It’s been a while since Amazon changed the game when it came to buying and selling products online. We’re not just talking about the bookstore-killer’s move into wider e-commerce, but rather how it encouraged a shift from the classical sales model that relied on company employees to generate and convert leads.
That’s right; we’re talking about the Amazon Affiliates program, which saw every blogger and influencer, nay, every internet personality, gain the opportunity to work with the e-commerce giant virtually overnight. Anyone with an audience could use their sway over that audience to make commissions selling Amazon products, and as long as people used their provided link to make the purchase, they’d always get their cut.
Naturally, the Affiliate program did get less profitable overtime, as once Amazon had demonstrated a clear proof of concept, it didn’t need to do as much to entice sellers anymore. If anything, sellers began to flock to Amazon, looking to generate their own links. Despite commission rates being slashed multiple times, the Affiliate program has continued to grow constantly since its inception and today sees billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars pocketed by Affiliates, with some successful websites and key influencers generating sales worth millions of dollars every month.
Affiliates who command such figures usually have a level of talent for making sales that puts them a cut above the rest of the business. Either it’s their credibility, their impartiality, or the sheer breadth and volumes of views they garner, but there’s always a certain factor that allows them to capitalize on their audience and generate sales by the boatload.
Affiliate Review Articles and You | Why reviews matter, and what makes a great review
Affiliate reviews are the most common and straightforward way to “pitch” a product to your readers or viewers. There’s a reason the word “pitch” is in between quotation marks up there since Affiliate reviews aren’t really a direct encouragement to buy a product. No, they have to be a bit more subversive than that, treading the fine line between an honest review and a sales pitch. The reviewer needs to highlight enough strengths in a product to encourage their audience to buy while also not being so blatantly biased that the reader can clearly tell that the reviewer has something to gain from them making a purchase.
Product reviews can prove difficult for many people, and that’s why most will stick to a very specific niche and recommend only certain products within that niche. Some will attempt to space out their affiliate reviews with impartial ones in between them to effectively camouflage their moneymaking articles by embedding them in a stream of continuously flowing content. Others will write deliberately negative reviews for products that compete directly with the product they’re trying to push and include a link to that product at the very end of their article.
These are all good strategies, but before you start trying out the complex stuff, let’s talk about…
The Basics | Writing Style, Quality, and Impartiality
Writing styles are like fingerprints; each one is unique, so comparing isn’t really a fruitful exercise. However, given the very specific nature of what you’re trying to accomplish as an affiliate (i.e., encouraging people to click that link and buy), we can safely assume certain qualities work better, while others can be forgone. For example, did you know that even the pronoun you use has an impact on your audience? When it comes to personal makeup products like mascara or eyeliners, people tend to prefer the “I” pronoun, while when it comes to products that involve a subscription service, or those that have a technology aspect to them, people tend to prefer the “We” pronoun. Using an individual pronoun or a collective pronoun each has benefits depending on the type of product you’re reviewing and the type of content your audience has come to expect from you.
Many minute details gently nudge your reader in the right direction, like the one we just discussed. Another widely known trade-off has to do with using active versus passive voice, where active voice tends to be better at inspiring people to commit to an action you’re trying to get them to do (in this case, clicking the link and then clicking buy). Another clearly beneficial practice is to have clearly worded, convincing calls-to-action embedded naturally into your text.
One of the clearest demonstrations of both of these concepts can be seen on YouTube, but they apply elsewhere as well. If you’ve been on the platform, and you’ve consumed enough content on it, you’ve probably heard the phrase “smash that like button” or “be sure to click the subscribe button” more than a few times. While many people might find that call-to-action a bit annoying, especially once they’ve heard it repeated ad nauseam, the numbers had shown that it does work very well, and people who use phrases like these do see increased viewership compared to a time when they didn’t use them.
So when you’re recommending a product to your readers, be sure to use strong, confident language, and phrase it like a command rather than a request. Telling people that they absolutely NEED to have a particular product in their lives is much better at motivating them to buy than telling them they might like it.
This one is fairly straightforward. Writing quality plays a key role in making you sound like an authority. Minor grammatical errors might not matter much to most of your readers, and the majority probably won’t even notice an isolated error in the first place. But if there’s a problem with every other sentence, a lot of people might just move away from your site before making it to the end of the product review.
While grammar might be an easy fix, especially for people who speak and write in English on a daily, there’s more to quality than just not messing up your syntax. The vocabulary you use also has an impact, and this impact varies with the type of product you’re talking about. It’s generally a bad idea to be too verbose, or to use too much jargon, especially for general-use products that aren’t targeted towards a specific niche.
However, certain products can pair well with densely worded paragraphs, especially those that rely on a cutting-edge scientific concept of some kind. In most cases, though, you’ll want your review article to be as inclusive as possible, and that means making sure it’s readable at a 5th– 7th-grade level (note: this is just a representation of reading complexity and has nothing to do with the actual age or composition of your readers), though those numbers might fluctuate depending on what kind of product you’re selling.
When someone reads through a review on your site, the chances are that the first thing they’re going to try to identify is whether or not your stuff sounds like “sponsored content”. People want to know that the advice they’re getting from you is solid, genuine, and most importantly, experience-based. You can get around this by including a short video review to complement your written one, but since this might not be possible or feasible for everyone, we’d also recommend that you tweak your language to sound unbiased.
Trying to get that hard sell in is fine, especially if your product has the functionality and features to warrant being pushed hard, but if it doesn’t, you’re better off being honest about drawbacks as well. Each product you review might not be a hit with your audience, but on the other hand, if they get a whiff of sponsored material, then chances are you’ll lose them for good. So instead of trying to describe each product like it’s the best thing out there, a better strategy is to just be as honest as possible.
It’s not as if you can’t sugar-coat a little or omit a few facts, but if those omissions become blatant, you’re at greater risk of getting caught. An Affiliate thrives based on their relationship with their community, so your greatest goal should always be to retain your readers’ trust. As your site gains traction, you might even climb search engine rankings to where people looking up reviews on a particular product are led to your site. The article they read will represent the rest of your content and you to them, and even if they don’t buy, you want them to come back the next time they’re shopping for a product that you’ve reviewed.
These three factors collectively form the crux of what makes a good affiliate article, and beyond that, a great affiliate profile. But it’s not as if there aren’t other elements that can boost conversions. These include:
If you’re writing a longer piece and your first draft is just three very long paragraphs, that’s not going to fly on the internet. This isn’t to say longer articles are bad in themselves; it’s just that large blocks of text can look daunting, especially if there’s no segmentation. So give your piece a good look-over, and check if there’s room for you to sprinkle in some formatting.
Are you giving multiple examples of a particular thing at some point? That sounds like the perfect opportunity to make use of a numbered or bulleted list. Multiple points in the same paragraph? Why not break it down so that each point is a separate paragraph. Have you used certain words that you really want the reader to focus on? Embolden, italicize, or underline, as all three are great ways to demand attention. And for those critical places where you’re stressing that something’s a need or a must-have, feel free to just go ALL CAPS. There’s a reason so many Affiliate review articles make use of these formatting practices; because they work.
Anyone who’s been in school at some point in their lives will attest to this, but people really don’t enjoy reading walls of text. Even if you’ve formatted it immaculately, and there’s lots of formatting to go around, if all you’re giving your audience is words, they’re going to get bored and wander off. Wherever there’s room, add in an image, a video, or some other type of rich media. Infographics are a great way to say the same things you’re saying in your text, only with a visual aid. Remember, being able to see what they’re being sold will help drive the sale home, and instead of just saying that something “looks great and has amazing ergonomics” you’ll make more of a point when you show them directly.
Not every site has the option to make its content interactive since most of the time; you’ll require the help of an animator and/or graphic designer. If you have either of those skills, or you already employ someone who’s familiar with them, you might benefit from including interactive elements in your site.
Do you have a promo code that entitles people to a discount? Instead of just leaving it out there amidst the rest of your text, you can have a nifty virtual scratch card (accompanied by a clearly visible “Scratch here for a gift” next to it). Elements like these give the user something to do while on your site, instead of just the usual scroll-and-read that they’re used to, and the fact that they’re doing something to get a reward helps them feel more involved in the process altogether.
Affiliate review articles are highly critical pieces that can help keep you in the black, which means you should always keep looking for ways to improve yours. If you’d rather just skip the hassle, though, we’d be more than happy to help you out. Call now and enquire about our article writing services to find out more.