Of course it's important to train ourselves on the correct methods for success as affiliate marketers, because after all: some techniques work and some flat out don't. Some things will make you money and… well, you get the idea.
That said, it's equally important to learn from the ways people fail. If you can understand the mistakes of those who have gone (unsuccessfully) before you, you can dodge those common bullets and avoid suffering the same fate. Oh, and in doing so, build yourself a wildly successful affiliate business.
Here's what I believe to be the 4 most underrated, under-discussed reasons why affiliate marketers fail.
1. Are you promoting products that people actually WANT?
Might sound daft, but check the logic:
For a long time, smart affiliate marketers have known that there's a killing to be made in small uncompetitive niche markets around the web. If you find people with a unique interest that isn't being served, there's a chance for profit. You can be the ONLY ONE fulfilling their desire.
While generally an intelligent piece of advice, this theory has a caveat; namely, that there IS another extreme.
The fact that no one is serving that market could be a sign. It could be a sign that there's no money to be made in it. If a market is so small and still untapped, it might be because there's not a profitable way to sell people products in that market; it could be that the margins are so low that other marketers have tried and failed; It could be that other marketers found that even when they did receive that market's attention, there wasn't enough people in the market to make it worth while.
Notice the operative phrase “could”, in this description. For the above mentioned are possibilities, not necessarily the rule.
There's a middle ground to these competing ideologies. There are markets that have been identified for their potential and are being marketed to… just not very well. There are markets where a lot of people need a solution you can provide… but not many people are providing it in exactly the way that market wants… and so on.
So remember to focus on markets where there IS activity, where money IS changing hands… just not so much that the competition will bury you.
2. Are You Promoting Them to the People Who Actually WANT Them?
That one probably also sounds weird. So let me clarify with an example:
You might be in the weight loss market. You might have found a great offer to promote that's supposed to “convert at 10%”… but for some reason, when it's on your site people aren't buying it. Why?
It might be because while the offer is great, it's not what YOUR traffic wants.
To give an over-obvious example: Maybe you've got traffic coming to your site from keywords (in the search engines) like “natural weight loss methods”. If the product you're promoting on your site is a weight loss pill (ie not “natural”)… it's not pushing your visitors buttons.
In a more subtle example, say you've got traffic coming to your site for keywords like “how to lose weight”. That group of people is hard to serve. You know they want to lose weight, but don't know exactly how, by what method, in what time frame, or for what purpose. So what do you sell them? You can only guess… and when you're guessing, you might be wrong.
The goal is to, by whatever means necessary, KNOW what your traffic and your specific market is wanting, and promote to them exactly that. It sounds stupidly obvious when said like that but it's a real mistake that a lot of affiliates make.
3. Promoting Products That People Don't Want To Buy ONLINE
This is one I had to learn through hard experience.
There's a factor that affects conversion rates on “first visit” traffic that doesn't get talked about much and that factor is, the ability for this product to be bought online.
I usually give this example:
It's easier to sell pills online than it is to sell golf clubs. In other words, you're likely to get higher conversion rates on a “first time seeing the offer” type visitor on a product like a health supplement than on a golf club. Why?
To be convinced of the benefit of a pill, all you have to do is be told what it does, and maybe see the testimonial of someone else who had results from it. There's no way that seeing and holding the bottle in your hand can make you more excited to buy it.
But golf clubs are different. To really get excited about a golf club, you can't just look at a picture of it and have someone describe it for you. You need to feel the grip in your hands, you need to hear the ting it makes when connecting with the ball, you have to touch the shinyness of it's oversized head…
You know what I mean?
Reality is, some products are easier to sell as affiliates off a website than others. And not knowing where your product lies on that scale of easy-hard to buy online is an important mistake affiliates make.
4. Money NOT In The List
Here's a controversial statement: Sometimes, as an affiliate, the money is NOT in the list.
I believe that as an affiliate, you should judge whether or not to build a list based on the nature of the niche you're entering. Fortunately, what it is about a niche that allows you to make that decision is simple. Let me explain with 2 examples:
First, let's say you've got a site in the gardening niche. Gardening is a process, not a solution. You can always become better at gardening. As a gardener, you have a constant desire for more knowledge about gardening.
Second, think about the niche of acne. If you have acne, you want a solution, not a process. You don't want to gain a gradual and continual education about getting rid of acne, you want to get rid of it NOW. Once you've gotten rid of your acne, you don't need any further information, it's done.
Can you guess which of these niches is better to build a list in?
In the latter, I believe it's detrimental to get someone on to your list and try to slowly over time, get around to telling them about the solution (the product you're selling) for their problem. They have an urgent need and want a solution NOW… so give it to them. Push them in the direction of your affiliate banners fast because they have a problem that requires FAST solution. If they don't want the solution/s you're offering, they're not going to want it more after “getting to know you” better through your email list.
By overcoming these important mistakes, you can not only ensure you're in the percentage of affiliate marketers who makes it, you can elevate to the high levels of that already high echelon. Now absorb, acknowledge, then act :)
Andrew Hansen is a blogging and affiliate marketing strategist and CEO of Dreamlife Softwares. He's the author of Forever Affiliate, a 3-step process that spits out mini sites that make $300 to $3,000 a month in passive income.