Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quality vs. Quantity

It's starting to become common-place to hear of a company whose affiliate program has hit the 10,000 or higher mark.
And I'm sure its a great feeling for those companies when they do hit that target.
But the question that always comes to my mind when I read these fantastic announcements is:
"Yeah, but how many of these are actually making them money?"
Its a numbers game, I know. Everyone has read the articles stating that a small percentage of affiliates actually make any sales at all, and the top few make the majority of the money for the company, and themselves.
So it makes sense to assume that if it is based on percentages, then the more affiliates you have, the more money you will make.
Plus, even though those at the bottom aren't making any money, they are advertising your company and your products for free, right? (That's not necessarily true, but I'll leave that for another discussion.)
In my little fantasy world, I sit back and wonder what would happen if you changed your focus from "the more affiliates I have, the more they will make me," to "the better they are at what they do, the more they will make me."
How much better would things be if you spent your time and efforts educating your affiliates on how to build a successful website? What if you taught them how to get more traffic to their site, more targeted traffic? What if you taught them how to start, and how to grow a newsletter?
Think about it for a moment...the affiliates that are making you the most sales and sending you the most visitors are those that know how to generate traffic, have a successful newsletter, know how to pre-sell the visitors to help convert more of them to customers.
Is it better to sit back and wait for those types of sites to knock on your door? Or, you can do the research and find these types of sites yourself and knock on their door.
But, what if you grew your own successful affiliates? Think of the loyalty they will have towards you if you help them do better not only with your program, but with their website in general?
Don't tell me you are already doing this...I mean GET SERIOUS AND MAKE THIS YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!
Sure you gave them 15 different banner choices, and there was that 'killer ad' that you gave to all 10,000 of your affiliates. Oh, and don't forget the autoresponder that you set up for those that want to know how to make more money with your program.
I'm talking about 'real help' in creating a site that is geared towards drawing traffic and making money.
Now lets imagine for a moment. What if you changed your business plan from '10,000 affiliates by the end of the year' to '500 Internet success stories by the end of the year'.
Which of the following press releases would you rather send out?
Company abc hits the 10,000 affiliates mark!
Company xyz uses outstanding new affiliate marketing strategy and creates its first Internet millionaire!
Now, this isn't rocket science here...quality vs. quantity is not a new concept...but it is one that is forgotten by many in the Internet age. We all know that it is better to make a few pennies off of a few thousand, than dollars off a few.
Going back to what I said earlier, we hear all the time about someone hitting the 10,000 mark. But what we don't hear is "50% of our affiliates make the minimum payout and get a check every month!"
Now that's something to brag about! Even if you only have 500 affiliates, who cares? If you keep the same commitment that is helping the 250 take home a check, then when you have 1000 affiliates you will still be blowing the doors off of the ones with 10,000 making nothing.
Note: Don't lower your minimum payout to 0 just so you can publish statistics like those above. :-)
Work with your affiliates. Help them to grow their site. Teach them how to become successful. Take some of the money you would have spent on affiliate acquisition, and redirect it to training materials.
See if you can talk to Ken Evoy and get a discount if you buy a copy of "Make Your Site Sell!" for each of your 500 affiliates. Even at regular price, $8,500 is not a bad investment to help your affiliates become more successful. (In case you've never heard of Ken Evoy, you can read about his book here: )
Create a section on your site with training materials that only your affiliates have access to. Give them information on how to improve their website and newsletter, not more marketing materials.
Offer your affiliates a bonus for the first 100 that prove that they have implemented some of the ideas in the materials you give them. Or a bonus for the most-improved website.
Hire someone to do nothing but visit your affiliate sites, and tie his bonus to the number of sites he helps improve.
I visit hundreds of sites every day in my surfing, and it amazes me how many make the same simple mistakes. If you create a top 10 list of the most important items that every one of your affiliate sites should have, you will be way ahead of your competition.
When an affiliate comes up with a great idea for improving sales, make a REALLY BIG DEAL about it. Tell all your other affiliates right away. Send out an all-points bulletin. Recognize these efforts in a big way and you will find that more of your affiliates will start to come up with great ideas of their own.
But, even more importantly, they will use these ideas as well if you show how great it is working for others.
Try to create a team spirit with your affiliates. Don't let them think they have to compete against each other. Make them realize that there are many 'fish in the sea.' There are millions of people on the Internet, surely they can find different segments to target.
Teach your affiliates how to joint venture with each other to increase traffic and sales for one another. If you can help to foster good will between your affiliates, you will benefit greatly!
Hopefully at this point you see where I'm going with this train of thought. Focus on better affiliates, not just more, and you just might find yourself setting new records in many different areas.

Free vs. Paid Advertising

At the risk of sounding sensational, if you understand the concepts introduced in this article it could literally mean the difference between miserable failure and insane online profits for your business. I'm not talking about a magical formula that will guarantee success, but it's something that all online marketers need to understand.
Unfortunately, most do not - and therefore they spend every waking minute just trying to stay in business. And within a year, most small businesses give up any hope of making it big online - firmly believing that "this Internet thing just doesn't work."
Well I'm here to tell you that it does. In fact, the Internet is the best thing that has ever happened to the home-based or small business owner wanting to reach a global market. As with anything else in life, it's actually pretty easy to profit online if you know how.
When it comes to making lots of money, all that really matters is marketing. This is easily proven by the fact that you don't need a better product or a lower price to make more money than your competition. The truth is that you can literally make millions selling mediocre products - if you know how to market them effectively.
Of course, you should always strive to deliver quality products and great value to your customers - but the point is that marketing is all that really matters. It's what you need to be spending 90% or more of your time doing if you have any hopes of developing a profitable online business. Doing paperwork, building web sites, answering email, and processing orders doesn't help grow your business - only advertising does.
Advertising is the lifeblood of any business. If you do not learn how to advertise your products and services both efficiently and effectively, you won't be in business long. While the Internet has lessened or eliminated many of the costs normally associated with starting and running a small business, and it's now easier than ever, you'll never realize significant profits if you don't grow your business through effective marketing.
There are really just two kinds of advertising - that which you pay for and that which you get for free. And both should have their place in your overall marketing strategy. The problem arises when one does not understand how or when to use each.
Everywhere we look it seems that someone is claiming you can get rich online by taking advantage of the free advertising the Internet offers.
While it's a true statement, the misleading part is that it's almost always followed by something like, "We'll give you a list of over 984324984 places to advertise for free!" They normally go on to explain how anyone can get rich on the Internet because all of the advertising is free, and if you just send them $29.95 ... well you know how it goes.
Unfortunately, as anyone who has tried posting zillions of free ads on the Internet will tell you it just doesn't work that way. What you really need to know about posting free ads online is that for the most part it's a waste of time - unless you're targeting other marketers - because an overwhelming majority of people who visit free ad sites are other online marketers like you who are trying to promote their own business.
Effective "free advertising" strategies do exist, but they aren't what the average online marketer thinks of when hearing this often hyped-up phrase. In future issues we'll discuss things like networking, swapping links, joint-ventures, press releases, and the other "free advertising" strategies that you will want to pursue.
But back to the story at hand - free versus paid advertising.
Are you ready for the one concept that separates the men from the boys, so to speak, online? Here it is:
Paid advertising is the laziest way to promote your site!
You don't really think that Yahoo became the most popular web site on the Internet, getting millions of visitors per day, by using free advertising strategies do you? Heck no. Among other things, they spend millions of dollars per year on things like buying advertising on other big sites and advertising on both radio and television.
Now before you say you don't have millions per year to spend on advertising, allow me to show you how you can apply these concepts to your business on a smaller scale. The good news is that if you use the right approach you can start with a few dollars. It doesn't really matter what you're marketing, but let's assume that you sell widgets at your web site. How could you utilize paid advertising profitably?
Now before I scare you off with the thought of having to spend lots and lots of money on advertising, there's something that you need to realize. And it's a basic concept you should be able to immediately agree with:
If you spend $50 on advertising and it generates more than $50 in net profits, that's a good investment.
Simple right? Well, through the use of proper testing and a "scientific" approach to advertising, there's no reason you can't turn your original $50 ad into millions of dollars in profits. It's just a matter of developing a system that creates a profit, and then reinvesting your initial profits back into your business in order to further expand your advertising.
Remember the widgets? Assume that through proper tracking of your web you're able to determine that 1 out of every 100 visitors to your site buys a widget. Let's also assume that on the sale of every widget you make a $50 profit. Do you see that any ad you buy which delivers more than 100 visitors to your site per $50 spent is a profitable investment?
Promoting a site should be approached with this type of a scientific or mathematical attitude. Any advertising you do is either profitable or not, and you need to know which it is so you don't waste time and money.
Here's a somewhat simplistic strategy that you could use to get started:
Use a combination of free or low-cost strategies to promote your web site, generating initial traffic which will serve as a starting point.
Through proper tracking of your site, determine the exact "value" of a visitor in terms of dollars and sense. This is absolutely critical.
Utilize paid advertising that proves to be profitable according to step 2, based on the value of a visitor and the number of visitors generated.
Through ongoing testing, tracking, and tweaking, try to increase the value of a web site visitor as well as response to your advertising.
Repeat steps 2-4 as necessary - or forever.
The power of this scientific or mathematical approach to web site promotion is that once you have completed the steps you will have an almost automated advertising campaign that can literally send you all the traffic you need. Rather than spending hours and hours each day promoting your site, you simply buy more advertising.
The bottom line is that there are only 24 hours in a day and there's only so much you can do during that time. Free advertising strategies can be effective, but normally, anything that's "free" is going to "cost" you time.
On the other hand, if you could spend $1,000 a day on advertising to make $1,000 a day in profits -- without spending hours doing it -- why wouldn't you just do that? It's not hard at all. Consider for example, where you can buy click-thrus for as little as 1-25 cents.
That fits the formula quite nicely. GoTo alone won't send you enough traffic to make you rich, but it's a good example of effectively promoting your site without spending much time doing it. There are lots of others.
Give this 5-step scientific approach a try. If you find you just can't seem to make the formula work, there can only be a few reasons for it - either you're not advertising in the right places, your web site isn't doing its job, your profit margins are too low, or your product or service itself is the problem. Figure out which it is and you can't fail.

email marketing

Maintaining good communications with your current, previous and potential customers is essential in building solid customer relationships.Well designed email marketing campaigns with bespoke content will help maintain that relationship.
Well managed email marketing campaigns provide an extremely cost effective method of increasing sales and maintaining a positive relationship with your customers.