As an affiliate marketer, your job is to promote products using your affiliate link. More specifically, you earn from the visitors who click on your affiliate link and make a purchase before the cookie expires. Usually, this cookie that’s placed on the visitor’s browser has a duration of 30–90 days.
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.
What are affiliate links?
Affiliate links are specific URLs that contain the affiliate’s ID or username. They’re used for tracking the traffic sent from the affiliate’s website to the merchant’s website. Each affiliate has their own unique affiliate link that creates a cookie on the visitor’s browser when clicked, allowing the merchant to track all clicks and purchases that originated from that specific link.
While in most programs, you’re paid only for conversions, click data is a useful metric for monitoring your traffic and conversion rate. It also sometimes helps affiliate managers evaluate how promising an affiliate might be. Regular clicks on the affiliate link is usually a sign that the affiliate is promoting the affiliate product actively and some sales could be expected.
Affiliates are then credited with a commission (usually around 20% of the sales price), when the prospect has made a purchase within the cookie’s duration.
At Supermetrics, we have a 90-day cookie life for referral links. So, if the referral sale falls into that window, you get a 20% recurring commission. And you get paid that 20% each time when the referrals renew their license. This is the benefit of the subscription-based pricing model, which allows multiple commissions from a single referral.
How to use affiliate links?
When choosing affiliate products that match your audience, pay attention to the following factors:
- product-audience fit
- market demand
- product price
- commission type and rate
- sales cycle length
- additional incentives
While there’s going to be plenty of inevitable trial and error, it’s useful to minimize it at this stage as much as possible. Good content is always a major time investment. So, choose your products carefully to avoid wasting your most valuable resource in life—time.
After joining an affiliate program, you get access to your personal affiliate dashboard. In addition to data such as your current earnings and unique visitors, you will find your linking code there.
Depending on what type of promotion you’re planning, you can select your standard link, or choose from the other marking materials such as banners, text ads, lightboxes, and videos.
Here’s an example of a text ad:
When you copy and paste the HTML source code into your website, your affiliate ID is automatically embedded in the link. So, it works the same way as your standard affiliate link. You can also change the color scheme, height, and width of the text ad by adjusting the code.
Whether you copy the standard affiliate link and paste it directly to your content or use the HTML code and add it to your website makes no difference for tracking your clicks and sales.
Some affiliates also choose to cloak their affiliate links to make them look better for visitors. But this isn’t necessary, unless the link is a long string of numbers and letters that looks spammy.
Affiliate dashboards are somewhat different in each affiliate program but all of them display at least the most important metrics: (click) traffic and (sales) commissions.
How to promote affiliate links?
Choosing the right affiliate products to promote is obviously crucial for your success. But so is choosing the right promotional strategies. Previously, we’ve written about the different types of affiliate partners and the traffic sources available to everyone. But as a blogger who wants to monetize their website (or audience, that is) with affiliate links, here’s what you should do:
- Insert affiliate links in your product reviews and tutorials
- Add affiliate links to your resources page
- Place affiliate banners on your website
- Use affiliate links in your newsletters and email sequences
- Embed affiliate links into your video content
- Promote affiliate links on social media and forums
- Link to your affiliate offers directly on Medium
- Include affiliate links to your own products
Insert affiliate links in your product reviews and tutorials
As a content-focused affiliate marketer, you probably already know that you need these two content types: reviews and tutorials. Reviews, which we can lump together with comparisons, are your moneymakers. They target people with purchase intent and bring actual sales. Tutorials together with guides are more for building traffic and authority in your chosen niche.
But you need both to build a brand around your website. Not all of your content should be for profit only. Your key to creating sticky content is to develop a deep understanding of the products you’re promoting. A strong product and user-focus combined with keyword-optimized titles and subheadings is how you get qualified traffic. Without forgetting link building, of course.
Try to cover everything that a potential customer would like to know about the product. Use examples and screenshots and don’t shy away from pointing out potential weaknesses of the product. Share your first-hand experience and tips. Transparency goes a long way.
Finally, insert at least one CTA on the page using your affiliate link. And if you can offer perks such as discounts, you may leverage that angle and ask your visitors to sign up for your newsletter, for example, to get a special deal. Just don’t try to rank for discount-related keywords in the hopes of making easy money. That’s not allowed by most affiliate programs and will only lead to the termination of your affiliate account.
Add affiliate links to your resources page
A resources page can be a list of your top tools and products that you endorse and use yourself. Just don’t go overboard with your list by adding items that you’re not actually using regularly. Include a short description of each product and add your affiliate link to it, preferably one that leads visitors to a free trial. As with all promotional pages, make sure to add a disclosure, too.
Place affiliate banners on your website
While contextual links are usually more effective in driving sales than banners, there’s room for both. Banners have the advantage of being visually appealing.
Below is one of our top banners used by Supermetrics partners based on unique hits.
These are easy to place on the sidebar of your page, header, footer, or within your content. Your affiliate link is automatically embedded into the code that you just copy and paste to your page.
Generally speaking, the higher on your page the banner is placed, the more clicks you get. On the other hand, visitors with purchase intent usually read your content more carefully.
Because banners look more promotional than contextual links and many visitors ignore them, it’s better to use them sparingly. But they work for other marketing channels as well, for example social media and email campaigns.
Use affiliate links in your newsletters and email sequences
Sending out emails to your blog subscribers means that you must already have an audience. Creating an email sign-up form on your website is a good starting point.
Your newsletter serves several functions. It’s a way to build a relationship with your readers, distribute your blog content, and promote your affiliate products. In that order, preferably.
Getting a visitor to sign up for your newsletter means that your emails should at least share useful content. And if possible, they should also provide perks such as your own exclusive guides that are not published online or special deals on your affiliate products.
Here’s an example of Ryan Robinson’s email sequence for people interested in starting a blog.
If you decide to create a sequence of emails that you send to each new subscriber, maybe don’t place any affiliate links on the first email. Build trust first. And if you start sending a regular monthly newsletter, for example, one affiliate link per newsletter is probably enough promotion.
Embed affiliate links into your video content
Videos are a good way to complement your written blog content. In fact, it’s possible to repurpose your old blog articles and turn them into videos. And vice versa, of course.
So, how do you embed affiliate links into your videos? You add them to your video description and also mention them verbally in your video. Simple as that.
Promote affiliate links on social media and forums
We’ve written extensive guides on using affiliate links on specific social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok, and forums such as Quora and Reddit. You can find these articles in the affiliate growth category of our Supermetrics blog.
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 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 the affiliate links. Direct sales from social media are rare. That’s why it’s more suitable for driving traffic to your affiliate website.
Not all social media channels and forums match with your affiliate product. For example, TikTok and Instagram are not ideal for promoting Supermetrics. Because they don’t have the right demographic. Although, marketers who use Supermetrics could run ads on those channels.
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.
Link to your affiliate offers directly on Medium
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.
Stuffing 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.
Include affiliate links to your own products
Many affiliates also sell their own products such as ebooks and online courses. Adding your affiliate link to a section inside your product where it makes contextual sense is another opportunity for your promotion. Just keep it subtle to avoid turning it into a sales pitch.
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 like 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?
Because endorsing and promoting products for profit is regulated by law, you’re required to disclose your affiliate partnerships.
Affiliate disclosure is a way to notify your website visitors that some of the products you mention and link to are affiliate products and you may receive compensation for that. It helps consumers make informed decisions and makes your incentives transparent.
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. Below is an example of affiliate disclosure from Jon Torres.
What to avoid with affiliate links?
No matter how you decide to promote your affiliate links, try to avoid at least these three common pitfalls:
Don’t limit yourself to only one type of affiliate link placements
Affiliate marketing is all about diversifying your efforts and maximizing your profits. And the best way to optimize your use of affiliate links is to leverage various link placement strategies.
Don’t promote affiliate links in different industries on the same website
Relevance is key not only for keyword ranking but also for ensuring product-audience fit for your affiliate website. The same audience is likely a good target for various products within one niche. But if you want to expand your affiliate offers across industries, it makes sense to build separate websites for each niche.
Don’t place affiliate links that provide no value to your audience
Placing too many affiliate links at the expense of your audience is not a good long-term strategy. You need the trust of your audience to generate sales. And the only way to earn that trust is by creating content that matches the intent of your visitors and gives them what they’re looking for.
Now you know where to get your affiliate link and how to use it to get started with affiliate marketing. You can then choose where to place your affiliate links from the options listed above and keep tracking your results. Once you’ve identified the best way to get your offer in front of the right audience, you’ll start reaping the benefits.
And if you’re just at the stage of finding the right affiliate programs, take a look at some high-paying affiliate programs that will surely make your promotion a worthwhile effort. Or simply join our Supermetrics partner program to earn 20% recurring commissions from each sale.
In our ultimate guide, you will find out more about the basics of affiliate marketing.
About Johannes Rastas
A Partner Marketing Manager at Supermetrics, Johannes focuses on expanding the Supermetrics partner program and collaborating with their existing partners. He also works with SEO and content on a daily basis. Feel free to contact him on LinkedIn.