Biggest mistakes to avoid when starting affiliate marketing
The explosive rise of affiliate marketing has brought a ton of new people looking to get in on the action. A life of travel, be your own boss, using your digital marketing expertise to earn huge profits, who wouldn’t want this. So if you are one of these new eager affiliates, this article is meant for you.
We wanted to compile a list of the most costly mistakes beginner affiliates make to help you avoid them. We hope you can learn from our mistakes to help you be more successful in the future!
We thought we should kick things off by defining briefly what affiliate marketing is.
Affiliate marketing, put simply, is the connection of seller and buyer made possible by the efforts of an affiliate. The affiliate uses publishing tools and their marketing skills to bring an advertiser’s offer to the right consumer to make a sale, signup, or any kind of desired action. You can think of an affiliate as a rogue marketer that runs advertisers’ campaigns for a commission. If everything goes well, the advertiser gets their product to a wider audience increasing sales (or whatever desired action), the affiliate makes money from the commissions they earn and the consumer buys a new product. Take this example of affiliate marketing from Forbes.
So, affiliate marketing circles around three key players:
- Affiliate Marketer
Now, what is the number one biggest mistake a new affiliate can make?
Not starting with a good strategy!
Some aspiring affiliate marketers scratch their heads in the beginning and wonder how to start an affiliate marketing campaign. We wanted to break it down into a few simple steps.
1st Step: Select a Vertical/niche
The first and foremost step is to clear your focus and select a category that appeals to you and which encourages you to produce great results. A vertical is an offer category and a niche is a subcategory of a vertical. Both of these are used interchangeably and almost mean the same thing. They are used to describe the category of products and/or services promoted. There are plenty of various verticals/niches, some of the more popular ones include:
- Beauty and Wellness (Referred to as Nutra)
- Mobile apps and games
We normally recommend starting in sweepstakes which tends to be easier for new affiliates. You should also keep in mind what you feel most comfortable with. Once you pick on try to stick to it and focus on growing your experience in that niche.
2nd Step: Choose an affiliate offer to promote
Selecting a niche will help a lot when it comes to choosing your offers. There are lots of offers out there. It means that you don’t have to jump on every opportunity to promote any product available on the great web frontier. Instead, you need to select your offers mindfully.
If we were to explain the process of selecting offers very simply, it can be put this way:
- Choose a vertical/niche, something you’ve already done in your first step
- Sign up for several affiliate networks or find the best offers on your own
- Do the math and calculate the best price-quality ratio for your performance
- Select an offer and wait for the results
Most affiliate networks specialize on certain verticals. We recommend starting with those that are known for the vertical or niche you are trying to run. For more details check out our steps to finding the best CPA offers.
3rd Step: Select the type of Affiliate marketing ads to start with
Just like the different flavors at your favorite local ice cream shop, the Internet offers a variety of choices for its most dedicated marketers. You have the liberty to choose from a range of ads as per your liking.
Normally, there are 6 types of ad types used by affiliate marketers, these are listed below in order of most to least effectiveness.
- Social ads(Facebook, Instagram… etc. Converts great but are expensive and have strict moderation)
- Pop ads(Web pop up ads. Lower-quality but very cheap)
- Search ads(Google, bing…etc. Great for finding people already looking for your product)
- Push ads(High-quality alert style ad, our personal favorite)
- Native ads(high-quality ads adapted to match the website)
- Display ads(image-based ad, subject to ad-block)
It’s important here to mention that with the overflow of ads and digital advertisements, users are growing smarter and more ad-immune with every year. So, you should try to stay on top of the recent ad trends and formats to ensure maximized results. The most beginner-friendly formats are push ads and native ads for this simplicity and their ease of success across all verticals.
Each has its own pros and cons and it’s important to make sure you are using the right one for your campaign.
4th Step: Set up a funnel
A funnel is everything from the ad to the offer and everything in between. It’s the path the user takes before converting. This normally includes any landing pages or pre-landers which are used to help prime the user to successfully convert leading to much more profitable campaigns. They give you an opportunity to make your offer more enticing, more trusted, and streamline conversions and optimization. Funnels also allow you to quickly see which angles perform the best.
Shortly, there are two main aspects you need to pay extra attention to while designing your funnel. Finding a perfect balance between the two is your key to success.
Optimization: Any page in your funnel must be properly optimized to run smoothly and quickly on targeted devices and browsers. It should also be optimized to drive as many conversions as possible with alluring angles and clear call-to-actions.
Consistency: The overall theme of the funnel must be consistent with your product and offer. Everything from the ad to your lander must complement each other.
5th Step: Finally Launch your campaign
The final step to set up and launch your campaign. This includes setting up your targeting and creating your campaigns to drive the right kind of traffic to your offers.
It doesn’t stop there, after you create your campaign you need to optimize it. Everything from the targeting to the ads to the offers can be optimized and improved to help bring more success to your campaigns. Optimization is all about the data so make sure you are tracking and testing every part of your campaign.
To learn how to successfully set up push ads campaigns check out our complete guide to push ads.
1. Don’t think it will be easy
Although you may have seen some youtube ads of affiliates saying that it is easy to make thousands of dollars a day but the reality is that it takes a lot of time and dedication to get to that point.
2. Don’t start with high-payout offers
When it comes to choosing offers, the best choice for beginners is to start with low payout offers. They normally make it easier for you to get your first conversions allowing you to focus on improving your optimization strategy.
3. Be tracking your campaign well
Campaign tracking can be a little tricky for beginners but it is one the most important parts of your campaign and any errors will make all your ad spend for nothing. Make sure to double-check that you have set it up correctly before starting your campaign. For more help, check out our guide to postbacks.
4. Don’t forget to check your win rate
You can start optimizing the steps once your campaigns are up and running. Win rate is an estimate of the traffic you are winning with your current bid. Your win rate should be anywhere above 40%. If it is less, you might be missing out on the better converting traffic because your bid is too low. If your win rate is between 90%-100% you might be overbidding. While this can be intentional, sometimes it’s unintentional and can lead to wasted ad spend.
5. Don’t stop testing
Testing different strategies is the best way to optimize. First, don’t just set up one campaign with one offer and one landing page. Start with a variety of angles/offers/ads to use so you are testing from the start. Secondly, once you find a winning combination, continue to create variants of those winning ads and landing pages to continue to optimize your campaign as well as prevent ad fatigue.
6. Avoid tier 1 Geos
Although you may want to start with a country and market that you are more familiar with tier 2 and 3 geos are normally better for beginners. They are less competitive and are a lot cheaper to buy traffic in which is good because most beginners end up wasting ad spend in some way. Don’t be discouraged by a language barrier, there are tons of ways to get good translations for your campaign.
7. Don’t underbid
You may think that bidding less will help you get cheaper conversions but that is just not true. If you underbid you get left with the traffic that no one else wants, why because it doesn’t convert. We recommend you stick to the recommended bid and more importantly watch your win rate.
8. Don’t start without knowing what your competitors are doing
Conducting proper research, choosing the right offer, targeting, and determining the creative angle might be too much for a beginner. To make it easier we recommend using a spy tool to learn from your competition what is working.
9. Don’t shy away from killing a campaign
Sometimes, your hard-worked campaign just doesn’t work and you’re bound to make it work. In such cases, it’s a good option to start fresh and focus on a new strategy. It’s pretty normal to give up campaigns at first and you shouldn’t be wary of it.
10. Don’t get discouraged
Striking the right good combination of an offer, creative and targeting is not a child’s play. Sometimes you will be able to start making a profit after spending a small amount but sometimes the learning and testing process can cost much more than you expected.
11. Be using the right toolkit
Be prepared with the right tools at your disposal. There are a ton of things to help you save time and money. Check out our list of the must-have tools for affiliate marketers.
12. Avoid jumping across different verticals
In the beginning, it’s good to try and focus on a niche and work until you can make it profitable. It is likely that the first couple campaigns will be difficult in any niche so don’t get discouraged and keep focused till you start seeing profits.
13. Don’t miss users freshness targeting
User freshness targeting can make a huge impact on your campaign results. Fresher users are more likely to convert which is good for beginners that might be struggling more to drive conversions. We recommend to start off targeting a user freshness of 0-7 days.
14. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
When starting out, it’s good to ask a lot of questions and learn from others. Our Account managers are always here to lend a helping hand. Additionally, you can seek advice from online forums and groups. Check out our list of the best affiliate forums.