Should you put affiliate links on your website?
You’ve created your business website and you’re bringing in customers. Did you know that your website or blog can also bring additional revenue streams with affiliate marketing?
Your website/blog has fixed costs, but what you have is a versatile asset that’s live 24 hours a day, and with a customer base that keeps returning (either through ads, social, or better still — loyalty). Using your website to make additional revenue could be a smart move — but can you add advertisements to your site without it losing integrity or feeling spammy?
What’s affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is where you feature products or services from another business on your website. If your visitors/customers click the link to an affiliate site (a company like Amazon, a hosting company, or a related service) and make a purchase, the affiliate program will reward you with an agreed percentage of the sale as a ‘thanks’ for your referral.
Where this differs from normal marketing is that you are choosing one, or multiple, businesses specifically to complement your own, creating a symbiotic relationship. This gives you even more control over what you are showing on your website than something like Google AdSense (which intelligently selects ads from their pool to fit your site). Affiliate marketing even offers you the potential for an affiliate to market your site in return.
What blogs and websites make good choices for affiliates?
It’s not just blogs and sites that review products that can be affiliates. The audience of any given site will have things they need to buy. By adding affiliate links, what you’re doing is selecting products that have the best possible link to your audience.
- Hobbies and interests blogs — If your blog is about the amazing dishes you cook, you might consider linking to an affiliate that sells cooking hardware. The same goes for almost any subject matter. What you are writing needn’t be salesey in any way. Of course, you could go for the full ‘influencer-style’ approach, writing a whole article about a specific hand mixer, but the great thing about affiliate marketing is that it can equally fall into the background and still make you money. There doesn’t need to be a tight-fitting message on any specific page. Affiliate products or services you advertise can just co-exist with your main reason for writing.
- Professional sites — Are you a copywriter? You could promote a website development company, SEO expert, or artist who offers skills complementary to your own. These kinds of professionals might be equally interested in putting mutual links on their sites if you reach out to them for a more informal approach.
- Retailers — Even if you are a seller or reseller using a platform like WooCommerce, there could be something you can add to your site that won’t affect your sales. Or, you might consider looking at this from the other perspective, and putting yourself onto an affiliate platform so others can market for you.
Run-of-the-mill, wild, off-the-wall, one of a kind, it doesn’t matter — there’s something you could push to your audience, whatever your website does. But how do you do it?
Find the right affiliate program for you
The best way to find affiliates (and lots of them) is to visit an affiliate platform. These platforms are big catalogs listing thousands of sellers with affiliate links and content that’s ready-to-go.
There are very few totally free affiliate platforms. They earn their money by being an intermediary between you and the other company, and providing the software for both parties to track their sales in an honest, indisputable way.
If you use WordPress, straight away start looking into plugins like AffiliateWP, WP Affiliate Manager, or Ultimate Affiliate Pro, all of which easily integrate into the software you use for your website. Learn more about finding the right affiliate program in our article on monetizing a website.
Rest assured, it’s not too difficult to implement a program on most platforms, and the main research you’ll need to do is in finding which program is the best fit for you.
Think about things like:
- Subscription price — Do you have to pay too much out at the start for it to be justifiable?
- Real-time tracking — How long does it take for them to log your sales?
- How payouts work — Similar to the above, how long does their payout system take? You don’t want to wait too long for money.
- Software and compatibility — Watch videos on how easy affiliate programs are to integrate into your site’s CMS and decide which seems most user-friendly to you. Many hours can be wasted on complex integrations and systems.
- Updates to their software — Frequent updates mean bugs and issues are likely to be ironed out quickly.
- User support — Will they support you if you need it?
- Software ‘accessories’ — Some offer email templates, MailChimp integration, and more. Think about which of these would be useful to you.
But most of all:
- Do they work with the kinds of businesses that complement your site? Some companies are available on more than one platform. So, find the platform with the most companies that could be useful to you.
It’s worth noting you can utilize multiple companies for affiliates and use different parts of your site for each one, depending on what works best. Don’t be afraid to alter placements and get rid of poor performers. But how should you present the ads on your site?
Ways to incorporate affiliate marketing into your site
Luckily, companies upload ‘assets’ (logos, pictures, banner ads, etc.) to their listing, and that’s part of what you get included with your affiliate membership. So don’t feel overwhelmed with the question of how to integrate the ads into your site.
Also, affiliate ads don’t have to look like traditional banner ads. You can get creative with how you sell to your customers with more active sales generation, as we mentioned above — blogs, videos, linked products on product pages, and much more!
When I talk about blog posts here, I don’t necessarily mean your site needs to be a ‘blog’ — you might run a WooCommerce site and find that having a blog section increases your SEO performance. Adding some posts talking about products/services and linking to other sites is potentially a way of monetizing a part of your site that usually only draws traffic.
As I mentioned, check your affiliate for their approved assets, which will probably contain banners, copy, and media, all pre-formatted to ideal sizes. Sidebar ads are great because you can easily implement them on multiple pages at once. In WordPress, this option exists in most themes under Appearance -> Widgets.
It’s worth noting that sidebar ads should be placed carefully, as in certain cases, they could draw your customers away from your site when they are about to transact.
With the above in mind, putting an affiliate ad on a post-checkout page, especially if it’s a complementary product (a custom cabinet for a TV they just bought from you), could be a great way around running the risk of losing a sale on your site in favor of your affiliate. You could also pick products that target your buyer at the exact time where they have more of an incentive to buy (they’ve just committed to getting that new TV).
If you use WooCommerce with WordPress, there are many plugins that allow you to modify post-checkout (‘thank you’) pages.
Can I find affiliates myself without a platform?
The short answer is ‘yes.’ As we mentioned earlier, particularly in the case of mutual links for professionals, this works well. Many successful affiliate partnerships aren’t through official platforms. Although bear in mind what you lose: the piece of mind that everything is tracked, monitored, fair, and most importantly, automated. Pursuing a DIY option can be a great thing to do if you really trust who you are partnering with, and can combine this with something trackable.
You could make your affiliate ads trackable in a ‘DIY’ sort of way by creating a tracking link that your affiliates use whenever they link to your site from theirs. You can then follow what the customers do when they click the link by using Google Analytics.
Link tracking in this way is not failsafe, as it’s very difficult to track certain more complex things, like customers who don’t buy initially but return later to complete the transaction. As a starting point, though, you might consider it, especially if you know somebody well enough that trust won’t be an issue.
Continue your research
There’s plenty to digest when it comes to affiliate programs, but why not give it a go? If you want more tips, you can learn more about how to monetize your site, or could you be better off going down the refer a friend route, which works great for businesses that utilize a more hands-on social approach?
Whatever you decide, finding your affiliates can be fun. And what’s the worst that can happen? You are simply exploring new ways to maximize an asset you already have. The hard work was done getting to this point, so enjoy the next step!
Do you think your site is a good fit for Namecheap’s products? You can find out more about earning money from promoting our products as an affiliate.