7 Tips to Help Cultivate Authenticity for your Affiliate Marketing Business

7 Tips to Help Cultivate Authenticity for your Affiliate Marketing Business

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing businessAuthenticity in affiliate marketing matters now more than ever before.  

Gone are the days of black hat affiliate marketing methods typically synonymous with fraud and scams. Cookie stuffing, typosquatting, and spyware are no longer tolerated, and even coupon or deal sites are viewed as outdated by many.

Transparency and authenticity are now expected — or even required — of affiliates, by those managing affiliate programs. Similarly, the audience affiliates speak to now demand those same traits.

With the rise of social media, audiences have become savvier and more skeptical of traditional affiliate marketing methods.

Audiences now demand quality content with a strong, original voice. They want honest opinions of the services and products affiliates promote. They want a participatory experience, where they can learn from and rely on the affiliate for service and product information. And above all else, audiences want authentic branding, authentic interactions, and authentic messaging.

Audiences now demand quality content with a strong, original voice. They want honest opinions of the services and products affiliates promote.

But what is authenticity in the affiliate marketing space? Matthew Tyson describes it as a combination of communication, transparency, relevancy, and care.

I define authenticity in affiliate marketing as knowing your specific audience and their needs, and effectively communicating this in your own unique voice, while providing value, insight, and information — all without a sales pitch.

So how do you develop a brand and reputation as an authentic affiliate? It isn’t as hard as it might seem. While it does take some time and focus, incorporating authenticity into your brand will help you create and execute a stronger marketing strategy, and see continued success in the long term.

Read on for seven tips on how to cultivate authenticity as an affiliate marketer.

1. Go for a niche focus

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Niche focus

When you become an affiliate, focus on one particular niche area that’s a great passion for you — whether that’s fishing, make-up, or skiing. Picking a topic that you already love and enjoy will drive you to put in the time and effort needed to succeed. It also helps keep the ideas flowing, and gives a truly authentic tone to your content.

Research your area of interest in-depth, and continue to expand your knowledge on the subject. This will help you position yourself as an expert or authority in the space.

Research your area of interest in-depth, and continue to expand your knowledge on the subject. This will help you position yourself as an expert or authority in the space.

There are a few ways you can expand your understanding of a niche:

  • Leverage top news outlets in your niche to learn what’s current and trending.
  • Follow updates from researchers or thought leaders to understand important themes and historic information.
  • Attend seminars or conferences to network and brainstorm with peers in your industry.
  • Test out new techniques, ideas, or products to keep yourself on the cutting edge in your niche. 

As you grow your expertise and share your knowledge, you’ll cultivate a very specific audience. Continue to keep that audience top-of-mind in as you dive deeper into your niche. Thinking about what your followers want and need will help guide your research and marketing decisions.

You might also like: Why You Should Specialize in Ecommerce.

2. Highlight the uniqueness of your affiliate marketing business

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Your uniqueness

Understanding and highlighting your uniqueness is key to setting yourself apart from other affiliates and online influencers. Your uniqueness as an authentic affiliate is made up of three components:

  • Your perspective. Think about how you view or perceive your niche, and what your opinions are on the various aspects in your field.
  • Your education. Consider how you know about your niche and where you learned, and continue to learn, about that area of interest.
  • Your experience. Think about how your education and perspective interact, and how you connect to your niche.

Your uniqueness is what will draw audiences to follow you. Followers like original content, and the best way to be original is to focus on what makes you unique.

You might also like: You’re Nothing Special: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace.

3. Emphasize education and information

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Emphasize education

Use education and information as your sales tactic.

Instead of telling your audience why they need this product or can’t live without that service, educate them with information and knowledge, so they can make a decision for themselves.

People are bombarded by advertisements and sales tactics all-day, everyday. By holding back on the pitch, and instead sharing the honest truth and detailed information about a product or service, followers will engage with your content.

You’ll come across as a trustworthy peer or friend, rather than a pesky salesperson.

You’ll come across as a trustworthy peer or friend, rather than a pesky salesperson. People are looking for reviews and honest opinions to help guide their own choices. In sharing your knowledge, you become a trusted resource and source of information — and you’ll likely see higher conversion rates than you would with traditional tactics.

4. Keep communication a two-way street

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Communication

In becoming an authentic voice and influencer in your space, your audience will expect easy access to you. Audiences want to interact with affiliates and online influencers, and with the rise of social media, that interaction is easier than ever. 

Audiences want to interact with affiliates and online influencers, and with the rise of social media, that interaction is easier than ever. 

Engage your audience not only to answer their questions and reply to their comments, but also to find out what they want more or less of from you. You can leverage social media, create an email newsletter, host a questionnaire on your blog, or run a contest to encourage feedback from your audience. Keeping an open line of communication with your followers will only help you increase your success, and provide the resources and answers your audience is looking for.

You might also like: The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Getting Your First Client.

5. Be transparent at all times

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Be transparent

Honesty is absolutely the best policy when it comes to being an authenticity-focused affiliate marketer. Your followers want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, especially when it comes to brand partnerships and sponsorships.

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll work with brands and receive commissions for the sales you drive. However, making an affiliate disclosure is not only the law, it also builds trust with your audience; the fickle nature of followers is only becoming more prevalent.

Be sure to keep your disclosure placement obvious, unavoidable, and close to the affiliate link. Disclosing affiliate relationships helps your audience differentiate when you’re being sponsored to promote something, versus when you are recommending your favorite services or top product choices. In turn, that disclosure will help to build your reputation as a trusted and respected affiliate marketer.

6. Prioritize relevancy

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Relevancy

As an affiliate and online influencer in your niche space, it’s crucial that you stay at the forefront of new ideas, products, and services in your field. Nobody likes stale or recycled information, especially not an audience who’s following you for your expertise and insight.

Keep your information and insights fresh by:

Keep recency and relevancy of your topics top-of-mind while aligning these with the wants and needs of your audience.

7. Show that you care

Authenticity for your affiliate marketing business: Care

Be earnest with your audience, and let the quality and sincerity of your content shine. While affiliate marketing is about making money, you always need to ensure you’re providing value to your followers.

While affiliate marketing is about making money, you always need to ensure you’re providing value to your followers.

Audiences are fickle, and they will stop engaging with your material if they feel that the information or insight you’re providing isn’t beneficial to them, or in their best interest. Outright sales and promotional ads are outdated in today’s affiliate marketing.

And while a big sponsorship or high commission can be enticing, remember to share only the best information and promote only the best products so your followers know that you’re a valuable resource to them.

Think of long term success

The future of affiliate marketing is based in authenticity — it’s the key to continued loyalty from fickle followers. Staying true to your niche, understanding the wants and needs of your audience, and sharing meaningful information will help you create success for the long term.

Join the Shopify Affiliate Program

Whether you’re an existing affiliate marketer, a social influencer, or a Shopify Partner with a growing audience, apply to become a Shopify Affiliate and earn commissions by referring new Shopify merchants.

Apply now

About the Author

Rachael is an Affiliate Manager at Shopify. If she isn’t hustling to build affiliate partnerships, you can find her testing out new recipes in her kitchen or dining at the newest restaurant in town.

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