Let me drop some advice from the trenches…
I’ve been through the Internet marketing black hole and back, chased all the shiny objects, copied the DFY funnels and e-mails, spent oodles of money on solo ads, bought all the hypey products, promises and programs, and even tried to sell them myself.
And of course, through it all, I made little money.
So hear me when I tell you, none of that shtuff works long-term!
The only way to get-rich-quick is to rob a bank or get enough suckers to buy your get-rich-quick program.
However, if you are willing to forgo the fly by night schemes you’ve been chasing, here are 7 secrets to affiliate marketing success that you can take all the way to the bank.
#1 – Start with the Audience vs. the Product
Most amateurs go to Clickbank, find the highest gravity product, then promote it to death on forums, FB groups, their e-mail list (which is filled with dead wood) or where ever they can leave their spammy fingerprints.
You’ve got two strikes on you if you start this way. First, you are in desperate seller mode (see #6 secret below) and secondly, you’ve started on the wrong side of the marketing equation.
You want to start with the audience first.
Who are you trying to reach AND just as importantly, who do you NOT want to reach?
You want to know:
- Basic Demographics: age, sex, marital status, kid status, where they live, profession, income
- Psychographics: beliefs, values, causes, fears, worries, dreams, hopes
- Social Media Profile: where they hang out online, books they read, videos they watch, FB pages, people they follow, blogs they read
Perhaps the most important thing to know is WHAT PROBLEM DO THEY DESIRE to solve (see #3 later).
Please don’t blow past this.
The rewards come to those who do the research.
The reason is that later, when you craft your message, your prospect will feel a connection to you BECAUSE you will be talking their language, understanding their pain, and helping them to solve their problem.
You don’t know these things if you start with the product.
#2 – Niche Down
Go small my friend.
Find the smallest viable audience that you can serve and promote your product to them. This is what will set you apart and give pizazz to your words.
You don’t want to reach the masses with a generic message.
Walmart is already doing that and you don’t want to compete with them because they are always going to undercut you in price. What you need to do is create empathy in the eyes of your prospects so that they trust you and buy.
The way to do that is to speak in a way that is VERY specific to them.
Niching down means you take a market, and find sub-groups who are passionate and unique. Here’s an example:
- Motorcycle drivers (boring, mass market, generic message)
- Harley Davidson motorcycle riders (a little sexier, your message can be sharper)
- White collar professionals in their 50s who are Harley Davidson motorcycle rider weekend warriors (bingo! polarizing message that ONLY speaks to these people)
Can you feel the energy and the emotion coming from this last group? What product would solve a big problem for this group? How could you market it?
If you take the data from #1 above, join it with #3 below, and craft a compelling and emotional message that speaks precisely to these 50 year old weekend warriors, you will make a lot of sales.
Doesn’t matter if it’s a small group.
If its members are passionate and you speak their language, you’re in.
#3 – Solve the (Biggest) Problem
There are only two main reasons people buy.
Pain vs. pleasure. The carrot or the stick. Problems vs. desires.
These are the two emotional poles that drive 99% of sales in the world. Take these two messages for example:
- Get rid of ugly acne (pain)
- Look more radiant for your senior prom (pleasure)
See the difference? These messages are for the exact same acne product.
But here’s a human behavior secret.
Pain is a much bigger motivator for people.
They will generally go through greater efforts to remove their pain or problem. Think emergency night run to the drug store for headache medicine (pain). People wouldn’t get in the car at 2:00 am to get vitamins.
So as you do your market research (#1), think about what the biggest pain in the rear is for the small niche (#2) that you have identified and lead with that. Think of yourself like a doctor who is providing a cure. The sell is much easier and there are more people seeking out a doctor vs. a coach.
Lead with the pain and make your affiliate product the solution.
#4 – Use a Pre-Sell Content Series vs. a Direct Link
Amateurs direct link to the sales page. No context, no warmup. Just give me the damn commission!
But you will lose your shirt if you operate this way.
Before you send someone over to a sales page via your affiliate link, you want to use a pre-sell content series that frames the product for your prospect.
I have written extensively on the mechanics of a pre-sell content series in another post, so I will only summarize here.
A pre-sell content series is a valuable piece of training that provides incredible value for your prospect. It can also include a solution to one of your prospect’s pressing problems.
As you can see, this is the way most people would describe a lead magnet. But now, instead of putting it behind an e-mail wall, you put it up front, in front of your product BEFORE your peeps hit the sales page.
You give it away willingly as a gift to the people you most want to attract.
Here are some examples of a pre-sell content series:
- Affiliate Bully, Frank vs. Matt and the monster pre-sell series Sphere of Influence by André Chaperon
- My own pre-sell series The Unconventional Guide to Building an E-Mail List and Transformational Assets.
If I sound like an André clone (which is hard because he’s unique), it’s because I absolutely love and read all of his stuff. Head over to his site and you’ll see it’s very different from the normal hypey Internet marketing menu.
Anyway, the point of this secret is that you need to warm up the audience a bit before you pitch your product. Don’t send people directly to a sales page. Provide some value up front.
Give before you ask.
#5 – Talk About Your Experience (Including the Good, Bad and Ugly)
Another affiliate marketing secret?
Give us your opinion.
This is especially important when it comes to reviews. Reviews are one of the final things people read BEFORE they buy. Thus, reviews are extremely valuable for you in promoting your affiliate product.
But PLEASE don’t give us a warmed over sales page. It’s likely most people have already seen the sales page. Now what they want is to see how people are using the product, what experiences they’ve had and any potholes they should be aware of.
So as you go over the many great features of product x, talk about why you liked feature x. What advantage did you gain? Why is that feature better in this product than another you’ve tried?
Or better yet, talk about why you didn’t like feature x.
Overly eager reviews of a product or program simply tell people you are desperate to make a sale. They aren’t going to trust you unless you can convince them that your opinions are not biased.
Also, in my humble opinion, you should never promote a product you have not personally used.
This might be impossible if you are reviewing 20 bikes or lawn mowers. But otherwise, why would you want someone to buy something you yourself have not bought?
When you are a product of the product, you will have instant credibility and invisible influence. Your unique experience with the product will also allow you to point out the good, bad and the ugly and people will appreciate you for your honesty.
Then they’ll buy the product through your link anyway because they already had made up their mind about it but wanted to make sure there were no big red flags.
#6 – Think Impact vs. Income (Serving vs. Selling)
This one is hard to implement for online marketers.
The hyper focus on making money in the bizopp space means that you gotta get what’s yours as fast as you can. This is what leads to sleazy headlines, inflated earnings proof, spamming of links, shiny object syndrome, blind squeeze pages, and so many other desperate and manipulative practices.
So instead of being that guy (or gal) who can’t think past a commission, take a deep breath, and repeat after me:
I will seek to make an impact on my prospects with my content and the products I promote.
I will seek to serve my prospects in the best way possible.
You may not know it but those are the two most liberating statements you can make about your affiliate marketing business.
They free you up to give of yourself and your expertise to everyone who crosses your digital path without waiting for money to exchange hands.
When you leave the land of desperation, with all of its gimmicks and fake urgency you come into land of abundance where you put your prospects’ needs above your profit and smile when the commissions start coming your way.
#7 – Build a Business Instead of Just Promoting a Product
Finally, in the secrets of affiliate marketing category, you want to start thinking bigger picture.
You want to build a business instead of just promoting a product.
Promoting products is campaign focused, just slapping up a funnel at a time to see what sticks. You may not care that much about what product you promote and you may not care that much about who buys it.
When you think of building a business, well, this is more serious.
Here you think about your audience and needs, quality products, building an e-mail list and *Gasp* even building out a website with helpful content.
This is what gets you out of the bread crumb line into the super buffet line.
You can work to attract only the people you want to attract. You can showcase your expertise with a particular niche and share products and services from your experience. You can invite people over to your digital home and help them to solve their problems. You can build a loyal following of happy repeat customers.
This is ultimately the way to go.
Building a business beats chasing a one-off commission on a Clickbank product any day.
Here’s to your success!
P.S. If you want help implementing any of these secrets, as well as building a business, check out my Start Here page on this site.