Affiliate Marketing Without Building A List – The Money’s Not In The List…Well Not At The Start Anyway.

Affiliate marketing without list building is often an entry point for many new internet marketers because it is less complicated than say selling your own product. All you have to do is create a website where you review or talk about the product and link to where the product can be purchased. Then work out how to drive traffic or visitors to the website.

If you can get 100 visitors to your site (use something like Statcounter or Google Analytics to track this) you can start to gauge how well the site or page is converting.

You can look at the number of times the link to the purchase or sales page for the product has been clicked. If you have set up the link so that it can be tracked (most affiliate programs have ways to add specific tracking codes to each link you create) you can see how often the link has been clicked. You can work out a click through rate (CTR) :

  • CTR = Number of clicks through to sales page/ number of visitors to site or page

The CTR is something that you can directly influence – this is you doing selling or even pre selling on your page. And influencing people to take a closer look at the product by clicking the link.

So alongside driving visitors to the site, the other thing you do with affiliate marketing is sell the product or at least sell clicking the link.

What can you do to improve CTR ?

Generally, write good content on the product.

There are lots of tips and tricks to writing content that sells or presells a product.

  • Things like a heading or title that attracts the reader or at least tells them what’s in it for them is important.

Making the content easy to read on a webpage is another consideration.

  • Add bullet points where relevant.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short so that the reader doesn’t get put off by a wall of text.
  • Add pictures, videos and even audio if appropriate.

If you do add a picture link it to the product sales page. People may prefer to watch a video over reading a long review.

  • Add calls to action – tell the people what you want them to do. Click this link to get the best discount on product X for example.

There are lots of tips and tricks that probably fall under the banner of copywriting but  the most important take away is to know the product and know the audience you are writing for.

This is why reviewing or preselling something you have already used or know really well will always get a better CTR than something that you have just researched. You know the product and you know the target audience because you are the target audience.

When you have used the product you know how to get the best out of it and what not to do with it. You may even be able to talk about how you have used it to be successful at some task or goal. You may talk about a  thing that used to take you hours to do before you used the product that now takes 10 minutes.

Above all, the review or write up will come across as genuine and the reader will trust your opinion. When they trust the opinion of someone they are more likely to act on the advice they give. Hence, if you advise them to buy the product or at least take a look at it by clicking the link they are more likely to do that.

Depending on the quality of your review or presell and the product itself, the CTR will vary. A digital ebook is generally harder to sell than a physical product. A product where the user has a desperate need for it will sell better than something that is just a hobby.

This doesn’t mean the CTR will be worse if the product is just a hobby product or a digital download, it just means that there is less pressure on your review or write up to do it’s job.

For instance, a person looking for the latest kindle is more likely to click on a picture of the latest kindle if it says something like “buy here stock running out soon” on it. Whereas a person interested in wood turning may want to read through your entire review of a wood turning plans ebook before clicking through to the sales page for more information.

If you can get a CTR upwards of 10% then you are doing your job as an affiliate marketer. Some people can do much better. For instance they may even add incentives like a bonus or support when using the product if you buy using their link. And you want to strive to get 20-30% CTR if possible.

It’s Over To You Mr. Merchant

Once you are happy with the CTR then it is over to the merchant of the product. How their sales page converts will determine how much money you make.

Many merchants gives this kind of information up front so that you can be confident about promoting their product before spending all your time reviewing it and setting up a webpage. You will see statements like “our sales page converts at 20%” or  “5 sales every 20 visitors” on the affiliate page. Others talk about EPC or earning per click. Our product has $1 EPC they will say. This is great and you know that every click you send them will earn you a dollar.

Keep in mind that the statistics that they give are often a best case scenario. It might be a test they did a few months ago and be out of date. It might be using a list that they had built a strong relationship with. The stats might also be for their best affiliate.

In other words the way they promote the product might not be the way you promote it so take it with a pinch of salt. But it gives you an idea that the product is selling and that their sales page is fairly professional.


Affiliate marketing without a list is easier to implement but may be limited or harder to be successful with ultimately. This is why it is often suggested as a way to go for new internet marketers. All you have to concentrate on is driving visitors to a web page and then convincing those visitors to click a link to the product you are affiliated too.

When you get more experienced at driving traffic and creating web pages that convert, you can start learning more complex strategies like capturing email addresses and building a relationship with that list. Or even creating your own product and selling that with your own sales page.

5 Responses to “Affiliate Marketing Without Building A List – The Money’s Not In The List…Well Not At The Start Anyway.”

  • Hey Adrian,

    This is so true. That is how I started, the only thing is that I didn’t know how to test and make changes to maximize my CTR. Information that I could have really benefited from.

    Oh well, I hope others just starting out read this. Good stuff here. = )

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog by the way! Hope to see you again soon!

    Take care,


    P.S. It appears there is a problem with your comment luv plugin. If you need help with it, let me know.

  • Pauline on May 10, 2012

    Hi Adrian
    I found my way to your blog while visiting Donald Macleod’s blog!
    You have made given some good tips and help for anyone interested in affiliate marketing, it is a great way to get started making money online. I always try to buy the product myself so I can write a review from my experience with it so I can tell any potential buyers how I find the product and what the benefits are.

    After a while then yes it is a must to start building a list but at the beginning it is ok to start without one.

    Thanks for sharing, I will be back to visit again.

    • admin on May 15, 2012

      Hi Pauline,

      I agree…you have to buy and use the product to really give it a good review. Not many people do that so you can really stand out. Offering bonuses that complement the product can also help make a sale.

  • Roger Weavers on May 18, 2012

    Hi Adrian,

    Great post. When people are starting out it can be a bit overwhelming. I started with affiliate products and build a few review sites but was never very successful at building lists, well I built lists but they where never very responsive.
    What I found was that by choosing affiliate products that had recurring billing I could make money month after month from one sale. I still get regular cheques from sites I haven’t touched for 5 years.

    All the best

    • admin on May 21, 2012

      Hi Roger….I wish my affiliate commissions were recurring…as you say, you make the sale once and get the benefits for years to come potentially. you can also forward plan if you know how much money is coming in each month.

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