If you don’t already know about this, I will give you a new perspective on the term Affiliate Marketing.
Sometimes I see people throw around the term “Super Affiliate”, and tell others they should do this, do that but these three schools I am about to tell you about were never discussed.
I don’t see other people talk about this. When you want to learn affiliate marketing, they just tell you affiliate marketing but not tell you about these three distinct approach of schools of affiliate marketing.
Knowing about these three schools of Affiliate Marketing will make you aware about the different strategies, tools, goals, and work that are required to make affiliate marketing work.
No wonder newbies are doing tactic A one day, then jump to method B, and the next day proceeding with strategy C — which they all conflict each other.
But let’s start from the very beginning.
If you know affiliate marketing, you can jump ahead to the 3 Schools of Affiliate Marketing. But if you are new to affiliate marketing, let me give you a quick introduction.
Affiliate marketing is one of the many ways to make money online. How affiliate marketing works is where you promote other people’s product by sending traffic to their website using a unique link. Every affiliate will get their own unique link, but they all arrive at the same merchant’s website.
With the unique affiliate link, the merchant, with an affiliate program system in place, will be able to track who sends the visitor to their site. And if that visitor buys something, you as the referring affiliate will earn a commission.
Sounds cool, right?
And there’s more. What makes affiliate marketing so appealing? Well it is because of the fact that:
- You don’t have to create or source your own product
- You don’t have to pack, ship nor deliver the product
- You don’t have to provide support to the customer
- It all can be done online, without having to leave your home, or any where in the world, as long as you have access to the Internet
But it’s not that simple…
Just about anything else, any discipline or skills you are trying to develop, it takes a lot of hardwork and time to get it right. There are many ways to promote an affiliate program. And the successful affiliates normally focuses on a certain type of method.
Just so you understand the many ways of promoting an affiliate program, I am going to group them into three distinct school of thoughts. The three schools are:
- Niche / Authority Builders
- Info-Marketers / Influencer
- Media Buyers
Side Note: There are also hybrids of the three schools. These are not like set rules that you have to follow. Some affiliate marketers apply strategies from multiple schools. And also, while the skills and software I list for each schools are mostly core for each of them, they are also great tools for the other schools. My goal here is help you see they main core concept of approaching affiliate marketing so that you can pick one that you are most comfortable with and hack it till it works.
School 1 : Niche / Authority Site Builders
This is where you build a website. The goal is to build a website that attracts really targeted traffic, and later monetize from it.
Let’s take a simple example. Perhaps you have really good knowledge about pet grooming. You own a chihuahua yourself. So you built a website about that and you promote it hard that it really becomes the go-to website when it comes to pet grooming. Of course your website only attract people who wants to know more about pet grooming themselves. Your site would not attract people who wants to learn about personal finances. In fact you do not want that. When the interests of your visitors matches the content of your website, you now have a niche site with targeted traffic.
And because you are an affiliate, you would also write reviews and also recommend products from other websites. You recommend products from Amazon.com, with your affiliate link, of course. And with every sale, you earn a commission.
Apart from Amazon, you can also recommend products on PetCo.com, PetFlow.com, or Pet Warehouse that runs their affiliate program through ShareASale.com.
But generally, as an Authority Site Builder these are the skills that you may need
- Website development
- Content creation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Link building, and perhaps even outreach link building
But all that is in the past. Technology has evolved where building a website is no longer a painstaking task. You still need to learn a few things but now there are tools like WordPress. With WordPress you can start to build your website with simple point-and-click, drag-and-drop methods. It may cost you a few bucks if you want to make things easier and faster, like for example getting the Elementor plugin which makes building a WordPress site 10-times faster, easier and makes your site looks amazing in record time.
What is required together with Website Development skills is some knowledge about domain names and web hosting. Fortunately there is really great, affordable course on Udemy for this. This course will teach you how to setup your first WordPress site and how to take it online with your own domain name (dot-com address) and web hosting.
Content creation can be in the form of text or video. But let’s talk about text for now. What you want is to be able to create articles after articles on a consistent basis, and also inline with the theme of your website. Also, there is a certain strategy to picking what to write about, which will help in your affiliate conversion and also later, SEO efforts. Some goes deep to analyze which keywords can convert better and which are easier to rank for in search engines.
Of course, then there is the part where you actually write it. You have to make it interesting, valuable, keep readers engage, and on and on. Sometimes you come into a “block”, not knowing what to write and how to express yourself in words. Well, every writer comes across that. Give yourself time and then try again. But alternatively, you can hire a writer to help you with your content creation, which of course costs money. I guess it depends on where you are with your affiliate marketing to be able to consider that. If you are making good income, perhaps it is time to scale, hire writers and pamper yourself with more “me time”. But if you are starting out, maybe you want to do this yourself and see if it works first.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now the traffic strategy – SEO. With SEO, you work to get your website and web pages rank high in search engines like Google for the relevant keywords. If you can achieve that, you will have targeted traffic coming to your website with huge interest in the topic that you are discussing. And after that, you will be able to promote relevant products to your traffic.
You may also combine your effort with email marketing where you get your traffic to sign up to your newsletter. This would allow you to further send information and perhaps promotions to your visitors that are now in your mailing list.
In summary, the common skills required here is web building and SEO. Of course something more is about doing research about a specific topic and keywords and choosing the right topic and products to focus on.
Link Building & Outreach (when you really get serious)
After all that work, now comes the part where you seek to find other website owners to link to your website. Some will leave this to happen naturally and hope that others will just link and share your content all over the Internet. But some Authority Site Builders I know take the proactive approach and seek out who should link to them. This is what we call the Outreach Program.
Sometimes a link building and outreach program starts from the keyword research itself. Authority Site Builders start analyzing the content are already ranked in search engines, find out who are their competitors, find out who are linking to those websites, and then figure out how to out-rank those listing.
Competitor analysis is normally done with expensive tools like AHREF.com or MOZ.com. These tools can give you really great insights over your competitors and see why they are ranked in the position that they are.
For the outreach program, you can checkout tools like Ninja Outreach and BuzzStream. These tools can help you find out the contact details of other websites linking to another, help you craft emails and keep track of responses. You can do this manually, but with a tool like Ninja Outreach or BuzzStream, tedious and painstaking task like writing and sending emails to hundreds of prospective link partners become easier and requires less time to complete.
Who are the Authority Figures
- Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income
- Matt Digity – Affiliate Lab
- Gael Breton, Mark Webster – Authority Hacker
- Lynn Terry – ClickNewz
- Ian Pribly – Free Internet Marketing Project
Pros & Cons
- Potential of becoming great passive income
- You are building an asset that you can sell later on if you wanted to
- You can start with very little money
- Takes a lot of time before you can see money flowing in
- Need to learn how to build a website
- SEO can get tiring
School 2 : Info-Marketers / Influencer
School 2, the Info-Marketers is a complex being. They study marketing the most (I believe). How you become an info-marketer is not very straight foward because there are many ways of going about it. But generally, the tools and skills that you would be using would be:
- Email marketing software
- Info-product creation (video course, ebooks, coaching, etc)
- Crafting offers
- Landing pages and sales funnels
Email Marketing Software
People who I call info-marketers will always preach, “The Money Is In The List”. An autoresponder or email marketing software is the number one arsenal for info-marketers.
Some common email marketing software companies out there are like GetResponse, Aweber, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign. I use GetResponse. They are great and comes with a bunch of features that meet all your marketing needs. With a good email marketing software, you can pre-write a series of emails and schedule them to go out on certain time after a prospect joins your mailing list. Now, why would somebody would want to join your mail list? That is an interesting point.
Though I call them info-marketers because when building a mailing list, what is important is creating an info-product, whether you sell it or give it away. Because that is how to you start to build a mailing list. With a product, you can ethically “bribe” visitors into giving you their email address. For example, you want to build a list around the weight loss industry. So you write an ebook with the title, “How I Lost 28lbs in 3 Months Naturally”. Then you create a little website, also known as a landing page that asks people to enter their email address in a little form if they want this ebook.
Another skill that is also common among Info-Marketers is about crafting an offer. Of course, this comes handing when you are also capable of creating your own info-product, which you can add-on as bonuses to your initial product.
I believe a huge part of it is about understanding the customer. Info-marketers work hard to understand the customer, what they need, what they want, what they crave about and then start to craft a unique offer that is irresistable to the customer.
Landing Pages & Sales Funnel Tool
A Sales Funnel tool is where everything comes together. It is about presenting the offer on the Internet. Generally it helps you build a series on web page (that we now call landing pages) and help your prospect go through them.
InstaPage.com, LeadPages.net and ClickFunnels.com are some of the common providers for landing pages and sales funnel software. I use ClickFunnels.com.
So where is the affiliate marketing?
Good question! Remember when I said that info-marketing is slightly complex because there are so many ways to go about doing it? Well, let me try to give you some example.
Example Strategy 1: You build a landing page asking for visitors to enter their name and email address, where they will get an ebook sharing the secrets to weight loss. That ebook contains recommendations to diet pills that you are promoting, which you link using your affiliate link.
Example Strategy 2: You found a great weight loss coach, Mr. Slim, that has an online membership site, where people can pay a subscription to. Since you already have an email newsletter with people in the (read Example Strategy 1), you can now broadcast a recommendation to all of your email subscribers to try out Mr. Slim’s online program. And of course, you get a commission when one of your email subscribers join the program.
Example Strategy 3: You found a great software, PersonalTrainer+ that can help personal trainers keep track of their clients. You create a video on how to use the software, but with an angle — How To Earn More As A Personal Trainer.
Now you create a funnel
- Page 1 – Opt-In, you ask for their name and email address
- Page 2 – Software Video, you demonstrate the video
On Page 2, at the end of the video, you recommend the PersonalTrainer+ along together with your own personal bonuses such as PersonalTrainer+ Setup Guide eBook, PersonalTrainer+ Shortcut Guide, etc.
Also, you have a series of emails lined up for your prospects where they will get tips, tricks and other information about being a personal trainer, and of course those that reminds and recommends PersonalTrainer+.
Example Strategy 4: You create your own product, perhaps, Ultimate Personal Trainer Success Guide. And you create a sales funnel optimized to selling the product. And later, you go on to approach and recruit other product creators to become your affiliate to promote your product. You can also do webinars and get affiliates to promote the webinar, where at the end of the webinar, you pitch your product.
With your new list of customers, you can later promote other affiliate offers by sending out email newsletters.
So you see, there are just so many ways you can do affiliate marketing as an infomarketer. But of course, you would need an email marketing software, sales funnel software, copywriting skills and info-product creation skills.
There also other variations to this. Some go on to also become an Influencer by starting a YouTube channel, speaking in front of the camera and putting themselves out there. And of course, they would promote people to get on their email marketing list, where again, traded with some valuable ebook, video course, or any other info-product.
What About Traffic?
A common strategy I see in this school of thought is where you become a product creator yourself and recruit other product creators to become your affiliates. But you can also consider paying for traffic through Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, Google Ads and others. However, the traffic that you pay is mainly to get people to enter their name and email address first, before your other marketing tactics come into action through your sales funnel and landing pages.
Who are the Authority Figures
- Andre Chaperon – Autoresponse Madness
- Russell Brunson – ClickFunnel.com
- Nick James – Nick-James.com
- Peng Joon – PengJoon.com
- Liz Tomey – Liz Tomey’s Products
Pro & Cons
- Huge earning potential
- Easier to understand and easier to implement
- Subscription to software and tools can get expensive
- You need to create a lot of content
- Marketing, persuasion, psychology, copywriting is where many people stuck at
School 3 : Media Buyer
I think Media Buyers are the most secretive bunch among affiliate marketers. You don’t know much about them if you don’t go out to really seek them out. I think primarily they don’t go out and sell affiliate marketing courses.
Also, it is probably a personality thing, by choice, Media Buyers don’t really put themselves out there to the world. But I believe Media Buyers are the type of affiliate marketers that are really killing it in the affiliate marketing world, mostly because of how it easy it is to scale the business once you get the hang of it. Especially if you have the fund to do it.
So what is this Media Buyer type? This is easy to explain, though not really easy to do.
Basically, Media Buyers buy traffic and send them to affiliate offers. As simple as that. OK, at times they may use their own landing pages just to get the visitors engaged and set the visitors into the right frame of mind to buy.
Most if not all Media Buyers that I know are not concerned over building a list for email marketing. They don’t want any of that. And also, while most info-marketers, in the end are building somewhat of a persona or a personal brand, Media Buyers are also not very fond of putting themselves out there.
What they are concerned about is where to buy traffic, which affiliate offers are most suitable for them, and can they make a campaign with a positive return? What I mean by positive return is where the affiliate commission that they get is more than the costs of the traffic.
So yes, it requires money to go with the Media Buyer affiliate school. But with this, it is the fastest way to start seeing affiliate commissions. The challenge is about whether or not your profitable.
And because of that, the search for a profitable campaign, Media Buyers are very analytical where they track and test everything from the
- traffic source (Bing, Google, Facebook, Native Ads, Push notification, etc)
- demographics targeting in their traffic source (age, location, gender, interests, etc),
- the advertisement (copywriting, creatives),
- the landing pages (quiz-style, advertorial, copywriting),
- the offers (which brands, which merchant, which affiliate network), and many more.
The challenge is find the best combination that generates the best return.
When it comes to landing pages, they don’t use landing pages to capture email addresses. It is just as a quick tool to frame the mind of the visitors into buying the product, or take action on the offer page. So they may use tools like ClickFunnels to build landing pages, but instead of an opt-in page, they would build a page with a quiz, or perhaps something that looks like a news site but contain content that promotes a specific product. That is what we call advertorial.
Depending on a product, they may think about the angle which is the primary message on the landing page. Take for example, a hair growth product can be positioned can be targeted for male or female. That will determine the type of images and messages you have on your landing pages. A product in the Keto Diet fad can be positioned for weight loss, for the beach body, for detox. So it goes on. Which means a lot of thought really goes into building the landing page.
Tracking & Testing Tool
This tracking tool that Media Buyers use is not like a normal Google Analytics tool. They can give you detailed information about specific traffic source and whether or not it converts at the merchant.
For example, the media buyer will be able to know exactly which Ad contributed to the conversion. Which landing page made the sale. And also perhaps where did the customer come from. If she was from a specific town, or state, maybe others from that location would be interested in them too.
Media buyers would split test ads, copywriting, landing pages and more. When they have 5 ads, 2 landing pages, and maybe also split the campaign into 5 different age groups and then gender, there are basically 100 different combination. If you don’t actually track every detail, you won’t be able to tell which actually contributed to the conversion.
Some tracking tools available in the market that Media Buyers use are like Voluum, RedTracker, Bemob, ClickMagic.
Offers / Affiliate Programs
Media Buyers go for all types of offers. But sometimes foreign to the other two types of affiliate marketers, Media Buyers also promotes CPA offers, or cost-per-action. This is where the affiliate earns not commission, but payment for the action that the visitors make.
For example, Game Studio XYZ just launched a new game. They want to offer money to people who can send other people to download and install the game app. So they go to MaxBounty and make an offer available to the affiliates. Let’s just say that an affiliate can make $2 for every installation. The affiliate would need to do research on who would probably install this, create that campaign and send the visitor to where the app can be downloaded and installed.
There are many affiliate networks that offers CPA Offers like MaxBounty, PeerFly, and more. Perhaps some affiliate marketers in this arena are more fond of them rather than the normal per sale offers like ClickBank, CJ.com and the rest.
Who are the Authority Figures
Pros & Cons
- You can see results quickly
- You can really scale your earning with this, I mean really scale
- You need more money than the other two to get started
- You need to be really analytical (maybe a pro is you already are)
- You can lose money when you are getting started
- Most of the times your campaign cannot last more than a year