Editor’s Note: This post originally published in April 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Affiliate marketing is a well-known and relatively easy concept – a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. While the theory of affiliate marketing is simple, it’s not an easy task to market affiliate products successfully. Most affiliate marketers typically only earn a few dollars of supplemental income a month, while the more experienced marketers earn well over six figures a month.
To become one of the top affiliate marketers making that much money, you’re going to have to decide how you are going to promote your affiliate product. To be successful, you need to refer customers to the affiliate website, and to do that you need to select a way to promote them. There are number of ways to promote a product. Some are totally free and others might be somewhat costly. Here is a list of the 7 best affiliate marketing promotional methods:
PPC – The most popular fashion of promoting affiliate products. With PPC you bid on relevant keywords related to the product you are trying to market. For example, if you search for a certain type of shoe and Zappos is bidding on a relevant keyword, they might show up in your search results:
PPC is not as easy as just writing an ad with a few choice keywords and leaving it at that – this will not get you any sales. To really excel at PPC you must be fairly familiar with how AdWords works and most importantly you must track everything to determine what keywords are generating conversions for you and what aren’t.
SEO – Another popular method of promoting affiliate products but also the most difficult is Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. SEO doesn’t bring results instantly but it can be extremely rewarding in the long run.
Coupon – The recession has seen the way that customers shop online change. Savvy shoppers know there is often a discount to be had by shopping online and will conduct searches geared towards finding these discounts. With that being said there are millions of coupon type websites that promote affiliate products:
Affiliate marketing on prominent coupon websites like RetailMeNot, Groupon, or Coupon Cabin can be can be highly successful. This is by far the fastest gainer in terms of popularity and success for affiliates.
Incentive/Loyalty/Referrals – As mentioned before with the change in how consumers shop online. In an incentive/loyalty/referral affiliate program, customers are rewarded for returning to a business frequently and/or recommending the business to others:
Incentive and Loyalty websites have popped up where they share a portion of their affiliate earnings with users in the form of a reward, such as miles, points, cash, donations to a charity, or merchandise.
Email – This is the best way to stay in touch with people. Even just a monthly newsletter is a good internet marketing promotion, but common affiliate email efforts include sending content via email, promoting special or new products, and offering freebies:
With affiliate email marketing strategies, you can create a series of email templates and strategically stagger and rotate them to reach people.
Social Media – Social media is the hottest sector on the Internet right now and only getting bigger and more powerful. This means, as an affiliate, you need to be actively using social media sites to promote yourself and your websites/blogs. You can learn more about effectively using social media, here, here, and here.
Website/Content – Affiliates who develop and publish content (such as news, information, reviews, or some other area of interest) to a destination website. Many people develop a blog for their business because in addition to being a helpful affiliate marketing strategy, it’s also great for SEO.
Reviews- Given how important reviews are for consumers, this can be a very effective method. For affiliate marketing purposes, the author of the review will write about a product and then drop a link to where it can be purchased, or feature a product on their social media/blogging platform. Like this:
In return, the review author can be given a discount or a free product to try out in exchange for their honest feedback. Simple, easy, and highly impactful.