On a basic level, affiliate marketing sounds easy. All you have to do is put up a website, recommend a product and get paid when somebody buys through your link. Sounds simple – right?!
Unfortunately, while the concept of affiliate marketing is easy to grasp, actually putting these ideas into practice can be challenging for new marketers. What kind of site should you build? Should you promote your product through a squeeze page or an authority site? Does your site need to have a multi-level funnel structure or can you get buy with just a few pages of content?
To make sense of it all, let’s start by reviewing the most common types of affiliate websites and how to choose the one that will work best for your business. Next, we’ll look at how to get started with each of these different site styles in order to start you off on the right foot towards making money with affiliate marketing.
So, for starters, the most commonly used types of affiliate marketing websites are:
1. Squeeze Pages – A squeeze page is a simple one-page site whose purpose is to get people to take one action quickly. Generally, this desired action is getting a prospect to “opt-in” to receive more information via email, although squeeze pages can be set up to presell visitors before arriving at different sales pages or authority sites. Squeeze pages typically feature bright colors and provocative headlines designed to capture attention as quickly as possible.
2. Presell Landing Pages – Although presell landing pages can take many forms (the most common being long form sales letters and review sites), they all share the same goal – getting visitors so excited about your product that they simply can’t wait to buy. Presell pages are great to use when you expect to receive lots of cold visitors (ie – visitors that wind up on your site with no previous exposure to you, your brand or your products).
3. Affiliate Content Sites – A content site (as described in my “Affiliate Sites That Make Money” post) is a small 5-10 page site that’s written in order to support and sell a single affiliate product. The home page typically features a review of the product, as well as text and image links that redirect the visitor to the affiliate home page. These sites can later be scaled up to become authority sites targeting multiple products if the market is there to support it.
So which type of affiliate marketing website is best? Well, that’s a trick question – each of these business models can be the right choice for you, depending on a number of different factors. Here’s what to consider when deciding which type of affiliate website to build:
Traffic Generation Strategies
The way you plan to pursue traffic should play a major role in determining the type of website you’ll create. In general, there are two major types of traffic you can try to attract – free SEO traffic or paid pay-per-click (PPC) traffic.
Free SEO traffic comes from getting your affiliate website ranked highly in the SERPs. That is, if your website targets the product keyword “acai berry cleanse”, you’ll earn SEO traffic by building backlinks in order to get your site ranked #1 in Google whenever someone searches for that phrase. SEO traffic can be great as it’s both “free” and regular, but it can take time to achieve these top rankings depending on how competitive your chosen keyword is.
PPC traffic, on the other hand, can be set up to start flowing to your site right away. The downside is that, if you aren’t careful, you can blow through hundreds or thousands of dollars on a single promotion before you’re able to find the right combination of keyword phrases, headlines and calls to action that result in conversions.
If you plan to target SEO traffic, you’ll need to build a content site. Google, Bing and Yahoo are all cracking down on poor quality sites ranking highly in the natural results, and the factors they’re using to do this – including the amount of content on a site, how frequently content is updated and how often people interact with the site – can’t really be influenced by a single page squeeze page or a static presell landing page.
Alternatively, if you plan to buy your traffic through Google Adwords or any other PPC program, you’ll want to create a squeeze page or presell page. Visitors who are coming to your site through these advertisements are naturally more skeptical of your claims, as your site hasn’t officially been “endorsed” by the search engines with high rankings. So you’ll want to capture their attention as quickly as possible and keep their focus on your product and its benefits.
Time Versus Money
Like so many things in life, choosing the right affiliate website model for your needs comes down to whether you have more time or more money to invest in your business.
If you have more money, learn PPC and build the squeeze pages and presell landing pages that work best with this traffic stream. Paying for traffic will enable you to quickly split test different on-site elements and hone in on the ad campaigns that result in the most sales, meaning that you’ll make money faster than someone who’s waiting on a backlinking campaign to finally bump a site up the SERPs.
Or, if you don’t have the extra cash up front to burn through on PPC ads, stick with SEO traffic and the content sites that thrive on it. Most SEO activities – including writing content, building backlinks and submitting guest posts – can be done entirely for free, making content sites a great point of entry for new affiliate marketers who want to learn the business without losing their shirts.
Once you’ve identified the type of affiliate site that will work best for your needs, the best thing you can do is to get started! Don’t let analysis paralysis prevent you from moving forward – instead, take the following steps to get your site up and running as quickly as possible.
Building a Squeeze Page Site
Setting up a squeeze page site can be quick and easy – that is, if you don’t set out to reinvent the wheel! There are plenty of proven squeeze page templates out there that you can purchase that can have your site up and running in just a few minutes. The key things to look out for when setting up a squeeze page site are:
Pick the Best Format – Different squeeze page formats exist, including those that feature text, images and even video files. Look for templates that have been proven to increase conversions, but be sure that they’ve been tested on the kind of product you plan to promote (as different industries respond better to different types of promotions).
Test Your Headline – The headline is arguably the single most important thing on your squeeze page, as it’s the element with the best chance of capturing your visitors’ attention quickly. Be sure to keep a split test running at all times in order to hone in on the best possible wording.
Add Your Opt-In Form – Since you’ll likely be encouraging your squeeze page visitors to opt-in to your email list, finding a squeeze page template that makes it easy to integrate your web form code is a big plus. Look for a template package that comes with instructions relating to the major autoresponder companies (including Aweber, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and others).
Getting Started with Presell Pages
Because successful presell pages can vary widely in format and stylization (from reviews to long form sales letters to other website structures), the fastest way to figure out what type of presell page will work best with the specific affiliate product you want to promote is to simply do a Google search for other affiliate pages.
You might need to try a few different searches in order to uncover the most common presell page structures (for example, consider searching for your product’s name, your product plus the word “review” or other generic niche keywords), but ultimately, you should start to see a pattern forming. Don’t copy a competitor’s page word-for-word, but try to pick up on general themes that seem to exist across multiple pages. For example:
– What site structures are used most often?
– Which website colors are used most frequently?
– Which product benefits do affiliates seem to promote most often?
– What headline structures do you see repeated?
Answering these questions should give you a good idea of how to start building you presell page, but keep in mind that it’s just as important to split test these elements as it was in the squeeze page process described above. It’s only through careful analysis and data-driven decision making that you’ll be able to improve elements on your site to best maximize conversions.
Launching a Content Site
By far, the easiest way to launch a content site to market your affiliate products is to install the self-hosted version of WordPress on your own hosting account. These sites can be set up in just a few minutes and benefit from the number of free and premium themes, plugins and extensions that exist to expand the functionality of the default WordPress install.
Once you’ve installed WordPress on your hosting account (using a domain name that includes your target keyword), you’ll want to add 5-10 keyword-focused content pages to start. In the “Affiliate Sites that Make Money” article linked to above, I show you exactly how to find the topics for these articles, as well as when and how you should add them to your site. Keep in mind that if the thought of writing content and uploading it to your site sounds overwhelming, you can always outsource these processes.
After your site has been built, you’ll need to focus on building backlinks in order to get your site ranked highly in the SERPs. This can be done in a number of different ways, but I recommend focusing on guest posting, submitting articles to blog networks, creating linkwheels and directory submissions as the fastest ways to get your site noticed. It might take some time, but if you’re willing to invest in your site at this stage, you’ll see the long term benefit of a money-making affiliate marketing site that holds the top spot in the organic search results.