Of all the things I covered in my recent presentation at Blog World Expo about successful affiliate marketing (replay here), the one thing that seemed to resonate with people the most was the idea of “unboxing the mystery”.
Because it’s so important and absolutely crucial to my marketing plan, I’ll go over it in more detail with you today so you can increase your affiliate income too.
This particular topic comes to mind because I recently followed up with a few people who, after listening to my presentation, told me personally that they were going to make changes based on this strategy.
It has been nearly 2 months, and none of them have followed through.
I know it’s not my fault, but it’s hard for me not to be frustrated when I know this will help increase their income. I won’t name any names, but I’ll let this post serve as a “gentle” reminder to them and a sign to you that I truly believe in this strategy.
Let’s get to it…
The Want to Know
People want to know what a product is like before they pay for it.
This is why we’re allowed to test drive cars, why software products have demo & trial offers and why our favorite electronic stores all have the ‘toys’ neatly laid out for us to touch and feel and play with.
It’s all “unboxed” for us, so we can buy it and then unbox it again on our own.
As affiliates, it’s really easy to just find a product and place an affiliate link somewhere. We might take it a step further and talk about the product a little bit, or even go into detail about how it has helped us – but many fail to truly unveil the mystery of what that product is like and they don’t give their audience a chance to get a feel for what they’re about to buy.
Mostly likely because:
- They don’t have enough experience with that product; and/or
- They don’t feel like it’s their responsibility.
Consequently, money is being left on the table, but beyond that, people may not decide to purchase a product that could actually help them.
Not Enough Experience
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that we don’t need to spend time on product creation. Heck, most of the time we can even become an affiliate for a product without having to purchase it – and for most products that have an affiliate program, you can become an affiliate today.
It’s a trade-off, however, because the savings in time put us at a disadvantage when it comes to truly understanding a product in a way that allows us to easily show it off and unbox it for our audience.
So does this mean we should actually use a product before we promote it?
Not My Product, Not My Responsibility
Another great advantage of affiliate marketing is that because it’s not our own product, we don’t have to worry about selling. Everything after the click on our site is not our responsibility anymore – from the sales page through delivery and customer service.
So why should we have to reveal the product if that’s already being done on the sales page?
Because people still have to click the link on our site.
Plus, your audience knows and trusts you more than the owner of a product that you didn’t create, so you should use that to your advantage and take the responsibility of showing them what they’re going to get. You’re sort of stepping in the middle and creating your own little ‘pitch’ specifically for your audience.
And if you simply illustrate what a product is like, it’s not really a pitch at all – it becomes a resource and you’re more likely to convert as a result.
How to Unbox the Mystery
Here are 5 ways to “unbox” a product on your website.
1. A Blog Post with Sequential Images
This is the easiest method and is best for products that include a step-by-step process that isn’t too complicated, one where you can “pause” and easily take a photo or screenshot.
An example from my own library includes my Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Newsletter, which includes 17 different images inside the backend of the email service provider that I use.
This post not only reveals what a product is like on the inside and how it works, but because the post is about the end goal – creating a newsletter – and not just a review about a particular product, it becomes an incredibly valuable resource that other people are more likely to link to and share, and there is little to no pitch involved.
If you have a Mac computer, simply pressing cmd+shift+4 and dragging a box around whatever you’d like to take a screenshot of is the way to go. If you want to get fancy edges around it, here’s a post where I share how to do that using Pages.
If you’re on Windows, then you can follow the directions here or use a product like SnagIt to make them look much nicer.
Videos are more difficult to produce, but they can definitely be worth the extra effort. Videos work best for most types of products, but they’re especially good if you’re talking about a particular product that has any sort of movement or sound that goes along with it. Even for software, if there’s any interesting and impressive animations that happen, you’ll want to include that in a video – that’s a part of the ‘feel’ of a particular product.
Also, videos are generally happening in ‘real-time’, so if you can demonstrate ease of use in real-time, that’s a huge plus too.
In this video, I talk about the principle of producing instant results and I use a vibration speaker to demonstrate that principle. If you watch the video (it’s cued up a few seconds before I demonstrate the speaker in use) you’ll see how sound and ease of use play a huge role in showing off that product.
That video wasn’t created to sell that particular product – again, it was only used for demonstration purposes – but several people emailed me after the video went live asking for an affiliate link because I unboxed it for them, and they wanted to experience it themselves too.
Again, no pitch involved – just demonstration using video.
Another example from my collection of videos is my most profitable video ever, How to Build a Blog in Less than 4 Minutes and Write Your First Blog Post.
In this video, I walk people step by step through the process of starting a blog. Yes, this could have been done with screenshots in a blog post, but then the “ease of use” aspect of it – the idea that it could really be done in less than 4 minutes – would be lost.
Knowing that technology holds a lot of people back from starting an online business or blog, I wanted to tackle that head on – which I could only do via video.
And lastly, something I referenced in my presentation, just think about how popular those unboxing videos are on YouTube, where people are literally unboxing new products. Millions and millions of views – just check out this YouTube channel here – and that’s just one channel.
Webinars are videos on steroids.
Although more difficult to produce than videos, the benefit is that you get the live interaction with your audience which can only help you sell the product even more, and plus – if you record it, you’ll have a video that you can use in a replay and on YouTube.
The trick is to setup the webinar with the end goal in mind, not the particular products that you’re going to recommend in it. That way, again, the webinar becomes a valuable resource – not a pitchfest.
An example is my keyword research webinar. In this webinar, I share how keyword research works, the free methods of doing keyword research, and then how I use a particular tool to make things move a lot faster. That tool, which I include an affiliate link for in the video (and in the description on the replay page) has always been one of the top earning products in my income reports.
Another great aspect of producing webinars is that your live audience is going to ask the questions that need to be asked, that maybe you forgot to address, and if it’s on their mind, it’s likely on everyone else’s mind too, and you’ll unbox the product even more.
For tips on how to produce an amazing webinar, catch my interview with webinar expert, Lewis Howes in SPI Podcast Session #29.
If you have a podcast, even though it’s audio only, you can still use the medium to reveal aspects about a product that will work in your favor.
Sharing a step-by-step process is difficult if it’s more than 3 steps – people aren’t going to remember everything – so if you do share a particular process on a podcast make sure that you include a link to the show notes on your website where people can revisit those later.
The true power of the podcast when it comes to affiliate marketing, however, is the ability to interview the owner of a product that you’re promoting. If done correctly, your audience can come out of your podcast with a stronger relationship with the owner, in which case they will feel more comfortable making a purchase.
You haven’t really unboxed the product, but the creator of that product instead, which is important.
Now – you have to be careful here. Not all product owners are going to be good behind the mic or come across as being friendly, so before you potentially interview the owner of a product for your podcast, chat with them beforehand and see if you think it’ll work. If not, you can at least tell that person what you like about the product and you can develop a relationship with them yourself.
Also, see if they’ve done interviews elsewhere on the web to see if they have a style that would fit your brand.
If you can’t get a hold of the product owner, try finding another person who has used that product to some degree of success, and you can dive into their real life experience with it.
If you do choose to go the audio route, I’d combine this with one of the other strategies mentioned in this post.
5. In Use in Its Final State
Not all products, but some, will give you the ability to show your potential customers the product actually in use right then and there. This is when your audience can see, touch, hear, feel and experience the product in its final state.
Online, not all products will have this ability, but when they do, it’s powerful.
For example, if you scroll to the bottom of this post and wait a couple of seconds, you’ll see the action-area fade into place. This is powered by Opt-in Skin and dozens of people each month ask me how they can make this happen too. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Pop-Up Domination is another infamous WordPress Plugin where people could see it in action on various websites, although personally I’m not a huge fan of pop-ups.
Become the Resource
Remember: how much money you earn is a byproduct of how helpful you are to your audience, so be extremely helpful and show your audience exactly what they’re going to get before the get it.
Become a resource that helps them achieve an end goal, and show them everything about the products that they can use (and hopefully you’ve used yourself) to help them get there.
Do this, and you will become a successful affiliate marketer, one that your audience will appreciate at the same time.
Want to try your hand at affiliate marketing and deliver even more value to your podcasting audience? The Smart Podcast Player affiliate program lets you reap the benefits while you “share the wealth” of the best podcast player for power users with your fans. Learn more and sign up here.