Are You Ready To Join The Evolution Of Affiliate Marketing?

Last December, while speaking at an affiliate convention in LA, I had the opportunity to share a panel with Dush Ramachandran, the vice president of sales, marketing, and business development for ClickBank. We talked about some of the challenges facing his organization. One of those challenges is the fact that after years of success, many affiliates lose their excitement for ClickBank, often feeling that they need to “graduate” to more challenging platforms.

I did not get started as an affiliate marketer by promoting information products on Clickbank, but I’m pretty sure the vast majority of affiliates got started this way. Clickbank accepts almost anybody, and their system is the simplest and most straight forward there is. When you notice that many of the “guru” affiliates who are teaching everyone how to get rich online often promote Clickbank products, you can see how so many people become Clickbank affiliates.

The more experience and success you get, the more sophisticated your marketing becomes. Your need for more powerful tools, more intelligence data, and more control grows as your business grows.

While sophisticated affiliate networks like MediaTrust, NeverBlue, and Clickbooth all provide advanced tools that can help you run very complex campaigns, their barrier to entry is very high.  CPA networks won’t accept you unless you are a proven and ethical marketer. They don’t have time for newbies. I believe CPA networks are where most experienced affiliates go once they learn the ropes on sites like ClickBank and Commission Junction.

But there is a new alternative for experienced affiliates. I was lucky enough to be invited to see it in person, and I can confidently say it is the next step in the evolution of affiliate marketing. It is the new and highly innovative network known as TrendRevenue.

The People Behind Trend Revenue Are The Reason It Is So Unique And Exciting!

I worked with many TrendRevenue members back in my glorious pharmacy days. We made a LOT of money, money we didn’t even think it was possible to make (I talked about it in more detail in this interview). In fact, back in the day, they flew me and my beautiful wife to Maui for a week with all expenses paid just to convince me to drop my current affiliate relationship and work with them. They did a great job persuading me, and I am really glad I made the switch.

I managed to get top rankings in Google not only for hot pharmaceutical products, but also for other industries like mortgages, and life insurance. They all paid decently, but only the pharmacy marketing made a huge amount of money. Now that I think about it, the real reason for this is blatantly obvious. Read more

Delayed Gratification: The key to untold riches down the line

You have probably heard about the two most important metrics for the success of a website: traffic and conversions. No one will dispute that the more traffic you receive, and the better that traffic converts, the more sales/profits you are going to make. Entire professions are dedicated to driving traffic to your website and to improving your landing pages’ conversion rates. The general wisdom is that these two important fields need to be treated separately. But in this post I am going to explain why the two are more tightly related than they initially seem.

Going Back to the Source

Certainly you can do all sorts of things to your site to “improve” the likelihood that the visitor will stay around longer and perhaps take action eventually. But I think that too much effort and thought is put into driving traffic from as many sources and keywords as possible and in trying to optimize everything that can be optimized on a website. Yet little thought is put into something as obvious as trying to understand clearly what each visitor is expecting when they see your landing page.

Think about it. Visitors land on your website all the time, but the path of clicks they followed to get there, and their expectations once they arrive, are often completely different from visitor to visitor. One visitor may arrive after reading a favorable review of your services from a reputable blog site or online magazine. Another may arrive directly from your Google AdWords ad that promised a discount on purchases “today only.” This is what I call the visitor’s frame of mind. It is a very important concept for conversion: the source of your traffic preconditions your visitor to take (or not to take) action on your content.

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An Active Mindset: 100 new RSS subscribers and the power of endorsements

Everybody in the search marketing industry has fallen head over heels for social media. Certainly it’s nice to see those traffic spikes in your website stats. Personally, I see social media as excellent for viral marketing, branding and long-term relationship building. But I don’t see that new visitors coming to a site from social media sites are particularity interested in taking action on content. Why? Most of them are not in that particular mindset. For first time visits, search engine and affiliate traffic simply convert better.

Unless your monetization strategy is to sell page views you need to keep hitting the home page of the social media sites on a consistent basis in order to take advantage of them. What works best I find is a balanced approach to building traffic. Let me illustrate this by sharing two recent events that sent notable traffic spikes to this blog, as well as the resulting fallout from that traffic. Read more

On gurus, Google, and gaining marketshare: Leveraging your position as number one

guru.jpgA lot of people read blogs, books, articles and other materials from so-called 'gurus' that made it big. Readers are hoping to do the same but I know that no one will match success by simply following a guru’s advice. I am not saying this because I think those gurus are necessarily dishonest or are holding back (though most are), but because I've learned that you don't become successful by following a specific formula—especially not a formula that somebody else gave you.

Why? Because success is in many ways all about competition. If you learn things from other people's playbook, they already have the first-comer advantage. You too need to be the first somewhere. You need to find unexploited opportunities of your own.

In this post, I want to tell you about my personal experiences with pay-per-click (PPC) and what I’ve learned over the years. I started my first profitable site back in 2002 on borrowed credit with a CAD$3,000 limit. I turned that $3k in $4.5k with PPC and affiliate commissions—a 50% ROI. It was my first time as an online marketer, an online baby step. And now, several years later, I own a 7-figure per year business, I employ several talented individuals and have time to post on this blog! Read more

I'm not slacking, I'm working on a homerun post!

I am working on a killer post for next Monday where I am going to detail my best kept secret: a very simple technique to identify keywords with high demand and little or no competition.

Do you want to have keywords like this?

profitable_keywords3.gif

I've asked several A-list bloggers for their niche finding formula.  And guess what: they don't have time or don't think it's a good idea to share it.  I can't blame them.  Sharing this powerful information will render it practically ineffective and can cost them thousands of dollars in revenue due to the increased competition.

My blog reader Paul Montwill started the fire when he dared to ask me for such information.  I am sure he will be delighted when I post my technique next Monday.

Here are a couple of tidbits I was able to squeeze out of Aaron Wall and Neil Patel.  They are busy guys and I am glad they took the time to respond:

if he wants to become an SEO consultant then the easiest way to learn marketing is to start marketing one of his own sites… preferably covering a topic he is passionate about. Aaron Wall

The way I usually start is to look at terms that have a high CPC and
then from there I look for the least competitive ones and go after
them. I don't know of a quick way to do this because I myself don't
really do it, but there maybe some easy ways.  Neil Patel

What Neil mentions applies when you are planning to do SEO only. For PPC, you don't want to pay high bid prices.  In either case, what I personally look for is for terms that have high demand (search volume), good profit per sale, and low competition.  The profit per sale depends on the product and the affiliate commission you would get paid.

To measure the level of competition, I use two basic methods. If I am going to do PPC (which I usually do to start), I check the level of competing Adwords advertisers.  In the case of SEO, I check the SERPS (search engine result pages) to see how many sites are ranking organically for those terms.

How can you find those terms in the first place?

That is what I am going to answer in Monday's post.  I will include very detailed instructions and examples too.

 I am still debating whether this is a good idea.  Am I going to take food from my table by doing this?  Probably, but as I've committed myself to share, I guess I don't have an option.  I have to stick to my word.

Please leave some comments and let me know if this is something that you'll find useful.  Would I be giving away too much?  To share, or not to share: that is the question.

Advanced link cloaking techniques

The interesting discussion between Rand and Jeremy had me thinking about some of the things affiliates do to protect their links. I am talking about link cloaking — the art of hiding links.

We can hide links from our potential customer (in the case of affiliate links), and we can hide them from the search engines as well (as in the case of reciprocal links, paid links, etc.).

While I think cloaking affiliate links to prevent others from stealing your commissions is useful, I am not encouraging you to use the techniques I am about to explain. I certainly think it is very important to understand link cloaking in order to protect yourself when you are buying products, services or links.

When I am reading a product endorsement, I usually mouse over the link to see if it is an affiliate link. Why? I don’t mind the blogger making a commission’; but, If I see he or she is trying to hide it via redirects, Java-script, etc. I don’t perceive it is as an endorsement.  I feel it is a concealed ad. When I see <aff>, editor’s note, etc. I feel I can trust the endorsement.

Another interesting technique is the cloaking of links to the search engines. The reasoning behind this concept is so that your link partners think you endorse them, but you tell the search engines that you don’t. Again, I am not supporting this.

Cloaking links to the potential customers.

Several of the techniques, I’ve seen are: Read more

Why start SEO and Affiliate Marketing with PPC?

1. Accurate keyword research.  There are numerous keyword research tools that help you identify keywords that people are searching for, their volume of searches, level of competition, etc… Unfortunately, every single tool has a critical problem: the source of the information.

Wordtracker relies on information from meta search engine Dogpile, and similar sources. Yahoo mixes plurals, singulars, and phrases typed in different order; the information reported is from the previous month. Google tries to estimate traffic and fails to provide good predictions most of the time. There are other popular tools that have similar problems.

Running a test PPC campaign for a week or two will provide actual and dependable statistics about the amount and quality of the traffic to be expected for each keyword.

2. High click-through titles and descriptions. Page titles and meta descriptions are what people will normally see in the search results. We need to provide an incentive for the searcher to click-through.

Unfortunately it is very tricky to test changing titles and meta descriptions for SEO. We need to be able to rank first!

PPC management tools are designed so that we can easily split test multiple ads and the system will tell us which ads perform better. When we find the winning PPC ads we can use them to create our titles and meta descriptions.

3. High converting landing pages. Having a high conversion rate and high converting landing pages is not only important for our bottom line, it’s very important to retain top affiliates as well.

Another advantage of running test PPC campaigns is that we can tweak our landing pages until they give us the desired results.

Top affiliates measure the merchants effectiveness by their earn per click (EPC) — how much they make from every click they send. You can offer large commissions, incentives, etc… What really matters is how well their traffic will convert.

Even if you don’t plan to run a PPC campaign, it makes perfect sense to run at least one as a test to help you improve the results you will get with other channels.

Finding profitable niches

Oftentimes what we would really like to do, will not bring the money we need to survive immediately.

What I really love is writing software and solving problems, yet I had to learn the boring part of business and marketing.  I was very lucky that SEO required a great deal of technical understanding and was really fun to do in the early days.

In order to support myself and fund my software business, I started doing affiliate marketing in highly profitable markets such as on-line pharmacy, finance, travel, etc. These markets are extremely competitive, however with the right knowledge and tools you can thrive.  Take for example one of my old affiliate sites http://www.tripscan.com  which ranks organically in the top 20 (used to be top 5 when I was actively marketing it)  in Yahoo for the highly competitive phrase “vacation package” which has more than 50 million competing sites.

The key is to start small and find keywords that nobody else — or a few smart ones — have thought about.  Most people call this “the long tail” but let me tell you that it is longer than most marketers think. Read more

Measuring your affiliate success

As an affiliate you have many advantages.  You don’t need to keep inventory; manage people, suppliers, banks, etc…

You only need to concentrate on marketing.  Find good and reliable merchants and create content to pre-sell their stuff.

I started as an affiliate 5 years ago and I can attest that it works. You can gradually build a good source of income selling other people stuff.

If you are an entrepreneur as well, your journey should not stop there.  You need to plan for building something of value that you can later sell.

My affiliate years tough me a lot about marketing and business.  As a geek I didn’t have those critical skills.

In order to grow your affiliate business you need to carefully track what is working and what is not, down to the keyword level.  This is an advantage that merchants have over their affiliates:  their analytics software can give them all of this critical information.  These systems are not designed for affiliates.

Let me share a tip:  a technique I used as an affiliate to better track my campaigns. Read more