What is the first thing you do when you decide to built a new house? Before you look for the perfect block of land. Before you choose your builder. Before you create a budget...the very first thing you do...
Is PICTURE what it looks like.
Affiliates...you need to have a picture of how your business fits together. You need to have a system in place so that you can work your way from one step or phase to another. So I've thrown together a few pic's for you so that you can see how it should all fit together.
The first is an overview of how your website or blog (or even your articles) should work. This is as basic as it gets...I just wanted to give you a visual!
|Affiliate Marketing isn't a hobby. If you want to make money online then you're going to need a plan.|
GREEN - Branding Sites
ORANGE - Money generating sites
So here's how it works...
TRAFFIC GENERATORSTraffic might come from AdWords, search engines, Facebook pages/advertising, YouTube, Twitter, Hubpages Squidoo EzineArticles and other content sites or ANY other source that you can think of.
I think a lot of affiliates and webmasters underestimate the importance of organic (or free) traffic that shows up on the SERPS (Search Engine Page Results). Just because you are using PPC (Pay Per Click or AdWords) methods to generate traffic doesn't mean that you should neglect your SEO.
Adwords is great, but affiliates have to compete with some very big businesses who are willing to invest a lot more money in their bids knowing that they will gain repeat customers. Affiliates, more often than not, only get the one sale per customer and with a conversion rate of 2% or 3%.... you could end up spending a small fortune without the results you want. Sending visitors to a squeeze page is also going to increase the cost of your minimum bid because Google considers a squeeze page "low user experience."
A little common sense SEO and a few backlinks will result in a better page rank on the SERPs which means more organic traffic and smaller AdWords bills.
Facebook has just as much traffic pulling power as Google these days - it has been likened to what Google was 10 years ago. Like anything, there is a technique that you will need to study up on before diving in there and spamming all your friends with news about your promotions. Twitter Marketing can also be another means of generating traffic and requires a similar (and yet strangely different) set of social marketing skills.
YouTube and other video sites are a wonderful way to bring in traffic as well as brand yourself with the public. Video's are one of those Internet Marketing tools that so many affiliates have at their disposal but fail to use.
If you have a freebie (a report or an eBook or something that you can give away or sell seriously cheap) then you can throw in a squeeze page so you can add people to your mailing list. I like to give people the option to access it regardless because you'll always lose a few who don't want to hand over their precious email - it's up to you to prioritize which is more important...building your mailing list or getting people on your site, blog or webpage.
BRANDING SITESYou have noticed that you there are a few. First and foremost is you "Problem Resource." When somebody in your niche has a problem, they can go to this resource for information.
In theory, this resource could be as little as an Ezine Article. Ideally, it should be a website with it's own domain name (it''s own address eg www.example.com).
There is of course a middle ground which can please the people and your bank balance - a free blog. Wordpress.com has great ranking power and it's easy enough to buy your own domain name should the time come.
Your Problem Resource need to be full of useful, relevant, informative and sincere information to appeal to your readers. It also needs to be rich in keywords, relevant, easy to navigate and have incoming links (known as backlinks) to appease the Google gods.
Backlinks remind me of high school - it's all one big popularity contest. When one of the cool kids points at the new kid (that's you) and says "Hey, that kid has something to say, he's pretty cool so you should listen to him," then you become instantly, on the spot popular. That is why backlinks are so important. They tell Google that your site is important resulting in a better page rank (resulting in more free traffic...that doesn't always convert into customers but it sure doesn't hurt)
Gone are the days of the traditional "mini site." In days gone by, affiliates would build their empire by putting together hundreds of mini sites (but not all at the same time!). They would consist of about 5 pages - give or take - of adverts, PLR content (pre-written articles) and affiliate links. These mini sites were so successful that these Affiliate Marketers virtually spammed the hell out of the niches which led to some BIG changes at Google. These algorithm changes led to mini sites being de-indexed or losing face and many marketers couldn't keep up with the rule change, They dropped out (which is great news for you and I).
I know, I know...I'm getting to the point! Bear with me =)
These days a "mini site" needs to consist of about TEN pages - it needs to be bigger and relevant and have original content. Google doesn't hate Affiliates (as so many are whispering in the forums)...it just hates Affiliates who try to cheat the system - Google prides itself on quality. Give it what it wants.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE TRAFFIC ON YOUR BRANDING SITES
Okay, you need to "brand" yourself. This is where you ESTABLISH YOURSELF as THE go-to guy in this niche.
Problem Resource Site - I call this is a "Problem Resource" for a reason - you provide knowledgeable info for your readers. Content. Content. Content. You want to try to give these readers a reason to return. Customers need to be exposed to something about 8 times before they buy it and you don't want them to wander back to the search engines on their 4th exposure.
You're the boss. You're the authority. There is no "Please click here for more info"...you TELL them what to do. You tell them to go to you Business Card Blog (or website) or the sales page of the product you're promoting.
Business Card Blog - This is your own personal blog. If you have any experience with traditional marketing, you know that a business card is a valuable asset. Internet Marketing has a MASSIVE obstacle that you need to overcome.
Building a relationship of trust. In a brick & mortor store, if you don't like the look of the salesman/woman, you're going to be reluctant to take their advice. However, if you feel that the salesman is sincere and honest looking and empathetic then you are going to be more inclined to take their advice when they suggest that your bum looks better in THOSE jeans or that THIS used car is the one for you...even if it does cost a bit more.
That's why a personal blog is so important - it allows people to get to know you. I refer to this as a Business Card Blog because you should NOT attempt to market through this blog - it's a business card not a sales flyer. Make sense?
Building an Email list - This is not a critical priority of a new Affiliate Marketer however it IS an essential ingredient in successful Internet Marketing. Mailing lists give you the opportunity to turn customers into repeat offenders...er, I mean repeat customers. This is how Affiliates make the big bucks. The biggest obstacle that you need to overcome in trust...once somebody buys something off you once they are more likely to do it again.
Email Marketing needs to be subtle. Like any Internet Marketing, it requires a Give-Take relationship...you give them valuable info...then you take their money. Simply dropping your subscribers an affiliate link just ain't going to cut it. You'll have people dropping off the radar faster than they are signing on. You build a list by offering a freebie which people can access after they have given you their email in exchange for the product.
The less info you ask for on the squeeze page, the higher the sign up rate. However that means less targeted marketing because you are guessing demographics like gender, age, etc. It's all about finding a balance that works for you.
MONEY GENERATING SITES (The Sales Page)Perhaps the least complicated part of you Affiliate Marketers business plan now that we've been through all of the above. For Affiliate Marketers, the sales page isn't owned by you. You have no control over it. All you have to do is get people there!
So let's talk click through techniques instead.
A STRONG CALL TO ACTION - Humor and curiosity work better than any other call to action. If you can use both of them in the same call...then you're doing a hell of a lot better than me! It's much harder than it seems =)
Call to Action Dont's:
- "Click Here" is NOT a call to action. It's lame.
- Don't say "please." You're the authority. Take control of your traffic and direct it. Be firm
- Don't use "For more information visit [my affiliate link]"
- Don't forget about the assets you have at your disposal
Many Affiliates forget about the assets they have at their fingertips. Direct traffic through your affiliate link with examples like these:
- "Check out this video about [something uber important]"
- Or.... "Find out how eating chocolate brownies can help you lose weight" (providing there's a weight loss recipe on the other end of your link)
- Or.... "If you want to get back with your ex...forget it! Your plan stinks. Unless you know [these tips and tricks you'll find out about via my affiliate link] then you don't have a chance of healing old wounds."
Adding Banners To You Blog
Banners are those little pictures at the top and side of a blog (you can see a few at the top of this page) that, when clicked on, will take people through your affiliate link to the sales page. In days gone by, before the Google algorithm changes, affiliates would positively STUFF the top of their pages with these banners. These days, it doesn't make good SEO practice... Google doesn't appreciate it.
As far as business sense, the first part of the webpage that readers look is the top left corner. The top of the page is the first impression and people decide in a split second whether or not they are going to hit the back button or stay on and read. Use a little common sense - think SEO as well as Marketing methods.
Common Click Through Mistakes
There's no reason to talk about the product you are promoting in your articles or blog posts. You can mention it, a few times , but you don't need to SELL IT. There's no need to mention or try to justify the price. No need to talk about how this product changed you life (unless it truly did), rescued Little Johnny from a well and cured the world of poverty. That's what the sales page is for.
Your job as an affiliate is PRE-sell. You're the matchmaker. You're taking people with a problem from the search engines (or Facebook, or YouTube etc) giving them valuable info and then pointing to the sales page. That's it. Pretty simple, huh?
In theory, yeah, it's easy. Just keep putting one foot (or webpage) in front of another. I mentioned earlier that making money online is NOT a hobby that you can do in your sleep. You're building a business from the ground up - one brick (or webpage) at a time.
Balance SEO with building a relationship based on trust and respect wwith your readers. Ask for help (you didn't learn to read without a tutor) and be patient with yourself...learn from your mistakes. And so concludes the second longest blog post in the history of mankind =)