Thinking about adding affiliate marketing to your business? You may have heard that it’s an excellent way to collect passive income. After all, the internet is filled with countless people who are ready to buy, so selling products and platforms for other companies should be easy. Just share your links in hundreds different places—and boom—watch those commissions start rolling in without lifting a finger. Right?
Not so much.
The links never get clicked. The commissions never come in. And, in some cases, you may have even tarnished your professional and personal reputation by spamming colleagues and friends on various social networks. Check out some of these common mistakes to avoid.
The good news is that affiliate marketing really is a great way to generate income. And with a bit of effort and know-how you have the potential to be quite successful at it. In fact, our top-earning affiliate earned more than $170,000 by promoting Leadpages last year alone.
At Leadpages, we love our affiliates and have benefitted from working with some of the best in the business. So if you’re thinking about getting into affiliate marketing, we want to get you started on the right foot.
In this blog post, we’ll help you avoid some of the pitfalls that new affiliate marketers make and provide you with tips and approaches that will set you on the path to success sooner.
If you’re a seasoned affiliate marketer, this post will be a worthy read for you, too. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest tactics and forget about the foundation on which to build a successful affiliate marketing effort. Going back to basics can help you rethink and sharpen your strategy.
1. Determine if affiliate marketing is right for you
This may seem like a no-brainer. But thousands of people sign up for affiliate marketing programs and just never get the results they’d hoped for.
The truth is that adding affiliate marketing to your repertoire is a process. It requires authority, an audience, and trust—all things that have to be earned.
If you’re just starting out, that can be an uphill journey. You may not see the kind of traction you expect right out of the gate. So if you’re looking for a way to make quick money by dropping links in your social posts, it may not be for you.
However, if you’re establishing yourself as an authority or expert in your field and you’re working towards building your business with a broader audience, you could be a great candidate for affiliate marketing.
In our experience, the best affiliate marketers that promote Leadpages are the ones that are more passionate about what they do than they are about selling our software. In fact, marketing our products only adds value to their business—and the income they receive from it is more of a bonus than a primary incentive.
Affiliate marketing is ultimately about growing relationships, building trust, and providing value to your audience. This can take time—it’s not something that happens overnight. But if you’re passionate about what you do and you’re willing to put in the effort, it can be an excellent source of semi-passive income in addition to the products or services you already sell. Better yet, adding affiliate marketing to your business can be in service to your audience, saving them time and money finding the best solutions on their own.
2. Know the product inside and out.
It’s difficult to sell a car you’ve never driven or recommend a meal at a restaurant you’ve never entered. Affiliate marketing is no different. You need to know the product well to promote it. You have to be able to clearly explain the value it can bring to your audience. And most importantly, you have to believe in it if you want lasting impact for your business.
With Leadpages, we noticed that, on average, affiliates who actually use Leadpages sell double the subscriptions than affiliates who don’t. That’s a pretty staggering difference. And what it comes down to is that those affiliates trust the product enough to use and recommend it. They believe in its value, and they see the results it brings.
Since they’re practicing what they preach, their followers pay more attention.
After all, people can tell the difference when they read a product review written by someone who’s simply copy-and-pasted information from a website, versus someone who’s actually speaking from experience in using the product.
So when a client of yours is looking for a solution, your recommendation doesn’t even feel like selling to them. It feels more like helping. Strive towards that level of product knowledge and you’ll find it much easier to sell it.
3. Promote products that align with your expertise
Think of the service you offer and the common questions/challenges that your ideal clients come to you with. What do you commonly recommend to them as either a prerequisite before you work together, or as “required” tools while working together?
For example, an accountant/tax advisor may help clients get their financial house in order, and they want to set them up with Quickbooks (or another accounting software platform) to help out. That advisor would be an excellent affiliate fit for Quickbooks.
There are so many places where that advisor could promote Quickbooks without coming off as pushy or salesy. They could place links in their welcome/getting started email, the resources page on their website, and any other documents that they need to share with their clients. These are just a few of the many ways you can promote your affiliate links.
Certain platforms and tools are a natural fit for different types of expertise—so hone in on the ones you can easily recommend to your clients and customers. We recommend sticking to three to five primary affiliate products to promote actively to your audience.
4. Be consistent in your affiliate marketing promotions
When it comes to affiliate marketing, you need to be consistent with promotion—both in what you promote and how often. It would be hard to take a recommendation seriously from someone who promotes several competing products at once. Or someone who doesn’t promote regularly unless there’s a good reason to (like a quarterly discount from the company).
Avoid promoting competing products. It confuses your audience and diminishes your credibility. The exception to this could be promoting similar products which do different things exceptionally well.
Make sure links for your recommendations are easy to find. For example: your resources page, your thank you pages, in your social profile bios, and any other documentation where that recommendation may be perceived as helpful.
Promote regularly. Use email and social channels to promote your link on a regular basis (when appropriate—you don’t want to spam your audience).
Consistency builds trust, both in the recommendations you make and the products that you recommend. By continuously promoting the same products over time, your audience knows that you’re not just spamming them for a small monthly return. It shows that you believe in what you recommend.
Promoting consistently has its own rewards besides commissions. You may get on the radar of the company you’re promoting, becoming a super affiliate. Such status can result in exclusive offers you can provide to your audience. You may also find yourself on the leaderboard for affiliate contests.
5. Always look for ways to add value
Don’t just say, “go buy this!” and drop a link in a social post. That just doesn’t work reliably. At best, someone clicks the link out of curiosity and then bounces literally seconds later.
Give your audience a good reason why they should buy it. Find a way to tie the value in what you do into the product you're promoting through the content that you create.
For example, a marketing consultant who’s an affiliate for Leadpages could show their audience 10 simple ways to write effective headlines for landing pages (or sales pages). That knowledge adds value. So when they promote the link to Leadpages, the transition from the knowledge to the product is frictionless.
6. Grow your list in a way that helps you promote products
One of the nice things about affiliate marketing is that you can do it in tandem with your own marketing efforts rather than “on the side.” You can promote yourself and your product at the exact same time. Two birds, one stone.
For example: Create a lead magnet about the core issue your recommended product addresses, and provide some answers to common questions around that issue. If you’re a sales consultant and an affiliate for a customer relationship management platform (CRM), write a blog post on the 5 most-important sales strategies you won’t learn in a textbook. It will be easy for you to weave the recommended product into that piece of content because they’re so closely aligned.
When you make the recommendation within the lead magnet, it just makes sense.
Follow-up with your new subscribers with more details about the product you’re recommending, how to get started with it, and more advanced tips to maximize their results with it. A few weeks later, consider sharing similar tips about another of your top recommendations.
7. Use redirect links
Most affiliate programs provide you with a raw link that looks something like this: “https://leadpages.pxf.io/c/xxxxxxx/390538/5673”. Now that link is important because it’s what will track the traffic you’re sending so you earn commissions, but there are a few good reasons to use your own branded redirect instead.
First, it’s a lot easier to remember a link like "adomainnameiown.com/leadpages" than the “ugly” link when it comes time to share it in a private message, respond to a social question, or mention it during a podcast or webinar.
Second, that raw link doesn’t exactly scream “click me!” It does very much the opposite. A redirect can help you build trust and promote your brand instead.
Third, if you want to promote a different landing page (say, for a special promotion or discount), the redirect makes it infinitely easier to do that.
Fourth, if you want to send traffic to your own landing page with a lead magnet so you can build your email list (see #6 above), the redirect makes that simple, too.
Finally, perhaps most important, if the company you’re promoting switches affiliate platforms (which will inevitably happen), the redirect makes the process of changing where your link points to a breeze. Instead of hunting down every last place you’ve used the old link, you change the destination of the redirect in one place.
8. Take advantage of the resources companies provide
Most reputable companies with affiliate programs will go above and beyond to support you with resources to help you promote the product. This typically includes education, swipe copy, webinars, and product roadmap sneak-peeks. Use them—after all, no one knows the product better than the people that make it. For a small investment of your time, these resources can provide you with product information and insights that make it so much easier to promote.
Even better—see if the company will provide someone on their team to partner with you for a virtual event: teach a webinar, be a guest on your podcast, or jump on a Facebook live for your audience.
Want an example of a promotional resource? Have a look at the graphics, social and email swipe copy, and testimonials we provide our affiliates to make it easier for them to talk about Leadpages site builder to their audiences.
Final thoughts on affiliate marketing tips
Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It requires the patience to build trust with your audience, the persistence to follow through with your efforts even if you don’t see amazing results right away, and most important, passion for serving your audience.
But if you think you’ve got the ingredients for success, the desire to help people overcome challenges and reach their goals, as well as the drive to see it through, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative and fulfilling complement to your expertise and offerings.