When Affiliate Marketers Shove Promo Links In A Blog Post Like They’re Stuffing A Turkey

Link stuffing can backfire on your blogging and marketing

Blogging and overzealous affiliate marketers can be an annoying combo.

I’ve seen them. You’ve seen them. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen them. The commission-driven, unattractive, undesirable blog posts stuffed and plump with affiliate links.

Talk about a prime time to put your cringe on and your cursor on the “x” to click away!

I get it, affiliate marketers. I really do.

You’re blogging to create sales from all the lovely items you’re peddling and promoting in partnership with the rightful owners.

Like the rest of us, you want to make some dough and cash in on your marketing efforts.

There’s not a blinking thing wrong with that goal EXCEPT

Do you think maybe, just maybe, it’s a better idea (a gentler and more digestible approach) to promote one, possibly two, items per post instead of a hefty bowl full?

Affiliate link after affiliate link after affiliate link is, well, not cool. You’re coming across as sales-y, pushy, and quite honestly, desperate.

Maybe you think we don’t notice what’s going on.

Here’s a newsflash:

You’re making it blatantly obvious. So please stop it. You’re giving blogging and affiliate marketing a bad name.

Some of the biggest offenders are affiliates for kitchen gadgets, workout videos and exercise equipment, books, electronics, cosmetics, and everything on earth related to infants and pets.

Most of us have been around the blogging block more than twice and we can smell a promotional link a mile away. Yes, we’re that good.

We welcome the pleasant aroma of one or two affiliate links but twenty-two really stink.

Instead of shoving affiliate links in till your posts burst at the seams, blow up, and spew debris over the rest of us:

1.) Share a case study.

Write about someone who’s put a product or service you’re promoting to the test. Be honest and thorough. Talk about the positives, negatives, and the end result. Include a testimonial. And please make sure it’s one that can be verified. Having your brother write a testimonial is … uh … not going to be convincing.

2.) Pick a product or service and share “why” you chose to promote it.

What’s the reason you wanted to partner with the owner/creator? What attracted you to this particular offering? For crying out loud, make certain you can speak with integrity and claim YOU actually spent money on this product or service and took it for a test drive yourself.

3.) Tell a story.

Everyone leans in on a good story and storytelling for business will never go out of style. Truth is, storytelling pays. Be creative in developing a storyline. What character from a Disney movie or sci-fi adventure can you use as the villain in your story? What fairytale or fantasy comes to mind in relationship to an item you’re promoting? How can you make your customer the hero of your story? Build on that.

4.) Interview a product creator or service provider.

Craft a short list of questions and have your interviewee answer those questions in a blog post. Share a product demonstration video. Record an audio interview and upload it to your blog. Design an infographic depicting little-known aspects, all the moving parts, or behind-the-scenes development phases of a product or service. Post interviews as SlideShare presentations or Haiku Decks. Interviews boost your credibility and increase the familiarity factor.

5.) Showcase happy buyers and/or ideal customers.

Ask your buyers to send you photos or short video clips using the physical products they’ve purchased. Selling books? Have fun and ask people to find an interesting or unusual locale to take a photo holding the book. Make it a contest to see who comes up with the zaniest or most unique photo. Selling kitchen gadgets? (I’ll let you fill in the blanks) Take the photos or videos and turn them into Pinterest graphics. Create a board devoted to satisfied buyers and/or your ideal customers and share your board on your blog and on social media. Make customers, not sales, your main focus.

Blogging and affiliate marketing can be complementary ingredients in your cookbook for success.

So affiliate marketers, stop stuffing turkeys and start crafting link-lean blog posts worth savoring. You’ll earn more commissions and we’ll put our cringe back on the shelf.

Next stop? Mission: Storytelling.

The New Year is bright with all sorts of new ideas, but in certain circles there’s still plenty of shady tricks and underhanded practices that we think should be called out. This month’s word carnival: Dirty Deeds and Due Diligence – what to watch out for in 2015!

 

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  • Melanie, you’ve hit it right on the head here. Too many affiliate links and not enough value seems to be all the rage.

    Quite a few ‘marketers’ seem to be under the impression that if they “just blog and put keywords out there and get good referral links so we can sell more junk” that they’ll actually land more customers. What might happen is that they get a few folks who fall for the clickbait stuff and then even more returns/refund requests, but for truly sustainable customer relationships and sales you can’t beat old fashioned relationship building. The type of hand-shaking, eye-to-eye type relationships we had in the past aren’t necessarily lost because we have all these fancy gadgets – if anything, they’re enhanced.

    The time and effort you have to put into maintaining those relationships is just as much as the in-person variant, it’s just that the introductions are so much faster and more easily obtained these days – so it takes a LOT of filtering to make those introductions into relationships or to bounce ’em.

    Most folks just want fast/easy. So they game the system. It’s shortsighted.

    Thanks Melanie!

    • The way I see it, Nick, one of the biggest problems (besides people not understanding how doggone important relationship building is!!) is the way in which affiliate marketing, in general, is presented.

      Through no fault of newbie affiliate marketers, they’re led to believe it’s a cake walk — the simplest and easiest and quickest means of turning a buck online. You and I know differently, don’t we?! Marketing is marketing. And that means WORK. The work of producing quality content, networking (online and off), mastering the use of social media platforms, understanding business finances, … etc. and so on.

      “Value” is the winner every time. Any time your marketing is not adding some kind of value (in person or on the web) to the lives of others, you may as well take down your tent and leave camp.

      Appreciate your insights and thanks for the visit! 🙂

  • Love this Melanie…I had so many visions and ducked each time with my favorite “Instead of shoving affiliate links in till your posts burst at the seams, blow up, and spew debris over the rest of us” that was a lil sexy in a way in my twisted mind…I too hate for anything to be shoved at me and most importantly online during the reading of a blog post. I don’t run into it as much anymore and I think because I have unsubscribed, or removed from my feed reader soo many because something about them felt cheesy or their promise didn’t pan out. Love your site too btw…looks REALLY great!

    • Hey Michelle! Thanks for noticing the subtle changes here. I’m shooting for sheer simplicity. That’s my style, at heart, and I’ve always believed simple design is elegant and soothing to the soul. 🙂

      Glad to know you’re not bumping into as many ‘explosive’ posts these days. LOL! Same holds true for Tea, thank goodness. Smart idea to hit the big ‘unsubscribe’ button. I think the main reason I still see so many is because I’ve developed online relationships with tons of affiliate marketers. They’re basically really good people, by the way, but some of them drive me batty! As many times as I’ve reached out to say things like “Your post is coming across as way too sales-y (and dare I say “sleazy”?), I pretty much get ignored. I know that part of the reason they won’t change their ways is due to the training they’ve received. Crappy training, that is!

  • Mel, I so wish you had been around when I had a crack at affiliate marketing (back in the dinosaur age of digital when Clickbank really mattered.) I was useless at it, because all I had as role models was the turkey stuffing methodology and it made me queasy. Your list of things to do has almost excited me enough to want to go and find a lovely product I love and give it a crack again. But then again, perhaps I’ll just create my own products and try your methods. Great post, thank you!

    • I tried my hand at affiliate marketing back then, too, Sandy. The so-called “expert” I got training from was pushing banner ads as a sales strategy. Ugh. As if the internet wasn’t littered with enough of them already! She was also pushing the use of plr instead of writing your own content for blog posts. Oh, my God! You’d see the same article all over the place on a gazillion blogs. It was a big ugly mess.

      In general, I think it’s a much wiser choice to create your own products for sale. You have full control over everything and you get to keep 100% of the proceeds. I rarely found any affiliate opportunities that paid more than 20% in commissions. Plus it’s SO much easier to talk and write about your own creations versus someone else’s. When a product or service is yours, you have a much stronger and obvious vested interest in seeing it succeed. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your affiliate marketing story! For what it’s worth, Sandy, you weren’t the only one who took a crack at it with dismal results. One year I made a grand total of $48. It’s not the “easy” way to make money online that people claim it to be.

  • Yes! I hate it when I click on an interesting article only to realize it’s selling me something I don’t want. While many affiliate marketers have gotten sneakier in a good way, telling a great story about a product or asking the readers to get involved, that usually isn’t the case. Link-stuffing is a sure-fire way to get me to bounce off a website, and fast!

    Solid advice for building trust with your readers (and not cramming them like turkeys!).

    • Reminds me of some of those front-page articles on Yahoo, Molly.

      Here’s how I get suckered in sometimes:
      An interesting title catches my eye. But if I don’t look carefully for the word, “sponsored”, I click over and land on one of those stupid “As seen on T.V.” product ads posing as articles. Yuck. I hate those. There’s a buy button everywhere you look and nothing else but weak and watered down content.

      Yeah, “cramming them” won’t build trust with your readers. They’ll just become ticked off turkeys! 😉

  • Melanie,

    I love that you are such a great role model, rather than “stuffing” me with links to junk, sales commercials, or other things I don’t want or need, you practiced the fine art of linking to other people’s content that is on point, interesting, and deepens your concept.

    I can push back my chair after reading this feeling full and well served, not over stuffed and longing to loosen my top pants button.

    Bravo! Blaze

    • Aww … that’s one of the sweetest compliments I’ve ever been paid, Blaze. Thank you!

      I don’t always succeed but I try my best to link to a carnie or two in my posts. Of all the groups I participate in on the web, I feel the closest to our word carnival members. Our bond is solid. Collectively, the group shines more brilliantly than all the stars in heaven. They’re some of the best and smartest professionals around. The least I can do is anchor them in my posts. 🙂

      With the next post you read, I hope you’ll be able to re-button the top button on your pants. LOL!

  • I have visions of turkeys exploding, spewing random gadget, gimmicks, and gear into the air. This is a perfect analogy. In comes down to integrity and intent. If your primary intent is simply to make money it will come through (those 22 links!). While I’m all for making money, you need to lead with integrity. I’m very particular about what I recommend. I’ve done the research and share why I recommend it. That also goes for who I approve as an affiliate. I don’t want affiliates who abuse turkeys like that.

    • ” In comes down to integrity and intent.” AMEN to that, Nicole! (And some half decent writing skills wouldn’t hurt, either.)

      So happy you don’t want affiliates who abuse turkeys. LOL!

      Yeah, I’m all for making money, too. But it’s “how” some folks are going about it that makes me wonder if they’re completely void of integrity … ethics … professionalism … or a conscience!

  • Unlike Téa, I see this ALL the time. Maybe I know too many affiliate marketers 🙂

    I often want to ask people if that strategy pays off – the “cram it all in til you bleed” approach. I mean, do people actually click and buy that stuff?

    You probably know Pat Flynn. He basically built his empire on promoting products through content creation. But he says exactly what you say which is that you have to be able to GET BEHIND the thing you’re selling, you have to believe in it, you have to use it, review it, be a trusted resource. If you blogged with clarity and purpose and integrity about products – good and bad – then people will come to trust your assessments. Plus it’s part of a relationship building exercise, too. Not just selling. I’m happy to buy through affiliate links IF I know and like the person promoting the product. But to just cram all those links in and hope someone clicks and really, really needs a kitchen knife… what a mess!

    • As the saying goes, Carol Lynn, we must run in the same circles. I manage to land on these unsavory posts on a continuum.

      “I mean, do people actually click and buy that stuff?” I DON’T. Not that I would never make a purchase from an affiliate. Like you, if it’s someone I know pretty well, I’d rather use their link than visit the company website. I’m all for helping people succeed.

      If only every affiliate marketer would take the “Pat Flynn” approach to blogging. The web would be less cluttered with links and I’d have one less thing to complain about. 😉

      The one thing that really gets my goat about affiliate marketing link stuffers is my big suspicion they haven’t bought or tried half the stuff they’re promoting. Yet they want ME to buy it?! Not gonna happen. Not even when pigs can fly.

  • Hm…well, I guess it depends on the nature of the post. Stuff like this doesn’t tend to annoy me or get me twisted up too much, as a general rule. And it could be perfectly appropriate if you’re publishing a buyer’s guide, for instance, or a list post of the “top X whatevers” in a niche. But I love the ideas for spicing up content variety a bit – especially the storytelling suggestion. That always makes content better.

    • Different strokes for different folks, eh, Annie? 🙂

      It’s not so much that I get twisted up. It’s the piss-poor attempt at writing that stands out and screams out at me. Or better stated, the lack of substance in the writing. I agree – list posts are fine. But when someone blogs a whole lotta air for the sole purpose of filling that digital paper with affiliate links, I’m outta there!

      Better to stick with storytelling and give readers something they can bite into and enjoy the flavor of … instead of something that leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

  • People who use these tactics lose my trust. Once lost, it’s not easy to regain. Thanks for lifting the lid on this, Melanie (and I LOVE the turkey analogy). 🙂

    • And we all know the weight trust holds, don’t we, Sharon?! About a billion pounds.

      I’m with you. Lay some garbage post under my nose and trust flies out the window — making its way to never-never land. Because it’s never going to return.

      Gobble! Gobble! (And it’s not even Thanksgiving) Glad you enjoyed the turkey analogy. 😉

  • I’m so glad I don’t find that many people doing this, but YES it’s stupid behavior. God forbid people would actually put some thought and work into their writing. Ha! Perhaps the thrill of “easy” money as an affiliate marketer lends itself to taking the easy way out when it comes to blogging/promotion, too. It would be so nice if everyone would focus instead on being truly helpful and sharing only quality stuff. Thanks for shining a light on this issue.

    • “God forbid people would actually put some thought and work into their writing.” Yeah, Tea, God forbid.

      Probably more than most, you understand the amount of thought and energy that goes into writing quality content. Not to mention the time involved in crafting something worth sharing.

      I’ve done a bit of affiliate marketing in the past and I can tell you, firsthand, as much as I love writing, I really struggled with those posts. You might agree trying not to come off as sales-y in your writing is challenging.

      Glad to know you haven’t seen much link stuffing in posts. Maybe affiliate marketers are finally wising up.

  • Thanks, Melanie. Although depending on the wackiness, wacky can be okay once in awhile. 😉

  • Melanie, I’ve always wondered how anyone seriously thinks that type of blatant cramming of affiliate links is A) Fooling anyone, B) Effective marketing, C) Doing anything good for his or her credibility.

    I tend to view anything the person has to say as self-promoting (even when it may not be).

    • That’s the thing, Cathy …

      They may, in fact, have something worthwhile to say but they shoot themselves in the foot by going overboard with the promo links. I’m with you – I view those posts as self-centered and self-serving, not to mention sleazy.

      Link stuffing causes a blogger’s credibility to go right down the crapper!

      Thanks for the visit. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday, NOT a wacky one! 🙂

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