I have read many affiliate marketers say that it doesn’t matter how you convince a web visitor into a buying a product, all that matters is that you generated a sale. I can agree with this on some levels.
For example, one of the most common ways of making money through sites like Amazon is to create a store front and give visitors the impression that they are actually buying the product from you and not Amazon. I would consider this a white lie in some respects as you are helping the visitor find the product they were going to buy anyway.
However, there are lots of other more deceitful ways of making money through affiliate marketing (I won’t go into them in this post). This is something which I was never really comfortable with, which is why I will probably never make a lot of money from affiliate marketing.
I don’t have anything against people who do use more black hat techniques to generate affiliate sales but I don’t think these methods should be used on a blog. A large part of building a successful blog is building trust therefore it’s counter productive to mislead your visitors in order to generate some affiliate commissions. You might make a few quick sales in the short term long term, your integrity will definately come into question.
Trust, influence and integrity are attributes which mean nothing in the affiliate marketing world but in the blogging world they are essential to long term success.
Therefore I think it’s important not to cheat visitors in any way (I have to put my hand up and admit that I don’t always give full disclosure and tell visitors when I use an affiliate link when I link to a website or service because it is so common that I just assume the reader knows that it may be the case, I have disclosed it in many articles in the past though).
The Video Image
Recently, I have come across a technique to get people to click on a link which I think misleads visitors. It is when a blogger displays an image which looks like a video in order to encourage visitors to click on the link.
This seems to be a pretty common technique for marketing blog coaching programs. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Yaro Staraks Become a Blogger course is the one I would recommend most beginners sign up to. However, many of the bloggers who were recommending the course were using this video image trick to direct traffic to the course.
Here is an example to illustrate my point:
Once visitors clicked on the image a video did not start, instead they clicked on the bloggers affiliate link and were taken to the sales page for the course. Admittedly, I fell for this myself the first time I saw this used and I was a bit annoyed by it. I consider it to be very misleading to suggest to readers that they will see a video if they click on an image and then redirect them to the sales page of the service (via an affiliate referral link).
No doubt these bloggers made some great sales using this technique however it doesn’t sit right with me. I am not trying to be all high and mighty about this, I just don’t like being misled in this way and I have no doubt that others share the same view.
Would you use this technique to encourage visitors to visit the site you are recommending?
p.s. Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that anyone who has used this technique is untrustworthy or is intentionally trying to cheat their visitors, I just think that it is very misleading.