In this actionable, step by step guide, we take a dispassionate look at the top 10 affiliate marketing strategies that are guaranteed to make your affiliate marketing dreams come true.
Then you’re in the right place!
Here’s the reality of life.
There’s nothing better than seeing the rewards of your hard work come to you.
In this article, I’m going to cover 10 affiliate marketing strategies that will turn your affiliate marketing dreams into reality.
But first, what exactly is affiliate marketing?
What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work?
Affiliate marketing is a business model where you get paid for referring customers to your merchants.
Here’s a simplified step by step explanation.
- Merchant publishes an affiliate offer on their site or platform that hosts their affiliate program;
- You sign up and get your custom affiliate link for that product/offer;
- You promote your special link on your website, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Instagram, YouTube…
- A percentage of people clicks and a percentage of them buys;
- You get rewarded a commission based on a predetermined commission rate and structure
- Now repeat.
4 Main Types of Affiliate Marketing Offers and Which To Focus on For Maximum Profits
As an affiliate marketer you’ll mostly deal with these 4 types of affiliate programs.
- CPC (Cost Per Click);
- CPA (Cost Per Action);
Here’s what it all means.
CPC is an acronym and it stands for Cost Per Click.
It basically means that you as an affiliate will get paid for every click you get on your links and banners.
And it doesn’t matter whether the person who clicked actually bought anything, you’ll get paid regardless.
This is similar to the CPC model in Google Adsense where you also get paid for clicks and it’s your merchant’s job to convert the traffic you send to them.
CPC-based affiliate programs are a relative rarity on the web, especially compared to the affiliate commission model you’ll learn about right below.
CPA is another acronym and it stands for Cost Per Action.
Under this affiliate model it’s not enough for you to just send your merchant relevant traffic. These people also need to convert before you get paid
CPA affiliate offers are by far most common and most merchants you work with will pay you based on CPA commission model.
#3- Recurring Commissions
I mentioned in the intro the phrase “affiliate marketing dream”
A synonym to that phrase is “passive income dream”.
And passive income needn’t be a dream, a palace suspended in the skies, or some elusive Fatamorgana.
It can be a reality and in fact, for all successful affiliate marketers, it is.
Recurring, commission-based affiliate programs are when you refer a customer once, and then you get paid for as long as that person stays a paying customer.
These types of programs are also most lucrative long term and that’s where the bulk of your attention should lie.
Most SAAS affiliate programs are set up like that (for example SEMrush, ConvertKit, MailChimp…).
Another good example are hosting affiliate programs, the dream of every marketer in the marketing niche.
Bonded affiliate marketing model is when you get paid for leads sent to merchants.
For example, a visitor clicks on your banner and visits the merchant’s website.
Then they look around the site, fill in the form and so enter the merchant’s funnel.
Now that visitor is bonded to you and if they go down the funnel and eventually subscribe or buy, you will get a commission.
Which Affiliate Model Should You Focus on?
Because the CPA model is highly prevalent in all industries, you’ll have to focus on that one.
However, I advise you to research your niche and find recurring revenue programs. Those are the gems in the rough you need to find and capitalize on early on.
Find recurring subscription products to promote and push heavily on them on your website.
Over time that will translate to stable, passive income for you..
10 Affiliate Marketing Strategies To Start Using Today
If you noticed in the subheadline, I said you should start using all 10 affiliate marketing strategies listed below.
Actually, that’s pretty optimistic and definitely unrealistic.
Let me take that back.
Instead, I suggest you focus on 3-4 strategies.
Because you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.
If you dabble in all 10, you’ll master none and you’ll fail.
It’s better to really dial in on just 3 affiliate stratagems, master them, make money and then expand when you feel comfortable.
Now let’s get into these affiliate marketing strategies that will make you a successful marketer.
#1- Promote Products With CPA-Based Commission Structure
This tip is really a no-brainer because 95%+ of all affiliate programs you’ll join are going to have a CPA-based commission structure.
But here are a handful of my secret tips that can give you a head start over your competitors.
(i) – Promote Relevant Products
Relevance varies from niche to niche. What is relevant to my internet marketing blog is irrelevant to your foodie blog.
And what’s relevant to your travel blog would be off place on my blog, etc…
Whatever product you decide to promote, it must firmly belong to your industry.
You don’t want people to be confused and wonder what it is that they’re reading.
A confused visitor is an unlikely shopper and it’ll hurt your bottom line and destroy your blogger credibility.
On the other hand, promoting products that’re highly relevant to your audience’s needs and pain points gives them a much higher chance of getting clicked.
Pro tip: I suggest you pitch relevant products on every page on your site. For example, in this ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign post, I promote these 2 email service providers..
But I also mention Mailchimp and you can bet there’s an affiliate link going to Mailchimp somewhere in that post.
You never know which link will get clicked and it’s better to give them an option if you can.
(ii) – Cloak Your Affiliate Links
Link cloaking is the practice of masking your affiliate links so that you make them shorter and prettier.
And cloaked links also protect you from hackers who’d love nothing more than to steal your hard earned affiliate commissions.
For example, this is my raw SEMrush affiliate link: https://www.semrush.com/features/?ref=1120583919&utm_campaign=berush&utm_source=berush&utm_medium=promo&utm_term=177%20target=_blankastute-copy-blogging
And this is the same link, cloaked:
The cloaked link is pretty, informative and that’s the one I use throughout my site when promoting SEMrush.
The good news is that link cloaking is both free and easy to do. And I have a whole link cloaking guide you need to check out to learn this crucial affiliate marketing skill.
(iii) – Be Wary of Shady Products- Reputation Matters a Ton in the Online World
The worst thing you can do as an affiliate is to promote a product that has a generous commission structure, but that everyone hates with passion.
Because the contempt for the product and company behind it will spread to you, their affiliate.
It’s better NOT to get involved.
How to Check the Legitimacy of a Product?
Use good ol’ Google Search.
Type queries like:
- Is product X a scam?
- Product X honest review
- Is product X legit?
Another way to research is to find a niche forum and see what people say there about the product you wish to push on your site.
Finally, Quora and Reddit are excellent places to check especially if your niche is obscure and there aren’t any forums dedicated to it.
Pro tip: Be wary or shady marketers. These are the folks who’d promote anything, as long as it pays well.
You can spot them from a mile away because their “honest reviews” will be all praise for the product and there’ll be plenty of their affiliate links too.
(iv) – Test The Product Before You Promote
This is so important.
Too many marketers will promote a physical product they never once held in their hands.
And even more would promote a digital product they never once tried.
That’s an awful approach to selling online, and you know what… it shows!
Your reader isn’t stupid and they know when they’e being sold to, and they hate it.
So, be different than most marketers; buy the product, use it for a couple of days and then write your honest review of it.
Wirecutter are an excellent example of this practice. They buy everything they review and oftentimes they bring in product experts just to review the product at hand.
Their reviews are stellar and they’re making a killing in affiliate marketing.
Pro tip: Nearly all legit products (the ones you should be promoting anyways) will have an x-day free trial return policy.
Make sure you take advantage of it.
What’s stopping you from buying X, trying it out for a couple of days and then returning it and getting your money back?
And that’s the right approach to take if you don’t have cash to invest.
The wrong way would be to try and cheap your way through the process.
It won’t work!
#2- Promote Established Products and Services
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Don’t try to find that hidden product no one knows about and that pays ungodly high commissions.
In reality, such a product doesn’t exist and you’ll just waste precious time.
Instead, go for the obvious choices in your niche.
Something everyone and their grandma is promoting and making money from.
For example, in my niche that would be SEMrush, which is a beloved all-in-one SEO toolkit for SEO pros (get 30-day free trial here).
In your niche it would be something different, but they’re there and you just have to look for them.
How to find hot products?
The easiest way is to research your competitors. See what products and services they push heavily on their sites and you can bet those are lucrative to promote.
Also, join their list and see what services are pushed to you.
There are other ways to find it, like checking ClickBank gravity score and researching forums, Quora and whatnot. But I’m all for keeping it simple.
Find what works for authority sites in your space, ‘steal’ their product list and also their affiliate promotion strategies.
Again, don’t try reinventing the wheel anytime soon 🙂
#3- Use Email Marketing to Your Advantage
Email Marketing is the most effective affiliate marketing strategy on this list.
Infact, you can easily earn thousands of $ per month with a well monetized list.
How do you sell with an email list?
People enter your sales funnel when they join your email list.
A sales funnel is a series of strategic emails whose goal is to take the prospect by the hand and lead them through the email sequence up to the last email where they can click on an affiliate offer and buy.
Each email funnel sequence is going to be different based on the blog and sequence goal, but the general rule is that the first few emails need to be informational in nature and not salesy.
You want to build trust and rapport with your new subscribers, and the worst thing you can do is to immediately try to sell them something.
Then after a while and after you’ve built that initial layer of trust, you can send them a relevant offer that is also beneficial and that can solve their problems.
I know it can help other people as well.
So, email marketing works, but of course, there’s a catch.
You need to first build that list and it takes time, effort and persistence.
I advise you to start building your list today and here are some of the resources on my blog that can get you started quickly.
- How To Easily Build an Email List of 1000 Subscribers Starting Today!
- How to Supercharge Your Email Marketing Strategy- Get More Subs Now!
- Email Marketing Best Practices for Beginners!
Pro tip- add an email signature and within it promote the one product you want people to buy.
This affiliate marketing tactic won’t make you rich, but if you send a lot of emails it will add up to your revenue and it’s all completely passive.
For example, you can clearly see that this blogger promotes WPX Hosting within their email signature.
#4- Engage in Content Marketing
Content is the lifeblood of any blog.
If you have a blog and you’re not pumping out more and more high quality content, you’re doing yourself a big disservice and you’re curbing your growth..
Don’t be surprised if you fail tomorrow.
Content is crucial, especially for successful affiliate marketing where so much depends on the volume of traffic you’re getting + traffic relevance (organic traffic from Google is best).
Content marketing process is fairly simple too.
First, you need to research keywords your future customers are typing into Google every day.
Then you need to write content targeting those keywords. Plus your content needs to match search intent to the tee.
Finally, you need to promote that content by building links and by engaging with others on Reddit, Quora, forums.
Pro tip- Let’s take a quick look at keyword research, which is by far the most important of the steps listed above.
If you do your keyword research right, half of the job is already done. But if you do it wrong, then you can write a high quality article that won’t go anywhere even with all the promotion and links in the world.
There are only 2 types of keywords you need to target with your blog
Informational keywords are those where the searcher needs and wants to learn something.
And you target those by creating pages whose goal is not to sell, but to teach.
For example, in the coffee niche, informational queries would be:
- What is coffee?
- Is coffee good for my health?
- Where does the coffee bean come from?
- Why is coffee so bitter?
Transactional keywords are those where users are actively looking for products to buy. And your content targeting transactional keywords can directly sell products X Y or Z.
- Which coffee brand is best for children?
- Where can I buy X coffee brand?
- Coffee beans unroasted (implied intent is someone is buying beans to roast themselves);
- X coffee brand review;
- Coffee X vs coffee Y;
Your blog needs both types of keywords.
If you write only reviews you’ll come off as a salesy and impersonal blog.
But if you write only informational content you’ll struggle to monetize.
It’s a fine balance that needs to be established and kept.
Pro tip: See what works for your key competitors. Find their balance of informational:and transactional keywords and follow suit.
#5- Use Banners Effectively
If you thought that using banners is a thing of the past, you’re right.
Banner blindness is a prevalent eye disease at this point and there’s nothing you can do about it.
However, smart banner usage still has its place on any affiliate site and for any webmaster who wishes to boost their income passively and easily.
When are Banners Effective?
Normal, ineffective banner usage is when you plomp a banner ad of a high commission product in your sidebar, so that it’s visible across your whole site and with the goal of converting a % of your total audience.
Some of them will click, but the clicks will be so rare you won’t even notice an effect on your bottom line.
When are Banner Ads Effective?
A much effective, smarter strategy is to place hyper relevant banners within the content body so they blend in and become unavoidable.
For example, your email marketing guides will hold ConvertKit, MailChimp, Aweber or ActiveCampaign banners.
Your hosting guides will hold HostGator, FastComet and iPage banners.
And your SEO and link building guides will promote SEMrush, Majestic and SERPstat.
These relevant banners will get clicked because they’ll be seen as integral parts of the content, helpful additions to it.
As a significant bonus, some ads blend so well that it’s hard to tell they’re ads.
I suggest you use Advanced Ads, a free WordPress plugin that will help you automate your ad placement and rotation.
You can set up Advanced Ads so it pairs specific banners with posts from specific categories and that’s how you achieve ad siloing for relevance.
Check out Advanced Ads here!
More of Our Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Strategies
Now to the remaining 5 of our top 10 affiliate marketing strategies.
We’d dive into it when you’re ready.
#6- Promote High Ticket Products
What are high ticket products?
High ticket products are those where you make decent money off every sale.
Good examples are hosting affiliate programs that pay a minimum of $50 per every referred customer (often $100+); and which also offer commissions on a sliding scale so that the more customers you refer the higher your commission rate rises.
High ticket products will always have lots of affiliates competing for their slice of the market pie.
This makes these sub-niches a bit crowded, but still a place for you to join and compete.
Because all lucrative niches are already crowded if you don’t compete there all that’ll be left for you to promote will be low ticket products, which simply won’t be worthwhile for you.
For example, Cleantalk have an affiliate program where you can join and promote their excellent anti-spam services.
The problem, however, is that the average commission per sale is just $3. That’s so small and you’d need to make 100 sales to earn $300 ($300 being the equivalent of just 2 hosting sales).
What’s more, the search demand simply isn’t there. So even if you were to rank for all Cleantalk-related keywords in Google (highly unlikely), you still wouldn’t make those 100 sales.
You should still promote low ticket products when it makes sense, and especially if you use them on your blog, but your meat and potatoes will come from selling high ticket offers.
#7- Use Landing Pages Strategically
Landing pages are special pages on your site that’re built for driving maximum conversions.
Actually, any page on your site can be considered a landing page. As long as there’s a purpose to it, it is a landing page of sorts.
But it doesn’t mean it’s going to be effective, though.
True landing pages are those highly optimized to get a click.
They’re the ones stripped of all non-essentials (nav bar, sidebar footer) and where content+ your CTA are front and center.
You can’t make such custom pages with WordPress alone and you’ll need a landing page builder.
Some of the good ones I recommend are:
- Lead Pages.
#8- Use Coupon Optins and Header Bars
What are coupon optins?
It’s when you offer a coupon code to your visitor delivered via popup optin.
For example, let’s say someone lands on my page about the demise of Jumpshot and what it means for keyword research.
So they read and they learn that SEMrush is now the clear winner when it comes to keyword research.
So the thought is implanted in their mind that if they want to do effective keyword research, they better get SEMrush.
Then, as they’re about to leave my page a popup suddenly appears offering them a 30-day free SEMrush trial, no strings attached.
Don’t you think that would have an effect on them? Don’t you think many a visitor would jump at the opportunity to try out SEMrush for free?
Of course they would!
When they use my coupon code and join, they initially pay nothing. But the’ve entered SEMrush’s funnel and many of them will be converted into paying customers by the end of that free trial!
That’s an affiliate marketing strategy guaranteed to make money in the long run.
Another supplemental technique to the one above is having a header bar with an exclusive offer for that page.
These also convert like crazy, especially if the bar and the offer are super relevant to the page they appear on.
For example, here’s the bar that appears on MonsterInsights pricing page offering a 50% discount.
If I were on that page thinking to buy, that offer would compel me to be fast on my feet.
#9- Use Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful lever to pull when nudging your visitors to click on your affiliate links.
The logic behind it is that if they don’t know what to do, they’ll do what others have done before them.
So if they see that product X is popular, they’ll be much more likely to buy.
For example, you can see that the ultra flexible Jupiter X theme is trusted by more than 149 352 customers..
That’s social proof in action and enough to convince those who’re on the edge about buying and could go either way.
Another way to show social proof is to display it real time. It’s when you’re looking to buy and a popup appears telling you John Smith just bought X.
This shows you the product is hot and makes you more likely to whip up your credit card. Especially if you also know there’s a limited stock of said product.
Here’s an example from Optinmonster.
Note: you can use WPfomify to show real time notifications on your site. It’s a premium plugin but one that will quickly pay for itself.
#10- Take Advantage of Scarcity Marketing
What is scarcity marketing?
Scarcity marketing is when you spice up your affiliate links and banners with strategic copy around them that strongly implies (or outright tells) that the offer is time limited, or stock limited, and that once it’s gone it will stay gone for the foreseeable future
For example, you saw in one of the images above how MonsterInsights used header bars to help you get their app 50% cheaper.
But have you noticed something else?
That bar is rife with strategic scarcity elements meant to nudge, push and pull you to get Monsterinsights right then and there.
Take a look:
First, there’s the timer that counts down hours, minutes and seconds. That alone puts pressure on you to decide quickly.
Second, they say it’s a “special offer”.
The opposite of special is regular and this implies that special offers are rare and regular are the norm.
Finally, they outright say it’s a “limited time deal” so you know you better hurry if you want to get Monsterinsights 50% more affordable.
Here’s another scarcity marketing example directly from Amazon. This time it’s stock-based scarcity.
Notice how they say “only one left in stock – Order soon”!
That’s no accident.
If I was on the hunt for a new espresso machine and I found this one agreeable to my taste buds (pun definitely intended) you better bet I will be very stressed out about potentially missing out on my new coffee maker.
In fact, I will whip out my credit card faster than the Flash can circle the globe.
And I’d buy it FAST!
Bottom line– Use scarcity marketing to your advantage, because it’s power.
Those were the 10 affiliate marketing strategies that will move the needle on your sales stats. I know you have a lot of questions so now it’s time to answer them.
Affiliate Marketing Strategies FAQ- Become a Master Strategist Today!
Read below the answer to a common question about affiliate marketing strategies.
If I missed yours, vent your righteous anger in the comment section below 🙂
#1- What is an affiliate marketing strategy?
It’s a deliberate course of action you take to make more money off your affiliate link and banners. It’s your reason for doing X, and your reason for not doing Y.
#2- Which affiliate marketing strategy is Best?
In terms of pure ROI, nothing beats email marketing. In fact, you can expect to earn $1/mo for every subscriber on your list.
Content marketing is right behind email marketing in effectiveness. And if you’re successful with it, if your SEO is good and you rank in Google, you can make a killing online.
#3- Is it better to focus on one strategy or to try and implement all of them?
If you can develop a system and successfully implement all affiliate marketing strategies from my post here, then go for it. You’ll experience an insane growth rate.
However, it’s highly unlikely and in that case I suggest you focus on the essential few tactics, and once you get those down, you can expand.
In my opinion, the essentials everyone should be doing are content marketing and email marketing.
#4- Why should I be an affiliate marketer? Can’t I earn money with Adsense? Or create my own product?
I recommend affiliate marketing to most bloggers because the model is sufficiently easy to implement, and the earning potential is unlimited.
Really, with affiliate marketing you don’t have to create a product, you don’t have to manage a lot of staff, and you don’t need to have customer support service.
Instead, all you need to do is generate sales.
Of course, that isn’t easy but it’s simple to implement and very newbie friendly.
As for Adsense, I’m guessing you’re not a hobby blogger and you want to earn money off your blog?
And I predict that you don’t have tens of thousands of visitors per day flocking to your blog.
Then Adsense is not for you.
That’s because you’d need at least 100 000 visitors/mo to make a sizable income with Adsense. And you can get the same type of income with 20x less visitors, optimized site and excellent funnels.
#5- How can I create an effective affiliate marketing strategy?
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
See what’s working for your competitors and simply copy that. If you see they engage in heavy content marketing, you know you’ll have to copy them.
If you notice their site is optimized around getting those precious emails, you know email marketing must be working in your niche and that’s what you should be trying to replicate.
#6- How can I maximize my affiliate earnings?
Here’s an example for product A.
Promote something that’s high quality and that you’ve used and liked. Engage in content marketing and cover everything there is to cover about product A.
Push that product hard via affiliate links and banners on your site. Create effective funnels and get as many of your subscribes to buy.
Repeat the process with products B, C, D…
#7- Where can I promote my affiliate links?
Affiliate link promotion is a topic that deserves a guide on its own. And In fact, I have it on my blog.
Please click on the link above to learn more.
In Conclusion – Which of these Affiliate Marketing Strategies Will You Start with?
Let me repeat my question.
Which of these 10 affiliate marketing strategies will you use first? Will it be content marketing (you should be doing that)?
Or will it be email marketing (one of the most effective affiliate marketing strategies. Ever)?
Will you try to do all of them at once (possible, but hard)?
Please let me know in the comment section below, and I might have an extra tip or two to share, just for you 🙂
Disclosure of material connection