Affiliate Marketing: a Step-by-Step Guide To Success

12 December 2022
Reading: 7 min

In our previous article, we learned a little about the history of affiliate marketing, but what is the most important thing we missed? The place of a crucial figure in it: the affiliate marketer. 

Although affiliate marketing is a relatively new area of digital promotion, it has already acquired a lot of nuances and rules of its own. It is indeed very easy for a beginner to get lost in this whirlpool of information. Don’t panic, we’re going to lay out the basics.

Hint: We once started in affiliate marketing from the basics ourselves. To help you get to grips with the terms and slang, we’ve put together a glossary of key terms for you. Open it in the next tab and check out the meanings of the words you don’t understand.

So, many media buyers say that the main qualities for success in their industry are:

  • Correctly identifying the target audience for an offer
  • Stress tolerance (because the traffic market is as unstable as the stock market)
  • Flexibility (not to be afraid to try new offers and open new GEOs)
  • Broad professional outlook (to be able to run ads from different sources)

For sure, many competencies will come to you as you work and as you gain experience, but where do you start? We believe that to get started effectively, the must-have is to understand the structure, so…

Affiliate Marketing: a Step-by-Step Guide To Success

What are the directions of traffic?

In affiliate marketing, these are called verticals and the list of the most popular ones is as follows:

  • Antivirus
  • Adult
  • Betting
  • Crypto
  • Dating 
  • E-commerce 
  • Education
  • Gambling
  • Games
  • Nutra
  • Sweepstakes
  • Travel

What format do the financial payouts take place in affiliate marketing?

Different payout options are used to make money in media buying. When choosing a payout model, it is important to keep many factors in mind, from the specifics of working with the chosen target audience to the requirements of a particular GEO. There are many payout models in affiliate marketing, here is a list of them:

  1. RevShare — the percentage of revenue
  2. CPA — cost per action
  3. CPL/PPL — cost/pay per lead
  4. CPS — cost per sale
  5. CPI — cost per install
  6. PPV — pay per view
  7. CPC/PPC — cost/pay per click
  8. DOI — double opt-in (email confirmation)
  9. SOI — single opt-in (form filling)

How do affiliate networks work?

Affiliate Marketing: a Step-by-Step Guide To Success

An affiliate network (or affiliate program) is an intermediary service between advertisers and affiliates. The network attracts webmasters from all over the Internet to evaluate the advertisers’ offers, choose the appropriate one and start driving traffic. Usually, the choice of the specific provider is influenced by factors such as:

  • Amount of payment
  • Allowed sources of traffic 
  • Personal preferences
  • GEO 

When the choice is made and the webmaster has received payment for the traffic attracted to the advertiser’s site, part of this payment is transferred to the affiliate network as a commission for services. 

Traffic sources

There is only one important point left that we need to understand — where to get traffic from, and what are the sources of traffic. Yes, we are talking about the place where the webmaster buys traffic and from where he gets the audience for his offers. In modern affiliate marketing, it is common to choose from the following traffic sources (these are the biggest ones):

  • Facebook — the largest social network with several billion unique visits each month
  • TikTok — a ruthless meme-making-machine that accumulates tons of traffic
  • Instagram — pics and videos that attract millions of users, also the habitat of many influencers
  • Telegram — a large messenger with huge potential
  • Native networks — e.g., Taboola, MGID, Outbrain
  • Contextual traffic — for instance, from Yandex Direct and Google Ads
  • Teaser ads
  • Push ads
  • Click under, pop up/under, interstitial, and similar banner formats
  • Websites (SEO traffic)

In future articles, we will look at what criteria you can use to understand which traffic source is right for you.

Newbie checklist 

Affiliate Marketing: a Step-by-Step Guide To Success

We’re finally getting close to the finish line. The basic theory is learned, and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. We’ve put together a comprehensive checklist for you to take your first steps into traffic and make your first money in affiliate marketing. Check the boxes and move on with confidence:

  • Train. We’ve discussed the basic concepts and structure of the industry, but it’s better to learn more useful sources to feel confident in your work. Look out for training videos, courses, and blogs. But be careful and beware of fraudulent training programs. Better pay attention to what we post on ZorbasMedia.
  • Highlight your strengths. For example, if you’re running traffic on betting or gambling, then knowledge of how betting companies and casinos work will only be of benefit (know your product). But this does not bind you to a particular vertical at all — it is advisable to try everything and choose what works for you.
  • Find the right affiliate network. This is about trial and error. There are many nuances in working with affiliate programs, which you will get to know only in practice. For example, some partner networks cheat their webmasters and some do not accept newcomers. Study the reviews of the affiliate programs you are planning to cooperate with in advance. Check out our review section.
  • Communicate with managers. An affiliate network employees will help you decide on an offer based on your preferences, budgets, and capabilities.
  • Prepare all creatives in advance. If you are quite technically savvy, we advise you to do it yourself, but you can also use the services of third-party professionals. 
  • Replenish your account for advertising. You have to start from this amount. And don’t forget to set a sum aside as a safety net, since no one can guarantee that you will succeed from the first (or even tenth) attempt.
  • Start advertising. Analytics is your everything, so regularly monitor the figures: in case of success — scale up (increase the advertising budget), in case of failure — change the settings or turn off ads.
  • Track the number of leads and conversions in your affiliate dashboard or tracker. But don’t put numbers on too high a position: if you fixate on the statistics, you risk loosing sight of the creative side of the matter and burning out sooner.
  • Wait until the end of the hold period and withdraw the money. And make sure to study the terms of the offer before you start driving traffic. Otherwise, you may be very surprised at getting your payment later than expected (some networks use NET30 and NET60 payout schedule).

Do not forget that each of these steps has its pitfalls and even if you think you are prepared for everything, at any moment something can go wrong. This is why it is important for a media buyer to have a flexible mind and stress tolerance so that he can react in time to any difficulties that may arise. 

Ideally, start your arbitration journey as part of a team so that you can gain experience by looking at your colleagues, and always have the opportunity to consult with someone more experienced. 

Final thoughts

Consciously getting into marketing is one step, but choosing the right channels is quite another. Affiliate marketing is a great place to start developing in this field. This type of promotion has a rich history and is widespread. Although it’s not yet the most popular promotional tool, the internet is already teeming with a wealth of tutorials and tip-tips on how to get into affiliate marketing. Yes, it won’t be easy, but we believe in you. Use our advice, learn from your mistakes, and you’re sure to succeed.

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