This is the next post in a very exciting series we’re bringing to you on IFB in anticipation of the upcoming #IFBcon. Each day, we’ll have a different post designed to help your blog become – you guessed it – bigger, better and bolder.
If you were to look at a composite of the topics we cover on IFB that pertain to traffic, growth, monetization and reader engagement, you'd notice that a lot of the topics and tips seem to overlap and interconnect endlessly. Often times one tactic cannot be sustained without another, and they work hand-in-hand together to improve your site.
Recently in the office we were discussing affiliate links, and how to make them really work for your site. It isn't easy. We can't peek into others' finances, but we'd venture to guess that most bloggers aren't making crazy money from their affiliate network sales, but the ones who are, are applying other strategies to amplify their sales potential.
To find out a bit more about how independent bloggers can best use affiliate links on their personal blogs, we picked the brain of IFBcon sponsor Rakuten LinkShare‘s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Scott Allan.
What kinds of blogs use affiliate links most often?
We see bloggers in all industries including apparel, beauty, home, family, entertainment, sports. Our network includes a rich mix of popular trendsetters in the blogging space as well as beginners just developing their readership.
We talk a lot about the importance of SEO for bloggers. Can this traffic tactic correlate with affiliate links?
SEO is a highly specialized practice for driving traffic to a Web site or a content blog; driving readers and potential shoppers to relevant content can result in longer page view time and conversion to sale. Our best piece of advice in the area of SEO is don’t try to game the system. Follow the rules of the major search engines and stay up to date on the latest changes in SEO policies and algorithms.
What advice would you have for bloggers looking for the best, most organic ways to incorporate affiliate links into their content?
Know your audience. Bloggers should only partner with advertisers who appeal to their readership. For example, if you have a blog about women’s shoes, you may not want to place links to sporting goods on your site. That’s the downside of using other monetization techniques such as Google Adwords. With affiliate marketing you have complete control over which ads appear on your site at the product level.
For example, if you have a blog about women’s shoes and you want to post about the season’s hottest stilettos, you can find an image of your favorite that is actually a link to a retailer’s site. If your reader makes a purchase on that site, it’s money for you! The great thing about being a part of a large affiliate marketing network is you have hundreds of choices from partners to products you can promote.
Rakuten LinkShare has created affiliate linking tools specifically for bloggers on WordPress, Tumblr, and Twitter. Easy to use tools like WordPress Link Lookup allow bloggers to add deep links to products from within their editorial. TumblrShop gives bloggers a bookmarklet to drag into their browser menu and add products to their quick updates on the Tumblr platform (perfect for highly image focused bloggers).
Bloggers can increase their affiliate earnings from organic traffic via Twitter too. As your followers click on your latest tweets about your favorite products you are actually sending out tracking links that help Rakuten LinkShare track your commissions.
Do you have any tips for what kind of affiliate links most often translate to sales?
Well again it’s about knowing your audience:
- What is their shopping intent?
- What will they purchase?
- Put polls on your blog and survey your readers now and then.
The more relevant you make your content and the products that you highlight the more likely you are to earn a commission.
- Product-specific links also called “deep links” are often the best way to do that. For example, a fashion blogger's photo of a great outfit or look can have links to the items in the look. Depending on your reader’s intent to shop this could result in commissions.
- Promotion-specific banners or top selling product widgets can also present hot items of relevant content to a blogger’s audience. In general, get your readers to a relevant product page on a retailer’s site in as few clicks as possible. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and click through the experience.
For more about affiliate links from IFB:
- IFB's Fashion Traffic School (Parts I – IV)
- How to Monetize Your Fashion Blog With Affiliate Marketing
- 20 Inspired Ways To Monetize Your Blog
- SkimLinks: One-Stop Affiliate Advertising