A Comprehensive Outlook on Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the best online sources for generating income. Affiliate marketing is a revenue sharing venture between a website owner and a product merchant. A merchant, after thorough research on the website he wishes to place product advertisement, agrees to enter into a revenue sharing deal with the website owner.

Affiliate MarketingHow This Works?

First, the website in which the merchant wishes to place the product advertisements should have a lot of exposure. New sites are not generally considered as they do not have a large amount of traffic. Established and reputable sites are preferred.

Therefore, the merchant places his product advertisement on the affiliate website and waits for sales brought upon through the affiliate website. For each sale incurred, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage as commission for each product sold.

Advantages of Affiliate Marketing for Website Owner

Clearly, affiliates enjoy greater income potential online only if he has the capability to maximize the opportunity. Some of the advantages that affiliate marketers enjoy are:

Home Based – Affiliates do not have to work full or part time in offices. Affiliate marketing is a fully home based business opportunity. Once the website gains popularity and a traffic base, the marketers can scout for products and services to highlight on their site. The important task is to negotiate with the merchant regarding the commission percentage and duration of affiliation.

No Limit – For affiliates, there are no limits for becoming the affiliate partners for merchants. If affiliates want to increase earning potential, then they should partner with numerous merchants and see the money rolling in!

No Further Payment – As an affiliate, your task is to monitor traffic, sales completed and earn commissions. Since there is no heavy online work, the affiliate does not have to sub – let the task to anybody else. The profit earned is for the affiliate solely.

Flexibility – Working time of affiliates are not bound by hours every way. Work when you feel like, on your time, at your pace. Which other Internet earning opportunity provides the same flexibility benefit?

Beginning a Home Based Affiliate Business

With the advantages that home based affiliate businesses provide – time, flexibility and increased earning potential – beginning a home based business requires brainstorming sessions, identification and potential of the product or service in the market, and finally adept planning and execution. To create a business identity, understand and implement the following processes:

Research Product and Market – Business needs an idea. Suppose you already have the idea, then research about the product and its demand in the market. If a similar product already exists in the market, then identify how your product is different – highlight the product USP, its usefulness to buyers. Without thorough market research, a business will invariably fail.

Create Business Identity – After the research work is complete, think about naming and registering the business. Business name should be impressive and give a glimpse of the actual business. Create a business logo and register it according to the country business laws and regulations of the place of residence.

Investment – Depending upon the nature and type of business, create the investment plan. Obviously, home based affiliate businesses cannot function without investment, only the amount differs. If you have product selling business, then investment would mean the amount spent in buying product from the company in discounted rates or traveling costs incurred in direct selling or costs incurred in shipping goods. Best way is to create a rough chart of possible expenditures every month and stick to the budget.

Online Presence – In a modern technological world, surviving without an online presence is difficult. Even government and private enterprises like banks and multinational corporations have their own website. So, for a home based business, create its online presence by opening a website that contains details about the company and its products. Then, submit the website to search engines and market it through social networking sites (they are free!). Once your business gains speed, hire an Internet marketer for the same.

Profit – In the initial months, don’t expect huge profits from a home based affiliate business. Even if the profits can cover immediate work expenses, know that the business is on the right track! Ultimately, it’s your hard work and commitment that will keep the profits rolling!

Once your affiliate business begins to return revenues, you can start with multi-level affiliate marketing. Multi – Level Affiliate Marketing or MLM opportunity is a home based venture wherein marketers are needed to recruit new distributors of products, especially, and the distributors recruited further hire other distributors.

In short, MLM is like chain formation or pyramidal formation. The marketers earn on the basis of the commissions depending upon each recruit. Currently, MLM opportunities are available to more than 100 countries globally. However, this too comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

• As a home business opportunity, the person has complete time flexibility. The person can choose their own work times and the work duration is generally lesser than working in a regular 8 hours job!

• The earning potential is limitless. With MLM, the person can venture into reselling marketing concepts. Thus, by involvement in several home business opportunities, the person creates multiple sources of income easily.

• There are no extra expenses in terms of transportation costs or attending business meeting causes. Being a home business opportunity, all dealings are accomplished online.

• The person has complete freedom in choosing the people, team or company to work with. You are not answerable to anybody or seek permission for making business related decisions.

Disadvantages:

• The foremost disadvantage is the discontinuation of newer distributors’ registration. When the market product becomes hugely popular, there comes a point of stagnation where no new members are willing to sign up and thus leading to income restriction. Yes, one can have accounts with numerous MLM opportunities, but everything collapses on reaching the stagnation level.

• The United States government has banned several MLM fraudulent sites and has issued a fresh appeal to not indulge in MLM marketing opportunities with minors. This means that the government essentially requires strict implementation of fraudulent MLM activities or pyramidal structures.

• It is difficult to identify scam MLM sites. Their sites are full of ‘so called’ money making software and applications. They either charge for membership or we are given a free membership, and the money earned never reaches us. Before selecting any MLM company, consult your detailed affiliate marketing guide.

Calculate your risks before providing admittance. Lastly, you need proven affiliate marketing networks to expand and market your business. The basic element for maintaining an affiliate online presence is to be involved in tough affiliate marketing network strategies. These strategies are tools and applications to build a website’s online profile and in that way, help to attract large number of traffic.

Through Internet marketing, website owners try to rise up search engine ranking pages. It is a proven fact that Internet searchers or visitors do not tend to visit beyond 2-3 pages of search engine results. Only successful and prolonged Internet marketing strategy has the power to help your website stand unique in the first 3-4 pages of search results.

Here are some of the basic and proven affiliate marketing networks or platforms:

1. Blogging – Some consider blogging as a mode of passing leisure time. However, blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are free blogging sites that help in marketing by hosting content about the target website. The content may consist of product descriptions, service reviews, or general articles related to the target website niche topic, and all posts should contain the target websites landing page link.

2. Social Marketing – Popularize the blog and website through social marketing applications like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Blog Catalog, Squidoo and lots more. With every content page, add links for social book marking or make way for visitors to share the content links in their profile for their friends to see.

3. Games & Contests – Once a considerable amount of traffic begins to visit, add games contests or a voting contest wherein the visitor has to rate the question or topic with their preferred answer. Make sure that the topics are eye-catching and relevant to current world scenario.

4. Press Releases – A press release is a document to formally announce changes, modifications, and additions of product and services to one’s existing product brand. Most high profile companies write and publish their press releases to intimidate the readers. Simply, these are kinds of updates to keep the reader abreast with current developments. Either way, publish the press release online or hire other electronic media (more costly option).

Online marketing cannot be done in isolation. Create an affiliate marketing networks platform to gain maximum advantage.

Did we miss anything? Let us know.

2011 Affiliate Marketing Trends for Small Business Entrepreneurs

The social media developments in 2010 have changed the way small business entrepreneurs perceive affiliate marketing. With direct marketing back into the scene, affiliate marketers are presented with the opportunity to maximize product sales with precise or custom marketing models that will target a specific customer base.

For this to happen, affiliate marketing agents need tools and techniques to capture the fast developing Internet marketing trends.

Such tools will make sales soar high and also increase transparency in tracking sales and calculating return on investment. Here we have shortlisted the potent affiliate marketing trends for 2011.

Dynamic Consumer Interaction

Web is moving on to the next level of consumer communication. The 2011 affiliate marketing trends will see the use of JavaScript, HTML 5 and Flash in marketing models. Researches have shown the consumers show interest or respond better when they are shown engaging and eye-catching advertisements.

Use of dedicated widgets will increase level of consumer interaction with affiliates. Crisp and relevant marketing is the norm. People are not interesting in knowing never ending tales of weight loss miracles, for instance!

Consumers are well aware of the truth behind so-called miraculous truths. What consumers are looking for are real products with real value. An affiliate marketer who can capture this aspect of the consumer mindset will do well this year.

Keep your communication with consumers through messages, videos and other social media ultra-relevant and do not divert from the product. Don’t try to trick the buyer with false informative advertisements – you can trick them once but not twice!

Most importantly, engage with them and try to fulfill their product necessities. Again, no sugar-coated explanations! If your product has backbone, dynamic consumer interactions will be your blessing in disguise.

Mobile Optimization

Who doesn’t own a mobile today? Well, unless you are still living in the Stone Age and you have no knowledge whatsoever of technological miracles! Jokes apart, trade pundits believe that mobile affiliate marketing will be the special marketing flavor of 2011.

Mobile-commerce or M-Commerce is increasingly allowing publishers and advertisers to monitor consumer purchase behavior and identify profitable products on mobile.

Most of the websites today are accessible on your handsets; it’s like doing business 24×7 for both buyers and sellers. With handsets becoming more sophisticated, affiliate marketers are refocusing their online advertisement campaigns towards making them M-Commerce friendly.

Google +1

Understanding Google’s new feature ‘Google +1’ is necessary for affiliate marketers to prepare for the next 8-12 months of your business marketing model.

On 30th March, 2011, Google announced this new feature that will tie in search engine optimization with social media and networking. This is a step ahead to capture and initiate the increasing importance of social media in online businesses.

Mind you, if until now you were an affiliate marketer who did not believe in utilizing social media or used to purchase traffic / back links etc, Google +1 will completely spoil your business plans. How?

Google is well aware of how marketers engage in fraudulent methods to rank higher in search engine. The Google spiders crawling on the web cannot make out genuine traffic / back links from a fraudulent one most of the time.

So what Google did is very clever actually – Google took into consumer opinion. We know businesses flourish or get doomed on strong consumer opinion, which means Google +1 will now rank blogs and affiliate product websites on the basis of consumer response or feedback available from social networked platforms.

For instance, if you are running ‘fashion couture’ business and you have, let’s say, 5,000 Facebook likes and 23,000 tweets, your business will rank similarly against your competitors with the same statistics but what will really push up your search engine rankings are the consumer responses to your business.

If the responses are good, you rank high; if the responses are dissatisfactory most of the time, your rank goes downhill steadily. Getting this?

In other words, Google +1 has redoubled the efforts affiliate marketers and small business entrepreneurs need to invest in their business. Positive social media marketing and securing favorable feedbacks from consumers will occupy a large percentage of marketing campaigns.

Like the Facebook ‘like’ button, search engine results will have a similar button. The search engine will remember responses, negative or positive, to these buttons and use the data to refine website rankings! Is this getting too complicated for you? Wait, there’s more…

Google has designed this new system in such a way that people cannot misuse it. All the narcissists out there and those who like to abuse their competitors, beware…

You cannot use Google +1 to vent your personal grudges against someone or to excessively favor your own blog postings. If you do so, Google will simply stop counting your votes.

Google +1 is still in its early stages of development, that is, it will take some time to become visible but you need not wait to let the change takeover.

Start by reassessing your blog or website content that should not be any less than high quality and also monitor your online social media presence. You have to adopt precautionary measures if the responses and feedbacks have not been especially encouraging till now.

Some Things Never Change…

Some affiliate marketing trends will continue from 2010 into 2011 at least. These are:

Email marketing – one of the time tested ways for affiliates to reach target audience and generate sales. Newbie affiliate marketers will find lots of potential in email marketing.

These are like newsletters that inform your readers about recent changes happening in your industry and how that’s affecting your business or you can use email marketing to promote new products. But, email marketing should not be strictly promotional.

Yes, it’s all about marketing but you need to be subtle and careful. You cannot afford to lose interested readers just because your email marketing is boring and redundant. Every week write something interesting to capture your reader’s attention.

List Building – another one from the old tested times. List building is the prime issue of concern from newbie Internet marketers. Never ever go the shortcut way and purchase list of email ids and other details that comes with these package lists.

By purchasing them you are committing a crime because these lists are a result of privacy violation done by whoever is selling them. Instead, concentrate on creating your own list that you will use to send marketing materials.

Online Community Development – still in the initial stages of development and has lots of potential. Developing online communities is especially recommended because it helps to create a small network of clients and/or readers who can either be repeat buyers or become buyers later on.

Affiliate marketers can use social promotional tools to create online communities. The testing part is to keep the community active, which of course, cannot happen if members lose interest. Therefore, you have to find out topics and issues to keep your readers glued!

Blogging, Article Marketing and Ezine Marketing – again, these are the best ways to bring in traffic. No matter what kind of tools and techniques are used for promotion, these three components will never be out of vogue. After all, content is the king!

That’s about what we can think of. If you have any other potential affiliate marketing trends in 2011 that we have overlooked, feel free to post a comment below…

List of Internet Marketing Dont’s

If you’ve been dabbling in the world of Internet Marketing, I’m sure you’ve purchased several Internet marketing reports advising you about ‘what you should do’… but, does the same report guide you about the things ‘not to do’? It’s necessary for you to combine both and apply them accordingly to your business. Let’s touch on a few…

Don’t Think It’s Easy

Internet Marketing DontsE-marketing is simply not that easy for the beginner. Never think that by purchasing a few DIY guides, you can replicate the same massive results as the ‘big guys’ with your website and ride the wave of wealth in a matter of days.

The successful marketing strategies and tactics other marketers discuss may be suitable for them, but that doesn’t mean these same techniques will work for you.

If you want to progress, you have to work hard and apply the same amount of devotion as the successful marketers do.  Internet marketing is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme by any stretch of the imagination.

Don’t Buy Products Carelessly

On a start-up level, you may be hard pressed for cash so don’t go about buying every marketing strategy book, programs, guides and products online. On a score of 10, roughly 4 will be of any use to you. Be choosy…

…use your common sense here. Depending on your skill set, level of  online experience and knowledge, only purchase products or services that will allow you to attain the desired result you’re trying to achieve.

To get a feel for what product or service you’re needing, frequently visit marketing and affiliate forums – interact with fellow marketers and ask for recommendations from those you trust.

There is nothing more valuable than an honest review from the average person who has purchased a product or service and has actually used and applied it. Ask questions. They have the inside scoop on whether or not they felt the product was well worth their investment or not.

Prepare a list of DIY guides and products on Internet marketing that you feel would be useful and talk about them with other marketers. Don’t even think about wasting your hard earned cash on ones that are consistently getting bad responses. Purchase the ones that others are raving about.

Don’t Fall Into Paid Links Trap

Several Internet marketers fall into the trap of buying paid links and traffic for their website – this is the cardinal sin of Internet marketing. The Google search engine is not a fool to think that your website is receiving natural traffic in a wave of thousands all of a sudden.

Moreover, getting paid links and traffic proves to be a negative because Google can shut down your website instantly if its search engine finds out what you’re doing.

Another point is that most of the paid links are from useless sites; sites that do nothing to help your search engine rankings. Same case with paid traffic.

What few Internet marketers tend to do is space out their paid links and traffic exchange over a few months. Even then you have to put in a lot of hard work to get natural unique links and traffic to your website.

Don’t Spend Tons of Cash on Advertisement

Even ten or twenty years back, advertisement expenditure formed a major part of a company’s budget but with the Internets’ advanced technology, there are endless options of free advertisement.

No matter what kind of online business you have, you should not spend reckless amounts of cash unless you’re sure of what you are doing and your investment proves to yield a positive return.

Like any other business promotional strategy, you need to test and monitor different marketing methods to see which options work best for you. While some may earn a good deal of money with AdWords, many earn with free advertisement. Choose these options wisely that fit your budget.

Don’t Buy Lists

Purchasing lists of thousands of people’s names, email addresses and other details is expensive and kind of like taking a shot in the dark. There are several unscrupulous websites that collect personal information and sell them online.  These details are supposed to be private and should always stay private. Regardless… is the list truly targeted?  Not on all accounts they’re not.

Instead, put your efforts in major research to begin with, and you’ll find your true market…resulting in only marketing to potential customers searching for exactly what you have to offer.  Short cuts to ‘success’ never last.

Don’t Use Multi-Level Marketing if Unsure

There is quite a debate regarding Multi-level marketing because some critics consider this method to be illegal. Multi-level marketing is a business system where goods and services are sold through a pyramid scheme structure, with distributors on the top supplying others lower down the scale in return for commission.

Making the pyramid scheme work is rather difficult, very time consuming and the competition is stiff. Unless you research all the ins and outs and prefer that business model, you may want to choose an alternative if you’re just starting out.

Don’t Be Greedy

Several Internet marketers fail to find success online because they tend to get too greedy, too soon. These are people who are being fed to the wolves – so blinded by money they talk themselves right into thinking that earning money online is a piece of cake.

If you are one of them, it’s time for a sincere reality check. Nothing worth having ever comes easy in life so don’t disappoint yourself by thinking making money online is any different.

Internet marketing is not your money spinning machine. It’s a skill, one that needs to be mastered. You have to sweat it out, work hard and devote the time to expect decent returns. Patience my dear, lots of patience.

Don’t Make Tall Claims

Phil Greenough of Greenough Communications says that “even if you are not making a big splash, it is more important to be true than to dress a product to be different than it really is.”

In other words, what he’s saying is never make tall claims about a product or service if not true. Remember, those bad reviews catch on faster than you’ll ever know.

Sure in the short-term you may be able to drive 100 sales the first month but buyers are very smart. Once they hear the product is not up to par, you may as well kiss success good-bye. Negative reviews that go viral are simply unstoppable.

Don’t Create Replica Sites

Some people think they are too smart – they create replica sites of their main websites and promote them. It works but for a short while. Search engines can track them and if promotion gets too popular, people can easily identify these sites and may perceive them to be fraudulent. If you have too many products to sell, create different websites with unique content. Keep it simple and honest.

Don’t Use Black Hat Techniques

Have you read the not-so-recent JC Penney problem? Apparently they used black hat techniques and flourished the Internet with their links. They may have made millions for a few months but Google found out and now their search engine ranking is below 100!

Black Hat search optimization are techniques used to get higher search engine rankings in an unethical manner.  These characteristics include breaking the search engine rules and regulations and unproperly presents content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.

Black Hat techniques to avoid;

Keyword stuffing: Packing long lists of keywords and nothing else onto your site

Invisible text: This is putting lists of keywords in white text on a white background in hopes of attracting more search engine spiders.

Doorway Pages: A doorway page is basically a “fake” page that the user will never see.

Make sure you never follow black hat techniques and risk being banned or blacklisted. While they are tempting…stay away.

Don’t Ever Ignore Consumer Feedback

It is the consumer – not the advertisers that results in revenue. If you make the mistake of ignoring your customer’s feedback, you stand to lose repeat business.

Few years back Intel made the same mistake when buyers commented on a faulted chip. Soon media got wind of it and Intel had to announce product recalls – a loss of both time and money.

Therefore, honor all consumer’s feedback both positive and negative. And… don’t think twice about refunding anyone’s money if they are dissatisfied with your product.

What are some of your Internet marketing Don’ts. Leave a comment and let us know…

Meeting “Demand” and “Supply” as Affiliates

If you are still struggling to increase your income and have not yet reached your desired financial independence, it could be because you still don’t have a good website marketing strategy as an affiliate.

To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to build a proper strategy. Most importantly, you cannot copy exactly other marketers strategies…some will work while others may not. The trick is understanding your target market and its demand, then figure out what strategies to implement to turn things in your favor.

No matter whether the business is online or off, the only thing that matters in business is “Buying” and “Selling” and “Demand” and “Supply” – the basic economics an internet marketer needs to know – ‘who is the customer?’ and ‘what can you offer’ to the potential customer.

What Does The Consumer Want?

Meeting “Demand” and “Supply” as AffiliatesAs a seller, you need to have a clear idea about what the customer is looking to buy. The way to know this is to put yourself into the shoes of the consumer and find out what ‘clicks’ with them.

Once you catch the pulse of the consumers, it’ll be easier to sell products.

Involve yourself in online consumer surveys and online forums to understand what the consumer is looking for.

As an affiliate, your marketing strategy will not only depend on the selected product but the consumer market you need to target.

What Can You Offer?

Now that you know what the consumer wants, you need to assess your offer. Find out what makes your offer better than your competition. Questions like;

-Why should the consumer buy from you?

-How do I create an irresistible offer?

-Can the customer trust you?

-How are you representing the company’s image whose product you’re offering?

A successful internet marketer needs to specifically answer such questions.

The crux – if there are millions of people buying online everyday, then whose fault is it if they are not buying from you?

The Four Phases of Internet Affiliate Marketing


Phase I – Online Research

Research is the primary factor. Before you begin to draft marketing strategies, you need to research the target market and determine your standing in the market. Online market research will include:

  1. Researching competitors – their marketing strategies, popularity, market demand, weaknesses, product quality, customer feedback and online presence.
  2. Researching your customers – their purchase power, product demand, online visibility, purchase considerations and their geographical location.

Create a graft sheet highlighting your findings. This preliminary in-depth research will contribute hugely to your internet marketing success.

Phase II – Data Analysis

What do you do with the data collected in phase I? You analyze it! It is not without reason that million and billion dollar companies recruit pools of data analysts. With the help of data analysis, you can break up the market and consumer demands into segments. Here are certain analytical tools you can use:

  • Correlation Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Factor Analysis
  • Brand Mapping
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Conjoint Analysis
  • Logistic Regression Analysis
  • CHAID Analysis
  • Multidimensional Analysis
  • Structural Equation Modeling

Phase III – Development of Marketing Strategies

Strategy development involves a bit of planning too. As a marketer, you need to know about tools and methods to utilize in your marketing strategy.

Depending on the consumer data analysis, you can employ marketing methods like podcasting, blogging, SEO, PPC, video blogging, viral traffic generation, banner exchange, webinars, link building and social media networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

By ‘consumer data analysis’, one means using those web marketing tactics that the consumer also uses. Suppose the market graph of a cluster of consumers show use of video blogging to know about more products and communicating with fellow bloggers.

In this case, you, as the internet marketer, should target video blogging and utilize the medium to create a larger consumer base.

Similarly, if another cluster of consumers spend their time on Facebook pages, talking about products and discussing reviews, you have another ‘potential market’ in the making.

You can create a Facebook page of the product you sell and use promotional and advertising tools to draw in consumers. In fact, Facebook offers a very interesting tool, seldom used by new internet marketers, that is, a tool to target consumers on the basis of their geographical location.

For instance, if you want to target a market in Western Europe, then you prepare your Facebook advertisement on the same lines and the ads will be shown only on select pages of consumers from Western Europe.

Online marketing is definitely time-consuming. You need to invest in both time and money to gain momentum in consumer market.

Phase IV – Strategy Testing & Monitoring

You will never know if your strategies are working until you implement them and monitor them regularly. Of course, don’t expect miraculous results in a few hours. Monitor for weeks to see any progressive change in the consumer inflow. In between this time, your ‘efforts’ should not cease.

The strategy testing and monitoring would involve;

-Evaluating the amount of time consumers spend on your website

-Visibility of the landing page

-Keyword optimization

-Target market oriented keywords

-SEO terms customers are using to land on your website.

What Did We Learn?

There aren’t any ‘fixed’ internet marketing strategies for upcoming affiliates. Each business devises their own strategy after careful analysis of the target market and their own place in the ever expanding consumer market.

The internet is a vast universe. To make your mark in the world of internet marketing, you need to devise your own business strategy that will be different and specifically relates to your own targeted niche.

Understand the pulse of the consumer – What attracts them and what doesn’t? On what products are they willing to spend money? What are they looking for in a particular product? How can you satisfy the consumer needs?

Once you understand these questions, you can come up with your own answers, and that will be your stepping stone into affiliate internet marketing strategy development.