Affiliate marketing is now present in almost every industry. Travel, retail, web hosting, finance, dating, gambling – these are just some of the main markets where brands rely heavily on affiliate marketing to generate relevant leads and make a profit. 

Savvy affiliate marketers from around the world are now earning great amounts of money just by promoting other people’s services and products across the web. 

But how does affiliate marketing actually work? What makes it such a lucrative practice for brands from different industries and markets?

In such a dynamic landscape as affiliate marketing, there’s no single recipe for success.

You can employ either organic or paid marketing strategies. 

But smart affiliates do both. Even though creating great content based on lucrative keywords and optimizing it for search is the best possible approach, it often doesn’t deliver desired results fast enough. It takes a while for organic search strategies to materialize, while with paid you almost immediately see the results. 

However, even though buying ads on websites and search engines seems like a pretty easy job that anyone can do, PPC has proven to be quite challenging for most inexperienced affiliates. There’s more to it than just spending money. The landscape of PPC affiliate marketing is highly competitive. Many ads compete for users’ attention, so it’s your job to figure out how to get ahead of your competition.

If you want to allocate certain parts of your budget to PPC, there are a couple of things you should first learn about this practice:

1. PPC is a Terrible Lead, but a Great Supporting Character 

Regardless of the niche or market you operate in, you should never use PPC as your primary affiliate marketing strategy. 

As you know, modern digital shoppers often rely on more than just ads to form their purchase decision. When they’re interested in buying something, a lot of them will first search the web to acquire deeper knowledge of brands, products, and services that have grabbed their interest.

According to Animoto’s study, 73% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand. Accenture’s research has proven that people demand more testimonials and are more likely to buy from sellers they recognize by name. 

Brand recognition and trust play important roles in the modern sales process, and ads by themselves can’t really help you build credibility online and communicate your expertise. That’s why it’s of great importance to always start with organic marketing practices and then amplify their reach with paid promotions. In today’s landscape, you can’t expect to gain people’s trust if you don’t provide them with hard evidence that you’re the real deal. Witty copy and precisely targeted ads can only do a number of things for your affiliate business. Alas, building trust is not one of them.

2. Find Your Niche and Stick to It

Before jumping with both feet in business with someone, smart affiliates always do their homework first to explore their options in a specific market. This helps them see if certain products, services, and brands are actually up their alley or not. As an affiliate, your no.1 goals should always be to build a reputation that reflects expertise on a particular subject.

If you’re trying to promote something that has nothing to do with your expertise, it doesn’t really matter how much money you spend on ads – you won’t get far.

After all, you as a consumer will most likely take the word of a person who only talks about a single thing in great depth, opposed to someone who reviews everything from sports cars to soft drinks to fertilizers.

Having a niche market means that you’re knocking on all the right doors. It ensures that you’re advertising to the audience which shares the same interests as you. This means that there is a good chance they will actually act on your promotions. You don’t want to pay for clicks that come from people who have no real intention of buying the product.

3. Proper Keyword Research and Carefully Defined User Personas are Cornerstones of Every Good PPC Campaign

The benefits of building detailed user personas and doing thorough keyword analysis are literally endless. And the best thing of all – you can do both of these things almost simultaneously. 

Apart from understanding how to effectively describe products you’re planning to promote online, doing a keyword research and updating it every once in a while – helps a lot with learning more about your relevant prospects.. 

As you start searching for lucrative keyword opportunities in a tool like Ahrefs, you will learn how people form their queries. You will learn about the context of their questions and understand how your ideal audience thinks and behaves. More importantly, you will discover the problems they are looking to solve, which is a very precious piece of information.

Keyword selection is an extremely important process for every affiliate marketer looking to do some PPC. There are a couple of steps that you need to take in order to find the right keywords for the products and services you’re planning to promote online:

  • Identify relevant niche topics in your industry
  • Think of the keywords that audiences might be using when browsing for products or services online
  • Insert them into Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMRush, or any other tool that you plan on using for finding lucrative keywords
  • Sort them by volume and difficulty. However, search volumes should never be your north star. Chasing the same keywords that everyone else is chasing is a dead-end street and a complete waste of your resources.
  • Your main goal here should be to find KWs (3+ word-long) with solid amounts of traffic that are also highly relevant to the products that you’re promoting. Look for those with a decent traffic volume and a low difficulty score, because those are the ones that will bring you the highest ROI
  • Add them into a list, sort them by parent topics, and look for more variations of keywords that describe the products and services that you’re planning to promote

Once you have a healthy stack of different lucrative keywords, build a solid copy around them and then use them to target your ideal audience. Then, create a separate campaign for each and every one of your best parent topics and try to organically mix in all of their best variations into your copy.

4. Always Start Small

Regardless of how experienced you are in a certain niche or market, it’s always wise to start small when choosing to do business with a new merchant. 

Even though marketers invest in proper research and planning before actually putting cash into paid campaigns, they still need to test their hypotheses in real life scenarios.

Marketing works on a trial and error basis. You have a certain idea and then you test it to see if it actually works. Same goes for PPC. You should never go all in on your first try.

It’s always smart to start multiple campaigns at once with a small budget opposed to pouring everything you got in a single ad. That way you can test different things and then allocate the budget from those that are not bringing you results – towards the campaign that’s working. Measure your progress to see what resonates the best with your audience and document your findings so that you know what to do in the future.

Over to You

Thank you for taking the time to read this article in its entirety. We hope it helped you see when and how to start investing in PPC. Even though ads bring you faster to your goal, they still have their limitations. Success with PPC affiliate marketing requires patience and commitment every step of the way: from initial keyword research to the measurement of results. Still, it’s a process that savvy affiliate marketers have mastered over the years, and you too could give it a go.

Paid marketing will definitely boost the visibility of your website, but if done correctly – it can also directly generate conversions and help you earn more commissions. Just remember: test our various copies before getting your feet wet.