Changes are coming and the question is...
Are you ready for them?
Here's what changes in the Affiliate marketing industry we've seen in the past few years;
- The focus on mobile responsive websites over desktop with Google now ranking mobile responsive sites higher.
- The huge shift to high quality authority websites from the older smaller sites that have limited pages and only review products.
- The rise of automation and Artificial Intelligence bots.
- Cuts in commission rates from major affiliate programs like Amazon.
- Endless Google algorithm updates that have wiped out affiliate sites traffic and their affiliate income overnight.
- The entry of big media companies like the New York Times into the affiliate marketing industry for the first time.
However, it seems there's so much more that's happening some of which you can predict and plan for and some which you might never seen coming unless these experts warned you.
So listen up, you need to read this from start to finish and make sure you are 100% bulletproof to these upcoming changes which could cause "Affiliate Armageddon" and destroy your site.
Here's the deal...
We've asked 37 top Affiliate Marketing experts to share the insights and challenges they see coming this year AND their solutions/suggestions to take advantage of upcoming trends and changes.
Read this post, understand it, and implement it to make your affiliate income bulletproof.
Here's the 37 experts answers...
Get your affiliate marketing booster pack by downloading it here (Right click, save as)
Drazen Prastalo, Founder of IncomeMesh.com
Affiliate marketing won’t change drastically, those who were successful will remain successful if they continue to follow the same principles.
The affiliate formula is always the same - find out what people need or desire (pain points) and put the solution in front of them.
Now, what separates successful affiliates from unsuccessful ones is persistence (most of the time).
Yes, we all fail from occasionally, but the ones who keep going are the ones who succeed in the end.
From my personal experience finding the solution for people’s problems and showing it to them in a clearest way possible, is the way to go.
Sure, traffic matters, but you don’t need tens of thousands monthly visitors to make money online.
I have about 3000 visits per month and I make between $500-$1000 promoting affiliate products.
I do that by presenting the products in a bit different way, answering all the question a potential buyer could have and I do my best to show a live demo of each tool/product I recommend.
You can see what I mean in my Thrive Leads Review article.
For everyone starting in affiliate marketing I would suggest to be as descriptive as possible when reviewing products.
Use unique images, videos and text.
Write longer articles, format your articles nicely and optimize your website for SEO.
First impression matters too, so make sure your website looks nice, but keep the usability and functionality at the highest rate possible.
In short, if you want to be successful in affiliate marketing in make sure to be different, to over-deliver and to answer all the questions your visitors might have (so that they don’t need to look for it elsewhere).
David Schnieder, CEO and Co-Founder of Ninja Outreach
Affiliate marketing is done through the medium, which customers want to buy.
Traditionally this has been content but now I believe we are seeing more and more people move to video, as that is what people want to consume.
Therefore, one trend I see is video playing a larger role in affiliate marketing, which will inevitably give rise to video search engines like YouTube (already important, but easily overlooked).
Additionally, we are seeing more and more marketers using personalized drip campaigns that are highly triggered based on user behavior.
This makes complete sense to me, and I believe it will start to catch on now that lower cost tools are available like Drip (not cheap, but affordable).
Sean Si, Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz
I think Affiliate Marketing will increase on eCommerce products and will see a massive segmentation on SaaS products.
Basically due to SaaS products are vastly increasing and eCommerce is rising in usage, visits and popularity.
I also think mobile affiliate marketing is very interesting if mobile websites and payment gateways can make affiliate purchasing (or purchasing in general) to have a seamless, friction-less experience for mobile.
Everything's compressed and simple in mobile browsing - so if mobile purchasing could be as compressed and simple, I think affiliate marketing could see a huge boost in sales volume.
The Google-backed Accelerated Mobile Pages could also prove to be a powerful way for affiliate marketers to earn through publishing.
And distributing those publications to mobile apps that take advantage of AMP loading such as Flipboard and the Native Twitter app.
How can affiliate marketers best grow and engage their audience for the new year?
Email marketing. I think it's been proven and tested that email is the best converting and retention method that affiliate marketers use.
There's tons of data to back my statement out there. Email is changing drastically. Google is making it so - as well as the other multiple email plugins and integration out there such as Streak and Hubspot's Sidekick.
Justin Cooke, Founder of EmpireFlippers
In the last few years, we've seen a ton of standard, run-of-the-mill affiliate sites.
You know the type - those niche-specific Amazon review sites that aren't well differentiated and don't have terribly helpful content.
There are two things I'd love to see...
1. Honest, Heads-Up Review Sites.
This probably wouldn't work if you're comparing one set of belts to another, but what if you were to create in-depth, meaty write-ups on CRM's for small-medium sized businesses?
(i.e. Salesforce Vs. Microsoft Dynamics) Optin Software? (Leadpages Vs. Unbounce)
If you look at most of the reviews for this software you'll find fairly crappy content in systems that have no data (probably test accounts?) from marketers, not real users.
Can't we do better than that as affiliates?
2. Blended Monetization Methods
Instead of your standard niche Amazon affiliate site, why not take a more holistic view of the visitors?
What problems are they trying to solve?
Are there any infoproducts or paid communities that might be a good fit for them?
These are the kind of questions that will lead to more opportunities for affiliate marketers.
It will be interesting to see how it shapes out.
Zac Johnson, Founder of Blogging.org
Having been in the industry for 20 years now, I've been able to see a lot of transitions in affiliate marketing over the years.
People are always saying this will change and that will change... but at the end of the day, it's about changing your business with the environment.
Affiliate marketing is always going to be here (in one form or another) and it's always going to make money as long as you continue to focus on the value provided and user experience.
Yes, yes... you've heard that before -- but as cliche as it sounds, it is the real business model behind legitimate online businesses that make money year after year.
Anyone can make money with a fly-by-night ad campaign or website, but if you want to make long-term money, you need to think like a real business.
Here are some key tips to help you find more success with affiliate marketing in 2016.
Find a Niche
And work really hard at becoming the authority in that space (especially if you are focusing on a brand or being a well-known expert).
The more you niche down and have an exact audience, the easier this will be to accomplish.
Google is Still Google
The best traffic is still coming from Google, plain and simple.
When someone searches for something in Google and they find what they are looking for, that is a working business model.
Put in the time and effort to create something that provides value time and time again and your site will rank higher and work for you while you sleep.
Link Building is Still a Top Priority
No matter what "SEO experts" say and how many Google updates come out, at the end of the day, if you want to rank ahead of the competition you need to acquire high-quality backlinks to your site.
Guest blogging, infographics, PR and social media are all great methods for increasing backlinks.
Need even more ideas?
Check out this list from Backlinko.
YOU are the business!
For most affiliate marketers, it's a one-man operation.
This means you are going to be responsible for your own success and failure.
Don't let one winning campaign get to your head.
Instead, think about how you can grow and scale into something much bigger.
This includes building out your own sites, ad campaigns, mailing lists and actually owning the data and products you are selling.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Tor Refsland, founder of TimeManagementChef
If you are an affiliate marketer and have more than 10 niche sites just waiting to take off, please raise you hand.
Just as I thought, almost everyone.
What if I told you that you could do far better in your business if you only focused on one website? (Yes, you read correct.)
You have probably heard the saying: people hate to be sold to, but they love to buy.
Who do people buy from?
If you answered, “from people they know, like and trust”, a high five to you! *SLAP*
How can you get people to know, like and trust you?
By creating engaging content that solves your audience's biggest struggle for free.
As the successful Internet marketer, Eben Pagan, says: “It's all about lowering the free-line”.
This means that you are giving away more valuable content for free than your competitors.
Key Trends for Affiliate Marketing :
The affiliate marketers that will do great will be the ones that
- Are able to put their personality out there and stand out
- Create awesome personalized content for their audience
- Who are able to attract the right clients
- Who are managing to build their brand fast
And there is one key to building your online brand fast…
Have a Blogger Outreach Strategy
Nothing is more important than to build relationships with other influential marketers.
If you have built great genuine relationships with 5 influential affiliate marketers, you could create win-win opportunities:
- By promoting their stuff (which you knew was top notch) to your email list
- By promoting your stuff (if you have your own products) to their list, which would increase conversion, since they would already saying nice things about you.
- If you don't have any products, you could become a “broker”. Matching great affiliate products to affiliate marketers, taking a 5-10% fee by putting great deals together.
You are probably thinking: “Okay, Tor. I get it.
Networking with other influential marketers is important.
But does it really help to build your brand fast?”
Great question indeed.
Judge for yourself.
In achieved the following in my first year of blogging:
Got 2000 targeted Twitter followers in 38 days (free traffic) – I now have about 12 300 followers
- Wrote a post that generated 20,231 page views in 6 days, 1500+ social shares and 80 comments
- Increased my email list in 779 subscribers in 60 days (by working 40 days)
- I got featured on 85 blogs within my first year of blogging.
Nothing of that would have been possible if it wasn't for my blogger outreach strategy.
Want to hear something really cool?
When I launch my next product, which will be of high quality and a good match for the influencers I know, I can probably get many of them to become an affiliate.
Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, Blogs at NeilPatel.com
Affiliate marketing will become harder.
Sure as you already know it is shifting towards mobile and tablets, but people are getting used to the concept of affiliate marketing.
Consumers will be less likely to just click on links… as an affiliate you will have to spend more time creating valuable content and educating before you generate the sale.
Nader's thoughts: People just won't click on anything. Users are more aware of affiliate marketing so they'll be careful with who they trust.
So you, as a marketer, will need to figure out how you can help your visitors (do make sure you found your niche first so you know what to solve for your readers) as much as possible before sending them off to an affiliate link.
Brian Lang, Founder of Small Business Ideas Blog
Many things will remain the same for affiliate marketing - affiliate marketers will still have to provide value to their audience and work hard to grow their following.
As far as changes, I believe that opportunities will continue to grow on mobile for affiliate marketing and affiliate marketing will continue to grow beyond North America and expand into global markets.
Nader's thoughts: Marketers should work smart in the sense of work quality, they need to position themselves as an authority in their niche or they'll struggle to grow a following.
Karl Kangur, Partner and Editor in Chief at MonetizePros
More and more people will start treating their affiliate websites as businesses.
A lot of beginners are still struggling with affiliate marketing and in most scenarios, it’s because they’re following “the old model”.
They’re outsourcing low quality, short content and just throwing something up on the web.
As Brian Dean and many others have demonstrated with guides like the skyscraper technique - quality content is key for both SEO, social traffic and most importantly, conversions.
I think that’s where we’re headed now.
A lot of the “old school” niche marketers are revamping their sites with better and better content, focusing more on the user, their problems and their experience.
Another key trend seems to be the death of “one-off” niche sites.
People are now understanding that the typical Adsense / affiliate template of picking one super specific keyword and building a whole site about it isn’t the way to go long-term.
Authority sites are on the rise and I believe that’s a good thing for the industry.
Robbie Richards, blogs at RobbieRichards.com
I think most of the same affiliate marketing techniques will prove effective at generating revenue.
Even with competition intensifying and new niches popping up seemingly every hour, the old school battle tested affiliate strategies will hold strong.
Here are 4 strategies that worked really well for me, and where I will continue to focus...
1. Long Form Review Posts
Check search volume around "review" and "tutorial" related keywords for your affiliate products.
For example, this Thrive Leads review and SEMrush tutorial are arguably the most comprehensive you'll find anywhere online.
They both rank top 5 in Google and drive a lot of middle funnel traffic that converts pretty well.
2. Leverage Influencer Opinion to Sell Affiliate Products
Where possible target "best [product]" keywords with expert roundups.
Here is an example.
In the post 58 online marketing experts rated SEMrush the #1 keyword research tool.
It ranks #1 in Google for it's target keyword and drives a ton of targeted traffic each month.
Influencer ratings and an exclusive trial code generate new signups every day.
3. Leverage Your Email List
This one is HUGE.
Specifically, there are two ways I've found this to work well.
First, set up an upsell series.
For example, I'm in the process of building out an affiliate autoresponder for anyone downloading my content promotion eBook.
As soon as the subscriber confirms their email address, they will be redirected to a thank you page with a video sale letter that sells a small ($7) tripwire offer (eg. how to rank expert roundups #1 in Google).
When someone buys the tripwire they are then redirected to a core offer page where I will upsell them into a paid affiliate online marketing course.
This series is effective in capturing the lead with a free eBook, instantly turning the lead into a customer (tripwire) and then maximizing affiliate revenue with a higher ticket upsell.
Second, I'm using Thrive Leads to build smart links.
When someone clicks from my email to a blog post they don't see any opt-in forms.
This is redundant. Instead, they see a popup that promotes a relevant affiliate products.
4. More email
You don't have to write a blog post to promote affiliate products.
Treat your site and list like a business.
Don't be afraid to send promotional emails every so often.
And, use video and short email tutorials to deliver value without selling. Educate and build trust with your audience.
A couple no-brainers to end.
Make sure you're targeting top funnel keywords and driving those visitors through some type of affiliate autoresponder series.
Use middle funnel keywords with "best", "review", "tutorial", "comparison" modifiers to bring in more middle funnel traffic that tends to convert better.
Make sure your site is FAST and mobile-friendly.
Dennis Seymour, Co-Founder of LeapFroggr
To be honest, the affiliate marketing game hasn’t changed much.
We just have new technology, media and networks to play with.
For me, media that lets people feel connected to you will have the best converting results which is why blogs with loyal followers and email subscribers has consistently converted people over the years.
There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said over the years.
For the next year, audio, specifically podcasting will have an even bigger role compared to this year.
I can see the trend due to the rise of this type of media being more and more accessible.
More and more shows are being produced and the producers are getting better at pushing affiliate products in a subtle way.
Using audio is one of the fastest ways for people to feel connected with you so this will only get bigger over time.
For those that are comfortable with video, then this is definitely your media of choice.
It converts really well because like audio, it connects you to the person watching it.
And it’s pretty “under the radar” with all the new up n’ coming vloggers, it still doesn’t get much “press” in terms of affiliate marketing.
Though a lot of people “hear” or “know” that video is a big deal, not much people actually jump in. It’s not as crowded as blogging, that’s for sure.
Want to see examples?
Hop on to YouTube, find shows with 50k-200k++ subscribers and you will see that they have “sponsors” but they are also affiliates for as well.
Tom Hunt, Founder of Virtual Valley
As the barriers to entry continue to lower, I believe the proliferation of content that we have seen during the past couple of years will only increase.
I think that each and everyone of us online marketers has a choice...
Your success will come down to your ability to create a connection with your audience.
If people truly believe that you care about their results, regardless of your niche, you will remain relevant (as will be proved by your revenues).
However, if you just pump out bland, cookie-cutter content that does not add value or more importantly: connect with your audience... you will get lost in the noise.
So, which will it be?
Evgeniy Garkaviy, Co-Founder of Marches Hour
Personally for me I do not think that affiliate marketing will be completely different.
I think it will continue moving in the segment of mobile, more quality traffic, more personalized content and focusing on user experience.
But if you look at affiliate marketing now and in 2012 for example, you will see that it has greatly changed. I want to say more about each part of affiliate marketing that you should definitely consider.
- ComScore says the number of mobile-only internet users now exceeds desktop-only and it means more focus on mobile website today. Not having a mobile website or having not mobile friendly is a big mistake.
Also Google added one more signal to their ranking algorithm – having a mobile-friendly website. It affects websites that do not display well on mobile devices.
High quality content is more important than backlinks.
Some people can’t agree with this hypothesis but very often when you create really quality content – backlinks come naturally and much more than you expected.
Social media. Stop thinking about the number of followers and the number of post shares/retweets.
Social media is not only about sharing but it is also about trust of your social account.
If your followers see that you share only quality and relevant content, in future they will retweet it without reading.
For example, I’m working on Hope Spring Twitter account for the past few months.
And even now when we have a little less than 500 followers, our posts getting very good social activity. For example this one:
User experience. Google wants your content to be valuable and they want to show only quality content in TOP of the search results.
This means, you should think about your site reader/buyer. Be sure they are not having troubles when viewing your website.
Landing pages must be optimized for the user and not for Google search or Google Adwords.
When creating a new landing page, you need to keep user’s experience in mind.
(Click here to tweet this)
Marko Seric, Founder of HowToMakeMyBlog.com
For me the main trend is that things don't change as fast as we think.
There are still couple of key things you need to do well in order to be a great affiliate marketer.
These are the same things that also made you a great marketer last year and this year.
First you need to create content that fills the need of an audience.
Something great, something different, something they cannot get other places. Something that has a very natural and organic connection to the affiliate program you are promoting.
Second you need to get out there and reach out to this audience.
You need to go where they are and work on showing them value you can create in their lives in order to get them to come and visit your site.
If you do these things well you will provide value to an audience which will help you get great results for your affiliate offers too.
Matt Wolfe, Founder of MultiplyAuthority.com
It's going to be the year of the webinars.
Sure, webinars have been around forever but all of the tools that make webinars easy through Google Hangouts and all of the new automated webinar tools make doing webinars so much more accessible.
More and more people are catching on that doing live webinars is actually an easy way to make sales and that you don’t need to be selling your own product to be successful.
Combining easy Facebook ads with live and automated webinars to pitch a product as an affiliate (with a couple of your own added bonuses) will be the quick path to commissions.
The core things that have always worked will continue to work…
Growing a list, building a personal brand, creating a platform, and then recommending products from atop your platform is a fundamental affiliate marketing strategy.
Mixing live and automated webinars into the mix will create easy affiliate commissions.
Marcus Miller, head of SEO, PPC & digital marketing at BowlerHat.co.uk
As with everything online where traffic is primarily driven by search and social there is one overall trend that will impact strategy this year and beyond.
Fortunately, we can sum this up in a single word: quality.
A lot of the affiliate sites out there are driven by PBN's or low quality SEO link based strategies.
Google is tightening up and the coming Penguin Algorithm will likely hurt lots of PBN networks which will knock on with many affiliate sites.
Visitors also demand more. The content must be useful. It must be genuinely insightful.
Subject matter experts will prosper and low quality affiliate sites will see less engagement.
The giants of internet commerce like Amazon can't provide the information that prospects demand across the board so there is still a place for affiliate sites yet they must tackle quality.
They must have a reason to be visible in search and they must provide truly valuable information that helps visitors make a purchase decision.
Adam Connell, founder of BloggingWizard.com
With the ever growing importance of mobile and the ease of purchasing on mobile devices, usability and site speed will be a top priority.
Fortunately most content management systems such as WordPress have plenty of responsive themes available, so the biggest challenge will be site speed.
One area to consider here will be how your page load times are impacted when simultaneous users are accessing your site.
Sure, most shared hosts do ok when there are a few people on the site, but the truth is that most crumble under the pressure and load times skyrocket.
So investing in a decent host is essential. The use of CDN's like MaxCDN can further improve page load times without any technical hurdles.
Here's the bottom line:
If your page load times are bad - it's costing you money.
Financially, you'll be better off paying more for a faster host.
What other changes could we see?
I think the big one will be a focus on copywriting/conversion optimization.
There are so many products out there that could get you more commissions, if only they put some effort into writing a more compelling sales page.
Creating sales pages and running split tests to improve conversions is easier than ever with the technology available.
So we should see more brands/product-creators step up their game.
Tim Soulo, Head of Marketing at Ahrefs
What I’d love to see more from affiliate marketers is…
It’s not enough to put a link to a product somewhere in your article.
It’s not enough to bring people to the landing page and describe how cool that product is.
The most surefire way to sell something is to paint a picture in customers’ head where he is using your product and getting some results with it.
And the best way to do that?
Show him a real case study of how YOU have used that product and what you got from it.
Kristi Hines, Freelance Writer and Blogs at KristiHines.com
Affiliate marketers will definitely need to focus on higher quality content.
Since many rely on search rankings to get visitors to their website, and Google is making it harder for sites without great content to rank, it makes sense that quality content needs to be a high priority to get search traffic and visitor conversion to affiliate offers.
Nader's thoughts: Readers are looking for content to help satisfy their needs and questions, so marketers need to put out high quality content. Without great content, you won't have any love from Google.
Gael Breton, Co-Founder of Authority Hacker
I think this year is going to be the end of fly by night affiliate marketers.
You know, those who create review only sites or slideshows on with text to speech reading a sales pitch, hide their faces and throw a call to action in every 100 words.
As brands are starting to understand the power and ROI of content marketing, they are slowly pushing these kind of brand keyword hijacking away.
However, their understanding of content marketing also makes them want to partner with strong 3rd party who can offer a more objective view on their product which is a position they can never fill themselves.
That means that if you can be that powerful 3rd party that polarizes an audience around who you are and be that 3rd party they need to convince a part of their audiences, brand are going to red carpet you to work with them as an affiliate.
This happened to me a few months ago when working with the guys at Ahrefs.
I decided I wanted to promote the product because I think it's the best on the market by quite a margin and got in touch with them to explain what I wanted.
They not only gave me free tool access, they also offered $2000+ of product to give away to my audience during the promo and even promoted my Ahrefs related content to their large email list.
The marginal cost for them was almost nothing (some software access and 1 email) but the gain for me was massive.
Tens of thousands of people discovered Authority Hacker.
I was able to give free stuff worth thousands of dollars to my loyal followers and at the same time I was able to justify giving free SEO training away as part of the promo as an affiliate.
Today, I get monthly commissions that are still a result of this one promo and I probably will for many months to come.
I have no doubt that this kind of true partnership will be what pushes affiliate marketing forward in the future.
I would not be surprised to see many companies close their open registration and work with a selected few partners instead.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Lauren, founder of From Corporate To Career Freedom
Any affiliate marketer looking to make their mark is going to have to do one thing to stand out from the crowd: build a relationship.
Gone are the days where you can make a healthy income as an affiliate marketer by being an anonymous entity on the internet, and simply sending an email out to the masses.
The market is becoming more competitive, and to differentiate yourself from the competition you have to have a bond with your audience.
Don’t hide behind an email address; become the face of your brand.
Communicate with your audience via video. Do live streaming using Periscope.
Build a tribe using Facebook groups.
Get to know your followers by name, talk to them on a one--to-one level, and listen to what they have to say.
You’ll learn a lot about what they need and how you can best serve them.
That sort of connection is priceless.
And it's that sort of connection which is going to be the key to your success.
Dominic Wells, founder of HumanProofDesigns
I wouldn’t say that there is going to be an