10 Things You Didn’t Know About Affiliate Marketing

Most people have heard of affiliate marketing, even if they haven’t actually started doing it. Affiliate marketing is basically referring people to various products and services around the internet. For each sale you generate through your affiliate link, you earn a commission. The size of the commission depends on the products themselves, who is selling them and the percentage offered by the seller to the affiliate.

But what is actually involved in affiliate marketing? What do affiliates do on a daily basis? How do they earn money and how do they learn what to do?

1 An Example Of A Successful Website

There’s several ways of marketing products and services online. Many affiliates create a blog first and sell products and services through their blog. Martin Lewis has a very successful website called moneysavingexpert.com. This is also an affiliate website. By creating content and helping people decide which service to use: which credit card offers to choose, the best interest rate etc. moneysavingexpert.com makes money by sending website visitors to various offers. If a sale is made through this website, the link this credited to it and a commission is made. By creating content, offering value and helping people make sensible choices, the website has built a reputation and become more prevalent over time. Google ranks the site highly in the search engines and thousands of people use it to make purchasing decisions every day.

2 How Can I Get Started As An Affiliate?

Affiliate marketing is huge. There are thousands of people already making their main source of income from the internet. To get started as an affiliate you need to learn some basic strategies and build various methods of generating traffic from the internet to those offers. A lot of affiliates start with a simple blog. Many travelers ‘blog’ about their travels. If you don’t have a passion or interest to blog about, you can start by following an online course which will help. See my bio for more info on this.

3 How Long Does It Take To Make A Living?

Some people go into affiliate marketing with the intention of creating a second income. Some people want to make big money. Depending on how much time you can dedicate to your affiliate business, and how dedicated you are to it, is a big factor in determining your results. Results vary from person to person. With a large advertising budget and the right business model, some affiliates have replaced their living in 6-12 months. For others it can take years before it replaces their existing income. Depending on your approach, advertising budget, and business model, it can take between 3 months and several years to build it to a point where it can replace an existing income.

4 Can Anyone Do It?

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that the technology is now available to allow anyone to build their own online business. As long as you are prepared to learn and implement that knowledge, anyone who can operate an email, can use online platforms and tools to build their own online business. The main thing you need is the desire to learn. Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone though. It does take a lot of hard work and it can take years before you are rewarded financially.

5 What Are The Pitfalls Of An Affiliate Business?

You need to dedicate some time to your affiliate business for it to work for the long term. Some people go into affiliate marketing thinking it is some magic pill which will pay them instantly in cash. Much like a job you can’t expect to get out more than you put in. Affiliate marketing is performance related. This means you don’t get paid unless you can successfully sell products and services online. If you don’t know what you are doing it can take years to do this. You can’t be a dabbler and expect to earn the big money. The big earnings are created over years of hard work. Don’t expect to achieve this with only a small amount of input.

6 What Are The Best Things About Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom. You can work an affiliate business from anywhere in the world providing you have a laptop and an internet connection. You can choose your own hours and build it up around existing work. Many people come into affiliate marketing because it offers this kind of flexibility. They can choose their priorities in life: spend more time with family, choose your working hours, travel and work abroad. No more commuting to work or working long hours for a boss you don’t like.

Affiliate marketing also offers incredible scalability. A business which is local is always limited to the people who can travel to that business. An online business can be global. Using digital products in conjunction with a global reach, you can scale using tools and software to reach thousands of people through digital technology. By using automation much of the work involved with an online business can be pre-built. By building automation into the business model, you can focus your activities on reaching a larger audience through content creation and paid advertising.

7 Why Am I Struggling With My Affiliate Business?

A lot of people struggle with their affiliate businesses.This can be for a number of reasons. Firstly building up an affiliate business takes time. You need to dedicate a lot of time to an affiliate business in the first place. Only when you reach a ‘tipping point’ do you really start to see your progress. Many affiliates simply don’t realise how much work is involved. They underestimate how much time they need to dedicate to their online business to make it work.
Paid advertising can allow you to grow your affiliate business quickly. But it costs money and you need the right products too. You can’t advertise small value items with paid advertising. You won’t generate enough profit to cover your advertising costs. You need a range of products and an email list to advertise through.
Content marketing takes much longer to work, depending on your chosen area of business. If you find an untapped niche to market your blog in, you can make some fast progress. However, with a competitive niche you will struggle to get noticed above all the other content which you will have to compete with. There’s several reasons why you might struggle. The main one is lack of knowledge. Get the right education first and your affiliate business will move much faster.

8 What’s The Best Affiliate Model To Use?

There are many different affiliate models, all offering something different to suit the individual. Some affiliates target search traffic and aim to get their content found on Google. Some create their own products and sell them directly to customers. However, having a range of products which you can sell over and over to existing customers is a great model for long term success. Selling a single item online is limited. It means you can only make one commission from each sale. By choosing membership products to promote which also offer back end sales and a built in sales team, you can benefit from monthly commissions and up-sell commissions for the lifetime of any given customer. Selling membership products is definitely a game changer when it come to affiliate marketing because you make an income from each customer, rather than a single commission. But a good model to choose is one in which you have a passion for and can keep doing for the long term. Choosing products which you have no interest in is a short sighted plan. Think about what you would like to do online to generate an income. If you choose to go with your passion, your business will last much longer, and be more successful.

9 Can I Just Sell My Own Products?

Many affiliates create their own products to sell online. However, when you are starting out it is a good idea to learn the basics of marketing first. That way you can start earning more quickly from your affiliate business. I spent a long time creating my own products when I first discovered affiliate marketing. But I didn’t sell anything because of a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t research whether my products would have a big enough demand. Secondly I didn’t know how to market them. By joining a program which teaches you how to market products first, you can start making money more quickly. Don’t waste time creating products if you don’t know how to sell them. Marketing is a much more important skill for making money online. Once you know this skill, you can then apply it later when marketing your own products and services. Also your own products will be limited in range. By using an existing product range, you can benefit from products which are already selling. You can choose a program which offers high ticket commission, monthly memberships, back end sales and a built in sales team. Building your own products which offers all of these things not a possibility for most people when starting out.

10 What’s The Point Of Affiliate Marketing?

Some people struggle with the concept of affiliate marketing.They think it sounds too ‘salesy’. When I understood affiliate marketing I immediately found it appealing simply because I needed a flexible way to work around my contract work. I had to drop what I was doing at a moments notice if the phone went. This meant other jobs were awkward to juggle around. No-one wants to employ a ‘flaky’ employee. I wanted to work from my laptop and affiliate marketing gave me that opportunity. For many people this is the reason why they choose affiliate marketing. They can earn an income from their laptop, choose their working hours and not have a boss or place of employment. You don’t have to sell directly to anyone or even talk to a customer. There is no stock to hold. Added to this, the scalability of affiliate marketing which lets you scale up to a global audience and deliver products on autopilot, makes it the best flexible business of the future.

Marketing Communications Professionals – Customer Communications Management Heralds a New Paradigm

Marketing Communications professionals should develop a vision for enterprise marketing communications before rushing into inviting Customer Communications Management Suppliers to demonstrate how their products could help your company.

A new vision has to be developed because marketing communications professionals now have a completely new way of working.

Gone are the days where a companies direct mail and transactional mail need to be separated and handled by different company functions or different suppliers. Gone are the days where large project teams have to be formed to make simple changes to documents. Gone are the days where the task of making a change to corporate positioning are a huge and expensive task and gone are the days of fragmented customer messaging due to disparate customer communications processes.

Companies have always tried to derive a corporate vision for customer communications, a grand plan and a grand scheme to give the markets it serves clarity of brand understanding, but the issue of complexity has always been a barrier to this plan.

Now, the opportunity that unified Customer Communications Management offers is one of fulfillment of vision, of an ability to execute and of an ability to drive business advantage.

It is because of this opportunity to execute that the marketing communications professional should focus on a new vision first and not a rehash of the old version made easier. The scope is now broader.

Now, it is possible to communicate across a diverse set of channels with ease, to deliver coherent meaningful messages into differing market segments but to retain an appeal in each of those segments. It is about the opportunity to interact, to learn and to deliver value, a value that is meaningful to each customer as an individual.

The vision should come back to marketing basics. Segment the market, identify a product, service or overall company appeal and learn to drive value in those communications. It means that a company can drive its brand values in a fashion that is adaptive to changing market conditions.

In doing this, we don’t just communicate differently, we create a new kind of company, a company that is adaptive, that is continuously learning, that delivers its key objectives in a measurable, proven fashion.

Marketing communications professionals have new power in their hands. A way to reach the market that was previously impossible. It is only in very recent years that this has become possible. It means that a product does not have to be marketed with common brand values across different segments. Companies can continue to focus upon core segments but can become much more adaptive to emerging segments, segments in which it would previously have been a very difficult, length and costly environment to compete.

We call this marketing agility, the ability to take reasoned, measured analysis and quickly deliver a response to that analysis, to test the credibility of the analysis and to improve on the next iteration, bringing market segments into focus not on the basis of a hunch or, just a historical analysis (this is important still) but on live events, events to which the changing response can materialise faster than ever before.

This is in our view, a new paradigm for marketers and one whose impacts much be considered carefully before jumping straight into the focus of technology and process decisions – this can come once the vision for the agile marketing communications organisation has been established.

Avoid what you used to do but just a little better, take hold of this new agility, embrace it and define it. This is how Customer Communications Management can be utilised to deliver marketing excellence.

Midsized Company Marketing Communications – Five Major Considerations For 2014

Another year is ending, and economic uncertainty and Washington’s gridlock continue to plague consumers, companies and brands.

That said, life must go on. And whether you’re a business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), or nonprofit organization, the question remains as to what marketing and marketing communications investments, strategies and tactics should you employ in the year ahead. My thoughts on achieving profitable sales growth are as follows. Some may surprise you.

  1. It’s Time to Increase Marketing Communications Spending
    You probably haven’t heard many pundits talk about increasing marketing communications investments in 2014. However, you probably haven’t heard much about what Congress is considering in this area either. Did you know that Congress is now reviewing a reduction of the current 100 percent deductibility of advertising spending?

    The current discussions center on permitting a deduction of only 50 percent of the costs in the year the advertising runs, and then amortizing the remaining 50 percent over the subsequent five or ten year period. In reality, a new tax on advertising.

    Both parties are pushing this, and while it is doubtful that anything will make it into law in 2014, once the process has started it’s very difficult to get it stopped. So, consider the significant opportunity that exists – for at least a year – to use increased spending to profitably build your brand in 2014.

  2. Employ Market Research to Further Understand Your Customer
    Many B2C and B2B marketers believe they understand everything that is important to their customers and prospects. But do they really?

    Rather than “thinking” you understand what’s really important to them, and how they perceive your brand versus competition, doesn’t it make good sense to conduct market research to uncover the real truth?

    In today’s fast changing world, your target audience has multiple ways of evaluating your product or service well before entering a store, placing an online order, or speaking with a sales person. And unless you constantly monitor their conversations on social media, you’ll never know, for sure, their attitudes and perceptions (or, perhaps more importantly, their misperceptions).

    Before you invest your precious marketing and marketing communications money and time, make it a priority to invest in fully understanding your target audience. Look before you leap!

  3. Improve Your Brand’s ROI with a Marketing Communications Audit
    Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit can provide you with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well how each marketing tactic does or does not meet your objectives.

    A marketing communications audit will help you determine:

    • What subject matter should be emphasized (or de-emphasized);
    • How to improve your budget allocation and media mix;
    • The fit of existing or planned theming, graphics, and tone and manner of all messaging;
    • A roadmap of how messages should be delivered across all media, both traditional and “new”

    Integrating your marketing communications in a holistic manner (with messaging that is important to your audience) before you commit marketing dollars can provide a significant opportunity to improve ROI.

  4. Recognize the Importance of the Creative Product
    With all of the focus over the past few years on the efficiency of media delivery, some marketers have forgotten that the creative product itself has been – and always will be – the key to effective marketing communications.

    If the creative product doesn’t break through the clutter and increase awareness, and if it doesn’t improve your image and convince your customers and prospects to buy, the delivery system you employ really won’t matter.

    This is true in all aspects of your communications – the website, content marketing communications, advertising, social media, public relations, direct mail, collateral materials, and even that latest cure all, “native advertising”.

    As Tom Bradley, head of marketing at Nestle once said, “the best source of marketing communications leverage is the quality of message. It’s not the media vehicle, new or traditional, that does or does not deliver.”

    And don’t settle for unproven creative practitioners or cut corners because of cost. Good creative work is priceless, so nurture the creative professionals you have to constantly deliver impactful messages that your audience can relate to and be engaged by. Make sure someone in your organization has the expertise to not only encourage brilliant creative work, but also to recognize it when he sees it. As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”.

  5. Marketing and Marketing Communications Consultants Can Improve ROI
    There will be challenges in the year ahead. Consumers are more demanding and knowledgeable, and along with businesses, have learned to purchase in new ways. Rapid changes in technology have created an “always on” media environment. A recent study by Forrester reports that 34 percent of marketers currently feel overwhelmed by change.

    If this hits home with you, now may be the time to tap into established, experienced, media neutral consultants. It’s an efficient use of your resources and can provide much needed objectivity to the choices you have to make.

    In this uncertain economic landscape, B2C and B2B marketers are already stretched to the limit. Many will benefit from candid and apolitical “fresh eyes” who are willing to tell it like it is.

    Above all, search for consultants with broad scope and senior level experience across industries and brands. This diversity of experience and their network of like-minded professionals can expand your horizons while keeping you on budget.

Success in the Year Ahead
There will be many other factors for marketers to consider in 2014 – recognizing a rapidly growing older population, the importance of the Latino community, globalization, the effectiveness of various content marketing tactics-to name a few. Hopefully, the five major considerations discussed above will challenge you to even deeper thinking for a more profitable year.

Tactics To Improve Nonprofit Marketing – Your Anniversary And A Marketing Communications Audit

With revenues at nonprofit organizations increasing by only 0.9 percent, to $298 billion in 2011, according to Giving USA, it is no secret how difficult fundraising has become in today’s environment. Add to that the possibilities of an upcoming fiscal cliff and the loss of tax deductions for charitable contributions and you wind up with a very daunting picture.

Your advisory board, committee members and staff all want to help, and look to organization leadership for direction. Now, more than ever, is the time to focus on the development of a meaningful marketing communications plan to profitably improve your fundraising efforts.

As you develop your plan, and evaluate various directions and opportunities, I suggest you consider two tactics that have proven successful for improving marketing ROI.

Market Your Anniversary
Your anniversary offers a unique opportunity to rekindle enthusiasm and galvanize all of your constituents to the relevance, importance and needs of the organization. It gives you the chance to tell your story, not just about your past, but more importantly, about your plans and goals for the future. And don’t think that an anniversary has to be only in multiples of 25 years. Your 33rd, properly marketed, can be as meaningful as your 50th.

Some communications tactics to consider in marketing your anniversary include creating:

  • An event or events to provide the maximum amount of interaction among existing and potential donors, volunteers, staff, foundations and the local community. But make sure your event doesn’t isolate your various constituencies. They want to talk to one another, not be lectured. Interaction leads to engagement.
  • A special theme and logo. But also consider a historical book and CD, or a one of a kind commemorative piece of artwork (that can also be used on your website). And employ a meaningful mix of both traditional and new media to create excitement.
  • A corporate – nonprofit partnership. Your anniversary can provide the trigger point for new collaborations with business partners, bringing in real rewards for both organizations. And these new relationships can last for many years.

These examples are just a start. But we encourage you to start thinking of your anniversary as a 12 to 18 month marketing communications program and branding tool to improve your ROI.

Conduct A Marketing Communications Audit
As was recently pointed out by Tom Buday, head of marketing and communications at Nestle, the best source of marketing communications leverage in the for profit world is the quality of the messaging. It’s not the media vehicle that does or does not deliver, rather it’s the quality of the messaging.

Applying this to nonprofits means that it is imperative for you to evaluate your program and its elements. Invariably, nonprofits employ a media mix of direct mail, events, newsletters, public relations, social media, emailing and advertising in some combination. A marketing communications audit can help you determine how your program is working as a whole, while also evaluating how each message is performing against your established objectives.

This type of audit will help you determine whether the elements of your creative approach – graphics, tone and manner, and subject manner – are working together with one clear and meaningful message. Ultimately, the results of an audit will not only improve the quality and integration of your messaging but also help you determine how your media mix and budgets should be tailored.

Whether or not you take advantage of marketing your anniversary, a marketing communications audit can make a significant difference to your programs and ROI. Doesn’t it make a lot of sense to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your programs before your commit significant dollars and time behind them?

Marketing Consultants Can Help
If you’re like most nonprofits, the majority of your time, talent and treasury is devoted to your passion for the people, programs and services you provide. The same is probably true of many of your most committed volunteers.

Given that, does your organization have the marketing and marketing communications talent and experience to develop the strategies, plans and tactics that are necessary to help you succeed in today’s environment? Trying to find this among your already overworked and underfunded staff or your volunteers doesn’t make much sense.

Your budgets are tight but can you really afford not to bring in outside help? Look for marketing communications consulting partners to help you and your team develop and execute these programs. Above all, select consultants with broad scope and extensive senior level experience across industries and brands, in both the for profit and nonprofit arenas.

Importantly, they should be media neutral, not selling one particular marketing solution, and willing to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. Their fresh eyes will go a long way when it comes to improving your ROI.