10 Essential Affiliate Marketing Skills to Learn if You Want to Succeed
Affiliate marketing is gaining popularity year-on-year. It provides a great way for brands to reach new markets and audiences, and provides an excellent financial opportunity for content creators.
It sounds like a win-win scenario, and in many ways it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Making an impression as an affiliate marketer requires a broad skill set.
We’re going to take a look at what exactly affiliate marketing is, and why so many brands and content creators are embracing it. Then we’ll examine some of the most important skills you’ll need if you’re considering a career as an affiliate marketer.
WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING?
Have you ever found yourself asking ‘what is a network affiliate’? The simple answer is, it’s a great opportunity for content creators to connect with brands, facilitating affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is the practice of publishers promoting products or services in exchange for a commission. The affiliate partner earns money by providing a specific result for the business or individual they are partnered with.
In many cases this result will be a sale, but affiliate marketing programs could also reward participants for generating leads, inspiring free app downloads, or encouraging clicks to a website. In these respects, affiliate marketing can be similar to referral programs for small businesses.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF AFFILIATE MARKETING?
Affiliate marketing is quickly gaining popularity as a marketing strategy, and spending on affiliate marketing has increased consistently every year for the last ten years.
For businesses, affiliate marketing provides a strategy which has a low initial cost, but a high return on investment (ROI). It can lead to increased website traffic, greater brand recognition, and, ultimately, increased sales. It is estimated that affiliate marketing is responsible for 16% of all online orders.
For content creators, affiliate marketing provides an excellent stream of additional income, with the average earnings for an affiliate marketer in the US exceeding $66,000.
It provides an incredibly flexible way for creators to earn money, being able to choose whether to work full-time, part-time, or freelance, and can help to cement mutually beneficial partnerships between companies and content creators.
HARD SKILLS VS. SOFT SKILLS
When talking about which skills it’s important to possess in any field, it helps to remember the differences between hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are often learned through education and training, and are usually measurable and quantifiable. They can include being able to speak multiple languages, programming knowledge, or proven experience in a particular industry.
Soft skills are harder to measure, or even describe. They are often more interpersonal, social skills that affect how someone communicates and their general attitude.
To succeed in affiliate marketing, you will require a mixture of both hard and soft skills. This is true for the vast majority of industries, with 62% of companies saying its important to hire for both soft and hard skills.
10 ESSENTIAL AFFILIATE MARKETING SKILLS
Here are 10 key skills, along with some affiliate marketing tips, that will help you find success as an affiliate marketer.
1. Decision Making and Problem Solving
Affiliate marketing involves a lot of problem solving, so being able to do this as second nature is a great benefit. For example, if the number of clicks you’re generating suddenly drops, you’ll need to investigate why this may be, and come up with a good plan to get back on top.
When there are many different possible solutions to a problem, good decision making skills are essential. This will allow you to determine which course of action is the best one. Sometimes, especially when you’re first starting out in affiliate marketing, this could mean just following your gut.
The good news is that your decision making and problem solving skills will develop the longer you do the job, and the more experience you gain.
Creativity is a key skill for any successful affiliate marketer to possess. Creativity allows you to better establish unique brand identities, generate engaging content, and find solutions to difficult problems.
Often, the key to boosting creativity is experimentation. Testing subtle variations on the content you’ve created will help you find which approaches are most successful, and will help inform greater success in the future.
3. Data Analysis
In order to know which of the methods you’re using have been most effective, you’ll need some data analysis skills. 85% of respondents reported understanding data, and the insights taken from it, as an important skill for marketers in general.
Analytic skills will enable you to dive into the data and draw conclusions from it, whether that’s what types of content have generated the most clicks, or which of your partnerships have been the most profitable for you.
Having good communication skills is essential for any affiliate marketer. Not only does it allow you to connect with your audience for greater results, but it also allows you to build stronger partnerships with the brands you’re representing.
Good communication skills enable you to get your ideas across clearly and concisely, cultivate trust, and help you to identify problems and address them openly.
It’s easier to communicate well with the businesses you’re representing if you have a good understanding of the kinds of ‘business speak’ that they’ll be using. If you feel like this is an area you could improve in, you could consider undertaking some brand ambassador training.
5. Traffic Generation
Driving traffic is one of the main aims of affiliate marketing, so it’s essential that you know a thing or two about it. Creating content is only half the job, the other half is ensuring that people see it.
Research what kinds of content deliver the best click-through and lead generation rates for your clients, and what kind of content generates the most traffic to your website. SEO content and social network posts often generate a lot of traffic, especially compared to pay-per-click advertising.
6. Copywriting Skills
Affiliate marketing requires a range of different technical skills, but one that may be overlooked is the ability to write great copy. This is essentially any text that you use to try and sell your readers on the products and services you’re advocating for.
Developing your copywriting skills will help you to write effective and engaging copy, which grabs your readers’ attention and inspires them to investigate the subject of your writing further.
Using short, snappy sentences is a great way to grab a reader’s attention. Be mindful of the audience you’re writing for, and don’t use overly complicated language that could alienate potential readers.
7. Video Production
It isn’t just important to know how to write copy as an affiliate marketer. Video is increasingly becoming an important tool in many marketing campaigns, with 60% of businesses reporting that video is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to their strategies.
Audiences are engaged by video, and provides an easily digestible media to relay information to them. If you’re considering a role in affiliate marketing, having some video production skills will help give an edge.
8. Website Design & Maintenance
Understanding the intricacies of website design requires a broad set of specialized skills, but it is possible to appreciate what makes an effective website without having trained for years to create one.
Many website hosting providers offer templates and drag-and-drop interfaces to help you create an appealing and functional website. This means you don’t have to be a technical wizard, and there’s no need to understand the intricacies of functional capacity testing, for example.
An eye-catching website gives you a way to direct potential customers to the products you’re representing, either through SEO content such as blog posts, or other content such as product reviews.
Keeping the website well organized and easily searchable is key to helping your audience find the products they’re most interested in. Keeping it regularly updated will help you amass a loyal following, too.
It seems redundant to say that affiliate marketers must possess some marketing skills, but it’s so important we had to mention it on this list. Being able to promote a product effectively is essential, so it’s important to be able to highlight the best features of any product that you’re representing.
Different marketing methods work better with different demographics, and you’ll be able to reach different audiences through different channels.
For example, younger generations are more likely to interact with social media, with around 70% of Instagram users being aged under 35. This means that targeted content posted there towards younger users is more likely to result in clicks.
If your affiliate marketing endeavors are successful, you could shortly find yourself in charge of a team of people that you’re employing to help with your workload. That’s why it’s important to have some strong leadership skills at your disposal.
It’s important to master skills which will help you lead a team, whether it’s training employees how to use services like DocuSign, motivating your team, or delegating tasks. Even if you don’t see yourself running a team, having strong interpersonal skills will help you communicate with clients and your audience.
Affiliate marketing, when done correctly, can provide content creators with a fantastic way to generate income, and can really help boost the growth of a wide variety of brands.
If you’re considering a role as an affiliate marketer, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the skills to make an impact. These can include soft skills, such as ability to communicate effectively, and the ability to lead a team.
They could also be hard skills, such as copywriting experience, technical expertise with software programs, or data analysis skills.
As well as being proficient in these skills, it’s a good idea to have a good grasp of general marketing concepts, and have the creativity to produce really eye-catching, unique content. If you tick all those boxes, then affiliate marketing may well be for you!
Sam O’ Brien – Chief Marketing Officer, Affise
Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth affiliate management services expert with a product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Sam has also written for other domains Marketing AI Institute and VMblog. Here is his LinkedIn.