You'd like to earn a commission recommending products and services to your users. However, using affiliate links encourages users to leave your site. Carefully balancing affiliate marketing with other marketing techniques can help you retain users while earning advertising revenue.
Refine Your Website First
Before you start affiliate marketing, make sure you have enough content to retain users. The amount of content you'll need is dependent on the type of site you have. If you're using a blog to drive traffic to your site, make sure it has at least a month's worth of daily content. Avoid adding affiliate links until you have something to offer users.
Use Affiliate Marketing Ethically
Despite U.S. Federal Trade Commission endorsement guidelines, many websites do not disclose affiliate links. This practice can reflect poorly on your website. Most users are web savvy and can spot affiliates, so be honest with your readers. If you include an affiliate link in a product review, explain near the link that you'll receive a commission for any sales. This legally required practice will help you gain the trust of your users.
Skip the disclosures and you could lose the trust of your users. The New York Times reports that popular inspiration site Pinterest might be quietly adding affiliate links to images. The team hadn't added an easy-to-find disclaimer, so they got a lot of bad press.
Carefully Select Links
Avoid adding affiliate links to products you've never used. Instead, endorse select products that will truly interest users. You should be able to unreservedly recommend products before adding them to your site. Endorse poor products, and you'll lose readers.
Create Customized Pages
Instead of immediately directing a user to a merchant's site, try retaining the user through customized pages. When users click on an affiliate link, lead them to your customized page. This page can offer them a chance to sign-up for a newsletter or email for weekly tips that might interest them. A customized page for gardeners, for example, might offer email planting tips geared to their locality.
Give Away Useful Information
If you can't get users to sign-up for a newsletter or email on your customized page, try adding useful content. For a technical business website, try offering a well-researched market analysis to users. Just require the users to enter their information in a contact form to receive a download link.
The key to this practice is to offer content that is truly useful to your users. If you're lucky, you'll get other sites to link to your customized page. Remember, even though you can require contact information, you should offer the opportunity to opt-out of future emails.
Sparingly Use Contact Information
Never spam your users. Each piece of email you send should offer your users useful advice or tips. In addition to your advice, you can also include affiliate links. If you run a dating site, for example, you could send an email about writing the perfect dating profile. At the bottom of the email, you can include a link to a popular dating site. Then encourage your user to sign up for a specific dating site through your affiliate link.
Once the user signs up with the dating site, you'll get the commission. You've also retained the user, so you can recommend a new dating site next week. Therefore, you'll increase the chance you'll receive multiple commissions. You can also build a relationship with your readership.
Build Your User Base Slowly
Focus on gaining a readership and trust from your users. Websites with lots of affiliate links and little content may succeed in gaining only a single commission. Carefully constructed websites geared towards readers will retain users and let them take advantage of your affiliate's offers. A loyal user base will gladly visit affiliate websites and keep visiting your site.