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Guide To Affiliate Marketing On LinkedIn In 2021


Let’s be honest. 

LinkedIn isn’t the sexiest social platform.

Look at how search interest in the business networking site compares to interest in Twitter – another member of social media’s old guard – and TikTok, one of the rising stars.

Twitter has generally been on an upward trajectory in the last couple years.

Over the same period, TikTok has surged onto the scene out of nowhere.

And LinkedIn… well, LinkedIn has pretty much stagnated.

So why would affiliate marketers ever consider the Microsoft-owned platform when there are so many alternatives out there?

Actually, there are lots of reasons.

Why Use LinkedIn for Affiliate Marketing?

LinkedIn touts itself as “the world’s largest professional network”.

It’s impossible to quantify that claim, but with almost 740 million members in over 200 countries and territories, it’s certainly big.

In fact, it’s much bigger than Snapchat or Twitter, and not far behind Instagram or TikTok in the user stakes.

But it’s not just about quantity – it’s also about who those users are.

Just like how Clubhouse surged to fame through its popularity with A-listers and thought leaders, LinkedIn is where business powerbrokers hang out online.

An estimated 63 million decision-makers use the platform.

In other words, more than one in every 12 LinkedIn users has the authority to make decisions.

This is born out by the fact that 80% of B2B marketing leads generated through social media come from LinkedIn.

The platform’s audience shares some other attractive qualities, too.

In particular, it massively over-indexes for high earners.

Among households with annual incomes of less than $30,000, just 27% use LinkedIn.

But that shoots up to 60% for households whose annual earnings surpass $100,000.

So if you’re targeting affluent individuals with a lot of buying clout, LinkedIn could be the platform for you.

What Is LinkedIn Affiliate Marketing?

We’ve deduced that LinkedIn can be a viable part of your affiliate marketing strategy.

But what does that look like in practice?

Well, to put it simply, using LinkedIn as an affiliate marketer is all about forming connections, then leveraging those connections to push your products and services.

Depending on the terms of your chosen affiliate program, you can then earn a flat or percentage-based commission rate on those referrals.

So it’s more or less the same as on any other website or social platform.

However, there are some key differences that are worth highlighting here.

LinkedIn offers a lot of ways for affiliate marketers to incorporate their links.

For instance, you can publish a blog post within the platform…

Blog Post On Linkedin

You can share organic posts with your network via a personal profile…

Linkedin Organic Post Example

You can sign up for a company page and use it to send branded posts…

Linkedin Ah Brand Page

Or speak directly to your target audience via members-only groups

Affiliate Marketing Group On Linkedin

And you can reach out to connections (and even non-connections, if you’re prepared to pay for a Sales Navigator licence) through direct messaging

Linkedin Direct Messaging Example

With such a wealth of tactics, LinkedIn can be a real affiliate marketing gold mine.

But to make it work, you need to start by building an audience.

How to Build an Audience On LinkedIn

As I just mentioned, there are two flavors of profile on LinkedIn:

  1. Personal pages
  2. Company pages

When it comes to building a following, those two profile types aren’t exactly on an equal footing.

Simply put, people are much more likely to interact with personal profiles than company pages.

It’s hard to verify this through up-to-date figures, but a Forrester study carried out back when Google+ was still a thing shows LinkedIn company pages see an average engagement rate of just 0.054%.

So if you have 10,000 followers on your company page, an average post will generate 5.4 interactions.

Why even bother?

By contrast, a decent engagement rate for a personal account on Linkedin is around 2%.

What’s more, company pages have limited functionality:

So if you’re going to use LinkedIn as part of your affiliate marketing strategy, do it from a personal profile.

That means building a personal following.

Nail Your Posting Strategy

To build a following, you need to give people a reason to connect with you by posting regularly.

But how often should you be posting as an affiliate marketer? And when should you do it?

Fortunately, we’ve got some stats to help us answer these questions.

When it comes to posting frequency, there’s a big dropoff in clicks once you exceed five posts a week, or one per working day.

Linkedin Weekly Clicks

More specifically, pages with at least 100 followers generate an average of two clicks apiece on their first two posts per week.

By the 10th post in a week, that drops to around 0.5 clicks.

That’s likely because LinkedIn doesn’t want you to spam your network with constant activity – it favors quality over quantity, and so should you.

As for timings, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best bet.

If you’re posting more than twice a week, any weekday can work well – but definitely avoid weekends.

Add Value When You Post

There’s a whole Twitter account dedicated to awful LinkedIn posts.

At time of writing, it’s got 172,000 followers.

To avoid falling into the same trap as those hapless posters, make sure you’re actually adding value through helpful, insightful content.

Don’t just launch into a sales pitch. 

The average LinkedIn member is way too savvy for that.

Instead, focus on the things that matter to the people you’re trying to engage – content that helps them resolve their pain points or achieve their goals.

Use Eye-Catching Formats

A simple blog post or text-only update can work perfectly well, but don’t be afraid to test more striking content types.

Embedding rich media – like imagery and videos – can help your affiliate marketing content stand out in a busy LinkedIn feed.

Linkedin Post Visual

In fact, LinkedIn members are 20 times more likely to share videos than any other type of post.

That means you get more eyes on your content (and hopefully more clicks on your affiliate links).

Join in the Conversation

While LinkedIn is often described as a business networking platform, it’s still a social network.

And that word – “social” – holds the key to building a following.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts here.

The only way to “look like” you’re part of a community is to actually do it!

That means joining the same groups as the people you’re trying to reach; getting involved in conversations; and responding to comments on the posts and content you share.

If you’re looking for low-touch, high-yield affiliate marketing strategies, this isn’t it.

On the flip side, once you’ve forged a reputation as a trusted community member who genuinely knows what they’re talking about, your life as an affiliate marketer becomes much simpler.

By that point, people will be more than happy to check out a product or service you recommend.

It’s a slow burn, but the results are worth it.

How to Use LinkedIn for Affiliate Marketing

So you’ve built a following on LinkedIn by publishing valuable content and engaging with people in your niche.

Congratulations!

Now it’s time to start monetizing that audience. Here’s how to do it.

There’s nothing stopping you from including affiliate links in your LinkedIn posts, blogs, comments, or direct messages.

However, it pays to be cautious.

Why? 

Well, for starters, most affiliate programs request that you publish a disclaimer with your links.

What’s more, LinkedIn automatically shortens links in posts:

Linkedin Sponsored Post With Link

People won’t be able to see where you’re sending them – so they might not appreciate you including affiliate links in this way.

Sure, it’s inadvertent, but you don’t want to look like you’re trying to mislead anyone.

Finally, as with any social platform, you shouldn’t spam LinkedIn with one affiliate link after another.

Pretty soon, your followers will start to zone out.

Keep it up and you may even get your account restricted or blocked.

Adopt An Inbound Marketing Approach

So if you can’t go overboard with publishing links on LinkedIn, how can you earn money from your affiliate program of choice?

It’s simple: treat it as an exercise in inbound marketing.

By which I mean, create high-quality content on your own site, include affiliate links where relevant, then share it to your network.

Send people to a blog post, or build a landing page with a lead generation form to capture email addresses.

That way, you can start building a mailing list, too – offering another avenue to incorporate your affiliate links.

Sponsored content on LinkedIn is a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it can get you in front of a lot more customers.

Just look at the difference in organic and paid impressions for a LinkedIn company page I run:

Linkedin Organic Vs Sponsored Posts Impressions

Don’t be fooled – that organic activity does produce some impressions.

It’s just dwarfed by the numbers those ads are generating.

On the other hand, advertising on LinkedIn is a lot more expensive than on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

That means it’s only suitable for high-ticket affiliate programs.

Even then, it’ll really eat into your margins.

As such, the vast majority of affiliates should concentrate on LinkedIn’s real strength – organic engagement.

Why? Because it’s a lot higher than on other platforms.

On Facebook, the average organic engagement rate is a paltry 0.18%.

But as I’ve already noted, a decent organic engagement rate on LinkedIn is around the 2% mark – that’s 11 times higher.

LinkedIn Affiliate Marketing Examples

If you’re still with me, I assume you’re pretty keen to integrate LinkedIn in your affiliate marketing strategy.

Now, let’s look at a couple of affiliates who are already doing it.

Arguably the simplest way to promote affiliate products on LinkedIn is by writing blogs on its built-in blogging platform, Pulse.

That gives you the opportunity to add the necessary disclaimer in your post, along with links to the product, course, or service you’re promoting.

Here’s how that looks in practice:

Linkedin Post With Affiliate Link

However, that’s not the only way to do it (and it might not be the best, either).

In this next example, we’ve got a sneaker affiliate.

Now, you wouldn’t necessarily think of LinkedIn as the best platform for a B2C brand.

But maybe it’s not such an unlikely match.

Sure, LinkedIn is predominantly a business platform – but its members are people too!

And, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of them are affluent professionals.

They’ve got money to spend – so why not spend it on your affiliate products?

Here, the affiliate in question has shared a post linking out to a blog on its website:

Linkedin Post

As you might expect, that blog contains affiliate links pointing at some of the Nike products it references.

It’s a simple, effective way to steer people toward products or services that might not be an obvious fit for LinkedIn.

Pros and Cons of LinkedIn Affiliate Marketing

By now, you understand how the platform can fit in with your affiliate marketing strategy.

But is it worth all the effort?

Let’s assess the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • It has an affluent audience
  • It’s full of decision-makers – perfect for pushing B2B services
  • It offers plenty of opportunities for incorporating affiliate links
  • People are happy to “talk business” on the platform, which might prompt opportunities to share your links
  • It’s still relatively untapped by affiliates, unlike Facebook and other B2C social platforms
  • Organic reach can be very good – better than Facebook

Cons:

  • Advertising on LinkedIn is more expensive than on other platforms, making it prohibitive for all but the highest-ticket affiliate programs
  • Its members are savvy professionals – they don’t want to hear a sales pitch straightaway
  • It’s predominantly a B2B platform, which might not fit with your product
  • Daily usage is low compared to other platforms, so your content might get missed

Should You Start Affiliate Marketing on LinkedIn?

So, is LinkedIn suitable for affiliates?

That depends on your audience and product.

As I showed in the examples above, it’s not impossible to promote B2C products on the platform.

But you’ll likely see better returns if you’re pushing a course or some other B2B service.

Also, bear in mind that the vast majority of people exclusively use LinkedIn in a business context.

You might browse Instagram on your lunch break, scroll Facebook on your commute, or check Twitter on your couch in the evening.

It’s unlikely you’d do the same with LinkedIn.

The upshot is that people spend less time on the site than on other social networks:

  • LinkedIn: 10:51 minutes per day
  • Twitter: 12:50 minutes per day
  • Facebook: 18:28 minutes per day

Combined, all these factors mean LinkedIn isn’t the simplest platform for affiliate marketers. 

But it can definitely work if you put the hours in.

Looking for a simpler approach? Check out our FREE 2-hour web class on building highly profitable authority sites.f

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