How to Start Out in Affiliate Marketing: The Ultimate 5 Tips for Beginners

Being new to performance marketing brings a lot of questions to the table. How to proceed? How to optimize? How to see beyond the numbers? The answers are right in front of you, they just seem too easy.

What should you focus your efforts on when you begin? The proper campaign setup. It’s amazing how many beginners start off on the wrong foot and carry on repeating the same mistakes.

But how can you do it the right way? The general rule: Focus to master. Do your homework before you try new things. Try to master one aspect of performance advertising before you move on to another. The answers are mostly right in front of you, you just need to dig deep enough to find them.

First – Get an ad tracker

Why do you need to get an ad tracker? It’s simply much easier to start out in affiliate marketing if have an ad tracker.

Affiliate marketing is 24/7. If you want to succeed you need to track every parameter of your affiliate campaign: offers, creatives, referrer links, carriers, browser versions, device models and so on. Every single event matters as without data you can only make inaccurate decisions and inaccurate decisions result in wasted budget and frustrated mind.

An affiliate tracker gives you everything you need to know about your visitors, from the referrer and mobile carrier to device model, operating system, browser and much more.

You need to keep track of your ad performance so you spend countless hours in front of your reports. An offer stopped converting? Bots dominating your traffic? You need to be able to react right away because every minute can represent more dollars wasted.

With an affiliate ad tracker like Voluum, you know everything about your campaigns: if they’re profitable, how many conversions they are generating, and where your visitors come from. As you can easily track both organic and paid traffic, record every event, click, and conversion, you get better control over your traffic flow. All that allows you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your efforts for a higher ROI (read more about the advantages of an affiliate ad tracker).


1. Choose the offer

If you own the product, then the simplest advice is: keep the product great. You should use marketing to reach a wider audience but if it’s no good – it might not be a sustainable business.

Most affiliate marketers, however, depend on third party offers. Where should you look for them? Affiliate networks are often the first choice for most beginners. You can choose from plenty of verticals and offers within them to find the best for you. Also, why not go directly to the offer owners? A good example of this direct approach would be our Referral Program.

For beginners, it’s best to stick with just one vertical. If you have some experience with, for example, health & beauty products – you’ve found your niche. Once you have your niche, you can reach out to more specialized affiliate networks that have offers from a narrow selection of verticals.

The idea behind this is simple. There are plenty of variables that can affect the performance of your campaigns. Fewer variables bring you closer to finding that sweet spot for the highest performance. 

It has also a lot to do with your experience. When working with only one vertical, you gain experience with that. You begin to know which traffic sources are the best for that type of products, what targeting is more likely to convert, and so on. Find out how to find the best affiliate offers in 2019 by reading our guide. 

Traffic Source

2. Choose your traffic sources

As we said, there are plenty of variables that affect your performance. Traffic sources are a vital part of this equation too. Some traffic sources work better with a specific vertical, some work with others. Yet, even if the source tends to be well targeted for a vertical, it doesn’t guarantee success for every offer in that vertical. It’s way more complex than you’d wish it was.

When looking for a traffic source, it’s good to have a look at what’s performing well there first. Once you’re there, research the competition. Look for opportunities – what can be done better? Is there enough space for another marketer to join the auction?

Yes. The auction. Don’t forget that you’re bidding with others to show your ad to the user on the other end of the Internet. Figure out ways to outsmart your peers.

It’s on you to discover that perfect combination. And the only way to do it? Experiment.

All that takes quite a lot of time. Although we like to think that we value riches the most, it’s time that really matters to the lion’s share of us. If we have more time, we can do more. You can also look for traffic sources through this criterion. Voluum shares this ideology.


3. Track everything 

It’s pretty common to see affiliate marketers use ad tracking software because someone told them to do so. In the beginning, they often have no clue about the idea of tracking. They track the number of visits and conversions and base their decisions on that – and only on that. That’s measuring, not tracking. And guess what? You can do better.

The benefits of using trackers are countless. It’s just that you need to use them well.  Track every parameter you can. Track conversions, visits, impressions, browser settings (browser type, connection type, language, localization), publisher’s data (the app, ad location, shown creatives, referral links) and so on. Look closely at all the data points you collect and…


4. Analyze your data!

What’s the point of gathering all this? Let’s put it this way. Without granular reports, you’re just running in the fog. You might sometimes see the right path and then get lost. And again, and again. Having detailed information collected is like having a map. You still need to figure the way yourself, but your know-how backed with undisputed data gives you much more chances for success.

Great help here is grouping sets of parameters and monitoring them combined. This way, you’ll get to know, for example, the time for when most conversions happen, which creatives perform where and more.


5. Optimize

Let’s imagine that you are a cartographer. You have gathered all the data about your surroundings – dimensions, distances, depths, shapes, and whatever else. You’ve put that on a map so you can see it clearly in one place. But what should you do about it? With the overview of the situation, you can draw a path to get from point A to point B.

However, you won’t know if the path is the best one until you try it. Only then, you’ll know if it’s safe and fast or if you should draw another one – maybe longer, but avoiding all the dangers.

And it’s pretty much the same in performance marketing. If a map is your report, then with all the correct data, drawing paths is optimizing. You see a place for improvement, go towards it and then react to the outcome – if you succeed, you look for opportunities to be even more successful; if you fail, learn from the failure and try to avoid it later.

We’re not a XIX century cartographers, though. In the XXI century, we have access to advanced technology, so why not use it? You can hand over some of your work to machines. For instance, you can use our AI-powered Auto-Optimization. This feature analyzes the performance of your offers, landing pages and paths in real time and automatically redistribute your traffic for the best ROI. 

Off you go!

Sooo… How to start out in affiliate marketing? Immediately! 😉 What you need to do is simply go out there and do your best. It’s all a matter of experience. As you gain more, you’ll learn new tricks and tactics for maximizing that ROAS. Don’t think that it’s only about making as much profit as you can. It doesn’t work like that. Every rookie affiliate marketer out there had to lose some money before they saw increasing trends in their reports. And you’re not likely to be an exception where – you can just minimize the initial losses with some clever strategies.

As in every other field – only people with a unique combination of skills, character, and experience become successful. It’s on you to find out if you have what it takes.

💸 Do you want to hit the affiliate jackpot? Bet on tracking! 💸 

Sign up to Voluum today!

Key takeaways:

  • It’s always better to focus and master a niche than try everything and lose on every vertical.
  • First, choose an offer. Consider looking in specialized affiliate networks or going to the offer owners directly.
  • Secondly, choose the traffic source. Do your homework while researching it and the competition that runs their campaigns there.
  • Then, track every aspect of your campaigns. The faster you get the reports, the better.
  • Analyze the data using parameter grouping. Find out the best performing dependencies.
  • Once you discover the best opportunities, optimize your ad campaigns towards them. You can also hand over some of the optimization work to the machines.
  • It’s unlikely to get big profits in the beginning. Fail fast, learn the lessons, and use that knowledge to master your verticals.
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