The most common question I get from affiliates is “What should I promote?” Unfortunately, most of the people asking this question don’t understand what it takes to create a successful affiliate campaign.
People want easy answers. I often hear things like “Just tell me what works”, or “What merchants do you make the most money with?” The problem with this thought process is that it’s not enough to understand what campaigns are profitable; you also need to understand why.
Back in 2007, I released an affiliate training program. One of the bonuses offered with this course was a complete list of affiliate campaigns I had promoted in 2006. The list included merchants I worked with, the amount of money I made with each campaign, and several examples of landing pages and ads I used to promote them.
After revealing what had worked for me in 2006, many students tried to replicate my success by doing the same thing. Some students didn’t even take the time to change the copy, or the affiliate links on the page – they ripped off my campaigns wholesale.
After copying my campaigns, some of the students had the audacity to ask me why it didn’t work for them. Their thinking went something like this – if I copy everything he did, I should get the same results. This logic may have worked for them when they were copying answers from their friend’s test in elementary school, but it doesn’t work in affiliate marketing.
In short, easy answers aren’t the answer. Throughout my career I’ve found that the questions you ask are often more important than the answers you get. Asking the wrong questions, leads you to the wrong answers. Conversely, asking the right questions, leads you to the right answers.
With that in mind, I’ve created a list of questions you should ask yourself before promoting a campaign.
What’s the easiest and fastest way to make money?
What can I promote where I can add real value?
There’s no reliable way to make fast and easy money in affiliate marketing. I’ve seen people get lucky, but luck is hard to reproduce. You have to promote products that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
If you promote products you’re not interested in, you’ll give up prematurely. Many affiliates take sloppy shortcuts just to get the campaign up and running. When they don’t experience instant results, they fold up and move on.
The other problem with promoting products you’re not interested in is that you won’t do anything different (or better) than the competition.
On the other hand, affiliates who promote products they love will be more committed to the niche. This commitment and consistency improves their chances of succeeding.
Passion and experience will also help you see the niche through a better lens. You’ll be able to see the shortcomings of your competition, and find ways to add value where it didn’t exist before.
What merchants have the highest conversion rate?
What can I do to find good merchant partners?
It’s common to see merchants boasting about conversion rates, EPC (earnings per click), and network earnings (total commissions paid out). These metrics are definitely important signals to pay attention to, but they don’t always tell the whole story.
What some merchants won’t tell you is that 90% of their affiliate sales come from just a few top-converting affiliate partners. These super affiliates often have qualities that give them strong advantages in the niche – e.g. a 10-year-old site with thousands of backlinks.
When evaluating merchant partners you need to consider multiple factors:
What is their conversion rate among top AND average affiliates?
Does the merchant have any conversion diversions on the site that may prevent you from getting paid (e.g. phone numbers or chat windows that aren’t tracked).
Does the merchant have a well-known brand in their niche?
Is the merchant’s offering competitive in the marketplace. Do they have the product, selection, and pricing to compete aggressively?
These are just a few examples of questions you should ask a merchant before promoting their program.
How are top affiliates promoting the merchant’s program?
What can I do better, or differently than the competition?
It’s important to understand why your competition is succeeding, but don’t duplicate their campaign. In order to achieve results you have to do something remarkably different or better.
For example, Apple released the world’s first tablet in 2010. They quickly gained dominance in the marketplace. Their competitors have rushed to create their own tablets, in an attempt to catch up, but most of these knock-offs aren’t even as good as the iPad.
A year later Apple still owns 90% of the tablet market, and shows no signs of slowing down. Outshining Apple is a difficult task, but their competition has done little to differentiate themselves from the iPad.
The same holds true in affiliate marketing. If you can’t create a difference, or do something noticeably better than your competitors, you’ll never gain traction.
It’s important to understand the factors that make your competition successful, but if you want to emulate their success, you must come up with your own formula and offer your customers a better solution.