Shoulda, woulda, coulda…. Though that saying is something we all find ourselves thinking or even saying about a lot of different things, when it is business decisions we are talking about, it often means lost income. It can even mean a failed business venture because we “should of” done one thing, “would have” if we knew better or “could have” if we understood the mistakes we were making.
To help you start the year off on the best foot possible, and because we are huge fans of affiliate marketing as a fantastic way to do business independently, we are going to look at ten of the most common affiliate marketing mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
- All over the place – No doubt there are a lot of affiliate marketing opportunities and many of them are incredibly viable, lucrative and ideal for your goals. Unfortunately, one of the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes is to spread yourself too thin, too fast. It takes time to learn all of the proverbial ins and outs of affiliate marketing, and if you don’t give yourself the leeway to find the ideal path for you, it leads to disasters. So, to avoid this particular villain among the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes – START SLOW. It takes patience to limit yourself, but you will be very glad that you did.
- Looking at it all the wrong way – What are you doing as an affiliate marketer? Are you selling? Publishing? Promoting? No, no and no again. One of the leading affiliate marketing mistakes is to misunderstand your role. As an affiliate marketer, your job is to “help” your audience find a solution to their particular pain or problem. You are helping, never selling. Yes, it can seem odd to look at it that way, particularly as you refer to yourself as a marketer, but it is a simple truth that you do far better when you look at yourself as helper and not sales person.
As one incredibly successful affiliate marketer said, “our job as an affiliate is not to sell — that is the job of the sales page our affiliate links lead the reader to.” Though your knee jerk reaction will be to publish pages and pages of calls to action and “buy it now” offers, that’s not what you need to do. What you need to do is ensure that your audience understands how and why the product you are discussing is a good answer for their need. Do this with interesting stories, videos, infographics, customer feedback, and more…but don’t every SELL the idea, product or service in your writing.
- Don’t add to the pain – You chose to focus your affiliate marketing efforts in a specific niche or area because it is of interest to you. It may even be one of your personal passions. However, if you want to succeed, and you also want to avoid the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes, it is important that you never add to the pain your readers experience. How can you do that? By failing to test the different affiliate products you promote. For example, let’s say you opt to use the Clickbanksite for your food based website. You promote different products, but you fail to test one. In other words, you don’t see for yourself what happens when someone accepts your offer. Did the vendor blow up your inbox? Did they cause you to become the recipient of endless messages from other, related vendors? Did they offer a satisfying outcome…or not? Find out ahead of time just what it is you are affiliated with, promoting and never, ever add to a customer’s pain by giving them a disappointing or even frustrating outcome.
Always try to remember that, as an affiliate marketer, you need to be very trustworthy. Yet nothing breaks that trust faster than clicking a link that ends up in a horrible promotion. And with that in mind…
- Being THAT affiliate marketer – As you first entered the world of affiliate marketing, you certainly found your fair share of pages that promised the world, did nothing but sell or seemed to be a bit misleading in the benefits to be gained by following the call to action. You know what I mean, the pages that promised you’d make a lot of fast money by clicking here or the posts that said you could quit the day job in 30 days by using this online program…It can be tough to resist the language of the fast and easy sale, especially if you are focused on recruiting others or selling products and training about online opportunities.
The solution to this is simply not to become that type of affiliate marketer. Don’t set out language that works like a trap in an attempt to make the fast sell. Instead, why not take the time to compose blogs and articles that emphasize the need to train and learn before you can make money? Why not build trust with readers and then point them towards the vendors with the training or pre-established programs. That way, you are being honest, fair and upholding the good name of affiliate marketers everywhere.
- Skipping the analytics – If you are anything like me, you are not crazy about scrolling through difficult to translate pages of data relating to web pages, web traffic, links and so on. Yet, one of the worst affiliate marketing mistakes you might ever make is to skip the analytics. You must (and please read that as MUST) take the time to find out where every single one of your sales or conversions came from.
The good news is that the first step is insanely easy – just use the unique tracking affiliate links that your vendor provides. You can then discover which of your pages convert well and continue what you are doing as well as use that information for other campaigns.
- Not being your own competition – Okay, you are probably scratching your head over that one, but hear me out. As an affiliate marketer, you are probably operating in a niche (most people choose a specific area that could be as diverse as autos, food, fitness, travel and so on). That means you have, at any given moment, more than one product with similarities to others. In fact, if you are already operating as an affiliate marketer, it is a safe bet to say you have two to three products of a very similar nature, and each has its own affiliate link.
So, why not become your own competition by creating comparison articles, blogs and stories that point your audience towards all three. For example, the Four Best Products for…. could be a blog that includes three or four related affiliate links. The text is then promoting three or four of your products instead of one, and giving your readers an answer to their pain.
Even more important is that you can track the page (see previous point) to see which links generate the most interest. Then, you can start to emphasize a new campaign around the most popular option.
- Not getting to know the audience – Another of the big affiliate marketing mistakes to avoid is to start out not even knowing the actual audience you intend to address. If you want to fail in selling something, try to sell it to everyone. There is no such thing as a product or service sold online that is going to be of interest or significance to everyone in the world. You need to understand what is relevant to your intended audience or you run the risk of veering off course in order to take advantage of higher paying affiliate opportunities (more on that in the last bullet!).
As an example, if your niche is to be sports and fitness, you need to get a bit more detailed than that. Is it cyclists? Runners? People who dedicate many hours to the gym? Trainers? You can have a few different audiences, but if you are unclear about their needs, pains and what you can offer as a solution, you are going to miss out on a lot of opportunity. As one financial website advises new affiliate marketers, “An interesting way of looking at affiliate marketing is this: educating your audience about relevant products and services they may be interested in can be considered a value added form of content.”
As I said in that second bullet point – it is not about the sell, it is about what you can give to a reader. If you are giving them content AND content that might also contain a link or comment about a solution to a particular issue they are facing, then it is relevant. That is what people take action on, but it has to begin by understanding the audience. Take time to map out your potential buyers. Where do they live? What is their general age group? What do they do/earn? Can they afford the products you offer? If not, can you find items in a few price tiers?
- Hiding your affiliate status – Though there are no hard and fast rules around disclosure, one of the greatest affiliate marketing mistakes you can make is to try and hide the fact that you are an affiliate of a brand you may promote in your work. Always, always disclose any affiliate relationships and you will be rewarded by reader trust.
And because you are being honest about being an affiliate, it does put you at risk for having a reader work around your link and head to the vendor. So, to dodge that particularly painful event, you may want to also offer an incentive for those who take action and use your link. A free eBook, an interesting infographic, a reduced price? If you admit you are an affiliate openly and freely and incentivize the buyer’s choosing you as a portal, you can often achieve much greater levels of success.
- Locking in – Another of the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes is to lock into a single program or stick with programs that don’t quite feel right. If something is not giving you the outcomes you anticipated or desired, or if it doesn’t feel like a quality solution for your readers, find something new. Not all affiliate options are identical and not all providers are of the quality you require for your intended audience. You can dodge a lot of issues by doing some due diligence ahead of time and discovering things like payouts on sales (which is a big reason for affiliates leaving a program), but sometimes it takes time to figure out that it is just not a good fit. If it isn’t it is fine to move on – as long as it doesn’t cost you momentum. That is why you should always be looking out for new programs…
- Being distracted by too many programs – A bit earlier we mentioned risk of veering off course in order to take advantage of higher paying affiliate opportunities. You might call it being easily distracted by something new and shiny or forcing square pegs into round holes, but it boils down to trying to make unworkable programs work with your audience or current approach. Often it is due to the fact that the profit margins are high and the system viable. However, it can be very destructive to force an affiliate product or program into one that is already functional.
Instead, avoid one of the worst affiliate marketing mistakes by simply testing out different programs and always searching for new options for your audience. Don’t integrate good opportunities as soon as you find them but consider whether they are a chance to develop a new site, new audience and new stream of income. As one writer advised, “constantly be on the lookout for new products and services that you can test and add to your affiliate marketing portfolio.” And that is a good term – your portfolio. Your goal is to let your affiliate marketing generate a lot of passive income. That may not happen if you focus too sharply on one area, so don’t get too distracted by lots of programs, but do make time to test out or look at options you can effectively integrate into your system.
Affiliate marketing is a fantastic opportunity for almost anyone, anywhere. Don’t let it be one that you miss. There are so many ways to make it work for you. We have other articles about it and encourage you to begin exploring it and avoiding the biggest mistakes using the tips above.