Effective Affiliate Marketing Strategies
Many online marketers and internet entrepreneurs today have succeeded in their professions through affiliate marketing. Just think about it. Here finally, is a way of generating personal revenue that does not require you to create your own product, provide after-sales customer support or even design a website! Further, you can begin right now!
So how exactly do you earn as an affiliate marketer? Simply by connecting buyers with sellers. Each time someone makes a purchase, you receive part of the payment, which is called a ‘commission’. So if a customer purchases a product or service worth say $100 and the commission on the affiliate program is 50%, you’ve just earned yourself $50.
Therefore in effect, you are in a different class because remuneration for your work as a salesperson is based solely on commissions. The advantage you have here is that you do not need to sell much or even sell anything at all, for that matter. There is no requirement for your business to take and process orders or to make appointments and meet clients personally. Your main task is centered on acquainting individuals with the chosen product or service, all within the context of cyberspace.
Then there is the cost factor. There are no offices or buildings you need to rent or maintain for the business and no recurring monthly insurance payments. Online advertising today is either quite cheap or free of charge. And affiliate marketing can be done either on a part-time or fulltime basis, which makes it ideal for those aspiring to begin creating their own passive income.
So are you ready?
Here we go!
Where to Source Buyers
You may have already identified the right product or service you wish to promote. However, bear in mind that this this accounts for one preliminary part of the affiliate strategy. The real substance of the plan is to find prospects or buyers. You can be sure that provided there are willing buyers in the niche market, there will be products and services to be sold! We can classify buyers into two categories: urgent buyers and impulse buyers.
Urgent Buyers: These buyers are driven by the need to find a quick solution to fix a problem they have, which may be physical, mental, emotional pain, or a financial emergency like a foreclosure. These are the type of buyers compelled by desperation and will readily have their cards or cheques ready to make a payment as soon as a solution is identified.
Impulse Buyers: These buyers will make purchases within a range of products connected to a specific theme they are passionate about. It may be a sport like tennis, or skiing, or it may be cats, horses or homemade recipes. Alternatively, they may be so loyal to a particular brand that they simply keep purchasing the latest products or product versions from the same manufacturer.
The affiliate marketer needs to identify a niche market filled with buyers who are ready and willing to engage with the product or service he/she aspires to promote. So the question now is how to find such a place. The first step in this search is simply to start where you are. Be observant as you interact with the immediate world around you and ask yourself key questions: What are the conversations going on around you about? Can you identify any needs? How do your relatives, friends, college or work mates live and what products or services do they need in their daily lives?
You can also discover serious buyers by discovering serious sellers. This way you will get the benefit of both sides of the equation – you will identify the really sizzling, on-demand markets and the trendy items or services that buyers are going for. Presently, almost all leading online marketplaces have categorized their bestselling products. Check out the following examples.
- EBay: Simply select any category you find on this site and there will be some items labelled as ‘hot’. These are really trendy items that likely have over 30 bids placed on them. So as you browse the site keep your eyes open for such key products and you will find some fantastic stuff to promote. Another way is to check the items that topped past auctions and you can find them by logging onto EBay Listings. Alternatively, you could research on statistical data to see the currently trending items on EBay Marketplace.
- Amazon: It is easy to check the hottest products under any given category by accessing Amazon Bestsellers.
- ClickBank: You can do a search by category of any items in Clickbank Marketplace (http://www.clickbank.com/marketplace.htm) and filter there by 'Gravity' to find the most popular products. . Gravity refers to how ClickBank determines the product’s popularity, using a secret business formula that is derived from sale numbers and affiliate marketers connected to the product.
Cost Per Action
Cost Per Action (or CPA) can be simply defined as receiving payment for connecting buyers with those who are willing to sell to them, regardless of whether any purchases are made or not. The businesses will have already calculated beforehand how many buyers they gain from a given number of visitors, and therefore will know how much to pay for each prospect introduced to their site. So CPA offers can have payments based on visitors who land on the site, sign up or even simply enter their postal code.
You would need to follow an application process in order to get into most arrangements by companies offering CPAs. So when you visit these sites, check for the section entitled ‘Publisher Application’.
For a complete list of companies which offer CPAs, check out the 20 Best CPA Affiliate Networks with Highest Paying Offers compiled by Earningguys.com.
Becoming an Affiliate
How can you find affiliate programs offered by companies? Well, one way is to navigate to the company website and scroll down to the bottom of their product page. They will likely have an ‘Affiliate’, ‘Partners’ or ‘Associates’ link. This leads you to the page detailing their terms and conditions as well as how you can join the program. Note however, that some are open programs which accept just about anyone as an affiliate marketer, while others are closed programs and are more selective when it comes to deciding who gets to promote for them. Always acquaint yourself well with the terms and conditions of any program before joining, as violations can lead to dismissal, regardless of how much time and effort you’ve spent building your business with them. For instance, some have rules on how and when to classify a promoter as a spammer.
For a detailed list of companies offering affiliate programs, how much they pay and how you can join, check out Allan Gardyne's Associate Programs website.
More information on how to become an affiliate marketer and to succeed in this business is available in my previous article: How to Earn as an Affiliate Marketer.
Affiliate Marketing Essentials
1. Web Host:
You will need an account hosted online, where all your content can be posted and stored. Today, there is a ton of companies offering web-hosting services at varying prices payable monthly, annually or both. It is necessary to check and see the packages offered under each payment plan and decide what the best fit is for your budget and your objectives. One service that is reputed to offer a good deal which includes quick and reliable customer support is HostGator.
2. Domain Name:
The second requirement is an internet address for your site. This is what is typed on the browser’s address bar and is also referred to as URL or Uniform Resource Indicator. Remember the name that you choose as your domain needs to correspond to the niche you intend to work in as a marketer. At NameCheap, you can check the availability and compare different variations of domain names, before purchasing your own at a cheap price.
There is need for a way to attract visitors and to inspire them enough to sign up for with their email addresses. This is where a well-presented report comes in. You can use the tools and features available on MS Office or OpenOffice to create this report and make it as visually appealing as possible. In the words of marketing author and strategist David Meermann Scott, instead of one-way interruption, web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment a buyer needs it.
(a) Squeeze Page: This is simply an opt-in page where you offer the visitor valued information in exchange for their email address (more on submission of email addresses shortly). What is involved here is that you simply create a page with a captivating offer that connect users to your offer.
For example, if you are promoting a skin product that fights facial pimples and rashes, you could obtain permission from customers who have used it successfully to include their before and after photos in your squeeze page. The advantage of this setup is that once you build an email list, you can use it to market other products or services in the same niche in order to generate additional income. Check out an example of an opt-in section in a squeeze page below:
(b) Download Page: Here is where you include a link to your report and the affiliate or CPA offer. You may want to include some additional text in order to make it enticing and appealing to the buyer, for example: There are many people, myself included, who have experienced quick results from using this product in their fight against belly fat. If you have had your own personal experience with the product, here’s your chance to spell it out loud and clear. Also, check whether the company whose product you are marketing has promotional resources which you can use for your download page for example banners, icons and other graphics.
Autoresponder companies provide email services where people can sign up to your email list. The service allows you to automatically send emails out to respondents on a regular basis, according to the schedule you have set. Two popular autoresponder service providers are GetResponse and AWeber.
Once you have opened an account with them, you could set it up such that whenever anyone submits their email address, they receive automatic messages (auto responses) forwarded to them in intervals. For example, the first response may be sent immediately after they sign in, the second 1-2 days later, and so on. In this way, the autoresponder company manages the tasks of determining which email to forward to which individual and when (depending on the settings you have indicated) so that you are free of the responsibility of tracking them yourself.
Bear in mind that in most cases, the location of the ‘Thank You’ page is set by default to be a form on the autoresponder's company site. So make sure that in this section, you insert your affiliate link so that the visitors can access your offer.
Additionally, the first email that is sent to responders by way of follow up after they have signed in, should include a link to your download page. The content of the email should be useful tips and relevant insights concerning your niche area.
Methods for Attracting Traffic
Attracting Targeted Traffic
Bear in mind that the goal of your efforts as an affiliate marketer is not just to obtain traffic but Targeted Traffic, in other words, numbers of visitors who are directly interested in your niche. Traffic can be obtained through paid advertising (e.g. using Google AdWords or Pay-Per-Click programs), or by partnering with marketers and promotional businesses. Two methods of obtaining free traffic are writing articles and Web 2.0 sites.
(a) Articles: When you start composing articles related to your niche, ensure that they are not copies of your report, but are unique in their own way. Use the type of titles that attract people, for example, titles that start with “12 Ways”, “5 Methods”, “How To” or “Top 7”. Always employ the use of captivating headlines for your articles. Be careful not to present the actual promotion of the offer within the main body of the article as this will likely put off readers before they get through all the material. Instead, include the actual promotion of your site in the Resource Box. This is the section where you connect the article with your report. You can do this by dropping in a catch phrase that goes like this: for 14 additional tips which are even more effective, visit http://yourdomain.com.
Laura Fitton, founder of OneForty.com stated, focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm, and ideas about how to solve that problem. Spread the word with clarity and precision. After you have finished editing your articles, the next step is submitting them to online directories. There are several good ones out there. These include: Ezinearticles, ArticlesBase, Articlecity, Searchwarp, Articlealley and Buzzle.
One of the advantages of such platforms is that others can copy and paste your articles onto their sites as long as they include the Resource Box, which means you get additional exposure and free promotion for more traffic to your site.
(b) Web 2.0 Sites: You can also submit content concerning your niche to Web 2.0 sites in order to draw visitors to your opt-in page and to your offer. This will increase the chances of more traffic flow to your squeeze page. Visitors will digest your articles and other content you have posted related to your niche and then find your opt-in page to enlist themselves for further information or for purchases. If you are wondering where exactly you can find them, check out this recent compilation of 290 Web 2.0 Sites, listed by their page and Alexa ranking. Note that though the methodology described here may appear a bit complex at the beginning, it can quickly build momentum once it takes off. And the good news is after setup, the system becomes operational 24/7/365, without you having to manually take care of each detail.