I read an article the other day that outlined an experiment about people’s ability to show self-control when it comes to instant gratification.

This particular study looked at 600 4-year-old children and their ability to delay eating a marshmallow in order to receive two. It is a test of emotional maturity and one that tests a person’s ability to control their impulses in order to benefit in the long term.

The more and more I think about this, the more relevant it is to affiliates long-term successes. Let me explain why.

Many affiliates only think about the first sale from a visitor, but if you can keep that visitor coming back month after month, the long term value of that visitor is expediently higher than the commission you make from one sale.

So how do you pass the marshmallow test?

Your visitors either have to come back to your website on a regular basis, or you have to have the means of getting in front of them; ideally both.

Be sticky!

We all know the benefits of having a sticky site that visitors want to return to on a regular basis, but how do you make it sticky?


Make it Professional and Attractive

Unfortunately in life, people judge. This is no different when it comes to websites. A site that has a professional look will help to establish trust and credibility with the visitor; this, in turn, will convert more of them into buyers. However, a professional website shouldn’t mean a website with no personality.

Make it attractive enough to catch their attention and always have your target market in mind. Ask yourself, or even better, someone from your target market, if the design and layout make them want to browse through.


Don’t Forget the Basics

Your visitors shouldn’t have to think “how do I get back to the previous page”. They will feel they are wasting their time and leave. Clear next page and previous page buttons, as well as home page buttons, should be important to anyone wanting to build a sticky website. Make your visitors life as easy as possible and they will thank you for it, by returning.


Make It Clear What You Are Offering

Be clear on your website’s objective and let your visitor know what that is. When a visitor lands on your site, they should be able to see within a few seconds what you can offer them. This can be done by having clear banners or call to actions in the right places of your website. Study usability and this will give you a huge advantage with this.

For example, eye maps have shown that a website visitor is drawn to images of people, with people focusing on their face and eyes first. It also shows that they glance in the direction in which the person in the image is looking. Use this knowledge to your advantage and ensure your website visitors see what you want them to in seconds.



An interactive site can get sticky quickly. Make sure your visitors can leave comments – you could get one comment that sparks many others to comment. Ensure your social buttons are in plain sight and use poll questions and discussion boards to keep people entertained.


Be Different

Your visitor will have no doubt been on other websites looking for the answers to their questions which they have not found, until now. Acknowledge that they may have brought products in the past that haven’t worked, tell them why yours will and educate them as to why it will work and why others haven’t. Educate your visitors and you will gain their trust.

Be at the forefront of their mind.

The key to this is reminding your users that you are still there. The average user visits hundreds of website a month and you are easily forgotten. You’re planning the long game here or passing the marshmallow test if you like. It’s unlikely they will rush and buy something from you as soon as they see a Facebook post, but when they are ready to buy, they will remember your website and hopefully purchase through you once more.


Email List

I know this is easier said than done, but you have to make it worth their while.

Offer them a free download of something useful; a 10-day step by step low carb diet plan for example, or a guide that includes 5 exercises for people with a bad back. Both of these wouldn’t take you very long to put together (you could, of course, outsource them) but they will give you ongoing remarketing potential.


Be Social – But Only if You Are Social

90% of marketing companies will tell you to get on social media, but you have to have the right site and content to do this otherwise it will fall flat on its face. So be selective. Rather than creating an account on every social media network around, think about which one or two your customers are using or how they like to communicate. An extreme example to make my point, but if you are pushing arthritis supplements on your site, I doubt your target market is on Jelly, so don’t waste your time.

I mentioned it earlier, but it’s worth repeating: make sure when on your website, your visitors can easily find your social channels and be sure to use the correct ones. Do you want users to share your webpage on their Facebook page or to like your Facebook page? I would suggest the latter in this case, so make sure you are using the correct plugin.


So the question is, can you pass the marshmallow test to become a successful long-term affiliate or do you have the willpower of most 4-year-olds?