Affiliate Marketing Is a Team Sport

Affiliate Marketing Is More Than a Collection of Techniques

About five years ago I bought a course teaching affiliate marketing for about $2000. The course covered about everything, starting with the right mindset for success, then how to select a niche, how to find products for promotion, how to build lead magnets and a list, how to make a plan. But the course was leading me nowhere.
Now you can say: If the student is ready, the teacher will be there, and you can turn the sentence round and say “if the student is not ready the teacher teaches in vain”. I was at that time not ready, my mindset was preventing success.
Although that course discussed the importance of the mindset and all technical aspects of affiliate marketing, one vital point was missing. Affiliate marketing is a team effort, it is very hard to earn a substantial and sustainable income as an isolated affiliate marketer.

Let’s Do Some Number Crunching

Here are a few assumptions on which I base the following calculation:

  • You look for a yearly income of about $100,000 per year.
  • You have costs for mailing lists, web hosting, traffic generation of about 30,000 per year.
  • You get an commission of about $3 for each sale through an affiliate link
  • You make 20 sales for every 1000 emails you send out.
  • You promote your recommendations by sending on average 3 emails to your subscribers.

In this scenario you need total revenue $130,000. At $3 per sale this adds up to 43,000 sales per year. to get there you need to send out 2,150,000 promotion emails per year. If you send to every unique subscriber 5 emails per week or 260 emails per year, you need about 8,300 subscribers. If you send 3 emails for each offer, you need to offer to every subscriber 87 products per year.

You can vary the assumptions a bit and come to not so drastic conclusions. But this will not change the big picture.

Isolated Success is Impossible

If you want to be successful you cannot treat each subscriber the same way. A new subscriber who came just in through a free download offer and doesn’t know you at all needs different offers than a subscriber who know you for many years.

I suggest that you probably divide your subscribers into three classes:

  • New subscribers who never bought something from you
  • Subscribers who did one or a few purchases
  • Susbcribers who buy repeadetly based on your recommendations

Each of these classes need different offers. After taking care for some overlap I suggest you need 200 offers per year, or 4 good offers for your subscribers per week. To find four products you can recommend wholeheartedly no need probably review at least 12 products per week, or 2,5 per day if you work 5 days per week.

Your work schedule will look like this:

Daily:

  • Review 2.5 products like ebooks, video courses etc. for recommendation
  • Write three promotion emails per day
  • Drive traffic to lead magnets
  • Review results of your promotion and lead generation system

Ongoing:

  • Set up new lead magnets
  • Grow your knowledge and skills in your chosen field of expertise
  • Grow your authority status in your field of expertise

This is a full time job, and you might be able to do that after you have built a list of of around 8000 subscribers, although chances are that you will still have to prioritize. This might result in promoting some products which are not so good, some sloppy written email promotions, a lack of industry research and a challenge to maintain the size of the list.

But what about the time before your list reaches 8000 subscribers, when the income you generate through your marketing does not yet pay for a living and you can’t put in a full work day into your project? You still have to send out three email promotions per day, find a new product to promote every day and do some research to develop your expert status. But you have only a few hours to do that, because you need also to spend time and energy in another job to pay for your living. Sonds hard to impossible? It is.

The Solution: Burden Sharing

You will not reach your goal just by working harder. If you earn your living with a normal full time job, there is no way to work more than 3 or 4 hours per day for your affiliate marketing project without damaging the quality of your recommendations and content. You have to work smarter. So let’s have a look at the tasks at hand: where can we safe time and effort?

  • List building, setting up lead magnets and driving traffic to them has the highest priority, because a large email audience is what you need to make an online living.
  • Building expertise and authority in your field is necessary. Without that your subscribers will act only in small numbers on your recommendations.
  • Reducing the frequency of promotion emails will reduce your cash flow as soon as your email lists have a few hundred subscribers

But what about reviewing and selecting the offers you promote? What if you need to find instead of 200 products worth your recommendation only 10 products by yourself? You will now research 5 products before you recommend one, and still perform only one product review per week instead of 2 or three per day. If you find 20 likeminded and trustworthy colleagues who share the product recommendations, everyone would have to find only 10 recommendations to reach a grand total of 200. And because 40 eyes see more than two, the 200 recommendations generated by a group are probably richer than the ones you would have found on your own.

The new task schedule looks like this:

Daily:

  • Write three promotion emails per day
  • Drive traffic to lead magnets
  • Review results of your promotion and lead generation system
  • Network with fellow marketers

Weekly

  • Review one product per week

Ongoing

  • Set up new lead magnets
  • Grow your knowledge and skills in your chosen field of expertise
  • Grow your authority status in your field of expertise
  • Find trustworthy colleagues for cooperation

This sounds much better. But there is another major shortcut. What if you could join an alrady existing network of marketers instead of creating one from scratch?

Join a Mastermind Group

It is obviously much more effective to join an existing mastermind group than trying to create one from scratch. You need a group of like-minded people who are willing to support each others, share ideas, information and recommendations. If you are not an established affiliate marketer the best way to find and get access to such a group is joining a excellent mentorship program. Your knowledge and skills will grow, with it your authority status. You will find many new ideas and early access to information about upcoming products for review and/or recommendation.
The mentorship program and the people in the attached mastermind group should be openminded towards the niche you have chosen for your affiliate marketing business. And the people in the group have to be trustworthy. So you have to do a fair amount of research before joining such a group. But if you have found the right people, it can be very helpful.

In Customer’s Shoes

Test with Adwords, Then Make Money with Twitter? Wrong!
I used to think: Write a sales page, drive Google Adwords traffic, test it. With a decent conversion rate, start to drive serious traffic from social media, banner ads, etc. This is, what happened:

  • Signup rate from people coming from my blog: 15%
  • Signup rate from people coming from Google Adwords: 5%
  • Signup rate from people coming from Twitter: 0%

I got lots of traffic from Twitter, and people seemed to be interested. But no conversion! Adwords remained at 5%. From my blog the traffic numbers went naturally down. I cannot write posts promoting the same offer day by day.

Putting Myself into Twitterers’ Shoes
I was scratching my head for several weeks, hoping to get at least one or two conversions from Twitter. After a while it seemed that even the click rates from Twitter went down. Naturally, because my followers knew the offer, as my blog readers did. Anyway, I was careful enough not to damage that Twitter account, it is still growing.
So, what does that mean? Is Twitter traffic useless? I do not think so, and I know that other people get conversions, signups etc. from Twitter.
I drew two conclusions: The page must be reasonable for people coming from search engines, and for people coming from my mailing list and blog, but not for Twitterers.
Thinking about the reason, I came up with the following conclusion: The signup page was, as thousands, driven by flash videos. But further investigation let me to conclude, that a Twitter link is rarely leading to a video.

Mobile Users Have Different Priorities
A little further brain wrenching reminded me, that even the emails with video links I get, do not work, as long as I open them on my mobile device, because the handset does not show flash.
In fact I use the email on my Palm to skim through the emails, to see if there is something I need to respond quickly. But all these video emails are left to my desktop, and I check them, if and when I have time and desire to do so.
Twitter is strongly geared towards mobile users. They may have difficulty to watch a flash video. And a Twitter user has often a very short span of attention. He may just to get a glimpse about what’s going on in his arena, between leaving the plane and picking the luggage. And unlike emails, tweets go away. They are not saved for later inspection.

Landing Page Must Correspondent to Traffic Source
This consideration seems to explain why my video page did not work with Twitter. And, while investigating, my brain reminded me that I should copy the ones, who get already results. Many of them seem to promote their blogs on Twitter, and then using their blogs to promote their money making stuff.

What do you think? Did you observe the same phenomena? How did you solve the problem? Please share your insight and leave a comment.