Despite your best intentions and hard work, you won’t see dramatic commissions if you’re promoting the wrong product
This is why you want to refine your focus and find affiliate products that sell.
Product selection is one of the most highly overlooked elements of starting up as an affiliate marketer.
I know your pain because I’ve been there.
I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into a project only to find out the products I had been promoting and the demographics I thought were visiting my website weren’t truly what I thought.
And then I wised up …
In this guide, we’ll be sharing how you can tap into free and paid tools to discover what your visitors really want; the products that will give you the best bang-for-your-buck.
Part 1: Ask Your Readers, Directly
Cut to the chase and go directly to your source: ask your readers what they want from your website.
Online tools such as SurveyMonkey or a simple WordPress plugin like WPPolls is all you need to begin pulling out incredible information about what your market wants.
As an example, I ran a poll on one of my paid content sites about the type of products my repeat customers would want to see from the business. To my surprise, most individuals wanted ebooks despite my conviction that it should be more articles.
I would have never guessed the tally would be so high for this product offering. I took the information, began offering ebooks, and instantly made sales the moment I alerted my existing customers.
You don’t have to be a technical wizard to put together these polls; most online tools use WSYWIG editors that can have your poll up and running in a few minutes. Afterward, you’ll need to send people to vote which I would recommend blasting out an email, writing a blog post, sharing on Twitter, or posting to your Facebook wall.
Allow your poll to run for at least a month and gather a large margin to accurately gauge your focus. Ask the hard questions and try to understand the reasoning behind their answers.
Take the information you’ve gathered, note it down, and begin shifting your focus to what people want and not what you expect them to need.
Part 2: Data Mine Your Analytics
The secondary source of knowing what products and tools to sell on your website should come from your website analytics.
Analytics, gathered by Google Analytics, Clicky, or whatever program you use, will give you the most detailed amount of information about your website that no other tool has access to.
With enough patience, you can mine the data from your website to make intelligent guesses about the type of products you could be offering.
This could cover your entire website or single product promotions
These could be added after publication on individual pages.
Using your own analytics, I suggest you dig back through which of your pages and topics gain the most interest from your community. Go to each of the pages and count the number of comments and social media shares. Try to get into the heads of why people found the content interesting.
Once you have an ideal image of your website visitor, you can begin to find products that match the wants and needs of the people landing on your website.
The analytics are just but one part of the equation but they give you a great starting point, none-the-less.
Part 3: Tap Into Advertising Statistics
What if I told you that you could save yourself thousands of dollars on advertising and research by tapping into what others have already done? Yup, it’s available and my favorite tool for this purpose is SpyFu.
Advertising tracking tools give you two, immediate, awesome stats:
- How much people are spending on advertising
- The competitors in your market
Taking just these two items, you can guess whether the products you’re promoting will have staying power along with free access to ad copy swipe which you could use, as inspiration, for your own campaigns.
For example, I typed in the word “printer toner” into SpyFu and found a laundry list of companies that are spending big dollars for ad placement in search engines. Once I dig through these websites and examine their ads, I can see which of the products they’re pushing hard and can later use that for my own campaigns if I choose to enter the niche.
There are many other tools at your disposal such as Facebook advertising or the individual websites that share their ad demographics. Each of these can be research tools for finding the right products for your affiliate marketing.
Part 4: Bust out the Free and Paid Online Tools
Taken with a grain of salt, online tools such as Quantcast can give you incredible insights into websites, their demographics, socio-economic range, interests, location, and much more.
I say “with a grain of salt” because it’s impossible to know everything about your visitors unless you have detailed analytical data from the actual companies (which they aren’t willing to disclose, anytime soon).
However, tools like Quantcast can come in handy when you’re doing competitive research in your niche; you could use one of your main competitors websites as a base to figure out the demographics of your ideal website visitor, how much they would probably spend, and various ways to target them in your ad copy or design.
For example, I used Quantcast to examine Ebay. What I found is that the majority of individuals are between 25 – 34 years old, yet the largest demographic also made over 100k a year for their salaries.
Using this data, I could see that Ebay is popular with young professionals that have money to spend. For my own projects, I would use this data to replicate the type of copywriting and products that fit these individuals’ lifestyle and preferences.
Tools like Quantcast can be incredibly helpful for doing large-scale research; smaller tools such as built-in ad networks can then take that general idea and laser focus it into a very specific demographic that will reveal a wealth of products and services these individuals seek.
Part 5: Understand the Industry, From the Other Perspective
The other perspective? Yes, in this case, from the consumer perspective.
Since we’re on the other side, we often assume what people are willing to pay for yet we can’t accurately gauge this because we don’t know where these people stand in terms of their finances, personal goals, and lifestyle.
However, one way I’ve found to be effective for market research and product selection is to understand the industries people are seeking for careers.
For example, Indeed offers a list of job trends and statistics that reveal the general interest of the public in the job market. This information can be used to figure out what direction people are heading and what’s falling out of favor.
Trends in the medical field, such as a CNA position, can tell you that there will be a growing interest in information related to the field in which you could find products to promote on a new project focused around the industry.
Particularly, pay attention to job growth and figures because the careers people work within will often reveal the type of products they’ll be buying whether it’s for their job or if they’re seeking information to gain an edge and rise up the corporate ladder.
Part 6: Peer Into Real-World Reports
For those data junkies out there, two great sources of real-world reports can be found from the U.S. Census Bureau and Experian, a company that tracks trends, demographics, and sales.
Both of these sources are heavy on the information side and can be a jungle to navigate but they give you actual statistics about industries, products, and the people buying.
For example, a quick look at the Census shows me, as an example, which manufactured homes are on the decline despite the harsh economy; the report also shares what areas of the country are buying up these homes, units from the dealers, and the average costs.
Using this data, if I were to enter the market, I could see which area of the country would be best to market toward and the general price range that would fit well for my potential customers.
In terms of overall usage, this level of market research is a bit over the heads of most of us affiliate marketers but it’s still out there at our disposal.
With a few hundred dollars thrown toward research, we can see the exact numbers behind the industries we wish to pursue.
Part 7: Browse the Top/Best Product and Topic Listings
What about using marketplaces to tell us, straight up, what are the hottest items and best sellers on their website?
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Well, it’s a reality and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay each have a section dedicated to helping their sellers figure out what products are flying off the shelves.
The two resources worth mentioning for finding affiliate products, in this case, is the Amazon Best Seller list and eBay completed listings.
Both of these resources will share trending products but you can go beyond the product level and use your own judgment into the types of services that may also be requested by the people buying these products.
For example, ‘baby crib’ products are popular at this time on Ebay. However, we can also figure out that people buying these products are probably new parents and may also need additional products or services such as a book on parenting.
These resources are changing on a daily basis so it’s best to look for evergreen products that have lasting power but you could always jump on a trend and make some quick sales if you’re fast to the market.
Part 8: Ride the Trend Wave
Google pools together their analytics and freely shares this information to marketers, like you.
For example, I can see that ‘electronic cigarettes’ continue to grow in popularity but, at this time (of writing), has a little less interest, from the public, than a few months ago.
Perhaps this is related to New Year’s resolution on quitting? I think so. Using the information, I could see that a website around that topic and industry has a lot of potential for the long run since its still growing.
Note: A lot has changed since mentioning e-cigs. Dang, they caught on in a big way!
The one problem with trend spotting is that you never quite know whether a product or service will stay in favor.
People change their minds all the time so you can’t really take trends as the definitive source for your inspiration.
Combine trends with the other tools and you’ll have a better picture as to what products and service to promote with your affiliate business.
Part 9: Don’t Forget Our Good Pal Google
When you’re logged in, you can dig through countless pieces of data related to the keywords you place into the tool.
Using a product, as an example, could show the competition for the term/product, how much advertisers are paying on the Google network, and related keywords (i.e. products/industries) that you could work your way into.
For example, I began taking a look into ‘fish tanks’ and found the overall competition to be difficult yet the interest was extremely high.
It may be a worthwhile market especially since advertisers are paying decent money for ad placement.
Whenever using the keyword tool, set your match type to ‘exact’ to weed out speculative searches; this will give you a more accurate picture of the keyword, products, and services you may be after.
You’ve Done It, You’ve Found the Products That Sell
Well, there you have it.
Over 2,000 words about how to find affiliate products to sell.
There are still countless options for your research which can be done through the actual affiliate marketplaces, individual research, asking friends, watching the news, and other forms but this set of information is more than enough to help you make an intelligent decision on the direction of your affiliate business.
To get the most out of all of this, use a combination of these services and tools when doing your market research.
Don’t rely on your own guesses; get right to the hard data and take hold of your industry.