by Juan Robin II
Big changes are coming in the affiliate marketing world and the question is…
Are you ready for them?
Here’s what changes in the affiliate marketing industry we’ve seen in the past few years;
- The focus on mobile responsive websites over desktop with Google now ranking mobile responsive sites higher.
- The huge shift to high quality authority websites from the older smaller sites that have limited pages and only review products.
- The rise of automation and Artificial Intelligence bots.
- Cuts in commission rates from major affiliate programs like Amazon.
- Endless Google algorithm updates that have wiped out affiliate sites traffic and their affiliate income overnight.
- The entry of big media companies like the New York Times into the affiliate marketing industry for the first time.
However, there’s so many more trends about to happen and potential disasters on the horizon.
Some that you can predict and plan for.
And some that you might never see coming unless you listen to these experts.
So listen up, you need to read this from start to finish and make sure you are 100% bulletproof to these upcoming changes to the affiliate industry.
Otherwise they could cause “Affiliate Armageddon” and destroy your site.
Here’s the deal…
We’ve asked 37 top affiliate marketing experts to share the insights and challenges they see coming this year.
And we asked them for their solutions and suggestions to take advantage of the upcoming trends and changes.
Read this post, understand it, and implement it to make your affiliate income bulletproof.
Here’s the 37 experts answers…
Affiliate marketing won’t change drastically, those who were successful will remain successful if they continue to follow the same principles.
The affiliate formula is always the same – find out what people need or desire (pain points) and put the solution in front of them.
Now, what separates successful affiliates from unsuccessful ones is persistence (most of the time).
Yes, we all fail from occasionally, but the ones who keep going are the ones who succeed in the end.
From my personal experience finding the solution for people’s problems and showing it to them in a clearest way possible, is the way to go.
Sure, traffic matters, but you don’t need tens of thousands monthly visitors to make money online.
I have about 3000 visits per month and I make between $500-$1000 promoting affiliate products.
I do that by presenting the products in a bit different way, answering all the question a potential buyer could have and I do my best to show a live demo of each tool/product I recommend.
You can see what I mean in my Thrive Leads Review article.
For everyone starting in affiliate marketing I would suggest to be as descriptive as possible when reviewing products.
Use unique images, videos and text.
Write longer articles, format your articles nicely and optimize your website for SEO.
First impression matters too, so make sure your website looks nice, but keep the usability and functionality at the highest rate possible.
In short, if you want to be successful in affiliate marketing in make sure to be different, to over-deliver and to answer all the questions your visitors might have (so that they don’t need to look for it elsewhere).
Affiliate marketing is done through the medium, which customers want to buy.
Traditionally this has been content but now I believe we are seeing more and more people move to video, as that is what people want to consume.
Therefore, one trend I see is video playing a larger role in affiliate marketing, which will inevitably give rise to video search engines like YouTube (already important, but easily overlooked).
Additionally, we are seeing more and more marketers using personalized drip campaigns that are highly triggered based on user behavior.
This makes complete sense to me, and I believe it will start to catch on now that lower cost tools are available like Drip (not cheap, but affordable).
I think Affiliate Marketing will increase on eCommerce products and will see a massive segmentation on SaaS products.
Basically due to SaaS products are vastly increasing and eCommerce is rising in usage, visits and popularity.
I also think mobile affiliate marketing is very interesting if mobile websites and payment gateways can make affiliate purchasing (or purchasing in general) to have a seamless, friction-less experience for mobile.
Everything’s compressed and simple in mobile browsing – so if mobile purchasing could be as compressed and simple, I think affiliate marketing could see a huge boost in sales volume.
The Google-backed Accelerated Mobile Pages could also prove to be a powerful way for affiliate marketers to earn through publishing.
And distributing those publications to mobile apps that take advantage of AMP loading such as Flipboard and the Native Twitter app.
How can affiliate marketers best grow and engage their audience for the new year?
Email marketing. I think it’s been proven and tested that email is the best converting and retention method that affiliate marketers use.
There’s tons of data to back my statement out there. Email is changing drastically. Google is making it so – as well as the other multiple email plugins and integration out there such as Streak and Hubspot’s Sidekick.
In the last few years, we’ve seen a ton of standard, run-of-the-mill affiliate sites.
You know the type – those niche-specific Amazon review sites that aren’t well differentiated and don’t have terribly helpful content.
There are two things I’d love to see…
1. Honest, Heads-Up Review Sites.
This probably wouldn’t work if you’re comparing one set of belts to another, but what if you were to create in-depth, meaty write-ups on CRM’s for small-medium sized businesses?
(i.e. Salesforce Vs. Microsoft Dynamics) Optin Software? (Leadpages Vs. Unbounce)
If you look at most of the reviews for this software you’ll find fairly crappy content in systems that have no data (probably test accounts?) from marketers, not real users.
Can’t we do better than that as affiliates?
2. Blended Monetization Methods
Instead of your standard niche Amazon affiliate site, why not take a more holistic view of the visitors?
What problems are they trying to solve?
Are there any infoproducts or paid communities that might be a good fit for them?
These are the kind of questions that will lead to more opportunities for affiliate marketers.
It will be interesting to see how it shapes out.
Having been in the industry for 20 years now, I’ve been able to see a lot of transitions in affiliate marketing over the years.
People are always saying this will change and that will change… but at the end of the day, it’s about changing your business with the environment.
Affiliate marketing is always going to be here (in one form or another) and it’s always going to make money as long as you continue to focus on the value provided and user experience.
Yes, yes… you’ve heard that before — but as cliche as it sounds, it is the real business model behind legitimate online businesses that make money year after year.
Anyone can make money with a fly-by-night ad campaign or website, but if you want to make long-term money, you need to think like a real business.
Here are some key tips to help you find more success with affiliate marketing in 2016.
Find a Niche
And work really hard at becoming the authority in that space (especially if you are focusing on a brand or being a well-known expert).
The more you niche down and have an exact audience, the easier this will be to accomplish.
Google is Still Google
The best traffic is still coming from Google, plain and simple.
When someone searches for something in Google and they find what they are looking for, that is a working business model.
Put in the time and effort to create something that provides value time and time again and your site will rank higher and work for you while you sleep.
Link Building is Still a Top Priority
No matter what “SEO experts” say and how many Google updates come out, at the end of the day, if you want to rank ahead of the competition you need to acquire high-quality backlinks to your site.
Guest blogging, infographics, PR and social media are all great methods for increasing backlinks.
Need even more ideas?
Check out this list from Backlinko.
YOU are the business!
For most affiliate marketers, it’s a one-man operation.
This means you are going to be responsible for your own success and failure.
Don’t let one winning campaign get to your head.
Instead, think about how you can grow and scale into something much bigger.
This includes building out your own sites, ad campaigns, mailing lists and actually owning the data and products you are selling.
Affiliate marketing is here to stay, now you need to make sure you get the most out of it in!
(P.S. If you’d like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
If you are an affiliate marketer and have more than 10 niche sites just waiting to take off, please raise you hand.
Just as I thought, almost everyone.
What if I told you that you could do far better in your business if you only focused on one website? (Yes, you read correct.)
You have probably heard the saying: people hate to be sold to, but they love to buy.
Who do people buy from?
If you answered, “from people they know, like and trust”, a high five to you! *SLAP*
How can you get people to know, like and trust you?
By creating engaging content that solves your audience’s biggest struggle for free.
As the successful Internet marketer, Eben Pagan, says: “It’s all about lowering the free-line”.
This means that you are giving away more valuable content for free than your competitors.
Key Trends for Affiliate Marketing :
The affiliate marketers that will do great will be the ones that
- Are able to put their personality out there and stand out
- Create awesome personalized content for their audience
- Who are able to attract the right clients
- Who are managing to build their brand fast
And there is one key to building your online brand fast…
Have a Blogger Outreach Strategy
Nothing is more important than to build relationships with other influential marketers.
If you have built great genuine relationships with 5 influential affiliate marketers, you could create win-win opportunities:
- By promoting their stuff (which you knew was top notch) to your email list
- By promoting your stuff (if you have your own products) to their list, which would increase conversion, since they would already saying nice things about you.
- If you don’t have any products, you could become a “broker”. Matching great affiliate products to affiliate marketers, taking a 5-10% fee by putting great deals together.
You are probably thinking: “Okay, Tor. I get it.
Networking with other influential marketers is important.
But does it really help to build your brand fast?”
Great question indeed.
Judge for yourself.
In achieved the following in my first year of blogging:
Got 2000 targeted Twitter followers in 38 days (free traffic) – I now have about 12 300 followers
- Wrote a post that generated 20,231 page views in 6 days, 1500+ social shares and 80 comments
- Increased my email list in 779 subscribers in 60 days (by working 40 days)
- I got featured on 85 blogs within my first year of blogging.
Nothing of that would have been possible if it wasn’t for my blogger outreach strategy.
Want to hear something really cool?
When I launch my next product, which will be of high quality and a good match for the influencers I know, I can probably get many of them to become an affiliate.
Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, Blogs at NeilPatel.com
Affiliate marketing will become harder.
Sure as you already know it is shifting towards mobile and tablets, but people are getting used to the concept of affiliate marketing.
Consumers will be less likely to just click on links… as an affiliate you will have to spend more time creating valuable content and educating before you generate the sale.
Nader’s thoughts: People just won’t click on anything. Users are more aware of affiliate marketing so they’ll be careful with who they trust.
So you, as a marketer, will need to figure out how you can help your visitors (do make sure you found your niche first so you know what to solve for your readers) as much as possible before sending them off to an affiliate link.
Many things will remain the same for affiliate marketing – affiliate marketers will still have to provide value to their audience and work hard to grow their following.
As far as changes, I believe that opportunities will continue to grow on mobile for affiliate marketing and affiliate marketing will continue to grow beyond North America and expand into global markets.
Nader’s thoughts: Marketers should work smart in the sense of work quality, they need to position themselves as an authority in their niche or they’ll struggle to grow a following.
More and more people will start treating their affiliate websites as businesses.
A lot of beginners are still struggling with affiliate marketing and in most scenarios, it’s because they’re following “the old model”.
They’re outsourcing low quality, short content and just throwing something up on the web.
As Brian Dean and many others have demonstrated with guides like the skyscraper technique – quality content is key for both SEO, social traffic and most importantly, conversions.
I think that’s where we’re headed now.
A lot of the “old school” niche marketers are revamping their sites with better and better content, focusing more on the user, their problems and their experience.
Another key trend seems to be the death of “one-off” niche sites.
People are now understanding that the typical Adsense / affiliate template of picking one super specific keyword and building a whole site about it isn’t the way to go long-term.
Authority sites are on the rise and I believe that’s a good thing for the industry.
I think most of the same affiliate marketing techniques will prove effective at generating revenue.
Even with competition intensifying and new niches popping up seemingly every hour, the old school battle tested affiliate strategies will hold strong.
Here are 4 strategies that worked really well for me, and where I will continue to focus…
1. Long Form Review Posts
Check search volume around “review” and “tutorial” related keywords for your affiliate products.
They both rank top 5 in Google and drive a lot of middle funnel traffic that converts pretty well.
2. Leverage Influencer Opinion to Sell Affiliate Products
Where possible target “best [product]” keywords with expert roundups.
Here is an example.
In the post 58 online marketing experts rated SEMrush the #1 keyword research tool.
It ranks #1 in Google for it’s target keyword and drives a ton of targeted traffic each month.
Influencer ratings and an exclusive trial code generate new signups every day.
3. Leverage Your Email List
This one is HUGE.
Specifically, there are two ways I’ve found this to work well.
First, set up an upsell series.
For example, I’m in the process of building out an affiliate autoresponder for anyone downloading my content promotion eBook.
As soon as the subscriber confirms their email address, they will be redirected to a thank you page with a video sale letter that sells a small ($7) tripwire offer (eg. how to rank expert roundups #1 in Google).
When someone buys the tripwire they are then redirected to a core offer page where I will upsell them into a paid affiliate online marketing course.
This series is effective in capturing the lead with a free eBook, instantly turning the lead into a customer (tripwire) and then maximizing affiliate revenue with a higher ticket upsell.
Second, I’m using Thrive Leads to build smart links.
When someone clicks from my email to a blog post they don’t see any opt-in forms.
This is redundant. Instead, they see a popup that promotes a relevant affiliate products.
4. More email
You don’t have to write a blog post to promote affiliate products.
Treat your site and list like a business.
Don’t be afraid to send promotional emails every so often.
And, use video and short email tutorials to deliver value without selling. Educate and build trust with your audience.
A couple no-brainers to end.
Make sure you’re targeting top funnel keywords and driving those visitors through some type of affiliate autoresponder series.
Use middle funnel keywords with “best”, “review”, “tutorial”, “comparison” modifiers to bring in more middle funnel traffic that tends to convert better.
Make sure your site is FAST and mobile-friendly.
To be honest, the affiliate marketing game hasn’t changed much.
We just have new technology, media and networks to play with.
For me, media that lets people feel connected to you will have the best converting results which is why blogs with loyal followers and email subscribers has consistently converted people over the years.
There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said over the years.
For the next year, audio, specifically podcasting will have an even bigger role compared to this year.
I can see the trend due to the rise of this type of media being more and more accessible.
More and more shows are being produced and the producers are getting better at pushing affiliate products in a subtle way.
Using audio is one of the fastest ways for people to feel connected with you so this will only get bigger over time.
For those that are comfortable with video, then this is definitely your media of choice.
It converts really well because like audio, it connects you to the person watching it.
And it’s pretty “under the radar” with all the new up n’ coming vloggers, it still doesn’t get much “press” in terms of affiliate marketing.
Though a lot of people “hear” or “know” that video is a big deal, not much people actually jump in. It’s not as crowded as blogging, that’s for sure.
Want to see examples?
Hop on to YouTube, find shows with 50k-200k++ subscribers and you will see that they have “sponsors” but they are also affiliates for as well.
As the barriers to entry continue to lower, I believe the proliferation of content that we have seen during the past couple of years will only increase.
I think that each and everyone of us online marketers has a choice…
Your success will come down to your ability to create a connection with your audience.
If people truly believe that you care about their results, regardless of your niche, you will remain relevant (as will be proved by your revenues).
However, if you just pump out bland, cookie-cutter content that does not add value or more importantly: connect with your audience… you will get lost in the noise.
So, which will it be?
Personally for me I do not think that affiliate marketing will be completely different.
I think it will continue moving in the segment of mobile, more quality traffic, more personalized content and focusing on user experience.
But if you look at affiliate marketing now and in 2012 for example, you will see that it has greatly changed. I want to say more about each part of affiliate marketing that you should definitely consider.
- ComScore says the number of mobile-only internet users now exceeds desktop-only and it means more focus on mobile website today. Not having a mobile website or having not mobile friendly is a big mistake.
Also Google added one more signal to their ranking algorithm – having a mobile-friendly website. It affects websites that do not display well on mobile devices.
High quality content is more important than backlinks.
Some people can’t agree with this hypothesis but very often when you create really quality content – backlinks come naturally and much more than you expected.
Social media. Stop thinking about the number of followers and the number of post shares/retweets.
Social media is not only about sharing but it is also about trust of your social account.
If your followers see that you share only quality and relevant content, in future they will retweet it without reading.
For example, I’m working on Hope Spring Twitter account for the past few months.
And even now when we have a little less than 500 followers, our posts getting very good social activity. For example this one:
User experience. Google wants your content to be valuable and they want to show only quality content in TOP of the search results.
This means, you should think about your site reader/buyer. Be sure they are not having troubles when viewing your website.
Landing pages must be optimized for the user and not for Google search or Google Adwords.
When creating a new landing page, you need to keep user’s experience in mind.
For me the main trend is that things don’t change as fast as we think.
There are still couple of key things you need to do well in order to be a great affiliate marketer.
These are the same things that also made you a great marketer last year and this year.
First you need to create content that fills the need of an audience.
Something great, something different, something they cannot get other places. Something that has a very natural and organic connection to the affiliate program you are promoting.
Second you need to get out there and reach out to this audience.
You need to go where they are and work on showing them value you can create in their lives in order to get them to come and visit your site.
If you do these things well you will provide value to an audience which will help you get great results for your affiliate offers too.
Good luck and all the best for this year!
It’s going to be the year of the webinars.
Sure, webinars have been around forever but all of the tools that make webinars easy through Google Hangouts and all of the new automated webinar tools make doing webinars so much more accessible.
More and more people are catching on that doing live webinars is actually an easy way to make sales and that you don’t need to be selling your own product to be successful.
Combining easy Facebook ads with live and automated webinars to pitch a product as an affiliate (with a couple of your own added bonuses) will be the quick path to commissions.
The core things that have always worked will continue to work…
Growing a list, building a personal brand, creating a platform, and then recommending products from atop your platform is a fundamental affiliate marketing strategy.
Mixing live and automated webinars into the mix will create easy affiliate commissions.
That’s my prediction as well as a big part of my personal game plan.
As with everything online where traffic is primarily driven by search and social there is one overall trend that will impact strategy this year and beyond.
Fortunately, we can sum this up in a single word: quality.
A lot of the affiliate sites out there are driven by PBN’s or low quality SEO link based strategies.
Google is tightening up and the coming Penguin Algorithm will likely hurt lots of PBN networks which will knock on with many affiliate sites.
Visitors also demand more. The content must be useful. It must be genuinely insightful.
Subject matter experts will prosper and low quality affiliate sites will see less engagement.
The giants of internet commerce like Amazon can’t provide the information that prospects demand across the board so there is still a place for affiliate sites yet they must tackle quality.
They must have a reason to be visible in search and they must provide truly valuable information that helps visitors make a purchase decision.
In many ways it will be business as usual but affiliate marketers must focus on providing value and filling a gap – do this and your site will rank, by worthy of real sustainable links and continue to drive your affiliate earnings this year and beyond.
With the ever growing importance of mobile and the ease of purchasing on mobile devices, usability and site speed will be a top priority.
Fortunately most content management systems such as WordPress have plenty of responsive themes available, so the biggest challenge will be site speed.
One area to consider here will be how your page load times are impacted when simultaneous users are accessing your site.
Sure, most shared hosts do ok when there are a few people on the site, but the truth is that most crumble under the pressure and load times skyrocket.
So investing in a decent host is essential. The use of CDN’s like MaxCDN can further improve page load times without any technical hurdles.
Here’s the bottom line:
If your page load times are bad – it’s costing you money.
Financially, you’ll be better off paying more for a faster host.
What other changes could we see?
I think the big one will be a focus on copywriting/conversion optimization.
There are so many products out there that could get you more commissions, if only they put some effort into writing a more compelling sales page.
Creating sales pages and running split tests to improve conversions is easier than ever with the technology available.
So we should see more brands/product-creators step up their game.
What I’d love to see more from affiliate marketers is…
It’s not enough to put a link to a product somewhere in your article.
It’s not enough to bring people to the landing page and describe how cool that product is.
The most surefire way to sell something is to paint a picture in customers’ head where he is using your product and getting some results with it.
And the best way to do that?
Show him a real case study of how YOU have used that product and what you got from it.
This is something I didn’t see very often recently and I’m hoping affiliate marketers will be putting to the test every product that they’re trying to sell and sharing their case studies with potential buyers.
Affiliate marketers will definitely need to focus on higher quality content.
Since many rely on search rankings to get visitors to their website, and Google is making it harder for sites without great content to rank, it makes sense that quality content needs to be a high priority to get search traffic and visitor conversion to affiliate offers.
Nader’s thoughts: Readers are looking for content to help satisfy their needs and questions, so marketers need to put out high quality content. Without great content, you won’t have any love from Google.
I think this year is going to be the end of fly by night affiliate marketers.
You know, those who create review only sites or slideshows on with text to speech reading a sales pitch, hide their faces and throw a call to action in every 100 words.
As brands are starting to understand the power and ROI of content marketing, they are slowly pushing these kind of brand keyword hijacking away.
However, their understanding of content marketing also makes them want to partner with strong 3rd party who can offer a more objective view on their product which is a position they can never fill themselves.
That means that if you can be that powerful 3rd party that polarizes an audience around who you are and be that 3rd party they need to convince a part of their audiences, brand are going to red carpet you to work with them as an affiliate.
This happened to me a few months ago when working with the guys at Ahrefs.
I decided I wanted to promote the product because I think it’s the best on the market by quite a margin and got in touch with them to explain what I wanted.
They not only gave me free tool access, they also offered $2000+ of product to give away to my audience during the promo and even promoted my Ahrefs related content to their large email list.
The marginal cost for them was almost nothing (some software access and 1 email) but the gain for me was massive.
Tens of thousands of people discovered Authority Hacker.
I was able to give free stuff worth thousands of dollars to my loyal followers and at the same time I was able to justify giving free SEO training away as part of the promo as an affiliate.
Today, I get monthly commissions that are still a result of this one promo and I probably will for many months to come.
I have no doubt that this kind of true partnership will be what pushes affiliate marketing forward in the future.
I would not be surprised to see many companies close their open registration and work with a selected few partners instead.
(P.S. If you’d like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Any affiliate marketer looking to make their mark is going to have to do one thing to stand out from the crowd: build a relationship.
Gone are the days where you can make a healthy income as an affiliate marketer by being an anonymous entity on the internet, and simply sending an email out to the masses.
The market is becoming more competitive, and to differentiate yourself from the competition you have to have a bond with your audience.
Don’t hide behind an email address; become the face of your brand.
Communicate with your audience via video. Do live streaming using Periscope.
Build a tribe using Facebook groups.
Get to know your followers by name, talk to them on a one–to-one level, and listen to what they have to say.
You’ll learn a lot about what they need and how you can best serve them.
That sort of connection is priceless.
And it’s that sort of connection which is going to be the key to your success.
I wouldn’t say that there is going to be anything specifically different this year from last.
I’d expect a continuation of the trend that’s been growing these last few years. More and more affiliate marketers need to do the following:
1.) Help people with free information.
2.) Show people the benefits of using whatever it is they’re promoting.
The more a blogger can demonstrate why something is worth having, the easier it will be for them to get sales.
Simply promoting something isn’t going to be as effective as it used to be.
I think this is going to be more noticeable than things like “Mobile” or “User Experience”, which are hard to quantify anyway.
Nader’s thoughts: Affiliate marketing isn’t exactly changing, it’s evolving. Things that have been happening over the last year are just going to multiply in effect. So if consumers want user-friendly websites, you better focus on making your website as user friendly as possible. Check out these 1 hour upgrades you can apply to your website right now.
As the tech world shifts and changes at a rapid pace, affiliate marketing has to adjust and keep pace too.
Content marketing will play an ever increasing role, with more niche and nuanced markets emerging and growing.
We’ll see the increase of niche sites like eCommerece Platform that cater to single specific needs and generate revenue from more or less one affiliate relationship, in this case Shopify.
Also the growth of personal brands within these increasingly niche spaces, where experts leverage their authority and brand equity to gain traffic and transactions.
Other areas of growth and change for 2016 within affiliate marketing will be performance marketing and mobile commerce.
The core principles are still the same really.
I’d focus on creating great content that adds value then putting it in front of the right people by promoting it.
Organic traffic still converts the best, but I’d not ignore social media traffic though.
Networks like Pinterest and Instagram have grown significantly and proved to be very effective for lots of businesses.
Nader’s thoughts: Great content should be a priority for affiliate marketers as well as promotion. Take advantage of any kind of traffic you can. Just look at our post on how to write a good post.
If you want to be on top of your affiliate game in you’ll need to focus on three main things…
One is User Experience:
- How is your site adding value to the user so they decide to purchase through your link?
- How is your website experience different from the rest so you get a lot more attention, traction and sales?
- How valuable your website is for the Search engines, based on user behavior?
Remember that is the user that determines how much money your affiliate site is making every month.
More so, when users will be more informed, connected and they’ll be more exigent regarding quality and content.
Second is Mobile:
- How easy is it to purchase from a mobile device?
- How is the mobile traffic flowing through your website?
- What can you do to make it better, easier or more entertaining so that the mobile user solves his need instantly?
Mobile has surpassed actual desktop traffic.
This tendency can only go up.
If you’re not looking at conversions made from mobile devices, you’ll be leaving a ton of money on the table.
Third is Relationships:
- How many products developers have you contacted directly?
- How many deals did you get from talking to them?
- How can you help them increasing conversions so that you both make more money?
Many product developers are just people that are willing to learn or be helped in order to sell more.
Many times you can get a better deal if you contact them directly and you can also help them to enhance their sales funnels, which will benefit both of you.
So much information was being given away for free in an effort to build authority and trust by so many people.
Always value BUT Always Pitch.
It’s the awareness of the product that is important and that people are missing. In a sea of “free line value,” people are branding themselves but not defining themselves with anything that actually costs money.
There is a balance to the free and the paid, those that define themselves as people with products to sell AND an interest in helping others will find success.
Effective Email Marketing
And high open rates will continue to be based strongly on who the email is from and less on the subject line.
So never has it been more important to define yourself as someone who provides great value and entertainment BUT that always has something that people can buy that they associate you with.
Social Media Will Continue To Dominate The Space
This is where the people naturally are now, so to pull them away to your website is almost like pulling them off the grid.
They will visit for information but generally they filter right back to the social network to talk about what they found.
That means one thing to me…
Whatever You Are Doing Needs To Be Mobile Friendly.
It’s not a tiny market share that you can afford to ignore anymore.
My grandma is using a smart phone for Godsakes…and she hates the internet…but she loves Amazon.com…you tell me which way the wind blows man, because she’s like 88 years old.
The bottom line is make sure it looks good on a phone and make sure they can buy it from their phone.
Something that I have noticed a lot of is people disregarding small amounts of traffic.
People like to play games with numbers and estimate percentages but here is the truth…
Some people ask, “I am only getting 20 visitors a day to my website…that is why I am not making money” and it’s funny to me.
Really? Maybe it’s because you’re ignoring those 20 visitors.
If you had a membership section on your website and got just 1 of those 20 a day to convert then you would increase your income by 11,700 dollars over the course of 12 months.
That’s just one. Get one of those 20 people to buy a day.
Anyone could accomplish that if they were focused on it and not on more, more, more, more, traffic.
Traffic maximization is a neglected art.
In Closing I Say This To You All…
Is going to be an EPIC year one way or another for some people.
For others it will be more of the same.
Define yourself pointedly and with a purpose to help but also to thrive.
If you don’t thrive, then you don’t last.
I implore you now, go forth and thrive. This is a new day.
It’s okay to be the salesman. In fact, it’s critical.
For the last several years I believe we’ve been moving toward the direction that you need to provide a personality that readers can connect with along with subject matter authority.
A more personal branded site is easier to connect with readers than one where you have no connection to the author.
That said, there are always exceptions like building a large team of writers etc but I assume most people are interested in doing this as a solo entrepreneur (at least to start).
Nader’s thoughts: Simply said, you need to be the face of your site if you want to connect with your readers. People make it harder to gain their trust and this is especially hard if you can’t put out quality content (see how to create affiliate reviews).
As to affiliate marketing, I’m not a huge affiliate marketer.
I do believe that simply writing content isn’t enough, anymore.
The design and user experience is becoming a strong differentiator.
You can have a great content, but a crappy website will affect conversions.
You can also have a great website and crappy content. Both are essential.
Nader’s thoughts: Anyone can write content, so content is not going to make you different as an marketer.
You need to focus on design and user experience just as much as you would with your content.
Look at the case study we did on ThisIsWhyImBroke.com and you’ll see what Josh is talking about.
I don’t see affiliate marketing being majorly different.
We have seen trends – more marketers moving to white hat strategies – and I expect those trends to continue.
I am mainly familiar with Amazon Affiliate Niche Sites so this process still holds true. (see image) Again, there might be more of a focus on Guest Posting and networking over Private Blog Networks.
PBNs and gray hat tactics still work just fine, but they do have more risk for Google penalties
Nader’s thoughts: While affiliate marketing won’t change much, it may just evolve with white hat strategies as Google kicks in more updates.
Guest posting is pretty much an evergreen strategy you can always apply.
Two primary trends will continue to shape affiliate marketing.
It’s All About Mobile
The huge shift we have seen to mobile and tablet devices looks set to continue and will continue to influence affiliate marketing as well as marketing as a whole.
With this, consumers will be increasingly more comfortable with making online purchases from these devices – something that hasn’t yet grown as rapidly as the take-up of the devices themselves.
It’s All About Anticipation
With the market so saturated nowadays, success will come to those who are best able to identify the next hotly-anticipated product… before it hits the shelves.
In the old days you could just put up landing pages for products you wanted to sell; now, being able to identify those niches – and prepare for them before anyone else – will hold you in good stead.
I think affiliate marketing will become more disguised and niche-ified.
Because the average online shopper is getting more and more savvy, old marketing techniques aimed at immediate conversion are less and less effective (for example “banner blindness”).
Online consumers are also doing more research before making a purchase decision, lending more emphasis to high quality content like in-depth product descriptions and reviews.
What this means is that affiliate marketing needs to cater to the information-seeking consumer more than the purchase-seeking consumer.
If you’re not providing the information about the product/service, then someone else will.
Going hand-in-hand with the increase in detail will be the new niches created to form what I refer to as product-based communities.
I have seen this in many industries now, where websites curate very specific types of products, geared towards a single audience, which are very successful.
Rather than being the one-stop shop online (think Walmart), success will come from investing time and specificity into the audience and content.
If you can hone in website to cater to one specific type of consumer with a narrow range of products, you’ll find high audience engagement and repeat business.
Earning affiliate commissions through blogging requires some strategic approaches this year.
Here are a few things that I’m looking at this year’s trends in affiliate marketing..
1. Produce informative guides/resources with customer buying intents drives higher conversions than the usual or regular publishing of blog posts.
A strategic execution goes like this: use mini guides to make customers aware of the products/services or get them consider those for their needs and then use internal linking to case studies, testimonials or proof of work that would help visitors convert to customers.
2. Develop content using psychology-based copywriting – using call to actions (CTAs) and proper words that nudges visitors to take actions is an essential skill that requires testing or experiments.
3. Invest in user experience and web design, as it allows web users to navigate your pages easily.
Which makes it easy for them to see products or services endorsed by your blog.
4. Build relationships with like-minded publishers and influencers through email outreach and social sharing.
Initiate conversations with them to build a network of allies and help your website benefit from these relationships.
Contributing posts to other blogs allows you not only to get links but followers and referred customers back to your blog.
You can check out this post for actionable link building tips on email outreach.
5. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly since visitors are now going to mobile these days.
For tech industries, a huge percentage of web users are using mobile for web browsing.
6. Grow your audience by participating in niche-specific online communities like forums and Q&A websites.
While doing this, spend time on content distribution so you can constantly increase traffic from authoritative websites without spending too much from your budget.
As an Amazon niche site builder, I think Google will start devaluing niche sites with just a
couple of pages.
They will prefer authority websites over niche sites in 2016.
Niche site builders need to focus more on content, content design, and improving overall user experience.
Apart from publishing just a bunch of reviews into Amazon niche sites, marketers need to publish more solution oriented contents, and guidelines.
Google started to penalize a large number of niche sites (manual Thin Content Penalty) built with less or no value for readers (they are doing this massively now).
This trend will continue.
So for niche site builders, it will be a challenge of ‘adding value, or die.’
For niche site link building, marketers need to focus most of their efforts on creative and high-quality link building.
PBN (private blog network) links will get a hit for some, who are excessively using a single PBN for multiple sites without any topic-based relation among them.
To survive, I would say, stop thinking small.
I would suggest not to build dozens of small sites, but to focus more on 1 or 2 sites.
Start with a narrow topic and expand your vertical as your site grows.
Publish a lot of fresh contents on a regular basis. Target more keywords, and solve more problems of your audiences.
What key trends will shape affiliate marketing strategies…
I think we’ll see a rise in affiliate marketing for smaller e-commerce shops.
It seems that’s a HUGE wave that’s crashing over our community right now and hot on the trails will be affiliate marketers with a whole new line up of products (at better commission than Amazon) to promote.
Is it all about mobile? More quality traffic? More copywriting and content? Personalization? Focusing on user experience?
I’ve been watching this pretty closely and most of my traffic is still 50/50 between desktop and mobile, but my audience is typically a lot older so that could be the reason why the mobile % isn’t higher.
As always copywriting and direct marketing are king. I’m not big on content creation, but I do know it works (Case in point – NicheHacks 😉 )
I expect the trend of set-and-forget niche affiliate sites to slowly die.
Affiliate marketing is more of brand building and email marketing these days, and it has outgrown over thin content sites that are built to rank for standalone keywords.
And with Hummingbird in the picture, from a SEO perspective, it might be high time to stop thinking about thin and small affiliate sites and exact match keyword rankings, and rather think about big authoritative brand sites and broad keyword rankings.
Also, the explosion of eCommerce affiliate marketing.
I expect this to continue in.
eCommerce has been exploding over the past few years, and online sales is expected to hit about 1.6 trillion this year.
More and more people are buying more and more varieties of stuff online, and this trend will only grow.
Finding hot products, finding and targeting the right audiences, creating profitable stores and getting sales is not that much of a hurdle with the platforms offered by Amazon and eBay, and the advertising ability offered by Facebook and Google.
My most successful clients that sell millions every month all have one thing in common: they’re completely focused on their customer’s experience.
No tricks and nothing too secret here.
Provide honest answers to questions when people are in research mode. Provide comparisons when people are comparison shopping.
Provide a seamless checkout experience when people are ready to buy.
Form a relationship at the top of the funnel with trust, and they’ll be more likely to purchase at the bottom of the funnel.
People are very quick to assume “All I need to do is buy traffic”, when really they should be thinking “How can I provide real value to a customer at each stage of the sales funnel?”
Dominate the sales funnel and push out your competition week by week.
1. Go for recurring commissions.
Try as much as possible to promote products/services that offer recurring commissions
For example; look at how Adobe is transforming/securing its financial future by moving to monthly software subscription.
2. Look for gaps
Look outside the conventional affiliate channels as affiliate marketing gets more saturated e.g. non-English markets, non-Google search engines/sites, not-typical affiliate type products (e.g. travel insurance in South Africa).
3. Mobile devices are not for the complex purchases.
I’m yet to meet one person who actually buys stuff on their phone but it can be a channel for engagement, relationship building etc, just don’t expect (slightly) more complex actions from someone on a smartphone (like optin or purchase).
BUT, make sure your site is functional and readable on a mobile device – don’t take it for granted and test it on different devices.
Try reading an inner page article on TechCrunch and you’ll see what I mean about not assuming your sites are fine on mobile.
4. Biggest secret in affiliate SEO?
Brand terms that get a ton of search volume usually have very little SEO competition and are pretty easy to rank for, PLUS how hard is it to convert someone already searching for ‘cheap Rolex watch’ (590 searches a month)?
‘Rolex’ gets 368,000 searches a month, ‘Rolex watches’ 90,000 a month, some of the current US Page 1 ranking pages for ‘Rolex watches’ have almost no backlinks.
And yes there is a Rolex affiliate program, it’s called Amazon.com
5. Don’t forget about lead generation for affiliate marketing.
Offervault has some such offers like legal leads for all kinds of specific (and bizarre, but high paying) litigation. The less well-known the sub-sub niche, usually the lower the competition.
6. SEO, or any kind of traffic generation, without retargeting and/or listbuilding is stoopid.
The average visitor attention span nowadays is microscopic (think sub-10 seconds) so without another mechanism to get your offer in front of them, that’s money/time/energy largely wasted.
Obviously with affiliate marketing, you need to know your ROI numbers VERY well with ad spend but that’s essential with whatever you’re doing online.
7. As illustrated above, go after keywords in niches where the brand building has ALREADY been done for you.
For example; rather than trying to convince your site visitors that anonymous John Smith’s XYZ weight loss course on Clickbank is an amazing solution, instead promote “Weight Watchers” which has a long established brand name.
The difference in conversions will astonish you and yes, “Weight Watchers” DOES have an affiliate program run via Commission Junction which you can see here.
It’s a pity that their commissions suck but you get the idea.
(P.S. If you’d like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Most of the expert affiliate marketers featured in this post agreed on the following:
- A mobile responsive website is essential going forward for both user experience and for ranking in Google.
- If you want to have a long term future in affiliate marketing then you need to forget about focusing on how you can make easy money and instead on giving your users value and solving their very real problems.
- Going niche is important especially now big media players like New York Times and others are getting into the affiliate marketing industry for the first time in the mainstream markets like tech and home appliances.
Ignore these affiliate marketing trends at your own peril but if you do you’ll never make money from affiliate marketing in the future.
Before you go…
Is there something these experienced marketers have missed that you think should be included?
Any big trends you see coming that they’ve missed?
Something you’re worried about that could put you out of business?
Share your thoughts in the comments below today…