Here are our top 10 tips for discovering the top affiliate programmes to work with.
Be your own best client
Sell what you love, and it stops being a job. Choose products that you believe in, and try them out in advance if this is feasible. If you come across a product you know nothing about, but it fits your profile, learn as much as you can about the product. Read about it, use it, become familiar with it. Of course, you might not feel passionate about every product, but great product knowledge will help fill that gap.
Fits within your niche
This may seem obvious, but it’s such an important point that it is worth stressing. Finding products that are related to your blog is essential to your success. You can, however, think out of the box here and be a little creative. For example, if you write a blog about car care, there’s no need to limit yourself to just selling car care products. You could also promote car insurance, driving holidays, car events or anything related to cars.
Desired by your target audience
Following on from the first point, whatever affiliate programmes you promote must be desired by your target audience. The first step is understanding exactly who your target audience are. Hopefully you have already actioned this before you started your blog, but it is worth re-visiting to clarify this point.
There are several ways to do this, but it starts by creating a customer profile. Be very specific here and make the person you are selling to as real as possible. If you have a customer base already, use this to determine who is buying your products at the moment.
Once you have defined your target audience to your satisfaction, it’s time to do some research. If you want the affiliate marketing programmes you choose to sell well, make sure to dedicate some time to completing this next step as well as possible. Again, there are various methods to achieve this, one of which is to ask your target audience what they are looking for. You can use emails or surveys or blog posts asking for comments.
If you don’t have a big following already, study your competition and see what is popular. Also, get onto social media and see what problems your audience are facing. If you can find a programme that solves these problems, then you have a potential winner on your hands.
Commission levels and cost per click
By now you should have a good idea of the type of products you are looking to promote. Now it is time to search for programmes that are going to make you a good return. One aspect to consider carefully is how much commission you can earn.
Many new affiliates automatically think that higher commission levels provide the most attractive opportunities, yet it’s important to look at the bigger picture. High commissions may be offered on products with low sales, while a high selling product may have a lower commission rate.
How many products you sell will affect your average order rate (AOV); therefore a high AOV with a lower commission rate will earn more than a low AOV with a high commission rate. To take a simple example, let’s say you have two products both retailing for the same price. You sell 20 of product A at 1% commission, and 1 of product B at 10% commission. Product A will earn you more money.
Consider high price products
It may be tempting to overlook high price products, in the misconception they are harder to promote. If you are looking to create £5000 in affiliate revenue (the sales you make, not your commission) you could sell 500 x £10 products, or 50x £100 products or 5 x £1000 products. If you believe in your chosen product and know that it solves a problem that many people are experiencing, then go for the higher ticket product.
Most affiliate marketers sell both lower and higher products to appeal a full spectrum of users. Be open to a wide range of products and prices will allow greater opportunities for your business.
Occasionally, you may come across vendors who also offer a recurring commission (if your customer returns to buy off the merchant again). Although this is not necessarily the most important aspect you should consider, it’s a nice extra bonus if it is on offer.
“If you were just getting started with affiliate marketing I’d focus on attracting the type of person who buys higher ticket items”
Upsells offer a further method to increase commission. After the consumer has purchased his initial product, he is offered various other packages, that are only available at the time of purchase. This practise is known as upselling. For the affiliate, if the buyer goes on to take advantage of these offers, the commission increases.
For example a consumer may click on a new laptop and at checkout he is offered a special offer which includes a laptop case, and a remote mouse. Should he choose the offer, you’ll receive commission on the extra products.
The product has to be good. If return rate is high, it is generally a sign the product is not high quality. Making your customers happy is the best way to long-term success, and quality products are a large part of that equation. Over time, you will earn a good reputation which will go along way to aiding you in your future sales.
Working with a vendor who offers good support can make the difference between a good or poor experience. Problems can occur and knowing you have support from the vendor when required gives peace of mind. Support can be offered in several ways, depending on the size of the vendor, form a dedicated account manager, to live chat or email support.
You also need to check out what marketing materials are available and how good the quality is. Some companies provide landing pages you can use, or banners to place on your website. Consider all the options carefully and think about how you can make them work for you.
Bear in mind also that many customers will not buy on the first visit. Find out what the cookie period is, as the longer they are tracked the better for your income.
Merchants all have to start their businesses at some point, but it is preferable to work with long-established vendors with a good reputation and high traffic. Do your research and make sure they tick all the boxes above as well. As a caveat, don’t be totally put off new vendors if they are offering an excellent product and a good rate of commission.
Good affiliate networks provide conversion metrics, which will allow you to see which merchants convert their visitors to sales well. New vendors will not have any metrics to report, so this may be a reason to wait before committing to them.
When you are choosing a product, how much you can earn is important, but you will find that you are most successful with the programmes that you are genuinely passionate about. When you sell something you care about your customer can tell. This can be one of the most important choices of all - do you love the product?
Choosing a product that has related items attached to it or is part of a series is a great way to easily make more money. This is different from an upsell (discussed previously), as you are not immediately selling to the consumer. Related products become viable after the buyer has consumed or used the first product. An example of this could be informational products, where the initial purchase is part of a series, which you, of course, also offer.