Affiliate marketing is about promoting other people’s product in exchange for a commission you get for each sale you make.
But how does the product owner recognize the sale that you are responsible for (between hundreds of sales he make a day or a month).
The deciding factor that comes into play here is nothing else but affiliate links, affiliate links are responsible for notifying the product owner that a certain sale was made by a certain affiliate (i.e. you).
In more simple words, affiliate links are responsible for tracking the sales you make as an affiliate and they work as follow.
Before you Decide to Create your Affiliate Link
When you decide you promote a certain product you would need first to sign up for network that is selling this product on the product owner’s behalf, in our example this network is clickbank and it is responsible for selling the product’s owner products.
How Do Affiliate Links Work?
Every product owner has his own format for affiliate links that the product owner should make you as an affiliate aware of.
Let me show you by example:
A product owner that sells his product in Clickbank , that said product owner should tell you that your affiliate link format is http://AFFILIATE.VENDOR.hop.clickbank.net
Lets break it down from here….
The “.hop.clickbank.net” is static, meaning you don’t need to worry about this, since it shows that this product is promoted on clickbank marketplace.
The “VENDOR” this will be the product ID number that clickbank uses to find out which product is being sold (the product you are promoting) this part of the affiliate link you shouldn’t worry about since the product owner needs to notify you with this ID to put it in your affiliate link.
The “AFFILIATE” part, this is where you should put your affiliate id, which you would get when you signup for Clickbank so you can be an affiliate and be able to generate affiliate links.
To summarize, all affiliate links consist of 3 part:
- The network this product is sold on
- The product Id you are promoting as an affiliate marketer.
- Your affiliate id so the commission can find its way to your pocket.
What to Do After you Create your Affiliate Link
Now that you have your affiliate link ready, you should be able to promote it in your own ways, however some people don’t link their affiliate links to be so affiliate looking.
For example if you decide to promote your affiliate links in your blog posts, then putting your affiliate links in a AFFILATE.VENDOR.NETWORK format will look to your readers as an affiliate link.
You as an affiliate might like to be more subtle and for that reason some affiliates like to hide their affiliate links which is more commonly known as affiliate links cloaking.
Affiliate links cloaking still tracks your affiliate sales but doesn’t show your readers that this is an affiliate link.
For example your Clickbank affiliate link which is in this format http://AFFILIATE.VENDOR.hop.clickbank.net can look like http://YOURSITE.com/go/
As you can see the plain difference between the two affiliate links, the second one clearly is shorter and more user friend and more importantly does give too much information about what you are selling. And better yet it doesn’t show that you are selling something at all.
What Happens When Someone Clicks My Affiliate Link
That’s a very important point to cover and it is where the technicality of affiliate links show, but good news for you is that you don’t have to worry about this technical aspect of it.
The most obvious yet not so common scenario is that someone will visit your blog post, and decide to click on your afflilate link. They then will be redirected to the product you are promoting and decide to buy the product right away.
This then will earn you an affiliate commission for the sale you made, by tracking your affiliate id in your affiliate link.
I said not so common scenario as most people wouldn’t buy the product right away, they might want first to check out some reviews for the product, or perhaps they are not just ready today to buy the product.
And that means they will close the product page and continue doing something else.
And you know what? The next time they are ready to buy they will just google the product name and buy directly from the site instead of going through the whole process of finding your blog post and clicking your affiliate link again.
But does this mean your affiliate commission is lost if they decide to buy any other day…?
The answer is NOOOO! You will still earn commsission, read scenario #2
Here if someone clicks your affiliate link (that leads to the product page where they will buy the product and you earn your commission) and then closed the product page and decided to come another day to buy the product.
You will still earn the commission, and even better you can still earn a commission 30,60 days after they clicked your affiliate link.
This preserve your right as an affiliate, since you are the one who were responsible to get the product known for a certain buyer.
This is a process which is called cookie tracking.
What is Affiliate Cookie Tracking
The technical aspect of affiliate links is as follows:
Someone will click your affiliate link, they are redirected to the product page. But what happens underneath the hood is that a file is created on the buyer’s computer the second they clicked your affiliate link (the buyer is the person who clicked your affiliate link).
This file being created is called a cookie and it is stored on the buyer’s computer. The affiliate cookie expires in a month, or 2 or sometimes even more (depending on the network the product is sold on).
The affiliate cookie file stores your affiliate id, so that when the buyer decide to buy any other day, the network that is selling the product first looks for the affiliate cookie file.
Once it finds it, they immediately grants you the affiliate commission you deserve.
It is worth mentioning that some networks like Amazon.com, they not only grant you commission for the product you refered to in your affiliate link, but also grants you commission for any amazon product that buyer buys. This is thanks to afflilate cookie file.
Affiliate marketing is vast and established enough to cover all the possible scenarios so you as an affiliate don’t have to worry about your affiliate commission getting lost. And instead shift all your focus on making sales.
The Best Ways to Promote your Affiliate Links
Promoting your affiliate links depends on how well you do your SEO and social media campaign.
Affset can offer you with help in this area by providing an extensive affiliate marketing training and tools.
You have to know that you can’t just start posting your affiliate links everywhere and get people to click it just for the sake of storing your affiliate cookies in as much people’s computers as possible.
Nope there are certain rules to that.
For example forums strictly prohibit the post of affiliate links on forum threads, also you can’t comment on blogs with your affiliate link as the owner will certainly decline to approve such a comment.
And many Web 2.0 communities will not allow it.
However most social media website will allow you to post your affiliate link like Twitter,Facebook…etc
However for me I find the best way to promote your afflilate links is by build a list of emails and nurture a great trusting relation with your list and then promote your affiliate links to them.
That’s because affiliate marketing in general is about trust, because think about it, to tell someone to buy a product you don’t own means that they have to take a leap of faith and trust you and your recommendations.
So that should be your approach when you start to do affiliate marketing, Build a trusting realtionship!
And of course you can build your list in various ways, via your blog,social media and so on.
Paid Ways to Promote your Affiliate Link
Some affiliates who have a high-mid budget prefer to take the shortcut and head to paid traffic, this ofcourse is stircly business sense.
You can as an affiliate create PPC ads campaign and put your affiliate link in the ad, you will be able to reach a vast audience depending on your budget and calculate your investment vs. your profits (otherwise known as ROI)
So if you are promoting a product that you will get say $40 as affiliate commission, you can invest $30 on that said product and your return of investment (ROI) will be $10, plus the $30 you spend on the ad will be returned to you.
Which then you can reroll it for another ads campaign and make a very handsome profit of the course of your affiliate link advertising campaign.
Does your Affiliate Links Need a Website?
This is a very good question because some people don’t even have a budget to start in affiliate marketing and they look for ways to make affiliate commission with no budget at all.
Well this can work, but I can be a bit difficult. But basically you can start promoting and spreading your affiliate link across various social networking sites like (Facebook,Twitter,Youtube).
And giving how much traffic those social networking sites have, you can then make some affiliate sales from there.
It helps if you are more established on those social networking sites, i.e. having large followers on twitter, or a channel with many subscribers on youtube.
But without a doubt affiliate links do NOT need a website to be hosted on, or more accurately don’t need you to own your own website.
That’s because the mechanism of affiliate commission requires that the buyer clicks your affiliate link so you can make a profit. It doesn’t require anything else other than this (technically speaking ofcourse).
Bad Affiliate Marketing Links Practices
One of the common bad affiliate marketing links scheme is called Cookie Stuffing.
Since you now know the importance of affiliate cookies file, there are some affiliates who use them in a bad way.
Affilaite Cookie Stuffing is the practice which some blackhat affiliates do by injecting an affiliate cookie file in thousands of people’s computer directly without that person willingly clicking the affiliate link.
But how such blackhat affiliates manage to inject or stuff that cookie in your computer?
Some times when you visit a website, a popup window opens up, well if the popup owner wants to stuff a cookie on your pc then they can. You can avoid this by enabling popup blocker in your antivirus software.
Frames and IFrames Stuffing
Frames which is an HTML programming terms that refers to being able to embed a webpage within a webpage, so that when page A loads it loads with it Page B.
And Page B being the affiliate link loaded and thus enforce affiliate cookie stuffing
This is the most easiest way of affiliate links stuffing, simply done by adding the affiliate link inside <img html tag so when anyone visits the page their web browsers will try to load whatever is in the <img tag because the browser thinks it is image, while in fact sneaky affiliates will not put an image url to be loaded instead they put their affiliate link.
Other Stuffing Methods
But many affiliate networks have some measures put to try to eliminate the success of affiliate cookie stuffing.
And legal measure also had been taken on suspsected affiliates that use cookie stuffing to generate affiliate sales, perhabs the most highly publiczed case is against a super affiliate Shawn Hogan who was accused by eBay of stuffing cookies which is illegal and highly unethical.
Ofcourse at the start Shwan Hogan claimed he was setup and others were stuffing his affiliate link on his behalf, but he eventually plead guilty.
This shows you that as an affiliate you should never take the easy course to make sales instead you should work hard to earn your money and build your online reputation.
How Many Affiliate Links I Should Have?
Well you can have as many affiliate links as you want BUT in two cases only:
- You are selling multiple product with each of your affiliate links pointing to unique product on the same affiliate network
- You are selling multiple products on different affiliate networks (i.e. 1 on clickbank,1 on amazon…etc)
Having multiple affiliate links is good because this way you can have multiple streams of income.
Your affiliate links can be in multiple niches if you are expert on those niches enough to become an affiliate by sharing tips and any materials that can help you generate affiliate sales.
Advanced Methods to Reach High Audience
It’s a simple fact, more audience (i.e. traffic) means high potential to get your affiliate links clicked on and most likely generate affiliate sales.
One strategy that super affiliates use that I would like to point out is finding a problem people have in your niche.
For example if you are an affiliate in the web hosting niche, then a common problem people will face is how to setup their blog on their newly bought web hosting plan.
Well as an affiliate you shouldn’t miss such an opportunity as you can create a video on youtube about how to install a wordpress blog (for example) on any popular web hosting company (and may be create a video for each web hosting company).
This way you know that people will be searching youtube for how to install blog and if you get many views for your video then you can get your affiliate link clicked on.
This means that first you need to add your affiliate link in the video (either in the video itself or the video’s description).
And you should tell your viewers that if they clicked on your affiliate link (well not in the exact words ofcourse because you want to be more sutble), then they will get a bonus like a pdf guide or some sort of bonus.
Incentives to Click Your Affiliate Link
A very good technique that most super affiliates use is offering people incentives to click your affiliate link.
This means that you should give them a reason to click your affiliate link over going to the actual product and buying it.
Incentives are usually in the shape of bonus, you can tell your visitors this…If you buy from my affiliate link then I will send you a pdf guide or some software.
The bonus you are sending is best if it completes the product, for example if you are an affiliate for a diet supplements product, then a good nutrition pdf guide could help anyone buying the product.
Therefore they will prefer to buy the product from you.
You will be responsible for delivering the bonuses yourself as the product owner has no responsibility for this.
Another techinuqe but wil require you to be more established as an affiliate is…
Contact the product owner and tell him that you have a vast audience that you would like to promote his product to as an affiliate.
You should then ask the product owner to provide you with an exclusive discount, well a discount that shouldn’t hurt your affiliate commission very hard, but I would say %20 discount is enticing enough for your visitors to buy from your affiliate link.
Affiliate marketing can tough to crack into and even tougher to succeed and earn steady affiliate commission from. But with hard work and dedication you can easily earn passive income with your affiliate sales.
And overtime you will find yourself getting noticed by more people and getting trusted which is the first step to become a super affiliate.
Using the right tools and guidance you can reach your goal of becoming a successful affiliate faster then others.
For us here at Affset, we created an 8 days affiliate marketing course that will provide you with all the tools you need to get cracking in the affiliate marketing world.
Also a great way to become a successful affiliate is to connect to other fellow affiliates and product oweners, This gives you a hige edge over other affiliates you are competing with in any given affiliate product.
And always find a product in a niche market you are passionate about, this allows you to excel in giving people amazing bounses and thus earning you along the way a great affiliate commissions.
Being passionate about something is always a drive for success and this is certainly the case with affiliate marketing. Many affiliate marketers succeed because they love what they do.
And reaching the dream of passive income is something affiliate marketing can provide you.
But as I cant stress this more, always follow the path of white hat affiliate marketing, because affiliate links is the most vulnerable part to affiliate fraud, so my advice to you from an affiliate to an affiliate is be legit and your day will come my friend.
And now that you now everything you need to know about affiliate links, the next step is up to you.
So get cracking buddy!