Affiliate marketing is one of the most profitable niches for businesses to take advantage of in 2020.
When you work as an affiliate, you will:
- Create lasting connections with merchants
- Expand your merchant partner’s audience
- Convert more customers for the merchant
- See higher earnings
Working as an affiliate is an easy way to generate profit, but the process of launching an affiliate marketing campaign from scratch can get pretty technical. It’s especially challenging if you want to increase your conversion rate (read: get real clicks, which equals real money).
Here, you’ll learn how you can get started crafting your affiliate marketing campaigns with CRO in mind.
Affiliate Marketing: An Overview
Affiliate marketing is an exchange between an online retailer and a blogger or affiliate company.
From a business standpoint, it’s a helpful way to get more customers to buy products or services. The business gives the affiliate a commission when a customer purchases one of its products using a backlink.
From an affiliate standpoint, it’s a straightforward way to make money while using your marketing talents to help boost sales for another company—and pad your pockets in the process.
One example of affiliate marketing is Wirecutter. The affiliate website reviews electronics and receives a commission every time a customer purchases one of its reviewed products from eBay, Amazon, or other retailers.
How It Works
The product review is the most popular tool in the affiliate marketer’s arsenal. The review converts readers from visitors to buyers. It gives businesses access to a pool of potential customers that they wouldn’t have otherwise. These readers learn about a product from a source they trust—you—and purchase based on your recommendations in the review.
Usually the affiliate marketer can make anywhere from 5-20% of the sales price of the product they are promoting. This depends on the rate the merchant sets for the affiliate marketing campaign.
Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- When an affiliate joins an affiliate program, the business gives them a unique ID and web URL to promote the company’s product. (This usually happens through an affiliate network where both the business and the affiliate have to sign up and submit information.)
- From there, the affiliate fills in the blog content to contain the link to the product.
- In order to circulate the content, an affiliate will usually create an email marketing campaign to promote the product or take other actions that will pique the interest of its readers.
- If the potential buyer clicks on the affiliate’s link, the site places a browser cookie on the buyer’s computer; this cookie contains the unique ID of the affiliate.
- After the buyer purchases the product, the merchant can check the sales record for the source of the referral (the affiliate’s ID) so that they can identify and pay the referrer.
Businesses are increasingly looking to affiliate marketing programs to help reach new audiences. Affiliates spend hours driving targeted traffic to the company’s landing page. The affiliates get a portion of the profits, the business gets increased views and purchases, and the customer receives a quality product. It’s a beautiful collaboration that benefits everyone involved.
How does this affect the COVID-19 economy?
One benefit of affiliate marketing relates to the current (early- to mid-2020) job market. With the spread of COVID-19, more people are starting to work from home, as well as shopping and browsing online. The transition to a remote economy is bursting open the opportunities for more web traffic and conversions through your affiliate site.
How Does CRO Help?
CRO (conversion rate optimization) is a method that aims to increase the percentage of visitors to a website who take your desired action.
For example, changing your CTA to “Sign up with us today and receive x, y, and x!” will pique the interest of more people and yield more conversions than a simple “Contact us today!”
CRO gives you better control over how potential customers interact with your reviews and affiliate content. When you A/B test different elements on your key sales pages to find out which variations convert the best you can then roll those out to get much higher conversion rates. This process can yield higher profits as well as increase traffic and keep the business focused on the customer.
You can—and should—apply CRO to affiliate marketing because it’s not enough to get readers onto your website. You need them to click and purchase through the links. CRO can help with that, and an excellent place to start is with A/B testing.
How to Use A/B Testing to Increase Conversions
A/B testing is the process of testing two or more versions of the same web page against each other to see which version achieves goal conversion rates first.
This process may seem complicated, but it’s quite simple:
- Select an element of the web page for testing
- Make a change in that element that you believe will increase conversions (for instance, making the product or description in the review more relevant)
- Test the new version against the original by sending half of the web traffic to one and a half to the other
- Measure which page is more successful at converting users to the desired action
- Roll out the winning page live on the website
- Continue this process for different elements on the website
A/B testing is the best way of learning what elements on a webpage best make conversions. It takes away the theorizing part and tests what works so that you know what to keep on the website and what to eliminate.
A/B testing is a much easier and more cost-effective way to increase profits than merely bringing in more traffic. By rolling out two versions of the same affiliate site, you can know in real-time what works and what doesn’t.
If your affiliate site hasn’t gone through A/B testing, it can be challenging to know what to change. This dilemma is where our affiliate site CRO checklist comes into play.
Affiliate Site CRO Checklist
Now that we’ve gone over affiliate marketing and CRO, it’s time to combine the two concepts. The click throughs are the most critical part of your affiliate website because those click throughs don’t just earn money for the company, but for you (the affiliate) as well.
Knowing what to put on your affiliate site for the optimal CRO results is crucial. Here’s a checklist of elements to include for the best results:
- Comparison table. Customers need to know the difference between products, so they choose the one best suited for them. List several features of each, but be sure to highlight the best features of the promoted product.
- Explain the #1 product. The customers need to know why you’re promoting the #1 product; they will not just click through simply because there’s a “#1” next to it.
- Include cons in the reviews. Disadvantages increase customer trust because it proves that even though you’re promoting a product, you can point out its flaws.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. High-resolution images emotionally drive and connect website visitors, which increases sales.
- Clear CTAs. Hiding links in text works for some applications, but not all. Tell your site visitors clearly and concisely what to do to continue the purchasing process.
- Don’t make them overthink it. The more a visitor needs to think about making a purchase, the less likely they will go through with it. It’s imperative to make the purchasing process as simple and straightforward as possible so that visitors can get the products they want.
One of the essential things when setting up an affiliate site for CRO is to know your goals so that you can track them. Tracking goals such as page visits, form submits, link clickthroughs, and revenue lets you determine how well A/B testing is working.
As said before, affiliate marketing and CRO are complicated and technical concepts, but you can master everything in this guide with time and effort. Some businesses thrive from the increased conversions and traffic.