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Why Your Blog Affiliate Conversion Rate Sucks and 7 Tricks that Work

Increasing your blog affiliate conversion rate can mean the difference between successful blogging or just wasting your time

How much money do you want to make blogging? What are you doing to make more money?

Unless you just like an audience or pecking away at the keyboard every day, those are likely two of your most important questions.

For myself and many bloggers, the answer to the first question is, “LOTS!” and one of the biggest answers to the second is through affiliate commissions.

As tough as it is to make money with display ads, where a reader only needs to click on your link to make money, affiliate sales are even tougher. Not only must a reader click through to the affiliate but they have to buy something as well.

That makes converting blog traffic from casual readers to clickers and then buyers one of your biggest priorities if you want to make money.

If you’ve never taken a good look at your sales conversion and looked at different ways to boost sales, it’s likely that your conversion rates suck. That’s ok. I’ve got seven steps to increase your affiliate sales and one test that doubled my conversions on posts.

It’s time to get serious about making money, it’s time to boost those affiliate conversion rates!

How Big is Affiliate Income for your Blog?

For most bloggers, affiliate income is a big chunk of total blogging revenue. Unless you’ve got your own products or services, affiliates can be a great source for income that can start working as soon as you publish a post.

affiliate conversion rate and blogging incomeI started self-publishing soon after launching the blogs and am developing video courses for the future. Even on an increasing catalog of my own products, affiliate marketing still accounts for nearly half of my total blogging revenue.

I do well with affiliates, averaging nearly $11,000 in commissions over the first three months of the year,…but I’d like to do better.

The problem with affiliate income is that it’s so hard to convert a reader to a customer. They first have to click through the affiliate link then they actually have to make a purchase.

If just one-in-twenty people click on a link and only a fraction of those people end up making a purchase, it can take hundreds of readers to make one affiliate sale.

Here’s a screenshot of some of my affiliate sales through Commission Junction for the first quarter 2017.

how to increase blog affiliate conversion rate

CTR is click-through-rate or the percentage of readers that click on an affiliate link. One click per 100 readers would be a 1% CTR. CR is conversion rate or the percentage of people that click on a link AND make a purchase.

Why Your Affiliate Conversions Suck

There’s two ways to make more money with affiliates, more blog traffic and increasing your conversion rate.

Higher blog traffic comes with time and consistently producing great content. I’ve shared all kinds of tips for increasing traffic from guest posting to an entire book on getting Google love and more search traffic.

Making more money on affiliates NOW means increasing your conversion rate, getting more people to click and buy.

For that, we have to understand why most affiliate conversion rates suck.

  1. The first problem in low conversion rates is that readers just aren’t ready to buy. They might be looking for causes of a problem or information but might not know there is a product that solves the problem.
  2. There are thousands of affiliate products available on just about any affiliate network. One of the first mistakes new bloggers make is signing up for lots of affiliates that have nothing to do with their blog or average reader. The affiliate’s products just aren’t relevant to the reader.
  3. Seeing the income potential in affiliates, a lot of bloggers try stuffing links in everywhere and anywhere. Affiliate links for products go in every post, even if the product isn’t relevant to the article. Someone reading about blogging isn’t likely to click through your affiliate link for financial services.
  4. Not clearly developing your content around a problem is a big issue for affiliate conversion rates and will affect your Google search traffic as well. People and search engines need to know what a post is about and how it will answer a reader’s question. It’s only through clear development of a problem that you can later associate an affiliate with the solution.
  5. Not clearly associating the affiliate with the problem is the next reason affiliate conversion rates are so low. Readers may be able to relate to the problem and understand they need a solution but aren’t going to click through your affiliate link if you haven’t established how the product solves the problem.
  6. I hear from a lot of bloggers that they don’t want to be pushy. They’ll link an affiliates brand name in a post but they don’t want to seem salesy with a banner image or a stand-alone line of text linked to the affiliate.Ok, that’s fine. Just don’t expect to make much money.

    You need a clear call to action to convert your traffic to affiliate sales. That means telling people to click through a link if they want to solve the problem about which you’ve been talking.

  7. Finally, and this is a big one, too many distractions on a page will crush your affiliate conversion rate.

We’ll get to how you can tackle each of these affiliate conversion problems in a moment. First, I want to share a test I did that doubled my conversion rate on affiliate posts.

Increasing Affiliate Conversions with a Sidebar Test

Distractions may be the last on the list of why affiliate conversions are so low but they are more important than you may think. Distractions on a page will keep people from clicking on your affiliate link at every step in the process above.

What are distractions to traffic conversions?

Anything that takes the reader away from your call to action! That means menus, links to other articles and even links to other affiliates.

Keeping a reader on your blog after they’ve finished an article is important, not only for the relationship but for Google search engine ranking. Google likes to see that readers are finding more answers on your blog and clicking through to other articles.

But that goal of keeping a reader around could be conflicting with your need to make money and nowhere are there more distractions than in a sidebar.

I love my sidebar. It draws attention to my best content and some of the most popular tips on the site. It promotes some of my books and gets people on the mailing list.

increase affiliate conversion rate by removing sidebar

But sometimes the sidebar has just gotta go!

Most bloggers don’t know that you can remove your sidebar on individual posts. It’s a trick that can potentially boost the click-through-rate for any links in the article by removing all those distractions.

In the WordPress editor, just under the content box, you should see another box titled ‘Layout Settings’. Your theme will be the default layout but you can change it to others just by clicking on one of the options.

sidebar test increase conversion rate on blog traffic

There are a lot of options here including double sidebars and no sidebar at all. The change will only affect that post so it’s a great way to focus a reader’s attention and test changes to your layout.

I tested removing the sidebar from four posts in February and saw an immediate increase in CTR that nearly doubled my conversions.

Before you rush to update your posts and remove sidebars…

  • Download the bounce rate and average time on page data from Google analytics for the posts where you plan on changing the layout. Go to Google Analytics – Behavior – Site Content and then click All Pages. You may also want to record the site-wide stats for bounce rate, pages per session and average time on page.
    • Bounce rate is the percentage of readers that come to one page and then click away from your blog without going to another page or post. It’s an important signal to Google and a measure of how your content is keeping readers active.
    • Pages per session is the average number of pages or posts a reader clicks through on your blog.
  • Remove the sidebar on a few posts and compare the statistics over a two-week period before and after the test. Pull in data from your affiliate network to see how many people clicked through and converted to affiliates on the pages.
  • Removing the sidebar works best on pages with a clear call to action and that promote an important goal, something you want more than the extra clicks. This might be an affiliate post or a special offer for signups.
  • Compare the changes to posts after you’ve removed the sidebar to decide whether you keep the changes or roll it out to other posts.

I found the sidebar test worked for some affiliate posts while others didn’t see much change in CTR or conversion. This could be due to not having a clear call to action or failing in some of the other conversion rate problems. Test it out on your blog and check out these six tricks to further boost your affiliate conversions.

6 More Tricks to Boost Your Blog Conversion Rate

Let’s look at each of the blog conversion problems one-by-one for more ways to turn readers into buyers

Readers not ready in buying process.

how to increase affiliate converstion rateThis is a problem with the type of reader you are getting through Google search. Your post is ranking for keywords that are too early in the buyer decision process. It may be helping readers understand the problem but they just are not ready to buy yet.

Spending just 15 minutes on a keyword research process that includes buyer intent is all it takes to attract the kind of readers that are ready to buy what you’re selling.

A good keyword research process will not only help you find keywords with high traffic for which you can actually rank but also the kind of traffic you need to make more money.

Affiliate not relevant to typical readers.

You don’t necessarily have to go as far as writing out reader personas to know who reads your blog but it’s critical that you have a grasp on their needs.

Use data from Google Search Console to find the most common search queries bringing people to your blog. This will give you an idea of the problems for which you are answering and which affiliates might be most relevant.

Affiliate not relevant to specific article.

Everyone makes this mistake when they first start posting affiliate links to their blog. It’s one of the first things I look for when updating or republishing content.

Adding affiliate links into a post that have nothing to do with the topic or do not offer a clear solution to the reader’s problem are not going to convert. They will only peeve off users and confuse Google as to the focus of the article.

Problem is not clearly explained.

Most of your readers are there to answer a question. That question relates to a need or a problem and it’s critical that you figure out what it is.

Effectively answering a reader’s question will not only result in higher conversion rates on affiliate products but will better develop your relationship with the reader. They’ll read more articles and will come back regularly for new articles.

Develop the question or problem within the first few paragraphs of the article. Ask questions of the reader that reinforce the problem.

Not clear how the affiliate solves the problem.

Get to know your affiliates! If you don’t know what their products do, how they are better than competitors and common complaints then you surely won’t be able to write a convincing argument for how the product solves a problem.

You can’t answer your reader’s question if you don’t have all the facts yourself.

No clear call to action.

Banner ads suck and banner conversion rates suck even harder…but they are a good way to add a clear call to action for your affiliate posts. I like using the 728×90 leaderboard banner once in an affiliate article, close to the end when the reader already has a clear sense of how the affiliate solves their problem.

You can’t just tag an affiliate’s brand name with a link and expect to make money. How many links are on the average blog post? People have link-blindness and might not realize they need to click on the affiliate’s name to solve their problem.

Include at least one stand-alone sentence linked to the affiliate. Include time-sensitive words like ‘today’ or ‘now’ and any special offers on the product.

best entrepreneurship books to readAffiliate marketing is just one of the nine strategies you’ll find in Make Money Blogging – an Amazon best-seller in the blogging category and a step-by-step guide into the best ways to make money online.

Make Money Blogging starts with the easiest and quickest ways bloggers make money. It then tackles the proven strategies that will turn your website into a six-figure stream of income!

Get Make Money Blogging on Kindle, paperback or Audible and start making money today!

Turning readers into buyers by increasing your affiliate conversion rate is one of the fastest ways to boost your blogging income. Learning what works in affiliate marketing is a key step to the business of blogging. Spend a little time boosting your conversion rate and you’ll never have to worry about blog traffic again!

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Comments

  1. #2 is huge Joseph. On sites like Warrior I see struggling IMers ask which program is good to promote. As if a program makes money itself ;), or, as if promoting something which is totally not related to your reader’s interests will goad them to buy. Nope. Align and shine. If I promote anything affiliate-wise the offering needs to address my reader’s needs. Smart tips!

    Ryan

    • Thanks Ryan. So true. I think a lot of bloggers go into it like, “Hey, just because my readers are visiting me for x-niche they also might be interested in x-product (which is totally unrelated to the niche)” Sure, readers are multi-dimensional people but they come to a blog and develop a trust in that particular niche. They might feel comfortable taking a recommendation on a blogging-related product but that doesn’t mean they’d take my advice on investments (not on this blog anyway).

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