As a blogger, content creator or influencer it is almost certain you’ll have experimented with affiliate campaigns in the past. If so, you may have realised that affiliate marketing is not a walk in the park; it requires you to be patient and to take the time to learn what works for you and your audience. It is not a get rich quick scheme, yet can be an extremely lucrative opportunity for anyone with a truly engaged audience on a particular subject.
When we got started in this industry it was hardly surprising to see creators favouring the paid per post model, since it posed less risk to them. However, seeing many influencers and content creators smashing it with affiliate campaigns begged the question: why does it work for some and not for others?
A recent study found that 69.4% of influencers chose to become one to make money. If this is true then getting to grips with affiliate marketing should be somewhat of a no-brainer for most, especially when considering all the other perks affiliate campaigns offer.
In today’s post we are going to look at the 5 things you should consider before getting started with any affiliate campaign which’ll vastly improve your chances of success. After all, if you can set up a few decent promotions you could be out walking the dog, home-schooling your children during another COVID lockdown or doing a photoshoot for your next Instagram post, all the while seeing commissions trickling into your bank account.
Let’s dive into these 5 considerations that’ll guarantee your audience are reaching for their wallets before you can say affiliate.
#1: Previous Results and Audience Insights
A logical place to start with any marketing or sales campaign is the data you’ve got. This usually includes previous experience with the type of campaign you’re working on, audience, website and social media insights, and doing some analysis on the primary ways you communicate with your audience.
Firstly, consider the results of previous affiliate campaigns you’ve worked on: where did you generate most clicks and sales? How many campaigns did you run? What vertical did your audience seem to respond well to? Asking questions like these will help you ascertain what you did right and what you did wrong in the past.
Up next, you’ve got all the data you have on your audience, from insights on your socials to website analytics for your blog/channel. From this you can infer what the general demographics and psychographics of your audience are, what posts and brand collaborations have been most popular and what niches and sub-niches you represent.
Finally, by reflecting on how you currently engage with your audience, and what particular mediums, platforms and channels are the most well-liked among them, you can build a clearer picture of what works for you.
By taking the time to do some proper analysis and ‘check in’ with yourself, your channel and audience you’ll have taken the first steps towards understanding how to tackle affiliate campaigns and what spaces to focus on.
#2: Authenticity is Key
The universal rule of law for all influencer, creator and blogger endeavours is authenticity is king. In a recent survey, Olapic found that across the globe the main driver behind people following influencers was authenticity, with 43% of people citing this at the most important factor.
In the dynamic world of 2021 the average consumer of content is spoilt for choice with more and more people trying to become influencers appearing on the scene each year. Since consumers have so many options they’ve become increasingly fussy about who they follow, placing creators under closer scrutiny before doing so. In fact, 66% of respondents to the Olapic survey said that personalisation is key and content must match up with their interests for them to click, follow or subscribe – demonstrating how picky we’ve become as content consumers.
Likewise, with the emergence of nano and micro-influencers in recent years, accounts have become increasingly specialised, making it harder for people to stand out from the crowd and slowly narrowing the niches into sub-niches and so on.
As a result, it’s becoming almost impossible to survive as a content creator unless you pick a sub-niche, stitch your own unique message or twist in, and stick to it religiously you’ll find you quickly lose followers and see lower engagement rates.
I’m sure you know it like the back of your hand but take a moment to note down your sub-niche and what makes you unique. Stick it up on a little post-it note around where you work. Holding this in mind will help you stay on track and create content that’s sure to resonate with your audience.
#3: Brand & Audience Alignment
Once the time has been taken to analyse the data, and provided you’ve focused heavily on authenticity in your content in the past, you can be confident that you’re ready to start building a picture of which brands to work with for your affiliate campaigns.
The first two steps we’ve discussed are vitally important here, since the goal of affiliate campaigns is to persuade your audience to purchase the products you’re recommending. Thus, if you haven’t taken the time to build community, engagement and authentic relationships with them, whilst also analysing and responding to the data on what’s worked and what hasn’t, then you’ll be much more likely to make a blunder and lose your spoilt for choice audience.
Sometimes it’s not so simple and there isn’t a clear direction to follow after your check in. Not to worry, try out these questions to get you moving forwards.
Have your audience reacted particularly well to a specific sub-niche or handful of brands?
What have been the most successful campaigns for other influencers in your sub-niche?
What’s new or trending in your sub-niche?
Have you done a poll or just asked your audience who their favourite brands are?
Once you’ve got a few basic examples, you can start researching similar brands they might know, or even ones they don’t. To find these you can search in your sub-niche. For example, if you wrote a high performing blog post on sustainable nappies then you can be confident that sharing other eco-alternatives should work well too, simply because you know your audience is interested in the cause behind it and they’ve already expressed interest in a similar product or substitute.
You may not select the perfect brand or promotion the first time, what’s important though, is to ensure you’re moving in the direction of what does work by using trial and error and making predictions based on the data you’ve collected.
#4: Creative Communication and Content
There might have been a time where we felt that social media wasn’t evolving much anymore, in the days of just Facebook, Instagram and Twitter we knew where we were.
However, with the emergence of different platforms we’ve been brought more and more formats of content, e.g. short videos – IG reels/TikTok. The benefit of this is that it tends to your audiences’ varying preferences, meaning you can increase your chances of your content reaching the people through their preferred medium and be more likely to receive a positive engagement.
An important consideration here is uncovering the reasons your audience tend to use each platform. To help break down the reasons people use different social networking sites you can break down the content that draws them there in the first place into three categories: inspiring, educational and inspirational.
If you start to think about your content in terms of these it’ll aid you on your path to understanding why your audience uses each channel, then, you can cater your content to fit with their wants and have a better chance of selling to them through that medium.
#5: Building Anticipation, Curiosity and Buzz
When top-tier brands have a new product or collection coming up what do they do?
Is the first time you hear about it on the launch date?
The answer is no; big companies know that the best way of really making a splash is to build anticipation and awareness about the upcoming release. This way people are waiting on tenterhooks for the day of the launch and make the brand a load of sales from day one.
As an affiliate of a brand you’ve effectively been outsourced the task of marketing their products and if you want to succeed then your best chance is going to come from employing the same tactics as these brands.
Look at Apple; each year they start advertising the new model of their iPhone long before it’s actual release date and what happens? They sell millions of units of the model in a matter of days.
Another example comes from viral sites like Buzzfeed who utilise clickbait as a way to arouse emotion and anticipation in their readers. Most people agree on one thing when it comes to clickbait: it’s bloody annoying. However, despite this, it works, which highlights the power of using curiosity and anticipation in content.
Before you get started, here are a few ways you can put the tactics employed by the world’s most successful websites and brands to the test and see if you can generate some anticipation, curiosity and buzz around your upcoming endorsement.
Tip#1: Keep Audience in Suspense
Be sure not to give away too much information about your upcoming campaign, instead drop small hints and clues around who you might be working with and what you’ve got in store, still leaving enough mystery to make people want to come back.
Hollywood blockbusters are better than anyone at this, using their teaser trailers to generate some buzz and excitement before their launch date.
Tip #2: Tease and then, Tease Some More
Follow up your original teaser with another one. The goal here is to use anticipation marketing to keep your audience hooked to your story/campaign.
Tip #3: Run Mini-Contests
Get your audience involved with your content creation process by getting people to help name the campaign. By involving them in the creation process they’ll be more likely to follow the promotion to see how it turns out.
Tip #4: Use Countdowns
Setting up a countdown will work for you in two ways, firstly in building excitement about an upcoming promotion or event, and secondly, it gives you an excuse to issue constant reminders about it.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that affiliate campaigns don’t work for you, yet, the truth is, if you’ve got an audience who follow you then each of them has products they’d like to buy and favourite brands of their own. All you need to do is inspire and persuade them to click the buy button. To achieve this, you need to figure what interests your audience and start pushing it.
The key takeaway here is that by planning and researching properly you can build your campaigns around exactly what your audience wants and drastically improve your earnings from them.
So, before getting started be sure to consider the five points discussed in this post as they’ll help you break down the areas you need to focus on, make the overall task more manageable and strengthen your chances of turning your hobby into your full-time income.
P.S. For more reading on this topic check out these posts: