Affiliate sales have become the bread and butter for many fashion and lifestyle bloggers who make a full time income from their blog.Top affiliate marketing companies such as rewardStyle and ShopStyle have forged the way in this industry by connecting influencers and brands together all over the world.
Wait Pause- What Is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?
If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, let me quickly break it down for you. Affiliate marketing is a type of influencer marketing in which brands reward affiliates (in this case, you the blogger) for marketing efforts that result in a sale.
Ex: I decide to talk about my fall fashion favorites on my blog. I am a member of an affiliate program with a popular clothing retailer and link to several of their blazers. A blog reader clicks on the link to the blazer and decides to purchase the blazer along with an additional pair of earrings. I, the blogger, make a small commission from those sales that were made through my affiliate link.
How Do I Become An Affiliate?
There are two ways to become an affiliate for a brand:
1 | Join the brand's private affiliate program directly through their website
2 | Join an invitation only company that generates a relationship with thousands of brands automatically when you are accepted into their program. I.e. rewardStyle and ShopStyle.
Back To RewardStyle
Now that you have gotten a basic understanding for the way that affiliate programs work, I will dive back into the ten ways that you can boost your affiliate sales with rewardStyle.
Note: While these strategies are specifically tailored to rewardStyle, a commission based affiliate program, similar strategies can be adopted to fit a pay-per-click affiliate model such as ShopStyle.
1 | Utilize All Of the Tools Available
RewardStyle does an amazing job of providing influencers with a variety of tools that they can use to establish and increase their affiliate sales. Below is a list of some of their most popular features and widgets that you can use to boost your sales. RewardStyle always encourages bloggers to utilize all, or most, of these features in each and every blog post to achieve the maximum impact and widen the path to purchse. I too, encourage this practice.
Shop The Post Widget | A widget that can be embedded directly into a blog post or used in the side bar of your main page that allows users to shop mentioned or favorite products directly. (Featured above) For maximum impact, include a 'Shop the Post' widget at the top of the blog post under the main image, as well as at the bottom of the post.
Money Spot Widget | This neat tool allows you to deep link your images with the products used in that photo or collage. Users can mouse over an area of interest on the photo and be taken directly to the product that they are seeing at the click of a button.
Look Book Widget | Similar to a 'Shop the Post' widget, this tool allows you to link favorite products in a polished looking scroll window that users can use to shop your mentioned products directly. The difference between a 'Look Book' and a 'Shop the Post' widget is the size of the product images. A 'Look Book' features larger images that can be viewed one at a time, instead of smaller images that can be seen in small groups at a time as with a 'Shop the Post' widget.
Boutique Widget | Creating a curated collection of your favorite products is made easy with this simple tool. Many bloggers like to create shopping sections on their blog that users can use to easily find and shop the bloggers' favorite products of the moment.
Direct Links | Dispersing text links throughout your post that link to exact products as well as retailer landing pages will really help to boost sales. Not everyone is a visual shopper and would rather just click a link instead of searching for the mentioned products in the widgets featured on the page.
Notice how in the image above Brighton uses text links under each photo, text links embedded in the paragraph, and a 'Shop the Post' widget.
2 | Track Sales and Promotions
In addition to identifying current sales and promotions on a certain product when you first link it to your blog or Instagram, it is equally important to keep tabs on whether the product goes on sale AFTER the item is already posted. I see bloggers mentioning current sales that are occurring on products already discussed and posted all of the time. An easy way to do this is to include a short mention of the sale at the bottom of a current blog post, or by re-posting an older Instagram photo featuring the item.
The trick to this is keeping a log of all products mentioned in your posts and Instagrams with links to purchase them. Yes this is tedious. Yes I would probably rather do 90 other things than track every product that I mention. But sister, it's worth it. If mentioning that a product is majorly on sale results in three more sales a week or a month but you get $40 - $50 commission, it's worth it.
3 | Understand Your Audience's Purchasing Preferences
Understanding your audience's purchasing patterns and preferences is detrimental to boosting your affiliate sales. If you aren't mentioning and linking to products that they not just love, but will purchase RIGHT THEN AND THERE, then you are throwing money out of the window. Use your RStyle analytics to identify which price points convert well for your specific audience.
Just because you love a Gucci bag and want to include it in your fall favorites blog post doesn't mean that your audience is going to purchase one impulsively right then and there. Consumer's typically don't impulsively buy expensive products and goods. They do their research and take time to decide whether spending the money is worth it.
Unless you are a luxury style blogger and have built your following in this niche, linking to expensive goods that most can't afford is a poor (bah boom chh) choice that will result in fewer sales. Instead, link to a more affordable bag in a similar style that your readers will be more likely to purchase right then.
4 | Predict Consumer Behavior
Consumer purchasing behavior changes depending on the time of the year. For example, November and December drive 30% more e-commerce revenue than other months, and consumers are more likely to purchase accessories that accompany larger ticket items after Christmas.
By identifying and forming a content strategy with holiday and annual event statistics in mind, you are better to able utilize this consumer behavior to your advantage. Plan your content around these annual events to drastically increase your sales. RewardStyle has great strategy guides available to members on their blog delving into popular shopping events such as Fashion Week, Black Friday, and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
5 | Use Sales Strategies That Really Work
Focus on Featuring One Main Product Per Post | Although, the majority of your blog posts are going to include a multitude of products, try to choose one or two of them to predominantly focus your attention on. When you select a single product to discuss, you are better able to cater your narrative to sell that specific item in a way that still provides your audience with valuable content to read. Focus = Sales.
Eliminate Questions and Fears That Could Prevent A Purchase | For the sake of an example, let's pretend that we are featuring a moderately expensive winter coat in an outfit post. As mentioned earlier, readers are less likely to impulse buy more expensive items, so it is important to eliminate any barriers that are preventing them from purchasing the product.
Make a short list of questions or concerns that your reader might have that would prevent them from clicking your link and purchasing the item at this exact moment.
Thoughts to consider...
Is this product truly worth the price? Can I find a better deal somewhere else?
Is this product going to hold up? What is the quality like?
Will this product fit my body type (if talking about clothing)?
Is this item true to color? Does it look exactly like the picture on the website?
What are different ways that I could use this product? (I don't want to purchase if I can only use it once).
Now that you have your audience's potential questions and concerns written down, answer them in your post! You don't literally have to include a Q&A, but find creative ways to work the answers into the body of your post! Brighton from Brighton the Day, does a great job of this as seen below in an excerpt from her blog post:
Sell the Transformation That the Item Will Give the Reader, Not the Product Itself | One of the most important things to remember when selling a product is that people are not purchasing the product, they are purchasing the transformation that the product will give them. It is important to keep this knowledge in mind when writing your post.
"One of the most important things to remember when selling a product is that people are not purchasing the product, they are purchasing the transformation that the product will give them"
For instance, when writing the post featuring the winter coat that we are using as our example, I will extensively discuss how the coat will make my readers look and feel warm, polished, and put together.This is drastically different from just briefly mentioning that I wore the coat and that my readers should automatically spend the $300 to buy it. I am selling the way that the coat will make them FEEL.
Create a Personal Relationship With the Product When At All Possible | Adding value, meaning, and personal touches whenever possible is crucial when exercising your influence as a blogger to make a sale. I go into more depth about this in this post, but it is important to provide value and truly connect with your readers, not push them into purchasing something that they don't really love.
By discussing your personal relationship with the product you are featuring whenever possible, you will help your readers to connect with and trust you, which often results in a sale.
Use Urgency and Scarcity to Spark Action | Cart abandonment has soared to an average of 68.63 % as of January 2016 (Baymard), and isn't showing signs of slowing down. It is really easy for shoppers (I myself am guilty of this) to find items that we love and place them into our carts with every intention of purchasing tonight, tomorrow, or when we get paid again... aka more than likely never.
It is important to create a sense of urgency and scarcity when at all possible to incite your readers to purchase NOW as opposed to later. Mentioning sales and their end dates, low stock counts of items, and other information that will spark a purchase, will increase your overall rewardStyle sales.
Note: Please keep in mind that you should use this strategy sparingly and that it will not always be possible to use it.
Use a Strong Call To Action (CTA) | This strategy can easily be combined with the tip mentioned above. Your readers need to be TOLD to purchase. Simply providing a link and crossing your fingers in hopes of a sale simply isn't going to cut it. Use copy such as
"Click here to purchase this black wool coat while it is still 40% off. Winter coats always sell quickly, so I made sure to purchase mine as soon as the sale began."
Not only does this strong Call to Action incite readers to click the link to purchase, it establishes urgency, as well as that I, myself made the same purchase (insinuating that you should too). Ladies if you didn't actually purchase the coat, don't lie to your readers and say that you did. This is simply an example of one of the ways that you can create a strong CTA that will encourage sales.
6 | Create a Resources Page or Shopping Page
Many bloggers, including myself, like to create different shopping pages (using the rewardStyle 'Boutique' widget) for the different verticals that we feature on our blog. Brighton features separate shopping pages for items featured on her Instagram, as well as favorite beauty items that she is currently loving.
You can get really creative with the 'Boutique' widget. Don't limit yourself to just featuring "fall favorites" and "items you're loving." For example, if interior design is one of the verticals that you cover, it might be a fun idea to make a page on your shopping tab with an "interior of the week" photo and feature similar items that your readers can shop to achieve the same look.
7 | Integrate Your Social Media Platforms
Consistently incorporating your rewardStyle links into other social media platforms will drastically boost your affiliate sales. While yes, your blog is your home base, not everyone follows bloggers the same way every time. I will exclusively follow select bloggers on Instagram, while with others, I usually just visit their blog to see their new content. Don't ask me why I do this, because I frankly don't know. Many others have this same mentality, so use it to your advantage.
Choose the Best Performers
Choose the social media platforms that you seem to perform best on, and focus on creating quality content for that space. Julia Engel does a great job of posting her favorite clothing pieces on Twitter for her followers to shop. Again, the sky is the limit so get creative.
RewardStyle is home to the ever popular LIKEtoKNOW.it application that lets Instagram users like your photo to receive all of your outfit and product details straight into their inbox. When users click a product link from that email and decide to make a purchase, you, the Instagrammer, will make a commission from that purchase.
I am planning on writing an entire separate guide to boosting your LIKEtoKNOW.it sales and the different strategies that you can use to do so. In the mean time,to learn more about the application, head on over to LIKEtoKNOW.it's website.
8 | Optimize Your Website
Optimizing your website structure and layout to encourage sales will result in a boost of purchases. While financially it isn't always possible to get a custom website created for you that does this, there are things that you can do yourself, or hire someone to do, that will go a long way in boosting your affiliate sales.
Below are two examples of websites that were more than likely custom created to fit the unique needs of the blogger. If hiring a developer isn't in the cards for you just yet, use these sites as inspiration to create elements that will have a similar effect in the meantime.
Amanda Miller from the Miller Affect, does such a great job of using a simple web layout to highlight her favorite products featured in each post. Minimizing the clutter on your site will make it easier to showcase the products that you want to recommend to your readers. Notice that you can shop the contents of each of her posts before ever clicking into the full post view. You want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to shop your products.
Julia from Gal Meets Glam, takes a similar approach and uses a mix of different modules on the home page of her website. It is difficult to give you the full effect using screenshots, so make sure to visit her website for the full effect. Notice that she features one product for each post like I recommend doing in tip #5.
Get a Similar Looking Effect
As I mentioned previously, it is possible to recreate some of the elements that work so well for the sites above, by yourself. RewardStyle allows you to embed their 'Shop the Post' widgets into your sidebar and posts, so it is easy to create a shoppable side bar element that can be used in the same way.
In addition to a scrolling shoppable widget in your sidebar, consider picking one "product of the week/month" to focus on. Write a little blurb underneath and talk about why you have chosen this item. Make sure to mention if the item is on sale, if applicable, or any other pertinent details that the reader needs to know. This practice ties back into focusing on one product to recommend, which narrows the reader's focus and often results in more sales.
9 | Expand Your Verticals
RewardStyle does a great job of encouraging their influencers to think outside of the box with the type of content that they are publishing. A fun and easy way to increase your rewardStyle sales is to expand the verticals that you cover on your website.
If in the past you have predominantly just covered fashion, consider expanding your focus and taking on a new vertical. If you have a passion for interior design, entertaining, or traveling, consider slowly working one of these verticals into your editorial calendar. Introducing new content allows you to introduce new products to your readers relating to your new vertical. This is a fun way to freshen up your content schedule while simultaneously expanding your sales opportunities.
Examples of New Verticals to Incorporate
- Interior Design
- Entertaining / Cooking
- Home Improvement / DIY
- Weddings (document your own)
- College Life - Tips, Tricks, and Advice
- Blogging Tips
10 | Get Organized
While getting organized may not directly increase your sales, it will set a solid foundation that will increase the effect of the other 9 strategies that we have discussed.
A Few Ways to Get Organized
- Clean out your rewardStyle favorites folders. You are probably very aware at how cluttered and junky these can get. Set up a separate folder for "Always Wear" and "Upcoming Features" as well as a general "Favorites" folder.
- Schedule out as many Instagram photos as you can. Tag all of the items ahead of time and write all of the captions, so all you need to do is post when the time comes! This will save a TON of time.
- I would consider creating an "Already Worn" favorites folder to place items that you have already featured and worn. This will make it really easy to go back in and check if any items have since gone on sale or sold out.
- If you know that a major holiday or event is coming up such as Christmas, start favoriting items a few months ahead to save you HOURS of time when you go to create your holiday gift guides later down the road. All you need to do when the holiday rolls around is check to see if all of the products that you favorited are still in stock.
- Schedule a monthly meeting with your rewardStyle representative even if you typically stay in pretty frequent contact with them. They do an AMAZING job of helping you to develop strategies that will allow you to meet your personal sales goals. Touch base every month to talk about what worked and what might not have worked and readjust your strategy when necessary!
If you made it this far, I am so proud of you. This was a lot of information, but when utilized, will blow your sales out of the water! Make sure to Pin this post to refer back to later, because again, this was the size of a mini novel so I don't blame you if you didn't memorize everything. ;)
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! What strategies have you been using that have been working for you? Have you used any of the strategies above yourself? How did they work?