Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool for online publishers—and it’s growing fast. A recent study published by Statista shows that total affiliate marketing spend is expected to reach $8.2 billion by the end of 2022 — up from $5.4 billion just five years ago.
A couple of reasons for this explosive growth is that, unlike programmatic advertising, affiliate marketing is easy to understand and simple to implement. And, consumers today are accustomed to looking online for considered purchases, inspiration, and reviews before they buy. Publishers are well-positioned to provide this information through a commerce strategy.
That said, it can be a little intimidating when you’re just starting out, and the best practices for affiliate marketing aren’t always intuitive. To help you avoid missteps as you launch your affiliate program, we’ve compiled this list of practical tips.
1. Create high-quality content
Readers are more likely to visit your site — and come back often — if they find unique content that isn’t available anywhere else. So take time to understand what resonates with your audience, including brands they have shopped at and products they’ve purchased, and build your strategy around original, engaging content that draws them in. Optimizing your content for search engines (SEO) will also help to bring more visitors to your site.
2. Build relevant links
Affiliate marketing is all about capitalizing on authentic purchase intent, so your affiliate links should always be closely tied to your fundamental content. For example, if readers come to your blog for astronomy expertise, help them find the best telescopes for viewing an upcoming celestial event. Avoid adding spammy links just to get clicks, as this will damage audience trust and limit your long-term success.
3. Drive traffic organically
Your affiliate earnings depend on people visiting your site. The more traffic you generate, the more revenue opportunities you create. That said, affiliate merchants are looking for high-quality, engaged visitors — not just volume — so direct and organic traffic sources should be your focus. Our recent blog post offers practical tips to drive more organic traffic.
4. Start simple
While we recommend diversifying and optimizing your merchant list over time, it’s suggested to keep things simple at first. Start with brands consumers know and trust — names like Amazon and Wal-Mart. Commission rates may be lower to start, but visitors are more likely to make a purchase if they recognize the merchant. And keep in mind, commissions are often based on total order value — not just the featured product. Sending visitors to a department store or general retailer gives them more opportunities to add merchandise to their shopping cart.
5. Look beyond commission rate
It seems logical to choose merchants that offer the highest commission rate, but that’s only one piece of the earnings puzzle. You’ll also want to consider factors like pricing model (including CPC), average conversion rate, average order value, earnings per click (EPC), and more. Our Approved Merchants and publisher reporting dashboards provide all the information you need to make smart merchant selections.
6. Keep your options open
Some commerce platforms offer exclusive contracts for publishers, which may seem like an effortless way to streamline your affiliate program. But keep in mind, locking yourself into a single affiliate platform means giving up the opportunity to try out other options that may be a better fit for your strategy.
7. Set realistic expectations
Affiliate marketing is a long-term endeavor that requires continued, proactive strategy that incorporates many components and time to get to a desired outcome. Once you’ve mapped out your affiliate strategy and put the initial pieces in place, give it time to succeed. After all, affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Many successful publishers take five years or more to see a meaningful return on their affiliate efforts.
Ready to start earning with Sovrn?
Sovrn Commerce is the fastest, most flexible and sustainable way to build and manage your affiliate marketing program. To get started, you’ll need to complete our approval process, which is designed to ensure your affiliate program meets merchant standards for quality and transparency. Once you’re approved, you’ll have immediate access to thousands of merchants in our network, without a separate application process.
The Sovrn Commerce platform offers a wide variety of innovative tools and capabilities to enhance your affiliate program, including:
- Shopping Galleries: Create a customized carousel to highlight products from one or more merchants. The more products you offer, the better the opportunity to increase dwell time and revenue.
- Comparisons: Deliver a great shopping experience for your audience by displaying ‘real-time’ product prices and removing out-of-stock products, meet Google’s algorithm updates, and drive up to 200% higher click-through rates by automatically identifying and displaying alternative retailers selling the same product.
- New features: Our most recent innovations include an approved merchant dashboard, UTM parameters for affiliate links, and enhanced reporting — and we’re always adding more!
- Content support: Partner with us to jumpstart, supplement, or diversify your monetized editorial lifestyle content.
If you’re ready to start earning with Sovrn Commerce, sign up for a free account. It only takes a few minutes. And once you’re approved, you can get started right away!