1. (C)ontent – Any good internet marketer understands that having well-written, useful content is what drives their marketing machine. Excellent content provides the main building block to gaining exposure through the search engines, which is the first step to building the traffic that will ultimately become your customers or customers of whichever affiliate programs you decide to promote. Great content does this in a number of ways. Initially, well-written, useful content will have a greater chance of being recognized as a resource by other online publishers. The more websites and blogs that find your content useful, the more chances you have that these sites will reference (i.e. link) to your articles, thus promoting them higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Even after this occurs, great content still works for you in several ways. It provides information that people are looking for and may also solve problems that your potential customers have. If you can combine great, problem-solving content with relevant affiliate products that help fill a need or solve a problem, you are well on your way to boosting your sales. How do you create great content? Write about a subject you understand very well and one that you are passionate about.
2. (C)ookies – When you are searching for affiliate programs that are related to, or complement, your excellent content, one thing any savvy affiliate marketer evaluates is the cookie length of the program(s) he or she chooses to promote. In affiliate marketing, a cookie is something that ‘tags’ any website visitor who arrives at an affiliate site via an affiliate link. This is so the affiliate who was responsible for sending the visitor will ultimately be credited for any sale. Different affiliate programs have cookies of varying lengths. Ideally, you want to choose a program that uses the longest length cookies. This way, even if a visitor who you sent to the affiliate website doesn’t make a purchase today, you will still get credit as long as they make a purchase before the cookie expires. The longer the cookie length, the greater amount of time that visitor has to come back to the affiliate website and make a purchase for which you will receive your affiliate commission.
3. (C)lick-through-rate – Also abbreviated CTR, this is a measure of how well your content, combined with the affiliate program’s creatives (i.e. text links, banners, search boxes, videos, etc.) entices a visitor to actually ‘click through’ to the affiliate website. Your CTR for each different ad campaign is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on the ad by the number of times the ad was delivered (also called ad impressions). CTR is a way of measuring how effective your advertisements are. The higher the CTR, the more effective your content, combined with your ad placement, is at convincing your visitors to visit the affiliate site via one of your affiliate links. But getting your visitors through your affiliate links to your affiliate program’s website is only half the battle.
4. (C)onversions – As mentioned above, getting visitors to whichever affiliate programs you are promoting is only half the battle. They must also become customers (i.e. make a purchasing decision and buy something) in order for you to get paid. When a visitor actually buys something, this is known as a conversion. How well any affiliate program converts is a combination of how effectively you were able to presell your website visitors, as well as how effective the affiliate program’s landing page is at convincing them to purchase the product or service the program is advertising. Understand that many visitors to the affiliate program’s website may not buy on their first visit. This is why cookie length is important. In addition, the sales process that the affiliate program utilizes to keep in contact with that visitor and ultimately turn them into a customer is very important. Keep an eye on your conversions for each different affiliate program you belong to. The higher the conversion rate of a program, the better they are at converting the visitors you send into customers that ultimately make them (and you) money.
5. (C)alls to Action – Throughout your content, and especially towards the end of any write-up, you want to take the opportunity to encourage your visitors to visit the affiliate program’s site or purchase a product, or sign up for a free membership. Whatever action you need a visitor to take in order to get them ‘tagged’ with your affiliate cookie is what you need to tell them to do. Tell them (in a nice way of course) what you would like them to do, don’t ask them. For example, at the end of a thorough write-up about an online service for which you are an affiliate, say something like, “Take the next step and join XYZ service to see for yourself. Membership is free…” and hyperlink that phrase using your affiliate link to direct your visitors to the program. Notice that the visitor was not asked, but rather given a simple command, or a call-to-action. Pepper your content with a few different calls to action in logical places and this will increase the number of your visitors who end up clicking through to the affiliate site (i.e. your CTR will increase!).
So remember the five C’s of affiliate marketing to improve your odds of success. Begin with great content to encourage backlinks and gain exposure through the search engines. Find affiliate programs that offer products or services related to your content, which your visitors will find interesting. Evaluate the cookie length’s of each of these affiliates. In general, try to join affiliate programs offering the greatest cookie lengths. Next, once you have joined some programs and placed their banners and text links throughout your content, keep an eye on how many visitors actually click through to the affiliate site using your affiliate links. This is called your click through rate, or CTR, and is a measure of how well you are doing with your affiliate ad placements. Remember, the higher the CTR for any ads or creatives you have on your sites, the better. Keep an eye on conversions, which are how many of the people you send to the affiliate program actually make a purchase. This is one of the most important affiliate statistics to keep track of because, ultimately, this will tell you how effective your affiliate programs are at making the sale. Conversions are the most important ‘C’ for any affiliate marketer to monitor because they are directly responsible for how much money you will earn as an affiliate of that program. Finally, use ‘calls-to-action’ in order to convince your visitors to take whatever action is required for you to benefit. Whether you want them to join something, buy something, or click a particular link, use a simple command to tell them what it is you would like them to do. If your content was helpful and you structure your calls to action in an affirmative, but friendly, manner your visitors should be more than receptive to these simple commands. Ultimately, it is up to you to constantly monitor your five C’s of affiliate marketing to measure how well the affiliate programs you are promoting are performing.