AFFILIATE MARKETING PRIMER
6 - HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMS (Part 2 of 3):
You did read PART
GET TO DECIDE: |
least for now, how much time/effort you're willing to put into marketing a program, or a set of them. It's not going to hurt anything if you start by doing little... or even if you never get beyond that. (Well, I should say, not if you haven't done anything detrimental like cluttering your website with banners that end up annoying your visitors.) You know what you can handle.
Don't be disturbed by any harrying tone you may find in the information put forth in affiliate companies' recommendations or affiliate gurus' newsletters. They might speak somewhat disparagingly of affiliates who don't produce big click-to-referral ratios, and they'll say things like "you've got to have an ezine that you send out every week", or "you have to spend at least an hour a day on link exchanges". One of their roles is to encourage toward success... But that may be tantamount to saying that you've got to double the stress load in your life and drive yourself and your family crazy - if so, you can ignore
it! You get to decide.
Some affiliate companies seem to be contemplating how to jettison "poor producers". I find that unfortunate - I don't believe that they are losing by them, they just aren't gaining a lot... But they are gaining some, and the potential for more is always there. Even if they aren't pulling significant sales, they are still helping out with brand awareness (like bumper stickers!).
All affiliate marketing programs I've looked into are entirely automated, except for the matter of answering questions (usually by email). There's no doubt that the latter can be a considerable load - but that's part of the cost of doing business this way. (I have to believe that only a small proportion of the poorer producers are causing the email influx anyway. Most people simply don't bother to write!)
Rather than turning to something negative and punitive, the situation would seem to beg for creative solutions on the part of affiliate companies. The normal business model would simply call for hiring more people to field the questions, but I'm sure that ingenious people can come up with less expensive ways to handle the load.
In any case, most questions point to weaknesses that might be shored up so that those questions don't crop up any more. ("Frequently Asked Questions" come to mind. My questions usually aren't in there!) In that sense, they are of value despite the time they take to answer.
The reality is that not everyone has the kind of life that allows them to spend a lot of time on a business venture - especially, perhaps, at first... And online commerce, especially, attracts people who seek to pursue their own course in their own way, at their own pace. One starts where one can and appreciates help and encouragement, not exhortation and intimidation.
Affiliate marketing isn't an arena that can ever be expected to produce only a high-powered sales force. But, high-powered company managers also want to be able to shape their own destinies... and we as affiliates have the freedom to filter/disregard or reject as it suits us. Be that as it may, if a company were to dump me because I wasn't deemed a good enough producer, I'd be discomfited, but guess what... I could always find another affiliate company to take its place.
But assuming that you are interested in working to achieve as much as you can - more, anyway - there are a few things that you can focus on right away for greater benefits: pre-selling, good copywriting, and creative marketing. (These come after devising a website - if
have one - that
stands out from all the rest. ...That's essential!)
"Pre-selling" is a concept that has been promulgated by Ken Evoy, the author of the book Make
Your Site Sell! (otherwise known as "MYSS!" - which is just the foundation for an extensive web-helpful line of free ebooks).
Ken maintains that it is inefficient and counterproductive for affiliates to do the job he, a web retailer, has done on his excellent website, namely the selling of his products...
If you repeat information that you've gleaned from his site, visitors to your site who click on your link to his will be annoyed to find themselves reading the same material over again... The message is diminished, and prospective buyers/affiliates are turned off. Ken has data to prove that people who switch from inappropriate selling to pre-selling dramatically improve their income from sales (i.e., improve their click-to-sales ratios).
What Ken means by "pre-selling" is providing considered testimonials, intriguing editorial commentary, or examples of how people can use Site Build It!, the MYSS! book, its concepts, or (but more likely "and") the 5 Pillar affiliate opportunity to enhance their success on the web - but not a sales pitch.
In other words, add something. Mention major benefits and solutions likely to be most important to your audience. Lead in to his site - presage, don't reveal... that's Ken's job, and he does it very well. The entire SiteSell site can help if you don't hinder.
Give any affiliate company's website the same room to work - it will be to your gain.
There's an excellent lead-in by Ken to pre-selling at http://mycps.sitesell.com/granite.html if you'd like to read further - and download his free ebook, Make
Your Content PRE-Sell! ("MYCPS!").
Masters is a free 10-day intensive course by Ken Evoy that goes in-depth into the value of pre-selling and thinking via the customer's point of view. It also gives valuable insights into marketing psychology, why niche marketing is so effective, and how to enhance your marketing efforts with good keyword selection. Just click on the link above to download the course!
(If you haven't seen the course in awhile, get it again - it's way better than ever.)
An aside: No matter what affiliate programs you may be involved with, the SiteSell materials can be of huge benefit to you in improving traffic to your site, selling anything yourself on the web, and intensifying your affiliate marketing results. ...See for yourself how much by starting with the MYSS! book itself at http://myss.sitesell.com/granite.html.
book is incredibly inexpensive... free! ;^) - and yet worth more than many web marketing books/courses!
A great benefit to signing up for SiteSell's 5 Pillar affiliate program is that you get an extremely helpful 200+ page free affiliate manual that will help you take advantage of any affiliate program, not just SiteSell's... Plus the excellent "marketing toolbox"... Plus three great web-marketing ezines, one of which is only for SiteSell affiliates... Plus a "Mail-out" feature for emailing your sub-affiliates... Plus "The Ultimate Link Tracker" software so you'll know where your site hits are coming from... All totally free! (Not to mention that whether or not you buy or sign up for anything, the SiteSell site is a prime example of web copy that sells - as such, it's well worth some hours of studying, as are the many persuasive elements to be found there.)
The other thing pre-selling means is: Act like a company partner, not just a host to a banner!
So - your other affiliate companies' sites are probably likewise complete in their own way. (If not, that's a serious deficiency - which you might be able to improve with your own suggestions...) Work on your pre-selling
them when you have the urge to improve.
Some of the best and most famous advertising copywriters read every book about copywriting they can get their hands on, and recommend that anyone serious about the subject do the same. We don't all have the time/money to spend doing this in a short period (though it may be a good idea to simply keep one's eyes open for such opportunities) - but there are a few excellent possibilities that I might share...
The first is from a long-time "master" of the genre, a name that has cropped up again and again in my reading over the past two decades: Joe Vitale. One of his most well-known books, updated for the web, is Hypnotic
Writing. This inexpensive gem will show you how to quickly and persuasively write headlines that grab and don't let go, hold people's attention through fascination as well as interesting content, and lead them to give you the result you want to achieve.
The second is a fantastic book produced by Ken Evoy and internet (and other) copywriting expert Joe Robson, Make
Words Sell!. Joe has many years of experience writing ads offline - and while this ebook draws from that, it also shows where the two styles differ and gives many important tips specific to website, email, and ezine copywriting. As with the other excellent SiteSell offerings, the ebook is now totally free. You can also test the waters with a free 5-day course... click here to download (or read online) Ken's Netwriting
Masters Course. (It's a good introduction - but the book is much, much more than this!)
The third is a 2009 book that focuses on websurfers and includes advice about Web 2.0 developments like blogs, YouTube, and social networks: Web
Copy That Sells, by Maria Veloso.
If you want to do it the really easy way... this is a very useful product: Instant
Sales Letters, from copywriter and marketer Yanik Silver. This is a little database of 33 templates for sales letters of all types, accessible online whenever you need them. They accomplish many things, and they work for all types of businesses too. Attract leads and referrals, reactivate former clients, introduce new services, gather testimonials, generate new subscribers... with assurance. Just fill in the blanks in minutes, or tailor them to your own needs. (Great copywriting bonuses too - and a water-tight guarantee.)
Don't let fear of writing keep you from success!
There's one more page to this section! - See PART
THREE of 6 - HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMS...