Working in a competitive industry like ours is not easy; there are hundreds of similar affiliate sites in the same niche, each and every one fighting for the same customer base. So how do you stay ahead in this rat race? In this article we’ll look at how to gain the most from studying your competitors’ methods and explore two key ways to stand out from the crowd.
It doesn’t matter which business you operate in, you will always benefit immensely from studying your competition. Just take a look at the world’s best executives, entrepreneurs, master chefs, athletes or music bands – all of them will study the routines, business ideas and patterns of their opponents.
Affiliates are no exception. But why do we look at competitors? The answer is simple. Because it works a treat! However, you’ll always need to keep in mind that it’s not about copying their ideas, and in our case websites, email content or social media channels. No, it’s about exploring and learning more about their strategies and why these strategies worked for them!
Your ultimate goal as an affiliate should not be to duplicate their ideas but to duplicate their achievement by thinking of how you could take advantage of their approach and evolve it within your chosen niche. But you should not copy it.
RESEARCH WHAT MAKES YOUR COMPETITORS THRIVE AND WHY
The danger of doing this is the human temptation to copy everything your fellow affiliate marketers do. I’ve seen new affiliate sites that are basically almost an identical copy of the merchant site or another affiliate site. Trust me, this is not the long-term answer (plus non-compliant with MoreNiche), as you will always be one step behind your competition and that’s not where you want to be!
Let’s assume that you already have a dedicated website for sports nutrition with a focus on bodybuilding supplements, but traffic and sales are somehow stagnating. All you want is to grow and strengthen your affiliate performance. What can you do?
Analyse the moves of your competition and understand why they made those moves. By doing this you might find lucrative niches and opportunities for sales and traffic generation.
For example, if you discover that a competitor’s site is now offering a monthly generic webinar about ‘Healthy Food Choices for Athletes’, then you could copy the strategy and offer something similar tailored towards your offer. Make it better than theirs and be more specific by offering, let’s say, a bi-weekly webinar about more detailed topics such as ‘Meal Prepping for Bodybuilders’, ‘Vegan Bodybuilding Tips’, ‘Top 5 Bodybuilding Routines of the Month’, and so on.
So rather than just copying their webinar, you should evolve a strategy that will help you to generate more overall engagement and acquire new email addresses that you can use for newsletters and upsells of various products, all of which should lead to an increase in revenue.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS
You’ve got to love social media; it’s one of the best ways to find out what people think about your competitors, their websites and even their products. At MoreNiche, affiliates have a close bond with their affiliate managers, so if you happen to spot anything you feel could be improved on the advertiser’s site that may help both parties to increase their revenue, then get in touch!
Back to your affiliate site. If you see, for example, visitors from a competitor’s site complaining about the usability of the site or the quality of content and research, then ensure that they don’t experience the same on your site. Make sure that your website:
- is easy to navigate
- inspires interest
- adds value to your visitors
- provides original high-quality 10x content that is well-researched
- has social media signs which are regular updated
- provides plenty of features and tools to ensure that your visitors can engage with your site and offering
You can look at what your competition does but always try to improve on their strategy and make yours even better!
DON’T TURN A BLIND EYE TO YOUR COMPETITORS’ BACKLINK PROFILES
As a content marketer you know about the importance of quality backlinks. The more authoritative they are, the better the chance of ranking highly in Google. If you do some research on your fellow affiliates or the advertiser you promote by using tools such as Ahrefs, you can see what type of links leverage their exposure and then use this information to increase your own site authority.
On top of that you can improve your content strategy and identify valuable keywords since you’ll be able to see which content earns most audience interest and links, then you can think about adding similar but better content to your own site.
All the strategies mentioned above will enable you to observe your competition and then help you to do things better.
So now, let’s dive into the scenario of you wanting to build a new site or improve an existing one despite the competition in your niche being high. You wonder how you can stand out. Here are two valuable tips for doing exactly that.
ADDED VALUE IS THE KEY TO SURVIVING LONG-TERM IN OUR AFFILIATE BUSINESS
What do I mean by that? Well, I suggest you provide potential customers who visit your sites with something extra alongside the great product reviews and 10x content etc. This doesn’t need to revolve around a product you promote. I’m thinking more along the lines of top-notch customer service and core values.
Let me showcase an example. Let’s say there are two similar affiliate sites promoting a similar product range in a similar way. At this point it’s difficult to know which site the visitor will purchase from.
However, if you add something extra to yours such as instant customer service, then this immediately makes your affiliate site stand out. And this might be the turning point in building that relationship with the visitor who will then buy from your site.
So what could you do to add extra value?
There are plenty of options to provide special service, but I think instant customer service support is the best starting point for affiliates looking to stand out from the crowd in 2017. This will create an impression that lasts and customers will return to your site over and over again.
1. Amazing Customer Service
You may think “but that’s the job of the advertiser”. No, not by a long shot. You each share the responsibility, since the ultimate goal for both of you is to turn visitors into buyers! If your visitor is happy, you and the advertiser will be happy as you’ll both have dollars in your pockets.
Offering the potential customer instant interaction will improve the overall visitor experience and encourage them to buy through your website. After speaking to Rui, our conversion rate specialist, I would really advise you to look into chat options for your affiliate sites.
Tests have shown that these significantly increase the conversion rate for our advertisers (by approximately 32%) on mobile and desktop. But I also feel this is a massive opportunity for affiliates to add extra value and make more money!
Listed below are some paid and free plans.
Some tips on using chat: Don’t be robotic, be natural and friendly. Train yourself or the team on how best to deal with visitor queries. There is plenty of advice on the web – it’s not as difficult as you may think. Focus on delivering the right solution to visitors and try to answer straight away. If you don’t know the answer, know where to find the answer or someone who can help.
Turn the chat on whenever you work on your sites or are on the computer and even if you’re not, customers can still leave a message and you can get back to them. I personally love the chat functionality and use it way more often than contact forms. Of course, different customers prefer different channels, so just make sure you are where your potential customers are.
2. Strong Brand/Core Values
In this day and age we regularly read about companies’ core values and mission statements on their websites. But what are core values in the first place? Why do they seem to be so important nowadays? Let’s dig a bit deeper and discover what MoreNiche’s core values are, and why you should have some too!
In my opinion, core values support a vision and are the essence of a company’s identity. They can help people to make decisions on what is right or wrong and show them how to behave in certain circumstances. At the same time, they can help companies to stay on their chosen paths to fulfil internal and external business goals and increase trust.
It doesn’t matter if you own a big company or if you run a smaller affiliate business, I think everyone should determine their own core values. Core values are like lighthouses: they offer orientation, for both employers and consumers.
For years we have urged our affiliates to build brands around their sites and those brands should also display what they stand for. As an affiliate, you should orientate each aspect of your business towards adding special value for your visitors. Ensure they can see that your core values are aimed at visitor satisfaction throughout your site.
Let’s have a look at MoreNiche’s core values. With the help of all our employees we have chosen three core values which we believe represent MoreNiche as a whole.
Make Your Values Mean Something
At MoreNiche we don’t ask employees to memorise these core values, instead we want them to be embodied in their personalities and in everyday life. It’s important to us that our values are lived and breathed, as they are more than just wall art in our offices.
It’s our way to conduct business; we want our affiliates and advertisers to feel that they get the best out of everything by working with us! You should have exactly the same goal, but targeted towards your visitors.
Think about what your core values are and write them down – they could be for example:
- Delivering WOW through service
- Building honest relationships with website visitors
- Educating your visitors with uncompromised integrity
To be completely honest, I was sceptical at first about listing core values as I have seen too many companies who boast about them on their site but don’t actually uphold them. Having said that, since implementing ours, it’s fair to say each and every one of MoreNiche’s team lives, breathes and believes in them 110%.
It’s amazing to see the change, as every decision is based around them and this is very empowering. Therefore, based on our own experience, I feel it’s something that affiliate sites could take advantage of too. By displaying your core values on your sites, you’ll add extra value, and build up trust and credibility with your visitors!
By implementing added value such as instant customer support and core values which I haven’t seen yet on many affiliate sites, I feel affiliates will be able to stand out from the competition in 2017. Therefore, what I’m suggesting is to review the affiliate sites that inspire you, analyse why you like them and why they are successful, and then inspire yourself to produce something even better. Better for customers and better for yourself!
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic, so please comment below.