traffic sources affiliate marketing

Affiliate Marketing Traffic Sources: The Definitive Beginners Guide

If you have recently decided that you want to get into affiliate marketing, you will soon have to determine your traffic source. This is will how you will direct online users to the affiliate offers you promote through networks like MaxBounty.

Understanding and choosing which traffic sources to use to promote CPA (cost-per-action) affiliate offers can be overwhelming. It does not help that there are more ways than ever for affiliates to acquire traffic.

This guide will simplify the process while helping you choose the one that is right for you.

When we say one, we do mean one.

If your goal is to start promoting your first offer as an affiliate at MaxBounty in the near future, we highly suggest that you choose just a single traffic source.

Focusing on only one will provide you with a greater learning opportunity. Even if you do not find success immediately, you will greatly expand your knowledge on that particular traffic type. Building that initial foundation of knowledge is so important as a beginner affiliate.

If you try to manage multiple forms of traffic at once, you will spread yourself too thin and hinder your ability to gain valuable insight.

Traffic Types

Although there are hundreds of traffic sources available to affiliates, most can be classified into less than a dozen types.

Let’s do a quick rundown of each type we allow at MaxBounty.

Display

Your standard, visual-based ad located on most websites.

PPV/Contextual  

Pop-ups or pop-unders usually enabled through toolbars. Google Adsense is also considered contextual traffic.

Search

Search result ads purchased through platforms like Google Ads or Microsoft (formerly Bing) Ads.

Native 

Ads that mimic the media format in which they appear. Commonly seen in “Recommended Content” widgets found on various websites.

Social

Either organic traffic that comes through social media pages with large followings or traffic from paid ads or sponsored content (Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Youtube ads, etc.).

Mobile

Any user traffic that is directed through a mobile device. These can take the form of some of the other types mentioned above.

E-mail

Promoting offers through email blasts to a list of recipients.

Incentive

Traffic that comes from incentivization. An example would be gifting digital rewards or currency to a user for completing a task.

We will go into greater detail on each type and its individual sources a little later. Before that, let’s talk about some factors that you should take into account when making your decision.

Key Decision Factors

Your experience level

The level of experience you have at affiliate marketing should play a significant role in choosing offers and traffic sources.

Although the goal of any affiliate is to make money, complete beginners should have some other priorities as well.

If you are literally promoting your first campaign ever, it is crucial that focus on achieving some type of results. By results we mean clicks and/or conversions.

Even if your campaign is barely profitable, by directing traffic to your campaign you’ll gain:

  • An understanding of how clicks and/or conversions are tracked in MaxBounty’s Affiliate Dashboard
  • Insight and data that will help you learn more about your current strategy
  • Motivation to improve/keep trying

You can accomplish this by choosing offers that have a greater chance of converting. In return, you’ll make less for each lead you convert than you would with an offer that tends to convert less frequently.

These types of offers are often part of specific verticals that convert best with certain traffic sources.

You can learn more about selecting offers as a beginner by reading our post: 6 Tips for Choosing Affiliate Marketing Campaigns as a Beginner

It is important that you take all of the above into account if you are choosing a traffic source for the first time.

Your budget

Unless you are getting into affiliate marketing because you already have a website, blog, or social media page that you want to monetize, you will likely need to pay for your traffic.

Traffic sources vary greatly in reach, audience, targeting options, and quality. Therefore, they also vary greatly in cost.

Determining how much you are willing to spend will eliminate traffic sources that require larger budgets.

We recommend that beginners start with a small budget. Even if you can afford to spend more initially, it will likely take some time to find a winning campaign strategy.

Once you become more comfortable promoting offers and determining what works (and what doesn’t), you can start increasing your budget and scaling your campaigns.

Pre-existing skills

Are you already a great writer, coder, designer, or social media expert? If so, those are valuable skills that can benefit your affiliate marketing career. This is especially true if the skill pairs well with your traffic source.

For instance, you can create your own custom landing pages if you have some experience with Photoshop or other design programs. This will make it easier for you to test different sales angles for each campaign.

Custom landing pages operate as a bridge between your traffic source/ad and the offer you’re promoting. Some traffic types, like social, work best with a custom landing page, where others

Vertical and niche

Every offer at MaxBounty has a different set of permitted traffic sources. Therefore, the types of offers you decide to promote or the niche they’re in can influence your traffic source preferences.

You may want to become an affiliate marketer because you already have a niche in mind.

We mentioned above how the number one thing you should strive for when you start promoting your first campaign is achieving

Now we’re going to get into each specific traffic type. We’re also going to let you know which types of offers tend to convert well within these types.

Display Traffic

display traffic

Display traffic is what comes to mind for most people when they think of online advertising. Although display traffic CAN encompass other traffic types as well, it most commonly refers to those square, image-based ads you throughout most websites.

Affiliates who own a blog or website that garners substantial user traffic often monetize their site by populating it with banner or in-text display ads.

These ads can be of various sizes so that that they will work aesthetically on multiple areas around any site. Some of the most common banner sizes are 300×250, 728×90, and 160×600.

Shorter, wider banners are usually found at the top, bottom, or in-between content, while taller and narrower banners populate side panels.

If you are a MaxBounty affiliate, you will notice that most of our offers already feature pre-made banners that you can use in your promotion. These are provided by the advertiser of the offer.

Displays ads are most effective when the content of the website/blog and the products/services being advertised are relevant. Don’t expect to generate many leads if you are advertising a skincare product on a fantasy football site. There should be some symmetry between the two audiences.

You can still utilize display traffic even if you do not have your own website or blog through media-buying.

With media buying, a display network places your ad on a website that already has significant traffic. You’ll then pay for that space on either a CPM (cost-per-1000-impressions) or CPC (cost-per-click) model.

Some display traffic networks that our affiliates use include:

SiteScout

Propeller Ads

Clicksor

What converts best:

Offers that payout on a completed sale, health and beauty campaigns, niche offers that directly relate to to websites/blogs.

PPV/Contextual Traffic

ppv traffic

Pay-per-view, cost-per-view, or contextual traffic primarily consists of pop-ups (or pop-unders). These are delivered to users after they’ve installed a toolbar to their browser.

  1. A PPV network present users with the option of downloading a toolbar to their browser in exchange for digital rewards (games, special content, browser features, etc.).
  2. The user will then install the incentivized toolbars to their computer.
  3. Once the toolbar is installed, ads will be displayed to them in the form of pop-ups that advertise the offer that you’re promoting.
  4. When the user clicks on the ad, they’re directed to the offer’s landing page or a pre-sell landing page that you’ve created.

URL or keyword targets that you bid on against other advertisers will determine the location of your PPV ads.

URL targeting

Your pop-up will appear when a user goes to a specific URL/website. (eg. ESPN.com)

Keyword targeting

Your pop-up will appear when a user searches for a specific keyword. (eg. football jerseys)

Google Adsense is

The PPV networks that are most commonly used by our affiliates are:

You can learn more about PPV traffic by reading our PPV Campaign Traffic Guide for Affiliate Marketers. 

What Converts:

You need to present value to the user quickly if you’re promoting with PPV. Offers with short forms as well as travel and sweepstakes campaigns do this well.

Search Traffic

search

You’ve probably already noticed that whenever you Google something, the search results are usually separated into two sections – ads and organic search results. The handful of sites in these resultsthat feature an ‘Ad’ label beside them are paying for that position – this is search traffic.

The Google Ads platform allows for advertisers to pay for their sites to be listed at the top of search results for specific keywords. This is accomplished by bidding on keywords through a PPC (pay-per-click) model, meaning you’ll pay Google a specific amount every time a user clicks on your ad.

When you use Google Ads to promote an offer, you’re ensuring you’re putting the product or service you’re promoting in front of the people who are searching for it or something closely related.

Bing also has its own search traffic platform, Bing Ads, that’s works in a similar fashion to Google Ads.

Obviously, Bing isn’t going to offer the same level of reach as Google, because there’s less people using Bing as their primary search engine. However, it’s more affordable than AdWords and has less restrictions, making it more affiliate friendly by allowing a broader selection of offers to be promoted on the platform.

What converts best:

Search traffic can work for a wide array of niches, but many of our affiliates find success with diet and loan offers.

Native Ad Traffic

native

Native ads are an affiliate marketing traffic source that continue to grow in popularity.

They’re also extremely effective at being a non-disruptive form of advertising.

This means that users are more likely to engage with native ads over traditional display ads because they’re less likely to feel as if they’re online experience is being interrupted by actual advertising.

It’s the online equivalent of using product placement in TV shows instead of commercials.

You know when you’re on the edge of your seat about to find out who’s going to win the new season of *Insert Country Here* Idol (and subsequently never be heard of again) when suddenly a commercial break pulls you out of your immersed state? That’s basically what a banner ad does to someone reading an article on a website. Native ads are a sly way of resolving that issue.

Have you ever noticed those “Recommended Articles” or “Sponsored Content” headings while you’re on a website? Those are native ads.

To use native ads as a traffic source, you’ll have to sign-up to a native ad network to have your ads placed on various websites. Those ads then direct to the landing or sales page of the offer you’re promoting.

We currently have partnerships with two native ad networks – MGID and Taboola. If you’re a MaxBounty affiliate, you can be rewarded a 25% bonus on a $1000 deposit and a $100 bonus after spending $100, respectively, when using these networks.

Keep in mind that using native ads will require you to compete with other affiliates/advertisers for site placement, and the larger the site/traffic, the more you can expect to have to bid.

If you’d like to gain additional insight into native ads, read our Native Ad Tips post.

What converts best:

Native ads work best with offers that can be paired with powerful imagery and enticing copy to trigger an emotional response. (“Moms are obsessed with this new anti-aging cream!” “This 2019 gadget is rapidly changing lives!”) Finance, weight loss, and tech products work best with this approach.

Social Media Traffic

social traffic

Social media platforms have massive user bases and therefore massive audiences. That’s why many affiliates utilize them as their go-to traffic source. 

In addition to large audiences and the ability for anyone to purchase advertising, social media platforms offer advertisers expansive targeting options. This allows you to easily hone in on the people who are most likely to be attracted to what it is you’re promoting. Advanced targeting ensures that you’re not wasting time and money advertising something to an audience who wants nothing to do with that niche.

The most common social media platforms that affiliates use to promote offers are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • PlentyOfFish ads (temporarily closed)
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Most of these platforms offer a multitude of ad targeting options for you to customize when you’re creating and launching an ad campaign.

For instance, Facebook ads allow you to target users by:

  • Geographical location
  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Interests

You can also decide whether to pay for clicks or impressions, which is something that will take some time and testing to determine the best approach.

In addition to purchasing advertising, you can create and grow fan pages that can be used as your own marketing channel for promoting offers.

Perhaps as a hobby you’ve already built up a large follower base on an Instagram account or Facebook Page. You can  monetize those pages by integrating links to MaxBounty offers with regularly-posted content. There’s many MaxBounty affiliates making money with this strategy, just remember to only promote offers that are going to catch the interest of the followers on your pages.

If you operate a pet Instagram account where your followed by thousands of people who are waiting anxiously for you to post some cute dog pics, you should populate your bio or story with links to a pet-related offer like BarkBox, rather than trying to promote car loans.

What converts best

Recognizable and trusted brands and/or e-commerce, clothing, dating, games and tech gadgets.

Mobile Traffic

mobile traffic

Mobile traffic is comprised of multiple traffic sources that are being delivered to users on mobile devices. This includes many of the traffic sources we have listed above as well others like push notifications.

The continual evolution of smartphone technology and the increase in time we spend staring at our pocket-sized screens has transformed mobile into one of the most lucrative traffic sources.

The percentage of users who spend their time online on a mobile device rather than at a computer is increasing each year, and the affiliate marketing industry is responding with more mobile offers and traffic sources.

There are numerous mobile traffic sources that use the same traffic type we discussed above, the only difference is the traffic is shifted off of desktop and onto mobile. For example, you can sign up to a mobile traffic platform and advertise the offer you’re promoting through display/banner ads or pop-up/under ads.

Alternatively, push notifications are a mobile-exclusive way of acquiring traffic.

Check out AirPush.com if you’re looking for a mobile ad network that offers some great targeting options.

What converts best:

Apps and mobile games.

E-mail Traffic

e-mail traffic

E-mail traffic involves collecting e-mail addresses to create your own audience for the purpose of promoting offers.

If you already own a website or a blog, the process of capturing e-mails can be as simple as prompting your visitors to sign-up to your newsletter. Once your list has grown to a substantial size, you can send them tailor-made e-mails that feature offers relating to the niche that brought them to your site in the first place.

You can still utilize e-mail as a traffic source even if you don’t have an established website of your own. This can be accomplished by using a squeeze page (a landing page that asks for a user’s e-mail) when promoting with other traffic types, or purchasing e-mail lists from 3rd party traffic sources. However, The quality of the traffic you’ll obtain from these lists can be erratic.

What converts best:

Loan, debt relief, e-commerce, education, and biz opp offers.

Incentive Traffic

incentive

Incentive traffic is when you offer users something in return for generating a conversion on the campaign you’re promoting. You’re providing them an incentive for completing an action, hence the name.

The incentive itself usually come in the form of digital rewards, points, coupons, or virtual currency. Sometimes the incentive can also be the ability to access additional content such as an e-book or other downloadable files (content-locking).

The number of advertisers and offers that allow incentive traffic is fewer than other traffic sources, which means it’s not an ideal traffic source for many beginner-level affiliates.

What converts best:

Survey and sweepstakes offers.

Conclusion

If you’re a beginner-level affiliate, it’s important that you initially promoting campaigns with a single traffic source.

We recommend that you combine the information you’ve learned from this guide with any additional research to help you choose the best one for you.

You can spend hours, days, and weeks educating yourself on ways to acquire traffic, what networks to work with, and what offers are available. Ultimately, what you’ll learn from that research will never compare to what you will learn when you’re actively promoting offers.

Make some decisions and go for it.

52 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing Traffic Sources: The Definitive Beginners Guide

  1. Thank you guys for this article.
    the best articale wich you can learn from in very simple why. will be joining you next few day. 2 weeks max

  2. Thanks. Nice guide, but I would like to add that you consider SOI, Email conversions, and Installs or buy-ins (software) as part of this guide so people who are new can understand in a better way.

  3. Simple but insightful article for any one who’s new into internet marketing and want to go into media buying. Bookmarked!

  4. Bookmarked too! I’m newbie to cpa marketing. If I can also suggest, I would like to read something on how to do Mobile Marketing–is it only through FB ads? Thanks..And Do’s and Don’ts for Landing Pages ..Thanks

  5. Great post, but im still looking about ppc using adword for direct offer url, without using landing page, does google accept that ??

    1. Thanks for reading!

      They most likely won’t. You’ll have to either to cloak your links or use a landing page to avoid this.

  6. Awesome Post. I really need this guide. Thank you so much. I have a question when i create campaign on Facebook some times it did not support my maxbounty affiliate link. what to do in this situation.

    1. When promoting campaigns on Facebook you’ll have to build and utilize your own landing pages. Any kind of direct linking will often cause issues.

      Perhaps we’ll write a post on this!

  7. Thanks Joe, for writing such a perfectly laid out article! This information has really put my thoughts into the right perspective, and helped me to make wise choices. Thank You.

  8. Wow!!!! Nice post, am New to CPA network I will as like to know if one can promote offers using the direct link generated without building a personal landing page? Thanks

  9. As a New MaxBounty Affiliate Marketer.. It’s very informative article for me and all newbie.
    Many Thanks Joe 🙂

  10. Thanks for this. My request to join your affiliate program was rejected earlier on, hope to build on what I’ve learned here and then try to join again

  11. Great post!
    I personally use Udimi to buy quality solo ads. This is email marketing. You can buy traffic for your website from trusted vendors and increase your sales. Very high conversion rates!

  12. Wow !!
    It gave me a relief in the head when I read. Thank you very much.
    Here in Brazil, a well-structured and thoughtful article like this can easily be sold as a very expensive course.

  13. Thanks for the information I found it helpful. I have been looking recently for something about Backlink Building for my website, and I was wondering if you have any information about CloudSEO Backlink Building?

  14. Really great post with high value for beginners! Exactly what I was looking for. I will investigate one traffic source more to be well prepared and then start a campaign.

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