Oct 20, 2020

Expert affiliate marketing strategies to boost your affiliate conversions

15-MINUTE READ | By Hetty Korsten

Affiliate and Partner Marketing Strategies

[ Updated Jan 16, 2023 ]

Conversion optimization has a major impact on how much affiliate commissions you generate. But how to make sure you get the most referrals from your traffic? This guide will help you discover expert affiliate marketing strategies to boost your affiliate business.  

In this article, we cover the following strategies: 

1. Track your affiliate sales
2. Use dashboards to analyze your data
3. Drive traffic with the right search intent
4. Use the right tools
5. Make split testing a habit
6. Create an email autoresponder sequence
7. Work with quality offers and publishers
8. Join high-paying affiliate programs

9. Set up the right affiliate funnels
10. Improve SEO and PPC affiliate marketing strategies

11. Drive sales with incentives
12. Find unique channels to promote products
13. Outsource time-consuming tasks

Click on the title to skip to that section. 

1. Track your affiliate sales

Let’s start with one of the most crucial affiliate marketing strategies: tracking your data. 

To grow your business and make commissions, you need to track your conversions. Conversions are your business’s primary objective, and you want to figure out which website visits end up in a purchase. 

Tracking from the affiliate program

On the side of the affiliate program, tracking is done by a web cookie. The cookie gets placed after somebody clicks on your referral link. It is there to ensure the commission gets attributed to you. This cookie is a small piece of data sent by a web browser and stored on the user’s computer. 

Cookies can last anywhere from 30 days up to several years. First-party cookies are standard for affiliate marketing. This type of cookie is stored by the website you are visiting. 

Besides storing the cookie and linking it to the affiliate, affiliate programs also have an attribution logic in place. This logic entails the rules that determine when a commission is assigned. For example, first- or last-touch attribution. Learn more about attribution modeling by the affiliate program here

Each affiliate program has its way of handling affiliate data. You can usually find click and conversion data in your affiliate dashboard. You can then compare your traffic and referrals to different date ranges while running your campaigns. 

Tracking your own data

You want to ensure good progress for growing your audience. Therefore, you want to follow your link clicks to your website in e.g. Google Analytics and Google Data studio. 

Besides link clicks, Google Analytics will help you analyze your overall website performance. The audience section will help you understand your website visitors via segmented reports on demographics and audience interests. 

You can also use the date range comparison tool to compare traffic numbers and engagement over time. And you can run reports on which social channels bring the most traffic to your website. Find more tips about Google Analytics here.

Keep track of your conversion rates and notice changes that affect your referral numbers. Different niches and channels are hard to compare, but on average, a 0.5% to 1.0% conversion rate is seen in the affiliate industry. Learn more about affiliate conversion tracking here.

2. Use dashboards to analyze your data

Besides affiliate sales, there are lots of valuable data to track. To evaluate your marketing efforts, you need an overview of your marketing data. 

Marketing data will help you research and analyse which channels and promotions do well. Optimizing your campaigns with the help of data analyses enables you to allocate budgets to the proper sources. 

A tool like Supermetrics can help you pull data from different advertising platforms in one place. There are several dashboards available to help you track your campaigns and conversions. You can choose, for example, an SEO, PPC or email marketing dashboard.  

Here we see an example of a Paid Channel Mix template. This dashboard helps you pull data from different ad platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter in one place.

paid channel mix dashboard

A dashboard like this will give you easy access to the most important marketing metrics. Find more dashboards for affiliate marketing here.

3. Drive traffic with the right search intent

To earn commissions, your traffic needs to convert to a payment. But driving lots of visitors to your website does not necessarily mean a high conversion rate. 

On top of that, most affiliate websites only have a few articles that drive the majority of their affiliate sales. So a high conversion rate is not linked to the number of articles you publish. 

So how do you get traffic that converts into paying customers?

Well, high converting content has two things in common:
1. The content matches the audience’s search intent.
2. The article is of high quality.

Search intent and affiliate conversions
Keywords can indicate the search intent of a visitor. This can give us an idea about what stage of the funnel the searcher is in. 

Search intent can be categorized in:

  • The awareness stage 
  • The interest stage
  • The desire stage
  • The action stage

As explained in the classic marketing model “ AIDA”, the customer goes through several stages before deciding to buy a product. 

In the first stage of awareness, the website visitor is exploring a product or topic. In the next two stages of interest and desire, they might look for some suggestions on solutions and learn more about the product. 

But the most valuable traffic comes from visitors in the action stage. These visitors are ready to make a purchase decision. 

Keywords related to decision making can include terms like “buy”, “versus”, “comparison”, “review” or “test”. These keywords show that the searcher just needs a little bit more information to make the right purchase. Information you can provide with your affiliate website.

If you map out your content and target keywords, you should always take search intent into consideration. This will lead to higher-quality traffic and more conversions. Keywords linked to the decision-making stage are often more competitive. It is therefore essential to find a balance between search volume, competition and search intent.

Read more tips on keyword research and driving high converting affiliate traffic.

4. Use the right tools

To launch and run successful marketing campaigns, you need the right tools. 

Maybe you need help with the design of your upcoming ads? Or you want to automate an email sequence? And how do you post all your social content simultaneously on different platforms? Well, you get tools to help you create and automate your campaigns.

Make your affiliate campaigns run smoother with these 10 essential tools for affiliate marketing

5. Make split testing a habit

Split testing, also called A/B testing, is one of the most important ways to increase your affiliate referrals. Split testing means you have two variants and you need to choose the best performing one. It can be done for any section of your website and sales funnel.

If you don’t have a lot of traffic yet, start with split testing between two variants instead of testing multiple factors. If you attract a larger amount of traffic, you can go more granular and test multiple differences on your website.

Remember that even the smallest difference on a page can make a huge difference in conversions. Because of this, you definitely want to keep testing and finding improvements. 

If you plan to split test many factors, there is software that can help you manage and track your split testing experiments. 

What to split-test for affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is all about testing and optimizing your campaigns. You can split-test pretty much anything, so what should you test?

Some common areas to test in affiliate marketing:

  • Traffic sources
    You can easily test different traffic sources by using the same promotion on different advertising platforms. You can also test organic blog posts against email marketing.
  • Paid advertising
    You can split test different ads for an offer. Combine this with different landing pages and sync your ads with your landing page. 
  • Landing pages
    Test two different landing pages for the same promotion and see which one works best.
split testing example of affiliate landing page

Make sure to send traffic from the same advertising source to both landing pages. Then link from the landing page to the same offer page, analyze your results and implement the winning page. 

  • Direct vs. bridge page 

Compare conversions from direct linking (e.g. through PPC campaigns) with conversions from a landing page (bridge page).

  • Offers

Test two similar offers from different companies in the same campaign to find the best converting product.

Check out this guide for more details → Setting up A/B tests for affiliate marketing.

6. Create an email autoresponder sequence

An email list gives you the opportunity to have instant communication with your audience. This makes it possible for you to promote affiliate offers directly to your target group. 

Start building an email list by using pop-ups and integrated forms to collect sign-ups.

Same audience, multiple promotions
Let’s say you run a paid advertising promotion that breaks even, or you have an affiliate campaign that converts, but you want to get more out of your efforts. In these cases, email marketing might be the way to go. 

Create an email sequence flow to boost your conversions. This allows you to promote the same product multiple times to your audience. An email sequence gives you multiple chances to convince your reader to try the product. It also makes it possible to promote multiple offers at the same time to the same traffic source. 

Good email marketing requires some planning. Your sequence should be based on your reader’s interest, and have informational and entertaining content. 

The great thing about an email sequence is that you don’t have to spend much time on it once it’s set up. Occasionally you might want to change your promotions depending on the results you get. Other than that, it’s all automated!

Learn more here: How to boost your affiliate marketing with email campaigns.

7. Work with quality offers and publishers

When it comes to picking companies and offers to work with, there are many options. Only work with companies that have a solid reputation and are regarded as trustworthy. 

There is a direct link between the number of conversions you make and the quality of the product. And since there are so many offers to choose from, why not pick the best? 

To establish yourself as an expert in your niche, you want to spend time talking about the best and most innovative products in your industry. Set yourself up for success by working with great companies and great offers.

Always check reviews before dedicating time to promote a product. Even if you own the products yourself, see how others experience the product before you dive in with your efforts.

Successful affiliate marketers keep searching for new quality products and new areas to expand their business. A great way to do so is to explore trendy niches with the help of Google Trends

Google Trends gives you quick information on trending vs evergreen topics, organic search volumes for brand names, and the public’s interest in a niche over time. 

It’s an incredibly powerful tool to pick keywords and topics for long-term affiliate projects which will help you take the guesswork out of current trends.

8. Join high-paying affiliate programs

Spend your time working with top merchants that offer industry-standard commissions and bonus rewards. There are many different types of commissions, explore your options before promoting a product. 

Common commission structures are:

  • Flat fee 
  • Percentage of the sale
  • Recurring commissions
  • Product credits

A flat fee means you get a fixed amount of money for a referral that purchases a product through your affiliate link.

Other affiliate programs work with a percentage of the sale. In that case, your commission depends on the fraction of the total sum your referral pays. 

If the affiliate program works with credits, you can use these points to purchase the company’s products. 
Recurring commission means you receive multiple payments for the same referral. It is one of the most beneficial commission structures because you get paid multiple times for the same referral.

Supermetrics has an affiliate program that offers recurring payouts for purchases made by your referrals. On top of recurring commissions, we offer 8 other reasons to join the Supermetrics partner program.

9. Set up the right affiliate funnels

To create revenue, setting up the right affiliate funnels to move your visitors toward a purchase is crucial. Affiliate content creates an extra step in the product’s sales funnel and it is therefore important to make this extra step worthwhile for your visitor. 

Third-party content can be of great value to a customer. For example, by comparing different products, offering a special discount, or demonstrating the product. Create an effective affiliate funnel by taking into account the whole visitor journey, providing value, and optimizing your conversions. 

There are many types of affiliate funnels you can set up for different marketing channels, find them here.

10. Improve SEO and PPC affiliate marketing strategies

Many marketers choose to drive traffic through either SEO or paid advertising. But for affiliate marketing, you might want to use a combination of the two.

The great thing about paid traffic is that it can give you immediate results. No need to build up your Google rankings. You can have your ads up and running and bring in your first conversions in no time. 

The challenge, however, can be low profitability. Paid advertisement requires you to invest money upfront as you need a budget to AB test your promotions. 

You will also need to learn about the ad platform’s rules on linking to landing pages and affiliate bridge pages. Some platforms, do not allow bridge pages and are wary of affiliate promotions. You might get your account suspended if you don’t abide by the rules.

Strong ad copy, a great landing page that brings value to the reader, and proper keyword targeting are essential to a successful paid strategy. Read more about PPC affiliate marketing here.

In order to drive as much traffic as possible from your paid campaigns, the devil is in the details. One of these details is understanding the time of day to optimize your PPC campaigns.

graph about cost per conversion by time of day

As we can see in this example, the cost per conversion can vary greatly depending on the time of day. This has a direct impact on your return on investment. Dayparting your campaigns is one factor that can elevate your PPC campaigns from good to great.

With an SEO-based strategy, you can benefit from long-term organic traffic generated by content. Domain authority and traffic are built up over time and can exponentially grow your sales. Besides blog posting, consider recapping your content in different forms such as affiliate video content. This helps you reach a greater audience. 

Affiliate product reviews are a classic affiliate marketing strategy to provide in-depth product information while driving affiliate traffic. 

A good product review contains a walkthrough of the specifications. And for example, use cases, a comparison with competing products, and your personal experience with the product. 

And if you are thinking about optimizing your content for featured snippets, read this article before investing your time. 

Unfortunately, SEO takes time. Good content needs proper research. Also, time-consuming link building strategies are needed to help your organic rankings. To improve your SEO you want to monitor low-quality links on your affiliate website

If you use SEO and content creation on top of paid advertising, it can help your PPC campaigns generate more sales. By building brand awareness organically, the click through rate of your ads will also increase.

This means your efforts for organic traffic will help your paid campaigns become more effective. Read more about SEO and PPC strategy for affiliate marketing here.

11. Drive sales with incentives

There is a lot of competition in affiliate marketing. Offer your audience something in return for buying through your affiliate link. This can be anything from an extra product, a discount code, or cashback.

Before you offer a bonus, calculate your bonus costs and ROI (return on investment). A bonus is especially appealing when the affiliate product comes at a high price. 

The benefits of using incentives are:

  • It can make hesitant visitors decide to purchase.
  • Well-picked bonuses add value to your affiliate offer. 
  • Some visitors love extras and don’t want to miss out on a (temporary) bonus. 

Don’t repeat and overdo the promotion of your rewards. Exclusiveness can help urge readers to purchase.  

There are two rules to make your bonus appealing:

  • Offer a bonus that is highly related to your affiliate product.
  • Clearly display the amount of money your bonus is worth. 

Always check with your affiliate manager if incentives are allowed.

12. Find unique channels to promote products

Besides mainstream social platforms, there are more unique channels to boost your sales. Let’s go over some interesting channels to generate referrals. 

Answer questions on Quora

Although direct linking is not allowed on Quora, you can still leverage the platform for affiliate marketing. Write answers and refer to your site as a resource. Create a great profile, pick the right questions to answer and start growing your followers.

Quora is great for boosting your long-term organic traffic. Once you post an answer, it keeps generating views and website visitors. You can read a full guide on affiliate marketing on Quora here

YouTube as a powerful search engine 

If creating videos is one of your affiliate marketing strategies, you should double down on Youtube search optimization. YouTube is the second largest search engine globally, and search optimization is crucial to get found on YouTube. Find tips on YouTube search optimization here.  

Write on Medium

Another great but often overlooked platform is Medium. Medium offers amateur and professional writers a place to share knowledge and stories. The publishing website is a great opportunity to get visibility for your affiliate content.

Just like Quora, Medium can be used to drive indirect affiliate traffic, but the platform also allows affiliate links. 

However, in order to succeed on Medium, quality content is key. Great articles can get a spot on members’ recommendations lists and you can climb the rankings by earning “claps” from readers. 

Medium is especially great because it allows you to republish your articles to a new audience. Make sure your article is highly informative and brings something new to the table. Read more about affiliate marketing on Medium here

TikTok for affiliate marketing

TikTok is one of the newest platforms to explore. The ultra fast-growing social platform can get you a large following in a short amount of time. 

Grow your audience with entertaining videos in your niche. Share discount codes in your videos and link your social accounts and websites to your profile. 

There are many advertising options on TikTok, but the rules are constantly changing so keep yourself updated on recent developments. Check out an overview of TikTok’s affiliate marketing and paid advertising options here

Facebook for organic affiliate traffic

There are some restrictions around affiliate marketing on Facebook. Yet, it is an excellent traffic source if you know how to promote your offers. 

One of the ways to promote offers is to create your own business page on Facebook. Create targeted posts and grow your following. If your affiliate program allows discount codes, you can then start promoting compelling offers to your audience. 

Alternatively, you can create an interest group on Facebook. These are groups of like-minded people with a particular interest. By creating a group, you can change the settings to private, which allows you to offer promotions to your group members exclusively. Read more about using Facebook for affiliate marketing here.

Step up your paid Facebook Ads with segmented retargeting

With the help of Google Analytics segmentation, you can create hyper-focused retargeting campaigns that help you minimize costs on Facebook. Digital analyst Michaela Linhart shows you how to set it up here

Expand your reach with Reddit

Reddit is a great platform to share your affiliate links. The platform offers both organic and paid traffic opportunities for driving affiliate sales. Like many forums and platforms, Reddit does not allow direct affiliate links. So you need to be a little creative to create opportunities. 

Research niche-related subreddits and see what questions and topics are discussed. Consider the young audience on the platform (most Reddit users are between 25 and 29 years old) and if they match your target group. Read our complete guide on Reddit for affiliate marketers here

Create engaging content on Pinterest

Pinterest has a large audience browsing items for shopping. Almost half of Pinterest’s audience is there with purchase intent. The platform is one of the best-performing social media for building engagement with visual content. This makes it an ideal place to showcase a product visually.

One reason to try Pinterest is the ability to link directly to the company page. Most social media platforms don’t allow placing direct affiliate links; Pinterest does. You can read more about using Pinterest for affiliate marketing here

Grow your Twitter audience

Although Twitter is not recommended as a stand-alone affiliate marketing channel, it can increase your reach and commissions. The character limit on Twitter makes it difficult to use it for promoting products solely.

Instead, look at Twitter as a supplementary channel besides your website. Reuse the content you produce on your blog for engaging posts on Twitter. This will help you save time while creating exciting posts. 

Twitter allows affiliate links in posts, but a good practice is to be transparent about their use, as in the example below. 

Twitter post example with affiliate link

Your characters might be limited on Twitter, but relevant catchy visuals help convey your message and stand out. Include a personal recommendation based on your own experience, and you have a great affiliate post—more about Twitter for affiliate marketing here

Optimize for voice search

Voice search through devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Siri, and Alexa are rising in global popularity. Last year’s purchases through voice search have doubled and the number of households using smart search is rising.

Voice search can impact your referrals due to the declining purchases through Google Search. Be ahead of the game and start optimizing your affiliate content for voice commands now.

Voice-based searches are usually shorter than typed searches and frequently contain questions. Find these questions and match your content to lead the searcher to your content.

Guides and FAQ sections are great for voice search because you can optimize voice search questions and common keywords. 

And finally, make sure to optimize your website for mobile visitors, as voice search is often done on mobile. Find more tips to optimize your affiliate pages for voice search here

Find free traffic sources Some of the best channels to promote your affiliate offers are entirely free. Think of advertising on Pinterest, Reddit, and niche forums. You can find a list of free traffic sources to boost your conversions here

13. Outsource time-consuming tasks

Creating a good source of income from affiliate marketing is hard work. It requires multiple skills in different areas of marketing.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Some of the most time-consuming tasks for affiliate marketing you might want to outsource include blog writing, video creation, and design. 

There are tons of experts available to help you build your business. Browse freelance websites to find people that can help you execute these tasks. Post-trial assignments and find your core team of freelancers. 

Hopefully, these affiliate marketing strategies will help you earn more commission. If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, you can visit our affiliate blog section. And join our Supermetrics partner program to earn 20% recurring commissions from each sale.

About Hetty Korsten

Hetty Korsten is a Partner Marketing Manager at Supermetrics. She has worked for fast-growing SaaS startups in Copenhagen and Helsinki. Currently, she’s growing the in-house partner program at Supermetrics. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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