Affiliate marketing can be a lucrative business — if done correctly. Today, 81% of brands have adopted affiliate marketing, and the industry is expected to grow to $8.2 billion in 2022. But despite the abundance of opportunity, many shy away from affiliate marketing because they don’t believe they can be a successful salesperson. Others dive in headfirst, promoting their products like crazy only to find that they come across as “too salesy” and generate few sales.
As the founder of an influencer monetization platform, I’ve seen the ways successful affiliate marketers are able to find the best balance and connect with customers. If you think affiliate marketing is for you, here are six tips for being successful without turning people off.
1. Believe in what you’re promoting.
In my experience, the surest and quickest way to lose an audience’s interest and trust is to promote brands or products that you don’t personally believe in. If you’re an influencer and you’re looking to monetize that influence as an affiliate, you have an advantage in the believability stakes. Influencers use their platforms — blogs, videos, social media — to build an audience based on mutual interest. Their followers have already formed a bond based on trust. So, when an influencer promotes a product using an affiliate link or shares an opinion about it, their audience values their input and is much more likely to be influenced by their recommendations.
Believing in a product isn’t just for influencers. If you adopt the most popular affiliate marketing model of finding an audience for a product and getting your links in front of them (usually via paid ads or on social media, forums and message boards), you’ll still need to make a persuasive sales pitch for someone to click on your links and convert to a sale. If the offer’s not compelling enough for you to buy it, then it’s not going to be compelling enough for others.
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2. Narrow your focus.
Another big mistake that affiliates make is promoting too many products. This can be problematic because it’s hard to know and convey the benefits of each. Hence, you run the risk of coming across as disingenuous or salesy. You must be able to communicate the value of what you’re promoting. Focus on products that you use, are familiar with and can find a like-minded audience for.
3. Provide solutions, not just a product.
The best affiliate marketers don’t shout from the rooftops with a bullhorn saying, “Buy, buy, buy,” they provide solutions to problems. The internet is the ideal platform for this because audiences self-identify on social media, forums and message boards. They share their problems and come looking for answers.
To find these audiences, search Google, monitor hashtags on Twitter, and track keywords and questions being asked. Once you’ve found a need, join the conversation and share an affiliate link to a solution that demonstrates product-problem alignment. It’s a win for everyone. Where possible, respond with the same keywords and hashtags used in the question. Add the brand’s hashtag to help increase reach and drive more conversions over time — earning you commission, hours or even days later.
4. Lean on trusted brands.
Sales isn’t about selling anymore; it’s about educating potential buyers and gaining trust. Some of the points I’ve mentioned already can help you gain trust, but don’t overlook the power of a brand to influence buying behavior.
Lean on the reputation and trust of the brands you’re promoting. For example, when Mother’s Day is coming up, you might start thinking about well-known flower delivery services. You can then promote an affiliate link for the trusted brand to anyone searching the internet for a deal on flowers. Because you’re working with a trusted brand, the deal will sell itself — whether you’re an influencer or not.
5. Provide extra value.
Look out for ways to become indispensable to your followers. This is key to building trust.
If you write a blog and use affiliate links to monetize your recommendations, go a step further. Offer your audience a way to contact you so they can ask questions about a product that you recommend. Use polls or surveys to get to know your followers and solicit feedback. Bring in guest bloggers for additional viewpoints. Create a newsletter to highlight your latest content and offers.
If you are responding to questions on the internet, don’t just post your promotional link; differentiate yourself and earn more sales by sharing two or three things you really like about the product and how it’s helped you.
6. Don’t make false claims.
This is sales and marketing 101. Making false claims is a big turnoff. Consumers often check reviews before they purchase. If you’ve made false claims, they’ll soon find out, and your reputation is busted. Stick to promoting products you believe in, and be honest about what they can and cannot do. And, where appropriate, make true and accurate disclosures about your affiliate relationship.
Have unbreakable confidence.
There are many things that affiliate marketers can do to be successful without being too “salesy” and turning people off. Be strategic by finding and understanding your audience. Align yourself with trusted brands — and show that you believe in them. Never miss an opportunity for a sale by demonstrating product-problem alignment. Offer valuable sources of information beyond links, offers and discounts. Finally, have confidence: I’ve found that 90% of selling is conviction, and 10% is persuasion. Know who you are and what you want, and check the car salesperson approach at the door.