Congrats to our 2nd place winner, Richard.
The 6 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes I’ve Made – And What You Can Learn From Them
I have been affiliate marketing in one way or another for several years now, mainly using minisites in combination with search engine optimization (SEO) in order to drive traffic.
Because of that time I’ve probably made just about every affiliate marketing mistake possible but looking back there are 6 “biggies” that I’ve made that i think could have made a sizeable difference to how quickly I started to see results and the speed at which those results grew.
Since I started to fix these problems i have seen my results increase substantially so I’d encourage you to read on, honestly compare the mistakes I’ve made over the years with how *you* market affiliate programs online right now and as a result hopefully make a few changes to your strategies that will lead to a significant boost in results for you.
1) putting all my eggs into one basket
one site, one main affiliate offer, one search engine and one primary keyword worked for a while but when google changed it’s algorithm i sure felt like a chump as my income virtually dried up overnight. and that’s not an exaduration. putting all your eggs into one basket can lead to a very unstable business.
whether it’s getting hit with a google slap, dropped out of the search engines or having a merchant partner refuse to pay you for whatever reason if you haven’t got a backup plan then your affiliate marketing career cut be cut very short indeed.
even if you decide to specialise in one niche such as dating or credit cards, consider how you can diversify such as by using a few different affiliate offers, programs, websites and traffic strategies so that if one stops working you’re not going to lose your business overnight.
2) not testing different affiliate promotions
when the good times roll it’s too easy to see the commissions rolling in without trying any other offers. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
well, not quite in my experience.
i have had a couple of occasions where the checks kept coming and i put my feet up and took life easy for a while. then the sales started to dry up, or the promotion ended or they changed their terms and suddenly i was *forced* to find a new offer. next thing you know you find the new offer that you chucked online in next to no time is outpulling your old one by quite some margin and you have to wonder – how much more money *could* you have made if you weren’t quite so complacent?
the lesson here is clear – even if you have an offer that works, check with your affiliate manager on what else is converting well and split test them. sometimes you will pick the top converting offer in one niche and then weeks or months later a competing offer will come in that converts even better. or the same offer is runnig on another network, but with a better payout. except either your affiliate manager forgets to tell you, or you simply can’t be bothered to make changes to a campaign that’s already profitable.
be willing to put that extra effort in to tweak your marketing campaigns and achieve the very best results possible. it doesn’t just mean more potential profit for you – it also means if necessary you can afford to pay more for traffic and still stay in the black – which allows you to outcompete other, less careful affiliates.
3) getting the balance of analysis wrong
too many people, myself included when i first got started, suffer from “paralysis through analysis”. there is so much to think about, so much to learn and get right when you’re starting out that it can be hard to know where to start. so sometimes you don’t do anything at all. which obviously isn’t going to be earning you many commissions!
what seems to work better is just to jump in at the deep end. throw together a site. gather some links. buy some ads. and then analyse the results, and use these to improve.
most people do the analysis at the beginning and then next to none once they’ve launched a website or campaign. i’m suggesting far more the opposite. get started, then do your analysis to see which keywords are working, which offers are converting, what helped your search engine positioning, what was a waste of time and so on so over time you can develop your own “sixth sense” about what will work and what won’t.
you’ll also pick up business intelligence on things that work specifically for your niche that somebody new trying to enter it wouldn’t know. that’s valuable information and will help you keep ahead of the game.
another example of missing out due to lack of analysis *after* launching a site would be the one i built that was running smoothly on autopilot for months sucking in traffic from the search engines when i suddenly noticed i hadn’t made a sale in weeks when normally 2 days would have been unusual. it turned out that the merchant i was sending traffic to had changed their affiliate tracking software, and with it the url i was using to send them traffic so none of my conversions were being recorded.
luckily i had a good enough relationship with the merchant that they paid me a mutually-agreed sum to make up for it but it just goes to show how taking your eye off the ball can lead to frustration or even failure.
4) not knowing when to quit
we all know that quitting too soon can lead to failure but my problem has often been the opposite. i have been guilty of carrying on with a project working 12 hours a day to try and get something working long after i should have admitted defeat and tried something else.
some niches are just harder to make a go of than others. some buyers are particularly difficult to convert. some markets require pockets deeper than you may have to get a foothold. equally, you can fall into others where it seems so easy you can’t believe it. so make sure to give each marketing technique, each website, each affiliate offer a fair chance, but don’t be afraid to move on to greener pastures.
5) not scaling up a successful affiliate promotion
when i have found a niche that suddenly works well for me, i have been guilty of seeing the checks coming in and wanting to move onto the next thing rather than trying to scale up my results and become a major player in that field.
however, if you’re willing to take the time to do so, you can often negotiate higher commissions, recieve preferential treatment from your affiliate manager and find out about new promotions or conversion techniques that are working well before other smaller affiliates (if they find out at all!).
with the effort that you’ve put into finding the right keywords, ads, offers and so on aim to capitalize on that knowledge and try to wring every last cent out of a niche before moving on to your next victim!
6) neglecting the networking
there is a surprising amount of help available to you in the form of affiliate managers, informative blogs, forums, private mentoring and so on yet i have found it too easy in the past to focus 100% of my time on building pages, gathering links, testing offers and so on (the “mechanics”) that i’ve ignored the networking element.
paul has mentioned on several ocassions how much importance he puts on networking and how instrumental his blog has been in helping him succeed. it’s not just a matter of learning the ropes from others – though this can often help to cut short the learning curve by quite some time. it’s as much about learning what your target market is like. what keywords do they really use? what colors do they like? what “trust” factors can you add to your site to increase conversions? what sites do they hang out at that you could buy advertising on?
getting a deep understanding of your chosen niche from both ends – the leads you’re trying to attract – and the affiliate manager who is trying to help you convert them – you can attack the problem from both ends and really maximise the results you generate.
all the best,