How to Do Market Research for Affiliate Marketing: Best Tips and Ideas

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Being an affiliate sounds like a dream. Earning a commission by promoting other companies’ products seems effortless. That’s probably why more and more people want to become affiliates.

According to Google Trends, searches for “affiliate marketing” have rocketed in the last few years. Between 2017 and 2021, it has been growing steadily and reached its peak in 2021. 

Apart from this,  81% of advertisers and 84% of publishers in the U.S. have turned to affiliate marketing. Half of the affiliate publishers surveyed in the same poll said that affiliate marketing accounted for more than 20% of their annual revenue.

The largest of affiliate networks, Amazon Associates, has over 900,000 active affiliates!

Although affiliate marketing can give you decent cash, you still need to exert a lot of effort for you to get there. You need a strategy to be a successful affiliate. That strategy should include market research. 

If you know your target group and their needs, you can focus on delivering the right product to them. Without market research, you can only assume and take chances, which can translate to a waste of your time and efforts.

That said, let’s look at how to conduct market research.

How to conduct market research?

Market research for affiliate marketing involves asking the right questions to the right audience in the right way.

How to Do Market Research for Affiliate Marketing

The more you know about your audience, the easier it’ll be to make the right decisions–what products to sell and how to sell them, for example—and make a profit.

Here are the steps you need to follow to conduct that market research effectively.

1. Examine your market

The first thing to do to perform effective market research is to closely look at the market or niche you’re working in. Define your customer persona, and ask yourself the following: 

  • What products out there are similar to yours?
  • What are the top-selling products in your niche?
  • Who is promoting those products?
  • Are people having issues with any of those products?

Try being a customer and subscribe to bloggers who promote similar products to yours. You’ll get an idea of their affiliate marketing style, what kind of emails they send out, and any other marketing pieces they publish.

Most US affiliates don’t limit themselves to one brand. They tend to maximize their opportunities to work with merchants. The graph below released by Forester indicates how many affiliate networks the US affiliate publishers have worked with in the past year. 71% of them said three or more, whereas only 6% said they work with just one affiliate network.

Examine your market - affiliate marketing

When you know the market you’re operating in, you can make informed decisions–the types of product you may sell, for instance–that will quickly help you earn a profit. 

An affiliate dashboard for marketing serves as the vital command center for market research in the affiliate marketing industry. It provides marketers with instant access to crucial performance data, commission tracking, and in-depth campaign analytics, equipping them to make informed, data-driven decisions to enhance their strategies and succeed in this dynamic and competitive landscape.

2. Take a poll of your target audience

Now that you know the market, it’s time to look at your target audience’s needs. The idea here is simple. You want your products to address audience pain points, so they are more likely to purchase those products. The best way to know what your target audience wants is to ask them.

Think about questions that are quick, easy to answer, and require minimal effort from the respondents. By and large, you need to ask them if they’d be willing to buy a product you’re looking to sell.

If you get answers, great! If you don’t, don’t be disheartened. You can send out a reminder email. Some businesses use automated tools to send their emails to save time and effort. It’s a good idea to use email tracking software. You can check if your email has been opened and when with such a tool. That can help you determine when to send the subsequent follow-up. 

Most responses are collected within seven days. Generally, you want most of your respondents to be interested in buying your offer. If your poll results suggest that there’s little or no interest in your offer, you should rethink your offer and start the research from the beginning. 

It’s difficult to say what constitutes “little” interest. To be sure, reconsider your potential product even if 50% of your email recipients say they would be willing to buy it. Aim for more than 50% of yeses to your product.

3. Make some face-to-face inquiries

You should get some face-to-face feedback to collect more detailed opinions on your potential affiliate promotions and strategy. Go out there and ask people on the streets if you could have their opinion. Try choosing people from your target group but don’t limit yourself to them.

Make some face-to-face inquiries

Once someone agrees to speak with you, go straight to the point. Prepare some headlines or images of your product and ask them if they would buy it, hypothetically. 

The good thing about talking to people this way is that you can get more information about the feel of your potential market. People who are asked face-to-face tend to explain their answers. 

You can also use social media to reach respondents. Try Reddit or Facebook to find a relevant group of people you think would benefit from buying your product.

Search for groups discussing issues you believe your offer could solve. If you’re selling vegan products for hair, as an example, go on your Facebook account, type in some keywords, like “hair products vegan” in the groups’ tab.

Facebook research for affiliate marketing

Join some groups and offer an incentive to people who will answer your video call and give you feedback. A $5 Amazon gift card may do the trick. Just make sure you have your camera on. It’ll make you more trustworthy and will help to get honest opinions.

You can also create your own Facebook group and get people to join. 

create your own Facebook group for affiliate marketing

Aim to get at least 15 questionnaires answered in total. The information you receive will be helpful when it comes to deciding on the affiliate offers and writing content for your marketing campaigns.

4. Do paid media testing

Paid media testing is the last step in your market research for affiliate marketing.

This step requires budgeting some funds to get the data. It’s worth testing a few ideas and finding out which ones work and which don’t.

You can start by releasing a paid Facebook ad or a sponsored post on Instagram. See whether that particular product will get clicks or not. Running test campaigns will show how well (or poorly) your product performs given a particular demographic group. Then you can decide on whether to stick with the product or not.

5. Scale back or start anew

At this point, you will need to study all your data and make some decisions.

If the results of your market research show the product might not be profitable, you’d have to start over with some new ideas and then test those ideas again.

Starting from the beginning may seem like a waste of time. However, in the long run, following the process will save you time and money. You don’t want to implement a strategy that won’t hit the target.

If you think your market research results favor the product, start creating a successful marketing strategy. 

Places to conduct market research

Here are examples of online areas where you can conduct market research for your affiliate campaigns.

1. Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights is a free market research tool that can help you learn more about your target audience. It’s also useful for finding new audiences and developing relevant target groups for affiliate campaigns.

Facebook Audience Insights

You can find Facebook Audience Insights in the Ads Manager. You can learn about your post reach and engagement from it and the number of likes and shares.

It also allows you to gain insights about the general Facebook audience, the audience of specific Facebook pages you own, and custom audiences.

Focus on information on your audience’s age, gender, location, interests, etc. This data can help you to expand your targeting. 

So, let’s say you want to sell socks. You can learn from Facebook Audience Insights that 100% of your audience are women. When you know that critical fact, you can decide on the sizes, colors, and patterns of socks to sell. You can also make an informed decision about the email designs for your marketing campaign.

2. Niche Subreddits

Reddit is a discussion website, and it’s an excellent venue for knowing what people are saying. According to Semrush Open .Trends, it’s the seventh most popular website in the US.

Reddit has communities (subreddits) that cover different topics. You should look for those subreddits that are in one way or another connected with what you’d like to offer.

Niche Subreddits

So, if you’re planning to sell socks, you’d type in the word “fashion.” Here’s an example of a subreddit you might want to check out for your market research. Note that the subreddit has three million readers: 

Search through the news, content, or comment on other people’s posts. Go ahead and create an account if you want to ask questions specifically.

3. Look for mainstream product reviews

Product reviews are everywhere these days and are easy to find and read.

Whatever you’re about to promote, the chances are that there’s probably a mainstream version of it out there.

Get a feel for what people are saying about products similar to the ones you plan to sell. Note down why they love the product or hate it. See if there are any issues or concerns with the products, too.

You can search for products similar to what you plan to sell on Amazon. Amazon has a rating system with reviews for products. So, if you see this review below about a buyer complaining about the lack of organic certification on the item she bought, you’d probably opt to sell a product with that organic certification. 

Then you’d make that certification a selling point. 

Don’t just research one brand. Look at other brands, too, and make a list of what buyers love and what they don’t love.

List down the most common keywords and phrases used, too. Those can come in handy should you decide to sell that same product and start crafting your marketing campaign.

4. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a tool that marketers can use to look up what content works and doesn’t. So, it isn’t strictly for marketing research, but we’ll include that here because it’s a critical tool for when you do decide to market your chosen product.

BuzzSumo

You need to type in a keyword or a phrase relevant to the product in the empty field to get important information for crafting marketing campaigns. The information includes: 

  • the number of shares on social network platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • websites that linked to specific posts
  • the users that shared the content

If you know what types of content perform, you can craft content similar to that when promoting your product and get people to take your desired action (purchase the product, for example). 

5. Spy tools

Spying on your competitors can also help you decide on your marketing strategy. Spy tools are an easy way to see a competitor’s SEO, ads, social media platforms, and landing pages. 

Spy tools

SimilarWeb, for example, can track the performance of a site. You can find out the site’s monthly traffic, the channels bringing the most visitors, and where the visitors are coming from.

If your competitor’s site is performing well, you can then imitate their best practices on your site to get the same good results. 

Bottom line: how to do market research for affiliate marketing

Market research for affiliate marketing is essential. It helps you know who your customers are and whether there is a demand for your potential product. That information can help you decide whether to sell the product in the first place.

So, before choosing the product to sell as an affiliate, make sure you examine your market, take a poll of your audience, and conduct face-to-face interviews. Do paid media testing, too. If your research tells you your product won’t do well, don’t push through with selling it. Think of other ideas, and then do your research all over again.

Make this a part of your strategy as an affiliate and see how you’ll reap those profits.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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