Are you frustrated by Amazon’s low affiliate commissions or the fact that everyone and their uncle is selling what you are trying to sell? Affiliate marketing can be a tough field to make serious money in simply because lots of people are already doing it.
But what if you could knock out most of the competition, both in terms of similar products and even SEO? And what if you really could get a bigger piece of the affiliate marketing pie?
Enter local affiliate marketing.
What is local affiliate marketing?
Somewhat self-explanatory, local affiliate marketing is the marketing of local products and businesses in your neighborhood, city or (maybe) state. Basically, rather than scouring Clickbank or Amazon for would-be products and services to market on your website or blog, you go after area merchants and advertise their specific (and unique) merchandise, promotions, advantages, etc.
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It’s a shame that many affiliate marketers overlook the money available right in their own backyard, assuming that local accounting firms, lawyers, restaurants, mechanic shops, etc. won’t want to deal with them. However, local merchants often need the most help of all when it comes to attracting customers and placing their wares online. Likewise, without a middle entity (i.e., affiliate network) taking a cut of the earnings, you could easily score a 25% or higher commission for every potential client/lead you refer to your select business.
Local affiliate marketing: Easier than you think
You might be thinking “I don’t want to be going door-to-door” or “I am not standing on a street corner holding up a billboard.” Here’s the thing: You don’t have to. Much or even all of your marketing can be remote and performed exclusively at home.
Also, given what you would typically expect with affiliate marketing, such as content optimization, backlink generation, guest posting, etc., there’s significantly less of it involved. Here’s why:
SEO is fairly easy.
Local SEO, especially in a small to medium town/city, is going to be much easier to do well than if you are trying to sell a world-famous brand. Simply put, the SEO will be easy because, aside from other local businesses that are in the same industry/field, you won’t have much competition to worry about. Also, because your website is probably going to mirror your client’s to a good extent, it won’t look like the typical affiliate marketing website that is often overlooked by search engines.
AdWords is easy too.
Google Places loves local businesses and its AdWords ad program won’t knock out your keywords or charge you exorbitant fees for referring “real” local businesses. You’ll also be able to track your leads fairly easily because most of them will be local, so outliers in other states or countries will probably be false positives.
How do you find clients?
Depending on your personal style, there are several different ways to do local affiliate marketing.
If you build it, they may come.
If you know the field already, you could launch a website on the topic of personal finance, accounting, etc. Once you have sufficient traffic coming in, you could then approach prospective clients and ask them if they’d consider placing an ad on your website for a monthly/yearly fee. This approach works well if you want to work with several clients in the same profession. However, it also demands that you make a large investment of time and effort before you see any payoff.
Use AdWords only.
You could also contact individual businesses and offer to run AdWords ad campaigns for them. You could launch the ads and direct inquiries to a sales page, which would then provide those leads with additional sales material in exchange for their contact information. You would keep tabs on those ad clicks and collect an appropriate commission for each lead.
Alternately, you could also work with a third party call center and collect AdWords-based calls as your leads. Input the term “call centers” into Google and you’ll find lots of places- including local ones- that you can work with.
Do lead nurturing.
This requires a bit more trust from your clients, but if you know the industry fairly well, and they simply don’t have the time/patience to deal with inquiries, you could offer lead nurturing as part of your affiliate marketing deal. With lead nurturing, you’d be in charge of calling leads that had already clicked on your AdWords ads or sent an inquiry via your website. You’d then gauge how likely they’d be to try or buy your client’s products or services.
In time, your client could even give you entire lists of leads that she had collected over the years. By converting them, you’d be able to command a much high commission because they would be generating actual revenue for the business.
How do you track your leads?
It’s challenging to track leads when you aren’t relying strictly on Google Analytics or sales page conversions to provide you with definitive numbers. You’re also relying on the integrity of your clients to report their business dealings truthfully and not stiff you on (especially) converted leads.
However, most local businesses aren’t looking to rip you off, especially if you’re working hard to promote them. Of course, there will always be that one bad apple in the bunch, but you shouldn’t let the fear of untruthful reporting scare you away. If the hesitation is still there, stick to just generating and reporting your own sales leads via AdWords, for example, or through direct sales calls to your call center.
What kinds of businesses should you target?
It’s far better, and far less work for you, if you target local businesses that make high revenues on each converted lead. For example, consider how much a lawyer makes on every one of his clients. Or think about how much an event venue makes for each conference, wedding, etc. held there.
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High revenue businesses are preferable because you’ll do less work for more money/lead. You also won’t need lots of leads, which can be especially difficult if you’re marketing in a small town.
Finally, it’s best if you can work with businesses that have recurring income from their clients, enabling you to re-market to these clients or charge a constant monthly or yearly commission. Also, you should not consider cyclic businesses like tax preparation because these industries will leave you with no leads for a good part of the year.