What are the best ways to do YouTube affiliate marketing?
OCTOBER 04, 2022 | USE CASES
Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine? With over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, it’s also an enormous pool of active users looking to consume content that adds value to them. If that’s got your marketing senses tingling, you’re not alone. YouTube affiliate marketing has almost boundless potential – here’s how to seize the opportunity.
What is YouTube affiliate marketing?
YouTube affiliate marketing is about promoting others’ products to an engaged audience and then earning commission off any purchase they may. Very occasionally, you may make commission instead off anyone who clicks through to that product instead.
YouTube could almost have been tailor-made for affiliate marketers to grow fast. Research consistently shows that we respond far better to advertising that is natively woven into value-adding content than to be directly advertized to. It’s a platform that lends itself to an audience who feel a genuine connection to content creators – almost as if they know them – and where people come to watch videos by both people like themselves and leading names in their particular niche. In some ways, it’s the benefits of old-fashioned celebrity (albeit in its own eco-system) with the added plus of modern social-media-style perceived closeness.
How can you make engaging affiliate video content?
Now comes the tricky part. As we know, consumers don’t want to be blatantly sold to without any particular value for them involved. They need to feel they are getting something from the video content, whether that’s information, education or entertainment.
Now, your tactics will be split somewhat depending on whether you’re advertising in an area in which you’re an authority, or if you’re advertising in an area with which you’re less familiar. We’ll explain this in just a moment, but first some hard-and-fast rules for your video content:
Be human: Few and far between are the YouTubers who can build a strong following without showing a face. Add human detail – record in a relatable or appropriate setting (e.g. even if you’re a business promoting apparel, doing a clothing haul with a ‘house’/domestic background immediately makes you look more relatable and less corporate).
Get to the point: Don’t be afraid to re-record if you find you’re rambling. How many of us have abandoned a video after a multiple-minute pre-introduction leading to the actual introduction?
Build relationships: We cannot emphasize enough how engagement is more important than simply growing the number of your subscribers, and even small followings can be hugely profitable if they are incentivized to act. We’ll cover this more later, but for now, suffice it to say that you need to keep your audience involved. Ask questions and encourage comments in your videos (“share your hack for X below”/”tell everyone which of A and B was your favorite in the comments below”) and take the time to reply, hold conversations and boost discussions. It’ll help people to feel they know – and trust – you and to guide discussion along brand-friendly tracks.
Be authentic: If you want to be in affiliate marketing on YouTube for the long term, do not try to jump some steps. If you say you’ve used a product, use it! Use it even for just a week, but you can then immediately help to establish trust with the simple proof of saying ‘I used X for Y weeks and this is what I found’. If not, sooner or later, someone will catch out inconsistencies, particularly in a world where we’re spread across multiple platforms and produce a never-ending stream of content.
With this in mind, let’s now look at how to succeed at YouTube affiliate marketing whether you’re an expert in your affiliate niche or not.
Creating engaging content in areas where you are an authority
Let’s start with your tactics if you are an authority in a particular area. Perhaps you’re promoting offers in the audio technology space, and you’re something of an audio tech nut yourself. This means you’re in a strong position to build your audience through content that really pulls out this expertise, and often seemingly incidentally weaves in the products related to your YouTube affiliate marketing.
In this case, you can start to build up your following with sector-adjacent videos: use your existing knowledge to create guides, trouble-shooting videos and how-tos – all things that demonstrate to your audience that you know your stuff in this space.
Among these, you can also start creating offer-specific videos, such as using your expertise to produce trustworthy reviews that your audience, trained to consider you an expert, will take note of. ‘Best of’ videos are another way to tap into your authority, as are vlogs in which you ‘product place’ whatever it is that you’re promoting, demonstrating to your audience that you as an expert use this product in your day-to-day life.
Essentially, your key here is to be able to firstly build up trust of your authority among your audience, and secondly to channel that authority into product recommendations and uses. As we explored in our social proof article, we have a tendency to act as if others make better decisions than we do ourselves, and that is only magnified as an expert reviewer. Thirdly, by mixing that authority with the human touch of YouTube through items like vlogs, you turn yourself into a knowledgeable yet approachable figure: one to be trusted.
Creating engaging content in areas where you are not an authority
This can be the more difficult part of YouTube affiliate marketing, but there are plenty of ways to own it!
As we’ve discussed, one of the big advantages of any form of video marketing is the relatable angle, and this is one you can really lean into.
Unboxing videos and hauls, for instance, can have you show your products on offer – possibly among others to reduce the salesy impact – and give you a chance to demonstrate them from a ‘one of us’ perspective, as a genuine user.
Product reviews, too, are still fully doable, but you could also introduce product comparisons where, again, you as a normal user have used a slew of similar products for a period of time and give your opinion on them.
Think also of lifestyle videos: the ‘homespun’ how-tos, the personal ‘before and afters’ for fitness products, vlogs with product placement, and so on.
So here, your key is to build on the idea that you are someone like your audience, someone relatable, and to show rather than just tell. You might not be the authority figure who can convince people with a barrage of specs, but you can demonstrate a product’s value in your life, how you use it, your opinion compared to others on the market, and get yourself conversions that way.
How can you make videos grow and convert?
There’s no one sure-fire method for this, but there certainly are some ‘musts’ to put in place.
First up, think about how you get people to your video. On the organic side of things, are your headlines optimized for search? Does your description contain keywords? If it doesn’t, it’s time to start researching. Make sure you’re targeting keywords with product intent (often branded ones or long-tail ‘best XYZ’) and keywords that are product-adjacent (to capture people interested in the sector and open to purchase, but who may not yet have considered your specific solution).
Secondly, what impression does your video give in search? Thumbnails are surprisingly big business (we’re not joking – you can find small-time freelance designers who literally make a living off thumbnails and other graphics for YouTube). Think of a list of search results full of dull video screenshots, and then throw in a bright thumbnail with an eye-catching headline – which would click on?
Quick tip: if you have well performing videos that have been on your channel for some time, but you don’t yet have time to update anything, add the current year into the thumbnail to give a reminder of relevancy.
Thirdly, where else are you driving traffic from? If you have your own blog, by all means embed your videos and create related articles around them. Even if you end up driving in a circular around your blog, videos and back to a landing page for purchase, if the video helps to push them down the funnel, then it’s a success.
Likewise, don’t forget about outreach. Are there Facebook or Telegram groups your videos could be features in, or other people’s blogs? Hesitancy is the death of opportunity in e-commerce, so always try where you see the opportunity.
Fourthly, how are you actually getting your audience through to the conversion page? This is the purpose of your entire YouTube affiliate marketing plan, after all.
On YouTube, you can add links to the end cards in your video, although they have to go to something like a blog rather than immediate purchase. You can cleverly combine these with a background graphic design to fully grab attention.
Always include them too in the description – and if you’re doing some kind of a product related video, make it easy and include the time-stamps to match the links to the right products. You want your audience to feel you’re helping them, not overtly selling to them.
Don’t forget either about pinned comments: if people scroll straight past the description and don’t make it to the end-screen, they may well still make it to the comments. This is where the advantage of having built a community comes in. If you comment and pin that comment containing your affiliate links, take the chance to ask your audience questions too, and engage with them in the ensuing thread. Keep activity on your affiliate link post to keep people watching and interacting with it.
Are you ready to start YouTube affiliate marketing?
And that’s it for our quick guide to turbo-charging your affiliate business through the unique opportunity of YouTube content. For the most successful affiliate companies, it can be a game-changer, but perhaps the most important thing to retain is that they never keep their eggs in one basket. A strong YouTube presence is one marketing channel – but if you’re going to meet your audience in every part of the internet where they’re present, you need to have social accounts, ad accounts and more. Discover more about running multiple accounts, and how you can boost your business further than ever, in our dedicated affiliate marketing use case page.