One of the fastest ways to get started with an online business is with affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you are selling someone else’s products and they pay you a commission for everything you sell. They develop the product, the ads, and they handle all the transactions. All you do is find the customers for them and you get paid.
There are several types of affiliate programs out there. Most are managed through an affiliate program “broker”. If you create your account on these affiliate broker sites, you can browse the affiliate programs they support. They always provide statistics on which program pays best, has the highest success rates, and other information to help you determine the best affiliate products for you.
Commission Junction tends to focus on very established companies such as VistaPrint.com, Carbonite.com, Symantec.com, and many other products and services. ClickBank.com tends to favor information products and software products. The right program for you depends on many factors. It is my understanding that ClickBank.com has produced more internet millionaires than any of the other affiliate programs because their products typically have higher prices and higher commissions as well.
Once you sign up for an affiliate program, you can place ads on your website. Some of these work best if you include the ads on your blog or other pages on your site. Other programs, especially the more expensive products, may require a dedicated landing page in order to help generate sales. People might click on a banner ad to purchase business cards. But people rarely click a simple ad to purchase a service worth thousands of dollars. Basically the harder the item is to sell, the harder you have to work to sell it.
Some companies will provide you with completely finished web pages that you can host on your web server. Others provide special affiliate links and you have to write your own ads on your site. This is something to consider as you try and make your decision. Keep in mind that even if they provide you with a completely finished web page, you still have the problem of driving visitors to your site, page, or ad. That is where the real work is.
To drive traffic, you can use the common search engine optimization techniques, but you will probably fail at it because you are competing with other affiliate marketers who are probably much better at it than you are. The most common traffic driving method is to buy pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements from Google.com, Bing.com, or Yahoo.com. PPC ads can be expensive and you are likely to spend as much, if not more, on ads as you make in commissions. Some people lose money. But others make millions this way.
What’s the key to success? First, carefully choose the affiliate programs you want to market. Second, make sure your sales pages and ads are very good. Do small tests and learn what works and what doesn’t. Keep the winners, cancel the losers, and continue to refine your affiliate marketing business. Be careful to learn how to manage your ad bids and don’t overdo it. Keep in mind the guy you are in a bidding war with might be losing money himself. Set your ad prices based on what works, not on what others are doing.
Never get attached to any affiliate program or any ad campaign. What works today might not work tomorrow. Judge everything on the statistics. Learn how to analyze the traffic, the conversion rates, and the ad costs and make a solid educated decision. Reevaluate everything routinely and continue to optimize your business. Before you know it you’ll be making a nice living online. How do I know this? Because there are thousands of internet millionaires out there and this is how most of them built their wealth.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a system where you pay Google.com, or other companies, to place your ad on their site and you pay them a certain amount of money per click to do that. This means that every single visitor to your site could cost you several dollars each. This can add up very fast. There are businesses that spend huge fortunes on this type of advertising. But why? Can’t you just hire an SEO guy to optimize your site and get your web traffic that way? Wouldn’t that save you a fortune?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can generate traffic for you. In fact, you could build a highly successful business using SEO and never pay for PPC ads at all. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. SEO experts cost a fortune and the results may disappoint you. They might make you number one for some terms, but are those the right terms? How long will you stay number one? How long will it take to become number one? What does it cost to stay there? By the time you get to the top and stay there, you will be spending quite a bit on SEO work. It is probably worth the expense and trouble. I am not knocking SEO. I do that myself. But SEO is not the only strategy. It is expensive, has some risks, and may not work as fast as you want it to. SEO is one option and has it’s own strengths and limitations.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising seems very expensive when you think of it in terms of cost per click. But contrasting that with SEO, you know exactly how many visitors you get for your money. With SEO it is an unknown. With PPC, it is an exact science. With PPC, you also have the advantage of being able to totally change directions very quickly simply by adjusting your ads whenever you like. You can also start and stop ad campaigns when needed, so it is easy to manage your budget as needed.
Another very popular use of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is to do trial ads in order to test the effectiveness of keywords, of landing pages, and of the wording of your ads. It can help you optimize your print ads, online ads, and give you solid guidance on how to optimize your sites for search engines.
One more thing to consider when contemplating the decision to use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is that there are many businesses out there that spend a fortune on ads. I have worked with two companies that have a budget in excess of $1M/year on PPC ads. Why would someone do that? Because it works! PPC advertising can be highly effective when it is setup and optimized for your business.
There are tricks and strategies to help you get the most out of your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. This is why there are experts out there. Bad bidding on bad keywords with bad ads will give you a poor results. But optimized campaigns that are well tested and optimized can be quite profitable. If you are not getting good results, then make some changes and see if things improve. If you aren’t sure how to do “split testing” or how to evaluate your campaigns, then consider getting some training or hire an expert to help you.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) may not be for everyone. But for some, it is the only way to go. This is a hugely popular method of getting traffic and I encourage you to consider it.
Most business websites are designed to talk about the business and what it has to offer. You could think of this like a resume. If a visitor wants to know more about you, this is perfect. But that is not why most people visit web sites. This is the biggest mistake in web design. Your visitors visit your website because they want something. Maybe it is information, maybe it is to know more about you, maybe it is to buy a product, or maybe they want to solve some issue they are dealing with. Designing your website from the perspective of helping customers find solutions and make decisions about products and services is the goal. Put your resume in the about us section.
In this article, we are going to help you learn who your customers are, what do they want from you, and how to present your products or services to them so that they can make an informed buying decision. We are helping customers make decisions. This is a marketing method and it works for everything from inviting visitors to visit your church or helping someone buy a car. Customers have questions and concerns. You have answers and solutions. That is how your website helps your visitors and that’s how visitors become customers.
Who Buys What and Why?
Know your Products – Make a list of all the products you sell. For some companies, this is easy. But if you are a jack-of-all-trades type of business, you might not be able to articulate your products and services. That’s a real problem. Most customers buy one thing and they need to know you do that one thing. This is especially an issue when they are looking at your website or other marketing materials. They want to see the list somewhere to see if their problem is listed.
Know your Customer – Most businesses have more than one type of client. You can break that down as “small clients”, “large clients”, or “residential clients and ”commercial clients“ or you may break it down further. With Anything Internet, we have broken ours into more groups. We have prospects, large clients, small clients, referral partners, and a few others.
Match them up – Pair up your customers and products. If your ”large client“ buys ”super service“ and ”premium product“, then list those combinations as: ”large client / super service“ and next list ”large client / premium product“. You don’t have to find every possible combination, just get your main combinations listed. This longer list of clients and product pairs gives you a solid perspective of who your customers are and what they buy. A good start.
Why they buy – For each item on this new list of pairs, list why they buy. You can pretty much assume they buy for the following reasons:
- they have a problem that needs to be fixed
- they see the potential of improvement of some kind
- they are emotionally attached to the product or service
- they are afraid of what might happen if they don’t buy it
We want our page structure to include:
- what do they want
- what are they afraid of
- we have a solution
- why we are better than our competitors
- testimonials, success stories, and endorsements
- more about our solution
- call to action – buy now – call us – fill in the form – whatever
If you can list some of the fears and benefits next to each customer/product pair, then your list has evolved into customer/product/why. The customer/product/whys list becomes the foundation for your marketing campaigns. Now you know who buys what and why. You are half-way home.
Designing a full marketing campaign can be quite involved and is too much to cover in this article. What we can talk about is your web design. Ideally what we would want is a page on your site for each of those customer/product/why combinations. If you have ten customer/product/whys items on your list, then you need ten pages to cover those. We can call those ”landing pages“.
Each of those ten landing pages needs to be focused on the why, not the what. We separated all these because the why might be different for different types of customers. Each of these ten pages might actually have different whys listed even if it applies to the same product. We are not discussing the product. We are discussing the customer and what his needs are.
In addition to the whys, we need product information, product features, testimonials, or whatever else. Finally, each of these landing pages needs a call to action. We show the customer that we understand his needs, we have a product for that, and he should buy that product now. Of course this applies to service business or other types of organizations. You use the same structure, you just choose the wording that fits what you are promoting.
For example, if you have a website for your church, you could have a page for people who are from other denominations and you create a page to show them a way to visit your church and learn the differences and they ”why“ portion of the page reassures them that they are welcome to visit without any pressure or whatever. You already know who they are, that they are curious or whatever, and they have fears about feeling welcome. So you address all that, tell them you understand their concerns and fears, they are welcome to ask questions, etc., and invite them to visit. Same process.
There are many directions you can go with this information. You can update your website, as we discussed here. You can implement a direct mail campaign, radio campaign, or whatever else. Every one of those approaches needs to be thought out. The work we did here was a foundation that can help you put together a marketing campaign. All we have done here is define our customers, what they buy, and why. There are many ”next steps“.
For your website, let’s say you created your landing pages and you feel good about them. Now you need to link them up on your home page. Depending on how many customers or products you have, you could do this in many different ways. Generally I suggest organizing your site around the customers needs and let the products land where they land. But what works for your business … we would have to discuss it. You can try product driven, customer driven, needs driven, or any combination and just see what works best. You will get the hang of it once you start focusing on building a website to help your customers instead of building a website to talk about yourself.