Follow the 10 steps to success with affiliate marketing.
There are many different ways to achieve success with affiliate marketing and everyone’s path is different. But almost every successful affiliate marketer has to go through these 10 steps to achieve their success.
The 10 Steps To Affiliate Success
- Choose target niche
- Sign up for affiliate programs
- Choose affiliate funnel
- Choose marketing channels
- Set up affiliate funnel
- Create funnel content
- Set up marketing campaigns
- Optimize conversion rates
- Scale top marketing channels
- Rinse and repeat
The first 4 steps are the business plan, the next 3 steps are to set up the business and the last 3 are managing it to success.
Some steps can be skipped depending on the choice of the affiliate funnel. For example, if you start very basic and just share the affiliate links on social media, forums, etc., then you can skip building the affiliate funnel. But keep in mind, that a funnel is very good at generating passive income.
Step #1: Choose Target Niche
The first thing you have to do is choosing the niche you want to target. A niche can be any kind of interest and hobby such as health, fitness, cars, parenting, cooking, woodwork, and careers.
It’s best if you pick something you are passionate about. When you choose something that you have a passion for, it won’t feel like working as much and you can spend more time on it.
5 Important Factors When You Choose Your Niche
- Passion: How interested are you in this niche?
- Popularity of niche: How many people are interested in this?
- Pain Points/Desires: Are the audience trying to solve problems?
- Competition: Are there many or few competitors?
- Affiliate Products: Are there any good affiliate products?
All these factors need consideration and require some research unless you just want to throw darts in the dark.
Passion & Popularity
You can start by making a list of all the things that you are passionate about and research them. Make some searches on search engines and social media to see how popular the niches are. Another great place to make research is on ClickBank. Here you can search through almost 4,000 digital products in many different niches with affiliate programs. You will be able to see important factors such as how much you can profit and how many people that sell the products right now. Read more about ClickBank in the next step.
Pain Point & Desires
Pain points and desires aren’t a must but it increases the motivation for visitors to buy the affiliate products. When people lay awake at night thinking about a problem or daydream about it at lunch, they are more likely to take action and make the purchase.
It’s impossible to avoid competition with good affiliate products, which isn’t the goal. When there is competition, you know people are making money on this and that you can likely do the same. The bad thing about competition is if everyone uses the same funnel and you compete with too many competitors. For example, if there are 5,000 blogs about the keto diet, it will be difficult to attract traffic because the market is saturated.
Good affiliate products can have many different characteristics. The most important is if the product sells, how much you earn per sale, how often you can sell it and if the customers are satisfied. Your goal should be to get the highest return on effort (ROE).
Step #2: Choose Affiliate Programs
The best affiliate program for you will depend on your niche but some affiliate networks offer products in almost any niche. It’s best to find affiliate programs with a proven sales record. This way, you know that the sales will come when you generate visitors from the target customer.
There are also other factors to consider, such as ROE, commission structure, cookie lifetime, and program requirements. But let’s go deeper into that another day.
You can find affiliate programs by looking at the top brands in your niche to see if they offer an affiliate program. However, we recommend you to start with affiliate networks. They often offer affiliate programs in many niches and make it easy to get started with different programs.
Popular Affiliate Networks
Each affiliate network has advantages and disadvantages but is all great places to start. They mostly focus on digital products but Share A Sale offers many physical products. When you choose an affiliate network you won’t have to worry about software, scams or not getting paid on time.
ClickBank has the biggest selection of digital products in different niches and offers typically 50-90% commissions per sale. You will get paid via bank transfer or check, and most countries can sign up. Get started here for free.
Step #3: Choose Affiliate Funnel
This is where you choose the strategy for your business. You have to decide how you want to attract visitors and convert them into customers for the affiliate products. There are many different funnels to choose from and here are some of the most common funnels.
7 Popular Affiliate Funnels
- Link Redirect > Affiliate Offer (No Website)
- Pre-sell Landing Page > Affiliate Offer
- Quiz Landing Page > Thank-you Page > Affiliate Offer
- Opt-in Landing Page > Thank-you Page > Email Campaign > Affiliate Offers
- Article Website > Affiliate Offer
- Product Review Website > Affiliate Offer
- Product Comparison Website > Affiliate Offer
Each funnel attracts the potential customer with something into the funnel and converts them through the funnel into a paying customer. All the funnel strategies can be used at the same time but start with one and develop your business over time. More about that in step 10.
You will need a website and content to build your funnel unless you use funnel 1. All funnels will require different features but they can all be set up without any coding experience.
Keep in mind, that you also can use email campaigns with funnels 5-7 but it’s part of the funnel with the opt-in landing page.
Step #4: Choose Marketing Channels
An affiliate funnel only provides value when website traffic flows into it. The best marketing channels for your business will depend on your niche, the affiliate products you promote and the funnel you use.
However, the popular marketing channels will work for most affiliate businesses when the traffic is targeted to the correct customer group.
Popular Online Marketing Channels
- Online advertising: Pay per click for website visitors.
- Social media marketing: Build a following and authority.
- Video marketing: Create videos for sharing.
- Content marketing: Create content on websites with links.
- Email marketing: Write emails to get returning visitors.
- Blogging: Write content that can be shared.
- SEO: Write great content that ranks on search engines.
All the marketing channels can be used alone but some work best in combination with others. The different strategies can typically be learned rather quickly if you don’t want to hire an agency. It can require some software, which you can often get at low startup costs.
Example: Email Marketing
You can automate your email marketing with email automation software. This allows you to write one email series that you can send to all subscribers. You need an email service that allows affiliate marketing, where we recommend AWeber. They offer a complete solution with all features from $19/month. You can signup here and get the first month for free.
You should choose a few different marketing channels or at least a few different sub-channels. This can be to advertise on both search engines and social media or build a following on both Facebook and Twitter.
The important thing is that you try some different things to figure out what works for you and your business. Keep in mind that you can always stop a marketing channel and try a new one, so pick something and try it out…
Step #5: Setup Affiliate Funnel
Now that you have planned your affiliate business, it’s time to start building it. Depending on which funnel you chose, you will require different software.
If you just want funnel 1 and share the links to affiliate products, then you don’t need a website. But you should at least use a link shortener. This could, for example, be Bitly, which will make the links look nicer and keep track of them. Signup for Bitly here for free.
Funnel 2-4 will only require a few landing pages and the general info pages such as terms, privacy, and disclaimer. The best option to build this is funnel builders.
Lastly, funnel 5-7 can require a complete website with menus, pages with content and general info pages. Again, this will depend on the specific niche and strategy.
3 Easy Ways To Build Affiliate Funnels
- Website CMS
- Website Builders
- Funnel Builders
All these ways of building the funnel present advantages and disadvantages. The essential thing is that they can meet all the requirements and be used by anyone without technical skills.
This is the best solution when you want to build a complete website. Website CMS (Content Management System) provides all the essential parts of a website. You just have to set it up, which is a smooth process through the CMS interface. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and power more than 35% of all websites (incl. this website).
You can install WordPress for free on any hosting service. We recommend SiteGround (our hosting) or BlueHost for WordPress website hosting. There are many free website templates (themes) and features (plugins) but they often come with limitations and forced promotion. Premium themes and plugins are often fairly priced from $19-99.
This website is built with the Divi theme by Elegant Themes. It’s a multipurpose theme that can be used for any kind of affiliate business. You can make thousands of completely different websites because you can control how everything looks without any coding.
Divi also comes packed with features such as opt-in forms, buttons, icons, A/B split testing and many more. You can build all the websites you want for $89 and get help to build your websites for 1 year. Learn more about Divi here.
Website builders are ready-made solutions that come with everything a website needs. This typically includes website templates, features, hosting, domain and more. Most website builders have all the features an affiliate needs.
These are perfect for funnel 2-4 and can be used for almost any funnel. They are often the most effective solutions because they are built for this specific purpose. Other solutions can be customized to become funnels but the funnels are already funnels. Therefore, this is the best solution because you don’t need to know how to design a high converting funnel. The best funnel builders for affiliates are ClickFunnels and ClickBank Builder.
ClickFunnels works perfectly for opt-in, pre-sell, and quiz landing pages. The funnels are easy to set up with the many funnel templates that are ready for use. It cost $99/month including hosting, support, updates and more. Get a 14-day free trial here.
The ClickBank Builder is specifically designed for affiliates by ClickBank. It integrates with ClickBank affiliate products and includes everything you need. You even get free giveaway reports to attract subscribers. It cost a one-time fee of $599 but then you never have to pay for hosting, web design, features and so forth. Watch a video about the ClickBank Builder here.
Step #6: Create Funnel Content
The funnel content is the content that is used to convert the visitors into paying customers for the affiliate offers. This will vary depending on the funnel you’ve chosen but some content is required.
The last content you will need is specific to the funnel you have chosen. Here are some examples of how much content you minimum should create to get started.
Examples: Funnel Content
- Link Redirect: No content required
- Opt-in Landing Page: 1-2 website pages, 1 giveaway report of 10 pages, 5-10 emails
- Pre-sell Landing Page: 1-3 website pages
- Quiz Landing Page: 1-3 website pages
- Article Website: 2-5 website pages, 5-10 articles
- Product Review Website: 2-5 website pages, 3-5 reviews
- Product Comparison Website: 2-5 website pages, 2-5 comparisons
These examples are just guidelines and will depend on your niche, affiliate programs, and marketing channels. None of the funnels requires weeks of work but there will be some work ahead unless you hire someone to help you.
Example: Pre-sell Landing Page
Write a 500-word sales teaser to the affiliate product that creates interest and curiosity for the product and how it can help them solve their problems. This is NOT a sales pitch and should now have any information about price. Write about how they can benefit and how their life can be improved when they solve their problem. The content ends with a button with a link to the affiliate product’s sales page.
In the beginning, your focus shouldn’t be on creating the best content in the world. Create something good and make it better over time. There will be more details in step 8 about how to optimize your content to increase conversion rates.
Step #7: Setup Marketing Campaigns
It’s time to get website traffic with the marketing channels you chose earlier. Start with one channel and after you have made it work, add the next one and so forth. The more traffic you can generate the more sales you will be able to make.
If you have no previous experience with online marketing, it’s always a good idea to take some online courses to learn the best strategies. Small tips and tricks can help you avoid common mistakes that can have a big impact on your results.
ROE is always important when you do online marketing. Therefore, it can be a good idea to look for software solutions that can automate processes for you. You can automate social media posting with HootSuite and your emails with AWeber. Both offer free trials, so you can try it out before you start paying.
The same applies to the affiliate funnel, where marketing features can be integrated. These include among other opt-in forms, social media sharing, SEO, and blogging.
In the beginning, there will be a lot of trial and error but as long as you learn from your mistakes and improve, you will figure it out eventually.
You should always start slowly whenever you start a new marketing channel. Try a few different things, see what works and then optimize your results.
Online Marketing Examples
- Online Advertising: Set your budget on a new Google Ads campaign to $10/day and see how that works. Then improve your text and see if the results go up or down. You should also optimize keywords, demographics and more.
- Social Media Marketing: Write 5 different Facebook posts, share one every day and see which get the most engagement. Repeat the strategy for the best and try new strategies. Post new content every day and learn from every post you make.
- Video Marketing: Create 3 videos and share them on your YouTube channel. See which videos get most views and engagement. You can also read the comments for inspiration to improve your next videos. Repeat the strategies that work on the next videos. You can also share your YouTube videos on Facebook to get more exposure.
- Content Marketing: Go to 3 different forums and find the best topics and questions related to your affiliate products. Then make a detailed reply with a link to your funnel to people looking for products that you promote. Some forums might generate more traffic than others, try them again and find more forums to try.
The most important thing you need to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert to make online marketing work. You just don’t have to be afraid of failing and improving yourself. Trial and error is the way everyone becomes an expert.
Learn how you can generate website traffic with online ads in this video training: Watch the free video training here.
Step #8: Optimize Conversion Rates
This step can only be started after you generate website traffic. You need to get at least 100-200 visitors before the general behavior appears. With that in mind, if none of the first 50 visitors engages with your funnel, something is probably wrong.
But when everything works, then you can start making adjustments. This can be done in every part of the affiliate funnel that you control.
Example: Website Traffic (Ads) > Landing Page (Pre-sell) > Affiliate Offer
Start looking at the way you generate traffic, where you could optimize your ad text. Then look at the landing page, change one thing, for example, the header. You can’t change the affiliate offer, but some offers come with different sales pages.
Repeat this process over and over again, until the conversion rates can’t increase anymore. Then you go to the next object. For example the ad link, and the content below the header or the button’s color.
The most effective way to optimize your conversion rates is by using A/B split testing. This allows you to test 2 versions of the same content and then see which one converts best. Some website software has this included but else you will need to integrate new software.
If you use WordPress, we recommend you use the premium theme Divi, which includes A/B split testing. The Divi theme is a multipurpose theme that can be customized to any business and niche. See how Divi works here.
Step #9: Scale Top Marketing Channels
Now that you have figured out which marketing channels work for you, it’s time to scale them. It’s also time to drop the things that don’t have much effect. Unless it’s part of a long-term strategy or will generate consistent traffic for a long time.
Therefore, you need to evaluate all your marketing channels. Which works? And which are not worth your time and effort? Calculating your ROE is a helpful tool. Divide the profit or amount of visitors with the time you used. This will show you how much you earn per hour.
3 Ways To Scale Your Income
- Increase your input
- Add new marketing sub-channels
- Add new marketing channels
The easiest way to scale your income is when you increase the input to your campaigns. Some campaigns require money, others require time. When you increase the input, the output should increase as well.
Example: Online Ads
Marketing channels that use money are easy to scale if you have money to invest. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to get started. Start Google Ads with $10/day on 2 different campaigns and test what works. When you find a way to earn more than you spend, you can start to scale it with higher budgets.
New Marketing Sub-channels
You can copy your experience when you add more sub-channels. If you started with Google Ads try Bing or if you built your audience on Facebook try Twitter. The more channels you can use, the more traffic you can generate. However, start by scaling your current marketing channels before adding new channels.
New Marketing Channels
The last way to scale your income is to add more marketing channels that you haven’t explored. You must also look at your affiliate business as a long term business. So, implementing a long term strategy like SEO is highly recommend when you master the short-term channels. This can generate up to 4 times more traffic than the best ads on Google.
Step #10: Rinse and Repeat
The last step is to repeat all the steps. This time will be much easier because you have experience. You can choose to expand in your current niche by adding a new funnel or copy your strategy to a new niche.
This is the easiest and often best strategy. First, it’s much easier because you can use many of your old steps and marketing channels. This means that if you build a new funnel, you can promote it with your working marketing channels. And, you already know what works with your target customer group. Lastly, you can promote it directly to your current list and audience to get instant profits.
You have to go through each step and make some different choices. But you can use most of the steps again except the funnel. Choose another funnel and continue through the steps. Apply the things you learned from the first time and the results can get even better this time.
Example: New Funnel
Your first funnel was the opt-in funnel and this time you build a quiz funnel. If you can use the same affiliate product, then all you have to do is make a quiz landing page and thank-you page. Then you can promote it to your current marketing channels and add new ones.
This option should only be used if you rather operate in a new niche or when you reached your goals in the first niche. Because it’s much easier to continue growing than starting over.
When you pick a new niche, you will have to repeat all the steps. But this time you have experience and can copy your working strategy from the last time. This makes it much easier and less uncertain compared to the first time.
It’s your decision if you want to use the same funnel but that is recommended if you had success the first time. Again, you can always expand to more funnels in the same niche.
Example: New Brand
Your first funnel was in the functional fitness niche but now you want to focus on meditation instead. If the first niche was a success, then you should choose the same funnel and marketing channels to apply your experience. Go through each step and adapt your choices to the new niche. Copy your funnel and adapt it to the new niche with colors, images, and fonts.
You will always know what to do and where to go next, when you use the 10 steps as the guidelines for your affiliate marketing business. The smart thing about this guide is that you can apply it repeatedly to the same business. You can also apply it to any niche and thereby create thousands of different businesses.
Follow the guide and use it to take action. This guide is only valuable to you if you apply the things that you’ve learned. Don’t wait until next month or next week. You are already started, so continue the good work today and schedule some time tomorrow.
You can take this video training if you want complete step-by-step guidance to start your own business with affiliate marketing. Watch the free training here!
About The Author
I'm Rasmus Hald, the founder of Affiliatester and I have been a digital entrepreneur for more than 10 years now. I've created this website to help my fellow affiliate marketers get started and achieve success with affiliate marketing. When I'm not writing helpful articles, I love to travel and explore the world.
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