So you've joined the affiliate program for some great product, and you've started to drive traffic to your site that promotes the product. If you're finding that your conversion rates are low, you might need to ask yourself the question: why would anybody buy from me?
Think about your product or service from the customer's perspective. For example, if you have a travel booking site, what makes you better than Travelocity or Expedia? Are your rates better? Do you offer faster service, an easier interface, additional services? What would make somebody buy from you instead of the big names?
If you find yourself struggling to answer that question, then chances are you're not going to go very far with your promotional efforts. You'll get some sales, sure, since some people are more interested in convenience and they're at your site at that moment. But will they come back again when they need those same products or services?
That's important, because the real money is in getting people to come back and buy again. It's a lot easier, and a lot cheaper, to sell to an existing customer twice than to obtain a new customer. Once you've won over a customer with great prices, great service or additional benefits, they'll stick with you for a long time to come. But you have to give them a reason to stick around.
One way to do this is to offer an exclusive free gift to your customers. Using the travel booking example, you could offer a list of the best restaurants nearby the customer's hotel, complete with reviews and a PDF copy of their menu. I know that's one of the big issues when my family and I travel -- where should we eat, and what kind of food do they have? Going the extra mile in little ways like that will keep your customers coming back again.
But you might say, "That would take a lot of time!", to which I respond, "Of course it does -- but that's what makes you better." In the end, the amount of time you're willing to invest into providing a great experience and product for your customers is going to be reflected in your bottom line. The more you invest in your customers, the more they will invest in you. There's no getting around that.
Remember, too, that you're already at a disadvantage online, simply because there are so many competitors in almost every niche. Competitors who have already become established and trusted. If you're new to a niche, you need to offer enough benefits to make it worth a customer taking the risk of buying from an unknown.
A customer may not get the best price, or even the best service with a big name company, but they may not care because they feel like they can get support with problems, and that their purchase is backed up and secure. Even if that is not true, people tend to trust the big names they've heard of more than the little ones they haven't heard of. You're working against that, so make the risk worth it to the customer. When you deliver, they will reward you with their loyalty!
So the next time you're looking for a product or service to promote, ask yourself: what can I do to make this product better for my customers? You may not be the creator of the product, but you still want to take ownership of the customers who buy from you. Offer them support and services that they can't get from any other affiliate, and you'll win their loyalty, and their purchases.