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?