Do you stick to a strategy when developing content for affiliate marketing? If you fail to plan then plan to fail. In this article, we’ll look at how to build a strategy that will help you to create content and promotions that work.
If you think that strategy is publishing two blog posts every week, you’re wrong. A content strategy is the foundation of your work. A map or detailed plan you can use to move from your starting point to achieving your goals.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- Why the lack of a content strategy often leads to failure.
- 7 steps to building an effective content strategy for affiliate marketing.
- What to do if affiliate marketing isn’t working the way you thought it would.
- Plus we’ve got some awesome insider info.
Why is strategy an important part of affiliate marketing?
Before you move on to building a strategy for content development, it’s important to believe in its success. Because the journey is long, it requires hard work, dedication, and persistence. You may ask, is it worth it? And the answer is a definite yes!
We’ve already compared a content strategy to a map so imagine trying to travel without one. What the consequences would be?
- You may enjoy the journey but never get to your final destination.
- You’ll get lost and probably end up going in circles.
- You’ll spend a lot of energy trying to figure out where you were going and remembering why you were going there.
Now let’s look at the scenario, in which you had a detailed map for the trip:
- You can take time to focus on and enjoy the journey, knowing that each step will ultimately bring you closer to your goal.
- You can take shorter routes because you know the way forward.
- You can spend your energy and time more practically on constant growth and development.
If all of this seems pretty obvious, it’s because it is. However, that doesn’t stop the majority of new affiliates from ignoring it and, as a result, fast-tracking themselves out of the industry.
Content strategies are really easy to apply, provided you think it through from the beginning and then follow along step-by-step as you create your content.
Here’s a quick summary of why the lack of a content strategy often leads to failure.
Without a content strategy, you:
- publish random content on random topics, enjoying the enviable regularity of your publications, but not seeing the end goal;
- your content has little to do with the actual interests of your target audience;
- You spend months and years trying to set up effective affiliate marketing, while suffering costs and failures.
With an effective content strategy in hand, you:
- Publish only content that gets you closer to your goal (increasing the number of subscribers, collecting hot leads, and improving conversions and revenue);
- Provide your audience with the relevant viral content they want;
- You move diligently and persistently towards your goal, getting gradually better results step-by-step.
So, is there a need for a content strategy for affiliates?
It all depends on your goals. If you are engaged in affiliate marketing for fun or as a hobby, you can safely ignore all the advice of professionals. Continue to publish snippets of other people’s content found randomly on the internet without any guarantees of a return on your investment.
However, if you’ve dedicated 100% of your time to the goal of becoming a top affiliate and making decent money in affiliate marketing, keep reading and implementing what you’ve learned.
7 steps to building a content strategy for effective affiliate marketing
Before we get to the practical guide of building a strategy, let’s discuss who it’s designed to help.
“If I’ve already started blogging without a strategy, should I stop and start from scratch?”
No! This guide is suitable for the following categories of readers:
- Beginners who are just getting acquainted with affiliate marketing and are starting from scratch;
- Affiliates who have already made their first steps on the way to profit (created a blog, registered in several affiliate programs);
- Partners who have been trying for months or even years to profit from affiliate marketing, but have not yet succeeded;
- Anyone who wants to achieve a consistently high income from affiliate marketing.
You will not need this guide if you are:
- A top affiliate with income of $10,000 USD/month or more. (Although if you’re achieving that without a content strategy, then read this and you’ll double those numbers.)
- Pat Flynn or Andy Ngo. (They already Ngo how it works.)
If you find yourself in the top list then keep reading! Alternatively, if you’re in the other list then either keep up the good work or don’t be lazy!
Step 1: Determine the target audience and create a customer persona
“The customer is always right.” A trite truth that has passed from generation to generation. Let’s explore what this phrase really means for building a content strategy.
You can’t create content that only you like and are interested in. You have to create content that they - your target audience - will like.
How to determine your target audience (TA):
- Analyze your existing audience of subscribers (if you have any):
- Who are they (male/female, profession, social status)?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live and go?
- What are their pains and interests?
- What do they dream about, what do they discuss, what do they strive for?
Hint: you can use special services like Surveymonkey for conducting surveys and subsequent data analysis. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/
Do some basic research
Thanks to the internet it’s easy to get to know the problems and interests of your target audience for free. Simply go to any major product marketplace, such as Amazon and type in a search query for the product or niche you’re interested in.
Go to the desired category and read the comments and then collect the most popular ones. Once you have your chosen comments, you can uncover the most common positive and negative customer reviews and find out what people like and, more importantly, what they want.
Here’s an example of a positive comment about a pet hair remover for the couch.
And here is the most popular negative comment about a similar product of poor quality.
Based on the reviews, you can already conclude what qualities consumers expect from the product. For example, they would like the hairbrush to be thicker, to be able to remove the hair of smaller animals etc. They are happy when the product works with minimal effort and when it can be combined with other cleaning tools.
By reading a lot of consumer feedback, you can quickly identify common audience desires and requirements for any product. Doing just a little research will help you avoid a lot of mistakes and help you to marker much more effectively.
Keep an eye on your competitors
Spying on your competitors is a great way to find out what your audience is really interested in. But how do you figure out who your competitors are?
Type into Google any query that is relevant to your niche. For example, “how to get pet hair off the couch.” Open the first links that come up in your results. Get to know their content - what they are publishing. Take note of all the tips, how-to’s, images and content ideas.
Create your Customer Persona
Draw up a picture of your perfect customer based on all the data you’ve collected. It should include:
- Demographics - the age, gender, and location of your average customer.
- Goals and Motivation - what drives the buyer in life, for example, the desire to increase income, or to make his life more comfortable, rational use of resources, etc.
- Pain Points - for example, he is pedantic, obsessed with cleanliness, but also very fond of pets; the comfort and cleanliness of the house is important to him, but difficult to achieve.
- Hobbies and Interests - he is passionate about walking his dog or taking him to the mountains. In addition to cleaning products for fur, he is also interested in the topic of pet products, in particular, pet accessories and clothes hiking.
Remember to be as detailed as possible. The more detail you have to describe your ideal customer, the easier it will be to find relevant content for them.
Step 2: Collect Keywords
“Gathering keywords” and SEO is a daunting and often frustrating task for many new marketers. But it doesn’t have to be. There are tons of simple, and sometimes free, tools out there. They can help you gather all the queries that users write on the topics you are interested in and they can be a goldmine for content. Google’s free Keyword Planner tool in Google Ads is a great first option. As are the paid advanced services Ahrefs and KWFinder.
Do not skip this step. Keywords will make your life a lot easier when it comes to creating and promoting your content.
Step 3: Research your Topics
If you haven’t ignored the previous step and have collected popular queries on your topic, then the next step is to start researching your topics.
BuzzSumo allows you to search popular queries and see which content with which headlines are most popular with audiences.
For example, the posts “How to clean couch hair” and “11 ways to get rid of pet hair in the house” have the highest view ratings. With this knowledge you can safely adopt the content by combining the headlines for your original article: “11 Ways to Get rid of Pet Hair on the Sofa.”
Step 4: Keep an eye on your competitors
Competition is the key to progress. Seriously, where would we be if we didn’t have a competitive entrepreneurial spirit?
We already described in the first step that you need to start off by understanding who your competitors are and evaluate their content. The next step is making sure to do it regularly.
To keep an eye on your top competitors, you need to identify the ones which regularly create viral content for your target audience. Once you’ve found them, then you should enter their funnels. You can do this by signing up for their content mailing lists, or by visiting their blogs regularly.
Of course, you can’t just copy their content. But no one forbids you to analyze it, get inspired, and do something similar, or even better.
Answer the following questions when analyzing your competitor’s content:
- What makes it good?
- What’s wrong with it?
- How can I improve it?
- What questions does he answer?
- What questions does he not answer?
Learn from your competition and start creating content that can be just as popular, if not more so.
Step 5: Articulate your specificity and value
Give yourself time to articulate why you (your content or product) is the best. What unique features are unique to you and why is it worth paying attention to what you’re creating and promoting?
In classical marketing, this is called the USP - Unique Selling Point. This is the thing that makes you different from everyone else.
Before you create content, decide on three things and write them all down in a separate file:
- TOV (tone of voice): TOV is the tone in which you will speak to your audience. It can be serious, friendly, funny, cynical, warm, professional, or a combination of several of these tones.
- POV (point of view): POV is the person from whom you intend to speak. For example, you can speak in the first person (yourself), as a company (manufacturer, brand), a fictional character, and so on. The unique authoring style is something you can use to distinguish yourself from boring lists like ‘5 remedies for removing wool.’ Remember, you can always add humor to your content, come up with original pitches, and experiment with formats.
- Demonstrate Expertise: Show and prove to consumers that you know absolutely everything about your niche and more. Answer their questions, provide expert materials, and cite authoritative sources.
Remember to always be consistent. For example, you can’t be completely serious about one topic and then make jokes the next. Therefore, you should try to find your balance and your chosen style.
Step 6: Create a content plan for publications
Many people don’t quite understand what a content plan is or what it should look like, so we’ll show you. A content plan is a table where you indicate where, when, and what you are going to do.
There are many applications and services to help you create a clear and concise content plan. HubSpot is one good example as they offer convenient templates for you to fill out.
However, you can always create a template yourself in Google Sheets or use simply Google Calendar.
Here are some helpful tips on what to fill your content plan with if you’re a beginner:
- Start with educational content - we all like to learn something new about an area that interests us. Start sharing your knowledge, even if you think everyone already knows it. Covering the basics will always help someone. There are a lot of people who are in a constant state of information gathering, just like you are now, so give them what they want. Creating educational content can also help you cement your own knowledge, and you can refer back to it at a later date.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things - experiment with formats (photos, videos, texts, podcasts) and content (reviews, news, tips). In the end, you’ll understand which sections are closer to your audience and which you can get rid of.
- Be flexible - it’s cool to have your content plan ready a month in advance, but if you have hot content on hand, feel free to publish it out of turn. Sometimes that kind of publication shoots the best, and draws attention to the rest of your posts.
Step 7: Make a plan for creating and promoting content
The most important thing is to start creating the content you plan to produce on a regular basis ahead of time. This is something which you will have to factor into your planning.
You have to understand that it takes a lot more time to create content than it does to publish it. If you’re working with a team, give everyone their tasks in a timely manner to produce pieces of content-writing, scripting, creating images, editing videos. Tools like Trello can help.
Even if you work alone at first, still make a work plan, and take into account the extra time to search and process the necessary information.
You should then make another plan for how you will promote your published content. Which social networks will you link to it? Will you order advertising from popular bloggers? Will you use other promotional methods such as contextual advertising, targeting, etc.?
Finally, you should plan to check old publications regularly to keep them up-to-date. You can make old publications relevant by changing the numbers in them or updating the links and information. Sometimes, old content brings in more activity than new content.
Step 8: Apply and repeat
Ok, so we said that there were only 7 steps, but number 8 isn’t exactly a step. Instead, it requires you to be consistent with everything that we’ve shown you. Remember, affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint!
When creating and promoting content, it’s important to be enthusiastic and consistent. Don’t abandon your blog halfway through - it will be much harder to start over than to reanimate an existing resource.
Believe in yourself and you will make progress. It’ll take time, but the results will be worth it.
Why creating a content strategy for affiliate marketing is worth the effort.
The most persistent and pushy always get the most results. This is true in any industry and affiliate marketing is no exception.
It has taken the vast majority of affiliates at least 12 months to start making $2,000 or more a month from their resources. That’s a pretty good return on investment, including our most valuable resource, time. Top affiliates can make $40,000 a month while allowing themselves to live and work from anywhere in the world.
If you ask any top affiliate how they succeeded in their business, they will tell you to start with a good content strategy, which is probably the best advice you’ll ever get.