Strategies From the Most Successful Affiliate Marketers

Becky Doles

At the start of the year, we predicted
a few trends we spotted on the rise in affiliate marketing. Most of them are indeed well underway — like the rise of video, niche influencers, transparent reporting, and advertising becoming more creative than static display ads. Below are a few of the ways we’re seeing affiliate marketers make a splash, and how you can turn their strategies into your own standout marketing campaigns.

Harness the Power of Video

As we noted in our 2018 affiliate marketing trends to watch, Business Insider predicts that video will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021. And some affiliates have caught on masterfully. Popular YouTube vloggers like Casey Neistat and iJustine regularly post entertaining, informative videos on tech, travel, and regular receive hundreds of thousands to millions of views. Below their videos, they link to the products mentioned in their videos, which trusting followers happily purchase. It’s estimated that Neistate, for example, earns up to $2.1 million per month between affiliate marketing and advertising running before his videos.

How to do it: Don’t underestimate the power of videos, and increasingly, live videos. Work with affiliates who create engaging content that audiences look forward to watching, and doesn’t feel like an outright sales pitch. (Or if resources allow, create your own videos in-house like Glamour.) Whatever route you take, aim for consistency. Many of the most successful vloggers post daily to keep their audience interested and their content fresh.

Enlist Your Biggest Supporters (and Reward Them)

New York Times bestselling Author Gabrielle Bernstein is known for her online and in-person conferences that open only once per year. And part of her secret sauce is how she markets them. She enlists past attendees as affiliates, and pays them heartily for their efforts. Affiliates earn roughly half the conference cost, pocketing themselves $1,000 for each new attendee.

Bernstein invites affiliates to be part of a full affiliate marketing campaign:

  • Setting affiliates up with a login and metrics dashboard
  • Hosting a series of instructional calls
  • Providing graphics, videos, and swipe copy
  • Outlining a launch schedule

How to do it: Don’t look at affiliates as an ulterior part of your marketing strategy, but bring them on as an integral component that can spread the word better than anyone else. After all, who can sing your praises better than your most avid followers and customers? Then reward them in a way that encourages their full-out participation, and watch your brand grow like wildfire as a result.

Make It Easy to Get Started

As we outlined in our article on top affiliate marketing trends, reporting is only going to become more commonplace, real-time, and transparent. One of the best examples of this is the Amazon Affiliate Program. Affiliates can voluntarily create an account, and immediately be logged into a dashboard that shows clicks, earnings, and conversion rates.

Affiliates can also search within the dashboard for the products they want to promote. Amazon makes it easy to swipe images, links, and HTML to feature their products. As you can see below, a simple search for yoga mat returns a variety of options where affiliates can easily scroll to find the product they are looking for and get the link to recommend.

How to do it: Leverage the power of platforms. You can build your own in-house, or you can use one that already exists and customize it to your liking.

Create Tools People Want

Nerdwallet is a standout example of this. They’re essentially a review site for financial products. But instead of flooding their site with links to credit cards for which they would receive an affiliate payout, they provide highly useful content like an affordability calculator. The calculator helps people find out how much they can afford when buying a house, and then points them to the financial tools that will help them get there. They also target very useful keywords that people are voluntarily looking up, like ‘Best Credit Cards of 2017’. Their page for this is 2,800 words, has 311 backlinks, and was shared more than 19,000 times.

How to do it: Think beyond links. Brainstorm what tool might help your customers, that they would happily exchange their contact information for. From there, you can continue to drip them useful links, reviews, and information. And leverage SEO to create comprehensive reviews that your customers will search for, find valuable, adn share with their networks.

Win With Word of Mouth

Meal delivery kits like Sun Basket and Blue Apron are all-stars at this. They make it easy for customers to swipe a referral link, and earn money for referring their friends, family, and social media followers. It’s a win-win for both parties because affiliates earn a referral fee, and the new customers receive a discount too. Influencer marketers have mastered this, offering their followers a promo code to try a new product or service, which allows the brand to track which leads come through the influencer campaign, and the influencers to be rewarded for it.

How to do it: Create a link or promo code that happy customers can use to promote your product. Make sure to reward the affiliate when people sign up, and your new customers with a discount for giving your product a shot.

Planning the Perfect Strategy

Whether you’re a seasoned affiliate marketer, someone looking to build a network of affiliates, or a brand looking to leverage affiliate marketers, the strategies above are ones you can employ to widen your reach.

To learn more, check out how top brands use TUNE or read more about the affiliate marketing trends we’re seeing, or how to get started with a new affiliate program.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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