and butter.
Knowing exactly how many views and clicks a link has, is an essential feedback loop.
Based on the data, you can then optimize.
You know which content to revamp (low views), which links to improve (low click through rate).
You also can do A/B tests, where you test two variations of articles, buttons, call to action text, images and other elements. Then you can find out which variation works best for you.
Especially, if you link the same product from multiple places, the data from your affiliate partner will not allow you to differentiate which link people clicked on.
It does not have to be highly sophisticated – most affiliate tools come with a basic tracking functionality.
At a minimum, you need to be able to track which link engages your audience (and which one does not).
Checking engagement metrics should be part of your daily routine.
You will be surprised – trust me.
Based on the results, you can build & prioritize your strategy. Double down with confidence on your strengths (high engagement links), while improving weaknesses (low engagement).
With your core well tracked and in good shape, let’s talk about growth.
Omnichannel: The cherry on the cake
The distribution for affiliate marketing links can start simple with a blog.
Omnichannel marketing puts your customer at the heart of your operation.
Each customer has different medium preferences. Some like articles – but others prefer charts, videos or social media.
Tapping in each channel, allows your audience to pick & choose their favorite.
You might think leveraging more than just your blog takes a lot of effort.
But for the most part, only the initial setup requires time. After that you can just follow your template.
For videos, you just need to think about your personal style. Your articles already have all the information needed. Just paraphrasing a best of post, usually ends up being a decent video.
In the same way, since you likely listed numerous product pros & cons
Most affiliates over-complicate their omnichannel strategy by thinking they have to create unique content for each channel.
In contrast to SEO, you are allowed to have duplicate content. Your video or infographic can (& actually should) say the same things as your blog post.
That does not mean you can just copy & paste everything.
Every channel has its own quirks. That’s why you have to spend time setting up a template for each channel.
This is necessary to keep your branding & so what messages of your affiliate marketing links.
All things considered, making information available for your audience in THEIR preferred channel goes a long way for user experience.
And there is more – you also get additional organic traffic.
When we think about how people can find our affiliate links through google, we most of the time only think about web searches.
However, don’t forget that Google also provides search results for video and images.
“In Google’s results, the images and videos in your content will also rank and can become a non-negligible source of traffic.” Says Ludovic, founder of Zen Soundproof. “I have a few articles ranking on page 2 of Google’s web search for some keywords. For the same keywords, the content ranks in the top 3 of Google’s video search results.”
Having your content present in multiple ways, make you SEO competitive, since most people only focus on the written word.
When you looking to grow your business, offering content across channels can be a quick win.
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