Affiliate Marketing Unveiled: Insider Insights and Expert Strategies with Jamie I.F.
Discover the insider tips of affiliate marketing with Jamie I.F., a seasoned SEO expert.
In this focused Q&A, we dive into essential strategies for niche selection, boosting traffic, and maximizing conversions. Don’t miss these expert insights.
1. Who are you? How did you get started in affiliate marketing?
I’m Jamie I.F. – I’m 26, have been in SEO for around 3.5 years, and run niche sites focusing on affiliate marketing, and I’m the head of marketing at a SaaS company.
I got started mostly by accident – I was writing a blog on a niche I was passionate about. The ads weren’t making much money, then the affiliates I tried worked well! So I focused on that!
2. How do you go about choosing the right niche or industry for affiliate marketing?
These factors are what I look for:
- Boring/technical niche: I want a barrier to entry to be boredom, and ideally difficulty. AI also struggles with very technical niches.
- Mostly ignored by conglomerates: a lot of the most competitive SERPs are super competitive for DR90+ rolled-up conglomerates. Ideally, they avoid these niches for whatever reason (adult, technical, don’t know it’s valuable, etc).
- Lots of products, and lots of passionate fans: So for example for affiliate marketing, you have the Authority Hacker course, which is a great product. This fits in a lot of different keywords to rank, so this would be a good niche and product to promote.
3. What factors do you consider when selecting an affiliate program to promote? (not just commissions but also ?)
The only thing that matters is EPC (earning per click), and your ability to rank in order to drive traffic and affiliate clicks. I recommend reading this guide on earning per click, and ways you can increase it, to best understand this!
Conversion rates, commission rates, etc, are just factors that combine to create EPC.
Once you know your EPC, all you have to do is generate traffic, and CTR!
I don’t really look at the EPC that affiliate networks like Shareasale and Impact show in the program network dashboard. I just test the affiliate programs, compare the results, and then scale up the ones that work.
It used to take ages to manually check this with custom SubIDs for different links, and managing them in confusing spreadsheets.
But now Lasso Performance does this instantly for you, and automatically finds the exact revenue, EPC, etc, on every link, product, and page on your site :).
Often yes! It really depends on the context though. Some will convert terribly, some amazing.
It depends if the product is the solution to the “how to” article. For example, if you’re writing about “how to prevent hackers from stealing your money”, then a product like 1Password is likely to convert very well because it’s super relevant. Or perhaps a VPN program.
Or, if writing about “how to get bed bugs out of bed sheets” then certain vacuums, or cleaning products, are the obvious solution.
Understanding what best helps people, making them trust you through excellent info, and then recommending a product once you’ve built that rapport, can convert extremely well!!!!
5. Links or Product boxes. What converts better? Does it matter?
It matters more than anything else you could possibly do on your site.
So many people take 100+ hours to write 30 pieces of content, rank it, and then give up because it’s only making them $100 per month.
But if you changed from links to product boxes, you could make up to 10-15x more. They could be making $1-1.5K/month from the same traffic :(.
Text links aren’t good because:
- They’re easy to skip past. They don’t command attention.
- You have to hover over them to find out where you’re going – and often, because of the way affiliate links are, it’ll show to be like “asxisid.io?ref=2d3dsa” before redirecting to the merchant. This just looks like a virus or something lol.
- Readers don’t trust these as it’s not clear what the price is, where they’re being taken to, etc.
But it’s also key to do the right things with product boxes:
- Add a “best for X” e.g. best for beginners, best under $100, etc, so that it’s clear to the reader which is best for them.
- Add a star rating for social proof
- Add pros and cons
- Add the price
- Add the merchant name so they know where they’re being taken to if they click the link (optionally include 2 purchase buttons from different retailers)
There are several options, like AAWP if you only use Amazon, as well as more premium options like Lasso.
Jared Bauman, the host of the amazing Niche Pursuits podcast, recently switched from AAWP to Lasso, and increased his earnings by 88%! You can read Jared’s full Twitter thread here.
6. What type of content (e.g., reviews, tutorials, comparisons) tend to convert best and why?
Though I said some informational posts can work well, on average, specific affiliate articles will always convert best.
Here’s a few easy examples:
Product reviews can convert really well (keywords for “x review”), especially if you know why someone would buy this vs another (and you can recommend these alternatives also if they would suit the other product).
“VS” articles (keywords for “x vs y”) are probably the best-converting. Because the reader understands and is so ready to purchase that they’re comparing two specific products. These are also less competitive to rank for.
“Best” product (keywords for “best x” or “best x for y”) round-ups are also great. They’re slightly higher in the funnel than “VS” articles but if you segment correctly, and have each product be the best for a specific audience segment. Like “best for beginners”, etc.
7. What are common mistakes you see new affiliate marketers make, and how can they avoid them?
- Writing for keywords they’ll never rank for. Know your lane!
- Text links only, not more attractive, scroll-stopping affiliate links. These are essential to high conversions!
- Not measuring affiliate link performance, such as CTR, EPC, and revenue per link. If you earn less than $1000/month from affiliates, Lasso will even do this for free for you! You have no excuse! ;).
- Not segmenting products in product round-ups. Don’t say all the products are “good” or “great”. Be specific: “This is the best if you’re 25, single, and want to invest without a lot of financial experience”, or “if you’re a small business looking to get into commercial cleaning for offices”. This is how you convert well.
- Context – are you targeting the affiliate offer at the audience who would be receptive to it? You can’t treat affiliate offers like ads and just trust a company to stick placeholders in the right place. It has to be bespoke, with a focused effort on what the reader would want.
- Is it relevant to your article?
- Bad quality product – does this product actually help the reader? Or are you shilling it because the affiliate commissions are high?
- Have you explained the uses and benefits properly? – You can’t just jam it in their face right away, warm them up. Then place the offer there when they’re in the best possible position to trigger a buying action.
- Specificity, segmentation and precision – have you made it clear for the specific person reading, that this would suit them. The easiest way to do this is just to have each product you recommend be the “best for X type of person” (“best budget pick”, “best for beginners”, “best for Linux users”, etc).
9. It’s tempting to go for products offering high commissions, but they might not always be of the best quality. What do you recommend?
Commission rate is only one input – and it’s nice to have a high commission rate, but it’s not the reason to choose a program.
If you find a high-converting program, and you convert a lot of business for them, you can always go back to the company and ask for a higher commission anyway.
It’s more important to find programs that convert – and therefore earn you the highest earning per click (EPC).
Factors that feed into affiliate success:
- CTR (clickthrough rate) – not directly within EPC, but high CTR = more potential to earn
- Conversion rate
- Commission rate
- Price of the product
- Whether this product is commonly bought with other parts (raising average order value)
- Time-sensitive offer, injecting urgency
10. Top tips to build trust with your audience to ensure they value your recommendations?
If people love you, you can do whatever you want.
First, speak from first-person. “My personal opinion is that X product is good, based on my hands-on testing, as I found that…”.
Do the product reviews, so you can speak confidently on the pros and cons of the product.
Mention the cons, and reasons not to buy – this shows you’re not just trying to shill this product.
Talk about imperfections or mistakes you made during the test. (“Oops, I accidentally did this! Don’t be like me! Haha!”) = builds a bond and rapport.
Use niche-specific slang and in-jokes that only fans of the niche would understand. Talk like your tribe.
Be very specific and visual with the language:
- Visual: use words that conjure up visual images in the reader’s mind. This is basically storytelling. As soon as you’re creating a visual image and story, the reader will never leave the page.
- Specific: use scenarios that the reader imagines them using the product in, in your writing. This takes them through the story as the protagonist, and further lets them visually imagine themselves using the product as a purchaser. The more specific, the more powerful.
I’ve mentioned some additional points in my SPEAR framework, of which the R is rapport – and how you build a bond with your reader.
11. For those new to email marketing, what’s a simple strategy they can use to promote affiliate products to their list?
Read Niche Site Lady’s newsletter – it’s the blueprint for how to artfully add affiliate recommendations within an engaging and fun-to-read newsletter.
Introduce yourself as a real person behind the email/brand, discuss problems, your struggles, and how you solved them. If the solution is an affiliate product then great!
Also, if you have deals on products in your niche. You can collate these into an email, and send them this week’s special deals. You’re helping your reader by saving them time comparing them all, and you get paid when they click and buy.
12. What strategies do you employ to use your email list effectively for promoting affiliate offers without overwhelming subscribers?
Again, subscribe to Niche Site Lady’s email list, look at how artfully she sells you affiliate products, and do this. It’s a masterclass in affiliate selling without looking overtly commercial.
Build a bond, talk from personal experience, and then have the affiliate offer be the solution.
As long as you’re adding a lot of value, I don’t think having clear affiliate links and recommendations is a problem. Normal, logical people understand that you need to make a living, and you don’t write these newsletters for charity.
The reason people find it spammy is when they don’t feel like they’re getting the requisite value back, and then it feels like a soulless cash grab to them. So make sure you’re delivering tons of value!
13. What’s a lesser-known tip or hack in affiliate marketing that has made a significant difference?
The intros are the most important part of an affiliate article. You can do 50-60% of your conversions just here, and in the affiliate display at the end of the intro.
So focus massively on these!
Here’s an example template for an intro for a “Best” post:
- First para: make the reader immediately think “Yes! This person understands me!”. Try to also use the main keyword, but illustrate a pain point or anything else to build rapport while being short, concise, and immediately relevant.
- Second para: make a strong value judgment of your top pick, the best product and why. Give reasons, and say things like “I personally think this is best, based on my hands-on testing, because of X and Y…”
- Third para: short extra para saying “But, if you’re X or Y type of person, you may prefer Z and A products, because Z is better for B use, and A is better for C…”. Pick these two alternatives based on what segments you know are coming to the page (e.g. budget users want the best cheap option, and premium users want the professional version).
14. What affiliate marketing plugin do you use, and why?
I’ve been a Lasso customer for more than a year now – and more recently joined the team, so feel free to ignore this recommendation because I am biased! 😂
But I thought it was the best before I joined.
It converts better than any other existing affiliate displays, and now I can find my best-performing products, and then have the team optimise and focus on these, now that the affiliate analytics tool, Lasso Performance, has been released. This has helped me make even more money per page view.
And, if you don’t want to spend the $289 on Lasso displays and link management, if you earn under $1000, you can use just the analytics tools for free :).