Category Archives: Affiliate Marketing
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.
… you move on to the next plan. But not before thinking about what went wrong.
I confess, I was expecting big results from my Pizza Plan video/squeeze campaign. By “big results,” I meant that I hoped for double-digit list signups and one or two “rebrand” program affiliate commissions.
24+ hours into the campaign, I’ve seen, well, bupkis. No list signups. No ebook downloads. No affiliate commissions.
The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the program you’re promoting, but I don’t see that that’s the issue. The Pizza Plan is a well-done e-book with a catchy premise. It’s been an Internet Marketing staple over the years, but at the same time I haven’t seen it promoted a lot lately, and thousands of people flood into the traffic exchanges, etc. each week. And finally, I boosted out the program itself with a big badge promoting a very cool prize drawing. All else being equal, it should have moved a few copies, given an effective promotion.
So, the promotion wasn’t effective. That could be for any number of reasons:
Technical: Maybe the splash/video didn’t load properly for many viewers. But I’ve talked to several viewers, and haven’t heard that from any of them. So I don’t think it’s that.
Venue: If I only promoted it in one place, that might make sense. For example, if I only promoted it at Sweeva, and Sweeva’s crowd had recently been thoroughly exposed to it, etc. But I’ve been promoting it across a wide range of traffic exchanges — the Timtech sites, yes, but also a number of independent TEs and at least one Kinder-Rash site — and to tens of thousands of safelist email readers.
Creative: Folks, I think we have a winner. For whatever reason, the video squeeze just didn’t make people want to give me their email information in return for a free e-book download and entry in a prize drawing. Maybe my video just, um, sucked. Maybe I didn’t put a strong enough “take action” prompt in there, so people didn’t take action. Maybe the colors I chose just didn’t tie things together.
So, back to the old drawing board … but you won’t see the results for a few days.
When I do a promotion, it’s the kind of thing that can’t just stop on a dime. The majority of those thousands of safelist emails still haven’t been opened yet. Most never will be (that’s the nature of safelist advertising), but I need to give them another 24 hours or so, just in case.
And since I have to give them another 24 hours or so, I can’t change my list’s welcome message text and download links, which means I either keep promoting the same thing on the TEs, or stop promoting my list altogether.
So, there’s still time for this failure to turn out to have been a success, although I’m not expecting that. While I’m waiting it out, I’ll be putting the next thing together, trying to apply lessons learned with this one.
Update, 08/15: OK, that’s a wrap. Rough stats: 4,500 impressions. No list signups. One click, one referral — but not to the target program (The Pizza Plan); rather to Traffic Ad Bar, which is one of the add-ons I ran this thing through.
Speaking of running ad campaigns through various services, one technical point I’m beginning to appreciate is that the more sources you draw from, the more opportunities the thing has to fail at the network/load level.
This campaign was a YouTube video running on an AdKreator squeeze page, which was plugged into an Affiliate Toolbox tracker and piped through Traffic Ad Bar. Oh — for the purpose of getting people to submit a TrafficWave lead capture form. All five of these are great services which I highly recommend. None of them are perfect … and any one of those five sites being down or slow at any given moment could derail me in my advertising purpose.
How big was the technical angle in this campaign’s failure? In my view, very small. I did see one mention of non-loading/slow-loading, so the angle was there, but I also saw lots of comments that indicated people saw the ad, liked the video … and didn’t take action. And that, I think, was a result of my failure to give them a real push to do so.
Back to the drawing board …