I had an email this morning from a blogger who has built a great loyal readership to their blog and who has been attempting to monetize that readership lately by doing some affiliate promotions on that blog.
The problem – nobody is buying anything that they promote.
I spent a few minutes on Skype with the blogger to unpack the problem and asked a series of questions to try to get to the heart of the matter.
Here are the three questions I asked and why I asked them…
1. Why are your readers coming to your site?
Getting in touch with the ‘intent’ of your readers is really important when thinking about any kind of monetization. Are they there for community, information, advice, to buy something, for research, for fun or something else?
Understanding the reason for your reader coming will give you some hints as to what they might respond to in terms of promotions.
For example – if they are there to learn something, promoting a ‘how to’ type eBook might be the best thing to promote. If they are there to research buying something – you might be better to promote the products that they’re researching.
Unfortunately not all reader intents convert particularly well with affiliate marketing. For example if they are there for a sense of belonging – unless you can promote a conference or community for them to join you might be better in thinking of a different model for monetization.
2. Are the products you’re promoting relevant to your readers?
This might seem like a ‘no-brainer’, but I’m amazed how many times I see bloggers promoting products that are on a completely different topic to what their blog is even about.
The products you promote as an affiliate need to be:
- high quality (anything low quality will burn the trust of your readers but if you promote great product they will thank you for it)
- relevant to the topic of your blog
- relevant to your readers needs and intent (see point #1)
- at a relevant price point – i.e. don’t promote high value products if your readership don’t typically have big budgets!
3. Are You Promoting in a Personal Way?
Another common mistake that I see bloggers making when promoting affiliate products is that they simply stick an affiliate banner or link in their sidebar and think that that will drive heaps of sales.
The problem with this is that it is little more than an ‘ad’ and your readers will likely be blind to it.
By far the most effective ways to promote affiliate products is to write about them in a personal way – from your own experience. This means you probably want to choose something to promote that you have personal experience with that you can give an honest endorsement or review on.
Your readers read your blog because they want to hear from you – so tell them about what you’re promoting it and why you’re promoting it.
Do this in a blog post primarily but you’ll also want to consider emailing your newsletter list for important promotions too and of course following it up with some social media status updates too.
By all means try some banner ad affiliate promotions – but you’ll find your conversions are significantly higher if you add a little of YOU into your promoting of products.
There is a great more to affiliate marketing than what I’ve written above – but if you’re not seeing conversions the above 3 questions might just help to unearth some strategies to help you move forward.
If you want to delve into more tips on affiliate marketing, try listening to my podcast: My Tips for Making Money As a Blogger Through Affiliate Marketing.
This article was first published August 22, 2013 and updated September 15, 2022.
Sometime it is best to just take a step back! It is important to look at everything from a potential readers point of view, what would help them the most. This type of didactic thinking has worked for me the best in the past.
Thanks for the great reminder!
Yes relevance is more important in blogging.This is my opinion and come to the point readers expect something and come to our blog.So we didn’t disappoint them with our meaning less promotion.That definitely breaks the relation between reader and blogger.
Great post Darren.
I’d like to add that they need to have value to the core audience – you can promote a product, but even though it’s relevant your audience may not always be able to see exactly how this product will provide enough value to justify the cost.
I just got back from Affiliate Summit East 2013 and Philadelphia and happy grant opportunity to take a picture with blogger John Chow. I was reading your post in 2007 from Google search results about blogger John Chow and felt the desire to leave a comment on your blog and say something about John Chow and affiliate marketing. I gained so many contacts and new opportunities from being at Affiliate Summit in Philadelphia 2013. will you be at Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas in 2014, Darren?
very informative article, if you want to sell something online the best thing to do is to analyze that which kind of visitors are coming to your site and what they want. it will be easy for you to sell something if you really understand your visitor’s need.
First of all I should say that’s really very interesting article shared by Darren Rowse. Here I would like to suggest some steps for product promotion – 1. Do proper market research 2. look into visitors, what type of visitors are coming to your website. 3. Relevance, as per relevance use that kind of product. 4. Create perfect destination url 5. Research those visitors are coming to your website are they beneficial for your product 6. Don’t promote low quality products.
The truth of the matter is, people simply just don’t like to be sold to any longer.
Not to mention, I believe most bloggers begin with a mindset geared towards what Seth Godin dubbed the “Money Paradox”: this approach, unfortunately, generally leads to a long and winding road towards certain blog failure, namely because those bloggers place money before fulfilling the needs of their audience. Therein lies the paradox: you need money to sustain a blog, however, clear evidence of the pursuit of money, as a #1 priority, is a surefire turn-off to many people…especially in an interconnected world where many people “get” affiliate marketer, and have at least a rudimentary understanding of various monetization tactics. Even some of the most popular bloggers online, sadly, have fallen into this trap. The online world has evolved, and people see right through that approach.
I agree Darren. I have found that in-context links with a call to action are much better for promoting products than banners. I’ve started writing my complete reviews now and not adding an affiliate until right near the end. If someone has stayed with me that far, then a simple call to action is usually enough to get them to click on the link. If you have done a good job at pre-selling a quality related product, they should purchase it.
I think that the most important thing is to offer something of high quality. High quality sells and your readers are able to see if you are offering something for sale because of its high quality or just because you want to make a buck or two. Not to mention the word to mouth promotion: if somebody buys something recommended by you and they like it, they might tell their friends about your site too and you can generate even more sales!
I think the problem is when you signed up for a lot of affiliate marketing programs and I oftens test one ad against another ad for the same affiliate program or other programs
Good article. You might want to fix a typo in the 6th graf. You have a “their” when you mean “there.”
Very true! People are not going to buy from a site that is always giving something away for free or promoting free methods. Banner ads are also very ineffective in most cases you might as well put AdSense over there because the chance of converting a click is very low. You must write honestly about a product that you have truly tried this is the best way to make sales.
All good points. Let’s not forget that design also plays a critical role in affiliate banner conversion. Keep in mind that just because your affiliate program offers a few pre-designed banners, does not mean all of them are designed for YOUR specific audience. Different demographics respond to different design techniques. Who is the audience? How do they respond to color? Fonts? Symbols? Shapes? Most men are attracted by symmetrical shapes, whereas most women prefer curves. Most men prefer chunkier fonts, and most women thin fonts. Most men are compelled by cool colors, whereas if you have too much blue on something, most women won’t even look at it. To maximize your conversion rate, you need to choose the right design for the audience YOU cater to, and not a design based on your personal appreciation of color, fonts, etc. Don’t assume your affiliate banner provider knows the best design for your site. The banners they provide might work well for them, but your demographic may be entirely different.
Writing reviews instead of just dropping a nasty banner is better. Though banners works but not s much as writing about the product. And of course, it must be a product that your readers are going to benefit from and have a smiling wallet too.
The third point you mentioned is the most common mistake folks make,
This article is so helpful and provide a so much information.
One other variable of consideration that helped me with affiliate marketing was starting an email marketing list.
If they don’t buy on your blog? Maybe they’ll buy in your email.
Sometimes it can be better to reach your blog readers on more than one “plane” of engagement.
I have been banging my head against my desk top trying to figure out why my relevant affiliate programs are not converting. I am failing to communication with readers on a personal level is the problem I guess. Thanks for the tip!
Well said Darren . Contextual content with a call to action at the end can do the tricks. It is important that you find the niche where you think you belong to. Or the niche of your expertise. To top it off , there is no substitute to quality content.
Isn’t it a better idea to do something like run a paid survey monkey poll on what is missing in your affiliate approach?
These 3 questions are ok to ask, but they are very generic and offer no real value!
well, I think that if you are getting traffic from search engines and all the traffic is according to your website then you will make some bucks but if your blog becomes a brand then you can get more traffic and sales.
I think these three questions are more common that you have to keep in mind while promoting affiliate products.
I have been at a complete loss in figuring out effective ways to kick of my affiliate program. Hopefully, following these great tips will help me. Thanks for sharing.
This is helpful information, thanks for the tip.
Nicely said. However, some audience just want to read and get free info, no matter how much you promote and sell to them. They just won’t pluck out a single cent from their pocket.