When you are an affiliate of a company usually you get a link that you can promote, and that link will tell that company that the link is your affiliate link and to make sure you get paid if someone ends up buying something from your link. You may only get one link to promote, you may get many links, you may get a list of products that you can put your affiliate link in, and sometimes you will be given the place to create your own links. Which of these should you do? It depends on what your affiliate network and company you are an affiliate of, let’s you do.
First you should know what deep linking is, if you want to promote Microsoft 365 personal for example, instead of pointing your affiliate link to microsoft.com (affiliate link), and making the person who clicked the link go through all the pages that Microsoft has in order to find where the Microsoft 365 personal page is. You can link directly to Microsoft 365 personal (affiliate link) then the person can click buy and you will get the percentage that the company offered you as an affiliate. It’s called deep linking because the link is to a specific page rather than the website’s home page.
With all the options to create a link that contain your affiliate link which should you do? The best option is the deep linking or being able to create your link. This way you can link to exactly what you want and it’s a much higher chance that the person who clicks that link will click buy which will mean more money in your pocket.
If it has such a higher chance to make money why doesn’t every affiliate network and company that accepts affiliates allow deep links? Most of the time it will require the company that accepts affiliates to change their affiliate tracking so they can be sure to give the payouts to the right person. It also requires the affiliate network to have that option which requires tweaking their current setup. In the end, it’s because everything is already setup the way they want and they don’t want to go in and change things. However if there is an option for feedback I would encourage you to voice it and let them know you want deep linking (consider giving them a link to this blog post).
If deep links are allowed how do you setup your own? It all depends on what the company that accepts affiliates and the affiliate network has setup. Sometimes you may be able to go browsing through all the products they have and copy your affiliate link, some require you to create your own link each and every time (which will require you to go to the company’s website and find what you are looking for, then go back to paste that link, then copy your affiliate link). Each and every affiliate network has their own setup and method so you will have to see what you can do, and how to do it (usually by looking in the help section, or by contacting the company).
When you talk about a specific product and use a deep link to that exact product, it shapes the path that the person who clicks the link has. They heard about the product through you, then they click on the deep link to find out more, then they hopefully go and buy it from that same link (sometimes a cookie is set so if something is purchased from that site within a set period of time after the fact then you still get a percentage). It creates a clear path for the person who clicked the link to the relevant product that you talked about.
If you are promoting something that has an option as an app, you are probably wondering if your link should direct people to the website or go directly into the app? The best way to do this is by having in the affiliate link to see if the person who clicked the link has the app installed, and if they do then go directly into the app for an seamless experience. If the person doesn’t have the app then direct them to website where they will be able to install the app (and still do the thing, like having details on the coupon). For example, Netflix has sent emails out if someone stopped in the middle of a show, and the link took them to the app (if it was installed) and played exactly where they left off.
With deep links there is a greater chance of your affiliate link not working, which means the person who clicked the link won’t be directed to exactly what you linked. You will have to spend time every so often making sure all your deep links are still going to the same place you wanted when you set it up. Some affiliate networks (like ShareASale (affiliate link)) do this automatically for you, they will notify you if there is a bad link and tell you exactly on what page so you can go in and fix it.
Now that you have a deep link you may look at it and see it’s a very long link and it contains the affiliate network you are part of (or even your affiliate id), as well as what page you are redirecting to. If you don’t want people who click on the link to know all of this right away (or stop it from being changed), you may consider cloaking your links.
If you have your own website you can do this using any sort of cloaking plugin (like ThirstyAffiliates), if you don’t have your own website you can use any link shortener site like bit.ly, Cuttly, or Rebrandly). Some affiliate programs don’t allow you to cloak your links so make sure you ready your affiliate terms and rules before cloaking all your links.
When you cloak a link you can manage all the affiliate links that you have in one place, and be able to change just one links rather than each and every time you include the affiliate link in a post. You can also track all those links to see what affiliate links are the most popular and what pages those links are on. If you are interested in reading more about link cloaking I would suggest you read link cloaking 101 and a beginner’s guide to link cloaking.
To close, yes you should deep link your affiliate links. How you do so depends on your affiliate network and the companies you are an affiliate of. If there isn’t an option to deep link then request it, or consider going to a competitor that offers it.
Deep Linking is Good Linking – Nielson Norman Group
Universal Links, URI Schemes, App Links, and Deep Links: What’s the Difference? – Branch
These Mistakes Will Get You Banned As An Amazon Affiliate – Marketever
Why Publishers Prefer to Work with Affiliate Networks – Jean Galea
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: 7 Steps to Success – Ahrefs