If you’re an affiliate marketer, you know that sales are directly related to traffic.
And building up the right traffic sources are key in driving potential customers your way.
So, let’s jump right into the five most profitable traffic sources for affiliate marketing.
1: Email Marketing
Truth be told, email marketing is out in front, first place, by a long shot!
My business has brought in millions of dollars a year for several years now, and over 80% of our revenue comes directly from e-mail marketing, so keep that in mind.
Email marketing helps you in two ways …
Email Marketing Allows for Multiple Attempts to Close a Sale
It gives you multiple attempts to close that first sale.
It also gives you multiple attempts to close multiple sales over time. In other words, you can generate more revenue from more people over time.
They say the fortune is in the follow up. The money is in the list.
And it’s true.
This is precisely why email marketing is paramount to success in affiliate marketing.
Email Marketing Is Immune to User Behavior & Algorithm Changes
Having a solid email list protects you against user behavior changes and algorithm changes.
Perhaps you've experienced this directly …
You've undoubtedly heard the horror stories of people getting a bunch of traffic from Google and then all of a sudden, their traffic goes down to zero because of one change from a Google algorithm.
Or they've built a big audience on Twitter and then Elon Musk goes and buys Twitter, messes with the algorithm, and suddenly their impressions are down and their cash flow is down.
User behavior also changes …
You're doing Facebook groups but then everybody left to join Instagram …
So, everybody's on Instagram and then they all head over to TikTok.
You can’t predict user behavior, but when you build an email list, that is an asset you own …
Which means that if user behavior changes or if an algorithm changes, and for some reason your impressions, your reach, and your traffic dries up …
If you've got that e-mail list, you can keep sending out helpful emails and sending out more offers.
You can covert more people who are first time customers and you can convert more repeat customers through email.
That's why email is number one, at the top of the list …
But that begs the question, how do you grow your email list?
With one or more of the next options for driving traffic …
2: Organic Traffic via Google
Google is still the gargantuan king of traffic.
There are trillions of searches done on Google every year.
Thousands of times more searches are done on Google than are done on YouTube, the other search engine we will talk about in a bit.
Just based on sheer volume, there's more opportunity with Google.
With Growth Via Google, You Control the Environment
The other reason that Google traffic is so valuable for you and your business is when a user clicks on the link for your piece of content that shows up in a Google search result, you control the environment.
This means that you have the opportunity to display pop-ups. You can have ribbons. You can have in text calls to action.
There are options, which offers you the ability to go for that one affiliate offer in the post they're clicking on, but you can also have a pop up and you could make offers to get those visitors on your email list …
Which would then give you more attempts to make more sales over time.
How would this work in the real world?
With Growth Via Google, You Can Make Additional Offers
Let's say for example you find a longtail keyword like “best chef’s knife for left-handed cooks” …
So, you have a blog where you write about different kitchen appliances and kitchen tools, and you focus this post on the best chef knife for left-handed chefs.
That post gets picked up by Google …
But when the user lands on your page, you don't only have the affiliate links to those best knives, but you also have a Five Day Knife Skills Boot Camp, and that five day boot camp is delivered via email.
Additionally, you not only make offers for your favorite chef knives but you make offers for your favorite cutting boards, for your favorite blenders, for your favorite kitchen gadgetry.
You open yourself up for an opportunity to sell more things per user than if you only rely on putting affiliate links inside; that ability to control the environment is absolutely the biggest reason why a blog is paramount to your success.
All the biggest affiliate marketers have their own blog even if they're using other traffic sources.
3: YouTube as a Traffic Source
I am a walking, talking testimonial of the power of affiliate marketing on YouTube.
I have generated over $1,000,000 in commissions from the videos on my channel. I've put up 700 videos over about six years, so it has taken a lot of time and energy to build.
YouTube Builds a Human Connection
What I love about YouTube, especially now in today's GPT, AI age is that it gives you the opportunity to have a human connection.
I do believe that as more shady marketers leverage AI in the wrong way—to “bolt process” and “bolt publish” rubbish content, more and more users are going to seek real human-to-human interactions.
And videos are more difficult for the spammers and the scammers and the schemers to rip off and emulate; it's a way to dig a moat around your business.
What I mean by moat is this:
I've protected my brand by creating content on YouTube because showing up on camera is more difficult than writing blog posts.
People can copy and spin; they can use AI and rewrite my blog posts relatively effectively …
But a video takes a lot of time and energy and skill to reproduce.
That said, if you've ever looked on Google for a review of a certain type of product, you might have gotten disheartened with a bunch of cookie-cutter rubbish content websites filling up the top of Google’s results.
What do you do in that moment?
You go to YouTube:
You want to find somebody actually using the knives.
If you are looking for the best lawnmower, you might read three or four blogs but eventually you want to see someone pushing lawnmower around on video.
YouTube Allows for a Call to Action
In the video, you do have the opportunity to make a call to action to your email list.
It can be as easy as this:
If you do not have my affiliate marketing crash course, I've taught everything I know, my entire step by step process for growing affiliate niche sites from zero to $100,000 fast.
Go to milesbeckler.com/free and you can get my entire affiliate marketing crash course. I'm truly giving you 100% of the information that you need for free.
Now, this is one of the limitations of YouTube …
If I gave the above promotion spiel, you would either need to type that into your browser, which means there's friction in that you have to take the next step …
Or you need to click on the description, find that link, and click on the link …
And then I might lose you in the video, which kind of kills my numbers in the video.
YouTube Builds Brand Better but Grows a List Slower
Full disclosure, I wanted to make sure you have access to that great course that's 100% free …
But I also wanted you to understand that I'm growing my list slower on YouTube than with Google traffic …
I probably have a higher conversion rate of traffic-to-subscriber for my blog than from YouTube but I think I build a brand better here on YouTube.
I think I stand out from the crowd a little better through my YouTube videos.
Fortunately, it's easier for me to make a video than it is for me to sit down and write; I'm just doing what comes easily and naturally to me.
I think You Tube is continuing to grow and will continue to grow as a dominant force where people go to ask questions:
- What's the best knife for left-handers?
- How do I dice something?
- How do I julienne something?
If you're in that niche, if you're offering a “knife skills at home” course in addition to reviewing the knives they're searching for, you're able to replicate that same business model, that same strategy that works on Google.
You can replicate it on YouTube and if you're doing both of them, you're going to grow faster than if you're just doing one of them.
4: Paid Ads to Your Email List
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is one approach to affiliate marketing. What that means is, you run an ad and you set it up to go directly to the affiliate vendor for the product.
I do not agree with this approach to building a business online; one change from the vendor, one change from the traffic source, and your business goes down to nothing.
Email List vs Paid Ads
Some people are successful with this method, but I always recommend that you grow your list first because that's going to get you multiple opportunities to make a sale …
It's going to give you multiple opportunities to get multiple sales for the people who buy.
So, how do you do that?
You run an ad straight to your opt-in page.
This takes you into the world of sales funnels and affiliate marketing funnels, which I've taught on my blog and YouTube channel.
So, back to the kitchen/cooking blog example:
Your ad offers the free “Five-Day Knife Skills from Home” course and people on Facebook who like pages about cooking might be interested in taking your five-day knife skills from home course.
They opt in for your course and inside the course you make your recommendations for the top knives, the top cutting board, the top knife sharpener and on and on …
And then you have your email list growing …
And from there you can sell cookbooks, you can make offers for pans and pots and all kinds of things once they are on your email list as you tell more stories.
There's no doubt that using paid ads is the fastest way to grow your list.
But it is only at number 4 here because, from my personal testing over the years, the value per subscriber when you interrupt someone with an ad is lower than the value per subscriber when they find you through searching on YouTube or Google.
Again, when people are looking for results on Google and YouTube and you show up, you have the opportunity to step up as their helpful guide.
If you go on to create 700 videos like I've done on YouTube, you build brand.
You build trust … and they're more willing to listen to you not just for that one thing, but for multiple things over a lifetime of your relationship.
So, when you overcome that hurdle through organic content first, that means the average subscriber is going to be worth more to you and your business long term than if you are simply interrupting them with ads.
Now can you make that up with scale because you can reach millions of people in a few weeks through your ads? Possibly, if you're really good at copywriting.
It takes a unique skill set to go down this path, but it absolutely has a wonderful growth curve.
I built all my organic content first.
I learned what worked to grow my list, the lead magnets that converted through organic content, and then I start putting money into paid ads to scale my business even further.
Utilize a Bridge Page
If you build an affiliate marketing funnel, you can use a bridge page …
That's the page after someone opts into your Five-Day Knife Skills course.
It’s a thank you page, but instead of just saying:
“Thank you. Go check your email for your confirmation” …
You can make your first offer on that bridge page:
“Thanks, I got your request. Your email access will arrive in five minutes, but right now I want you to know about the number one top pick for knives that I recommend.”
You can put that offer right there on the page. They'll see their first affiliate offer within seconds of opting in.
- And you can repeat that offer in the lead magnet itself.
- You can repeat the offer in future emails.
- And you can make lots of other offers and emails over time.
You've got to keep emailing your list if you're hoping to grow that list.
5: Organic social media
Organic social media can be a profitable traffic source, but it's at the bottom of the list.
You can grow a list directly from social media, but you're probably not going to get a lot of clicks to your links directly to the affiliate program.
Social Media Works in Tandem, Not Alone
In other words, you still need to be growing your list even if you're focusing on organic social media traffic.
I leverage social media traffic to bring attention to my YouTube videos and blog posts, which means I'm adding another step to the process …
I'm adding friction to the process, which means I'm probably going to get even fewer people who go from my content on social all the way onto my email list …
And again, the email list is the most valuable position that they get to.
That's why I do not promote or prioritize organic social media as a main marketing strategy.
You can use it as a complement to your blog or YouTube channel …
But you need core content that's helpful—following the frameworks that are proven to work, with an algorithm that's going to get you search traffic long term …
That's where your focus should be:
Organic Social Media Growth Should Not be Your Main Focus
On search traffic, whether it's a blog or YouTube.
Social media content can promote that content …
And all of this needs to be growing your list because your list is your number one asset when it comes to growing your business.
Okay, that's it for the top five.
Bonus Idea: Help People Along the Journey
Way too many affiliate marketers are trying to get that “best chef's knife” page to rank so that they can get eyeballs on those two knives, and on the affiliate links they have on that page.
And yes, you can make some money doing this, but that's just taking one swing at bat.
When you help that user, you want to help them along the entire journey.
If they're interested in cooking, maybe they want knife skills, but what else do they want?
Maybe your “Five Day Knife Skills Boot Camp” would be something you can offer as your opt in, as that's going to start to help them along the journey.
What's the journey?
The journey of being a great chef from home.
Where does that start?
Maybe it starts with knife skills …
And then you build up from there.
If you meet someone looking for a knife and you take them on the journey from choosing the right knife to building their knife skills to learning how to make an amazing romantic dinner …
Now they're getting some love because of what they can do …
And now you are their trusted advisor in the kitchen and they will buy just about everything you recommend …
As long as you help them with the journey.
That is what the most successful affiliate marketers are doing in 2023.