As an affiliate marketer, your main job is to funnel customers to the advertiser and help them land sales. You'll do this through an affiliate link — a unique referral link showing the seller that a customer came through you.
Knowing this, it's easy to understand why promoting affiliate links effectively is the ultimate goal of your marketing efforts.
You must do it in a way that doesn't look like a spammy product plug while still making your content compelling enough to get someone to click on the link.
Striking this delicate balance is no easy feat, but don't fret — we're here to help. This guide will teach you how to promote affiliate links through various methods that will position you as a helpful expert.
How affiliate links work
When you sign up for an affiliate program, the seller gives you a unique link containing your affiliate ID. The way this link works is pretty simple — it all happens in three steps:
- You embed the affiliate link into your content.
- Whenever someone clicks through, a cookie is created that allows the advertiser to track the visitor's traffic.
- As long as the cookie is active, any purchase made by the visitor is attributed to you, and you earn a commission.
Cookies typically last between 30 and 90 days, so your lead doesn't need to buy straight away. Some affiliate programs even offer lifetime cookies, though they're few and far between.
Affiliate links in action
You can find affiliate links all over the web. Let's use Sleep Foundation as an example — they're a reputable outlet covering a range of sleep-related topics.
They often review various products like mattresses and include affiliate links from their partners.
In one of their reviews, Sleep Foundation talked about a Nectar mattress. This is the "clean" link to the product (without the affiliate ID in it):
And here's Sleep Foundation's affiliate link to the same mattress:
As you can see, the affiliate link has a vastly different structure and includes tracking data.
It leads to the same page as the "clean" link, except it ensures that Nectar knows a visitor came from Sleep Foundation.
Affiliate programs exist in almost every niche, and you can find massive programs encompassing many industries, such as:
Whether you sign up for such a program or work with a brand directly, your job is the same — promote affiliate links and get as many people as possible to click on them and buy from the seller.
7 ways to promote affiliate links
While the exact strategy for promoting affiliate links will depend on your niche and goals, there are some universal methods every affiliate marketer should know about.
Here's how to maximize the earning potential of every link:
Optimize your website for search engines
The top five results on Google's SERPs get over 75% of all traffic for the given search term. Many people don't even scroll to the bottom of the first page, let alone past it.
As blogging is among the most popular marketing strategies for affiliates, reaching those prime spots is anything but easy — there's a lot of competition to beat in most niches.
That's why you must step up your SEO game if you want your affiliate link to have decent visibility.
Each blog post you publish should be optimized for the target keyword, but be careful not to fall for the common trap of trying to rank for unrealistic ones.
For instance, your chances of ranking high for the term "noise-canceling headphones" are slim if your website is new.
While this keyword might seem appealing with its massive search volume, the competition is just way too high.
It's much better to use a long-tail keyword like "Sony wireless noise canceling headphones."
It has a solid search volume, and the competition is significantly lower.
You can find the right keywords for your blog posts with Surfer's Keyword Research Tool.
Just enter your primary keyword and Surfer will suggest the most relevant keywords for your topic along with their suggested frequency.
Now, just because you may not rank for a keyword, it doesn't mean you shouldn't cover it.
It's still a good idea to include such keywords because they help you establish topical authority.
By covering your overarching topic from as many angles as possible, you can position yourself as a reputable source of information in front of your audience and search engines.
Use on-page optimization techniques
Speaking of topical authority, another thing you must do to rank high in SERPs is to make it easy for search engines to understand what your blog post is about.
It's not enough to include the main keyword and its synonyms — you must also add semantic keywords. This is one of the most important on-page optimization tactics, so don't sleep on it.
Going back to your example of noise-canceling headphones, some semantically-related terms would be:
- Noise reduction
- Adaptive sound control
If you're struggling to find semantic keywords, Surfer's Content Editor can help. The editing window will show you relevant keywords and suggests the ideal number of times to use each, removing all guess work and hassle from the keyword research process.
Another on-page SEO rule you must follow is to add your keywords to the four key elements of each blog post:
By including keywords in all of the above, you make it faster for Google's crawlers to index your page, which earns you SEO points.
Make your links inviting
You'll most likely add affiliate links as hyperlinks in your content.
But why stop there when you can include them in the more visually-appealing elements and encourage the reader to click through?
You can embed affiliate links into product widgets, comparison tables, and many other parts of your page. This way, you can make your affiliate link compelling and drive more traffic to the seller.
TechRadar is an excellent example of a site that does this well.
Their product reviews typically have well-designed CTA buttons containing affiliate links, which look better than a bit of blue hyperlink text.
Note that many affiliate programs pay commissions even if someone doesn't buy the product you're promoting but another qualifying one.
For instance, Amazon Associates pays you for any affiliate sales made within 24 hours of someone reaching Amazon through your link.
With this in mind, your goal isn't to sell but to make sure the reader clicks through to the advertiser's site.
This is much easier to do when you have effective, visually-appealing CTAs containing your affiliate link.
Offer helpful content
Promoting affiliate links should be done in a way that doesn't make you look like a salesperson.
It's not enough to just add affiliate links to your text or other content — you must make sure the content offers real, tangible value to your audience.
The ultimate goal is to position yourself as a trusted expert in your niche.
To do this, think beyond blog posts and focus on creating different types of educational content, such as:
- YouTube videos
Of course, the specific content types you'll choose will mostly depend on your affiliate products and target audience.
Whatever you go with, make sure your audience gets actionable information about the product/service you're promoting.
If you need a reference point, you can check out what Smart Passive Income is doing.
They run a reputable hub filled with useful knowledge for aspiring entrepreneurs. The site leverages its massive popularity to effortlessly promote affiliate links while ensuring readers get what they came for.
Like other publishers, Smart Passive Income is open about including affiliate links in their posts.
This is crucial to building trust with the audience, so you should follow suit.
If you publish content that your readers genuinely find useful, you can confidently share affiliate links without the fear of looking salesy.
Write guest posts
Guest posting is an excellent way to expand your reach — if you don't have a large audience, you can leverage someone else's.
They get free content, and you get exposure — everyone wins!
Now, this may not seem like the best way to promote affiliate links at first glance.
A typical site owner doesn't allow affiliate links in guest posts, so you can't use their blog to drive traffic to the advertiser directly.
What you can do is link to your own website or blog post that includes affiliate links.
This way, you'd build a content funnel that can attract a larger audience than you could independently.
Since guest posts shouldn't be promotional or include an affiliate link directly leading to the product, focus on purely providing value and useful information.
You can then invite readers to visit your website for more information and steer that traffic in your direction.
Finding guest posting opportunities is pretty easy — all you have to do is Google "[your niche] + write for us/guest posting."
You'll see plenty of results, though not all may fit your needs because webmasters might have some guidelines you're not comfortable with.
As for how often you should guest post, a survey by Referral Rock says around six posts per month is the sweet spot.
Don't limit yourself to only a website or two — cast a wide net and write as many guest posts as you can to maximize your reach.
Leverage social media
Being consistently active on different social media platforms can do wonders for your promotional efforts.
Influencers typically make excellent affiliate marketers because they know how to combine two key success factors — building relationships online and persuading their audience to take the desired action.
You can (and should) join many online communities your target audience is a part of.
Depending on their demographics, you should have at least some of the following:
- A Facebook page or group
- An Instagram account
- A YouTube channel
See which social media platform your audience uses the most, and meet them there. Then, create a social media calendar that lets you post valuable content consistently.
Your calendar can include various content types, such as:
- Video content
- Stories or posts leading to your blog articles
Much like blog content, your social posts should be upfront about affiliation with brands.
If you create honest product reviews and recommendations, your audience will see a genuine interest in the product and won't hesitate to click on your affiliate link.
Engagement is key
No matter which social media channels you use, building an engaged audience should be your primary goal. This won't happen overnight, as it takes time to build trust and authority.
The best way to do this is to remember the social aspect of social media.
You shouldn't use your platforms to blatantly promote affiliate links but to form genuine connections by providing value to your followers.
If you do this well, your affiliate products will be seen as solutions to problems, not just the means of you making money.
As you add affiliate links to posts, don't forget to measure their effectiveness.
Track affiliate links and the overall performance of your social media marketing strategy to identify areas of improvement and tweak your tactics. Besides engagement, the most important metrics to track include:
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Audience growth rate
Nurture your email list
Email marketing is a bit of an underdog in the affiliate space.
It's often overlooked, which is a costly mistake when you consider its effectiveness and massive ROI.
On average, each dollar spent on email marketing yields a return of $36, so it can make your affiliate revenue skyrocket.
Unlike social media platforms, email lets you build your own audience.
While anyone can see your social posts, email campaigns are targeted and far more personalized than a Tweet or TikTok.
You get to decide how you'll nurture your list and are free to place affiliate links wherever you like without restrictions.
How to build an email list
A major benefit of email is that you can leverage other forms of marketing to improve its effectiveness.
You can create and grow your email list through blog content, social posts, and just about all other types of content.
Create a compelling landing page, link to it in your posts, and you can build a list pretty much on autopilot.
To get someone to leave you their email, make sure to offer something in return. This can be an exclusive digital product unavailable to others, like an e-book or whitepaper.
Provide enough value, and you won't have trouble getting subscribers.
All you need to do then is engage your community with regular newsletters covering the topics they're interested in.
Feel free to throw in a promotional email here and there — just make sure not to overdo it so that your audience doesn't feel spammed.
It might also be a good idea to segment your list according to different criteria, such as:
- Engagement level
- Stage in the sales funnel
This way, you can target each subscriber more precisely and boost your conversion rate.
Automate, analyze, and adjust
You may be able to run your email campaigns manually while your list is small.
As it grows, you'll need to automate the campaigns to ensure you're not spending too much time on them.
Luckily, there are many platforms that make automation easy, most notably:
Such platforms are full of useful features that can make your campaigns practically run themselves. More importantly, many of them provide useful analytics you shouldn't ignore. From email open rates to CTR, they give you a bunch of insights you can use to make your campaigns more effective.
Pay for promotion
Not all affiliate networks let you use paid ads to promote your referral links.
Direct linking from an ad to the affiliate product is sometimes seen as "cheating" or spam, so many programs are against it.
Still, you can run ads in a more elaborate way to promote affiliate links without getting in trouble.
For example, you can create an ad leading to blog posts, resource pages, or digital products that promote your affiliate links.
You shouldn't face any limitations in this case, so this is an excellent way to drive more traffic to your affiliate site.
As for where to run ads, that's entirely up to you and mainly depends on digital marketing strategy.
You can set up Google Ads to combine paid and organic traffic or promote products and affiliate content through social media ads.
Much like email marketing, paid ads are an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of your audience through analytics.
Ads include tracking pixels that let you see how your audience interacts with them, so you can test different versions to see what works best.
Measure the necessary metrics
As paid ads require an investment, you need to make sure to get the most out of every dollar. The best way to do this is to track a few key metrics:
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)—The total cost of each affiliate sale you make
- Lifetime value (LTV)—The affiliate revenue you generate from a customer throughout their relationship with you
- Content ROI—The ratio between your revenue and all the costs associated with content production
The work necessary to run paid ads effectively might seem a bit overwhelming if you're a newbie, so give yourself time to figure out the nuts and bolts.
Don't invest too much in ads until you're sure what you're doing, and keep experimenting with different approaches until you nail down the best one.
- Learning how to promote affiliate links is crucial to being a successful publisher. The goal is to sell without selling through helpful content and becoming an authority in your niche
- Writing SEO-friendly content and nailing down on-page optimization is an excellent way to attract more website visitors organically. Focus on the keywords that strike the right balance between search volume and competition
- To promote affiliate links effectively, you should make them compelling and think beyond simple hyperlinks in your text. Design eye-grabbing CTA buttons and embed affiliate links into different visual elements of your website
- To land affiliate sales, you must first offer something of value to your audience. Create content that answers your readers' burning questions to guide them through the buying process.
- If you need to expand your reach, guest posting is an excellent strategy. Find reputable websites in your niche that will let you leverage their audience through guest posts.
- Blogging is far from the only way to promote affiliate links. Create YouTube videos, be active on social media, and build an email list you can use to maximize customer loyalty and engagement
- When you're ready to invest in your business, consider paid ads. While you most likely won't be able to use them for promoting links directly, you can lead your audience to a piece of content containing the links (resource page, blog post, etc.)
As you can see, promoting affiliate links takes quite some thinking and effort. If you do it well, all that work will pay off handsomely because you'll see exponential growth leading to near-passive income.
Besides, promoting your links won't feel like work most of the time if you truly care about the product. Choose a niche you're passionate about, and ideas will flow effortlessly.
Do you have any tips and tricks for successful affiliate promotion? If so, post them in the comments below or tweet at us to share your methods with our community.