Influencer marketing is big business for affiliate marketers. From Oprah’s Favorite Things to Kylie Jenner’s Instagram account, influencer marketing grew to an estimated $9.7 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach nearly $14 billion this year.
Working in the industry as the founder of an influencer monetization platform, I find that many of today’s savvy brands understand the power of influencers and are rewarding them with a percentage of every sale generated from their online promotional efforts. This is affiliate marketing, and it is helping to drive e-commerce sales globally — it also provides a source of significant income for individuals who can successfully tap into this industry.
Of course, fortune doesn’t happen overnight. To be a successful affiliate marketer, you must build your influence, drive traffic to the affiliate links you share and convert these clicks into sales.
If you see a future as an influencer and want to monetize your influence, here are six ways to ensure you will be like successful affiliate marketers.
1. Focus on quality leads, not quantity.
One of the biggest mistakes that aspiring affiliate marketers make is ignoring the quality of the clicks or “leads” they receive in favor of quantity. In a bid to generate thousands of clicks and a potential commission, one tactic I often see is the use of automated bots (available from traffic-buying services) to inflate the number of clicks to their links.
Remember, brands pay affiliates based on conversions (the percentage of traffic a brand receives that converts to a sale). A bot will never make you money because it doesn’t purchase anything. Instead, concentrate on getting quality, targeted clicks. This leads to my next point.
2. Put your audience first.
If you’re starting out in affiliate marketing, focus on targeted outreach among communities that are most likely to convert. Engage with audiences that have similar interests to you or have problems that can be solved by your expertise.
Pay attention to discussions on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Nextdoor, Reddit and other social media platforms and forums. What are people asking about and responding to?
When you’re ready to respond, share your viewpoint and post an affiliate link that points to a solution that can save them time and money.
For instance, if you’re passionate about the outdoors, you probably hang out online with fellow outdoorsy types, sharing experiences and answering questions. People pay attention to you — you’re an influencer! When someone’s looking for a recommendation for new camping gear, you can monetize that status by sharing what worked for you and including an affiliate link to an Orvis or Cabela’s deal page with the brand’s current coupon codes and deals.
Think of your action as word-of-mouth marketing: “You have a problem. Here’s what worked for me!”
3. It’s about conversion rates, not commissions.
The most successful affiliate marketers don’t chase high commission rates; they focus on promoting brands with strong conversion rates. For instance, an affiliate program that pays $1,000 per sale may sound appealing, but if the conversion rate is a mere 0.02%, it would require a huge number of clicks to make any money.
You’re more likely to generate a steady revenue stream by choosing an affiliate program that pays $1 per conversion but converts at 20%. Couple this approach with consistent efforts to grow your circle of followers, and you have the potential for big payouts.
4. Build a subscriber list.
Once you begin to gain traction, look for ways to build your own brand and loyal following. Create a website and/or blog where you can share deals (in a 2018 report, affiliate sites with content and bloggers ranked highest in terms of ad spend by affiliate type, at 39%). Stay connected with followers and grow your revenues further by issuing a weekly or daily newsletter. Give people an incentive to opt in. For example, send out “deal of the day” emails, and add value with tips on how you or others are using the products you promote.
All affiliate marketers have an email list. Manage your subscriber list easily with an email marketing software. Also called an autoresponder, you will be able to make beautiful opt forms and landing pages. I recommend Aweber and you can get started for free. Grow your business as your first 500 subscribers are free with Aweber.
5. Track your efforts.
Like any marketing program, to be successful, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.
To understand the performance of your affiliate links, use the tools offered by your affiliate network or influencer monetization platform to see what your followers are responding to. As you get more sophisticated, your website, email marketing platform, social media channels and site analytics can also provide insights into how effective your other influencer activities are.
6. Follow the rules.
Be sure to play by the rules. The companies you promote have worked hard to build their brands and are sensitive to how their affiliates promote them online. Don’t make claims about a brand that are untrue and don’t register domain names or build social media landing pages using their trademark names. Another red flag is the use of paid search advertising to promote your affiliate links. Unless you have a direct relationship with a brand and permission to run ads in its name, this is a traffic-generating tactic to avoid.
You must also respect a forum or website’s guidelines when posting affiliate links. If you work through an affiliate network or influencer monetization platform, stick to the established terms and conditions.
Commit to the long haul — it’s worth it.
Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes commitment and consistency to earn trust and build an affiliate marketers business. The beauty of becoming an affiliate is that the rewards are incremental. Once shared, an affiliate link can continue to perform and earn commissions over time. As search engines index your content and your links are shared, their value will also grow, especially if the link doesn’t expire.
The key is to start small. As you get to know your audience and bring value to the conversation, you’ll earn trust and add to your circle of followers — and your ability to generate revenue will grow.