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Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 (What Experts Say)

March 10, 2020

17 Min Read
Affiliate-Marketing-Mistakes

We’ve got another expert advice rollout from some of the top affiliate experts in the industry. These affiliate experts are founders, business partners, and marketers – hence the ideas you’re about to uncover originate from the chief brains behind the result-oriented marketing strategies.

According to these experts, some of the best practices of affiliate marketing that marketers should adopt in 2020 include:

  • Focus on a specific niche audience
  • Building quality links that actually add value
  • Using targeted advertising to ensure that the right audience receives information about the product/service you’re promoting

Now, it is time to check out some of the most important affiliate marketing mistakes that these affiliate marketing influencers want newbies to avoid in 2020, include:

  • Not adapting to the changes like catering to google voice searches
  • Publishing low-quality content that does not add value to the audience
  • Hard-selling products/services to customers before building a long-term relationship

All they want is to make the new and aspiring affiliate marketers avoid these mistakes and adapt to the changing ecosystem of affiliate marketing.

Here’s a representation of what these experts believe will propel affiliate marketing and promotion this year.

Affiliate Marketing Mistakes In 2020

Without further ado, let’s dive right in and find out what these industry experts have to say about common affiliate marketing mistakes.

Experts Opinion: Three Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

James Canzanella

Founder, IM Nights.

Three things that won’t work when it comes to affiliate marketing would be promoting any type of offer, a lack of targeting, and lastly a lack of landing pages

First of all, the offer is everything when it comes to affiliate marketing and you need to make sure that you cherry-pick offers that properly set you up for success. When I first started affiliate marketing online, I thought I would never succeed, and that’s simply because I was recommending an offer that was never going to convert. So promoting anything under the sun just isn’t going to work.

Next, targeting is huge when it comes to affiliate marketing. Who are you targeting? What are their deepest fears? What do they want? What keeps them up at night staring at the ceiling? These are the types of questions that you need to know the answers to whenever you’re creating any type of affiliate marketing related content. When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one specifically.

Lastly, many of the top affiliate offers are becoming more competitive, where you just won’t be able to compete without offering some type of bonus. This is where landing pages come in and allow you to make more sales and increase your conversions. So if you want to compete when it comes to higher converting offers, utilize landing pages bonuses. If you want to get the edge when it comes to offers that aren’t as competitive, utilize landing pages for bonuses.

Michael Anderson

Founder at Passport Explored.

One affiliate marketing idea that won’t work in 2020 is to aimlessly leave affiliate links throughout your website and hope that your audience will use them to purchase something.

The reason this doesn’t work is that users won’t click on or purchase anything from an affiliate link unless they’re guided along the process by the webmaster.

Instead of inserting as many affiliate links as possible, it’s much better to use a limited number of affiliate links contextually within articles. This way, it seems natural when your reader sees an affiliate link. Additionally, you have the opportunity to tell the reader why they will benefit from using your affiliate link.

Overall, leaving a large number of affiliate links throughout a website will not work in 2020. Instead, a webmaster must strategically place affiliate links within the content and work towards guiding the reader towards making a purchase.

Becky Beach

Affiliate Marketer and Business Blogger at Mom Beach.

Simply putting a link in your content for an affiliate will no longer work. You need to sell the product to your audience. Why would they need this product? How can it solve their problems?

Another affiliate marketing idea that will no longer work is, using hashtags on Facebook to promote your affiliate marketing post. Using hashtags on Facebook posts lowers their visibility and may be marked as spam.

If you refuse to get into the video to promote your affiliate marketing, then you are making a huge mistake. Video is a big medium right now and will only get more popular in 2020. You are leaving money on the table if you choose not to use video.

Jake Hay

Partner and Head of Development at PopShorts.

Having too many affiliate links associated with one influencer is not going to work this year. In 2020, quality over quantity is important.

It is important to make sure an affiliate aligns well with your brand and makes sense, and they are not just auto-approved without being reviewed.

Only promoting affiliate links on one platform: Sharing links across multiple platforms allows for a wider reach because each social platform reaches different segments of an influencer’s audience.

Not informing affiliates about brand messages and product information will not work in 2020: An educated affiliate is the one a company can rely on to promote a product or service with conviction.

Earn at your own pace.

Refer customers and set up your passive income stream

Alexandra Cote

B2B Digital Marketer, Content Writer, and Strategist at Alexandra M. Cote.

Relying solely on your blog: While many affiliate marketers are happy doing blog posts like reviews or lists to promote their links, video creators and Instagram influencers are gaining more traction from visual content they put together. More and more people are moving away from written content so to maintain a sustainable affiliate marketing strategy, you need to tap into other channels as well.

Not running tests: It’s easy to just put a few words on your product and some images in an affiliate marketplace, but you also need to optimize them.

Change your image files every once in a while. Do something different. Maybe provide an ebook or even a pitching template and suggestions for ad placement.

Creating low quality-content: If you give bad content, you’ll likely also get low-quality content in return. Put your top effort into the content you provide to your affiliates. Also, remember that you’re not writing for search engines anymore. You write for real humans who want clear explanations, benefits, and tips.

Sean Clancy

SEO Director at Edge Marketing.

One of the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes is putting all your eggs on one micro-niche.

Meanwhile discovering untapped markets was a great way in years gone by, there is no idea or market that is undiscovered in 2020.

Testing out a few niches is a better bet. You can establish within a few months which test is performing the best, then switch your efforts to that.

William Taylor

Career Development Manager at Velvet Jobs.

He believes that affiliate marketing will no longer be restricted to having a blog or website. This means affiliates will be able to use social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, exclusively, to promote their affiliate offers.

On the other hand, the content-related collaboration will become even more popular, pushing bloggers and other content marketers to the forefront.

Moreover, the traditional tracking technologies will become obsolete, which means affiliates won’t need to ’embed’ tracking codes or add affiliate links.

Lydia Andresen

Analyst – Organic Search at Augurian.

Something I see far too often in the influencer space is a cadence of sponsored content that is too frequent. The influencer marketing space is becoming more and more saturated, and followers are becoming much less likely to convert on content that seems inauthentic. It may be tempting to take every brand deal that’s offered, but influencers should think long term about their brand and focus on relationships with brands that they genuinely love.

Sending impersonal emails to gain backlinks may have been the best practice when blogging became popular, but today blogs receive hundreds of inquiries about linking to brands. Sending mass emails to all of the blogs in the industry won’t work as well moving forward. Brands are much better off-putting in the extra work to build close relationships with a few relevant blogs.

Big influencers will no longer be worth the cost in 2020.

Their demographic is often too broad, and the audience that a brand is trying to reach may only make up a small percentage of their following. For the same cost of a mega influencer, a brand could afford several micro-influencers. Smaller influencers are more affordable, and have more engaged followers, so a brand may see fewer overall impressions, but an increase in relevant Impressions.

Sarah Donawerth

Social Media & Content Manager at Carro.

Offering a measly percentage: You should do the research to make sure that you are offering competitive rates in the affiliate space. If an influencer can go somewhere else for 12% commission, then none of the good influencers are going to accept 6% from you.

Working with random influencers: The potential for affiliates abusing your network is higher than ever before, with black hat tactics running rampant.

If you are working with affiliates and influencers, make sure that you see what they are posting and know where they intend to promote your brand. This is easiest if you build a relationship with them and know about the influencers you work with.

Hoping that the program runs itself: There are many affiliate programs that are set up and left to rot. You should be sending out newsletters at least monthly, as well as offering bonuses, promotions, and other offers to keep your affiliates engaged with your program.

Maksym Babych

CEO, SpdLoad.

Provide the lowest price: No one wants to work with brands that offer the lowest price to their affiliates. People want to get value from affiliates and brands.

Work without training and onboarding materials: People want convenience and comfort when buying a product or a service from an affiliate. The selling process should be easy. To ensure convenience for your buyers, you must have excellent documentation.

Lack of a clear USP: There are many offers available in the market. The affiliate marketers of today will choose those who are easiest to sell. Do note that companies that do not have a clear mission, value and USP will not be able to build a partnership sales strategy.

Jenna Alburger

Cofounder / Marketing Strategist at Outlier Creative.

Less is more: Trying to manage a large team of affiliates can be a challenge. It’s better to select a few partners who can contribute to your brand in an impactful way.

Look for affiliates with a highly engaged audience. A small, highly-engaged audience is better than a large, disengaged audience.

Insisting on having much control over the message: It’s important for brands to have some level of control over how their brand is being promoted. But, too much control can backfire. In 2020, authenticity is what will move the needle, and an overly-scripted message just won’t work. Instead, partner with affiliates who you can trust to take a few creative liberties to keep it personal.

Advertising with an affiliate just once: Frequency is often overlooked in affiliate marketing. Advertising too much (or too little) with a particular affiliate can hurt your chances of success. The frequency will depend on the platform/channel, but you’ll definitely need to advertise more than once.

Paige Arnof-Fenn

Founder & CEO Mavens & Moguls.

I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago. Affiliate marketing is very popular, but because the barriers to entry are so low there is a lot of competition in every category. It can be daunting to choose which products to sell this way.

When you work with the large affiliate partners you have no control over the commissions or pricing either.

Plus there is not a lot of support so basically the low hanging fruit has been picked, hence you have to do a lot of research and really understand your market to be successful.

In 2020 the biggest difference I see is the increased use of voice search and mobile-friendly content being more important than ever before. If you have not incorporated voice or mobile into your affiliate marketing plans, you will pay the price and get left behind.

Kathy Haan

Business Analyst at Fit Small Business.

Spamming your followers: You need to give more than you ask. Provide value regularly to your audience, and they’re more likely to buy when you offer something.

Not providing value with the affiliate sale: People aren’t likely to buy a product using your affiliate link if you’re just link-dropping. Whether it’s a high-ticket item or low-ticket item, you’ve got to incentivize them to click your link.

For example, let’s say you’re promoting a software program that has a monthly subscription. You can create a Facebook Group with live monthly training for everyone who uses your affiliate link. This training can help them step up their game with that software. Or, if it’s a high ticket, you can set up group coaching calls or invite them to a live event (like a mastermind or retreat).

It’s important to keep your overhead as low as possible. I’m a big fan of online events versus in-person unless you’re already putting on an in-person event.*

Not building connections before asking for a sale:

You don’t need a huge list to make a killer income as an affiliate marketer. You do, however, need to genuinely care about other people.

You can win affiliate competitions by personal outreach to a small list. If you’re regularly in touch with these people, they’re more likely to buy what you recommend.

For context: I was ranked #7 in a high-ticket affiliate competition for a $3,000 online program with just 1,200 people on my email list at the time. In the end, I sold 21 of these $3,000 programs.

Dylan John

Founder of Funnel Ways.

Affiliate Marketing is a simple yet difficult business model, and that’s why so many aspiring affiliates fail. There’s no barrier to entry which creates a lot of competition, so you need to avoid these crucial mistakes to succeed!

The first one is not actively building an email list. Having a strong relationship with your customers is important, and this is the best way to build trust and an asset at the same time.

Secondly, direct linking without warming up the audience is a horrible idea!

If you can create a killer bridge page to help bring the customers from where they are to where they want to be, they’ll be much more likely to purchase that product.

Another idea that I’d avoid is promoting products that aren’t reputable! Choosing a great network and product to promote is a huge piece of the puzzle. You want to make sure the offer converts. With too many reviews out there now, selling cruddy products just doesn’t work! You need to work with reputable, trustworthy vendors.

Andrew Taylor

Director at Net Law Man.

Over the years, I have developed quite an interest in affiliate marketing and as such, feel that as I have followed trends, developmental updates and legality changes that I have some weight behind my insights and opinions.

Competition is now strong. People who are eager to start with an affiliate program will find that they need to hit the ground running and are able to do so with the vast amount of support and supplies that are available. Therefore, you need to stay ahead of the game by ensuring that your website is sleek, well set out and fast to load. Good quality content no longer works as it once did.

It’s getting seriously hard to rank in Google organically these days. Some affiliate marketers and businesses alike feel like they will never be able to make it to the first page on Google. Good content and great SEO just can’t cut it for 2020. Believe me, I’ve been trying for years. It’s time for a new strategy. Check out podcasts.

Kevin Rodrigues

Founder of Gardening Mentor.

Being an entrepreneur, I have been working with an affiliate marketing business for two years. There are many things that have changed and may no longer work for this type of business.

Gathering poor quality links will no longer work in 2020. This includes links from blog comments, forums, and low DA websites. Google puts a strong emphasis on relevant and high-quality backlinks, thanks to the recent search engine algorithm updates.

The use of PBNs to build links and improve rankings in Google will not work in 2020.

I believe Google is going to bring in more updates that would make it harder to get away with such methods for affiliate websites.

Poor quality websites will not be able to compete in affiliate marketing in 2020. This includes the quality and intent of the written articles, as well as the site structure. Having an SSL connection as well as a fast website will be one of the major ranking factors in Google.

William Chin Web

Consultant at My Wife Quit Her Job.

A complete picture of the conversion funnel for business intelligence: The conversion funnel for affiliate marketing is already tough enough. Layer in the fact that GDPR (Circa 2018) and CCPA (Circa 2020) have rocked the boat already. What data we can collect, and how we may analyze the data for conversions that might not potentially pass any data. This makes it extremely hard to pin-point where your conversions are coming from and therefore, makes it more difficult to optimize your campaign. Server-to-server tracking is still prevalent in the industry, but I wonder for how much longer. With the end of 2020, we might begin to see a more Cookie-Less internet.

Ghostwriting (without an editor): Google has changed the game by amplifying the weight of the E-A-T factor when it comes to ranking.

The content that you produce must add value for the reader, the brand, and written by someone with the authority and credentials to back up their claims. If you decide to run a blog and publish dozens of articles to generate some affiliate revenue, think again. Never fear though – if you have an editor who has a legion of ghostwriters, but still commits content – that will still work for now. Just ensure that the content is posted under that editor’s name!

Coupon Codes: Currently, these are still very powerful tools (especially exclusive site coupons) however – loyalty/cashback programs like Rakuten and Honey are making it extremely difficult to attribute conversions to the affiliate marketer. With more and more users switching to these reward-incentive programs, coupon codes will lose their conversion prowess.

Tyler Horvath

Founder of Solepreneur Institute.

I have managed to make 7-figure income through affiliate marketing. Here are 3 ideas that will not work in 2020 when it comes to affiliate marketing:

Ranking bad content: To make money with SEO and affiliate marketing, you will need to build informative content that answers readers’ questions.

Google is cracking down on the top/best list that doesn’t provide value to the searcher. Create real content, and your affiliate content will rank well in Google in 2020.

Using Amazon only: Amazon has relatively low commission payouts as compared to other affiliate networks. Instead of using Amazon only, promote other similar products from other affiliate networks.

Thinking it will be easy: In 2020, affiliate marketing will become more challenging than ever. You have a lot of competition when it comes to advertising and even ranking on Google. To be successful in 2020, you will need to write quality content and attract loyal visitors who will return often.

Norhanie Pangulima

Outreach Consultant at Centriq.

Affiliate marketing is a popular marketing strategy. 81% of marketers and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing.

SOURCE: 99 Firms

It has been around for a while now, but it is constantly evolving. Meanwhile, affiliate marketing is here to stay, the practices are changing and some of them are now outdated. Here are three outdated affiliate marketing practices that will no longer work in 2020.

Sponsored Product Reviews: Product reviews used to hold a large influence in the market, however, consumers today are increasingly becoming smarter when it comes to reviews – because of the emergence of fake reviews. In fact, 74% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year.

SOURCE: Bright Local.

As a result, the confidence of people when it comes to reviews is low. Now, consumers are also wary of sponsored reviews due to the bias that brands and affiliate marketers show, that might come from being paid to get the review.

Quantity-based affiliates: Previously, affiliate marketing was all about getting your products visible on as many websites as possible. Now that Google has given special attention to the SEO practices, the conversions through affiliate marketing work best if the affiliate links in the websites directly related to your niche. In short, fewer links for related niches are better than a lot of links for unrelated websites. Quality rules over quantity.

Hard push in email marketing: In 2019, the number of email users amounted to 3.9 billion and this number is expected to grow to 4.3 billion in 2023.

SOURCE: Oberlo.

This makes people a lot more accessible to email marketers, however, putting affiliate links in all emails sent to consumers is getting outdated. This is because people nowadays are more concerned about the value that the email can add to their lives more than ever. Pushing hard to sell in every email would just make the recipients annoyed.

Ronald D’Souza

Founder of Angel Jackets.

Bridge Pages— Bridge pages are created to capture traffic and divert it to an external affiliate offer. It has no audience activity, very little content, and no real social interaction. Users just visit for a few seconds, click a link, and go away. Therefore it does not provide any value and may lose ranking due to Google’s new algorithm.

Always Looking for Expensive Products— You can earn more with expensive products but don’t assume that your audience always wants the most expensive or the cheapest option, therefore promote products of the different price ranges.

Quantity Over Quality— This won’t work anymore, focus on writing high-quality content that solves problems rather than writing too much just for the sake of fitting in more links.

Adam Hempenstall

CEO and Founder, Better Proposals.

Joining every affiliate program there is: The best affiliate marketers have a niche where they excel, and a target audience that they know how to sell to. If you branch out too wide, you’re not going to be as successful as you would be, when you focus on a single niche and target audience.

Chasing the next big thing: There are tons of new products and services launched every day. If something new and shiny comes up, and you want to make money with affiliate marketing, don’t drop everything you’re doing and chase that new thing.

Work on your campaigns one at a time and watch the money come in slowly but surely.

Trying to sell instead of trying to help: Here’s the fact – people hate being sold to. As an affiliate marketer, present the product as a solution to someone’s needs and be honest about the benefits it provides. Don’t try to sell at all costs because you will get zero conversions.

Ilir Salihi

Founder of Freedom Rep.

If you are going to market a product or service online as an affiliate marketer, you have to be an authority in the niche, or on that product specifically. Understand and connect with your audience, how they talk, and know what they’re looking for.

Build trust. Provide insights that position you as an authority while helping your audience make an educated buying decision.

What NOT to do?

Don’t be ‘salesy.’ The best affiliates help solve problems. Understand the pain points of your target audience. Your content should provide the best solution to help with these problems.

Don’t focus on things like gaming search results for traffic. You can use SEO to rank on the top of Google results, but if your content isn’t providing real value, those visitors will quickly click the ‘back’ button.

Don’t litter the web with generic affiliate sites. People now pay attention to WHO the advice is coming from. They want to know the writer behind the article, video, or product review. You don’t need to be a PhD on your topic, but your content should position you as the expert fit to make recommendations to your audience.

Marcus Clarke

Founder, Searchant.co.

Here are three ideas that either don’t work, or just set you up to fail later on.

First, when you scale-up your content, be sure it is high-quality. Mass-producing fluff will get caught. – Google’s too smart for that now. It’ll only hurt you in the long run.

Second, you absolutely cannot rely on one traffic source. If something changes, you’re sunk.

Finally, you MUST have a brand. A distinctive, unique tone can carry your content, diversify your traffic, and set you apart from the crowd. Being generic kills you.

Araks Nalbandyan

Marketing Director at 10Web.

The first thing you need to do is to have a great affiliate deal, something bigger than what your competitors have to offer.

Have a great fixed price for the 1st purchase or a high percentage for monthly or yearly payments. After you have that killer deal, join affiliate networks.

Don’t spend your time on finding affiliate partners manually, believe me, you’ll spend way more.

Boni Satani

Digital Marketing Manager, Zestard Technologies.

Quantity Over Quality Content: Many affiliates think that bulk posts will outperform one great post. This isn’t the case. Especially, affiliate marketers should strive to provide high-quality content. Instead of publishing 10-15 content pieces per month, it’s better to publish 3-5 high-quality content pieces per month. If your readers don’t find your content high quality and informative, then they will skip your content and won’t be back again.

Push Traffic May Slow Down: Push notifications and push ads may become less important.

In 2019, push traffic was quite effective in ecommerce, but in 2020 there are some indications that buyers are becoming bored with the trend.

For instance: Google Chrome has made it easier for consumers to prevent pop-up and push notification ads. Consumers are getting frustrated with these ads, and therefore the more they opt out of them, the less relevant they’re going to be.

Ignoring Voice Search: As the increasing use of Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and Siri grows, the affiliate industry will need to optimize more quality content for voice search. Voice search optimization needs to be handled a bit differently. What someone types into a Google search bar can be quite different than what they speak aloud when posing a question to Alexa. Voice. The search optimization will need to take natural speech patterns into consideration. People are more likely to ask a longer question than to type one. In addition, voice commands don’t allow for an autocomplete feature the way the Google search bar does. And that means that voice searches will include more long-tail keywords.

Adam Connell

Founder of Blogging Wizard.

Affiliate marketing is difficult to get right, but there are three common mistakes I see most often:

1) Broken affiliate links

If your links are broken you’re causing a UX disaster for your visitors and stopping yourself from gaining any commissions.

This is why it’s important to manually check your affiliate links every so often to make sure they’re working. Be sure to check them using a private browser to ensure you don’t cookie yourself and accidentally make a purchase. Most affiliate networks will suspend your account if you purchase through your own links.

Also, it’s a good idea to subscribe to the affiliate newsletters of any company you promote. If they migrate affiliate platforms or need to change links for some reason – this is usually how they’ll announce it.

Going beyond affiliate links, you should also check over your money pages every now and again to make sure nothing is broken. I’ve seen some bloggers miss out on 6+ months of commissions because they didn’t notice broken buttons or other UX issues.

2) Only promote products you would tell people about if you weren’t an affiliate

It’s easy to distinguish a good product from a bad one. Just ask yourself this:

“If I had a different business model that didn’t rely on affiliate commissions, would I still want to tell people about this product?”

If you’d still promote it – great. You’ve got yourself a decent product to promote.

If not – you probably shouldn’t promote it.

3) No considerations for user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization (CRO)

You want to earn money as an affiliate, right? Well – you need to get serious about UX and CRO.

There are processes you can follow to improve CRO, and identify UX issues. Heatmap tracking software like Hotjar, A/B testing software like Google Optimize and user research platforms like UsabilityHub.

There are usually a bunch of quick wins you can implement:

  • Fix any broken links
  • Break up your content into shorter paragraphs
  • Use relevant imagery and bullet points to make content more digestible
  • Add appropriate CTA buttons with a background colour that isn’t used in the rest of your design (red, orange or green is usually a good choice)
  • Remove any unnecessary distractions
  • Limit the number of actions for your readers to take.

In a Nutshell


These affiliate marketing experts’ opinions suggest three aspects to focus on for 2020.

  1. Focus on a Targeted Audience
  2. Promote in the right niche
  3. Build quality links

Consider these above-mentioned three points and you can surely avoid making affiliate marketing mistakes in your journey.

Furthermore, the practice of link building is going to vastly change in 2020. Quality of content and quality of link building play a major role in driving your audience – which is why it’s important to spend time ensuring that neither of these two are compromised.

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Usman Dar

Usman is a Digital Marketer at Cloudways- A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform, where he looks after affiliate partnerships and helps digital nomads in generating passive income. He is a foodie by heart, who loves to explore new eateries around his vicinity.

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