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How to Increase Affiliate Income by Hitting the Affiliate Marketing Sweet Spot

Posted By Darren Rowse 11th of November 2010 Affiliate Programs 0 Comments

At a conference this year, I presented some tips on affiliate marketing in one of the sessions I ran on monetizing blogs.

One of the most powerful affiliate marketing concepts—one that can make or break an affiliate campaign—is summed up in this slide:

Screen shot 2010-11-05 at 1.23.05 PM.png

The key is to find the overlap between the intent and need of your reader, the product you’re promoting, and the message you use to promote it with.

To say it another way, the product, reader need, and your promotional message need to be related. The product needs to relate to your audience, and you need to promote it in a relevant way.

Let me give you an example of an affiliate promotion on a blog that I saw recently where there was no sweet spot.

Missing the mark

I won’t reveal the blog because I don’t want to embarrass the blogger but the blog’s topic was beauty and fashion.

  1. Reader Intent – The blog’s content focused on the topic of beauty and fashion, and the blog’s comments revealed that readers were there to explore that topic (so the reader intent was to learn and talk about beauty/fashion).
  2. Product – The product being promoted on the blog was my 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook. While I’m flattered that the blogger wanted to promote my book, there’s not a great deal of immediate overlap between the reader intent/need and the need that my product solved. My ebook helps people improve their blogs; the reader intent was to talk lipstick, skirts, and stilettos.
  3. Message – The promotion was a banner ad. There was no in-content promotion—the blogger had simply used one of our default banner ads in the sidebar. As a result there was no tie-in, or message that tried to close the gap between reader need and the product. Perhaps if the message had been a blog post written to highlight how the product could be helpful to other fashion/beauty bloggers, or a call to fashion/beauty bloggers to work through the ebook together (making things more relevant to the audience), the promotion might have been more successful. However, the banner ad alone provided no obvious tie in.

There was no sweet spot here. As a result, the promotion saw no conversions.

Take-home lessons:

  1. Know your reader intent and needs.
  2. Find affiliate products that solve those needs.
  3. Promote products in a way that’s relevant and that communicates how the product will solve reader needs.

Further reading on affiliate marketing

  1. 10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on your Blog
  2. 6 More Tips for Affiliate Marketing on Blogs
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Good point. I promote your book, but do so by talking about having done the course last year and then the book so readers would know that i wasn’t just pushing the next greatest thing!
    I’ve moved slowly in adding affiliates because i know they need to resonate with me first, then my readers!

  2. I havent had much success with affiliate marketing. But a technique that works for me is point out how that product will help the viewer and dont make the product look amazing. shows its good and bad points

  3. Mate!, straight to the point, and that little graph made me think two things. One: how easy is it when it is illustrated like that, and 2: crap, I didn’t do my homework last night… (of course I finished school more than ten years ago, but still had flashacks of 3 unit maths and trigonometry..AAAARGHH. (this last thought will never help conversions no matter how analytical you are!)

    I like your example and I agree that if the product does not tie into the content and the needs of your readers, whats the point of having it there?

    On a sidenote, I was going to suggest that you get the TweetMeMe button instead of what you have currently as this one takes me away from your site and onto Twitter, forcing me to hit the back button to get here again. This is pertinent to most of the bloggers in my circle as it effects traffic and site time (and conversions!) but somehow I don’t think this is of concern to you LOL.

    Have a good one man!
    (I sent you email re: guest post, hope to hear back soon, thanks again)

    Alex Whalley – The Keyword Blogger

  4. One good way to avoid situations like this is to provide your affiliates with educational content:

    – The ideal audience for the product
    – What are the best channels to promote the product?
    – Case studies of previous successful affiliate campaigns

    I’ve found that managing affiliates is just like managing regular clients: hand holding, education and relationship nurturing are essential to success.

    – Tyrus

  5. One more thing – I noticed you posted this at 12:11am. Its now 12:54 am (in Sydney) and I wonder if you ever sleep? I don’t and its my only weapon in catching up to you, so if you are not sleeping either… I give up LOL

  6. That’s why I closed the many affiliate marketing accounts I had a couple of years ago. Most of them were not offering products that my readers needed at that time.

    Reader demographic is a key information for successful affiliate marketing.

  7. Hi Darren,
    Couldn’t agree more, I see so many blog owners trying to promote products with no relevance to the actual blog itself, I read a lot of blogs and it still amazes me.
    As a blogger I am sure it is better to review something that you actually use, because you can talk about it knowing the product. Maybe even a video review, that will really give you clout as a expert.


  8. Hmm. I think I have picked products that tie in with my subject matter. I’m not sure how to measure reader intent and need, but I would hope it has to do with the information in my blog posts.

    That leaves the interaction of message and product as a big question mark for me. On the blog I call “home” I have written a few posts about the bargain book business, and all of the links there have to do with either books or recorded music. One of them is to my main sales site.

    My music blog links to that site and also to a site to buy recordings, and I have referred to it when I blog about a particular piece of music. Those posts have attracted traffic, but so far no sales. I have not worked references to affiliate links into the other blogs.

    So if I want my blogs to be known and respected for the information in the posts, how much can I call attention to what I have for sale without compromising the value of the information? That is, without making the whole blog look like a sales pitch rather than an information source? Obviously more than I have so far. (Deep sigh.)

  9. Hey Alex! Quit stalking Darren man ;) And get back to work or our new project will never take off!

  10. A nice example of this is here in our country Latvia. Our web market is small and so is amount of affiliate programs available. One of most popular affilate marketer here is local internet, landline phone and television provider and since it is almost only affiliate program here, it is widely used. No matter what topic the site is – they all advertise it. Don’t think conversions are high.

  11. Hey man, I know that you probably hear this everyday, but I’ve started my blog a couple of days ago. Reading your blog has given me courage to finally start it.
    I’m still a little bit rusty, but I’m going to keep writing to get better!
    I would appreciated if you stopped by! Thanks man! Keep up the good work!

  12. Hi Darren,

    I use my blog as an affiliate marketing platform and earn a decent revenue. I totally relate to what the slide shows above.

    My income with affiliate programs did not increase before I realized this great truth. My affiliate product must cover the need of my reader. And my content must help my reader realize that.


  13. Darren,

    You are so right, it seems simple enough but making it all work can take some trial and errors! I have found what works for my one site does not work for other, as reader’s intent is different for different niche and find that sweet spot, takes some tweaking! Thanks.

  14. The trick here is to start and write about something that you already know about and are involved in, then you will know exactly what you audience wants.

  15. In my experience you are 100% correct.

    I find that the most successful way to market affiliate products is through problem solving. When a blogger posts an article about solving a particular problem and references a product in the process…that’s a winner. Just posting an unrelated banner ad tends to have a low conversion rates.

  16. Good way of showing what you wanted to say.
    Yes, it is very important that you should provide reader what is searching for and the state of mind he is currently in. Make the full use of it. Write a good article that people enjoy, then end your article with a curios message and link. You will make ppl go to your affiliate page this way and you will find better conversion rates.

    This kind of way is working very well for me indeed.

  17. The deal here is not to agree or disagree. Of course he’s right. But how many people are going to listen to this great advice and go apply it.

    People read and read posts, but they keep doing the same thing expecting different results–that’s just nuts!!!

  18. I think sometimes we already know the right things to do but just don’t do them. We always think there must be a better way… it’s just too simple to be true!

  19. It is very difficult for me to find product to promote on my blog, Not many internet users from my based country, but now I start to focus on US.

  20. Darren,

    This is a great point, and one that leads back every blogger’s potential enemy: becoming egocentric. As much as we may convince ourselves that we have our audience in mind, it’s way too easy to tell ourselves that they’ll be interested in something “because it’s interesting.” But the fact that it’s interesting to US doesn’t have anything to do with how interesting it is to THEM.

    Nice reminder. Thanks.

  21. You are right on here….

    Of course you would want to promote something that is similar to the subject matter of your post or the blog itself.

    It’s almost as bad as gong to a blog with a picture that seems to have nothing to do with the content….just bugs me!

  22. Well, maybe the blogger thought the 31dbbb is so trendy it has to be on a fashion blog. Moreover, having a successful blog makes you more beautiful, for sure! ;-)

  23. I recently added an affiliate to my blog and wrote a post around it as an introduction. I am brand loyal and wanted to assure my readers that I would never recommend a product or service to them that I didn’t believe in. If your readers are there because they like you and enjoy your content, it makes sense that you would introduce a product or service you really wanted to share with them.
    Thanks for the post!

  24. I see this ALL the time and as someone who hasn’t yet, but is thinking of, affiliate marketing, I thought I was missing a trick. Thankfully, my first thought was correct. Thanks for the lesson!

  25. The sweet spot takes me back to the one thing I try to keep in the forefront of my mind … I’m here to help THEM, not make money for ME. If I accomplish the helping, I get the making money. It’s a flip flop of the intent many marketers have.

  26. I forget a lot of times they came to me,most likely, from a search on Google for a specific thing. I forget, too, that the ad subjects I should be using are right there in my referred list in WordPress site stats. Duh!!! So easy to step right over that and as one person says, being too egocentric to see the forest for the trees. Your article made me realize I have the ads for one blog in the sidebar of my other blog instead of in the blog relating to the subject matter. !! 8:0

  27. Hi! Great post!
    I just finished my review page a couple of days ago, and when i just read your post, I’ll have to give it a little of a redo according to your guidelines.

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