If your affiliate marketing website isn’t making as much money as you’d like it to, you can either go pout in the corner… or you can do something about it!
Check out any of the following tips if you’re dealing with an affiliate website that’s lagging behind expectations:
Change Your Website’s Design
To see if it’s your website’s design that needs tweaking, take a look at your site’s overall bounce rate within your analytics program. A high bounce rate occurs when people arrive on your site and then leave from the same page, which often means that they aren’t finding what they’re looking for right away. Changing your site’s design to make it more immediately engaging can both lower your bounce rate (which has a positive impact on your SERPs rankings) and encourage people to stick around long enough to view your affiliate promotions.
Tip #1 – Switch your WordPress theme
There are tons of different WordPress themes available, but not all of them are suited to affiliate marketing sites. Some are too “design-y” while others bury the information your website visitors want to see right away in lower-level pages. If your visitors aren’t engaging with your site, look for a different design that will allow you to feature your affiliate products and their info more prominently.
Tip #2 – Experiment with different colors
It sounds “new agey”, but different colors have a major impact on the way we feel and on how we process information. If you suspect your current color scheme may be creating the wrong atmosphere on your site, swap out your colors for ones that are proven to create the mood you want.
Tip #3 – Incorporate “action elements” into your theme
“Action elements” are website features that immediately draw visitors’ attention, including video clips, bold arrows and directional design elements, and other interactive tools. Adding some of these elements to your site can make your pages more engaging to readers, causing them to invest more time and energy into your content and increasing the odds they’ll convert to buyers.
Tip #4 – Optimize your email opt-in form placement
Building an email list is a major part of being a successful affiliate marketer, as your list allows you to market to the same set of prospects over and over again. But if you’ve got your opt-in box buried in a corner, on a sub-page or below the fold, you might not get enough hits to make the effort worth your while. Instead, increase your email opt-ins by moving your form to a more prominent position.
Tip #5 – Design for your traffic sources
Look at your top traffic sources in Google Analytics and determine what visitors know about your website when they land on your page. If they’re coming from PPC traffic through ads in which you’ve promised something specific, make that benefit immediately obvious on your landing pages. If you get mostly cold SEO traffic, you may find it more helpful to lead off with an intro to your site and what it offers.
Tip #6 – Improve your site navigation
Navigation matters, both from an SEO and a user experience standpoint. If your current navigation system makes it difficult to find necessary information, you’ll lose both visitors and their potential sales. For this reason, it’s a good idea to focus on making your site as easy to traverse as possible.
Improve Your Site Content
If you’re confident that your website’s design isn’t what’s hindering sales, the next place to look in order to improve poor performance is your content. Affiliate marketing website content needs to be interesting enough for visitors to stick around and read your promotions, while still focused on moving your visitors away from your site to your affiliate products – which can be a tricky combination to achieve.
Tip #7 – Make your calls to action more prominent
Don’t count on your visitors to make any mental leaps! Instead, tell them exactly what you want them to do (in this case, check out your affiliate promotions) with clear calls to action. If your current site doesn’t make it immediately apparent what actions these readers should take, make your calls to action more prominent in terms of placement, font size and wording.
Tip #8 – Use heat maps to determine what content viewers are connecting with
Heat maps can be incredibly valuable in determining which areas of your website your visitors are paying the most attention to. Use these maps as a guide and replace any unnecessary content that occupies these “hot spots” with targeted affiliate promotions.
Tip #9 – Use Google Analytics to identify your top content pages
Understanding which pages on your site are the most popular can be another good way to determine what types of information your visitors are seeking out once they reach your site. When you know what your visitors want, you can better tailor future content pages and product promotions to their demonstrated needs – not just what you think they’ll like most.
Tip #10 – Create a niche blog
If your affiliate website only has a few pages of content, you may not be receiving adequate exposure in the SERPs compared to sites with more articles. Building a blog on your affiliate niche site makes your website more valuable to your visitors and gives you the opportunity to target more keywords in the search engine results.
Tip #11 – Help first, sell second
If your site comes across as too “spammy”, you’ll lose sales. Adding content to your site that helps people to solve some of their problems (but not so many that they won’t be interested in your affiliate products!) is a great way to change the tone of your site from “used car salesman” to “trusted advisor”, ultimately improving your long-term results.
Improve Your Affiliate Offers
Another alternative that could explain your site’s poor performance is that you aren’t pitching the right affiliate products to your audience. If you see that people are engaging with your content but not buying, focus your attention here in order to make sure you’re serving these visitors the right types of promotions.
Tip #12 – Use an ad rotator script to compare different offers
The only sure-fire way to know if you’ve chosen the right affiliate products for your audience is to pit them against each other. Using an ad rotator script (I like the Ad Injection plugin in WordPress) will allow you to promote multiple products at the same time and compare the results of each promotion. Be sure to continue to add new products to your script as you eliminate some options in order to find the best possible promotion.
Tip #13 – Target higher commission products
If you aren’t making as much money as you’d like with your affiliate website, one simple solution is to offer higher value products. If you’re wary of pitching higher cost products to your audience, looking for alternatives at the same price point that offer higher commission rates will accomplish the same thing.
Tip #14 – Expand your product reviews
The best affiliate product reviews provide all the detailed information your prospects need to make a buying decision – they aren’t just simple star rankings on a chart. If your visitors are reading your reviews (based on data found in your Google Analytics account) but are demonstrating a lackluster buying response, expand your product reviews to include more helpful information and lessen the likelihood that your visitors will need to click away from your site to find all the product details they need before buying.
Tip #15 – “Niche down”
Depending on the focus of your site, you may be offering too wide a range of products to appeal to your visitors. In general, I’ve found that the best results come from targeting a small range of products (for example, scrapbooking die cut machines versus all crafting products) than trying to cover everything that’s for sale in a single niche.
Split testing ain’t glamorous, but it’s one of the few things that guaranteed to improve your affiliate marketing website results. If you’ve never split tested before, now’s the time to learn – it only takes a few minutes to set up an A/B split test within Google’s Website Optimizer. Consider testing any of the following elements in order to increase the number of successful referrals you generate.
Tip #16 – Split test your headlines
When you consider that the average website visitor takes only seven seconds to decide whether or not to engage with your content, it’s clear that your website’s headline represents one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on your page. Make sure this potential doesn’t go to waste by split testing different headline options to find the most effective variation for your site.
Tip #17 – Split test your buttons
Changing a single word on your buttons (including those found on your opt-in forms, buy now buttons and affiliate redirection links) can make a huge difference in conversion rates, making the text found here a prime opportunity for split testing.
Tip #18 – Split test your calls to action
Whenever you’re asking your visitors to do something (whether that’s to download a free report, click your affiliate link or sign up for your email list), be aware that the specific wording you use in your calls to action can have a major impact on your success rates. Split test the bejeezus out of these suckers until you’re sure your requests are as effective as possible.
Tip #19 – Split test your offers
If you offer any bonuses along with purchases that occur through your affiliate link (a common tactic used in the make money online industry) – or if you sell your own products alongside your affiliate promotions – be aware that the types of offers that will appeal to your unique audience will vary. Since you can’t know for sure whether they’ll respond best to discount codes, free upgrades or any other type of offer, split test these specific promotions until you know what works best.
Tip #20 – Split test your copy
If your affiliate website uses long form sales letters or other traditional copywriting techniques to sell products, you’ll want to test several different elements within your text. For example, if you use any stories or testimonials, these should be rotated to find the most effective combinations, as should any bullet points, guarantees or images you make use of in your copy.
Change Your Promotional Strategy
Good traffic is the lifeblood of any affiliate marketing website, and if you aren’t making any sales – especially when you’re first starting out – there’s a good chance it’s because you aren’t getting enough visitors to your site in the first place. The following are a few tactics to use if you don’t have enough traffic to determine whether or not your affiliate site is converting well.
Tip #21 – Optimize your damn pages
Performing good keyword research and optimizing your pages for discovery in the SERPs is actually a fairly straightforward process – yet plenty of affiliate marketers fail to take these basic steps to give their pages the best chances of ranking well in the search results. Don’t build sites around products you like or targeting keywords that you think will be popular – instead, find good long-tail keywords to target and carry out SEO best practices to be sure your efforts get noticed by the search engines.
Tip #22 – Use Google Analytics to improve your keyword targeting
While your preliminary keyword research will give you a good starting point for your site, don’t ignore the ongoing data you pick up in Google Analytics, which will show the keywords people are actually using to find your site. These keyword lists can give you great insight into new content you could publish that will attract even more potential buyers to your site.
Tip #23 – Build more backlinks
In my experience, my affiliate sites are the most successful when I invest about 20% of my time building the site and creating content and the remaining 80% on generating traffic. So whenever I see a site that isn’t performing up to my expectations, the first thing I do is to throw more backlinks at it and see if I can get the traffic to bump up and bring in more buyers. I suggest you do the same, using the following techniques…
Tip #24 – Prioritize high value link building techniques
Link building should be a crucial element of any affiliate marketing website’s promotional strategy, but keep in mind that not all links are created equal. You’ll get ten times the value from one high quality guest post on a relevant site than you will from one hundred blog comments on unrelated sites, so be sure you’re aligning your link building activities to focus on those that result in the most value for your website.
Tip #25 – Update your social networking profiles
Social networking activity isn’t just a good way to build your online presence or attract buyers to your sites – your presence here is actually counted as an SEO ranking factor now. So if you took the “set it and forget it” route to social networking, it’s time to get back up on the horse and put a little more effort into your social media profiles.
Tip #26 – Write more guest posts
Guest posts are a great way to drive traffic to your site and build the backlinks that will move your site up the SERPs. But while they’re quite common in the blogging realm, they aren’t used as widely in affiliate marketing (yet). Think of guest posting as the “new” article marketing and be sure this valuable technique plays a big part in your marketing strategy.
Tip #27 – Create content with viral potential
When it comes to building links, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get other people to do it for you by creating “link bait” content that people naturally want to share. Although it’s unlikely that every piece of link bait you create will go viral, even a few “hits” can result in a serious flood of both backlinks and traffic back to your site.
How do you handle affiliate marketing websites that aren’t making as much money as you expected? Share your tips in the comments below!
Image: The Rogue