Top ten mistakes affiliate marketers make

mistakes

Nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes. Unfortunately, making mistakes in business translates into losing money. Sometimes, a mistake won’t begin to cost money until after a while, so that you’ll have time to detect it and make corrections before things become too unpleasant. Other mistakes can cost you money almost immediately.

Whatever business you’re in, it’s always good to be aware of the most common mistakes that others have made. This article lays out most of these mistakes for affiliate marketing.

10. Expecting to get rich quickly

The only legal way to get rich quick is by winning a lottery. Sorry, but I don’t know how to do that.

9. First Offer commission is too low

The primary purpose of your sales funnel is to get people to purchase the first offer, so that your profits can come from the upsells. Of course, this means that your earnings on commissions for the first offer must match (or at least come very close to) what you pay for advertising. If not, you will need an upsell or two merely to break even, and that’s not a good situation.

8. Target market is too large or too small

Some marketers want to conquer all of e-commerce, but the fact is that not even Amazon has been able to do that. At the other extreme, a market that has only a few hundred buyers worldwide will never generate enough sales to make affiliate marketing worthwhile.

7. Over- or under-communicating with your list

For almost every audience, one email per day is plenty. Some people even prefer no more than one email every two days. This may sound obvious, but don’t bombard your list with emails: it gets them to unsubscribe, and you lose all those potential upsells.

Of course, the same thing can happen when you ignore your list. Eventually they will simply forget about you. At an absolute minimum, send at least 2 emails per week. Emailing more often will considerably improve the open and click rates.

6. Not running A/B tests

It’s well known that even a very minor change to a funnel page, a paid ad, or even an email can cause a major jump in audience engagement. Once you have enough traffic to do valid testing, you should be testing almost all the time. Let the data guide you, and the differences are likely to be a pleasant surprise.

5. Promoting products that are low value (for the price)

A lot of marketers promote overpriced, low-value items because of the short-term boosts to their profits. However, the long-term price they will have to pay is much higher. People will complain, unsubscribe, and delightfully talk down your business all over the Internet. It’s not worth it.

4. Relying on free traffic

This is a tempting route to go, but the tradeoff to paid traffic is that free traffic methods slow you down considerably, even to the point where there aren’t enough hours in the day to build a large enough audience.

To be fair, there IS one method of free traffic that does work: you need to have large amounts of popular content on your site. There are a few bloggers out there who have done extremely well with this approach, but the tradeoff is still present. Building this much content by yourself takes months, if not years. Or, if you hire assistants to build it for you, you would be paying them more than you would pay for advertising.

3. Not having upsells

Several new affiliate marketers make the mistake of thinking that, once they have a great funnel, they can sit back and watch the profits from their first offer roll in. This plan doesn’t work. Those who try it will lose money, or just barely break even. Profits can be achieved only with your upsells. Fortunately, you already have a list of people who are likely to be interested in many of those.

2. Not having a funnel

It amazes me how many people who just came across affiliate marketing actually BELIEVE that they can just stick affiliate links and banners here and there and expect the world to beat a path to click on them. This “strategy” doesn’t make a penny, of course, and it never will. No successful company attracts buyers without some form of sales funnel. It’s that universal.

1. Not having an email list for a specific market

I can’t say this often enough: if you don’t have a list, you don’t have a business. And it can’t be just any list, because you’re not a spammer. That’s why the first page of any online funnel absolutely MUST have a form for capturing email lists.


I hope you enjoyed this top-ten list. If you have any other top-ten ideas related to affiliate marketing, I would love to hear your suggestions: just drop me an email.

Coach Dave

Affiliate networks: what newbies should know

The best way to think about an affiliate network is that it acts like a Tindr for the world of affiliate marketing. Although each network has its own niche or variation on the business model, all of them are in the business of pairing vendors with affiliates so that more affiliate sales get made.

So here’s the standard model for how it works:

  1. A vendor pays the network to be added to their database and to list products that the vendor chooses, along with commission rates for each product and any marketing tools that the affiliates might use (like ad banners). The vendor can pay the network a flat monthly rate, although there are many other types of payment structures.
  2. Affiliates join the network for free, although they are often vetted for other things, such as how much volume they’ve sold recently, or how much traffic one of their websites has. By the way, networks often refer to affiliates as “publishers,” because it has become so common for bloggers and other online publications to use affiliate ads to generate revenue.
  3. Any affiliate can request to advertise any vendor’s products; the vendor is entitled to say yes or no. Similarly, the vendor can contact specific affiliates and ask them to advertise the vendor’s products: again, the affiliates can say yes or no.
  4. When a vendor and affiliate have mutually agreed to market a product, the network automatically generates a link to identify the affiliate, vendor, and product (all encoded, of course). Whenever a potential customer clicks on that link and later purchases the product, the network records the sale and transfers the commission from the vendor to the affiliate.

And now here’s why it works:

  1. The vendor wins because the cost of belonging to a network is less than the cost of developing and maintaining the vendor’s own affiliate program. And of course, both are less expensive than the vendor paying directly for ads in order to bring in more clients.
  2. The affiliate wins because the network is a convenient one-stop shop to find vendors who want to work with them. Also, a good network has vetted its vendors, so there is less risk of the affiliate not being paid the agreed commission.
  3. The network wins because it’s the type of business that can scale extremely well. There’s no limit to the number of paying vendors it can sign on, and no significant increase in overhead when more vendors join.

Should you join a network?

That depends on whether the kind of vendors they feature would be a good fit for your own goals. In any case, it doesn’t do any harm to belong to a network. You certainly don’t have to be exclusive to them.

Myths About Affiliate Marketing

Unicorn with hoodie

There is no shortage of misinformation about affiliate marketing, and believing it could easily cost you money. Here’s the truth behind some of the most common myths that are making the rounds.

Myth 1: Affiliate marketing is Multilevel marketing.

Not even close. It’s worth mentioning that network marketing (aka multilevel marketing) CAN be an honest, ethical business, but it tends not to perform well for entrepreneurs who buy into it. As a result, a handful of unscrupulous individuals who promote these business models try to conceal them by calling them “affiliate marketing.” Fortunately, there are some easy ways to tell them apart:

The Brand Overlord

Amway. MonaVie. Herbalife. Multilevel marketing ties you to one company, or even to only one product that the one company sells. And if the company collapses (as they often do), guess what: you’re out of work.

In true affiliate marketing, you are never tied to any brand. You are completely free to enter into affiliate agreements with any merchant on the planet that has decided to support an affiliate program. Not all of them will accept you, but many will, even when you’re just starting out.

Uplines, Downlines

Commissions are very different between these types of marketing, and in network/multilevel marketing, some of the payout systems are mind-bogglingly complex. MLM companies force you to share your commission with various people in your “upline” (who haven’t done anything to advance your business), and they promise you wealth beyond your wildest dreams from commissions earned by your “downline.” I think we all know where this kind of ‘model’ ends up.

In actual affiliate marketing, there is exactly one level: you, and the merchant whose affiliate program you’re part of. And the entire commission is yours, period. If you’re not sure about something that’s called affiliate marketing, this is the best smell-test you can use.

Myth 2: Affiliate marketing is complex.

Many of those marketing ‘gurus’ out there love to make this claim, because it makes it easier to sell their course or webinar, along with the attendant upsells. (Big surprise, right?) A few of these courses might even have useful information, but nothing that you truly need. The same goes for a number of software vendors who hawk expensive tools to solve all your problems as an affiliate. Again, some of them may be useful, but are far from necessary.

The reality is that the concept of affiliate marketing is about the simplest working business model in the world today. And there are really only two software tools you genuinely need: an email autoresponder for building trust in your audience, and a system for hosting the web pages that you use for capturing signups and doing ‘handshakes.’ Some marketers use a funnel building tool for that purpose; others use a web host and write the HTML themselves. There’s not much difference in cost between the two. True, there are plenty of other software products and subscriptions that can be helpful. They just aren’t necessary to keep your business going.

Myth 3: Affiliate marketing is passive income.

Many marketers who are actually honest will mistakenly use this term because it’s a cool marketing buzzword. Unfortunately, they’re not using it right.

In finance-speak, only two kinds of income exist: “earned income” and “passive income.” Any money you receive as a result of taking some action is earned income. That includes selling your time for a job that comes with a paycheck, along with income from a business you run, whether you’re the owner of a taco stand or the CEO of Apple.

True PASSIVE income, on the other hand, comes to you for no reason other than that you own a particular asset. This includes interest on a bank account, dividends from owning a stock, rent you collect from owning property, or royalties from owning the rights to a patent or a work of art.

So the bottom line is: there is no such thing as a business opportunity that provides passive income. Only certain kinds of investments can do that.

Final thoughts

I apologize for not blowing anything up like the Mythbusters, but hopefully I was able to clear up some of your confusion.