It may sound like a little bit of a privilege, selecting the best affiliate marketing programs. But once you have an established web presence in identifiable niches and with traffic coming in; that is exactly the position you will find yourself in.
The problem then moves from one of being accepted by an affiliate marketing program to programs that work for you, your niche and your audience. I was listening to Simon Cowell of XFactor fame being interviewed on UK TV and it was interesting to hear what he had to say about what contributed to his success and made his TV programs so successful. His insight was basically that he went with his instinct, if he liked a program and could sit through it without being bored for the duration of the program, then he considered that the audience would feel the same way. Or at least the majority of the audience, you should never forget that you can’t appeal to everyone.
So how does that translate into blogging rather than making TV programs?
First of all understand that not every affiliate program will be the answer to your problems, just because you can it doesn’t mean you should. Here are a few guidelines:
- Do the products being offered fit into your niche or blog topic
- Is the affiliate offering a good product at competitive prices
- How difficult is it to implement the code or affiliate ads
- How easy is it to maintain the ads, are you constantly having to check the information is still accurate and the links are intact
- Have you got a choice of ad formats so that you can experiment with what works
- How are you going to get paid
- Is there a way the affiliate can hi-jack your traffic when it arrives on their site
These are the issues that can and will affect you, for example there is no point advertising products on a site totally unrelated to them. One of the biggest mistakes an affiliate can make is to lose focus when selecting the best affiliate marketing programs. This can become confusing for your audience and yourself. Hours can be burnt up organising ads for a site that bears no relevance to the topic and are consequently extremely unlikely to create a sale.
Likewise if links are constantly being broken requiring a lot of maintenance, especially if they were difficult to implement in the first place, then you are going to use up lots of your precious time just maintaining the program. This is time you would be able to use more productively doing SEO and promoting your site. You should really be able to post them and leave them. Other than perhaps experimenting with different formats to see what works best; this aspect will always need the occasional tweak but that is to appeal to your visitors and is not really down to the affiliate company to sort out. Providing of course they are offering you a range of formats to choose from.
Products that are simply overpriced or poor quality just will not sell. With the ability to search the Internet with relative ease, any potential customer is likely to spot very quickly if the products you are offering are overpriced for what they deliver. The vast majority of people who shop on the Internet do it for 2 reasons, convenience and the best price.
Going back to the Simon Cowell analogy, you need to review the service you are providing in a similar way to how you might review the products themselves. In other words you need to check from a visitors perspective:
- how easy it is to find the products on your site
- how the price compares with other suppliers
- how easy it is to proceed with a purchase
- is the payment method secure?
- are there alternative ways to pay
- can your visitor search and compare with ease?
I could go on but I think you should be getting the point. If you are having anything but a positive experience, then for sure your potential customers will be seeing the same issues. Believe me if a potential customer has a bad experience, they simply will not be a customer. Bit like being bored watching a TV program; you just turn over to a different channel, its very easy to do!!
It goes without saying really that the best way to recommend a product is to have had personal experience of it and to be honest about what you discovered, look at the ‘Which Magazine’ example. Of course the practicalities may mean you cannot review every single product personally, but what you can nearly always do is to use the reviews of other people. Amazon is a great example of where an affiliate company offers the opportunity to write a review on a product and they publish it, warts and all. This works, people like to know what they are getting and they like to be informed. If you do that then you are very likely to succeed.
I could give you a whole list of affiliates that I use at this point and some, maybe all of them, would suit your niche. But in truth that is unlikely. It is far better for you to identify potential partners and to follow the guidelines provided to establish if you want to get into a marketing relationship with them. So selecting the best affiliate marketing programs I am afraid is very much down to you, but at least you will be able to avoid some of the common pitfalls a lot of Internet marketers fall into :-).
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