How to Build a Successful Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Natalia Tsvetkova Natalia Tsvetkova
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Some newbies in affiliate marketing may be tempted to search for shortcuts to achieve fast results. However, building a successful affiliate marketing strategy requires time and effort, and there are no quick fixes. It’s important to start with the right approach from the beginning. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide to creating an effective affiliate marketing strategy and learn which strategies are most effective.

What Is an Affiliate Marketing Strategy?

An affiliate marketing strategy is a type of marketing strategy that focuses on affiliate marketing. A successful strategy includes the fundamental task that every successful affiliate marketer has to solve:

  • What niche to work in
  • Where to get traffic
  • How to monetize the traffic

In addition, there are more specific questions disclosed in the strategy. For example, what affiliate programs to work with, how to boost conversions, and more.

The goal of an affiliate marketing strategy in most cases is to make the most of your time and skills in affiliate marketing in order to get the maximum profit. In plain language – strategy is the agenda of actions that must be taken to be successful in affiliate marketing.

A detailed strategy allows a structured approach to work from the very first day. But even if you have been working for years without an affiliate marketing strategy, you can still build it as the strategy comes into play for every affiliate marketer.

What Are the Advantages of an Affiliate Marketing Strategy

As in any other business, an organized approach in affiliate marketing greatly simplifies the processes. Having an affiliate marketing strategy has its advantages not only for beginners but also for experienced affiliate marketers as well. With a well-build marketing strategy, your approach in affiliate marketing will be:

  • Correct: To build the right strategy, it is necessary to analyze various solutions and choose the optimal one, so in the end, there is less opportunity for mistakes. For example, if you skip the step of choosing a niche and go straight to the first idea, you risk making the wrong choice. By having a strategy, you won’t skip any steps and will analyze niches to choose the best one.
  • Structured: All actions in the strategy are arranged in a logical order. Thanks to this, you will be able to structure and competently allocate time and do the right things at the right time. For instance, you can start optimizing ad placements when you have enough traffic to make the right choice based on a statistically significant amount of data.
  • Efficient: the strategy includes only the most necessary steps, which minimizes the chances of engaging in inefficient work.This is especially important for beginners. By having a strategy, you can focus your time and effort on the most effective actions.

It’s important to note that having a strategy is not a guarantee that you will start earning six figures each month right away. However, a strategy is the foundation upon which you can build a successful affiliate marketing business. Let’s take a closer look at what a successful strategy should include.

1. Choose a Niche

The foundation of any successful affiliate marketing strategy is choosing the right niche. We’ve previously shared detailed information about how to choose a niche, but let’s focus on the key points here.

There are dozens of niches, for example:

  • Travel
  • E-commerce
  • Health
  • Finance
  • And more

At the initial stage, choosing a niche is a crucial step that must be included in any strategy. Even if you’ve been working for several years, but skipped this step and are not satisfied with your results, it’s still worth revisiting this step. Your success in affiliate marketing heavily depends on the niche you choose.

To choose a niche, it is important to find the perfect combination of your personal wishes, opportunities, and potential profit in this niche. The ideal niche doesn’t exist, but you should try to find the best among the following requirements:

  1. The niche is interesting to you 
  2. You have enough skills/tools to work in the desired niche
  3. Niche has as low a competition rate as possible
  4. Niche has a high earning potential 

Legal services may seem like an attractive niche due to high commissions, high search volume, lack of seasonality, and other advantages that not only attract you but also other affiliate marketers. However, the high level of competition in such niches increases the cost of attracting visitors, making the final income less than expected. It’s important to consider the level of competition when choosing a niche because less competitive niches may offer better opportunities for success.

The travel niche stands out as particularly favorable among all other niches. On average, every US resident travels at least once a year, including vacation trips, business trips, visits to relatives, and more. This creates a large market with a total volume of US $190.40B in 2023.

At the same time, in the travel niche, you can find a sub-niche with moderate competition, as demonstrated by Kieran, the creator of Ticketsibiza.co.uk

In addition, the travel niche offers excellent earning potential and provides access to convenient tools. For instance, you can join the Travelpayouts Partnership Platform, which offers access to over 100 travel brands, including WayAway, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and many others.

Join the Travelpayouts Partnership Platform

Access exclusive tools and the best travel partner programs, including flights, hotels, car rental, insurance, tours, and activities, all in one place.

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2. Pick the Right Affiliate Programs

An affiliate marketing strategy is a unified process, where each stage is interconnected and cannot be separated from the preceding or following stages. Therefore, even though the choice of affiliate programs is second in our guide, it has an impact on various stages of the process.

For instance, you can compare different affiliate programs to make a final decision on the niche selection (step 1). Or, after attracting traffic and testing the program (step 6), you can switch to another affiliate program. 

At the initial stage, it’s crucial to choose the right affiliate programs. To do this, you need to establish criteria and select an offer that meets those criteria. The basic criteria for evaluating an affiliate program include:

  • Matching your product/service to your target audience is the foundational factor for future success. What sells best is what your target audience needs, so matching interests should be one of the main selection criteria.
  • Product/service conditions for the client. It’s important to offer your audience attractive and cost-effective solutions. If a brand is willing to share a high percentage of revenue with you but offers overpriced products or services to customers, then your revenue potential may be limited. Customers are more likely to choose what’s best for them financially, so it’s important to evaluate the brand’s offerings from the customer’s perspective and compare them to competitors.
  • Conditions of the affiliate program. If you have several programs to choose from, compare them according to their proposed conditions. Look at the fees, cookie lifetime, allowed types of traffic, and available tools. This will help you make an informed decision and choose the program that best suits your needs.
  • Brand reputation and visibility in your target country. Different brands are popular in different countries. And if you work in one country, for example, with the GetYourGuide Affiliate Program, this does not mean that this supplier is popular in another country. Research the market and choose an affiliate program of a brand that is well-known in the target country.

Typically, these criteria are sufficient to choose an affiliate program. However, there may be additional criteria that you discover while working. It’s important to continually evaluate the success of your chosen affiliate programs and adjust your criteria accordingly.

If you want to learn more about picking the perfect affiliate program, check out this video from Travelpayouts Academy.

In addition to individual affiliate programs, you can work with affiliate networks or platforms. Their choice is much smaller, for example, in the travel niche, you can join the Travelpayouts Partnership Platform, where over 100 travel brands are available.

3. Create Optimized Affiliate Content

The previous steps of your affiliate marketing strategy should lead to the creation of content. However, not just any content, but optimized content that can generate traffic and ultimately generate income. 

By “optimized,” we mean content that has the potential to attract an audience and, more importantly, an audience that is likely to purchase products and services. To achieve this, you should focus on the following::

Screenshot from Keysearch.co which shows the analysis for the query “dog training” with the number of monthly queries, competitors, and additional keywords.
An example of keyword research in Keysearch.co
  • Select search queries that indicate the intention to make a purchase. For instance, “Is it possible to take a hair dryer in hand luggage?” is an informational query, indicating that the person is not looking to buy anything. On the other hand, “Buy a cabin size suitcase” is a transactional or commercial query that is more likely to attract a person ready to make a purchase.
  • Sort your search queries according to the level of difficulty in promoting them. Consider the competitiveness of the query and the parameters of your website. Established websites with high domain authority (DA) can target more competitive search queries. However, if you’re just starting out, it’s recommended to target less difficult queries.

You can take advantage of Travelpayouts Academy’s free course with expert Sharon Gourlay to learn how to conduct keyword research and create optimized content on your own.

When creating content, it’s important to follow a simple rule: make sure your content is at least as good as your competitor’s content. This includes both the length and quality of the content. If the top-ranking pages on Google for your chosen keywords are long-form articles with lots of images, you won’t attract much traffic with short, text-only content. You can also experiment with different types of content, such as:

  •  Blog posts with personal opinions
  •  Product reviews
  •  Tutorials
  •  Comparisons

If you are a complete beginner, then as part of this stage, you also have to take care of the platform where exactly you will post this content. For example, create your own blog or page on social networks. Earlier we shared a detailed guide on how to create your own blog.

4. Build Your Audience

The entire purpose of affiliate marketing is to have an audience that will purchase the products or services that you endorse. Therefore, as a part of your affiliate marketing strategy, you will need to focus on building an audience. SEO and organic traffic are some of the most effective sources of traffic, as proven by firsthand experience. To get free traffic from search engines like Google, you need to:

  • Concentrate on real users’ search queries
  • Analyze the competition rate
  • Create content that is equal to or better than that of your competitors

Follow the recommendations from the previous chapter on choosing topics that will result in affiliate marketing profits.

Many affiliate marketers rely on organic traffic as their main source of website traffic. For instance, Travelbybrit.com founder Brittany Sawyer’s website traffic is distributed as follows:

Screenshot from Similarweb showing the traffic distribution of Travelbybrit.com: Organic - 64.24%, Referrals - 15.91%, Direct - 11.07%, and Social networks - 8.78%. Paid and display traffic - 0%.
An example of traffic channels distribution

As you can see from the example, Google and other search engines are not the only sources of traffic. You can also attract traffic from other sources:

  • Social media
  • Newsletters
  • Third-party websites
  • Video platforms (YouTube, TikTok and others)
  • Paid
  • Direct (people who save your website and come back on their own)

Moreover, you can drive traffic both to your site and directly to the advertiser’s site, if this is not prohibited in the rules of the affiliate program. 

Affiliate marketers who achieve success usually employ a multi-channel approach to drive traffic from different sources simultaneously. Therefore, it may be beneficial for you to incorporate several traffic sources into your marketing strategy as well.

Using multiple traffic sources can be strategically advantageous as it reduces your reliance on a single source. Additionally, it can help you increase your overall traffic volume by leveraging each traffic source to complement the other. For instance, you can build your email subscriber base from your organic traffic and eventually see a significant boost in traffic as a result.

5. Promote Affiliate Products

If we are discussing the most effective affiliate marketing strategies, promoting affiliate products is a crucial point. Here are some fundamental practices for promoting affiliate products:

  • Ensure that any affiliate products or services you integrate into your content are relevant and useful to your audience. The goal is to help your audience solve a problem or fulfill a need. For instance, if you’re writing an article about the top attractions in Paris, you could include links to tickets for those attractions through the Viator Affiliate Program.
  • It’s important to position affiliate tools in the right place for the reader. Simply adding a link at the beginning of an article may not always be effective. The tools should be placed where the reader needs them the most. For instance, when the reader is exploring different travel options to California, you can provide them with a specific site offering flight tickets, such as the WayAway Affiliate Program, and earn commissions from their purchase. It is important to place the affiliate tool at the appropriate moment in the reader’s journey for maximum impact.
  • Make affiliate links visible and understandable. This is a basic rule for any link – links should be visually different from the text (for example, by color and underlining), and it should be clear to the user that this is a link. It’s also important to clearly communicate what users can expect when they click on a link. One way to achieve this is to include a descriptive anchor text in the link, such as “Book cheap flights to Dallas using this link,” or to provide context for the link within the surrounding text.
  • Use different affiliate tools. In addition to links, there are other tools, such as banners or widgets. Experimenting with different formats can help identify the most effective approach.

An effective promotion of affiliate products relies heavily on the quality of the content you offer and its relevance to the user’s interests, which was discussed in the third chapter.

6. Monitor, Test, and Optimize

As part of any successful strategy, it’s important to make room for three essential things: monitoring, testing, and optimization. 

You can monitor the results of your work both within the affiliate account and using external statistics tools like Google Analytics. By using analytics, you can make data-driven decisions that help you achieve better results. If your blog is powered by the WordPress CMS, you don’t even need to set anything up manually. You can simply use the official Google Site Kit plugin, which is ready-made for you.

Screenshot from the admin panel of the WordPress site, where is seen an example of statistics from the official Google Analytics plugin.
An example of a statistic from Google Analytic

By monitoring the performance of your affiliate marketing efforts, you can identify the most effective ideas and abandon less successful ones. 

Additionally, testing should be included in your strategy to further explore different products, promotional tactics, and content formats. Based on the data collected from monitoring and testing, you can optimize your marketing strategy. This may involve discontinuing some affiliate programs or improving your content, among other things.

Must-Have: Learning and Training 

It’s essential to prioritize learning and training in your affiliate marketing business. Learning should not be a one-time event at the beginning or end of your strategy, but rather a continuous part of your journey. To achieve success, you need knowledge, which can be gained through experience, but also through learning and training.

Thanks to the Travelpayouts Academy you will be able to unlock the earning potential of the travel niche. You can also find other paid and free courses on topics that interest you, for example at:

  • Coursera.org
  • EDX
  • Udemy
  • And other educational platforms

Learning and training should not be neglected in any way. You can acquire knowledge from experience, but it’s also essential to invest in learning through free or paid courses. This will save you a significant amount of time and help you achieve better results in affiliate marketing. Including training in your affiliate marketing strategy can guarantee better results and faster growth.

Which Affiliate Marketing Strategy Is the Most Effective?

The best strategy is the one that will get you results. Not every affiliate has a strategy in their work, which often complicates the work significantly. If you’re thinking about creating a strategy, you’re on the right track. 

By following our advice, you can create an effective affiliate marketing strategy. However, to make it the best, you must first put it into practice and then continuously improve and adapt it. Your strategy should always have room for improvement, allowing you to find the most effective solutions.

All the advice listed in this article works great in the travel niche. If you’re interested in earning money in this niche, consider joining the Travelpayouts Partnership Platform. You’ll get access to 100+ travel brands, accurate statistics, a large selection of affiliate tools, an extended knowledge base, and the potential for a decent profit.

Join the Travelpayouts Partnership Platform

Access exclusive tools and the best travel partner programs, including flights, hotels, car rental, insurance, tours, and activities, all in one place.

Join Today
480,000 partners already trust us
$63M+ total paid since 2011
60+ travel brands
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