With all the isolation that has come with the COVID-19 disaster, I find myself thinking about the past more often than ever. All the TV binge-watching caused me to think about my time spent at the movies. Though I loved watching movies, my real draw was the concession stand. You might say I’m a popcorn fiend, especially if I’m eating it with that pourable butter.
Of course, while I do enjoy movies, I also enjoy affiliate marketing. Lately, I’ve been drawing a serious parallel between the affiliate marketers I know and the movie concession stands I used to frequent not too long ago. There’s something seriously similar about what concession stands do and what affiliate marketing gurus do—and I feel like talking about it.
Both give you what you want to get.
When you go to a concession stand, you get to look at a menu filled to the brim with snacks and drinks of all kinds. The way it works (usually) is simple. You waltz up to the stand, look at the menu of things they’re offering up, and order it. Then, the concessionist gives you the product. Simple, right?
But, how does that work with affiliate marketing? Well, affiliate marketers do the same thing. On most review sites they run, they give you a “menu” of the best products they could find, you pick the one you’re feeling most “hungry” for, and they help you find a way to connect you with the product. See where I’m going?
Concessionists also tend to give advice on what’s good on the menu, much like affiliate marketers.
Did you ever have a moment where you didn’t want to stick to the regular option of popcorn? I know I have, and chances are, you have, too. When that happens, it can be hard figuring out what you want. Hot dogs of dubious quality? Nachos with that fake yellow stuff on it?
Newer movie theaters, like some of the ones near my house, have extended menus that are just plain massive. I kinda freeze up when I see bigger menus, and sometimes need a little help figuring things out. This is the time when I ask—you guessed it—the concessionist for some advice.
The concessionist usually knows what food’s good on the movie menu, primarily because they cooked the food. So, I trust them to be able to tell me what’s worth eating and what I should avoid. It’s a special level of trust coming from me, since I also am a food critic as a day job.
Affiliate marketers are pretty similar in this respect, too, if you think about it. An affiliate marketer is not worth his paycheck if he doesn’t know the benefits of the products he suggests. He also won’t make much money if the products he chooses aren’t good enough. If anything, affiliate marketers put their reputations on the line with every product they pick.
When people go on affiliate sites, they are doing the online equivalent of asking a concessionist which “snack” they should try out. Knowing this, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between the two roles.
The items they sell add to the experience.
Let’s just face it. You don’t need a big ol’ bag of popcorn or a giant plate of nachos to enjoy watching a movie in a theater. And yet, most people prefer to do it. The reason why is pretty plain to see. Having that popcorn is part of the classic movie-going experience. Even the smell of movie theater popcorn adds an element of magic to your vibe.
Most of the items that I’ve seen affiliate marketers sell aren’t basic—even if they’re detergents. They are premium goods that are meant to improve your overall experience with whatever you’re trying to do. It’s not just the bare minimum; it’s the movie theater popcorn level of good they want to sell.
Having a hard time following what I mean? It’s best to explain this with examples. So, if you’re going to go out camping, an affiliate will try to find tents that will make your time outdoors a breeze. If you’re going to clean your dishes, they’ll be telling you to buy the organic, beautifully scented brands that will leave you excited to clean every last pot and plate.
And finally, the menu they work with matters a lot.
We’ve all been to a theater that had little to offer aside from stale popcorn. If you’re like me, you probably noticed that those places have the most depressed-looking concessionists out there. And why wouldn’t they? Concessionists love to be able to serve good food; it’s a source of pride in their work.
Imagine working at a company where you know the product stinks. Wouldn’t you feel a little shame? It’s the same if you’re working with a concession stand that has bad popcorn and Kmart-style nachos. Believe it or not, affiliate marketers get the same way about their product networks, too.
I can’t even begin to start talking about how much care I’ve seen affiliates take when it comes to finding the best network to work with. The “menu” they choose has to be good, and rightfully so. Their careers depend on it, as do their reputations.
Don’t ask me why I started to go on this memory lane, but I did. And I started to feel a little nostalgic about my beginnings in the affiliate world, as well as a little nostalgic about the movie theaters I used to hang out in. As for me, I’ve said my piece, so I’m going to kick back with some What We Do In The Shadows…and you bet I’m going to purchase it through an affiliate.
3 Awesome Affiliate Marketing Review Strategies That Actually Work
I’ll be honest. Affiliate marketing can be downright intimidating when you first start out. It’s a little wild to think that you need to sell a product to a person who you can’t see and can’t speak to directly, right?
Like with most other types of sales, selling is all about strategy. If you go too heavy-handed, then you’re going to end up making your readers feel like they’re being sold to. If you go too light, then you won’t actually sell anything at all because no one will be engaged enough.
Today, we’re going to discuss affiliate marketing review strategies that work. More specifically, we’re going to talk about three formats that work remarkably well at converting sales and why they work. Let’s get started!
The Product Roundup
The first affiliate format that’s been proven to work has been a staple in fashion magazines since before the internet was a major conduit of information. A roundup is just what it sounds like—a collection of products that the marketer thinks are awesome.
The product roundup comes in a wide range of different sub-categories, including top tens, collections of products all relating to a special occasion, and gift lists. As long as there’s a general theme to the roundup, it’ll work well for you.
Product roundups work well because they are organized, let people learn about products they’re already interested in, and also happen to serve up info in a way that’s easy to digest. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the best X’s for Y’s are, then you’ll get why it works.
To make your roundup work well, you need to choose elegant photos and also give people a good idea of what each product offers in terms of benefits. Comparing and contrasting the products can also work, if you are doing a top ten review.
Reviews have become a mainstay among modern affiliate marketers, especially those that consider themselves to be up-and-coming influencers. The reason why is simple: it works on a personal level, especially if it’s done in a story format.
Studies show that people tend to remember stories better, and tend to get more emotionally invested in the product as a result. It’s also fairly obvious that reviews offer a far more in-depth glance at a product, giving people a better understanding of what they should expect if they buy it.
What really sells a review, though, is the personal touch. By showing yourself as a real person who is interacting with the product, you boost the trustworthiness of your review immensely. That, in turn, gives people a lot more reason to believe in you, your brand, as well as the product you’re hawking.
Reviews might seem egotistical to do at first, but they’re not. They appeal to users because they add a human touch to a type of sale that’s not usually very “human.”
This is an affiliate marketing method that is starting to pick up in popularity, and rightfully so. We all know that people don’t like the idea of feeling “sold to,” which is why some product roundups end up feeling too salesy to be effective. That’s where a how-to comes into play.
So, what does a how-to do? It’s simple. Think about the last time you went online to find out how to do something—a craft, maybe cleaning instructions, or a makeup look. Did you ever notice how many guides involve supplies that you may or may not have?
Makeup looks need special shades of makeup. Home improvement guides will tell you to get specific tools, paints, or cleaning solvents. Craft how-to’s will suggest that people buy up a bunch of different kits. See where this is going?
The how-to is a great way to sell without selling. You’re not explicitly telling them to buy something, nor are you sitting there, talking about how amazing it is. You’re just showing them what they can do if they owned that object.
The key feature here is that you’re providing actionable, SEO-friendly content that subtly shows the value of what you’re trying to sell. It’s the ultimate affiliate marketing format for people catering to crowds that may not be open to other affiliate styles.
Which Strategy Is The Best?
Here’s the thing that everyone needs to realize: different strategies will work for different people and products. Your best bet, if you want to get as many sales as possible, is to use all three in varying degrees.
A little variety can go a long, long way. So, give each a try. The more you work with each affiliate strategy, the better off you’ll be.
10 Signs You Shouldn’t Work For An Affiliate
Let’s just be honest here. I’ve harped and waxed poetic when it came to just about every aspect of choosing an affiliate. It’s literally the biggest issue that you will face as a marketer. Bad affiliate, bad time, no money. I mean it.
The thing is, there are so many different affiliate sites out there and so many products that you can choose to sell. We all know about the big ones like Amazon or ClickBank, but others still pop up that are new every single day. Sometimes, it can be hard to get an idea of whether or not an affiliate is worth it. These signs below indicate something might be up…
- You can’t find any reviews or information about them online. Every affiliate worth their salt will have at least one or two reviews from affiliate marketers who’ve worked with them backing them. If you can’t find a single ounce of information on them, you might not be dealing with a legitimate company.
- Any information you DO find seems to warn people against the company. If you end up finding nothing but bad reviews online, it’s better to trust the warnings others give you. It may save you from getting badly burnt.
- The promises are way too good to be true. Though affiliate marketing is fairly lucrative, it’s not going to be an overnight success. It takes months or even years to get a site that’s totally geared towards affiliate marketing to work. If you’re seeing ads telling you that you’ll earn millions, back away.
- People mention that it’s hard to actually get money from the affiliate in reviews. A very high minimum payout, having to jump through hoops to get your money, or being asked to pay a high fee for access to your account are all signs that you’re going to get grifted.
- The products are terrible. I can’t emphasize this enough, and it’s something I’ve spoken about at length when it comes to my other articles. If the product is crap, no amount of selling, hawking, and talking up will suffice. Bad products will only wear you and your business down. Skip bad products!
- Everyone in the affiliate market is selling the same product from the same affiliate. Back in the day, this was the issue that happened to some large affiliate networks. Their products became absolutely terrible in quality, and that meant that they had to trim down their wares. The problem is that this led to all of their thousands of marketers hawking the same product. The market was flooded and no one made any money.
- Their links and tracking system are glitchy. A company that has a reputation for glitchy or nonfunctional tracking is a company which will cost you more money than they’re worth. Unless you enjoy spending your time haranguing customer service or heading to court, you’ll avoid working for them.
- Something about the program just doesn’t make sense. If the program or product doesn’t make sense, seems too rough around the edges, or just doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. It’s better to go with a program you feel comfortable with than to go with one you don’t fully trust.
- The company asks you to buy a service in order to sell their goods. This is never a good sign, and in many cases, the company in question is actually making most of their profits from people buying the right to sell their goods. Companies that are worth a damn won’t ever ask you to pay money upfront just to sell their goods.
- You’ve heard the company’s name mentioned as an MLM. Affiliate marketing is not the same as multi-level marketing nor should you ever mistake the two. One will make you rich, and the other will alienate you from others while draining your bank account. If you start hearing about it as an MLM scheme, run and don’t look back.
Should You Hire A PR Agent To Promote Your Site?
As a person who regularly gets paid to post on blogs, I work with a lot of PR agents. They are people who are known for having large Rolodexes of client contacts and blogger contacts, specifically made for the purpose of getting companies and people blog exposures. PR agents are a unique breed of people, simply because their networking skills are so on point.
Over the years, I’ve seen a wide range of different companies turn to PR groups to get more exposure and clients. I’ve seen companies like Blue Apron do it. I’ve seen makeup companies do it. I’ve even seen adult film stars do it. It seems like everyone has a PR agent of their own, but is this a must for every site owner out there?
Honestly, it depends.
Hiring a PR agent isn’t cheap. Most solid PR groups will charge anywhere from $1500 a month to upwards of $5000 a month. However, that money is often well-spent. PR agents are able to get you news coverage and can coach you through major public relations crises.
If you are worried about being able to afford a PR agent for your site, calm down. They aren’t usually necessary, especially if you are just beginning your journey in the affiliate or dropship world. Most dropship sites don’t require a PR agent to succeed, but rather, tend to use them as “icing on the marketing cake.”
Generally speaking, if you’re an affiliate marketer, you don’t necessarily need to have a PR agent. Like, ever. Public relations professionals tend to be more appropriate for people who have dropship companies, white label product lines, or for people who want to eventually grow their business away from dropshipping as a whole.
Wondering whether you’re at a point where your dropship company could seriously benefit from professional PR? If any of the following are true, then it’s safe to say that you will most likely benefit from having on on your team:
- You have extra money and want to get your site some exposure you otherwise couldn’t get. Let’s face it, most people don’t have a roll of blog connects they can reach out to for airspace. If you want to see your site in news headlines, a PR agent is the fastest way to do it. PR agents should only be hired for dropship companies if you’ve already gotten a lot of profit.
- For one reason or another, your site is going through a major image crisis. Did you post something really offensive on your site’s feed? Did something happen with an affiliate that dragged your name through mud? If you want to salvage your site, asking a PR agent for a consultation is a smart idea.
- You have a white label product that you want to get off the ground. White label product lines change your site from a regular dropshipper to something a little more involved. When white label lines are involved, you have more at stake, which means that you have more of a reason to hire a PR agent to work with you.
- Your site is quite successful when it comes to dropshipping, but you want to start having your own proprietary items. This is a common reason why people reach out to PR agents. It’s a moment in your business’s life when you’ve realized that you’ve maxed out what you can do with other peoples’ products, and when you’re ready to start selling something brand, spankin’ new. Bridging that gap can be difficult, and having a PR agent who can help guide you through it often reveals immense results.
- The marketing concept that you want to use isn’t based on SEO or Facebook ads. Sometimes, the marketing route you want to take can be reason enough to get someone on board with your PR endeavors. If you’re trying to sell goods through an “ultra exclusive” angle or through a unique content campaign, having a PR agent makes more sense than you’d think.
- Celebrities and influencers are involved in your brand. Don’t ask me why, but a lot of celebrities and influencers won’t work with brands that don’t have a PR professional on deck. If you’ve been hoping to do some influencer marketing, getting a connected PR agent is one way to make it happen.
If it sounds like there are a lot of occasions where hiring a PR agent or a PR company makes sense, it’s because there are. Public relations people get their high paychecks because they know how to handle a lot of different situations. If you’re in a tough spot, they may be able to help you out.
That being said, this isn’t a move that most new websites or website owners should be concerned about. At the beginning stages, you’re better off getting yourself established rather than worrying about the PR moves you make. After all, you have all the time in the world to get your company to the spotlight.