How to Use Bonuses to Boost Your Affiliate Income

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The affiliate marketing sector is growing apace.

According to Statista, total affiliate marketing spend in the US reached $5.4 billion in 2017.

That figure is predicted to rise as high as $8.2 billion by 2022, though the COVID-19 crisis might put a dent in that prediction.

Both merchants and marketers have been quick to recognize the potential of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing spend in the US in billion U.S. dollars

Affiliate marketing spend in the US

As the market expands, though, so does your competition.

It’s comparatively easy to set up an affiliate marketing program, and just as simple to put an affiliate link on your site.

What’s tough is to make people click on the link.

Bonuses – and particularly those available for a limited time – are an excellent way to give you an edge.

In this post, we’ll show you how to create and promote bonuses to boost your affiliate income.

First, though, let’s take a look at why bonuses are so useful in maximizing conversions.

1. Why are bonuses so effective

Bonuses won’t sell products or services that wouldn’t sell themselves.

They’re not a magic bullet that will help you sign hundreds of subscribers up to a poor-quality service.

What they can do is help push people who thought about making a purchase to sign up via your affiliate link.

Attaching a relevant bonus to the product that you’re promoting nudges prospects to take the leap.

There are a few principal reasons why bonuses work so well in this regard:

  • Add Value – There will be a certain percentage of your website visitors or people on your email list who will be thinking about purchasing the product or service. A well-designed bonus can provide a valuable incentive to make the purchase decision.
  • Remove Objections - There will be people considering a purchase who have objections
  • Become the Favorite Affiliate – You might not be the only marketer promoting a particular product. Adding an excellent bonus, though, enhances what you – and only you – are offering. It’s a way to stand out from your rivals and optimize the productivity of your marketing program.
  • Generate Urgency – You’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘FOMO’. It stands for Fear of Missing Out. It's a powerful psychological driver in decision making. None of us like to think we’ve passed up an opportunity to get a good deal or one-off offer. Limited-time bonuses in affiliate marketing generate urgency in your audience. They make them scared that if they don’t sign up now, they’ll have missed their chance.

You may wonder how much of a difference a simple bonus can make.

The answer is more than you might expect. It’s a staple used in the repertoire by super-affiliates.

The affiliate marketplace JV Zoo promotes a bonus delivery product through their site.

Below are two quotes from the product sales page the site promotes that aptly highlights how important bonuses are for maximizing affiliate sales.


We’ve now covered why bonuses are so effective at helping to maximize conversions.

Let’s get onto the meat of this article.

2. How to create a relevant bonus that instantly increase conversions

In the world of sales, it’s important to understand your target audience.

You need to understand your likely buyer, their pain points, and goals. It’s no different when it comes to affiliate marketing.

The point of your bonus is to persuade someone to buy or sign up for a product using your link.

The bonus has to be something the target audience will desire. The best way to work out what a relevant bonus might be is by building a customer persona.

You’re probably familiar with customer personas.

They’re theoretical representations of your ideal customer and can detail everything from a typical consumer’s age or gender to their interests or pain points.

a customer persona

To create a relevant bonus, you must understand the problems and goals of your target audience.

Specifically, you have to be able to answer:

  • What problem does the customer have related to the product that I could solve?
  • What could you create that would help them make the best use of the product?

Yet these are just part of the superficial problems you need to solve through your bonuses.

It’s important that you create bonuses that address the underlying fears of your customer.

Things that are holding them back from making a purchase.

There are three fears you need to address in this regard.


  • A lack of belief in the product or service to generate the desired result
  • Belief that the product or service works, but they are unable to achieve the result
  • They believe in the product and themselves, but some external factor is holding them back

Helping to alleviate these fears helps you provide your lead with the best customer experience.

Let me give you an example of what this means in practice.

If you were promoting an SEO product you might create the following types of bonuses:

  • A framework for how to assess backlink quality and a separate white paper on how to scale link building (the framework on how to use the tool to achieve success)
  • Case study of a person scaling their traffic to 100,000 unique visitors a month (example of how you could use the tool to achieve the desired goal)
  • Cheat Sheet to land guest posts on the top sites in your niche within 72 hours

With the answer to these questions, you can generate a compelling bonus.

Let me give you an example.

Here are the kind of bonuses I might provide to someone thinking about purchasing an SEO tool.


You can see how I’ve suggested bonuses that fill a relevant knowledge gap and make the product more valuable.

These are exactly the type of bonuses that a user is likely to find useful.

3. What kind of bonuses can you offer

You can offer a lot of different types of bonuses to promote an offer as an affiliate.

In the case of rewards to fill knowledge gaps or improve the target audiences’ skills, the following are hard to beat:

  • PDFs or White Papers – Engaged prospects will want to learn as much as possible. Well-made and relevant PDFs or white papers offer them an invaluable source of information.
  • Online Training or Courses – A video course to teach some applicable theory or that covers the ins and outs of a product is another excellent option. Courses can feel like they have a lot of value.
  • Software – There are marketplaces where you can buy software, Wordpress plugins, Wordpress themes, and other products to give away as a bonus.

You can create any of the above yourself or with the help of freelancers.

Alternatively, you can purchase Private Label Rights (PLR) products to give away as bonuses.

You’ll find plenty of online marketplaces offering PLR/ white label products.

Precisely which type of bonus or bonuses you offer should depend on the target audience and the product you are supporting.

Some kinds of rewards will suit particular audiences better than others.

You shouldn’t, however, feel that you can provide only one bonus.

4. How to promote a bonus as an affiliate marketer

You’ve come up with a bonus you’re sure the target audience will love.

The final step is to promote those bonuses, so you can boost your conversion rates and maximize your affiliate income.

There are a couple of tried and tested means for doing this.

One effective method for promoting a bonus on a blog is with a lightbox.

For example, in this article for “best podcasting software,” an exit-intent lightbox is used to highlight that a $20 Amazon gift card is available to anyone who signs up to the service.

An exit-intent lightbox

With this approach, you can easily showcase a single bonus to visitors.

It’s an effective strategy to help push people leaving a page to purchase through an affiliate link.

For email marketing, it’s common to design a campaign around a limited-time bonus.

One or two emails in the campaign could be focused around the bonus or bonuses on offer.

You can use things like an email countdown timer to add a sense of urgency.

This helps add a sense of urgency and creates the kind of FOMO we mentioned earlier.

You can see how this has been done in the email promoting an affiliate product below.

email countdown timer

The timer is currently on zero because the offer has expired ;-)

Rather than directly sending your visitors to a sales page, you can sell your bonus through a landing page.

You can create Here is an example of a landing page where a bonus is being promoted.

landing page

A couple of things about the page that is worth highlighting:

  • They’ve come up with a branding scheme that mimics the book
  • They have added a price value to the bonus. In this case, $97

There’s a description of the bonus further down the page, just above the second buy button.

You can see they use bullet points to emphasize the value of the benefits of the bonus and the bonus has a dollar value.

a bonus

Poke the Box currently costs $9.99 on Amazon.

The implication here is that if you spend $9.99 on the main product, you’ll get a bonus valued at $97.

If you’re on the fence, this over-delivery of value might push you into making a purchase.

The example below illustrates how you can stack bonuses together on a landing page.

You can easily create such a page with sales funnel software.

Landing page

You’ll notice this same value formula has been used, with the bonus products costing a hypothetical $300 apiece.

To maximize conversions, you want to stack up this value proposition to the point where it becomes ano brainer offer.”

“We used this strategy when running promotions at Zoomshift. Our conversion rate shot through the roof, because we focused on providing our customers with the best deal.” Owen Jones, Zoomshift

The benefit of stacking bonuses is that it makes it easier to provide superior value.

Make sure you clearly and attractively display the value of the bonus product(s).

You should link that value to your page’s CTA to help generate a sense of urgency.

5. Conclusion


You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to do affiliate marketing well.

The most robust products can almost sell themselves.

What you need to do is ensure that people buy them through your links and nobody else’s.

Bonuses are an effective weapon in your arsenal.

By creating and promoting the right bonuses, you can give wavering prospects a final nudge to become customers.

As long as you offer useful rewards and show their value, you’re sure to turn plenty of maybes into yeses.

Hopefully, our advice has shown you how easy it can be to boost your affiliate income with bonuses.

By offering white papers, eBooks, or other resources, you can significantly increase conversion rates and maximize your revenue.

Now it’s time for you to put the theory into practice.

This post is a guest post from Nico, he is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies make money blogging.

He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals.

Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.

Other posts about affiliate marketing:

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