• Using Affiliate Programs

    January 25th, 2011
    Using Affiliate ProgramsSales TopicsOther Marketing Topics
    content/attachments/13254-worldwidemarketing-jpg.html By Titus Hoskins

    YNOT – It always surprises me how much money one can make by selling other people's stuff on the internet. Eight years in as an affiliate marketer, and the numbers still shock me. Always.

    More than the numbers, what really amazes me the most is the lifestyle one can achieve from online marketing. You can be your own boss, work your own hours, carry out your business from anywhere in the world you want to live. You can create automatic marketing systems that work 24/7/365. Earn money even when you're sleeping, vacationing or out enjoying a gourmet meal at your favorite restaurant. Total freedom.

    So is it any wonder I am constantly analyzing my whole marketing structure to figure out what is working and what is not working? Finding out just what strategies are giving me the best returns on my efforts and time. And I am constantly trying to discover ways to increase my affiliate sales and online traffic.

    The key to success is breaking down your online marketing efforts into their core elements and scrutinizing each one. What can be improved? What can be eliminated? What needs to be redesigned? Any serious online marketer must actively work on these core elements to stay competitive in the affiliate game.

    With these thoughts in mind, here are some simple marketing strategies that can contribute to your success as an affiliate selling products on the web. These marketing factors should always be at the back of your mind, influencing your every move.

    Quality content
    People use the web to find quality content or information. Always remember this fact and apply it to each step of your marketing plan. Give your visitors quality content, and you will succeed online. There are no ironclad guarantees, but get this one step right and you will probably make money.

    Design your website and your web pages around quality content. Useful, relevant content will give people a reason not only to visit your site in the first place, but also to return. Provide good information first, and let the sale or selling be secondary. People do not like a pushy salesperson — not in real life and not on the web. Develop a friendly, helpful relationship with potential customers and you will succeed.

    Keywords
    The internet is keyword-driven. Keywords are words or phrases people type into search engines to find what they're looking for on the web. They are also your keys to online success: Picking the right keywords is essential if you want to stand out from your competition.

    Professional marketers use keyword software like Brad Callen's Keyword Elite to research profitable keywords, but there are many free tools and sites available online to help define keywords for your business. SEOBook is a good one. Daily monitoring of your major keywords is important to keeping them in the top positions. Any movement downwards should spark more link and/or content building immediately.

    Keep in mind Google, which in mid-2010 controlled approximately 65 percent of the web's search traffic, is a great source of information about keywords. Use Google to see what sites pop up for searches on your potential keywords. Also check Google for the paid ads related to your keywords, and monitor these ads over a period of time to see which ones are profitable. Do your keyword homework, and your affiliate marketing will be a lot easier.

    Niche focus
    It’s easier to do well in affiliate marketing if you concentrate your efforts on small niche markets where the competition is not too stiff. Choosing the right niche markets is vital to your success. Demand should be high, and the most profitable products and services are those with big tickets and only one source.

    Once you have chosen your niche(s), concentrate on dominating them in all the search engines. Don't forget that the fastest and sometimes most profitable way to tackle a niche is through pay-per-click advertising, especially if there is little bidding on your keywords.

    List building
    There is power in a list. Make sure you collect contact information from any of your site's visitors who are willing to provide it, and give list members something valuable in return. Offer free e-books, guides, special deals or bonuses to get prospects to opt-in. Studies have shown that people usually don't buy until the sixth or seventh encounter with a marketing message, so the trick here is to keep their interest long enough for them to convince themselves they need whatever you’re selling.

    I like to build hundreds of micro-lists for the affiliate products I market. The specialized lists allow me to follow-up with targeted information, special deals, coupons and bonuses.

    Traffic
    Obviously, traffic is one of the key elements to earning money online, mainly because without traffic you're dead in the water. You must explore all avenues to generate targeted traffic to your affiliate links. Sources are always changing; blogging and social bookmark sites are very important now. So too are video and audio formats, so make sure you use them in your marketing. And keep your eyes open for what seems poised to take their place, because something will.

    Conversion rates
    Traffic is a must, but traffic that doesn’t turn into sales at an impressive rate is worse than no traffic at all. Affiliate marketing can be tricky in this regard, because not only do your pages have to "pre-sell" the product, but the landing page at the site where you send your traffic must live up to what you’ve promised.

    The biggest key to high conversion rates has nothing to do with landing pages, sales pitches, etc. Instead, the primary determiner of affiliate success is the quality of the products you promote. Research the products and services in which you are interested and affiliate with only the best in your niche. Examine not only the product itself, but also the company’s customer service and reputation in the industry. Don’t be snowed by pretty words or larger-than-life promises. Remember: In order to be a savvy affiliate marketer, you must think like a savvy consumer.

    Multiple streams and residual income
    Any serious online marketer will leverage his or her traffic and effort by promoting many different products and services. Savvy marketers develop diverse sources of income with affiliate links. Google AdSense, paid advertising, partnerships and other methods are used to create multiple streams of income from one site. If one stream dries up, there others continue producing income.

    Although I use affiliate networks that offer a variety of promotable products in one spot, like any other professional marketer I save my special promotions and efforts for the affiliate products or services that provide the highest return on investment. In most cases, these are high-ticket items or products that offer high-value residual income: Make one sale; get paid time and time again. Lifetime revshare programs work that way, and although the initial payout may be only a fraction of the alternative one-time, per-sale revenue offered for the same product, over time revshare payments add up. If you’re in the game for the long term and you’ve decided only to affiliate with quality products offered by reputable companies, revshare programs are a good way to go. Sprinkle in some per-sale programs for the immediate cash, but focus the majority of your efforts on the long-term profit potential.

    Testing will show you the money
    You must test and track everything constantly. What is working, and what is not? Which traffic is converting? Which keywords are converting? Which products are converting? Which niches are profitable? You simply must test in order to know which factors are working in your online marketing structure. Unless you test and track everything you will be marketing blind, and that's no way to run a business.

    I have found Google Analytics to be extremely helpful for testing and improving conversion rates. I am also a firm believer in analyzing traffic logs and stats daily. The data will show you where the real money is hiding. Use the information to make adjustments and improve traffic and sales.
    Like any endeavor, the more knowledge you have, the more successful you will be in reaching your goals. This is especially true for affiliate marketing on the web.

    Always remember: Affiliate marketing takes time and lots of effort to set-up, but the payoff can be extremely rewarding.


    Titus Hoskins is a full-time web marketer who owns and runs numerous websites, including BizWareMagic.com. The site assists visitors with employing Hoskins’ strategies for list building. This article originally appeared at MainstreamWebmasters.com. It was revised and reprinted with permission.

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