Joining too many networks
As the affiliate space continually expands, the number of available networks has grown exponentially. Rookies might get the bright idea to join as many as possible to keep their options open. Instead, a seasoned publisher will know to select a few reputable networks and start small, giving each campaign abundant attention until it starts converting (or cancel it and replace with a higher quality offer). Whether affiliates join a public network like CJ or a private one like Madrivo, the success of a campaign relies more heavily on the affiliate’s deployment strategies than the source.
Not investing in the right resources
One of the tale tell signs of a newbie affiliate is their enthusiasm about making millions of dollars through their free email and hosting accounts. As with many things in life, affiliates must spend money to make money. Investing in servers, IPs, data, and a complex tracking interface allow serious publishers to capitalize on the potential ROI of campaigns they run. Many profitable affiliate companies consist of small teams that have a healthy knowledge of manipulating backend systems for mass exposure. Skimping on the necessary tools will not a wealthy mailer make.
An affiliate who doesn’t track may as well throw their money down a well and wait to see how much comes back up. It doesn’t make sense to put substantial effort into optimizing and deploying a campaign only to depend on the advertiser or network to report the earnings. Tracking platforms top the list of the required resources affiliates need to get started. Many times technical issues (and, sometimes, fraud!) significantly skew the earnings report. Without a tracking mechanism in place, affiliates can’t prove their case for leads they rightfully earned.
Not A/B Testing
Part of optimization includes a/b testing. The merchant and/or network are responsible for providing quality assets that appeal to their target consumer; affiliates, however, are responsible for deploying these assets in a way that maximize conversions. Whether they tweak subject lines, test two different email creatives in the same pool of data, or post banners on sites across different verticals, publishers have a lot of power when it comes to proper ad delivery and placement. A/B testing also benefits the advertiser, strengthening the working partnership with their affiliate and making them more likely to give them better payouts.
Scoping out Competitors
One of the best ways to understand consumer behavior is to understand what’s already out there. If an affiliate considers what people have already seen or experienced against what they’re offering, they can gauge which approaches are most effective for certain demographics as well as what brands are pushing as their selling points. While affiliates don’t want to copy their competitors, they should still know what their up against and take some advice from reputable companies within an industry. The key to a successful campaign is a unique value proposition without the sacrifice of what everyone else is already offering.
Running too many campaigns
Another flub new affiliates often make is running too many campaigns in the hopes that one will just happen to work out. When just starting out, its important to concentrate more on strategy and develop a broad knowledge of effective tactics before taking a shot in dark with several campaigns. If an affiliate focuses on just a few proven offers and spends their time dissecting what did and didn’t work, they’re more likely to be successful down the road. Affiliate marketing is a constantly growing and changing industry because it’s largely driven by consumer trends and evolving technology, both of which can transform overnight. Even more, the time they take to know what campaign performs well in a given vertical and what payout is competitive enough to be worthwhile will save them time and resources on running other offers that aren’t likely to convert. Good publishers will pursue a strong working knowledge of industry tools prior to launching every campaign they’re offered.
Not using SEO
SEO is not dead despite its archaic reputation. In fact, many of the online technological advances made in recent years are based primarily on the use of SEO but in a non-traditional way. While SEO is too complex to sufficiently summarize in a few sentences, new affiliates should take the time to learn about its versatility and different ways it can be incorporated into affiliate marketing. One foolproof way a startup publisher can earn some dough is by placing their links on a page that’s already keyword dense for optimal traffic. SEO works because it simply connects consumers with the information they’re seeking through the words or terms they use to find it. Why not place ads and links exactly where a customer would go to find it?
Not diversifying your affiliate products/verticals
Another common misstep affiliates make is limiting themselves to running offers within one category. There are plenty of verticals to choose from, whether it be auto, education, dating or finance. All industries have spikes and lulls in sales and growth meaning that one campaign will do well during some seasons and others just won’t. While it’s still important to refrain from running too many offers at once, there’s a need for diversification, regardless of the number. If anything, it will help steady traffic flow and conversion rates when one campaign isn’t performing as well as others in a different industry.
Selling direct to the customer
Affiliates must remember that while they’re selling for a brand or advertiser, they’re not salesmen/women. Instead, they’re a floodgate between the product or service and its ideal consumer. New publishers need to let the merchant dictate the sales strategy and value proposition and then decide the best methods for pushing the advertisements. If too much time is spent building an online storefront for potential customers, it takes away from the energy that could be invested in the best ways to reach the users. Instead, affiliates should consider themselves traffic drivers that bring all of the consumers they reach back to the advertiser, who then becomes responsible for the actual sales transaction. Affiliates don’t sell product or service; they link consumers to it.
With the right balance of time, resources, and tenacity, many new affiliates grow their startup entities into highly lucrative affiliate marketing channels. Diversification, moderation, and experimentation will make a rookie into a pro overtime.