Affiliate marketing – the long-tail approach

My biggest earning affiliate marketing website exists within a highly competitive sector: travel. The website itself targets the uk market which is a small playing field with a large number of players. Ranging from OTAs (Online Travel Agents), holiday providers, private and franchised accommodation providers, from hotels through to caravans, cottages, cruise ships and B&Bs and of course a mass of well run, fully established affiliate sites it could easily put many new players off joining the ranks.

My approach as with all projects is to start small, test the waters and then take a call on whether to continue or scrap it. I was close to scrapping this particular venture 4 months in but persevered to see average page impressions each month hitting 50k. With an average of 10k UVs (unique visitors) a month that is an average of 5 pages viewed per visitor per visit.

Traffic is acquired primarily through SEO (search engine optimisation). I have PPC (pay per click) campaigns set up ready to drive more volume but the website is still in learning mode, to find out which keywords are driving traffic and converting into a sale (for free).

The point of interest raised from analysing the keywords, is the level of brand traffic this website is attracting. That’s not to say it is outperforming the brands for which I’m promoting holidays for, but that I am plugging a gap in the SERPs (Search engine results page) for those brands.

This is a crucial area for affiliate marketers without a strong niche – it can be done. What the big brands don’t have time for is chasing that 20% of long-tail traffic when the 80% of short and part long-tail they already acquire is turning over the majority of their revenue… and this is where affiliate marketing can work with the brands to complete the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction.

The majority of my efforts have gone into on-site SEO to begin with. By creating a strong search architecture, it allows for the website to continually take advantage of a well structured, robot friendly infrastructure together with the ability to maintain the daily content release process without the need to concern oneself with the technicalities of SEO. It is for this reason the daily content management of the site is out of my hands as is the on-site SEO, leaving time for more off-site SEO. This is the key to enhanced and sustainable search engine positioning.

This has also given me a rich dataset of top performing keywords to build a successful PPC campaign from whilst earning its own marketing budget. Therefore in year 2 of its operation I aim to double income by both increased SEO traffic (domain age, authority etc) and highly targetted PPC campaigns…. and whilst that’s all going on I know a thing or 2 about conversion and retention I’ve yet to utilise.

I shall keep you ‘post’ed!

Depesh

Realistic Affiliate Marketing Expectations

Affiliate marketing is a hugely competitive arena. Even if you find your niche, it will only be a matter of time before a super affiliate or merchant challenges your space.

You need to be realistic in your vision of what you can leverage; if you’re working alone alongside your 9-5 role, it is very unlikely you’ll be joining the elite any time soon unless you hit a goldmine or perhaps suffer from insomnia with more hours in your day than most people.

Super affiliates become a network of specialists in their own rights, leveraging highly skilled talent to help further their profits.

I’ve seen a number of affiliates struggle from setting unrealistic expectations. Take my example. I aimed to become profitable after 6-9 months and achieve my first monthly income target within 12 months, using a structured approach to building my online presence. I’m well on track and with continual traffic and revenue growth at a steady pace, giving as much back as we put in.

Knowing what to set and how to set targets comes with knowledge of the industry which many affiliates may not have, but start small and over achieve. It will help massively with your motivation and give you further confidence to build on from each success.

What is worse than striving for success without seeing any payback? We have more ambitious targets next year, followed by global domination! Ok, maybe not just yet, but by starting small, your failures are also less magnified, from selecting the right host for your website to creating and marketing it the right way.

Finally, having consulted on a number of affiliate ventures, through the brilliant affiliates4u forum, I know how daunting and tough it can seem, but with a wide network of support available through forums and down to earth super affiliates there really is no reason to give up!

What challenges have you faced and how have you kept your motivation levels up?

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing, or AM for those in the inner circle, is a lucrative and thriving sub-economy on the Internet.

I’d toyed with the idea of becoming an affiliate for a few years before I took the plunge. It’s one of those ‘wish i’d have done it sooner’ moments which you look back on with regret. My wife’s website is already earning a nice side income considering the small amount of time she has for it, using mostly SEO to drive traffic. Its provided me with a great test-bed to put SEO, PPC and Social Media marketing to the test.

If you’re sitting there procrastinating the decision then stop thinking and start doing!

I have a little more time on my hands now than i’d like so I will be posting some learnings, findings and stats from what I’ve found to help you out.

If you have questions in the meantime feel free to post them here.

Once again we raise a toast to the Internet and its far reaching possibilities for us mere mortals.

Depesh