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Dave Bassi

How To Start Affiliate Marketing In 2020: Beginner's Guide 

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Dave Bassi
Affiliate Marketing: Beginners Guide 2020

If you learn and implement the right strategies, you can become one of the top earners in your niche. Let's dive deeper and get more details about affiliate marketing and one of the best programs you can subscribe to and start earning money.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a passive way of earning commissions by marketing another brand’s products or services. An affiliate is a person acting as both marketing and salesman for the merchant to benefit from selling a product or service a certain commission. In this case, the affiliate looks for a product they love and promotes it to their audience. They earn some money each time they make a sale.

Typically, the sales are tracked through affiliate links from one site to another. In simple terms, an affiliate markets a product or service by sharing content on their website, blog, or social media platforms. In return, they earn a commission from the merchant if someone clicks through one of the dedicated tracking-links and purchases something or converts into a lead. If properly utilized, this performance-based venture can become a business bringing in a decent income every month.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

Although we have hundreds of various kinds of affiliate marketers, some are more common than others. Here are some of the popular types of affiliate marketing:

  • Webmasters or site owners: These are marketers who own websites or plan to build sites as affiliate marketers. Advertisers can contact them and use their sites to promote their products or services. Site owners with sites that attract massive traffic can direct these clients to the merchant by using banners, widgets or other types of links. This works best if the website is covering a topic that is also interesting for the publisher's product or service.

  • SEO or PPC Affiliates: This category of marketers employs PPC skills to drive customers to the advertiser's websites via SEO, AdWords, or social media advertising.

  • Content Sites: Blogs, websites, and portals are among the most popular sites used in affiliate marketing. The site owners write reviews about the advertiser's services or products to convince their visitors to purchase or pay for the services. If the clients make any purchase via the site, the owner gets a commission from the affiliate program.

  • Newsletter or Emails: In this case, the publishers create databases of user emails that they use to send newsletters or special offers regarding the merchant's services or products. If you consider using emails for affiliate marketing, it's essential to be CAN-SPAM compliant.

  • Coupon Sites: These sites have become popular in affiliate marketing due to the prominence of online shopping. Scores of people are searching for coupons from marketers. These individuals can be converted to customers for the merchant's goods or services.

  • Social Media: People who have a significant following on social media can refer these individuals to the advertiser's site and earn some commission. These individuals are called influencers.

  • Review Sites: These sites review different products and websites, mostly based on a niche. Visitors to these sites can be converted to be customers for the merchant.

  • Incentivized Traffic: In this case, the merchant offers some form of incentives such as virtual currency or cashback when such visitors take the required action. The clients can make purchases using the incentives.

  • Shopping Services: In this type of affiliate marketing, the sites offer services that boost online purchases for specific brands. They include aggregators, price comparison sites, metasearch engine sites, review portals, among others.

Types of Commission

The commissions paid depend on the type of product or service and the company. On a minimum, you can expect to earn a 5% commission for each sale. Some companies - such as the SEMrush Affiliate Program BeRush - pay as high as 40% commission per sale, whilst other affiliate marketing programs offer a flat rate instead of a percentage rate. Oftentimes, they are paid out as a one-off commission, based on the purchase or lead that was converted.

Some affiliate programs, however, offer a recurring commission, allowing the affiliate to earn their commission on a regular basis if the promoted product or service is a subscription. Therefore, affiliates get remunerated for as long as the referred sale is still a customer at the advertised company.

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Click-Attribution

  • What are cookies: In order to understand the types of tracking which determine the amount you can earn, it’s important to understand how cookies work. Generally speaking, cookies are used to track a user’s website behavior or whether they clicked on an affiliate link. Thus, with the usage of a tracking link, cookies can determine whether a website visit was referred to from another website or source - for instance giving you the credit for a purchase that was made from your website.

  • Cookies duration: Cookies have a lifespan, which determines how long a click or purchase can be attributed to a website visit that derives from your website or your content. For example, if an affiliate program has a 24-hour cookie lifespan (such as Amazon), a visit that was generated from your website has only got 24 hours to purchase, otherwise, the sale will not be attributed to you.

  • Click attributions: Here, we will focus on the two most commonly used attribution models, last click and first click

    • Last Click: This attribution model is the most commonly used attribution model, giving you 100% credit for a sale or conversion if your site was the last page the customer visited before converting on the website of your affiliate partner. 

    • First click: This attribution model rewards affiliates when the user clicks on your affiliate link and visits the affiliate partner’s website for the very first time and converts into a sale. This is where the lifespan of a cookie becomes very important - the longer a cookie duration, the higher the chances for a bigger payout. For instance, if someone clicks on an affiliate link of yours and visits the SEMrush Affiliate Program website for the first time, and converts one year later after visiting the website many times more via other affiliate links, the sale will be credited to you. The SEMrush Affiliate Program has a cookie lifespan of 10 years!

 

What’s the difference between an affiliate network and an affiliate program?

Both give you the opportunity to sign up with an affiliate, the major difference: An affiliate network allows you to choose between different programs that are offered by many different companies who publish their programs on these large networks. Affiliate programs on the other hand, allow you to sign up directly with a company, which tend to have direct support and account managers. This might help you receive individualised offers or get assistance quicker.

How to Join Affiliate Programs and Networks

If you already have a website or are creating content, find out who your main audience is and find a suitable affiliate program that fits both your audience as well as gives you favourable payout options (i.e. a long cookie life, high commission rates). If you want to become an affiliate offered directly by a company i.e. BeRush, you must register directly on the site and after that you’ll be able to access promotional materials and start earning. Alternatively, you sign up to affiliate networks and browse for suitable programs. Some of the leading affiliate networks include Awin, ShareASale, or CJ Affiliate.

AWIN and ShareASale logos

From time to time, some affiliate programs also offer special incentives, allowing you to either benefit from a higher pay-out or to offer better deals and services to your audience. For instance, some networks might offer you a better incentive during Black Friday in order for you to promote their products and stand out of the crowd. The SEMrush Affiliate Program organises a monthly contest where affiliates can win $100. So, it’s definitely worth checking whether there are regular extra incentives when you decide on an affiliate program.

How to Promote a Service or Product

After joining an affiliate program, most publishers will have a set of assets available to use in order for you to get started straight away. These materials could include eBooks, links, banners, or widgets. Using your affiliate link, you can use the promo materials to promote the product or service in your emails, articles, and social media pages.

The SEMrush Affiliate Program for example allows you to choose specific banners, links, eBooks, or Widgets:

  • Links: They are available in 13 categories, including SEO, Trials, link Academy, Blog, and many more. Click the specific code and share it with your followers.

  • Banner: When writing your blog posts, you can choose any of the 18 banners and include them in your content area or on your blog's sidebar. Besides, you can include a referral source name to facilitate performance tracking.

  • Ebooks: The books are available in 5 categories. You can promote SEMrush to your customers, make converts, and earn your commission.

  • Widget: This section has 2 categories and 6 widgets.

You can also promote products or services such as SEMrush even if you don't own a blog or website. You can accomplish this by recommending this tool through email, videos, or social media, such as Twitter tweets and Facebook posts.

To Sum It Up

If you implement the best practices in affiliate marketing, you can create a decent passive income. Just like any business, affiliate marketing needs motivation and hard work. Make sure to understand your audience and identify which product or service they could be interested in - once you have narrowed this down, make sure to choose an affiliate program that gives you favorable conditions. This usually includes cookie lifetime, the commission and the attribution model. 

Dave Bassi
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

Passionate about growth marketing, affiliates and global marketing strategies.
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