Ask yourself this: Is affiliate marketing a scam? Is it the shady industry it’s widely perceived to be? Does it knock you off your boat of ethics and drown you in a river of sorrow?
It is, and it isn’t.
That depends on how “you” do the “marketing” in affiliate marketing.
The merchants — from their own experience of having run and managed affiliate marketing programs for ages – clearly specify what traffic sources are allowed and what’s not.
They’d put it affiliate guidelines and rules up front and center. They do what they can to track and analyze how you might be performing.
Affiliate marketing networks — at least the good ones — invest in trying to educate affiliates all the time.
As affiliates, however, we get too busy with all the writing, the marketing, and the campaigns to do “things right”.
Here are a few mistakes most affiliates do, and you shouldn’t:
Don’t claim what’s not yours
There’s a reason why Ruslan Kogan of Venturebeat calls Affiliate Marketing a Scam.
Affiliate marketing isn’t any scam. It’s not a pyramid scheme. It’s like any other business.
We all – knowingly or unknowingly – contribute to the “Shyster Syndrome”.
Are you guilty of buying products or services using your own affiliate link?
Did you honestly provide value in the chain of events leading to the purchase or did you just stand there between the credit card transaction and the traffic source?
You might not be. Kogan writes about a specific example on Venturebeat.
Consider this: Affiliate sites kept driving traffic to kogan.com regardless of the affiliate commission being paid (it was actually reduced by 90%). Upon further investigation, it came to fore that those affiliate sites were ranking for terms like “Kogan Discount Voucher” or “Kogan Coupon Codes”.
The fact was that those coupons didn’t even exist.
Is that shady or what?
Affiliate marketing deserves respect. Being shady here is being shady everywhere. You won’t ever last long.
Strive to add real value
Affiliate marketing isn’t about pushing traffic to a landing page and to make a quick buck. If a quick buck was all that you needed, you really didn’t have to spend all that money on ad campaigns.
Maybe there was a time when a bunch of crappy looking websites could have some content with links on them and that’s all you’d have needed to make a neat little income.
But, maybe you missed the memo: those days are long gone.
Everyone – you (the affiliate), the affiliate network, and the merchant – benefits when you bring value to the table. The merchant already creates products and services that are adding value to the end customers. The affiliate network tries to bring value by helping affiliates like you connect with the right merchants (along with tracking, technology, and payments).
But what are you doing as an affiliate?
Just to make it clear: pushing traffic isn’t value.
Focusing on a single traffic source
Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate tends to latch on to digital marketing to help make some sales happen.
When digital marketing was never about a single traffic generation method, since when did affiliate marketing warrant focusing on a single traffic source?
Focus on a niche; not on the traffic source.
“Master one traffic source first”
“SEO is for losers; native advertising is the new thing”
You’ll often hear those statements everywhere. All of those statements are wrong.
You can always blog regularly, publish guest posts, do social media, and set up email marketing sequences all the while you focus and try to master PPC advertising.
It does take a lot of work; it might probably suck your soul right at you. Real results come when you put in holistic and meaningful work.
Who said it was easy anyway?
It’s not just pixels, code, and content
Too many affiliates focus on websites, landing pages, pixels, code, content, and tools. They spend their time research spy tools, checking out ads and angles that other affiliates seem to succeed with.
There’s nothing wrong in that; it’s just that the story is not complete.
Businesses are all about people, and that includes the affiliate marketing business.
How many affiliate managers do you personally know? How many merchants can you confidentially reach out to? If it were up to you, would you be able to give yourself a payout bump?
If you have questions about the affiliate program or the product or the service, do you research on the web or send out an email directly to your affiliate manager?
No one cares about the number of merchants you are an affiliate for. That holds good for a number of affiliate networks that you are a part of.
In fact, it won’t even matter if you are a super affiliate with millions in sales and resulting commissions.
Without a strong network of people, you won’t be able to pull it off.
Selling Yourself Cheap
You’d usually hear this piece of advice handed out to service providers. Value-pricing applies to people who directly sell products or services, right?
It applies to everyone.
If you are a performer and you don’t negotiate with the merchant to give you a better commission, you are doing justice to yourself.
You think you provide real value to help drive conversions? Ask for more, and it doesn’t always have to be money.
Just off the top of my head:
- You can ask for more tips and resources.
- Ask for direct partnerships
- Seek special commission rates
- Request permission to publish a blog post directly on the merchant’s main blog.
- Have merchants or affiliate networks feature your blog or your story on their blog.
When you perform, you can ask for anything.
Just don’t settle for what you seem to have accepted when you started off on your affiliate marketing journey.