When it comes to great examples of HOW-TO’s, DO’s and DON’T’s, there is nothing that comes more in handy than real life stories. With this story and the ones to follow, we are starting part of a series, illustrating bits and parts from the online life of a successful affiliate.

DAY 1, 12:00 a.m.

Tom’s Love from the first click: His love affair with web hosting

Tom has had his information site for a long time, where except for interesting articles, describing the places he visited, he also had a few banners promoting the travel agencies he used for his travels. He was doing quite well, but was also thinking about exploring other niches, when one day his hosting provider got in touch with him, offering to start promoting their services and for a very good commission, too! Tom had never been affiliated to a hosting company before but he was happy with his web hosting service so far, so he decided to try and place their banner above the footer of his site.

At that moment, he was just testing. He wanted to see if the hosting sells by itself. Well, obviously, he wasn’t on the right track. His sales figures were far less than the ones he had from that great travel agency, which he was also promoting online.

And then, he remembered what his ex-manager once said, “if you want to be successful in selling any product or service, you’ve got to believe in its value”.

Did he believe in it? Well, he wasn’t quite sure. Tom also wasn’t sure whether he promoted it to the right people. In fact, Tom wasn’t sure of anything, except that hosting, in terms of affiliation, is one of the highest paying programs.

So what was the difference? What made him sell the travel services better?

Well, first of all he’d used the travel services more than a few times and each time the service exceeded his expectations. He knew that he could count on the agency whenever, whatsoever. Even when he lost that luggage on the way back from Bali, or when he had to switch hotels at the last minute on the business trip to Austria. But Tom also knew the company well, he knew most types of vacation packages offered (or at least the ones which were interesting to him), and was the first to know about any new service offered by them (or at least they made him believe so).

And right then, Tom realized one of the basic facts about affiliate marketing: “You’ve got to believe in the value of the product/service you are selling, even better – to have experienced it and what’s even better – to love it.”

Tom wanted to get to know the product, not the handshake way but the ‘we are friends way’. He read the blog, got acquainted with the product’s features, analyzed the different hosting plans offered and knew the prices by heart. He started asking questions about the service itself, talked to the affiliate manager and had the opportunity to really test the service.

Tom wanted to also research the competition and popped the question: What would make me choose one hosting company over another? He examined the pros and cons of other companies in this highly saturated industry, and realized most of them promoted their unlimited bandwidth and space. But what did his hosting company offer apart from the usual stuff?

The hosting company was good in the provision of customer care. He knew that whenever he had trouble installing/pre-installing a new script to his site -the hosting guys would be there, if there were any updates he had to make, or plug-ins to install, they would be there, even if he did something incredibly stupid, as he was not so tech savvy – they would be there to fix it, even it means restoring a backup copy of his site – something they saved on a daily basis.

Customer care – that was a good place to start, when recommending the hosting services of that company.

DAY 6, 13:00 p.m.

Conversation matters: Conversation before conversion

Tom’s site covered various topics on lifestyle, new software and events, and he knew his audience was mainly young and curious about new technologies. He had been using various web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics not only to measure his site traffic but also more deeply understand his audience and conduct marketing research. Google AdWords Keyword Planner helped him get a glimpse of future keyword trends and approach the specific areas of interest for his visitors. He started engaging more with his audience, and asking them different questions through e-mail and online surveys to make sure, he gave them the quality they deserved.

Being relatively new to the web hosting niche in affiliate marketing, Tom began to turn more often to his affiliate manager for promotional tips and advice. After all, these are the people who would know best how to market their product across various channels.

To measure his progress, Tom also started to talk to the affiliate team of the hosting company. He started turning to them for advice on promotions on his site and they would readily provide him with custom solutions to help him in delivering a more personal approach to his site visitors. They helped him craft creative banners, which were more relevant to the young and curious minds of his visitors.

Becoming an affiliate for an industry completely new to him, turned out to be challenge for Tom – a challenge well worth the try.

DAY 10, 11:00 a.m.

Tom’s note to remember

So, by the end of Day 10, he wrote a Note to Remember:

1. Get to know your product/service and the value it brings: Or in other words, don’t promote anything that you don’t think is awesome. After all, it is your opinion that matters.

2. Know your audience and be loyal to it: Think about your audience and whom you serve. Offer them what you believe is interesting or trending topic right now. Do not burn the customer because you are promoting something that is not really good or interesting to them, but the commission is tempting. Don’t get greedy over honesty.

3.  Talk to the merchants: They are your partners and want you to be good. They will support you with helpful tips and tricks on making your site. If you find something missing in their stash of tools – you can simply suggest it to them.

The Result: By day 28, Tom’s sales from the hosting company had increased by 23%, and it was all because of a few simple realizations he reminded himself about and the actions he took after.

So, what did Tom actually do? We’ll see next! Stay tuned!