How To Become Successful Through Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is very profitable for those who know what they are doing. This particular area of Internet Marketing is always expanding with new products and services that can be sold easily to new clients or marketed directly to your email lists. Below you will find some tips and tricks that might help you enjoy success as an Affiliate Marketer.

  • Write a newsletter. Ensure that it is written well so that it will immediately capture the readers attention. This will increase the chances that the visitor to your site will want to join your email list.
  • Write an e-book on the aspects of your market niche and post to document-sharing sites. This helps highlight your expertise and attract those that are searching for information that is similar to the content on your website. Do not forget to incorporate your site through your content.
  • One of the most important qualities of affiliate marketing is that the information on your website must be up-to-date and relevant. Good affiliate programs will provide you with new marketing material, resources and advertisements that are more user-friendly and appealing to users.
  • Don’t count on just a few affiliate products to provide you with an ongoing source of steady income. It is a good idea to start with one or two products that resonate with you or that you are passionate about and once you begin to see results, start growing by adding new programs or products to promote from various places like Clickbank or Commission Junction. A varied foundation of affiliates will prevent you from losing money in the event you choose to stop promoting a specific product or the program you are promoting no longer exists.
  • Only market as many affiliate products as you are comfortable managing
  • Another great tip is to create a hard deadline for your customers to buy certain affiliate products. If your visitors see there is a purchasing deadline, it may give them a push to purchase it. This extra push can be a terrific way to increase the volume of sales.
  • Making your content of your website readable can boost profits in a big way, by making it easier for anyone to read your site. This is even more vital if you are dealing with older individuals.
  • Make sure that your reviews are as specific and detailed as possible to give reader the information they need to make a purchase.
  • You should always be honest with your business dealings with affiliate internet marketing. Your potential customers will feel better and be more prone to click your links when you inform them the reason why you like to include affiliate marketing.

Contrary to popular opinion, affiliate marketing can be a simple process. There is work that has to be put in, but your website will certainly benefit from it, as a result. Consider which of the tips you find to be the most helpful as you develop a coherent approach to affiliate marketing.

3 Strategies For Effective Data Collection and Marketing Communications

You have a message you want to get out. That’s great. However, you have a lot of competition for the attention of your audience. Direct mail, TV and radio advertising, newspaper and periodical advertising and of course, internet advertising. And we have not even started talking about social media (for example, Twitter and Facebook). All of this competition for the attention of your audience could be bad news. The good news is that you have so many channels, or tools, to get your message out. With a little knowledge and some well-planned strategy your business can be one of the few that get the right message to the right audience at the right time. Here are three tools to make sure that your message stands out.

If you wanted to pound a nail into a wall, you would not use a pair of pliers. Likewise, if you wanted to tighten a faucet, you would not use a hammer. In other words, you need the right tool for the right job. That means you need to know two critical pieces of information: 1) what is your desired outcome and 2) what is the best tool to get you there. This is true in any endeavor, be it carpentry, plumbing or communicating. Here, of course, we are talking about communication, which is a good thing because I know nothing about either carpentry or plumbing.

On the other hand, I do know about communicating a message. Effective marketing and communications require you to start with the end in mind. What is it you want to accomplish? Ask yourself, at the end of this, what do I want to have happen? Without this critical piece of knowledge, you can never strategically get where you want to go. You could end up there accidentally, but it would take you a lot more time and a lot more money. In this economy, very few of us have extra time or money. I know I sure as heck don’t.

So what is the goal of your marketing campaign? Obtain more leads for your sales staff? Drive visitors to your website? Get people into a local restaurant? Have people buy their next car from your dealership? Create a robust online community? Whatever the answer is, you need a clear picture of your desired outcome before you can strategize how to get there. You then need accurate information in the form of accurate data and business intelligence so you will know what is relevant to your audience. Finally, your offer has to be one that allows a win for you and your audience.

SO LET’S TAKE A LOOK INSIDE OUR STRATEGIC TOOLBOX:

TOOL #1: KNOW YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME BEFORE YOU START
TOOL #2: CURRENT, ACCURATE DATA IS KING
TOOL #3: MAKE INTERACTIONS WIN-WIN
We will look at each of these in more detail in this week’s three part series Three Tools to Build an Outstanding Communication Strategy. So make sure you check back, or even better, subscribe to the feed. Don’t miss out on a tool you could use to build your business.

TOOL ONE: KNOW YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME BEFORE YOU START!

Good communication is never random. Never left to chance. There is a strategy behind the best, most effective communication campaigns. To come up with an effective strategy, you have to start at the end. That’s right, start at the end. By that, I mean you must determine what you are looking to accomplish with the campaign. There are some examples in earlier sections (I assume you have read the earlier parts of the series. If not, shame on you! But because I am a nice guy, here is a link).

Quite simply, you cannot start any journey without knowing the destination. Lewis Carroll summed it up nicely when he said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Even Plato understood this, stating in The Republic that “[t]he beginning is the most important part of the work.” A clear outcome is where you start your work.

What is the difference between a wish and a clearly defined outcome?

A clear outcome is well defined with start dates, end dates and metrics by which you can measure your success. Your outcome should be objective. Instead of “I want more leads,” you should be saying, “I want 5% of the recipients of this message to go to the web-landing page and register for our monthly newsletter.” In the first example, one new lead would meet your goal. If you are selling nuclear submarines, that might actually be your goal, but most of us are not in the business of selling one-offs. The difference in the second example is that you have a measurable, objective way to determine if your communication strategy is successful.

Once you have your outcome clearly defined, you have to strategize how you can reach that outcome. Let’s take the restaurant campaign as our example. You want to reach local customers and increase your customer base and your ability to communicate to your audience. The first thing you need is data. Data can come from many sources, but no matter what, data is king in this information age. You can use a list you have generated on your own or you can buy a list. Either way, it is a first step toward more effective communication.

You can also use a number of methods to reach your audience. Direct mail, email, internet advertising, text messaging, advertising, or combinations of all of them. As we are focusing on data, let’s look at a very basic, targeted customer acquisition campaign. First, you need your list. For this example, let’s say you have no data of your own so you need to buy a list. There are more companies selling lists out there than there are grains of sand on Cape Cod (hey, I’m a Boston guy; if it makes you feel better, you can say the beaches of Long Island – the point is the same). The key here is to make sure you use a reputable, list broker who keeps their list current and accurate. If your list is out of date, your campaign is doomed from the start.

TOOL TWO: CURRENT, ACCURATE DATA IS KING!

Which strategy do you think will yield better results?

1. I will send out mailers to 100,000 people to get more business.
2. I will mail 10,000 personalized postcards every week for ten weeks. Each card will have a personal URL so that the effectiveness of the message can be improved every week.

OK, that was a stupid question. Obviously, answer number 2 will get you better results. My insane pet dog even got that answer right (then he peed on my rug). Yet despite the fact that answer number one obviously results in a less effective communication strategy, I have seen more companies engage in that type of marketing than I have seen engage in the second method. Sometimes the obvious solution is not the easiest solution.

The ability to accurately measure results is critical to success in communication. Who saw the message? Who opened the email? Who read the post card? Who used the QR Code on their mobile phone? When did they read it? Who went to the web landing page and what did they do there? All of this information is easily ascertainable and it is extremely valuable.

With this list you send out a direct mail piece with a compelling call to action to visit a web landing page. In our restaurant hypothetical, you might offer a coupon for a free appetizer when you visit the web landing page and complete a brief survey and sign up for the restaurant’s newsletter. By doing this, your customer is opting into future communications. The survey might ask which pizza topping is the customer’s favorite. This accomplishes a number of things. One, you now have a list of warm leads who you know are interested in your product. Two, you know their preferences from the survey. Three, you have their permission to send them subsequent, targeted communications with specials and offers (this includes sending text messages…but SMS texting is the subject of another post). The point is that for the cost of a postcard and appetizer, you now have even more customers and even more accurate data. And as customers come in, you keep track of their orders, likes, dislikes and other relevant patterns. You build a great database.

TOOL 3: MAKE INTERACTIONS WIN-WIN!

Now that our pizza shop owner has all of this data, what can be done with it to help generate revenue? After all, generating revenue is the point here. SO let’s continue with our example. With the data collected data, our restaurant owner can send personalized email offers that match not only the customer’s needs and desires, but the restaurant’s as well. If you know you have a boatload of excess pepperoni, you might offer a free pepperoni topping with the purchase of a large pizza. You can target that message in an email or text message to customers you know buy pepperoni pizza (remember – you have been tracking customer buying patterns).

So now you have a win-win outcome. You, the restaurant owner, sells more pepperoni pizza when you need to, and your customers that love pepperoni get a price break on what they love. It is good for all, and that is marketing at its best. How can you leverage you company’s data to create win-win situations for customers and prospects? Do you need to start collecting data? Leave some feedback and share your experiences.

What Can a Grocery Store Teach Us About Web Design and Internet Marketing? Part 1

For a newbie venturing into the online world a grocery store offers many lessons in web design, layout and structure. The parallels between your site and a grocery store are very similar and clear. Learn these lessons and you will have a huge head start and a solid mindset for building an online business.

PART 1 – LAYOUT

The most apparent thing you will notice in any grocery store is the layout. Below you will see a basic floor plan of any grocery store. Most grocery stores follow the same pattern and it is not by accident. Lets take a further look.

Grocery-layout

The layout of a grocery store has one purpose: “To guide you through the entire store so that you end up in the check out line”. There is no difference between the layout of a grocery store and the layout of your site. Websites have one purpose and that is to sell. Your website needs to have that same purpose too.

SLOW THEM DOWN WITH FRESH CONTENT

In almost all grocery stores you will start off in a produce section. This is for 2 reasons.

1. Because these items are the most perishable, they want you to stock up on them as soon as you arrive. This helps keep the items fresher.

2. Number 2 is even more important. THIS LAYOUT SLOWS YOU DOWN. You have to zig and zag. Once you think you have found a clear path another obstacle or customer will get in your way. The longer you are in a store, the more money you are likely to spend.

Why are understanding these two principles so important for your own online business?

Because you want to have the freshest content available to your audience. It does not necessarily have to be the best content available, but you want to keep it new and consistently put it out there. Also, good content slows down your visitors and keeps them on the page. Most visitors get click happy and just start clicking one link after another. Give them something to stop and think about. Give them relevant content that keeps them on the page.

Slow them down, get their attention and then hit them with a call to action. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. Tell them about a product or insert an image or use any means necessary to get them to do exactly what you want them to do. This would be similar to a sale sign or an employee of the produce department recommending a particular fruit because it is a new crop and in season.

STEERING THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Aisle-layout A successful layout in a grocery store gets you to follow a particular sales path. You might not have even been aware of it in the past, but like the produce section there are all kids of items placed in your way. Not just to get your attention of a particular sale, but to guide you in a certain direction. Layouts get you commit to one direction without you even thinking about it. Look at the bottoms on aisles between 1 and 2 and also between 3 and 4. These little displays help steer you down the right aisles. The goal of these are to make sure you go through every aisle.

Your website needs to do the same exact thing. If your purpose is to make sales, everything you do needs to lead that customer to your online shopping cart. If your purpose is to make new contacts and generate leads, then everything you do on your site needs to drive that potential customer to a sign up form. Your website needs to be laid out in a way that the call to action that you want the customer to take is the most apparent part of your page

ONE WAY IN….ONE WAY OUT!

Grocery stores have one advantage huge advantage over your website. There is ONLY one way in and one way out. There are 1000′s of ways people can find your website. Search engines, Directories, Video Sites, Social Networking Sites, Direct URL, Forums, Blogs, Random Sites, and places you would never expect are all ways people can find your website. There are 1000′s of entryways into your website.

What about Exits? Obviously, the first exit is when they use the Back Button. No one wants that. That is just a waste of a visit. But what most of you don’t realize or track, are how many people are actually doing just that? Do you know how many people look at one page and then exit? If not, you should. And you should be testing and improving that everyday. Tragically, the other exits that exist on your site are ones that you create. Whether it is a link to a friends site, a site that my be beneficial, your Facebook, your MySpace, or your Twitter account they are all links to sites outside of your website.

Once they leave they are gone and you opened the door for them to leave! You didn’t utilize their visit. No sale was made, no information was captured. They already have accounts on those video pages and social network pages. Are you going to keep your fingers crossed and hope that everyone you send away from your site is going to be your friend on a social network site?

Remember, the purpose of your website is to make sales. The purpose is not to send them to your Facebook account. You want to use those sites to drive traffic to your website, not that other way around. So close those doors and drive the traffic to where you want them to go!