Affiliate marketing continues to grow at a steady pace. In 2010, the market was worth $1.6 billion in the US. Last year, affiliate marketers made a total of $6.4 billion. The market is set to expand to over $8 billion by the end of 2022, according to a study by Statista.
Image Source: Statista
This represents a massive opportunity for savvy affiliate marketers.
It’s easy to join an affiliate marketing program and share the links on your site. You will make some affiliate income, maybe a lot. However, your conversion rates will probably be 1% or lower. Even with warm traffic from your email list, you’re lucky to get a 5% conversion rate.
To get the most out of your affiliate marketing, you need to utilize various techniques to increase the number of clicks and boost conversions. Bonuses are one such method.
Why you should offer bonuses to boost your affiliate income
A bonus is an extra product or service offered alongside the primary purchase to encourage customers to buy. Here are some reasons you should add bonuses to your affiliate offerings:
- Bonuses add value. A bonus that can be used alongside the base product or service is a significant selling point.
- Bonuses make you the favorite affiliate. There are likely hundreds or thousands of similar sites that promote the same product or service as you. But if you increase your sales through bonuses, your affiliate partners might give you preferential treatment. Bonuses will also make you the customers’ favored affiliate when they are ready to buy.
- Bonuses build a sense of urgency. Time-limited bonuses tap into customers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). No-one wants to feel like they’ve missed out on a chance to get something extra, making them more likely to click the “Buy Now” button.
Utilizing bonuses to improve conversion rates makes sense. Experienced affiliate marketers realized this a long time ago. In fact, JVZoo, one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms on the net, has built a bonus delivery system into their UI for affiliates.
What this all boils down to is pretty simple; if you give people a reason to buy through your affiliate link you’ll make more sales.
How to create an effective bonus
As with all types of marketing, affiliate marketers need to understand their audience.
Since you aim to convince the prospective customer to buy, the bonus needs to be something that will push them towards that decision. Therefore, you need to understand your typical customer, pain points, and reasons for buying the product.
A customer persona will help you do this. It is a representation of your ideal buyer. The customer persona usually includes demographic information, skills, interests, and personality:
To create a useful bonus, you must consider your audience’s goals and problems. Consider these questions:
- What problem does the customer have that I could help them solve?
- What would help them get the most out of the base product?
You should also address your customers’ fears. What is keeping them from clicking on the link? A customer’s fear might involve a lack of trust in the product’s ability to achieve the desired result, low belief in their ability to utilize the product or service correctly, etc.
Your bonus should directly address your ideal customer’s problems or fears.
What are the best types of bonuses?
There are lots of things you can offer which people will love. Free beer is certainly one option.
Ideally, though, the bonus you create will cost you something to create once, but nothing to deliver. So, while free beer is great, it’s hardly practical. The secret to eternal happiness, on the other hand, might be the perfect bonus as it costs nothing to share.
Other types of bonuses include:
- Online training. Video courses and webinars can help the customer improve their skills and get the most out of the product or service.
- Software or add-ons. Free templates, plugins, and other tools that add functionality to the product are always welcome bonuses and help the customer feel like they’re getting value for money.
- White papers or case studies. Case studies about how the product helped other customers will empower the buyer to get the most out of it.
- An eBook. An eBook about a topic related to the product can fill a knowledge gap and help the customer feel more prepared to use the product or service.
Having a single bonus will increase sales. Maximizing your conversion rate involves over-delivering on value. In the book Expert Secrets, the founder of Clickfunnels suggested that your bonus should have ten times the value of the product you are promoting. So, if you are promoting a product that costs $47, the bonus’s perceived value should be $470.
This has all been quite theoretical up to this point. Let me give you a concrete example of how to create a customer persona and relevant bonuses that fill customer pain points.
Longtail Pro Case Study
On my site, I have a review for an SEO tool called Longtail Pro. I use an affiliate link.
I hypothesized the type of customers that will buy Longtail Pro either run a website, are part of the SEO team for a business that relies on online traffic or have an agency background.
That’s a very loose customer persona.
These people use Longtail Pro for keyword research and competitor research with the ultimate goal of trying to get more traffic to a site.
Here’s an overview of the bonuses I came up with based around that customer persona and the pain points I felt people might encounter:
- A training guide for SEO content writers
- A video guide for coming up with guest post ideas
- Email outreach templates for a campaign
- List of useful free SEO tools
You can see how I’m trying to identify and fix the knowledge gaps people might be facing.
I then attached a value to each of these bonuses. The training guide for SEO content writers has a hypothetical $200 value, for example.
How to promote your bonus
After choosing your bonus, the last and most important step is to promote it. Effective promotion is essential if you want to increase sales and grow your affiliate income.
I like to promote bonuses using an exit-intent popup. Below is an example from the Longtail Pro case study. You can see how the popup sells the bonus. I’m not looking to grab the contact as a lead in this instance.
When you click on the button, you are directed to a landing page.
The landing page is just a stop-gap between the entry point in the funnel and the sales page. In this example, it comes between the review page and the sales page. If you were promoting an affiliate offer from your email list, you could send them straight to the page.
Your landing page is an essential component of the funnel. On the landing page, you introduce the product you are promoting and “sell” your bonuses. Here’s a screenshot of the landing page I designed to promote those bonuses:
That gives you a sense of how you present a bonus.
Below is a basic wireframe of a bonus page. If it’s the first time you’ve created a squeeze page, copy the basic design. You can use landing page software to create a page like this in a couple of hours.
If you click on one of those links you’ll be directed to the sales page. It’s a pretty simple model.
You might be asking yourself how much of a boost can you see from creating relevant bonuses? Short answer, a lot! Providing relevant bonuses to your audience, and significantly increasing the value of the offer, can easily result in a doubling of your conversion rate. That’s a realistic target.
How to implement this strategy on your site
If you have read the article through to this point, you’re probably thinking: “Thanks, Nico. That’s a bucket load of work.” And that’s true.
Creating relevant and valuable bonuses will require a significant investment of time and capital. You have to come up with relevant bonuses, create the product, design the sales page, make a sales video, and launch your opt-in form. That’s a good two to three days of your time.
Given the scale of the investment, take baby steps.
Start by creating a bonus page with one product for your most popular affiliate offer. Launch the page without the sales video. If more people than usual buy through your affiliate link, you’ll have proven that this strategy works.
With proof of concept out of the way, you’ll have justified that this model works.
When you know it works, you’ll have justified investing your time in improving the bonus offer. As you improve the offer and the page, you should see a little jump in your conversion rate and some more cash in your pocket. That boost will help incentivize you to optimize your conversion rates, so you make more cash.
Boosting your affiliate income with bonuses
Affiliate marketing is highly competitive. As we’ve discussed, there are hundreds if not thousands of affiliates selling the same product or service. Therefore, you need to persuade your audience to click on your affiliate links instead of anybody else’s. Bonuses are one of the best ways to achieve that goal.
But you need to offer the right kind of bonus. Always focus on your customer persona and your ideal buyer’s needs, fears, and pain points as you decide what to give away. A fantastic bonus can be the difference between an undecided lead clicking the link, and leaving your site and never returning.
Remember the golden rules of bonuses – address a need, add value to the base product, and prominently display the bonus’s value.
If you want to go the extra mile and add even more value, consider stacking bonuses. The more value you can provide, the more customers you will convince to stay on your site and click the “Buy Now” button.
By offering great bonuses and promoting them effectively, you can improve your conversion rates and quickly grow your affiliate income. Here’s to more revenue for your site!
Guest author: Nico is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies and make money blogging. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.