By definition – Affiliate Marketing is a sales channel made up of three parts. Affiliates who drive the sales, affiliate programs which are the offers or stores the affiliates promote and affiliate networks which provide the tracking and payment platforms that connect affiliates with affiliate programs.
Now if you’re ready to learn everything from terminology to how much you can expect to make as an affiliate, or even if an affiliate program is right for your company, then read through this post. It is question and answer style and will be updated as I think of more relevant sections or as you request them (assuming they’re a fit). If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, use the contact form or leave a comment below and I’ll try to add it to the post.
Affiliate Marketing Terminology
How Much Can I Make as an Affiliate
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for my Company
Stores and merchants
Publishers and content sites
Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam or High Risk
Are There Any Legal Issues With Affiliate Marketing
Why Didn’t Affiliate Marketing Work For Me
I didn’t make money
Why didn’t any affiliates join my program
I only had coupon sites, trademark bidders and scammers sign up
How Long Does Affiliate Marketing Take to Work
Affiliate Marketing Terminology
One of the most important things to do if you want to succeed in affiliate marketing is to know the proper words and phrases. By getting them wrong or mixed up you’ll not only confuse the people you’re cutting deals with, but you’ll be connected to the wrong people and create more work for yourself. Here are the basic terms and phrases you’ll see and how to use them.
Someone who promotes a product, offer or service on a revenue sharing or performance basis.
This is the offer, store or item an affiliate promotes.
A tracking platform that tracks sales, provides metrics and works as a payment portal for affiliates and merchants. Affiliate networks allow communication between the advertisers or merchants and the affiliates or publishers. CPA networks normally do not.
Similar to an affiliate network, but a CPA network has single item offers or leads. Merchants and Advertisers are not given access to contact publishers or affiliates directly which can create numerous risks.
A payment method where the publisher gets paid on a click basis.
For merchants and advertisers, this is how much you’re spending per thousand views. If you’re a publisher, it is how much you charge or make per thousand impressions.
Affiliate adware comes in the form of pop ups, pop unders, coupon injections, toolbars, browser helper objects, couponware, loyaltyware, PPV, CPV and other terms. It is used to show ads over a website or merchant’s own site and take credit for a sale it did not refer. This could happen by injecting a coupon at checkout, showing an available coupon upon reaching a website or popping an ad over a website that the affiliate doesn’t own, or where the website owner did not give permission for the affiliate to show the ad. This type causes financial harm and damage to the unknowing webmaster.
Affiliate marketing fraud is when affiliates require you to have traffic in order to promote you or when they notice a loophole and take advantage of it. If you have to have traffic, that means they want to intercept it and reduce your margins. A loophole could be a 30 day payout but 90 day return. They can get paid and return the product well after you’ve checked for a completed sale. This term could also be someone selling a bad guide on “how to make money online”, but that falls more into the scam category than affiliate fraud.
How Much Can I Make as an Affiliate
The answer is as much as you put into it. Chances are you will be able to make money as an affiliate, but it won’t be millions. You could earn enough for a bar tab, a couple hundred bucks, maybe even a thousand a month. However, you probably are not going to get rich. If you think you are, I can share the secret on how to do this for a low price of $29.95…just kidding.
The truth is there are no courses on being an affiliate. There are ways to learn SEO, how to grow a following on social media and build a sticky website. They can all help you to succeed if you can weed through the garbage. You also DO NOT have to pay for any of them. There are thousands of amazing posts and videos on the web with really good examples for free. If you want some that I use or like to follow for advice, use the contact form on the lower right hand side of this post and I’ll be happy to send you some.
In short, once you have the knowledge and begin building an audience or have a media strategy that works, begin incorporating affiliate links as well as CPM, CPC and sponsorships as part of a full monetization strategy. This is how you can begin to build a second income and if you’re lucky and work hard, you can make it your primary. But be careful not to fall for the scams and guides. In the 15+ years I’ve been in the affiliate space, I have never seen a paid one that would work. Yes, you can make money with affiliate marketing, but it is not fast or easy, unless you are a publishers/affiliate with a strong amount of quality traffic.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for my Company
I’m answering this in two parts. The first is if you’re a business owner or need leads and sales coming into your company. The second is for a publisher. This includes bloggers, social media influencers, a magazine or newspaper, email house, YouTubers and others who build traffic.
Stores, Businesses and Merchants
Affiliate marketing is not right and will not work for all stores or businesses. If you don’t have the margin to be competitive, if the commissions are going to be lower than a CPM or CPC, or the customer won’t come back for repeat business, you may want to skip this channel, unless you can afford a strong payout. The good news is that even if you break even on affiliate, you can almost always make money with a customer and previous customer list for years to come.
If you do have repeat sales, you have the margin to give your affiliates a decent commission (at least $5 to $10 per sale) and you also have countless hours to put into finding high value partners, then affiliate marketing is right for you. The important thing to know is that affiliates do not come to you unless you are a huge brand. You need to go out and find them, recruit them with enticing offers and deals and then sign them up and activate them. This is part of affiliate management. It is 100% your job and not the job of the affiliate network.
Affiliate networks will tell you they have XX,XXX affiliates and that’s why you should run your program there. But all you’re going to get (for the most part) are low and no value partners. This includes adware that poses as a value-adding, top-funnel traffic source. Coupon sites that want to rank for your URL or Brand + coupons, tools that take your backlinks and traffic already coming in and redirect them through an affiliate link to earn a commission, and trademark bidders who will use Adwords and other channels to show up for your trademarks, tag your customers with an affiliate cookie and send them back to you.
The only job of the network is to provide tracking and pay your affiliates on time. Networks also earn a commission on each sale which is why they encourage you work with these types of partners, even though they can be incredibly harmful to your bottom line.
If you allow these low value to no value partners in, well you were warned and it is now your fault. You can always contact me to work on a plan with you to fix the problem when you’re ready.
Publishers and Content Sites
For the most part, yes, affiliate marketing is right for you. If you’re already linking to stores, mentioning products and providing solutions, all of these could be missed revenue opportunities. As long as you do not have any contractual or legal restrictions, why wouldn’t you want to make money off of the traffic already using your website and your past, current and future efforts? The important change you will want to make is to include advertising disclosures in visible spaces at the top of posts and pages, and to make sure all outbound affiliate links are marked as no follow.
This is important to keep your sites SEO health in tact and to be compliant with the FTC. I am not a lawyer so I cannot give advice on what is compliant, you’ll need to talk to a licensed attorney and ask the program’s manager what is compliant for their programs.
Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam or High Risk
Affiliate marketing is not a scam, but it is high risk. If you’re launching an affiliate program and aren’t familiar with the channel, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Always trust your instincts with this channel.
If it sounds to good to be true, like a super high conversion rate or a promise you’ll get a sales force or marketers, it is. The scammers will use fancy wording like “we use SEO to bring you high quality or high converting traffic”. That is a popular type of pitch for a site that wants to rank for your URL or Brand + Coupons which is very bad in almost every case.
If your top performers are relying on you to have traffic, or their traffic patterns match your own, you are probably being scammed. Your partners who ask how much traffic you have (networks too) are actually seeing if it’s worth adding you so they can intercept your own traffic and sell it back to you. They have great marketing spins so it sounds like it is adding value, but it probably isn’t. Again, trust your instinct that something isn’t right because it probably isn’t.
If you’re a publisher or an affiliate, you also have high risks. If you are new to the channel, you need to invest in a domain name, hosting, plugins and themes for your website or blog. You have to spend countless hours that you could be living your life working to build an audience and traffic while also hoping it can convert. It could sometimes take years before you get your first regular readers and fans. Think of all the life experiences you just missed.
So why would anyone do this? Because it works!
Like I said at the beginning, affiliate marketing is not a scam. If you’re a store or have an offer, there are probably marketers, websites and influencers that will promote you and drive value adding leads and sales to you. But you need to create the right atmosphere that meets their needs. You also need to go out and find them, get them the tools they need to succeed and continue to build the relationship with them.
If you’re an affiliate, the odds are stacked against you. If there are active coupon sites showing up for the store’s trademarks and people look for codes, you could lose your commissions. The program could close and you now have to find an equal or better replacement and change out all of your links. You also have to hope your traffic source doesn’t cut you off.
That could be an algorithm shift for Google or Facebook or your email database crashes and you can’t restore your backup. It could also be your server crashing and loosing all of your content. All of these things happen and can devastate an affiliate. But if you are smart, dedicated and want to work hard, there is a very good chance you can succeed. It probably won’t be overnight, but it can be done. For me and for many others it is worth it. With that said, most people are not cut out for it.
The people who aren’t willing to put the time and effort in from both the Merchant and the Affiliate standpoint are the ones that say Affiliate Marketing is a scam. It is only considered a scam by them because they didn’t want to learn, put in the countless hours and were hoping for a quick win. This channel is about long term success, not the quick fix. The only channels that provide that are paid like PPC, Facebook ads and Email marketing.
Are There Any Legal Issues With Affiliate Marketing?
Absolutely. If you’re a publisher you have to hope that the images your merchant’s and programs provide you with are actually owned by them and able to be distributed to you. You need to ensure you’re giving accurate descriptions and information to consumers and you need to properly disclose your relationships.
If you have a program, you’ll need to ensure compliance with your partners to protect yourself. Not all networks (especially the CPA networks) give you direct communication. You’ll also have to hope they are not saying anything incorrect or bashing and defaming your competitors. This could all lead to legal issues for you. That’s why a hands on approach to management is 100% needed and you should never let an affiliate program run on autopilot, set it to auto approve or allow someone in without properly reviewing their applications and/or talking to them.
Why Didn’t Affiliate Marketing Work For Me?
This is easier to answer in two sections, first affiliates and then merchants. I also included two follow up topics that fit as sub categories for this.
Affiliates or Publishers – the reason it didn’t work is because you did not put the effort in and keep trying. The majority of people who become affiliates will not do what it takes to build a quality destination or properly learn how to buy ad space and drive relevant traffic. Yes, even if you do everything right, affiliate marketing might not work for that site which is when you need to move into the next niche and start over.
I get lots of questions about this when I speak at conferences where the person swears they are doing everything right, then I see their site or strategy and it turns out they did almost everything wrong. It is not an easy or quick channel to make money in, but if you put in the labor and hours, it can work for you. You always have to test and try to learn more. It is an ongoing and grueling process, but one that I personally think is worth it in the long run.
Merchants and Advertisers – the reason it didn’t work or why you lost money is because you didn’t put in the work. Work for you means knowing what adds value and does not. You need to learn how affiliate adware works and why coupon sites showing up for your URL or Brand + coupons is bad for you.
You also probably did not recruit partners with custom written emails, landing pages designed just for them or assumed they would find you.Another reason it may not have worked could be that your website or store isn’t very good or you didn’t create a competitive payout or offer for the affiliates.
Affiliate marketing does work in many niches, but you have to put in the labor hours and also create the right settings to make it work. When I talk to merchants and stores that say it didn’t work, doesn’t work or is a scam, those are the reasons the majority of them think so. It was their fault for not wanting to learn and put in the effort. The channel could have worked for them, they chose not to let it.
Why Didn’t I Make Money?
Suppose you did put in the effort and time and built a following or a good amount of traffic. It can happen that you still don’t make money with affiliate marketing. Don’t worry because getting traffic is the hard part, monetizing is the easy one. I have this post about mistakes affiliates make which is worth a read.
Here are some ways you can try testing or take a look at to help generate some sales.
Pre-selling – if you don’t give a reason or benefit to buying the product or offer, there is a good chance it won’t convert. Posting a banner or product link isn’t enough. Show the person viewing your content will benefit from it and give a reason to click your link.
Not matching your audience to the landing page and store is another common mistake. If your audience doesn’t care about price, send them somewhere that caters to their needs and how they’ll benefit instead of talking about an amazing deal. If they are frugal, then show them how to find a deal and make sure the store talks about savings. Matching the store’s brand and prices to your audience is a big one that can make a difference.
Broken tracking, theft and leaks can lead to you not making money. It is your job to evaluate the merchant and make sure no active affiliates show up in Google if people search for the store + coupons. You also need to check that the store doesn’t send people off the site to price compare or have ads running, etc… You also need to make sure you do not advertise or recommend people install coupon reminders, cash back sites or browser extensions. These can all impact your ability to earn money as an affiliate.
Cross device tracking is now a growing culprit for not making money. If most of your traffic is mobile and the store or landing page is slow to load, is hard to use on a mobile device or provides a bad experience, that could cause the person to change to a computer and finish later. If the store doesn’t have cross device solutions in place, you may not make money.
Why Didn’t Any Affiliates Join My Program?
The reason no “real affiliates” joined your program is because you didn’t do the work to bring them in. It is not the network’s job to bring you affiliates, even though they pitch they have a ton of them. It is your job or the job of your affiliate manager. You need to write custom email pitches (not copy and paste spam) explaining how the partner will benefit the potential partner. You need to pay for and run ads to recruit them and you need to be at the tradeshows where your potential partners are going to be. If you did not do that, then that is why no affiliates joined your program.
I Only Had Coupon Sites, Trademark Bidders and Scammers Sign Up
If you’ve launched a program you see these types of sites fly in first. Sometimes you’ll get 200 of them in the first couple weeks. For the most part, the only types of affiliates who join are the ones who will try to intercept your own efforts. By doing this they can tag the traffic you worked hard to get and send it back to you for a commission. That’s why they’re considered low-value and no-value partners.
Optimizing for your trademarks in Google, Bing or Yahoo
Bidding on them as keywords with PPC campaigns
Intercepting as a browser approaches or starts to check out on your site
Because you have a long return period and they get paid out before it’s over
Remember, it is your job to bring in partners that will add value. Sometimes high value partners come to you, but the majority are people who will cause damage. The only way to prevent this is to learn how each one works and remove them from the program if you find them poaching your own internal efforts.
The biggest fear is that the program will die, but if all they are doing is tagging your own traffic with cookies because the person went to Google to find a deal at checkout, if you remove them you may find that you are actually more profitable in other channels by no longer paying commissions on this type of behavior. Your affiliate program will die, but your company will be more healthy and profitable if you do this the right way.
How Long Does Affiliate Marketing Take to Work?
This section is broken out by publishers and advertisers. The publisher section is for affiliates who are looking to make money with their websites, email lists or other assets. The advertisers section is for someone who has a store, offer or something they want others to promote.
Publishers – this depends on your traffic and the quality of that traffic. If you can find stores and offers that match it and also pre-sell the value of their products or services, you can make money quickly. The more quality traffic you have, the more you can make by finding the right products, offers and deals.
Advertisers – It can easily take one year to 16 months to get to a break even point if your program is value adding. You have to recruit partners in, get them to add you to their sites, have those pages index and get traffic. Next you need to hope that traffic clicks through from their site and also converts on your site.
It is a very long and tricky process. There are ways to speed it up by incorporating a placement budget, refer-a-friend program, etc… Those are things I can help with if you’d like to use my affiliate management services. But even with these, it can easily be a year before you get to a break even point.
Affiliate marketing is probably the best and most reliable channel for a company and for a publisher. The goal for merchants is to not have anyone showing up for your trademarks like YourStoreName Coupons in Google or using adware. Instead you’ll want to have partners who can bring you new customers and top of the funnel sales. For publishers and affiliates it is finding the right balance and mix of merchants who will be around for the foreseeable future and not close their programs. If you’d like help getting into affiliate marketing, use the contact form on the right hand sidebar or click here to contact me and I’ll be happy to help.
2017 was a fun year of digital marketing with everything from “Fred” and quality updates to the idea of mobile first indexing. There were new algorithms added for social media channels providing huge opportunities for affiliates as well as new technologies and advancements in how consumers and content users absorb information. All of these provide new niches to make money in and opened the door to established markets for someone new to take over.
If I was planning on moving into something new for 2018, here are the niches and markets I would begin building a presence for.
Harry Potter Game
Niantic (makers of PokemonGo) announced a Harry Potter augmented reality game. Although it sounds like they’re recycling the PokemonGo model, Harry Potter has a huge cult following and tons and tons of merchandise being sold regularly. With the new game you can expect devices to be released for purchase to enhance game play, you can expect fan gear and funny clothing to be in demand so people can “fit in” while playing, and since there is not much competition yet for “Wizards Unite” terms and phrases, it is an open market if you can be in there first.
I have a plan mapped out in my head but unfortunately no time to implement. It includes everything from finding phrases and answers about strategy using trends, cross promotions for shoes to wear for comfort and long stretches of play time and a lot more. This could be a huge one. I get into the biggest reason I would do this below.
Speaking of PokemonGo, DraconiusGo has launched as an alternative to this still popular game. It looks and feels similar to PokemonGo, but there are huge differences. The main one is that this game gives you numerous features you hoped for in PokemonGo, but Niantic never released.
They include player to player combat, mini quests, hunts where you have to problem solve maps, room for new and rare creature releases without following a series, combined rewards (with spells you can launch with friends) daily challenges and more. I use both of the games to help keep track of my running (by using the 2K, 5K and 10K eggs) and have now switched to Draconius Go for the majority of my runs since their egg hatching is more accurate.
Why is this a niche to go into? There isn’t much competition in the search engines and it has an ever growing fan base. If it takes off and you have the resource guide, you can expect merchandise and CPM ad sales. Collecting the information from avid gamers is an extremely valuable list to have.
Capturing emails on a newsletter list can be cross promoted, uploaded to social media and remarketed to, and you can sell or recommend games and downloadables on a CPA basis. Not to mention there are a ton of other ways to make money with a very niche and spend friendly audience of gamers. I would start with a strong Q&A about the creatures and focus on how to guides. If you do a few searches on Google you’ll see there isn’t much competition but there is starting to be more search volume. You could even focus on voice search traffic and build a fan base that comes to you while playing. That list is the big valuable thing from the Harry Potter “Wizards Unite” game as well.
Lets’ change to something not gaming. Go to Google US and look for “vineyard photographers”. You’ll see there are very few solid rankings and the ones that do rank are not that strong. This gives you an opportunity to move into this niche.
Vineyards have begun to update their websites more steadily in recent years. If you do a lot of wine tastings you’ll see the improvements. This also means they’ll need new photos and work shot, especially as they release new vintages. While doing your keyword research you’ll also see the sub-categories like “vineyard wedding photographers” and events terms have little to no competition because of the types of sites currently ranking.
This is an easy market to take over if you’re a good photographer and you also have some basic to mid-level SEO skills. Another option is to rank your own website and then sell leads to photographers. Having a list of vineyard owners or wine fans, you can market to a high-end and potentially high income niche which can be stable revenue for many years to come.
Whether you’re a DIYer or a theatre blogger, one place that has a ton of room to take over and also monetize with affiliate links is set and prop design. There are search queries by high schools, community theatres, colleges and others looking for this information and there is very little that is useful and easy to access. This is where you can shine.
Post an image or sketch of the stage, then talk about each piece, how it is relevant, multi-functional and add in sections on how to build key elements. From there break it out into individual posts with clear, concise and quick loading how to guides.
If there is something like a barber chair whose seat drops and a razor that squirts blood in Sweeny Todd, add the how to build guides under Sweeny Todd in the directory. If it’s a production of Phantom of the Opera, talk about ways to stage the famous two way mirror scene or boat with dry ice going through the floating candles. You could even add in how to make canes that shoot sparks and fireballs like in the show.
These posts could be:
How do I create the mirror from Phantom of the Opera?
How can I build the barber chair from Sweeny Todd?
Ideas to stage Wicked
Idea for creating the set for Avenue Q
Ways to build a set for XYZ show on a budget
Where can I find the monkey music box from Phantom of the Opera
Each of these will let you optimize for the show, and also tie in the supplies to make the products with affiliate links. You could also sell tickets through affiliate links, sheet music, pre-made props, costuming, etc… This is how you can both provide a resource that adds value and make money without being spammy or too salesy.
Other things I would pay attention to are large pop culture releases, especially new blockbuster movie releases with characters that could have a following. Look for new TV shows or streaming series that could have a cult following and build resources for them. There are a ton of options and if you start now, you can be first to market and have a good chance at building a resource site that can make money now and be used to make money for many years to come.
Yesterday at the Type A Parent conference someone asked me to write down my response to “what tips do you have to convert affiliate sales?”. Here is the basic principal behind the strategies I shared. It is something that is very easy to do, but is also rarely done.
How to convert affiliate traffic into sales:
The first thing a blogger, or any site should do is to log into their analytics package. Google Analytics tends to be the most popular one at these shows. Start by looking at your demographics tab. From there, sort by landing page and you’ll be able to target down to the specific posts driving traffic to the merchant, site or store in question.
You want to look for things like where they live. City or Urban, age range, median household income levels (yes this is available and I shared how to find it at the show) and anything else you can get from the stats. Next take that data and look at what the typical merchant’s consumer base is. If you can get it for the category on the site, or the specific products you’re selling, even better.
Now ask yourself, are the skews the same for male/female, income level, age range, urban vs. country, etc… If they are very different (even for the same product), then look for a merchant who provides a better experience for the audience you are sending. For example, you can find some of the same brands at Target or Walmart that are available at higher end retailers. If the person is not a Target or Walmart fan or budget conscious, the other retailers may provide a better experience and get them to shop.
If your audience is more budget conscious or doesn’t have products readily available at niche local stores (i.e. curved fish tanks in the country or urban settings vs. a suburb with big box retailers), then sending them to retailers who cater to their needs may increase conversions. Matching your audience to a site that caters, speaks to and addresses their needs is the first tip and way to help turn affiliate traffic into sales.
Next look at how they are viewing your site. The example I used at the show is by device. If your audience is predominately on mobile devices, don’t look at the merchant’s website or take screen captures from your computer. Instead do it from your mobile device.
When you get to the merchant’s website, ask yourself:
How quickly does the first page load
Did the next page and shopping cart load fast too
Is there a good sales funnel for mobile traffic and visitors
Has the merchant spent time to ensure there are trust and conversion attributes to drive the visitor from viewer to a closed sale
Are the fields at checkout easy to use or does the customer have to work to enter in their data
Does the merchant have cross device tracking set up
If the merchant you are promoting is built for desktop sales, but your traffic is mobile, there could be another retailer with the same products that has a better mobile experience and more tracking options. This will in theory help to convert your traffic better because they are providing a better experience for your traffic.
There is a bit more that goes into this, but the above information is more than enough to get you started. If you’re still wondering why your affiliates are driving traffic but not producing sales, contact me and we can set up some time to review it and see how we can help to make you and your partners more money.
The tickets niche is a very interesting one to look at for affiliate marketers, especially if you have a new website or are just starting out. Yes, you have huge brands for major terms, but because of the ticket industry and the red tape that exists in those large brands, you can more easily compete and win. That is exactly why ticket affiliate programs are the perfect way to move in and start to take over.
This post will walk you through why it is a good niche, how to begin entering in and then ways to expand and grow your business based on the sub-niche you move into.
Why Tickets Are an Untapped Niche
(please note, every site I link to below in this post is an advertisement or I have a direct advertising relationship with the site and store.)
The main reason why tickets are an untapped niche is that you always have a new hit performer, in demand broadway show, artist launching a tour and people looking for last minute or sold out seats to a fight or sporting event. With all of this happening regularly, you also have red tape stopping bid brands from being first to market with their content and pages. That is where your opportunity exists.
When you hear about a show going to broadway for example, large sites may do a quick “OMG, it’s going to broadway” post or share a press release, but they won’t be producing a detailed post until it is in production and/or in previews and they have seen it. Their little teaser posts may rank for a quick run, but they will fall because they are thin content. The same goes with a performer whose touring and just announced the name of the tour.
By being first to market, giving a history of the show or why it was created, even having a section about why the tour or show is named for something are all good topics to include in your outline. Next think about how you can benefit a potential ticket shopper by creating pages about where to sit in the venue for a concert, or even creating a properly optimized tour calendar for the search engines.
By having these cool fun-facts, interesting content and useful sections, your site can be the go-to resource before the big brands move in. By being a resource, you can attract backlinks, new readers and also get the answer boxes in Google searches since you are first to share this information and you’ve shared it well.
This content is also directly relevant for ticket searches and fans. I used to do this with my broadway blog and it is what made it work, before I burned out on writing about shows and showtunes. I even had some celebrities come to the site, share, respond and comment which was cool.
Remember, you do not have to go through editorial, venue and PR restrictions and approvals as well as other red tape. That means you can create your content (fact checking of course) and get it optimized for whatever terms and phrases you want. It is much easier than you think and there are always new things to write about so writers’ block is less of an issue.
How to Enter Into the Niche
The first thing to do is figure out what your main theme is. Broadway, Rappers, MMA fights, Rodeos, etc… Then think about going a bit more niche. Is it gay pop culture stars like Cher, Madonna or Britney Spears instead of just Pop Music and pop culture. Maybe specific MMA Fights by weight class or fighters, you could even try Rodeo’s in Eastern Texas including Houston, Katy and into parts of Louisiana.
Next start researching SEO modifiers for these. Sold out, backstage, meet and greet, VIP, discount, sale, coupon, pre-release, presale, etc… All of these will change based on the audience. To find the phrasing people will use, start by going to the main site for the performer and see the exact phrases they use. i.e. Lady Gaga calls her fans “little monsters”. A pre-release keyword might be “little monster presale” and “code” because the site specifically says use code. People tend to use the phrase the site will have “promo” vs. “invite” vs. “code”. I am making this example for Lady Gaga up and don’t know for sure what they used.
Now start thinking about how to attract an audience. If you’re writing about rodeo, incorporate the specific star or draw for the event. Now add in the city, town or venue name. Tickets to XY rodeo in Houston at insert venue name. If it is a fight ticket, Tickets to Sold Out Insert Fighter in Vegas or Discount Code for Insert Fighter Fight in Insert City. If there are lots of tickets or it won’t be sold out, you could try discounts, coupons, deals for, etc… for your modifiers.
Last, begin building out the copy. You’ll want to follow search engine best practices but also focus on getting the answer boxes.
Answer boxes are the boxes on top of a Google search result. In many cases, giving a quick question and answer at the very beginning of your post (or towards the beginning) and using plain HTML, ordered and unordered lists and tables tends to work. It could be simply answering questions like “Where can I find tickets to tonight’s sold out xyz….” or “How can I get backstage passes for XYZ in ABC”. To see example of these, try typing in “recipe for XYZ” or “how do I make…” and you’ll see them live. You can also try “tour dates for….” or comparison terms which would generate a table answer box.
Next continue through the copy and provide a resource that fans and journalists would both enjoy, want to share and reference. This is how you build relevance, get them to subscribe to your newsletter and also want to share your content with other fans. Now tie your affiliate links throughout the post in relevant places. This program which I currently manage offers a full datafeed and will soon have a ticket engine to let you have a custom shop directly within your site or even on the specific post.
Ways to Expand and Grow
Once your site starts to grow based on tickets, you can now begin expanding your company both vertically and horizontally. Here are a few ways.
Tshirts and fan gear – if you’re writing about football and have an audience dedicated to specific teams, try opening a team gear shop. You’ll find tons of programs like Fanatics (I do not manage this one) which carry jersies and other team gear.
Accessories not related – people love to party and tailgate, so try incorporating products for these traditions. If you know it’s an event with tailgating, find portable grills and other items that can be used and create a guide incorporating them in that you can funnel your traffic into. My client Beau-coup and Swoozie’s have some awesome tailgating and fan gear.
Party or event supplies – not everyone can get a ticket for an event opening you up to themed party supplies. Creating a separate post featuring themed foods, party supplies or other things to set a mood while watching the event (when you can’t be there in person) is a great way to monetize horizontally.
Music or audio – if you’re promoting a performer, selling their newest releases or limited edition downloads can always be a good option too.
Complementary products – if you know they are music fans and there is a good app or service that also has an audience match, you may want to try promoting that and see how well your audience reacts.
If you have a newsletter list, you can upload that to Facebook, Google and other channels to remarket each time a new or similar tour, event or something else starts. This is a lot easier if you have city data. If you don’t have city data, you can promote tickets as well as packages that will stream it to their homes or even fan gear and party supplies. Now you’re providing a resource for each.
Try splitting your audience. Facebook is great because you can get an actual breakdown of your audience by using segments. If you create a carousel that has one tile for tickets, one for gear, one for more info, one for streaming the event, one for gear, etc… you can try to segment this out and tag them differently based on what they clicked on.
Ticket affiliate programs are a huge missed opportunity and one you should really consider if you want to try a new niche. I cover ways to incorporate them into everything from a travel or city based blog to wedding sites in this post about how to make money promoting tickets online. If you’d like to give my client’s Ticket affiliate program a try, click here as we’d love to have you as a partner.
Apps make amazing affiliate marketers because they “can” have a captive user base and they “can” build their own audience using app store marketing and website traffic for downloads. So if you’re wondering if apps make good affiliates or how to work with them, this post will walk you through the process. This post is not how to set up in-app sale tracking for a stores affiliate program, that is a different topic.
How to work with app affiliates in three sections:
What apps need to be successful affiliates
What to be cautious of
How to recruit app affiliate marketers
What Apps Need to be Successful Affiliates
Remember, app users (until progressive web apps become more popular) are primarily on tablets and mobile devices. That means your standard affiliate marketing tools for traditional programs are no longer relevant. Here is a short list of the additional marketing tools you need to create if you want to see success with app affiliates.
Banner sizes for mobile devices – standard web banners do not fit into mobile ad units. There are separate sizes that you’ll need to create in order to meet the specs within an app. Do a Google search for “app ad sizes” or “app ad specs” and you’ll find the most common ones.
Cross device tracking – If you aren’t set up to track across multiple devices, you’re out of luck with apps. Some users will discover you in the app, but if the sale takes place on the desktop, the app will not see much success. If it’s a dating app, you may be interrupting a conversation and they shop later, even if the app introduced you. If it’s a game, same thing, the person wants to go back to the game. Cross device tracking is vital for value adding apps or apps that serve ads on a media basis.
Datafeeds – If your datafeed has long descriptions and the images are not quick loading, it may not work for app users. It’s time to reformat a mobile version of your feed for speed and space. There’s limited room on a mobile screen and you don’t want to take away from a click and a sale. There’s also no reason for a high res and print ready resolution for a mobile datafeed.
Short phrased text links – With the limited space, your text links will also have limited space. Shrink down the amount of words and get to the point. There’s not much room for word games so just give the deal. The same goes for banners. Less room and smaller screens leave less room for branding. Focus on the message and the call to action.
Low character count and easy to read/type deals – If your coupons and deals take up a lot of wording, or you have large promo codes, now is the time to shrink them down. If the affiliate is mentioning them by text or push notification, and it won’t copy and paste, you need something quick and simple that can be memorized and typed in, otherwise it won’t track back to the proper affiliate.
Custom codes and exclusivity – One thing that may work well is giving branded codes with limited lifespans for push notifications and other promos. By being able to force exclusivity as these are used, it can track back to the app affiliate and help to earn their confidence and trust. Just make sure they don’t get submitted to a bunch of other sites or you’ll have an attribution, trust and reversal/voiding issue.
What to be Cautious of
Adware – Just like with browser helpers and toolbars, apps can have a negative financial impact on your company in similar ways. Some will intercept traffic on a mobile device as they would by installing a button or extension on a browser and others will work in new ways which are harder to track. It is important to know the way each app works, what it’s functionality is and what else it offers if you’d like to catch any issues with adware theft or sale poaching.
Encouraging sharing – some apps encourage sharing deals in exchange for a reward but they do not always require or ask their users to use disclosures. If you work with these types of apps and they mention that by sharing a deal from your store the sharer will earn or get XYZ, talk to your legal counsel or a licensed attorney (I am not one so I cannot give legal advice) and see if this would be ok or if you need them to require and provide proof of disclosures.
Disclosures on the app – this also needs to go through your legal team. Many apps are limited on space. Using space for advertising disclosures can take away from UX. If you allow app affiliates into your program, show them to your general counsel or a licensed attorney and see if they are good to go or ask your legal counsel to send you what they’ll need to do to be compliant for your program.
How to Recruit App Affiliate Marketers
This is the fun part, recruiting apps as affiliates. Our affiliate management agency works with a bunch already and have started asking what is important to them so we also know what to leave out on our pitch. Even though they tend to be more tech savvy, integrating programs into the app is always a huge barrier to entry. That is actually why I am writing this post and started with what they need to succeed.
When doing outreach to recruit apps as affiliates, I focus on what is specific to them and how we can be a natural integration without taking away from the user experience. That is key for an app since space and attention is limited and they don’t want to take away from their core services or experience. So how do you reach them?
You can recruit apps by reaching out through:
The support page if they have a website
Inside the app itself
By contacting the email listed in the app store (assuming it works)
Upgrading to their paid versions and then reach out when you get the receipt
Donating to them if they ask for support. You’ll normally get a thank you email you can try to respond to or at least a person’s name. With a bit of detective work you can normally locate a way to contact them with the name from that email.
Apps make great affiliates and can add a ton of value. The trick is creating an affiliate program for the apps to be able to make money. Next it is winning their trust and getting them to join, go active and then provide more exposure for you. Once they are up and running, they can be some of your top revenue drivers as well as new customer acquisition experts.
Affiliate Management is the process of building and growing a channel of marketers to drive traffic to your store, business or offer. Affiliate programs, networks and managers are the three major components of affiliate management.
What is the difference between affiliate management and affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a marketing channel where partners promote a store, product or offer on a revenue sharing basis. The term refers to a marketing channel as opposed to a program or one of the key pieces. Affiliate management is the process of making the channel work.
Now that the definitions are out of the way, below you will discover:
what the different roles are
what good affiliate management consists of
how to tell if your Affiliate Manager is good, competent and what their skill levels are
best practices for having and managing an affiliate program
Definition: Affiliate marketers are independent partners who send referrals to a website or business in exchange for a commission. There are 3 types, high value, mid-funnel and low-no value partners.
High value affiliates or top-of-the-funnel partners are the most valuable. They have their own traffic which is independent of the store or offer. Without them you do not have access to them as easily. These can include bloggers (not all), social media influencers and resource owners.
Mid-funnel affiliates help end users to make a decision. It could be a review site that is combating negative reviews for you or showing you have the best price and sending a visitor back before they get to the shopping cart. They can also work as top of the funnel if they show up in search engines for terms like 55″ 4K TV Reviews or questions like What is the best Blue Widget for XYZ. They are not affiliates that show up for your URL + coupons or only intercept at the checkout stage of the shopping process.
Low and no value partners do not have their own traffic. They rely heavily on you to have traffic that they can intercept and set a cookie on. This typically includes adware, browser extentions, apps that activate once someone is inside your retail location (activating outside the store can add value), coupon sites (that only poach your checkout) and monetization tools that only monetize existing traffic without getting you new exposure.
What Are Best Practices for Working With Affiliates?
Affiliate marketers are not your employees and they are not a sales force that you can control. They are independent and should be treated differently than you would treat your sales staff. Each type should be treated differently.
Top of the funnel (they have their own traffic) should get exclusive commissions, custom promotions and always be given priority. Without them you’ll need to find another way to reach these potential customers and it will probably cost a lot more money. The influence they provide and trust from their referral can normally help increase the conversion rate of this traffic. This is especially important for smaller and newer brands.
Mid funnel partners can help to close a sale. They can also fight off unfair or bad reviews left by angry customers. If they are acting as top-of-the-funnel like I mentioned above, they should also be given a priority with custom commissions.
Low value and no value affiliates tend to be the ones networks recommend the most since they are high converting and many networks get paid on affiliate conversions. They rely on you to have your own traffic and intercept that traffic to earn commissions. Good affiliate managers remove them from your program and bad ones allow them in.
What Makes a Good Affiliate Manager?
A good affiliate manager can give you examples of each of these. To know if your affiliate manager is good, type your brand + coupons in Google or Bing. If the sites showing up are active affiliates, you probably have a bad manager or someone in the department who is giving them bad advice. If you have questions about this, use my contact form and I can help you determine if you have this issue and help you fix it.
The next test is to ask the manager about the adware or software on the network and which ones they’ve removed. If you have an affiliate program on a network, there’s a 99% chance an adware affiliate has applied or been approved in or declined. Every network that I have worked with or done affiliate program audits on has adware. I have yet to see one that is currently active that does not allow it 100%. So what is a low-no value or adware affiliate?
Software companies that use browser extensions or toolbars to show ads as someone hits your website or offers your current visitors cash back/coupons for clicking on their links are an example of low value to no value adware affiliate. They are some of the highest recommended affiliates by the networks which is one of the main reasons you should never trust the networks. The software or affiliate adware provides a great user experience for the user which is the pitch the affiliate and the network gives, but by intercepting someone who was already shopping on your website, you may now be paying commissions for sales you would have had regardless.
Monetization tools enable sites that are already sending you traffic to turn their links into affiliate links so you now have to pay for the traffic or sales. By allowing them into your program you may find double dipping by some bloggers and media sites if you already paid them for a media buy or a PR company for the coverage. They can also potentially cause damage to your SEO since you’re now paying for the backlinks and they may still be do follow links. Many monetization tools will allow you to block specific sites. Some may be able to get new content published and turn into top of the funnel or high value affiliates. Proceed with them cautiously, especially if SEO traffic is important for your company.
Definition: An affiliate manager is the person or affiliate marketing company that manages the affiliates within your program and the network or software used. They are responsible for making sure tracking is working, recruiting new partners and also ensuring compliance so that your company can gain from the channel.
Good affiliate managers are hard to find but you can easily train a top affiliate manager. If you’re looking to hire one and do not want an agency, here are the things to look for to help ensure they have the proper skill sets and to list within an affiliate manager job description.
What Skills Make a Good Affiliate Manager?
Read and understand HTML and CSS
A basic knowledge of attribution and timestamps
A mid-level knowledge of popular email and newsletter software
Familiarity with basic SEO principals like backlinks, copy and onsite attributes
A passion for creating copy that can pre-sell a product and solve a problem
Enthusiasm for sales and business development
A strong temperament and customer service skills
Being a creative problem solver who can explain complex situations to people across departments
Definition: Affiliate networks are tracking solutions that record click, sale and sometimes impression data for an affiliate program. Many handle payments, 1099’s and financial information to alleviate additional work for accounting. Some provide tools for affiliates including video, datafeeds and storefronts.
The networks are not equal. It is your job to pick the right one for your company. It is not their job to have affiliates, so if the decision is being based on them saying they have 1,000,000 affiliates, you should probably avoid them as this is a very misleading statement.
How to Pick the Right Affiliate Network?
Do they offer tools that you need
Is the network fee and are the annual/monthly fees in your price range
Are your competitors on the network (this is a good thing if you’re a smaller brand)
Do you have to sign an exclusivity agreement with them?
What advertising options are available within the network
Can you have access to all of your affiliates’ contact information
How can you see which state they live in for nexus laws
Which services are they using to help you look for and enforce FTC advertising disclosure compliance
Ask if they recommend working with all of the coupon sites (if they say yes or most, move on as they do not have your best interest in mind)
If you still have questions about what affiliate management is, what it takes to manage a program or anything else, you can leave a comment below or click here to use my contact form and ask privately. I also manage affiliate programs for other companies, do affiliate program audits, training workshops and work with in house managers as a coach or team-member so feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on these services.
Affiliate Summit is in less than two weeks and there are a lot of questions in different blogging and influencer groups about how to know which merchants (stores or retailers) to partner with. Below you’ll find a series of questions you can ask to find out if the affiliate program is good for bloggers, YouTubers and social media influencers, or if you should politely pass on the opportunity.
Underneath the bulleted list you’ll find a series of detailed answers and what to listen for in the vendors’ responses. One thing that is important to note is that even if there are issues in the program or with the manager, there are almost always solutions so don’t just say no if one of the issues comes up. These questions also work great for other shows or just evaluating a program in general…they aren’t show specific.
Questions to ask affiliate managers before joining a program:
Which states do you have to block for nexus?
Do you work with coupon affiliates?
How is attribution set up?
How can we track my sales from Instagram?
Is cross device tracking set up?
What specific actions will track across devices?
Can I get a product for review?
Do you offer media buys or sponsored posts?
How is the affiliate channel attributed with other channels?
Do you work with adware?
Which adware affiliates have you declined and why?
What network/s are you on?
(please note that all external links are my affiliate links and I’ll earn a commission if you shop through them)
Getting a response with actual details is important since some people (especially just out of college) may agree with you, even if they don’t know the answer. Never settle for a generic one in this channel. It is literally your money on the line. On that same note, “I don’t know the answer right now, but let me research and I’ll find out for you” is a good response too. If they follow up after then even better. You found an affiliate manager who is willing and ready to work with you.
Which states do you have to block for nexus?
This is an important first question. If the merchant cannot work with you because of nexus, then you’ll be wasting time in the meeting since you cannot promote them. If they have any hesitation or look confused about nexus, be cautious because you may get removed without warning in the future if you live in a nexus state and they weren’t aware of issues.
Nexus laws have been the reason for many affiliates losing their revenue streams from the affiliate channel so it’s important to stay up to date with your state and laws. I use the PMA to keep up to date but some of the good affiliate networks will have resources as well for both affiliates and merchants.
Do you work with coupon affiliates?
If a merchant says yes to this, ask in what capacity. They could be working with ones only for newsletters or in categories but do not allow coupon sites that rank for their trademarks. It is important to know when a coupon site could be bad for you and when you don’t have to worry. That’s why it’s important to get an explanation of how the merchant works with coupon websites. Give them this example.
If I send a visitor to your store, but your affiliate program works with affiliates that show up for their store name or URL + coupons, that affiliate may replace my tracking cookie with their own and I will not get the commission. What protections do you have in place for me?
If the affiliate manager doesn’t know what you’re talking about or you don’t trust their answer, test it for yourself. Go to Google and type the site’s URL + coupons and hit search. Go to the websites showing up and see if they have active affiliate links. If they do, you may lose some of your commissions to these affiliates. If you’re curious why, here’s how it works.
You write a blog post and send a visitor to the merchant. That visitor gets to checkout and sees the coupon code box. They go to Google and search to find a deal. As they click to reveal a code or go back to claim the deal, they could be clicking on another affiliate’s link. Many programs rely on last click attribution and if this is the case, that affiliate may now replace your tracking with theirs and you will no longer get paid. But there are some safeguards if the program has a proactive manager. The follow up question in italics below is a good one to ask if you still want to work with them.
How is attribution set up?
Some programs will have attribution lines where if you are a top of the funnel partner and there is a coupon site at the end of the sale, you get full credit or you split your commission with them. It is important to test and make sure this works as there are a lot of outliers in the logic that could prevent you from getting paid.
Click your link to make a purchase, then go to the coupon site and click through their link and code. Make the purchase. If the commission shows up in your account, they have it set up right. If it doesn’t, then you should let the affiliate manager know and possibly move on. Other outliers could be review sites, trademark bidders, adware affiliates, multiple networks, etc… but don’t worry about those for now.
How can we track my sales from Instagram?
There are numerous ways to track instagram. You can use coupon codes that are set to your account only, there’s a clickable link in your profile and a few others. If the manager cannot name at least two of them immediately, you may want to consult someone else for strategy and then help them to implement it for their own programs. No, it isn’t your job to teach them, but if you want to work with them you may have to.
Is cross device tracking set up?
This is one of the most important questions, especially if you’re a social media influencer. Cross device tracking is being able to track when someone changes from a mobile phone to a desktop computer or a tablet to another device to make a purchase. Cookies do not work because when you change devices, the cookie is no longer set on the new device’s browser.
If the mobile experience or the majority of customers shop through a desktop, but your website or social media traffic is mostly mobile, then this is a large potential issue for you. That’s why if they say yes it is set up, ask the next question.
What specific actions will track across devices?
This question is asking how their cross device tracking is set up and when/where/how is the unique identifier collected. To track across devices you need a unique identifier.
It could be an email address, a social media login that passes contact info, a name and a zipcode combination, ip addresses, etc… The merchant then needs to store the indentifier in a database with your unique affiliate ID. They also have to set logic to fire that back to the network during the remainder of the cookie life. Ask the manager what they’re doing since it is enabled and to give a couple of examples of ways it works for their site specifically. If they cannot answer this in detail, chances are they do not have it set up.
Can I get a product for review?
Don’t be afraid to ask for a product, but also be prepared to be told no. This is common. Affiliate managers get pitched regularly just like you get PR pitches all of the time. With my programs I scan your site to see if you have relevant traffic that we know converts. If you’re willing to add us to those pages then I probably will give you something. If you do not currently have something then I’ll help you, coach you and work with you to build the traffic and then get you some product.
It doesn’t hurt to ask this, but I can guarantee you’ll immediately be on the manager’s bad side if you ask. In affiliate marketing you’re working on a rev share, not a pay per post basis. So why am I recommending you ask?
Gather information about how many sales you get per new post, social media share, etc… and track it by niche or product type. Your website traffic and stats, social media following, etc… is not relevant when doing sponsored content in a tracked channel because the sponsored content isn’t the run of the site and will not reach everyone who follows you.
Having sales data per sponsored content however makes a case and lets the merchant create an estimated ROAS. If you want help gathering this, we can meet at the show and I’ll walk you through it. It’s extremely easy to do.
If you approach me and say for XYZ brand I drove 20 sales with an AOV of $20 and for ABC I drove 15 with an AOV of $100 through a series of 1 blog post, 2 Facebook shares and an Instagram story, my ears will be opened and I’m more likely to say yes…even if it is a break even price because it could be customer acquisition for my client.
How is the affiliate channel attributed with other channels?
I had the very sad discovery this year as to why I stopped earning commissions with some of the marketing tools I promote and also discovered why I didn’t convert or my sales didn’t track for others. There’s a trend (mostly in the B2B marketing and business space) to do first channel attribution and set a really long cookie.
That sounds great, but it is very bad for you as an affiliate.
When I’m presenting at workshops and some conferences, I may mention a tool. When I do, people go to the website to see it. Then at the end of my presentation I may do a follow up with a tools like where they click my link. Because they first got to the site through a direct type in when I mentioned the tool or demoed it, direct traffic gets the credit and I don’t get paid. If they did a Google or Bing search to find it, SEO gets the sale and I don’t get credit even though I introduced the customer and I was the first point of contact. If there is a 10 year cookie on this, then for the next 10 years I still won’t get credit…i.e. you’re never getting paid.
Another reason why this is bad is if you’re using coupon codes to track. The person hits the site through a direct type in or click from your email, but doesn’t enter the coupon code until after. Because of the direct type in, you are not the initial referral and you may not get credit, even if they use your unique code. That is a bit more extreme, but if it is always first channel wins, then it could happen.
Do you work with adware?
Google affiliate adware and you’ll find a ton of posts I wrote about why this is bad for you as an affiliate. The goal of affiliate adware is to set a cookie. It could be a toolbar that entices a click after reaching a store. Sometimes it’ll be a pop up that shows over your blog or on the outbound click to the merchant’s website and forces a redirect which could replace your tracking cookie. Other times it’ll be a browser extension which offers coupons, deals, cash back or discounts to get the person to click. All of these may be able to replace your tracking cookies and take your commissions from you. That’s why it is important to know if they work with it.
If the person hesitates or is confused about the question, they probably do have an adware problem. If they don’t work with adware, they can normally respond immediately and answer the next question without hesitation.
Which adware affiliates have you declined and why?
Affiliate managers saying they’re on XYZ network is not a good response. Have them name at least three that they’ve declined who are also on the network where their program is. If they cannot name at least two or three from that network immediately, they are probably trying to fake an answer.
What network/s are you on?
If the program is on multiple networks, just don’t join. It isn’t worth it. You’ll have multiple issues mentioned above and there will be others like which network gets credit if there are multiple affiliates? For example, suppose you send someone through your blog on network A, but network B is where the coupon affiliate who intercepts last minute is. That affiliate and network gets a click and sets their cookie replacing the command to fire the pixel from network A. Network B in this case will probably take the commission and you don’t get paid.
Hint – do not fall for attribution commissioning in a single network as a protection here. If there are multiple networks, having attribution commissioning on network A doesn’t always stop network B from taking the sale. There needs to be two round of it where the first network in the timeline always gets credit even if B or C have a click.
You’ll then need a second attribution line that says the original referrer gets credit within the network. But it actually gets more complicated than that…what if there is a commission for the referrer, mid funnel and coupon site and they’re on two or three networks. Now you have to set it across three networks, to commission a % to each of the affiliates involved and report them back to individual networks. I have yet to see a company who does this so if the program is on multiple networks, just don’t bother with it or expect to lose some of your sales. The only exception for me to this rule is for international and foreign language programs.
Those are some of the questions that should help you to identify which affiliate programs, managers and agencies you may want to work with. If you have other questions which could benefit bloggers, social media influencers and YouTubers joining affiliate programs, feel free to leave them in the comments section below with a detailed response. If you’d like to meet at Affiliate Summit, use my contact form and lets set up a time to meet.
This is a sponsored post by TerraLeads. The content and opinions are 100% my own at the time of this post (you’ll see both good and bad). If you’re not interested in the review, there’s a bunch of strategy stuff at the end so it’s worth reading through. I also have a cool post going live later this week or next week about how to make money with influencers by channel so make sure to check back for updates.
TerraLeads is a completely new kind of affiliate business in Europe calling itself a hub. They’re taking a unique approach by going with traditional CPA network styled products, but they produce them in house (they own the products), which helps to ensure quality and that their partners will get paid (no waiting for companies to send checks and fund the network). They’ve created their own tracking technology and they also have their own call centers which employ native speakers for most European languages. Because of these key competencies, they’ve left the traditional CPA networks in the dust and created what they’re calling an “affiliate hub”. This is what spiked my interest and why I agreed to do the review.
Every time I work in the EU on affiliate campaigns I charge additional fees because of the backwards thinking by their networks. That’s why I love TerraLeads approach in creating an affiliate hub. It wouldn’t work for a traditional affiliate network in Europe that works with retail stores, but it should cause worry for the CPA networks.
As a heads up, being paid for doing a review on this site doesn’t mean I recommend a company. In fact it’s quite the opposite, but in this case, it is a huge yes. I would recommend giving them a shot (as of the time of this post).
They’ve passed all of my trust factors, but there are some things you should know. You can click here to go to their homepage and then come back to find out what I like, didn’t like and then read below for some Facebook ad network, targeting goodness.
On to the review!
The TerraLeads Affiliate Hub.Signing Up for TerraLeads.
My first reaction to the hub was that there is too much flash on their homepage and I wasn’t sure why there is a banner about a car in the bottom left. If I’m an affiliate, I want to know about the network or program, the offers and products, what’s unique about them, etc… When I see things about winning/earning a new car instead of a site talking about why I should work with them, it causes red flags. But I continued joining and I’m glad I did.
The sign up process helped to show the quality of the hub. One of the required fields asks for your skype handle. Within an hour of completing my application someone from their team added me on skype and started a conversation. This adds a layer of protection for them and also gives you a direct point of contact you can reach if you need something. That is a huge bonus for you as an affiliate. If something goes wrong, if you’re missing a payment or just have a question, you have an actual person to reach out to and not a support ticket to wait on.
One thing they could do to make themselves even more accessible is to add whats app and google hangouts. That’s a lot more to keep track of, but it could open up communications and access for a lot more EU publishers who don’t like skype.
Login Issue with TerraLeads
One thing you need to be cautious of is that they do not have a password recovery option (hopefully it is added shortly). WRITE YOUR PASSWORD DOWN!
Finding an Offer in TerraLeads
Once you’re logged in, the load times are pretty slow and there is a lot of flash. Finding an offer was also very tricky, but after playing around I figured it out. They’ll confirm if this is the right way to do it in the comments section below once this is posted.
Click the first box “choose offers” in the opening screen to see available offers.
The offers page is very nicely laid out, but a bit complicated to use. Still I believe, with time they will upgrade it and make more user-friendly. They use a lot of internal language instead of terminology that an affiliate or regular user would think of. The big issue with this page (for me as a non-technie) is that they put programmers first by offering APIs instead of access to your links and code in a quick click to reveal format. If the majority of users are IT people then this makes sense so it is probably done on purpose.
You can use the top sorting to either go by product category like diet or beauty or you can go by GEO. In this case it means the countries that the specific offer is available in. For US affiliates, the flags may not make sense, but in the EU they tend to know each others’ country flags so this is actually pretty user friendly.
From here you want to click on “Create stream”. (If you are a techie or have a tech team, you can use the API system instead of “Create stream”).
In the future I hope that they change the label to get an offer or create a campaign. One other option could be to add a small question box that can be clicked. If someone clicks, it can open a small box and explain that this is how you can find an offer to promote.
On this page, start by putting in a name. Since it’s a chocolate product and I love chocolate, I labeled mine “Chocolate is Delicious”. I also selected Italy. Once you’ve done this, the landing page options with the local languages appear. For me this is a good and a bad thing.
I like building my own landing pages and do not like to use ones that exist on the networks. Ideally I would drive people to my own web properties so I can capture their information and market back to them over and over. If I’m forced to use networks landing pages or to go directly to the network, I cannot do that. One other benefit to creating your own landing page is that you can pre-sell the visitor on why they should buy the product as opposed to a direct landing page which is for someone ready to shop or who already knows about it. The pre-selling step may help to increase your conversion rates.
The good news is that they have some awesome landing pages that are really well done with strong calls to action, good branding and clean designs. For a channel like Facebook where the users could be both mobile or desktop, the adaptive designs are also a huge bonus, so I would still give this a shot and drive to them direct, or after a landing page on my site that pre-sells the product a bit.
When you get through all of the landing pages you’re going to find a ton of geeky stuff to help create a ton of tracking and measurement parameters. This is one of the things that makes me happy and why I love what TerraLeads is doing. Not many networks enable you to have your own pixels, numerous tracking parameters and other things on/passing through the landing pages. For CPA networks it would make sense so you can track conversions and optimize, but they don’t offer it in many cases and TerraLeads does. This is a huge bonus for you as an affiliate.
Second bonus, they let you install your own Facebook pixels with unique and separate fields…huge, huge, huge bonus here. You could use that for remarketing, building a look alike audience and a lot more. I did a happy dance when I saw this.
I’m hoping in the near future they’ll add in an AdWords and Pinterest one. This is something that has been missing from networks for years and it is awesome that it is finally starting to be offered.
I’m stuck on this next part. I created the full stream and hit save. Then I clicked through to view all streams and selected the Chocolate is Delicious one. There is a URL that is labeled “direct links” that lands directly on the adaptive landing pages I created. I’m guessing that is my affiliate link for the campaign “stream” I created. It would make sense that if I drive someone to this page, it would track for me since I created it. But I am not 100% certain so I’m pinging the TerraLeads team to respond in the comments section below. Here is the sample affiliate link “http://italy.chocolite.biz/?alstream=wbN“.
If that is it, then this was super easy and gives you a ton of control over how you can promote their offers. One thing that took me a second to figure out was how to find the reporting. What good is all of these features if you can’t measure them? Their rep showed me how to find it and it was one of those head to desk moments. If you go to the main menu click on statistics and you’ll find everything you need there.
Ohh ya, and if you’re wondering about how you can get paid.
TerraLeads Payment Options:
As you earn more in their hub, you can also get t-coins which can be redeemed for perks like mobile phones, laptops, powerbanks and even a car. It turns out this is what the banner on the homepage was about.
Now Let’s do Some Strategy!
Because they have Facebook Tracking (wahoo!!!!) available, here are some base niche Facebook groupings that I might try if I was going to produce a campaign for the chocolate diet product above.
The trick with Facebook advertising is to have a super hyper targeted niche. In this case I’m using the TerraLeads landing page as my landing page. I’d start by evaluating everything from the imagery to the wording and who the slang is catered towards.
There’s a late 20’s early 30’s brunette woman who’s in shape, having fun and it is extremely chocolatey. Everything looks fairly modern and upbeat so I’m going to take all of this into consideration and assume a trendy person who is also a Gen Xer would be a good target. It may be good for Xennials too.
My static demographics from my assumptions are going to be:
Women – 25 – 37
Geotargeting would be Italy (probably around major cities or high fashion areas)
The reason I’m not including men, middle age women or college aged people is that this landing page has nothing for them. If there was a hot guy in his mid 20’s to early thirties, I may try men instead of women and also a subset group aimed at reaching gay men. If it was a woman who is mid-life than I would change the age range and not target a younger age range.
My first tests would probably include mixing these specific interests together in different ways. These are more of a base where at least a few would appear regardless of target.
Likes: buzzfeed, quizzes and other things that are engaging and fun.
If income is available, I would eliminate the super-rich and people who do not have disposable income for luxury items like diet trends.
Magazines & websites like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and gossip magazines for the local country like we have US Weekly and Star here in the US. Trendy diets tend to advertise in these for a reason, they sell and cater to the user base. By adding these trendy gossip and fashion magazines into the mix you may be able to attract the same user base to your landing pages.
One extra target could be someone who likes a beach town or trendy beach in Italy. If you’re able to target traveling to or vacations in and add that beach town, even better because you could run ads geared towards that vacation. You also don’t have to limit it to Italy, you could do Ibiza or the french riviera.
The next step is to create an ad experience that matches the flow from the initial engagement to your landing page and also the landing page at TerraLeads. Stay consistent with the imagery, the wording and tone and keep a consistent flow to help maintain the experience which is what got the initial click and can carry through for a conversion.
Overall with some UX tweaks, TerraLeads has the ability to take the EU CPA Networks for a ride with their hub. They have created an awesome platform, cut out the middle man and they are providing fast, high-quality support. That may not always be the case, but as of now, they have and A rating from me as far as CPA goes. They’ve also let me know they’re planning on launching in Asia, Australia and the Americas. Click here to visit their site and become an affiliate.
You can also leave a comment below to let me know what you think if you’ve worked with them in the past or are currently one of their partners.
Niche affiliate sites are a great way to try and earn passive income. If you build something of quality, it can become a niche leader and potentially remain a consistent and dependable form of revenue for you. It may not be much depending on the industry you go into, but it is a great way to get started in affiliate marketing and to supplement income lost if one of your other sites ever gets penalized.
The blog post below walks you through one of the ways I recommend creating your first niche affiliate site from start to finish (and in great detail).
Note: I’d like to also note that I DO NOT recommend you pick a product and build a site around it. Pick a topic for an under-served audience and build a resource around that topic where you have products and services that provide solutions.
How to create a niche affiliate website:
Pick your topic
Do market research
Find keywords to bring in your target market
Discover affiliate programs that provide solutions for the content
Market your content geographically
Create a backup monetization plan
1. Pick Your Topic
For this post I’m going to pick the topic of international gifts in the gift giving space since there is a ton of opportunity that hasn’t been capitalized on yet. This includes organic search, in social media and niche content wise. The theme of the site will be a resource for real estate agents. Why am I choosing this?
The first part of research isn’t keywords, it’s knowing who you need to attract and why they’re looking for solutions. My goal in this scenario is to attract and provide solutions for real estate agents who deal with international clients. The clients buying property overseas probably have excess money and deal with real estate agents who also have disposable income since they’re focusing on a higher end market.
Once I’ve defined my target audience by also making assumptions about them, I create my list of things to research. Here are the three questions I’ll start with which should give me enough to find the market and build the site.
What are the top ten countries buying property in the USA (you can flip this to “what are the top ten countries american’s are buying houses in?”).
Which of these ten has gift giving as part of the culture and business transactions?
Note: make sure this is legal in both your country and theirs.
Where in the USA are they buying property?
Is it city or state based mostly and which ones specifically.
You could go down to zip codes as well.
When I researched question 1 and 3 China won. I also know by doing some research that the Chinese have a lot of culture, traditions and cultural superstitions about colors, numbers and symbols and those also apply to gift giving. I have not contacted my lawyer to find out if gift giving within this niche in the USA and China is legal, but that’s because I am not creating the site. You’ll need to do this on your own if you move forward with this specific niche site and target.
Now that I have my target group to read the site (real estate agents), they’re looking for gift ideas for their clients in XYZ city and they may be catering to foreign shoppers from China, I can begin to do my keyword or content research.
3. Find keywords to bring in your target market
There are a ton of keyword research tools out there, so use your favorite. When I did my research I discovered a lot about lucky symbols, the order of presenting a gift if there’s a group of people, the total value of the items, when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to send something and what is considered important cultural wise. This brings me to the content creation section.
Here are some possible articles I would create. Keep in mind, the goal is to have them for a real estate agent.
What makes a good gift for new Chinese homeowners?
What YOU need to know before giving a gift in China?
Chinese gift giving culture and what to avoid
Never send your client a gift with a 4 on it, here’s why.
Holidays the Chinese expect you to send a gift for
Should you include a dragon, a fish or a panda on a gift?
Never give gifts that include 4s, 13s or sharp edges to the Chinese
How to give the perfect business gift to someone from China
8 perfect gifts for Chinese clients moving to the USA
Your guide to giving a perfect gift to a client in China
From an organic search perspective, these are extremely similar so I would not do all of them. I would create a list like above and then narrow them down so I can create a strong article that combines the similar themes. This way I don’t create content that competes with each other. I may make shorter versions of some of them for social media, but those will be no-indexed. I bolded four of the ideas above that can be combined to make a strong and easy to monetize article. Now we move onto the next step.
4. Discover Affiliate Programs That Provide Solutions for the Content
Now is the fun part. By combining the four bolded articles above into a guide or resource, GiftBasketsOverseas.com makes a great option for this content. They have a full datafeed of gift images that are perfect to use examples within your posts. You can also use deep links that automatically send the end user to a page that is all about sending a gift from the USA to China or even from the USA to a city within China if you want to be even more niche. The program also features banners specifically for sending gifts to China making it a perfect complement.
I’m fairly certain that if you write to their affiliate managers (hint hint me), we could create a version that specifically caters to real estate agents as well.
As you’re going through your content, look for when you mention specific things to note and can use an image or link as an example. i.e. if you mention lucky colors like red or gold. Add one of the large images from the datafeed as an example (with your affiliate link) here.
If your topic is geared towards agents who have clients in China that buy multiple properties throughout the year, then you may want to include a section about gift giving holidays and incorporate specific gifts that are appropriate around the Chinese New Year, Half Moon Festival and other holidays. You could include that this may show they appreciate their clients’ culture and can stay in good graces with them.
At the bottom of the post, include a wrap up with your affiliate links and possibly a large banner about sending gifts to China. This makes it so your reader has a call to action without having to scroll through your content to find the links again. If they bookmark the page as a resource, you now have your links in front of them when they’re ready to read again and hopefully are ready to send a gift.
5. Market Your Content Geographically
Since you know where the Chinese are buying in the US from your research and you know the real estate agents are probably in a higher income range and in specific regions, it’s time to get your content in front of them. Of course it needs optimized for the search engines, but look at affordable ad platforms like Facebook which offer ways to really target them in. Start by reading this post on how to make money with facebook advertising and then read below for a few basic targeting options if you try this niche. There is no guarantee this will work, but use it as a way to generate some ideas for your own strategy.
International real estate
Demographics: makes these higher.
Real estate agent
Licensed real estate agent
Companies – If you know a specific company that focuses on international customers, target their employees with the right title.
Narrow the ads to only show in zip codes, cities or areas where the real estate agents who cater to the foreign shoppers live. You may be able to exclude non relevant ones too.
That’s only one example of ways that you can bring people to your content. Think about questions that real estate agents, lawyers who do international work in China, IT consultants, shipping and export companies, etc… are asking. They go to search engines like Google for this advice and using your guide as a landing page could be a great way to get them to your site.
6. Create a backup monetization plan
Note: As a heads up, GiftBasketsOverseas.com has no plans to close their program. This part is in general and not aimed at my client.
As with anything, you need to have back up monetization plans. You never know if a program will close or something will happen where a new manager comes in and decides to no longer work with content sites. If that happens, then all of your work was done for nothing since you have no backup plan. That’s where affiliate management companies like mine come in. Contact me here if you’d like to talk and we can go over some other ways for you to monetize your sites so you have a backup plan if a program closes.
January isn’t just the start of a new year, it’s when people have extra money from the holidays, aspirations they are going to attempt to conquer and many are ready for romance. If you are looking for how to make money with affiliate marketing in January, here are three ways to do this based on people’s current wants and needs.
New years resolutions
New Years Resolution Monetization
This one is easy. People start the year energized to do everything from losing weight to eating healthy or getting fit. You also have people who want to save money, travel to at least XY new cities/countries and create countless other bucket list items. Capitalizing on this is easy and incorporating affiliate links to monetize it is even easier. The trick here is to create evergreen copy and use modifiers to provide specific solutions and shoot for repeat revenue.
We’ll use fitness or weight loss as an example. My fitness affiliate program ProSource can be great if you try this approach. The trick here is to go niche or do something different. Instead of sharing a few random exercises or saying where to buy product, go one step further.
If you have professionals who read your blog, talk about 8 exercises that you can do while at work. Mention why they are work friendly (the gear doesn’t take up much space, they are not noisey so it won’t bother co-workers, etc…) and break your content out into sections like “can be done while typing, while on a call (not being out of breath or loud) or to help clear your mind (if you need to take a break from staring at a screen).
Maybe the resolution you’re going to focus on is weight loss and learning to cook. (My cooking affiliate program Panna is a perfect fit for this.) Instead of just saying to diet and give diet tips, give healthy recipes and exercises that are aimed directly towards the goals you set forth. You also have to remember to use modifiers and go niche.
You probably won’t show up for terms like “learn to cook” or “diet recipes” in Google, but what you could try to do are “Easy-to-Make Diet Friendly Asian Recipes” or “Low Calorie, Chicken Appetizers for Bridal Showers”. The traffic volume is lower than the generic terms, but by focusing in your content, using the right images and providing awesome content, you may be able to attract social media traffic year round from niche Pinboards as well as try to gain some organic traffic from the search engines. You can also try adding in numbers like 8 or 11 before the recipes to help them standout a bit more and show there is a variety.
In both of these examples you are creating evergreen content that helps provide a solution for someone looking to stick to their new years resolutions, can also be relevant at other times during the year and you’re going after potentially less competitive traffic in the search engines and on social media. You’ll still need to do work to rank and bring in traffic, but it may be easier than the big generic and high volume phrases.
Valentine’s Day Affiliate Programs
You have everything from flower and candy to lobster delivery programs, but what about the other parts of valentines? You have everything from kids parties where you could talk about fun supplies like valentine’s cards and candies to the romance side with sexy attire for the adults. That’s where my clients like Hips&Curves lingerie affiliate program (for the romantic posts) and Beau-coup favors (for the kids parties) come in. But how do you make these unique?
Everyone has posts about lingerie or sexy costumes when it comes to romance and valentine’s day. To be unique here you can try creating a theme for your audience instead and give step-by-step instructions on setting it up. For example, if you want to be a sexy french maid, create a post about a romantic french themed valentine’s night or date. You can start by having music and a glass of Bordeaux wine for when your partner arrives. You can then serve french food or even prepare it using one of Panna’s recipes from the program I mentioned above. After you can tie in setting up a fun themed path to the bedroom and talk about having your partner find you wearing a sexy french maid costume from Hips&Curves. Giving a few examples of lingerie like balconette bras or even the accessories to complement the outfit can be a good tie in. Hips&Curves features some great feather dusters and costume accessories as well.
A second way to create valentine’s content that can make money with lingerie is to create content about picking lingerie that meets your reader’s body shape, their specific problem area’s needs and match that to the theme or type of night. For example, maybe you want to take things up a notch and use some novelties or accessories like a crop or massage oils. Some of these items may require specific styles of clothing which can reveal body parts or cover others.
If it is a crop or paddle or even massage oils where you need the person’s back exposed for a massage, providing three styles of lingerie designed to fit body types like pear, banana or hourglass that also reveal the right places is what can make your content stand out. By providing images and links to the specific styles and examples, you have now pre-sold the product and provided where to buy it while being able to earn a commission.
This is a bit different than New Years Resolutions. Goal setting can be corporate goals with the start of a new fiscal year. It could be professional growth and it could even be things like learning new skills.
If you’re catering to businesses and their goals are to grow their company by XY or XYZ% over the next year, talking about strategies and incorporating tools to help can add value to them. The more specific and niche you get with your modifiers, the more long tail traffic you may be able to get.
If I was writing about growing my agency, I may tie in tools that I use or will be using that also have affiliate programs for scheduling, invoicing, reporting or even monitoring and providing more capabilities for my clients and business. I already do that throughout this site when I share affiliate links for tools like this one and this one.
By providing the how those tools provide solutions and also including strategies for that specific niche (marketing agencies or blogger traffic growth), you can naturally tie in the tools and hopefully earn some affiliate commissions. Another example could be an individual advancing trying to advance their career. There are a ton of affiliate programs that offer courses, guides and classes to learn new skills from HTML to software, design or even baking. Just make sure you only recommend quality courses or you may lose the trust of your readers.
January is a great time to make money with affiliate marketing. You have new years resolutions which are driving people to try new things (and possibly spend money). There are holidays where people shop for gifts and apparel like Valentine’s coming up and you have fiscal years starting out which could mean peoples’ budgets are refreshed. Each of these gives you opportunities to create evergreen content that can bring in traffic and revenue either year round or as each season begins again.