Category Archives: Affiliate Marketing

You’ve heard the old saw about the three most important things in brick and mortar business: “Location, location and location!”

In Internet Marketing, the three most important things are “repetition, repetition and repetition!”

But those three most important things are not enough just by themselves, and they can’t be expected to work for you if you don’t use them wisely.

Another Internet Marketing maxim you’ve probably heard is “DUSAP” — “Do Not Use Standard Affiliate Pages.” Make your own ads with your own personal branding rather than just grabbing a URL from the program’s Affiliate Toolbox Area.

Well, that applies double or triple to email marketing … because unlike a traffic exchange environment where you have to at least glance at the ad whether you want to or not, you don’t have to open that email (unless maybe it’s for safelist credits). Repetition can’t work if you can’t get the viewer to, um, repeat.

Over the past few months, I’ve received, at a conservative estimate, 500 emails with the same subject line and (presumably — I stopped opening them after a bit) the same cut-and-pasted sales copy. Subject line: “It’s Dangerous, But We Took A Risk For You.”

I’m not going to mention what’s being sold because it’s a decent product and it’s NOT the product creator’s fault that many affiliates are just grabbing standard affiliate copy and pasting it in emails instead of seasoning it with their own personal twist.

But of the 500 or more emails I’ve received with that subject line, I think I’ve opened two. Not 200, two. The rest have gone straight to the trash. Not saying I won’t buy the product, but I won’t buy it through that email, because I won’t open that email.

Write your own ad copy. Write your own subject lines. It helps if you’re good at that, but even poor ad copy and subject line is better than something the readers long ago stopped paying any attention to.

I love Steve Ayling‘s sites. They’re always useful to me as a marketer, and they always make me money. His new site, launching exactly as I publish this blog post, is Brand A Splash. It’s a fantastic tool that every marketer should have in his or her arsenal.

Brand A Splash is what so many sites claim to be: “Stupid Simple.” Upload your picture, enter your name and your social links, and BAM … you have personally branded, hosted splash pages for life. Yes … for life.

Instead of paying a recurring monthly fee, you pay $7 one time for the “basic” option, and another $27 one time if you want the upgrade benefits (trust me on this one … you want the upgrade benefits).

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But now comes my bribe.

Join Brand A Splash as my referral at the $7 “basic” level, send me a support ticket at one of the two traffic exchanges I admin (Big Bad Hits and Traffic Visions) and I’ll give you 1,000 credits at each of those two exchanges. That’s a $9.54 value. Yes, I’m basically paying you $2.54 to accept hosted, personally branded splash pages for life.

But like they say on TV, WAIT! THERE’S MORE! If you take the $27 upgrade, include your PayPal address in that support ticket … because I’ll be sending you $7. Yep — upgrade, and I will personally refund your $7 “basic” membership fee.

How’s that for a bribe?

… really. In something. It may not be something that anyone (including you) thinks is especially sexy or popular, but there’s something you know more about than the average bear. And there’s almost certainly a market for your expertise.

Twenty years ago, that market would have had trouble finding you (and vice versa) unless a) there was really huge demand for your niche expertise and b) you had lots of money to promote yourself as the go-to guy or gal in the field.

The problem today is kind of the opposite. The Internet makes it easy to promote yourself, but it’s also crowded and cacophonous. These days, all 30 experts in identifying the mating calls of the native birds of Kentucky (or whatever) are vying for Google search position and flogging their 468 x 60 banners around.

Decentralization is good, but sometimes centralization is better.

Enter Maven. They hook clients up with consultants. That’s pretty much all they do. And they’re good at it.

Over the last year and change, I’ve done several consultations for Maven clients, and I’ve made money from them (not huge money, but significant money — double digits each time, for a few minutes of my time; and it’s actual money actually paid, not theoretical “credits” and such).

You can make money sharing your own personal expertise (or expertises) too. Looking over their opportunities, there’s some really off-the-wall stuff there, so don’t think that whatever it is you know about will never be sought out. It almost certainly will!

Yes, the link is a referral link. Yes, I will receive a commission (10% of whatever you make your first year) if you register with Maven and get paid for work you get through them. And yes, signing on with Maven as a consultant is free. It only takes a few minutes, and it could be anything from a small money-maker to very lucrative. See you there!

One of affiliate marketing’s great attractions for me is something along the lines of what stock brokers tell their clients: “Diversify your portfolio!” If one stock doesn’t do well this year, you’re not sunk, nor are you put into a panic and tempted to cash everything in while you still can.

Likewise, if you’re relying on residual income in the form of affiliate marketing commissions, having more than one program in your promotion arsenal insulates you from having to start over and re-build completely just because one program has a bad month or even goes belly up.

But there’s a case for focus as well: Every program you add to your “portfolio” uses up a portion of your promotion assets. You’re spreading those traffic exchange and safelist credits more thinly. Instead of hammering home the virtues of Program A to your list, you’re pointing them in different directions with Programs B, C and D.

Is a “happy medium” — enough diversification to keep you from having all your eggs in one basket that gets run over by a truck, but enough focus to be effective — possible?

I think it is, and I think the key is in promoting “evergreen” tools that everyone uses (traffic exchanges, safelists, etc.) rather than “anchor programs” that tend toward requiring total commitment, or schemes that tend to come in, make a big noise, create obsession in their members, and flame out after a short time (the latest HYIP or cycler or whatever).

Promoting those tools is like being a hardware store. If I sell you a wrench, I can also sell you a hammer or a socket set — they’re all things you need, they’re relatively inexpensive, I can show them to you as a set, and if one of them turns out not to fit the metric bolt you’re trying to turn, you probably aren’t going to blame me … heck, I may be the guy you come to asking if I have the tool you need!

Promoting those other tools is like selling used cars. Yeah, that’s flashier than selling tools, but it also usually entails a higher costs per item, you’re probably only going to want one at a time, and if you get a lemon you’re going to be looking for someone to dislike … and that person may be the guy who sold it to you, rather than the guy who built it.

That’s how I’m seeing it, anyway. How about you?

Yes, I’m working on my own information products, and have some thoughts on starting my own program. But I remain a committed affiliate marketer, and I’m grinding away at one of affiliate marketing’s most vexing problems: Timing.

There are two main stages to any affiliate program, it seems:

- Launch (sometimes including “pre-launch” hype), when everyone and his brother is promoting the program.

It’s really tempting to jump in on launch hype, hoping to get “your share,” but that hasn’t worked well for me. I’m not yet a “big name” who gets advance notice so that I can be part of the pack that tears an opportunity up in the first few hours of “new” time.

Just a few weeks ago, a marketer whom I admire, whose programs I’ve enrolled in as a referral, whom I’ve let know I consider a mentor, launched a new program. I immediately went into promotion mode … and immediately saw that the “big boys” had been notified hours, maybe even days, before and were already in action.

Nothing against the Olsons, Kinders, et al — they’re good guys and I use and promote their stuff — but I guess until I’m them I’m not going to get that advance “heads up” that allows me to get a real piece of the launch action.

- The long-term grind. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Thousands of new people come into Internet Marketing every week, and they need the “evergreen tools” I promote. Even if those tools have been around forever, there are new eyeballs that haven’t run into them yet.

Of course, everyone else has those same tools in their promotion rotation, too, so I’m in competition, big time, for those eyeballs.

I’m trying a third approach now, and it’s too early to tell how well it will work. I’m looking for what I think of as “sweet spot” programs. These are evergreen tools — traffic exchanges, safelists, etc. — that for whatever reason did not get a bunch of launch hype, and aren’t being promoted that much, but that look viable. They’re growing slowly, but they’re growing. They don’t act like they’re about to disappear.

My approach to promoting them is to set up a “hit and run” campaign — 48-96 hours — and invite my list to participate, offering them incentives to do so (“join and promote this and I’ll put your splash in my rotator, send out safelist emails with your referral, etc.”).

The idea is that a handful of marketers can create something looking a little bit like “launch hype” promotion synergy. One day nobody’s hearing about this program, the next day you can’t swing a cat without seeing a splash for it … and those splashes are all mine, or my friends’, at least at first.

The campaign comes out of nowhere, gets its business done, and then doesn’t disappear — it just goes into the “long-term grind” mode mentioned above.

I just launched the first such promotion this weekend. Too early to tell what the results will be, but so far I’ve got a couple of referrals from my own list, anyway. The program is SmartAdsPro, a credit-based safelist that’s ramping up toward a thousand members after a couple of months in business. It didn’t have a launch hype experience, it didn’t “explode overnight,” but it seems to be a viable tool. Check it out if you like.

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