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Top 5 Affiliate Sales Techniques

This guest post is by the team at E-junkie.com.

Working with so many merchants and affiliates gives us a great opportunity to see what different bloggers are trying to do to generate sales of affiliate products, and over time we’ve noticed that some strategies work much better than others.

These are the top five affiliate sales techniques we’ve seen work time and time again.

1. Only promote products you’re willing to stand behind 100%.

We had one incident on our site where someone bought something from a third party, didn’t like it, and got so mad that they launched a Denial of Service attack on us!

It’s very common for us to receive emails from people who buy stuff from our merchants but get mad at us for allowing people to sell what they see as substandard products. Initially we used to tell them that this is akin to writing to Bill Gates complaining that someone who made budgeting software using Excel didn’t do a good job, but now if we get too many complaints we just get rid of the product.

We have a certain brand that gets attached to whatever is being sold using our platform, and if a product is bad, people view us negatively, even though we have nothing to do with it.

The same applies to your blog.

Your customers will see very little difference between your products and the affiliate products you sell. They’ll blame you if they don’t like the affiliate product. Only promote products you really love, and are willing to back 100%—or your readers will lose their faith in you.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

The range of products that our merchants sell never ceases to amaze me. Recently we featured a seller whose product is poo-shaped pillows! No, that’s not a typo: these pillows are colored and shaped like poo.

You never know what will work until you try it out—many times you’ll think about something, assume it won’t work, and move on to something else. Yet the Internet makes experimentation so cheap and so easily measurable that you should give all your ideas some time before you drop them. You never know what will bring you the next million!

3. Reviews work much better for affiliate sales than buttons, widgets, or advertisements.

In Darren’s 31 Days to a Better Blog book, the exercise for Day 28 is writing a review post that includes an affiliate link.

We’ve seen this approach work much better, as far as conversions are concerned, than advertisements, widgets, or buttons on your website. You may drive a lot more traffic to your sales page using buttons, but contextual links in reviews have much better conversion rates.

4. Think of your customer service as your product.

If we see a merchant who offers first-rate customer service, we know that they’re going to be big. There’s so much commoditization in so many industries that it becomes difficult for customers to choose between products, and for merchants to be heard. Great customer service is something that easily cuts through this clutter.

Sometimes people will buy your product just because they know that you will pick up their call or answer their emails. When you put customer service on the same pedestal as your core product, you will see an attitude shift in the way you deal with your customers, and also the way they see you.

5. Don’t lose your customer at the last step.

One of our core mantras is to make our product as easy to use as possible, and we see a lot of other successful merchants do that too.

There are two key ways of doing this: simplify your product, and provide as much detailed documentation as you can on how to use it.

While there are limits to simplifying the product, you can always provide a great amount of detail on how to use your product, or how to become your affiliate.

Leo Babauta’s step-by-step directions on what to do when you want to join Zen Habits as an affiliate are a great example of what I’m talking about.

A user can walk through that whole process without any confusion, and providing such great detail can vastly improve your conversion rates. You really don’t want to lose your customer at the last step just because your instructions weren’t clear. It’s so hard to get people’s attention, and convince them to try your product. Don’t let them fail to sign up just because they can’t understand the directions on your site—that’s the last thing you want to happen.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out any of this stuff—it all makes so sense when you think about it.
The reason why affiliates and merchants fail to follow this advice isn’t because it’s hard to figure, but because execution is difficult. Doing the right thing, day in and day out, over and over for years, is what makes the difference between generating a six-figure income online, and the rest of the blogosphere.

Keep these best practices in mind—but also focus on executing them as much as you can. What tips can you add to this list?

E-junkie.com is a hosted shopping cart and digital service that lets you sell just about anything on your website, blog or social network. Our mission is to lower the barrier of entry in online selling. Our blog is about small business, e-commerce, self publishing and all the awesomeness in them. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Subscribe with us for all the action.
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Comments

  1. Completely agree with point 3. Reviews seem to be a very powerful way of selling a product. I usually place a link at the base of the blog post.

    Liking the new theme btw

    Tom

  2. I agree with you when you say Reviews work better. It’s pretty imp to test the product first & then promote. Though it’s not possible to test every product.

  3. Nichole says:

    Great post, thank you! I am just beginning my blog and I find this website extremely helpful.

  4. Product and support to me are key. I recently purchased a product that was advertised as anybody can use it. (It is a WP theme). Now I am not the most technical person in the world, so I jumped in, I bought it for a project I am working on. Received the product, no problems there, installed on my test site and started to play with it. Challenging is all I can say. Very little in the way of tutorials, video or text. So a bit disappointed.
    I just think that product owners should put there all into their customers, sadly some don’t.
    Great article, a lot for people to think about.
    Pete

  5. David says:

    “Think of your customer service as your product”-I think this tip is very important,cause it´s very important when you know that you can always get support,and the seller will not disappear in the case you have any problems with the product

  6. Ahmed says:

    Love to have the tips. You know, I still could not find enough courage to go for affiliate business. But your blog somehow inspired me.

  7. Ray Higdon says:

    More people need to read this, some marketers are ruining their reputation by pushing everything under the sun especially these overhyped launches

  8. Sudeep says:

    First and foremost Yes I have always inclined for reviews and have got some results on affiliate marketing. People do not just click on any thing that you like, people need to know the product and also like it too… that is the way I see it. Totally for that point of writing reviews and pushing products.
    Thanks for all the other tips.

  9. David Berger says:

    I especially agree with 1). There are too many people out there who link to just about anything to make a buck.

    When your readers don’t trust you anymore, they’re never going to buy from you again.

    PS:The person launching the Denial of Service attack must have been really frustrated.

  10. Kristof says:

    Hate leaving comments like “great post”, but this one deserves it. All excellent and very true points made in a succinct write up. Too many people feel compelled to purposely “fill out” their articles or simply just don’t take the time to edit. Thanks for passing along the info.

  11. Robin Marks says:

    I totally agree with you here. You have to really believe in whatever you are promoting. You have to stand behind it one hundred percent. I totally feel that if i havent used it or seen a benefit from it first hand i will not become an affiliate or promote it.

    Thanks
    Robin Marks

  12. Jhay says:

    I guess it’s high time to finish those review posts that have been languishing in my drafts section for months.

    They’re not much, but tell an authentic story of the product experience. Because an ordinary guy like me used it. :D

    • Tim Woodbury says:

      I was just thinking the same thing. I’ll admit to having more than my share of review drafts on my old blog. Even though I’d always purchased and used the products myself, I never hit publish because it always felt like selling out.

      I think you’re right though, Jhay! How much more useful and valuable can you get than the impressions of a regular user?

  13. StormDriver says:

    You have rightly said that educating your customers is a must. As an affiliate you should always communicate with your customers and satisfy all their questions.

    I would add another step and that would be constantly keeping touch with your customers through e-mail marketing and blog publishing. You can improve your affiliate sales tremendously by keeping in touch with prospective customers because eventually it is the repeat traffic that gets you the business.

  14. Tinh says:

    I love the #2 as many internet marketers are afraid of experimenting new products and I have made some good cash with new products too :-)

  15. I’ll be going over this with a fine toothed comb. Affiliate marketing has done squat for me so far, but I know that it will get better if I learn to market them better.

  16. Some awesome tips on building real sales!… I have lots of views and traffic considering the low amount of links I have… It maybe time to get some affiliates on board!…

    :]

  17. Awesome post. I find it really interesting that E-Junkie actually deletes products if they get too many complaints about a product.

    Stand behind your products!

  18. Nurul Azis says:

    I haven’t been trying to be an affiliate, but it seems be promissing with the right treatment. Thank you for this post Ejunkie Team!

  19. First of, e-junkie rocks! Makes it real easy to sign up for affiliate programs and also makes it real easy to sell your own products.

    The only other thing I’d add is affiliate sales through your newsletter list. I find that people who are subscribed to your newsletter are much more attentive to the content you produce. Just don’t over-sell them.

  20. Bob Garrett says:

    Wow another great “tidbit” that just adds up to make sense!

  21. Ted Vieira says:

    I completely agree. Especially with item #1. I’ve just recently started setting up a couple affiliate accounts, but only with products or vendors that have fantastic products that I use and have no problem endorsing (StudioPress/Genesis and Hostgator, while I’m talking about it!).

  22. Marlee says:

    I too love e-junkie and I think your content here is awesome.

    I think it is so important that if you are going to be an affiliate for a product, that you are an affiliate of a product that you use or love.

    Doing so demonstrates honesty, authenticity, and it makes promoting the product a whole easier because it’s natural!

  23. Terry Dunn says:

    I love the idea of thinking about customer service as a product. Everyone knows how powerful great customer service can be. But it never ceases to amaze me how few people actually practice it. If you think about the service you provide as one of your products, you should give it the attention it deserves.

    Terry

  24. Excellent techniques that take into account in my daily work

  25. jason says:

    I completely agree with number 1. You can tell a phony supporter from a real one anyday.

  26. Robin says:

    This was an topic which i was waiting from a professional blog like problogger. I was planning to start the affiliate marketing on ma blog, these are the better guidelines which can make much difference in complete affiliate sales. Thank u for such an post

  27. Well said,
    selling is not the finish line that you just roll your eyes back and leave the costumer with the product to fight with.
    after sales services and tactics like user guide and constant communication getting feedback guarantees loyalty of the costumer and help the business to propel..

  28. Hi Darren,

    I totally agree with what they have said in this post, you should check out what you’re selling before you offer it to anyone as an affiliate.

    Eamon Diamond

  29. I totally agree. Customer support is #1, as is standing behind your product 100%. So many affiliates sell products never knowing anything about them, only to tarnish their reputation and lose sales down the affiliate line. It’s a looping affect. You sell others bad products, you lose a valuable customer now and for the future. It’s so much better for you to include everything possible in your product to get people to feel you have done all you can do to make them clearly understand and successful with that product. If you also provide good customer support on top of all of this, you get locked-in sales and do not have to worry about returns. Keep up the great work e-Junkie.

  30. yatra says:

    I promote only one product, which I am confident about and have a very good knowledge about the product.
    Different offers does help in getting more sales.

  31. James Isles says:

    I agree writing a review about the product is far better and give the impression to the reader you are given your honest option about it and therefore earning their trust.

  32. Great post. I’m new to affiliate marketing, and will definitely enact all of the above recommendations, especially the first one!

  33. Neil - NCS says:

    Very informative – just starting out with affiliate marketing – cheers for the info

  34. David says:

    Perhaps I am cynical but I have a hard time finding affiliate products that I 100% believe in!

  35. Wow…what an overwhelming response. Thanks everyone for those wonderful words, we are glad we were able to throw some light on practicalities of affiliate marketing. Cheers!