14- Point Holiday Season Affiliate Marketing Tips, Strategies, and Tools
by: Evan Weber
Hello there! I hope your 2013 is going well and you are ready to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. I wanted to put together some useful tips for generating more traffic and affiliate commissions during the busy holiday shopping season so you can maximize your affiliate marketing earnings. More people are shopping online this year than ever before, so it's must to take advantage of that with your affiliate marketing efforts. Here are some online marketing tips you can use to maximize your online marketing activities this holiday shopping season:
1. Post About Hot Gift Items - posting about the hottest holiday gift items is a great way to build your site or blog with content people are actually searching for during the holidays, ex. “10 hottest gift ideas for 2013? or “What are the top gadget gifts for 2013?” Do your research and depending on your niche there will be a set of hot products that are in-demand this holiday season. Then, create pages on your site or blog with good content write-ups about these hot products and use “lists” as well because they tend to be read and shared, such as: Top 11 Tech Gadget Gifts for 2013, 6 Must-have Corporate Gifts Ideas to Impress Your Clients, 8 Innovated Gifts for Your Children. Titles like that can really pull in the traffic and are more likely to be commented on. Remember, the more content you post the more search rankings you can garner with each page of your site, so post a lot of pages and fill them with great, keyword-rich content and titles to maximize your SEO benefits. Gear your December promotions towards holiday savings, coupons, and great shopping deals, which a lot of people will be searching for those keyword phrases for various merchants, so make sure to weave that content into your postings and pages. Great deals for the holidays that can be promoted all month long every day. Finally, you have your after-Christmas sales that can promoted from every merchant you affiliate with.
2. Ask for Special Coupons or Promos - asking your affiliate managers and advertisers for special deals, coupon promotions, or vanity coupon codes (coupon word matching your site) are great ways to leverage your site’s branding to market exclusive deals to your traffic, subscribers, fans, and followers. Not all affiliate advertisers will be able to provide this because they can’t do it for everyone or may not at all due to lack of resources, but you can get lucky with a great promotions sometimes and really kill it. Make sure to get the current month’s deals from the advertisers you are promoting so the offers in the posts will be compelling and convert higher with your visitors. Make sure to keep your deals current and timely, otherwise visitors will hit brick walls when trying shop using the codes, which isn’t ideal at all. Just keep posting those great deals as you get them from your affiliate advertisers and then share the pasts/pages on Facebook and Twitter. Also, make sure you are emailing your database weekly with all the latest and greatest promotions.
3. Ramp-Up Your Social Networking - Make sure you are adding Facebook friends, Facebook fans from your site traffic, and Twitter followers on a constant basis so you have more people to expose your offers, promotions, and pages to during the holidays. However, don’t crush people with too many offers in a short span or they may get turned off from your frequency. Don’t recommend something you haven’t tried yourself, however you can make product suggestions and promote really good deals and coupons from merchants you are affiliated with. If you always have fresh content and promotions your audience will really appreciate that and you will be building website branding with your traffic which is good for repeat traffic. Check out Facebook “Boosted” Posts which allow you to advertise your fan page wall post to a larger amount of your fans and their friends, it really spurs engagement! One of my $100 promoted posts got 3000 likes and a ton of comments, so the exposure can be huge. Also, Facebook allows you to promote a post on your personal profile, which can get you some extra exposure for cheap on Facebook.
4. Increase Posting Frequency - Posting tons of original articles to your site or blog, then sharing it all socially, are the best ways to ramp up your traffic in advance of the holidays. Adding frequent posts of fresh content to your site can really expand the number of pages you have indexed in Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing which increases the chances your site will rank under a larger variety of search phrases and bring in more free traffic to your site. Once you make a new post on your site you can immediately share the title and page url on Facebook, Twitter, and your fan page. Make sure to add something like, “Isn’t this a wonderful deal?” to your postings to increase interaction and response especially on Facebook. Your goal is to get as make Likes, Comments, and Shares on Facebook as you possibly can to gain the most exposure and traffic. Post alternate versions of your articles and posts to 3rd party article directories, like ezinearticles.com, with rewrites of your articles and titles to maximize your organic rankings. I recommend 1-10 posts a day to your site to increase your search engine indexing and page count. But you can never post too much to your site as long as it’s all unique content. Over time, you can build your page count into the thousands of pages which will bring your site more free "organic" search traffic. Make sure you have the Sharethis.com social buttons at the top of each post and your Facebook fan page widget at the top of the right column of your site or blog. I recommend using the Facebook commenting plug-in at the bottom of each post, so it’s shared on Facebook instantly by your commenters. Check out aweber.com to implement a pop-up to gain the visitor's name and email in exchange for your helpful guide or newsletter subscription. This can really maximize the number of people you can remarket to via email and send back to your site or fan page.
5. Ask for Higher Commissions - asking your affiliate advertisers for better commission rates during the holidays is a great way to ensure you will maximize your earnings. Some advertisers may only do this if you have produced a good amount of sales volume in the past, but it never hurts to ask…they can only say no. Most affiliate advertisers have some room to increase affiliate commissions so you need to ask for a higher payout whenever possible. If they say no or are rude, tell them you will go and promote their competitor, which will change their attitude quickly. You can also offer paid placement on your website, blog, newsletter, or social networks. If you have a decent amount of traffic, fans and followers, there are advertisers that will pay an additional paid placement fee in addition to your affiliate commissions, so that’s a great reason to try to expand what you are doing steadily over time and build the relationship with your advertisers. You can sell them "Boosted Posts" to your fans on Facebook and charge an additional fee. Savvy advertisers know the value of a a promoted post on the right fan page, however it's a recently new advertising medium so you have to suggest it and make it sound as great of an opportunity as it is. A few case studies wouldn't hurt either.
6. Email Your List - if you maintain a database of email addresses as you should, make sure you are messaging your email database at least weekly with the newest offers from your affiliate advertisers. Make sure you are growing your list with email opt-in plug-ins on your site like aweber.com. Take growing your email list seriously as it will pay dividends the larger a list it is. You can use services like icontact, constant contact, or mailchimp to blast your email list. Or just use aweber.com to handle it all. Make the investment in Dreamveaver to edit your HTML email, and have a nice HTML newsletter designed which you can use as a template for all your future blasts. This time of year, you can email your database daily if you have new promotions to share every day.
7. Run Sweepstakes and Contests - running sweepstakes and contests on your website during the holiday time-frame is a great idea because you will gain more Facebook fans, email opt-ins, wall postings, tweets, and user data from your existing website traffic. Using Woobox.com is a great way to inexpensively run an exciting sweepstakes or contest on your site, fan page, email list, and twitter. If you can get your affiliate advertisers to supply the prizes for your sweepstakes...even better! You can do anything from giving away a $100 gift card to a multi-prize, mega-contest! This is the best ways to really maximize your traffic, fans, and followers. It’s my #1 recommendation to basically everyone, so make sure to implement a sweepstakes or contest during these pivotal next few weeks when traffic is up. Let me know if you need any ideas about how to run your sweepstakes promotion effectively! Here is a an article I wrote about how to run a holiday sweepstakes.
8. Turn on Paid Search - Pay-per-click search is still the #1 way to obtain targeted traffic, so why not turn on some PPC traffic to your site for the holidays! The only issues is the cost, check out Bing Ads for less expensive clicks under your popular keyword phrases. One great technique is to purchase keywords based on a merchant's name with coupon code attached to it. Only certain companies even allow this and it can get quite competitive, but if you can drop your cookie on those types of searchers it should have a good profit level, since those searchers are likely in the buying process. But check with your advertisers before starting. Similarly you can target more general keyword phrases like "auto part coupon codes" (and even more product-specific searches with coupon code) and then link to a page of deals from affiliate advertisers. You could test that out to 100's search phrases and seeing which converted and had a return. There are many angles to pursue with paid search, however since there is cost associated you have to tread extremely lightly with your keyword bids otherwise you will lose money and have nothing to show for it but some clicks.
9. Advertise for Fans on Facebook - The beautiful thing about Facebook advertising is the targeting! You can really drill down to the types of people you want to see your ads and gain just those people as fans. For instance you can target based on: age, location, sex, education, and "likes and interests" which ensures you will gain fans that are into the kinds of things that pertain to your niche or products/services you promote. There is a cost associated with this type of advertising, so you have to attempt to measure the amount of revenue your new fans are generating for you. If you can estimate your average per fan revenue you can determine how much you can afford to pay for fans and proceed to advertise each month for new fans. Then, you can do Boosted Posts to get them clicking and buying from the great deals you are sharing on your site! There's your social media-based affiliate formula in a nutshell. 😉
10. Don't Forget to Build Your LinkedIn - LinkedIn has really established itself as a great business-oriented social network, and worthy of spending time working it. I've been using it for years, but only recently have they made it more interactive and improved the usability so people will even spend time there. I absolutely love the new functionality. You can even share your affiliate deals on LinkedIn and your connections will see it. You can use it just like Facebook now. You can start a group about any niche or industry and people will just join it, which is valuable. You can really build up your connections by doing a "mass friend invite" from your email contacts. LinkedIn has fabulous tools for inviting everyone you know to get connected to you on LinkedIn. Once you have a decent amount of connections you can use LinkedIn to share your postings from your site, including your affiliate deals. In my opinion, LinkedIn is a valuable place to spend those precious online marketing hours, I would suggest an hour or so per day to really work LinkedIn and get some value out of it. Also, you never know who you can meet on LinkedIn professionally via the groups you may join, so always keep your eyes open and be proactive. However, don’t use it as just a place to post links to your affiliate deals or pages, or you run the risk of being seen as too self-promotional and obnoxious. You should attempted to deliver value to your connections by sharing valuable articles, contributing to discussions, liking and commenting on your contact’s posts, and overall being a great social networker.
11. Commission Junction (CJ) Product Widgets - CJ has recently rolled out their product widgets ad unit for blogs and websites. A widget is a slideshow, collage or grid that allows a publisher to enhance the display of products from joined advertisers on their site. Collages and grids are excellent for grouping complementary products. Slideshows will allow several different products to be displayed in one IAB unit. Here some videos of the 3 types of Widgets you can use:
Slideshow Widget Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxFiWFVT2Hk#action=share
Collage Widget Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmosyD8Y77E
Grid Widget Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZoHUlukIJw
12. Instagram - Instagram is the hottest social network bar none. You should have an Instagram account for your website, so people can follow your website on Instagram. In your Instagram profile you can have a description and a url to your website or blog. However, you cannot use hyperlinks in your Instagram posts, however you can use hashtags, which bring in more followers and views to your posts. So you can make Instagram posts about products and deals and then say click the url above to find the deal on my site. Make sure to use hashtags prolifically so your images and videos can as many views as possible and it will also boost followers. Follow some company Instagram accounts with your own Instagram account so you can see how they go about it. Follow companies in your niche so it has some relevance to what you are doing.
13. Retargeting - Retargeting refers to using a service to cookie all of your website visitors so you can advertise to them when they leave your website, on the web and on Facebook. It’s a very common advertising method for ecommerce merchants, however not a lot of affiliate marketers are using it. Using visitor retargeting has cost, it’s charged on a CPM (cost-per-thousand ad impressions) model, so I don’t recommend it unless you are already earning revenue with your website or blog. The cost of retargeting correlates to your overall website traffic, so if you aren’t getting much traffic it won’t have much cost. Retargeting services don’t allow affiliate links to be used in the retargeting ads, so you have to simply advertise your website in general through the service. It’s basically like reminding your visitors about your site after they have left. You can exclude certain urls that people visited on your website from the retargeting network, which allows you to not waste money if you know the visitor visited a page that was “action-oriented.” I recommend using Adroll.com for visitor retargeting.
14. Top Tools for Maximizing Your Online Marketing Productivity:
Google Alerts - stay informed and emailed instantly whenever anything you are interested in hits the web.
Google Think Insights - amazing information and data!
Hootsuite - post across all of your social networks and pages at once. Invaluable!
Google Analytics - make sure you have this on all your sites and blogs to gain valuable insight into your visitors and their behavior.
Evernote - helps you remember everything and stay organized.
Bing Ads Keyword Research Tool - learn what people are searching for so you can optimize your website, blog, posts, and pages for SEO. Looks like they are giving a $50 credit right now!
These are some affiliate marketing strategies you can use to maximize your traffic and commissions during the holiday season! I hope it was helpful and let me know if there is anything you want to discuss more in-depth with me. I can provide a complimentary website analysis and feedback for you. I would love to hear from you either by phone or email!
Thanks and have a wonderful holiday season!
Evan Weber, CEO
Experience Advertising, Inc.