When I first started to promote products as an affiliate, I remember the level of frustration I felt.
I had played with affiliate sales for a few years, dabbling here or there, pretty unmotivated because of my lack of success.
Then I began to notice what people were doing who were making way more affiliate commissions than I was. As it turned out, I was making some pretty serious mistakes that were killing my affiliate sales.
Are you making any of these 7 errors?
1. Pitching Any Product Whether It Is A Good Fit Or Not
The temptation when you’re trying to grow your affiliate income is to promote a product based on how much you will earn rather than how relevant it is to your followers.
If your audience is primarily interested in container gardening (for example) and you are trying to make affiliate commissions on something related to pet care, you might get a few sales on the off chance your audience just happens to have some pet moms and dads in it. But those people will probably be confused because pet care is not how they originally came to know you.
If your niche is container gardens, focus on products pertaining to that. Your followers will expect to hear from you on this topic. They’ll also be comfortable buying products that will help them start or improve their container gardens.
2. Neglecting Related Products / Services. Finding Out What Else Your Peeps Like
Sure, you want to expand what you offer your audience in order to keep them interested. But find out the affinity items for whatever you promote the most.
If that happens to be training on how to create container gardens, those people might also be interested in:
What else might gardeners love? If they plant and grow veggies, they might also love planting flowers. Rinse and repeat above with flower décor, T-shirts, and the like.
It would also be super easy to set up an Etsy store or your own store on your site to sell these things.
3. Selling Over Helping. Don’t Always Sell. Give Stuff Away, Too
Always selling can get a bit tedious for your audience, even if you’re only providing relevant ideas they can use to grow their businesses.
It’s nice to build a little goodwill with your followers, too. Try giving away freebies. Some affiliate managers have free guides, checklists, videos, etc., that you can use. The affiliate manager provides you with an affiliate link so that — when people request the freebie — they are tagged to you.
Any future sales will earn you a commission.
If the affiliate managers you’re working with don’t have any freebies, no problem! You can simply create your own.
You can be helpful in your emails, videos, blog posts, etc. also. For instance, when you send promotional emails, test using instructional or educational content rather than direct sales all the time. If you share 5 tips for _____ that your audience appreciates, they will be thankful and more inclined to look at the affiliate product you think will help them further.
4. Not Understanding The Affiliate Products You Promote
In my opinion, too many affiliates promote products they’ve never even seen. I get it. I have to admit I did this years ago myself.
But be aware that this can turn around and bite you if you aren’t careful.
For example, not every course or product is of the best quality. It’s risky to promote something without understanding how it works or specifically what it will do for your audience, or whether the company has great customer support.
A while back, I was in a hurry when I noticed an email from a company whose products always bring me lots of affiliate sales. They have excellent customer support, so I almost decided to send my emails without checking out the product first.
I’m so glad I stopped myself. As it turns out — even though the course was excellent, the name made me think the content was about a different topic. I would have sent emails praising this product for being a done-for-you solution when it was actually a do-it-yourself solution.
That would have been confusing for my subscribers and embarrassing for me!
In addition, if the product is of unexpectedly poor quality, you can get angry emails from your customers who feel betrayed that you offered a product that was far less than what they expected. Because of this experience, they will be less likely to trust you in the future.
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5. Using One-Off Promotions Instead Of Campaigns
One of the biggest (and most costly) mistakes I see that cripples affiliate sales is only sending a single email. I had many of these same thoughts that you probably have now:
- I don’t want to bother my list.
- I’ll get unsubscribes if I email too often.
- People won’t like me.
- Nobody will read the second (or third or fourth) email because they’ve already seen the first one.
Here’s what I’ve learned in over 15 years of making affiliate commissions:
- I don’t want to bother my list. If you are clear about what people will get when they sign up for your list, it won’t be a bother. I typically tell people they will get blog posts, updates, and discount offers. They know what I’ll be sending.
Then, at the bottom of each email, I give subscribers a way to change their status from receiving daily emails to getting the once-weekly digest.
- I’ll get unsubscribes if I email too often. It’s true. Every time I email I get at least one unsubscribe. That’s life. It happens to everybody. Sure, if you get tons of unsubs every time you email, there is clearly a problem. But just know going in that a handful of people will leave your list each time you send an email. Your list might not be exactly what they expected. Perhaps they changed their business focus and no longer need what you offer. There are plenty of reasons. Don’t take it personally.
- People won’t like me. Only the fussy ones won’t like you. And you’re better off getting rid of irritable subscribers anyway.
- Nobody will read the second (or third or fourth) email because they’ve already seen the first one. Not true! I get as many (often more!) affiliate sales from my last-call emails than from the first one I send.
Campaigns are a culmination of various media (email, blog post, podcast episodes, videos, social, etc.) that gives you a wider range. That always translates into more affiliate commissions for you simply because you’re reaching more people, more often.
Using social media as an example, think about how fast that platform moves. Even with notifications about posts you’ve missed since your last visit, you will never see every post from every person you’re friends with on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
If you only posted one time on each platform, you’d be missing out big time.
The same applies to other types of content marketing as well as email.
6. Not Adding Affiliate Links to Multiple Places
On a daily basis, your current followers and new customers you attract need to connect with your affiliate links. I’m not talking about during active promotions (see #5 above), but rather paving a continual pathway that guides your followers from one affiliate solution to the next. Why? Because your followers most likely get information from multiple sources.
For example, while you’re reading this blog post, you might also watch videos, read emails, download freebies and so on. If you only communicate through 1 channel, you’re missing your audience.
There are 2 reasons for this. The first is because people connect with information in different ways. Some prefer to listen (podcasts), others to read (blog posts), some to be shown (video) and so on. The second reason is because our attention spans online are fleeting. A Microsoft study about attention spans noted that it had dropped from 12 seconds to 8. Some studies now state we are down to a 5-second attention span.
With customers popping all around the ‘Net, it only makes sense to put affiliate links in relevant places within useful content.
7. Forgetting to Think Evergreen
Here’s how the typical affiliate operates. They sign up to be an affiliate for a company. A promotional announcement about a new product or a sale comes through. They jump on it to create emails, social posts, bonuses or whatever they normally do. A few days later, another announcement comes from a different product creator and off they go again.
But, if you set up evergreen affiliate promotions, you can build a steady stream of commissions that happen every day.
Have a blog? Create freebies (or ask your affiliate managers if they already have freebies) you can add to your blog posts. Do you podcast? Add affiliate links in your show notes as an evergreen way to make more commissions. The same for Youtube videos, Facebook or Instagram videos and other sources.
But don’t stop there! Resend those posts, podcasts or video links to your list on a regular basis. It’s a waste to publish those things and let them sit dormant. Repurposing your content makes your life easier and gives you more chances to make sales.
My Recommendation For Affiliate Sales Success
Compile a list of your best promotional platforms. Order them from most effective to least effective by testing. Then create a complete campaign you can run that gives you maximum exposure and affiliate commissions.
If podcasting is your best-performing medium, start with that. Perhaps send out multiple social posts to support and promote the new episode. Follow that with a few emails spread out across a week or 10 days.
Check your data — especially your affiliate sales — and compare that to the times you promoted in the past only using a single email. I’m willing to bet you’ll see an enormous increase in profits.
Have questions about affiliate sales? Talk to me below!
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