Building an Online Community: Why It Matters for Affiliate Marketing

Experts provide newbie affiliates with many tips and strategies on how to make it big in this type of online business.

One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear from the pros is this:

Build an online community around your affiliate marketing blog or website.

It makes you wonder why many experts put so much emphasis on this particular strategy.

In this article, we will discuss that primary reasons why building an online community matters for your affiliate marketing business and what it can do to help you succeed as an affiliate.

# 1 – Online consumers buy only from people they trust

One of the first things you have to do to get started with affiliate marketing is to get to know your target customers.

Aside from identifying their demographics (age, gender, location, occupation and so on), you also have to find out about the following:

  • Their interests
  • Their knowledge
  • Their habits and behavior
  • Their passion
  • Their problems, struggles and issues

Knowing all these information will help you provide your customers with what they need so that they will find that your affiliate business is something practical for them.

In addition to these, you must also take the time to figure out and understand how the minds of typical online consumers work.

You’re probably aware that many of them are notorious for their lack of focus and patience, as well as their extremely short attention span.

What you may not know about them is that most online consumers have stopped buying from people and businesses that they do not know.

Yes, they no longer buy from strangers.

It used to be a common practice for online shoppers to buy products and services from websites that they encounter for the first time, but this is no longer the norm.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why.

With the prevalence of online scams and fraud, many online consumers have become extremely cautious as to who they are dealing with. They do not want to be taken advantage of or lose their money to scammers.

They become very careful to the point of being paranoid.

And this is why, they now only buy from businesses that they know and trust.

One of the most effective ways to earn the trust of your customers is to build an online community for them.

Once they become a part of this community, they’ll get to know more about you and what you offer.

Of course, you don’t have to get started by bombarding them with relentless ads about your products.

This will turn them off and drive them away.

After you’ve done your research about them, you know what types of information they need and what you can provide them with to help them out.

Always remember that you need to communicate and interact with the members of your online community the right way so that you can efficiently build trust and loyalty.

By “right”, we mean putting their needs before yours, going out of your way to help them, providing them with actionable tips and strategies, and responding immediately to all their questions and concerns.

These are the practices that will help your affiliate marketing business thrive and grow.

# 2 – Repeat customers are the heart of affiliate marketing business success

When you first become an affiliate, you are going to learn many valuable techniques for generating new leads.

Effective lead generation through paid and free traffic sources can definitely get your business running. 

But did you know that this is not the only area that you should focus on?

Trying to get new customers to visit your affiliate website and buy your affiliate product is part and parcel of being an affiliate.

But this is just one small part of it.

If you’d look at the bigger picture, you’ll see immediately that the success of your business relies more on loyal customers.

If there’s one thing you have to know about affiliate marketing business it has to be this: it’s so much easier to get an old customer to buy your product than to get a new customer to buy it for the first time.

This is quite a fascinating fact but it should not surprise you that much.

As you know, an existing customer already knows about your business, branding and products. An existing customer has already tried your product and has already been satisfied with it. An existing customer already knows how efficient your customer service is, how quick you are to reply to questions and messages, and how you are always ready to provide a helping hand.

A new customer does not know any of these things. In his/her mind, you are a total stranger who may or may not be deserving of his/her trust.

And this is exactly how having an online community helps.

When you invite a new customer to become part of your online community, it becomes a lot easier for him/her to see that you are someone that can be trusted, and that you are someone who knows his/her way around the niche.

This is another thing that makes an online community very important for your affiliate marketing business. This is one of the most effective methods for helping you earn the loyalty of your customers.

# 3 – Word of mouth marketing is highly cost effective

Word of mouth marketing is actually one of the most cost effective marketing strategies that can boost your affiliate marketing business.

Unfortunately, many affiliates overlook this marketing channel. Many of them put all their efforts on email and social media. Yes, these are powerful channels as well, and you can’t overlook them. But just the same, you also cannot neglect word of mouth.

As the term suggests, word of mouth refers to a marketing method that involves spread the word about a product or business. The message can be spread through face-to-face communication or through online platforms.

If you want to get an idea of how crucial word of mouth marketing is, take a look at these study findings.

In one study performed by Nielsen, it was revealed that over 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than any other type of advertising strategy. This is just one study. There are many others replicating these results.

Another one is from the International Journal of Market Research, which reports that trust from social media strongly influences a buyer’s intention to buy a product. The effect can either be direct or indirect.

Aside from the high efficacy rate, there are many other benefits to word of mouth marketing and these include the following:

  • Extremely low cost – You don’t have to spend as much money as you’ll have to with other marketing methods. Getting people to talk about your product can be done absolutely for free. You just have to give them a good reason to say positive things about your business, and that is through satisfying their needs and wants.
  • Customer trust and loyalty – It’s easier to earn the trust of your new customers when old customers vouch for your business and products. As you know, people are more likely to believe their fellow customers than the seller of the product.
  • Increased sales and profitability – Word of mouth marketing if done the right way can increase customer retention, engagement, conversion rates and sales.

Now that you already have an idea of how word of mouth marketing can help with your affiliate marketing business, the next important step is to understand how an online community can amplify your word of mouth marketing strategies.

By building a community that centers within the needs of your target customers, you are able to provide a platform for discussion and conversations that will help spread the word about your business.

An online community can serve as a venue for word of mouth marketing. Simply get your members to engage in conversations related to your products, and for sure, one of them will make mention of how effective and useful your products are, and how they would love to recommend these to other people they know.

Before you know it, the word would have spread to other online communities as well. Word of mouth is like an uncontrollable fire that can spread very quickly before you can even realize it.

# 4 – Online communities keep your customers engaged

Customer engagement is one of the essential elements in affiliate marketing.

Aside from earning the customer’s trust, you want them to be kept engaged with your business primarily so that they don’t forget about it, and also so that they can continue doing business with you.

As you probably know, there are many ways to keep your customers engaged.

One of these is with the help of an online community.

Customers are more likely to keep on following your business if it continues to provide them with what they need.

You can continue providing them with what they need when you invite them to become part of your online community.

Here are some tips on how to go about these:

  • Start interesting and practical topics for conversations to get going – List down conversation topics that will not only be interesting for your members, but will also generate a long and comprehensive discussion. You can go for thought provoking topics that would encourage countless opinions and ideas. But just make sure that you stay within the clean, safe and uncontroversial topics. You want your members to converse with each other, not fight one another.
  • Provide highly valuable information – Always make it a point to provide information that can help the members of your community in one way or another. These pieces of information should be based from your initial research about your target audience. But of course, since your audience is just as ever changing as the industry itself, you need to keep on learning about them. Find out what it is that they truly need at this point, and go out of your way to make sure that this is what you’re able to give them.
  • Provide actionable tips and strategies – When giving out tips and strategies, go for those that they can actually do. If you’ve done your research on your target audience, you know very well about their capabilities and limitations. Do not provide tips that are too technical or complicated. Do not ask them to do something that is beyond their capacity as this will only frustrate them, and not help them out. Try to simplify the steps and show them clearly how the process is done.
  • Get your members to keep asking questions and answer all these promptly – Let your online community be a platform for information exchange. Get people to keep on asking questions and take the time to provide the best quality answers for all these. You should also let other members answer the questions as well. For sure, they would have something valuable to share with their fellow members.

If you’re able to maintain your online community and keep it active and moving, this will help you greatly in customer engagement and retention, which in turn will help your affiliate marketing business thrive.

# 5 – Establishing your expertise is easier done within online communities

So you know exactly how affiliate marketing works—you don’t sell your own product but you sell the product of another person or company.

To do this, you will be providing online consumers with valuable information about these products so that they can make an informed buying decision.

This information should be honest and unbiased, so that your target audience can see that you are someone whose opinions can be trusted.

Aside from being a trustworthy affiliate, you also need to be perceived as an expert.

Your target audience are more likely to believe your opinions if they know that you are someone who knows his/her way around.

For example, no one will believe the smart phone recommendations of a technophobe who does not even own one.

Or if you are in the weight loss niche, and you know nothing about fitness and healthy nutrition, your customers will not trust you enough to buy your weight loss product recommendations.

You have to be an expert in the niche before people will start believing you and trusting you.

With an online community, becoming an expert in the eyes of your target customers is more easily achieved.

How?

For one, you can use the online community platform for sharing all your valuable content that you post on your blog or website.

The members of your community will get to read all these content and will see how extensive your knowledge is on this area.

You can also utilize the platform for answering the questions of your community members.

As mentioned earlier, an online community is a place for information exchange so you can expect that members are going to keep on asking questions that are relevant to the community’s niche and topic.

Each time you provide the best quality answers, members will see that you are indeed someone worthy of being considered an expert.

And you’ll become the go-to person whenever they have something to ask.

Of course, you can’t give the impression that you are a know-it-all as this is a major turn off among your audience.

You have to show them that you have the knowledge and authority but still, there is more for you to learn. This shows them your humility and your human side, something that will enable them to relate and connect with you more easily. It will make them feel less intimidated when they want to approach you to ask you something.

Finally, you can use the online community as a platform for helping people out. As you probably know, the “help before you sell” method is one of the most effective contributors to the success of any affiliate. It takes a great amount of sacrifice to put your customers’ needs in front of yours but this is what will set you up for long-term success.

Remember, it’s not the one-time sales that get an affiliate marketing business to grow substantially, but the trust and loyalty of customers that prompt them to make repeat purchases of your products.

It doesn’t take a genius to become successful in affiliate marketing. But if there’s one trait that you need to have is that you should be great when it comes to dealing with people. Earning the trust of your target customers and establishing your expertise in the niche can be done more easily when you take the time to build an online community composed of highly engaged target customers.