5 Step Complete Guide To Affiliate Marketing
Turn your blog or website into a moneymaker, or create landing pages that generate big profits.
Affiliate marketing is easily one of the most popular ways of earning passive income online. If you have ever wanted a way of making money, even while you sleep, then affiliate marketing is one of the best strategies to follow.
According to Statista, $6.8bn was spent in 2020 on affiliate marketing, this figure is predicted to grow to $8.2bn by 2022, so now is as good a time as ever to get started! On the other side of the Atlantic, in the United Kingdom, affiliate marketing contributes 1% to the country’s GDP, this figure is higher than the entire agriculture industry!
A recent study showed that on average in the UK for every £1 spent, £15 was earned, with such a great ROI, it is not surprising that affiliate marketing still is one of the best investment and passive income ideas moving forward.
The global interest in affiliate marketing is continuing to rise according to data taken from Google Trends. Although affiliate marketing is in no way easy, or a “get rich quick” plan, it can provide long term, solid returns. Some people have managed to make over $100,000 per year entirely off this passive income method.
Just like anything worth doing, affiliate marketing can be tricky, but if and when you get the strategy correct, you stand to earn huge returns on your investment.
So before we go any further, and to save you the hassle of reading something you don’t want to, this guide will provide a step by step guide to affiliate marketing, this means if you are already set up with your blog or website then you can follow this guide essentially for free, however, if you do not have a website or a blog then you will need to create that first.
What’s Contained In This Guide?
In this affiliate marketing guide, you’re going to find all you need to know to start the wheels turning, and get your affiliate marketing strategy in motion.
By following this guide, we will not provide you with a silver bullet. This article is here to give you the foundations needed, before molding it to fit your specific situation. With that being said, this affiliate marketing guide will overall increase your chance of making your own affiliate marketing success story!
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s start by explaining precisely what affiliate marketing is, here is a definition I found online which summarizes affiliate marketing perfectly!
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing tactic in which a retailer, typically an online one, rewards a website with a commission for each customer referred via the website’s promotional activities. The website, often called an affiliate, will only get paid when their promotion results in a transaction.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is a way that you, as a blog or website owner can earn a commission, or a “finders fee” for bringing customers to a specific product, service, or company.
Although there are several types of affiliate marketing, generally, a payout will happen when you send traffic from your website or blog to a retailer’s website, where you will get paid once that traffic completes a purchase.
In general, there are normally 4 groups in any affiliate marketing process:
- The Merchant
- The Affiliate
- The Affiliate Network
- The Consumer
The merchant is the company who provides or sells the actual product or service.
The affiliate is the website or blog that promotes the product or service.
The affiliate network is the network where merchants can list products or services for affiliates to browse and choose to promote on their blog or website.
The consumer is the traffic that will first view the affiliates’ website, before being brought to the merchants’ website to purchase a product or service.
Although affiliate networks are optional, this is because some cases of affiliate marketing can be completed directly between the affiliate and the merchant. However affiliate networks, usually, make the entire process easier and normally benefits both the affiliate and the merchant.
We will explain this more in detail later in this guide.
What Merchants Get Out Of Affiliate Marketing
For this let us take an example, Grammarly uses affiliates all over the internet to help boost sales. Affiliate marketing helps with this process by advertising their product and service all over the planet, potentially reaching more potential consumers than a more traditional advertising campaign would provide.
Some advertising will cost per click, where affiliate marketing will boost their brand awareness sometimes without any cost. For example, if you see their advert on a webpage but do not go and buy the service, you are still seeing their product, but the website is not earning from just your view. This means it can be an extremely cost-effective way for companies to build brand awareness.
If a merchant has a large enough affiliate marketing network, merchants can add an invaluable source of customers (traffic) to their product or service which will ultimately boost sales. It is a “win-win” situation for merchants, on one side they will gain new customers, and even when a consumer does not purchase the product, the merchant will be branding their website, service, or product, for free!
With so many scams online around “Cost Per Click” (CPC) advertising, merchants will overall save money promoting their product or service through affiliate marketing.
What Affiliates Get Out Of Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliates get a small commission for every time one of the products or services they recommend is bought. The key benefit to this is that you can make money, without needing to develop a product.
This however does not mean that you get carried to the bank! You will need to build, as well as manage your website. Once this is done you will now need to create a steady stream of high-quality content and generate enough traffic to make your affiliate marketing website profitable.
To boost your traffic, you will need to optimize your website for search engines such as Google & Bing. To do this we will give some tips later in this guide.
As you are only going to be earning commission usually for every sale, you will need to generate large volumes of customers, this is where there can be certain drawbacks.
For example, online conversion rates for apparel can be around 1%-2%, this means if you have 100 visitors, 1 or 2 of these visitors may purchase a product. This is why volume is key! More traffic = more sales.
By 2023 it is estimated that 22% of all sales will be performed online, so the customers are there, you just need them to come via your website or blog!
What Is The Role Of Affiliate Networks?
Affiliate networks are the online platforms where merchants can list all of their affiliate programs, so affiliates (you) can find them and sign up to.
You do not need to use these networks to get involved in affiliate marketing. There are many businesses out there, that promote their affiliate programs openly on their website. In this case, you can apply directly to the company.
With that being said, affiliate networks can generally speed up the process and some merchants prefer to work exclusively through affiliate networks, such as Commission Junction (CJ.com)
Affiliate networks can sometimes add a layer of security which is beneficial to both the merchant and the affiliate.
We will talk in more detail about specific affiliate networks later in this article.
Where Do The Consumers Come In?
Consumers are ultimately the goal. They are the ones who need to buy from the merchant’s website. For this to happen the affiliate needs to target them high extremely relevant content, convince them the merchant is worth buying from, and then finally send the consumer to the merchants’ website where they can complete a purchase.
Not everyone is going to be interested in the products or services to sell, this is why it is crucial for you, the affiliate, to generate visits from people with a strong interest in the merchant’s offer.
You can do this by giving a review of a specific product or service, which will act as a testimonial for a product and will normally lead to more interested consumers.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Now that you have an idea of the basics with affiliate marketing, let’s take a closer look at exactly how affiliate marketing works.
Here is a quick look at what we’re going to cover in this section:
Affiliate Marketing Models
Most programs pay commission for each transaction, however, there may be other models you might come across.
This is how merchants know you are responsible for the sale, we will discuss this and the limitations of tracking.
When is your commission money going to get paid to your bank account?
To succeed in this market, you may have to spend money to earn money, so what expenses can you expect? We will cover this in detail.
This will give a quick overview of the entire process for affiliate marketers.
By the time you are done with this section, you will easily know enough about how affiliate marketing works. This will allow us to dive into more details about setting up your venture and achieve the best performance for you.
Affiliate marketing payment models
In most cases, affiliate marketers earn a commission when one of the visitors clicks through to a merchants website and purchases a product. However, there are several other marketing models you might come across, some of these are:
- Pay Per Sale (PPS): Here the affiliate gets paid for every sale they generate, this is the most common model as it places all responsibility and risk on the affiliate.
- Pay Per Lead (PPL): In this method, the affiliate gets paid for every lead they generate, for example, an online form submission, trial creations, pre-purchases, or free demo signups.
- Pay Per Click (PPC): With this method, the affiliate will get paid for all clicks, and traffic that is generated, regardless of whether visitors turn into leads or customers. This model is now quite rare, as all risk lies with the merchant, and is open to spam.
The majority of all affiliate programs use the PPS model, this means you’ll normally get paid when your referral traffic buys a product or service that you’re recommending.
Tracking affiliate marketing traffic
A lot of merchants will use traffic tracking software such as “Everflow”, this service will attribute sales to affiliates.
Regardless of which affiliate marketing model you sign up to, merchants will need to know where customers (traffic) is coming from. A top-selling merchant could easily have thousands, if not millions of affiliates. None of these affiliates would get paid unless the merchant knows who is responsible for each sale.
So how does this work?
When you sign up for an affiliate marketing program, you will be given a unique ID. This ID can be added to the end of all your links specific to that program.
For example, if you work with Amazon affiliates, this number will be added to the end of a link. For this let’s imagine your unique ID is “123”, all links from your website to Amazon will look something like this “amazon.com/?ref=123” this allows users to be tracked and will allow any sale to be traced back to you, via your unique ID.
Several affiliate networks will usually give you these “affiliate links” at the push of a button, so no technical knowledge is needed for this!
This tracking system is far from perfect. In some scenarios, you (the affiliate) might send traffic to a merchants site, the consumer will then save the page and come back to purchase the product at a later time or date. In this instance, you may or may not get paid.
Different programs will have different conditions. Make sure you understand this before you start working with any merchants. In many cases, you’ll still get some commission when people return to buy later, but it could be less than you get for any outright sales.
Always keep in mind, your merchant might be spending money on remarketing, as well as other strategies to bring these visitors back.
Either way, the merchant is going to need to track these users with cookies to attribute sales to you. This presents some other potential problems:
- You will have no control over how merchants track users.
- Cookies aren’t foolproof, users can block them, refuse to give consent, delete their cache, or simply use a different device.
Not to mention the fact that there are specific legal boundaries, such as GDPR and ePrivacy. These laws allow users to easily opt-out, which will cause problems when trying to track users’ movements and attribute sales and commission.
Once you understand the limitations of the technology that is used to track traffic. You will not have any problems.
When do you get paid?
Once again this will depend on the specific affiliate marketing program you’re using, as always, you will want to make sure where you stand before signing up for anything.
Generally, merchants will payout affiliates on either a weekly or monthly basis.
If you are using an affiliate network, rules can vary greatly. Most affiliate marketing networks will have a ‘payout threshold’. This means that the network will withhold any payment until you reach a certain target, usually $50 -$100. Once you find a strategy that works for you, this target won’t be a problem.
What Expenses Do Affiliate Marketers Need To Pay?
Although you won’t need a big bank balance to get started, there are a few basic items that will be needed to succeed.
We will explain why you need these items, but first, these items are:
- Web Hosting
- Domain Name
- Web Design & Theme
- Development Costs
- Website Maintenance
Firstly your web hosting will be the service that will host your website, this can cost less than $5 per month.
Secondly, your domain name will be the actual address of your website, (e.g PassiveIncomeTutor.com)
For web design and theme, this can be completely free, should you know how to, or are willing to learn how to create a website. If you want to skip this step then you would have the cost of a web designer.
Development costs and website maintenance costs are ongoing costs than once again can be free, or paid. This is up to you and entirely up to you to choose which path you wish to take.
With these steps, your website will be up and running, but you’re still going to need to invest your time and potentially some money into creating content.
As we have said before, traffic is the key to success. For this, you will need content that attracts an audience which can then be funneled into a specific product or service. To help promote your website and content you can make use of search engine optimization, PPC, social media, and other inbound marketing strategies.
Sooner or later, you will want to invest in strategies such as email marketing, conversion optimization, and UX testing.
You must understand exactly what your expenses are going to be, so you can make an accurate plan and stick to it.
Affiliate Marketing: Step-By-Step
Although affiliate marketing is a relatively straightforward concept, the process of implementing a strategy can prove to be quite complex.
Here is a step by step look at what you’ll need to do as an affiliate marketer:
Any successful affiliate marketing strategy starts with planning.
Building Your Website
Building your website, defining your niche, creating a domain, etc.
Set Up Analytics
Implement analytics and determine what your KPIs (key performance indicators) are so you can measure and improve performance.
Choose Your Programmes
Choose the affiliate programs you’re going to work with and sign up.
Create Your Content
Create your affiliate content recommending the products/services you are signed up with.
Build Your Audience
Promote your content, build your search presence, and generate enough traffic to become a profitable affiliate marketer.
Make sure you’re earning more from affiliate marketing than you pay into it. Also, you want to earn for the hard work you have put into the program.
Optimize your website and strategy to get the most out of any existing traffic and affiliate programs.
Scale Your Strategy
Once you test new methods, you will find one that works, it’s now time to expand your audience and increase your affiliate revenue.
You can maximize your profits at the same time as minimizing your manual workload.
So that is the basic 10 steps to go from nothing to huge profits. Now the rest of this article will focus on how you can tackle each of these steps. For this, we will go step-by-step.