The two primary players in any affiliate marketing arrangement are the content-creating affiliate and the product-selling merchant. But as affiliate marketers know, networks such as Commission Junction and LinkShare are key components of the “ecosystem” as well. Just as many sites that monetize via display advertising attempt to establish direct relationships with advertisers and cut out ad networks, successful affiliate marketers may wonder about eliminating networks and working directly with their merchants.
Don’t go too broad — Earlier, we mentioned that a benefit of affiliate marketing is that affiliates get to choose the products they sell. Because affiliates are building out their brands, they shouldn’t cast their nets too wide. There are affiliate opportunities for everything you can think of: technology, fashion, health, fitness, and even dog training. If you’re trying to get into affiliate marketing, try and stay relatively within a certain niche.
When I was a child, my school would have fundraisers that involved us going door-to-door to sell magazine subscriptions (magazines were glossy, soft-cover publications that would be mailed to a subscriber’s house on a weekly or monthly basis). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was right in the middle of an affiliate marketing scheme. The magazine companies had products they wanted to sell. Schools had the ability to sell these products. And for every subscription sold, the magazine companies gave a slice of the proceeds to the school. (In this example, there’s actually a secondary later of affiliate marketing; the schools effectively outsource the actual selling to the students, in exchange for prizes that come with meeting certain sales figures.)
The most critical step is to install the tracking pixel on the 'thank you' page. This enables the affiliate network to see when an affiliate has referred a sale and some of the details of the transaction. Then it's essential to test the tracking pixel and all of the different methods of payment so that the affiliate network can ensure that everything is working correctly.
A lot of the companies I want to feature on my site aren’t on affiliate networking platforms. Ive been reaching out asking if they would let me sell their stuff on my website with links but I’m not sure how much is safe to ask for for each purchase made through clicking on the link I provide. I’ve done a little research and 15-20% seemed like a safe starting point. What do you think?
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise.
Many affiliate programs run with last-click attribution, where the affiliate receiving the last click before the sale gets 100% credit for the conversion. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you are able to see a full-funnel, cross-channel view of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you might see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, Affiliate X got click 2, and Affiliate Y got the last click. With this full picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even though they didn’t get the last click.
What do you want to earn? Is this just a little bit of side income on your hobby blog or are you trying to replace your full time income? If you’re trying to go big then you’re going to want to focus on more high-quality products with big commissions. Maybe you will be building your site or blog around the specific product you want to promote, like a product review or comparison site.