Why is it that some affiliate links can earn thousands of dollars, whilst others are virtually ignored? It turns out, it’s as much about the offer as to how you promote them.
Where to promote affiliate links is part art, part science – You’ve got to share affiliate links in a way that stands out from the crowd, appeals to your audience and their goals, and sells the product’s benefits.
The thing is, you have to achieve this without making your promotions look or feel like a spammer.
This guide is about helping you promote your affiliate links in a way that your audience will thank you for… Some hints help you stand out from all of the other marketers out there too. Read on to learn:
- How Affiliate Links Work – from clicking on your blog to payout
- How to Promote Affiliate Links – top tips to make the most of your campaigns
- Where to Promote Affiliate Links – that will help drive conversions daily
- How to Track Affiliate Links – A simple way of tracking your affiliate conversions, see what works…
So, given the integral nature of your affiliate link in the process of generating affiliate sales, it makes sense to make your use of affiliate links as effective as possible. This post covers everything you should know about affiliate links: from the different types and placement of links to their tracking and promotion.
With these best practices, you’ll be able to optimize your use of affiliate links, which will translate into more sales. But before jumping into the details, let’s first go over the basics.
Table of Contents
What Are Affiliate Links?
An affiliate link is a unique referral link that is provided to you by a brand or company. This link allows them to track anyone you send and pay you a commission for any successful leads or sales. It’s a model that is beneficial to both parties, as the company only pays if a sale or lead is made.
Instead of paying lots of money on advertising campaigns that may or may not yield results, they only pay out when they need to.
Here’s an overview of how affiliate links work:
You share an affiliate link on your website, blog or within a social media post. There’s also the opportunity to share it within the comments of a YouTube video you’ve created.
- A customer clicks on your affiliate link
- They are redirected to the advertiser website
- The customer is tracked as being referred by you through a cookie
- (If) the customer makes a purchase
- The affiliate program/network attributes the purchase to you and issues a commission
- The commissions appear in your affiliate dashboard
- You get paid by the affiliate program/network
To someone who doesn’t understand an affiliate link, it can look like a complicated piece of code.
But in reality, every affiliate link is made up of a few simple parts which help make sure you get credit for your referrals:
Affiliate tracking domain: A domain set up by the affiliate network which forwards your user to the brand or advertiser.
- Affiliate identifier: Identifies you as the affiliate sending the referral
- Merchant / advertiser identifier: Identifies the merchant receiving the referral
- SubId: Customisable text you can use to track which content and links are driving the best conversions
- Deeplink: Which page on the advertiser’s website you want to send the visitor to instead of the homepage (such as a product page or landing page)
Each affiliate link is going to look a little different. But pretty much all of them are going to combine these elements into a totally unique link you can use across your website, social media, and email list.
You can also find that there are tools, like PrettyLinks that can help make affiliate links much shorter and easier on the eye…
How to Promote Affiliate Links - Tips For Success
It can be easy to assume that you can just go ahead and place your affiliate links anywhere you like and you’ll see the money rolling in… If only that were true, but in reality, you need to be smart with your promotions and be careful not to put your readers or the search engines off…
So here are some top tips to consider when promoting affiliate links.
Don't Overdo Your Promotions
There is a big difference between providing valuable content with an affiliate link to a product that provides a solution to a problem and a hyped up sales plug with no relevance to the reader. In fact, it has been proven that helping people will make you more sales than having an overly sales page.
People are often put off by this strategy, so don’t fall into the trap of it.
There’s nothing wrong with promoting your affiliate links on every platform and website going, as long as it is relevant and won’t get you banned.
There have been examples where affiliates have been banned from social media platforms as they are bombarding people with links that come across as spam.
Centralise Your Affiliate Links
If you’re adding affiliate links to every single blog post on your website and then promoting your affiliate links on every other platform, it can actually have the opposite effect you desire. There is a time and a place for you to place your affiliate links in the right place.
I personalise recommend that you centralise your affiliate links into relevant posts or product reviews on your blog. Then you can work on creating loads of content that doesn’t contain affiliate links at all. But they all include links that funnel people towards your posts that do include the affiliate links.
That way, the search engines don’t see you as in a bad light. They can see you have a strategy and are offering value.
Which will also come across to your readers.
You can also do the same with social media where you bring them to your blog where the affiliate links are, but the social media platforms don’t see the affiliate link.
Use Your Analytics
To understand whether or not your affiliate links or promotion efforts are working, you need to pay attention to your analytics. This will help you know where your viewers are interacting with your links, how they engage with your links, and how many conversions you’re making.
This knowledge will tell you where to make changes to improve your program.
The video below is really helpful to help you understand how you can set up affiliate link tracking in WordPress…
Turn Your Passion into Profits
Where to Promote Affiliate Links
Here’s a list of the places where to promote affiliate links. I’ve also included some advice around how to make the most of these places too…
Email Campaigns / Email Courses
Don’t believe anyone that tells you email marketing is dead. It is still one of the most cost-effective marketing channels you can use. Any business would benefit from it. This includes affiliate marketers, as well as any other type of digital marketing.
Email Affiliate Marketing lets you:
- Build a relationship with your subscribers – this builds up trust which is needed to make suggestions that your subscribers will follow
- Reach buyers reliably – this won’t be affected by any search engine or social media algorithm updates
- Sell to the same people over and over again – instead of convincing new buyers from the ground up every time
- Share time-sensitive information – this means you can include discounts or deals, which can boost conversion rates
If you haven’t already got an email sign-up form on your website, then what are you waiting for? Your newsletter will help you build a relationship with your readers, distribute your blog content, and promote your affiliate products.
But convincing people to join your newsletter can sometimes be the hard part. That is why you want to offer a freebie or at least something that would benefit your readers to have them want to join your list.
But a good alternative is through offering an email course. This has the added benefit of being the place where you could include your affiliate links.
An email course is a sequence of emails delivered over a set period to teach subscribers how to accomplish something. By promoting affiliate links inside an email course, you can enable subscribers with the tools they need to reach their goals.
Take a look at this 7-email series from The New York Times for inspiration. It’s built around educating people on how they can use the internet safely:
Every email in the series doesn’t just offer great educational content but also allows for natural affiliate promotions:
- The first email could recommend a premium password manager.
- The third email can suggest a VPN affiliate program
- The fifth email could review an antivirus program.
Your promotions need to be natural and don’t use an affiliate link at every opportunity. If you are going with just an email newsletter, instead of a course. Then you need to build up that trust level and that might mean you don’t include any affiliate links for a couple of emails. But you encourage your subscribers to reply to your email, so you can get to know them.
But email courses are a good fit, depending on your niche. The best part about them is that most email courses are evergreen.
This means that a single free course could help you build up your list, earn you affiliate revenue, and then have the opportunity to upsell to a more expensive paid product/course.
A triple threat to monetise your email list through automation…
A really popular type of content for affiliate marketing is product reviews. The main idea is that anyone reading reviews is usually ready to buy, they just might want a few opinions from others before they buy, and are just seconds away from making that decision to buy.
This allows you to swoop in with your affiliate link and refer that person on the fence to make that decision and you can benefit from the sale. It’s an easy way to earn money from products people would buy anyway.
But you need to make sure you review products with a strong conversion rate, have solid commissions, and have enough volume that you’ll earn a meaningful amount of revenue.
The opportunity doesn’t just stop at your typical consumer products that are on Amazon. Since Amazon reduced their commission rates, you should be open to other opportunities.
For example, you could review:
- Physical products like hiking gear or luxury clothing
- Digital products like SaaS or online training courses
- Services like financial services or travel experiences
The added benefit of going with digital products or services means that they typically offer a higher commission rate than you would find with physical products.
Creating a product review that is high-converting does take a bit of practice, as it would depend on what you are promoting and what your target audience is like. But there are some elements you should focus on to ensure you get the conversions you desire.
Here’s a product review template I’ve created, which should give you a good starting point:
Use affiliate links early and often, without overdoing it. To promote affiliate links effectively, use anchor text that sparks interest in the content behind the link.
For example, phrases like “this exact [product type]” or “see more photos” both promise helpful information that is just a click away.
Creating product reviews on your website means that you then have the opportunity to do comparison review posts. Compare two similar products and then let them decide on which one is best for them. With links for both of them included, you will benefit from whichever direction they decide to go with…
Tutorials / How-To Guides
Just like with product reviews, there is the opportunity to link to relevant affiliate products in an how-to guide or tutorial. Good practice would be to combine the two, as in linking from your tutorial to your review of the product.
For example, creating a tutorial on how to create a website and then including a link to the website builder you recommend, and then maybe a link to your product review on the website builder too.
This way, people who are sure will follow your advice. The people who are still on the fence, might want more information, which will be included in your product review.
YouTube is one of the most popular places for people to learn more about products and to watch product reviews.
The reasons are simple…
Written product reviews usually just include most of the information you could learn from the manufacturer’s website. It’s also true that most of these product reviews are written by freelance writers who’ve never seen or touched the product they are reviewing.
There was a recent change in Google’s algorithm to focus more on reviews where there was evidence they had experience with the product, as an aid to potential buyers.
It’s much harder to recycle this information on YouTube. Using video requires you to show a hands-on look at the product being reviewed. it’s surprising how many “unboxing videos” there are, so people can see what is in the box of a product…
And with the added complexity of the video, the competition for ranking on YouTube is often lower than for buyer intent keywords on Google.
Here’s an example of YouTube affiliate marketing from the world of video gaming:
For the best of both worlds, create YouTube videos you can also embed in your blog posts. That way, you can improve time-on-page and get your affiliate links in front of even more people.
Guest blogging is a great way to build links to your website, build brand exposure, and network with other companies. But did you know that guest posting is also an excellent way to share your affiliate program with a broader audience?
Before you incorporate information about your affiliate program into your post, be sure to discuss it with the company you’ll be guest blogging for.
The key to any great relationship is communication, so you want to make sure that incorporating that information is clearly stated and understood by both parties. Also, be sure to find out whether it is okay to include affiliate links in your post.
Resource pages are pages on your website where you collect all the tools you use regularly. These could be your favourite services, brands, or anything else you want to reference regularly.
And for each resource, you can include an affiliate link. Even better if there’s a deal or discount code to nudge the purchase along.
Since each of these resources is used by the blogger, they can share their personal experience next to each recommendation. Which always helps the reader know that they are true recommendations, not just blind pushing of products.
While resource pages won’t always get a ton of organic traffic, resource pages work great when you promote them regularly via email. They also come in useful when people see your successful and want to follow your lead.
Then, if someone subscribes to your email list with the goal of “Become a better baker”, including a link to your pantry of baking equipment is a great fit for buying intent.
Place Affiliate Banners On Your Website
There have been a lot of studies that prove contextual links are a lot more effective in driving sales than banners. But that doesn’t mean that banners don’t have their place in marketing. They also have the advantage of being visually appealing.
Banners are easy to place on the sidebar alongside your content, header, footer, or within your content. Your affiliate link is automatically embedded into the code that you just copy and paste to your page.
Usually, the higher you place your banner on your page, the more clicks you will get. But it all depends on how relevant the banner ad is to the person on your blog post. Relevancy is key to all things marketing.
The main issue with banners is that they usually remind people of ads, and again there have been studies that show people are put off by a site full of ads. If you place too many banners, you can make your site look like it is full of ads, without having any at all.
Having said that, affiliate banners are good for other marketing channels, such as social media and email campaigns.
The assumption is that Pinterest is a social media platform. But the reality is that it’s much closer to a search engine that anything else.
The huge benefit of Pinterest is that is has a fraction of the competition of Google when it comes to getting your content in front of people.
Pinterest loves fresh content, meaning you are more likely to get people to your website from Pinterest, whilst you wait for Google to decide whether they should trust your website or not…
Like a dozen other free traffic sources, Pinterest can be used for affiliate marketing. But not in the same way as Google.
Pinterest users are classed as cold traffic. Just because they click on your pin, doesn’t mean they are ready to buy anything. To be successful with affiliate marketing on Pinterest, you’re better off working on building up an email list.
Create content that is designed to rank well on Pinterest, and then get people into your email list where you can work on the relationship.
How to Promote Affiliate Links Without A Website
I’ve always felt it better to have your own website and then bring traffic to that website using external platforms like social media and forums. The reason I say this is down to the fact that you have full control over your website. If you put all of your eggs into one basket, let’s say one social media platform and you get banned or the social media platform disappeared, then you lose everything.
You might not think it can happen, but Google+ was a great social platform for affiliate marketers, as it helped rank your blog. But it was closed down, if you were only using Google+ for your promotions, you lost everything.
There are also examples where social media platforms, like Facebook, have banned affiliate marketers. I think it was more about the way they were promoting their offers, rather than the fact they were an affiliate marketer. But you never know.
So whilst you can promote affiliate links using these next couple of options, my advice would be to have a website too. Some affiliate programs will only accept you if you do have a website, which is something you should consider too…
Social Media & Forums
To promote affiliate links in these channels, you need to have an audience consisting of potential buyers. The benefit of social media is that in many channels you can place direct affiliate links in your posts. This is the case with Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, for example.
But the success of direct linking to your affiliate offers depends entirely on your audience. And because promotional content is frowned upon by most users on social media, you’re usually better off linking to your in-depth blog posts that contain affiliate links. Direct sales from social media are few and far between. That’s why it’s more suitable for driving traffic to your affiliate website.
On forums like Quora and Reddit, you’re not allowed to place affiliate links in your posts directly. Doing so would be considered spam and result in your account being banned. But you can direct both organic and paid traffic from those forums to your affiliate site.
While some brands use Facebook to promote affiliate links, the best way to get your affiliate content in front of people is by building a community.
Meaning, running your own Facebook Page and Group.
Facebook groups are an excellent way to bring together people with common interests and goals. And if you produce content that can help them solve that problem, you’ve got a way to reach them on repeat.
In contrast to Pinterest, Instagram users are ready to buy. Promoting affiliate links through Instagram is one of the few places that can work at a similar level as organic traffic, provided you’ve curated the right audience.
Having a mobile-optimized affiliate landing page for Instagram is key. Since the platform only allows one lonely “link in bio”, that landing page will need to be a portal to all the products you’ve promoted recently.
Unlike forums and guest post websites, content-publishing communities such as Medium allow direct placement of affiliate links in your posts. But like all marketing channels, users will ultimately be the ones to decide how much promotion is acceptable.
Using too many links in your Medium articles isn’t going to drive any traffic or sales. But adding your affiliate link at the end of a useful, informative article can be an effective strategy.
How to Track Affiliate Links
As an affiliate, you cannot directly track your conversions because you don’t own the product pages you promote. You cannot just create and add UTM codes to your URLs to track these conversions as the site owner can. But you can still track the clicks and impressions of your affiliate promotions and all actions on your affiliate landing pages.
Then, you can compare the data on your affiliate dashboard with the data on your Google Analytics account, for example.
How to Disclose Affiliate Links
Before we leave you, it’s important to point out that endorsing and promoting products for profit is regulated by law. This requires you to disclose your affiliate partnerships. In fact, it’s good practice to point out your affiliate links these days as people value your honesty.
An Affiliate Disclosure (you can see ours here as an example) is a way of notifying your website visitors that the products you mention or link to are affiliate products and that you may receive compensation if they were to make a purchase after following your link.
Beyond the FTC (in the U.S.) and GDPR (in the EU), requirements for disclosure, affiliate programs have their own terms and conditions that include a requirement for disclosure. By not disclosing your links, you would also violate their terms and conditions.
So, make sure to place your disclosure in an obvious place on your website every time you publish content that includes affiliate links.
Where to Promote Affiliate Links - Conclusion
Most publishers make a couple of critical mistakes when promoting affiliate links. They either choose the wrong traffic sources, include links too late in their content, or promote offers that just don’t convert.
Try these tips for promoting your affiliate links, and see what works for your site and audience. Just make sure you track the results, so you know which strategies to double down on.
Thanks for checking out my guide on where to promote affiliate links. If you have any questions or anything you would like to add, then please write them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. ;)