This article is based on ProBlogger Podcast 107.
This question comes in from Scott who asks, “I want to try my hand at some affiliate promotions and have selected an ebook to promote. I’ve heard you say that your affiliate promotions work best when you email your list, but I’m wondering if I should email that affiliate link or should I send them to my own blog where I review the ebook? I’d love your guidance – how do you promote an affiliate product?
This is a great question from Scott and I want to tackle it today, giving you a few insights into when you should do each of the options that Scott mentions.
What is an affiliate promotion?
If you’re wondering “What is an affiliate promotion?” then check out my article on 12 Tips for Affiliate Marketing which gives you a good introduction. Affiliate marketing is the most common way that our readers on ProBlogger tell us that they’re making money; it’s one of my primary income sources and it’s a revenue stream I recommend you consider as one of your first if you’re thinking about monetizing your blog.
Perhaps the simplest way to explain affiliate marketing is that you as a publisher are rewarded for promoting another business’s product or service, by paying you a commission when someone follows a link on your blog to their site where they then buy something.
What Links to Use in Your Emails?
Today, I want to talk about where the links should point to when you send an email to your list promoting an affiliate product.
If you’re sending an email out to your list, promoting an affiliate product, do you:
a) Send out the affiliate link linking directly to the product creator’s sales page or
b) Write a post about that product, put it on your blog, and use that link in your email?
There are some good reasons for taking either approach.
Affiliate Link direct to Sales Page
The reason that you would consider using the affiliate link, linking directly to the sales page of the product that you’re promoting is:
- It gets your reader closer to them hitting the add to cart button faster. It removes a click if you like. If you’re sending people directly from your email to the product sales page, you’re sending them straight there without having a middle page in the way. That always increases the chances of them putting that product in a cart and checking out. Job done.
- When the sales page is good – well-designed and well optimized, and has good calls to action – it’s more likely to convert, so your job is to get your reader/potential buyer to the sales page.
If we don’t have to do a whole heap of pre-selling in the email that we’re sending out. If we’re sending out an email and we just think the sales page sells itself, sells the product itself, then probably we’ll just do a relatively short email and say, “Look, you can get all the details here,” and then give them the link.
An example of this would be last year. We do a ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ campaign on Digital Photography School every year. As one of the promotions we were doing during that 12 days, we were promoting a course which we had promoted in the past, we knew it converted with our audience, and the sales page was just fantastic. The sales page had a great video on it, it had a well-written copy, it really sold the product well. We knew it was a good match for our readers, we knew that all we had to do is to get our readers to see that page, and there was a pretty good percentage of them who are going to buy that product.I had no hesitation, whatsoever, in linking directly to that sales page. There was no need to put a link to a blog post that then explained what the product was and everything because the sales page itself did such a good job. This is my ideal. This is what I want to do every time I promote a product, I want to get people to the landing page.
- Or, if we do the pre-selling in the email itself and there’s not much more to convert and we can direct the customers straight to the sales page
Link to Your Own Blog
There are times when you should consider not sending people directly to that landing page and sending them to some other destination, ideally your own blog:
- If you’re promoting a product that has a sales page that you don’t really think does a great job of selling the product.
ExampleI’m not going to name the product, but I can think back to a product a few years ago that I promoted on Digital Photography School. It was an ebook. The ebook was great, it was a really good fit for our audience, the product itself was perfect for our audience, but the person who’d written the ebook was a better ebook writer than they were a marketer.As I looked at their landing page, I was like, “No, I’m not sure that this page is going to really sell this product very well. I might need to pre-sell the product a little bit more.” Instead of sending my readers to the landing page, I wrote a review of the product on my blog. That review acted as a landing page in and of itself. In the review, I talked about whom the product would be great for, what it was about, I ran through some of the sections of the ebook. I think I even used a screenshot or two from the ebook with the permission of the author. I showed the table of contents and I really talked about the pros and cons of the book (naturally, there were more pros than there were cons).This review post acted as a landing page and was a testimonial of sorts as well. By the time people clicked the affiliate link to go to the sales page, they were ready to buy. The landing page itself didn’t need to convince them a whole heap. If anything, it probably would unconvince them because it wasn’t the best design, but hopefully, my review warmed them up enough to buy that product that they didn’t really pay a whole heap of attention to the landing page itself.
- If you think a review itself might help to sell the product.
Sometimes, the sales page is good, but you still think your readers will respond better if they hear you really talk in-depth about that product. This is something that I’ve done a little bit on ProBlogger over the years, where I might do a walk-through of how I use a tool that I’m using on ProBlogger that I’m also an affiliate for.Now, the reason I would do that instead of sending them directly to the affiliate link is I think that illustrating the product and how I use it is actually going to enhance the chances that they will buy it as well. This can be a really good way to promote an affiliate product. This shows that you genuinely use the product and gives your readers some tips on how to use it themselves, which will be helpful to them.
- If you’re going to promote that product over a period of time with a number of different emailsIf I’m promoting a course, a software, or even an ebook that I think is really good, I might do a multi-pronged campaign promotion.
This is where instead of just sending them an email and saying, “Buy this product. This is a really great product,” I might send them two or three emails over two or three weeks. Each email will have a different approach to it.
- First Email: Announces the product and the deal for my audience.
I always do try and get some exclusive deals for my readers. That email might be, “Here’s this ebook. I’ve arranged 50% off for you and this bonus.” That might be all I really do in that ebook. I might talk about what it is, of course, and some features of it but that’s about it.
- Second Email (a week later): “Here’s a review of this product.”
They’ve already heard about this product and a lot of people will probably have already bought it – our fast-acting readers, the people who buy everything that we recommend because they trust us. But then there’ll be another segment of readers who want to know a bit more. They want to hear some pros and cons, they want to weigh it up, and they want to see it in action perhaps.
- Alternatively, we interview the creator of that product and publish that as a blog post
- Or we get the author of that ebook or the creator of that product to write a guest post and put that on the blogThe second email might just link directly to that review, interview, or guest post or it might do both. It might say, “Hey, just a reminder, here’s this product we’re recommending. It’s a deal for you. You might also want to read our review of it.” That email might have both links for those people who just trust your recommendation and for those who want to know a little bit more.
- Third Email (week three): last chance reminder
Eg. “Forty-eight hours to go before this deal ends.” That, again, would link directly to the landing page.
- First Email: Announces the product and the deal for my audience.
You can see there that a multi-pronged campaign is going to communicate different things over time and there’s a time and a place for linking to different destinations within that campaign.
For me, it’s really about looking at the product, looking at the landing page that you’re given as an affiliate, and work out whether that landing page is going to sell that product well to your audience or whether you, getting involved in the middle and adding that extra click into the process—which is risky in some ways—whether that is worth it. If that extra click is going to increase the chances of people buying that product, then I definitely think adding that extra clicking can be worthwhile.
Ideally, you want as few clicks as possible between when you send your email and when they hit “Purchase”, but sometimes, that extra click will really help to put your readers in a more likely position to make that purchase.
NOTE: Link cloaking
Another important thing I should mention about affiliate links is that you can use your own link cloaking service to:
- Shorten the URL (some affiliate links are very long and ugly)
- Rebrand the affiliate link so it looks more trustworthy
- Track affiliate clicks yourself
Link cloaking services:
problo.gr/Ultimate_Bundles is this link cloaked using Bitly https://affiliates.ultimatebundles.com/affiliates/signup.php?a_aid=a6268
https://geni.us/JobyProdPS is this link cloaked using Genius Link https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07C5HZ425?tag=dps0e-22&keywords=JOBY%20GripTight%20PRO%20TelePod&geniuslink=true