The appeal of affiliate marketing comes from the fact that most affiliate programs offer rather generous commissions and are fairly easy to join.
However, what most new beginners fail to understand is that achieving success with their business requires a well thought-out strategy and consistent efforts.
It’s foolish to expect that you can simply jump into a completely new, rather complex world, and have everything work out for you right away. If it were that simple, there would be a lot more millionaires in the world.
There are many pitfalls and obstacles on the journey to online success, and you need to learn how to avoid them and focus on the activities that will enhance the growth of your business, instead of hindering it.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to learn from your own mistakes. There’s more than enough examples of mistakes affiliates have made in the past, and there’s really no reason why you learn from these mistakes, instead of repeating them.
In this post, I want to share the most common ones, so you can avoid making the wrong moves that might cost you the entire business in the long-run, and can start off strong from the get-go.
Here are the 10 biggest ones to be on the lookout for:
1. Expecting To Make Money From Day One
Undoubtedly the biggest mistake an affiliate can make is expecting to earn commissions the day they sign up for an affiliate program.
Affiliate marketing’s not some magical way to make a ton of money in an unrealistically short period of time.
In fact, there is no such thing as getting rich quick. Those are nothing but scams and marketing gimmicks. And the sooner you make peace with this fact, the better.
In order to start making money, you first need to set up a website, create amazing content (or find someone to do it for you), figure out who your target audience is, get qualified traffics, and build your email list.
It might sound like a lot of work, but you have to keep in mind that you’re building a business. So, just like you wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation, you can’t expect to build a business without one, either.
Don’t get me wrong. You can definitely make money with affiliate marketing, but you will first need to invest time, money, and energy into it, if you’re hoping to create a long-term, sustainable business.
2. Opting For The Wrong Program And Product
Not all affiliate programs and products are created equal. Typically, new affiliates are enticed by those 90% commissions, but that’s not all there is to it. There are a lot of factors you should consider before making your final decision. The payout being just one of them.
You also have to think about the time and effort you’ll need to put into creating content and pre-selling the product, as well as the product itself.
When it comes to the amount of work necessary to start earning commissions, affiliate programs can drastically vary. For example, one could already have a built funnel in place, with tested sales pages, email templates, and banners.
On top of all that, some provide even high-ticket offers and upsells, that can increase your earnings beyond those of the initial sale.
On the other side of the spectrum are the ones that give you nothing but your affiliate link, and leave you to your own devices, meaning you’ll have to build everything from the ground up.
Also, take the time to research the usability of the affiliate program before you decide to join it. If the products your customers end up buying are unusable or poor quality, you’ll quickly find yourself in a world of trouble.
Research the vendor first to see if the customers trust them, read the feedback and reviews for their products, and ensure that your customers will be satisfied with the stuff you’re promoting.
Otherwise, it could come back to bite you, since only a handful of negative comments on your website is enough to put you out of the game for good.
3. Trying To Sell Products You Know Nothing About
Making over-the-top claims about a product, or inaccurately presenting its features and the benefits the customers get, is another road that leads straight to failure.
Sure, you might make a few sales in the beginning, but after the customers realize that the product is not at all how you’ve described it, you’ll inevitably lose their trust. And there’s no going back from that point.
If you do refrain from making those claims, but still have limited knowledge of the product, your copy will either be very vague, or will have an eerie resemblance to the vendor’s sales pages. I’m sure I don’t need to point out that just how bad both of these options are.
In order to avoid making this mistake, you need to spend some time researching the product in order to understand how it works and what it can do for the customer.
The best way to go about it is to actually purchase the product, and if possible, test it out yourself. Think of it as a necessary investment in the development of your business.
You’ll know exactly what the major selling points of the product are, and will have a much easier time explaining them to your audience, and pitching the product.
Besides, you’ll instill trust in your audience by portraying yourself as someone who genuinely knows a lot about the product and is actually out to help them.
4. Pushing Sales Without Providing Value
You can’t just start selling as soon as you get your affiliate link. I mean you can, but you shouldn’t expect to get any notable results.
There’s a reason you’ll hear most experienced marketers telling you that you need to build a website or start a blog. And it’s a good reason too.
You need to create content for your audience before you attempt to sell them on your affiliate products, especially as someone new to the scene.
Work on building your credibility first, try to establish a connection to the people you’ll be selling to, and earn their trust. If nobody knows who you are, and has no reason to believe you’re actually promoting quality products; you won’t get very far with your business.
If you’re concentrating all your efforts on hard-selling, or simply describing the features of your affiliate products and services, you’re making a huge mistake.
Your job as an affiliate isn’t to actually sell the product. It’s to get the potential customer to the vendor’s sale page that will hopefully do that for you.
Your goal is to pre-sell them and pique their interest by being helpful, and providing relevant, valuable, actionable information. Then, and only then, should you start sending out purely promotional emails to your subscribers, but you should still refrain from trying to sell too hard.
5. Failing To Collect Emails From The Start
Having a list of active email subscribers is the greatest asset an affiliate marketer could have. It’s a reliable source of qualified traffic you can always turn to.
In any case, it beats having to go through the trouble of launching a new ad campaign or hoping to eventually hit first page in Google search results.
There are multiple reasons why you want, no – why you need a list of email subscribers, and why building one should be your top priority.
For starters, whenever you publish a new blog post or a product review on your website, you can just shoot an email and let everyone on the list know about it.
There’s a much better chance that someone will open your email and click the link to check out the post, than them actually randomly returning to your website to check for new content.
You can even encourage the subscribers to share your content on social media, which can potentially attract new traffic without you having to do any extra work.
Also, you can drastically boost your sales by periodically sending out promotional emails, and it will be much easier to introduce these people to any new offers and affiliate products you end up promoting in the future.
Email marketing also allows you build lasting, trust-based relationships with leads and customers, by giving you a unique opportunity to speak directly to them through their inbox, at a time they find the most convenient.
Think of it this way – every time you pass up on a chance to collect a visitor’s email address, you’re losing a potential customer. It can quickly stack up, and by the time you’ve finally realized you need to start capturing leads and building your list, you would have already lost thousands of dollars.
So, if you haven’t already, create an autoresponder account, slap the opt-in form on your blog, website, and landing pages, and start collecting those emails!
If you need help creating your email list and setting up an autoresponder account, check out the Affiliate Success Academy. It walks you through the entire process, step-by-step.
6. Relying On A Single Traffic Source
In order to maximize your sales and truly be a successful affiliate marketer, you need to utilize most, if not all traffic sources. Simply adding content to your website or blog, and relying on organic traffic alone is a big risk you shouldn’t take.
That doesn’t mean you should completely disregard SEO, but rather that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead of concentrating all your efforts on a single traffic source, you should really consider all available options and determine which ones are the best considering your target audience.
Social media platforms are something you can’t afford to overlook. They allow you to engage with your audience and show them that you’re active in the community. Advertising on these platforms also gives you the opportunity to get your offers in front of thousands of people who have already expressed interest, thanks to advanced targeting options.
And by social media, I don’t mean just Facebook. There are great opportunities to promote your affiliate products on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others, too.
Also, don’t be afraid to give paid advertising a shot as well. You don’t have to immediately spend hundreds of dollars on it. In fact, you can start with as little as $10, and work your way up from there.
Besides, there are a lot of useful online tools that can give you valuable insight into what types of ads your audience interacts with the most, and can help you create compelling ads that will get a ton of traffic to your website.
7. Not Doing Keyword Research
Keywords are an integral part of any affiliate marketing business as a whole, and if you brush them off thinking they’re only used when creating PPC ads, you’re likely going to lose a ton of traffic on your website.
Doing comprehensive keyword research will clue you in on what words and phrases people are using to find products and services in your niche, and consequently – your website.
This knowledge will help you create the right content for your target audience, build your website and landing pages accordingly, and properly do on-page SEO.
Targeting those same keywords will significantly increase your website’s or blog’s visibility, bringing in a lot of qualified traffic. By qualified, I mean people who are genuinely interested in your content and likely to purchase the affiliate products you’re promoting.
Keyword research also allows you to uncover those hidden opportunities – the keywords that receive a lot of traffic, despite there being very little competition. This can be a huge asset when developing your marketing campaigns.
On top of that, by researching your keywords, you’re also saving a lot of time and money. How so? By giving you valuable information like search volumes and competitive estimates, which helps you avoid targeting keywords with low volume, or the ones that are highly competitive.
All things considered, if you’re targeting the wrong keywords that have nothing to do with your niche, all your efforts are basically wasted and you’ve set yourself up for failure.
There are a ton of both free and paid online tools that can help you conduct keyword research the right way, like Google Keywords Planner, SEMRush, SpyFu, Ubersuggest, etc.
8. Not Tracking And Testing
In order to be able to accurately determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you need to track where your clicks are coming from.
Unless you’re a remarkable talented marketer, on unimaginably lucky, chances are you’re not going to get everything right on the first try.
Reaching success with your affiliate business will likely take a lot of adjustments, improvements, and changes. And if you’re making those based on your hunches alone, instead of looking what the data is trying to tell you, you won’t get anywhere.
Just having the information regarding the audience that most frequently visits your website or blog is invaluable. That said, more advanced tracking options allow you to see exactly what content your audience interacts with the most, as well as which links are generating most sales.
Later on, when you’re ready to expand and grow your business, tracking allows you to perform split-tests and gradually improve every aspect of your business to maximize the profits.
For example, a small change like the image on one of your ads can result in a significant increase in your conversions. And that’s something no one can reliably tell you upfront. You have to do the testing, and see for yourself.
If you’re not tracking what’s happening on your website and how effective your marketing campaigns are, you’re basically hoping that you’re doing the right thing, instead of using data to see your strengths and weaknesses.
9. Not Cloaking Your Affiliate Links
It’s common for affiliates to use their affiliate links throughout their blog posts and include them in posts on social media. The problem, however, is that they’re usually… well, ugly, for lack of a better term.
Affiliate links that contain a lot of gibberish, like random letters and numbers, make your content seem less appealing and unprofessional, which you need to avoid at all costs. And weary readers will refrain from clicking a link that will lead them to a seemingly unrelated website.
On the other hand, cloaking allows you to customize the URL and add your business or product name in there, and generally makes it a lot easier to look at.
Also, using plug-ins to cloak your links allows for much easier link management. Let’s say the affiliate program you’re promoting suddenly changes links to their products. Unless you’re cloaking your links, you’ll have to manually go through every single post and change them one by one.
With a plugin like Simple URLs, you only have to do it once and it automatically updates all the links on your website/blog.
Another great benefit of cloaked affiliate links is that they can actually increase your sales by boosting your email delivery rates. They are far less likely to be flagged as spam than bare affiliate links, meaning that more people will get to actually see your emails, and the pages you’re linking to.
It also helps with bypassing the ad blockers, which many of your readers are undoubtedly using. These browser extensions look for affiliate links, among other things, to determine whether an image is an ad banner. If you cloak the affiliate links, in most cases the ad blocker will allow the banners to appear page in the user’s browser.
10. Flooding Your Website With Links & Banners
I can’t stress enough how important it is for your website or blog to be visually appealing. That’s why, no matter what, you do not want to have something like 5 different banners and 10 affiliate links on a single page.
First off, it will look like one of those “Congratulations! You’re a millionth user” viruses, and most people will immediately close the page without even bothering to look for the content.
For those who stick around, it will be insanely difficult to navigate the website and actually enjoy the content they came for in the first place.
And, it looks unprofessional – like someone without any designer sense is desperately trying to grab their attention by showing the affiliate products down their throats.
On top of that, having a bunch of links and banners on a single post is the fastest way to get a penalty from Google, which will reduce the rank of not only the page itself, but your entire website.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to remove every single link from all your pages. Instead, the challenge lies in finding that delicate balance between content and affiliate links.
Having one or two links in your posts is totally OK, and you can even add a side banner that the visitors can click once they’re finished consuming the content.
Don’t let all these mistakes discourage you. Making mistakes in affiliate marketing is inevitable, especially if you’re new to the business.
Each time you learn from them and keep improving, you’ll be one step closer to achieving success with your affiliate business. The trick is not to give up as soon as you hit the first road bump.
Hopefully, the 10 common mistakes listed above will help you start off on the right foot, and save you a lot of precious time and money.