Do some research. There are thousands of affiliate marketing blogs floating around. Most of them offer bits of information for free with an ensuing glorified message or ebook at the bottom of the website that comes with a hefty price tag. Our advice is to soak up all the free information you can without succumbing to get-rich-overnight schemes. These bloggers are Affiliate Marketers after all, and the informative blogs are just another revenue stream for them. However, there are some “super affiliates” that do offer extensive training through eBooks, classes and ongoing webinars. Do your research before throwing down a credit card. Lastly, execute hundreds of “affiliate marketing” keyword searches or related term searches and you can extract enough information to be on your way.
Join an Affiliate Marketing forum. Rely on your peers by joining forums like Wickedfire.com, WarriorForum.com, DigitalPoint.com, Affiliatefix.com and IMGrind.com. Being a novice to forums can be intimidating, but generally speaking, most of the forum members are there to help you or share information. You need to get your start somewhere and this will be a pivotal place to get caught up on the industry jargon and latest campaign successes. Many of the forums have a newbie section where you can introduce yourself and learn the rules of conduct. The quicker you can familiarize yourself with the culture, the better off you will be. Lastly, don’t be afraid to post!
Choose a niche that is proven but also interesting to you. Do a little research and find out which niches are converting the best for affiliate marketers.
Register a domain with an online registry such as GoDaddy.com, Register.com, or EvoNames.com.
Host your domain through your own servers or a provider such as HostGator.com, GoDaddy.com, or BigDomainHost.com.
Sign up with a few reputable Networks. Networks have an array of offers to choose from, but many are brokered down as opposed to going direct with an advertiser. Networks make their money by taking a percentage of the campaign’s payout (Typically 10% – 15%). An upside of working with a network is the personal attention Affiliate Managers can provide by offering their knowledge of a campaign’s potential. Some reputable networks are Matomy.com, AdscendMedia.com, PeerFly.com, W4.com, Ads4Dough.com, ClickBooth.com, LinkShare.com, and CommissionJunction.com. Our website EvoLeads hosts a ton of high converting offers. Once you have an affiliate account, you will be able to login and view all the various offers with your unique affiliate links, banners, creates, etc.
Select campaign(s) to promote. This is a good time to reach out to Affiliate Managers and ask for a list of top converting campaigns under your desired niche(s). A rule of thumb for selecting campaigns: the more information and fields captured by the offer, the greater the payout. However, conversions are much lower because the user must complete a lengthy form, which leads the user to drop-off prematurely. The inverse is true for campaigns with lower payouts. Conversions are higher because the form pays out on fewer fields. Less is required from the user. Another general rule for lead generation campaigns is that they typically pay $1 per field (this rule does not apply to SS# or credit card collected). So, if a campaign has five fields it should pay roughly $5. An email submission campaign is only one field, which equates to approximately $1. If you are a beginner, we strongly encourage you to start out with campaigns that have greater conversions. This will alleviate burning through all of your budget when you begin the testing phase.
Build Content for your site(s) or custom banners. WordPress is the most common website platform used by affiliates. This is where your marketing expertise comes in to play. If you are a blogger comparing various diet offers you might choose five different campaigns, explaining the benefits of each using text links or banners. As for many actual banners themselves, most advertisers and networks provide hosted banners which are embedded with your affiliate link. When a user clicks on the banner they are taken to your unique page where you will be credited on the offer, if the user completes the necessary steps. Some affiliates choose to make their own banners because many feel they are more effective. If you adopt this technique just know you will host the banners on your end. Whatever method you appoint, be sure make creatives that you would click on. Many newcomers carry out the mistake of building generic, mindless, wordy or unattractive content that will not get a response.
Choose your traffic sources for running campaigns. Just as there are endless networks and advertisers, you will discover just as many traffic sources. Finding the right traffic source for your marketing method is one of the key ingredients to your success. Unfortunately, this is something not written in a handbook and your peers won’t unveil their best traffic source for a particular vertical. Rely on your own good judgement and think to yourself where you would go to find a certain product or service. If you are promoting outside of the major search engines, as most affiliates are these days, be conscious of ads and affiliate links while you are surfing the web. Click those links and determine the traffic sources from which they came. Additionally, most search engines require a website or, even further, a website with enriched content like AdWords does. If you are doing media buys or Pay Per View (PPV), the traffic source may only require banners or a text link that directly links to your affiliate URL. Regardless of your method, be sure to acknowledge the traffic guidelines for promotion, otherwise you may encounter higher click cost for not being user friendly or just get denied.
Determine the test budget you are comfortable with. If a campaign has a payout of $15, we recommend a testing budget 2 to 3 times the payout. If you don’t get a conversion after spending $30 – $45, move on to the next campaign.
Assign related keywords and search terms. Search engines assign value to keywords and keep track of how many times a keyword or search term is referenced. With this information, tools were developed for publishers/advertisers in which they can enter a keyword or phrase to view multiple related word searches. Using these queries, build your keyword lists for bidding on the traffic source you have selected. Google Keyword Tool, Bing Research Tool, and other proprietary keyword tools, such as AffPortal, are some examples.
Bid on your keywords. Once you have selected a traffic source and have your list of keywords, it is time to place your bids. Customarily, keywords that are searched more frequently are more expensive. Set reasonable caps on keywords in line with your budget that are attainable. Being too modest will not generate the traffic suffice for a real test. Generally, set price points that are middle of the pack. You can always lower or raise your bids after you see how your ad responds.
Test, test, test and split test… Testing multiple campaigns and verticals can’t be expressed enough. The goal in the testing phase is finding the right keywords or pages/banners that convert. Once you have uncovered keywords that convert, expand with additional related search terms, while narrowing your list of keywords that don’t convert. Furthermore, you might take this opportunity to bid up the price for the performing keywords, which should lead to increased traffic for those terms. Once you have a campaign strategy that is profitable, split test multiple like offers. For instance, if you are promoting an auto insurance campaign that pays on a zip submission, you might test a comparable offer from another advertiser with the same payout or you could also test a longer form auto insurance offer with a higher payout. The fundamental key for success in affiliate marketing is testing multiple strategies. Simply changing the picture in a banner or the background of a landing page can be the difference between profit and loss.
Continue learning. As with everything in life you must adapt to changes in the market environment. Staying fresh and up-to-date with the latest trends and verticals being promoted will give you a competitive advantage. Affiliate marketing is constantly changing, and if you settle in on one niche for too long, there is a good chance the money being made today will be gone tomorrow. Laws change and technology increases, which diminish the need for some products while increasing the need for others.
by Tyler Hoelting