As an affiliate marketer, how much importance do you place on the written word? Do you pay close attention to every syllable you use, or do you barely proof read the content and hope your offers speak for themselves? If you are in the latter group, you may be missing out on sign ups.

The following steps will help you understand the importance of how you can use copywriting skills to help convince people that they should click that affiliate link.

1. Know your audience

Understanding your audience and what they are looking for is vital in any copywriting endeavour. As an affiliate, the first step in defining your audience is to understand the product or service you are promoting and the demographic it is targeted at.

Once you have done this, you can begin to build up a picture of the kind of people you are trying to reach. Developing audience personas is worthy of an article in its own right, and if it is not something you have experience in, you can dig deeper with Michael King’s epic post on the subject.

In short though, your copy should be written with readers in mind and those readers should be people who are likely to pay for the product or service for which you are an affiliate.

2. Offer something different

Although you are operating within the same space as the brand you are affiliated to, you should avoid aping them when it comes to your copy. Develop a content plan that helps distance you from the website(s) of the brand(s) you are promoting.

This might see you head down the route of creating impartial reviews, or news-type content. Use the personas you created in the first step to help decide the kind of content areas you should be heading into. You should also take some time to analyse what other affiliates in your niche are doing in terms of content to see if you can spot a gap in the market.

3. Create a style guide

Next you will want to draw up a style guide to make sure the way you use language is consistent across all your copy. There are so many factors to consider here, it really is a pedant’s delight – but it is also a vital part of creating a website that looks and feels professional.

Is it “color” or “colour”? “You’re” or “you are”? The might seem like insignificant questions, but consistency is the key to trust, a vital factor for any successful affiliate website. If you are running a one-man band, a style guide will help keep you on track. If you have several contributors it is vital that you have one.

Building a style guide from scratch can be an arduous task but fortunately, a number of news organisations have made their guides publicly available and these can be used as a starting point to develop your own.

4. Use the right tone of voice

Tone of voice draws on elements of all three of the preceding elements we have considered. Ultimately, your tone of voice should be codified within your style guide. However, in order to get to that stage you need to consider your target audience and the way they will expect people to communicate with them.

At the most basic level this might include something like avoiding contractions such as “we’re” if you are promoting a high-end financial product targeted at knowledgeable professionals – doing so would help keep your copy as formal as possible. Your tone of voice should flow naturally from your work in developing personas and a content plan, while your style guide will help ensure your tone of voice remains consistent.

5. Include a call to action

Finally, do not lose sight of the fact that ultimately your content has one purpose – to drive sign ups and sales. That means including a call to action in the appropriate locations. Ultimately, your calls to action should be the logical end point of all your copy.

Essentially, your content should guide people through the marketing funnel from the discovery phase to the action phase. You do not have to festoon every page with “click heres” and “buy nows”, but you need to make sure you are encouraging people to take the conversion action you want in the appropriate places.