Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Leading Digital Products Affiliate Management System – ClickBank is the premier affiliate management solution for selling digital products online. You can sell your own digitally downloadable products through ClickBank or promote products from thousands of other ClickBank merchants from one easy affiliate administration panel. Best of all, there is no need to install any expensive scripts on your website and you can start receiving payments and signing up affiliates for your own product or promoting other people’s products within hours of opening an account. The beauty of ClickBank is that it integrates the affiliate management program with an in-built payment gateway. ClickBank is one of the most popular and easiest services to use for payment processing online. Sign-up is quick and you get approved and running, usually within one business day.

The ClickBank Control Panel is easy to use. You can get familiar with the whole system in no time. It costs $49 to open a ClickBank account to sell your own products. This is pretty cheap when compared with other payment processing systems. Once you open an account, all your transaction money gets deposited into your account. You are paid the full balance every two weeks. Of course, it’s free to sign up and promote other people’s products as a ClickBank affiliate. I’m a member of more than a dozen different affiliate programs, and have literally thousands of webmasters signed up in the programs I run myself. If you’re serious about earning serious money online, then you’re going to be spending a lot of time checking out affiliate programs and tracking your responses. Remember, affiliate programs are one of the easiest and most reliable ways to make money online. So far, we’ve talked about several different marketing strategies that can work to bring you traffic and sales on the Internet including banners, text links, affiliate programs etc. But your website isn’t the only way to get the traffic you need. In the next chapter, we’re going to begin discussing how you can use email to drum up business. QUESTION: Are you just reading this book for the fun of it or do you plan to start making real money online? Information is useless without action. You already know everything you need to know to make money on the Internet. The key is to act on your knowledge. Click here to launch your own money making website immediately!

LinkShare – Affiliate Network that Works offers affiliates a choice of hundreds of merchant programs. On the site, affiliates can join new programs, get links to put on their sites, and then see reports about how their links are performing and how much they have earned. When a visitor from an affiliate's site clicks on a link and goes to a merchant's site, LinkShare keeps track of all of the transactions that the visitor makes. If that visitor buys something on the merchant's site, you get a commission. In some cases, affiliates are compensated even if the visitor doesn't buy anything, just for having driven traffic to the merchant's site.

LinkShare also provides affiliates with customer service, notifies affiliates about new programs and opportunities, and offers resources for affiliates to learn about how to get the most out of their programs.

Classifying Affiliates for Better Management

The hardest part of administrating an affiliate program is deciding what your affiliates need to help make the sale. But by carefully categorizing your affiliates, you can easily determine what their needs are and how to accurately meet them. The plan given below helps in categorizing affiliates in order to manage your affiliate program better. The first step is to pick at least three types of affiliates. Take a look at your affiliates and try to determine one outstanding characteristic that can easily be compared across the board. Here are some examples:

Level of Sales - You may find that your affiliates are so completely different that it's hard to find something to classify them by. Try classifying them by the level of sales they've reached with you. You'll most likely find that you have a few forerunners that lead the pack with a number of sales, quite a few affiliates that have sporadically made a sale or two and some that have yet to make a sale. This will help you classify them based on sales. Products - If you sell a wide variety of products for specific interests/needs you may be able to classify your affiliates by product. For instance, a financial site could classify types like Personal Finance, Small Business Finance, and Corporate Finance. Industry - If you market commodities like office supplies, health and beauty products, house-wares and so on, you may find that your affiliates come from a wide variety of industries. You can most likely classify your affiliates according to their industry. The second step is to determine the needs of each type. Each of your affiliate types will have different needs; some of their needs will overlap, but you should find a distinct difference in many of their needs. If you find that all of them have the same needs, go back to step one and re-think your types.

Here are some basic things to look for:

Linking Methods - Different types of affiliates will need different linking methods. Let's use the example above where we had different groups based on sales. Your low-sales group may be satisfied with a banner or two to place on their site. Your medium-sales type may be interested in an article or two for added content on their site. Your high-sales group will probably pass up banners for articles, email ads and signature files.

Capturing visitors is what you want. In order to do so -- you have to know what they want. Visit your affiliates' sites to see what visitors are looking at and looking for. Ask yourself, "How does my product relate to what I am seeing?" Different types of affiliates may expect different commissions. You'll have some affiliates that have joined your program "on the side" and others that plan on earning a substantial income from the program. Determine what effort they are putting into advertising, how much other programs in your industry are paying, and the amount of time they devote to your program.

The third step involves the process of creating and compiling linking methods for each group of affiliates. Based on the needs you identified in Step Two, create and compile linking methods for each type. Here are a few linking methods to think about:

.. Banners - Though they aren't as effective as other linking methods, banners are still widely used and expected. Make banners in a variety of sizes to fit tops of pages, bottoms, toolbars, sidebars and other miscellaneous areas.

.. Articles - These are great for affiliates that need content for their websites and newsletters. Be sure that your articles are articles and not ads.

.. Email Ads - Your active affiliates may be interested in placing ads in e-zines or their own newsletters. Try writing a few ads in different lengths. .. Signature Files - Dedicated affiliates may even add your tag to their signature line. Give them a few witty lines to choose from.

.. Guestbooks: - Let your affiliates help you build your opt-in email lists with guestbooks. Offer them a commission for each email address they send you, or each resulting sale from the subscribers they send you.

.. Product Images - Give your affiliates images that show and link directly to specific products. They'll be able to choose an image specific to their site, or choose several images to display.

Review each affiliate type and match them up with your new linking methods. You may have some linking methods that overlap types -- this is okay. Just be sure you are concentrating on the affiliates' needs.

The fourth step is to decide commission levels. Your first decision will be to determine whether you want to pay a flat rate or percentage of each sale. Based on the needs you identified above for each of the affiliate types, decide on a commission amount for each type. If you have a two-tier program, consider the possibility of different second tier rates as well.

How to Attract Affiliates

One of the biggest fears new Affiliate managers have is in finding new affiliates. This fear is a stumbling block that stops many site owners from getting started with affiliate marketing. Interestingly, with a proper marketing strategy, getting affiliates is not very difficult. Given below are some tips that will help in attracting new affiliates. Find complimentary sites - "Complementary" sites are sites that sell products or services that compliment your offerings. If you sell "gardening tools", a site that sells books on "gardening tips" would be a perfect affiliate. If you sell software, try looking for sites that sell computers or computer parts. Finding sites that already attract your target market and can benefit from recommending your product or service to their visitors is the goal.

Find content sites – There are many sites that do not sell any kind of product or service but are mainly content-oriented sites. Such sites promote an idea, concept, study or belief. Content sites that are used as a resource for your target market are ideal affiliates. Finally, there are several sites on the Internet dedicated to listing affiliate programs. Get your program listed in these directories.

Evaluating Your Website’s Performance

Website statistics and affiliate sales figures are essential for evaluating the effectiveness of your affiliate programs. Before you start recording and analyzing data, it's worthwhile to know what statistics you're trying to calculate - and why. Following are some of the key questions that need to be answered periodically to ensure the success of affiliate programs.

.. What percentage of the website visitors become customers through affiliate programs?
.. What percentages of sales are new or renewals?
.. What is the average revenue per visitor?
.. What is the average revenue per sale?
The most important figure you need to keep track of is the visitorto-customer conversion. It tells you exactly how well you convince your visitors to buy your affiliate products. Average conversion ratios for affiliate programs range between .5 and 1.5 percent. Anything above 1.5% is really good. This figure, however, indicates the total conversion for all the affiliate programs. If you promote more than one affiliate program you need to also calculate the conversion rate for each of the programs.

Knowing how conversion rates compare between programs is useful when deciding how to direct your promotional efforts. For example, if you discover that Program A converts at 1% and Program B converts at 2%, it might be time to spend more time and effort romoting Program B. Most tracking software would give you detailed information about each of the affiliate programs promoted on your website.

All affiliate programs that have a low conversion rate should be dropped. While this may seem like a lot of work to go through to track your site's performance, it really is a worthwhile endeavor. Once your tracking mechanism is set, and you've done the inputs a few times, you'll be surprised at how simple it becomes. In fact, you may find that eventually you look forward to adding things up at the end of the month to get a clear picture of where your affiliate business stands.

Managing and Tracking Your Affiliate Programs

The key to any business is to promote your products and services to people who need them. Your affiliate business is no different. In order to earn commissions you must put your products in front of the people who need them. The beauty of marketing affiliate programs is that it is anybody’s ball game. This is the one place you can burrow deep into your own niche and stick it to the so-called “big wigs”.

Staying Organized

There are many affiliate networks that provide multiple affiliate programs and merchants. Keeping track of all affiliate programs in a single network is easy. You would generally be given one username and password as well as a single interface that controls all the programs. However, if you have many of your own affiliate programs or you promote several stand-alone affiliate programs from your website, the task of staying organized becomes a bit more complex.

There are many software programs available on the Internet that organize and keep track of all data associated with affiliate programs. These programs maintain databases pertaining to information about all your affiliate programs such as:

.. Program Name
.. Date joined or created
.. Contact Name
.. URL
.. Email Address
.. ID
.. Password
.. 1st Tier Percent
.. 1st Tier Sale
.. 2nd Tier Percent
.. 2nd Tier Sale
.. Total Income
.. Additional comments

Once the program information has been entered, you can add information about individual sales made and checks received. The program then keeps track of sales to date, amount collected and receivables. Some of the advanced software programs also provide analysis and comparison tools for all affiliate programs. If you take the time to input collected data about clicks, sales, page views, impressions, emails sent, etc. from your various campaigns and enter all of it into the program, it will show you:

.. Click-to-Sale Ratios
.. Impression to Sale Ratios
.. Amount Earned Per Impression
.. Amount Earned Per Click

Of course, the best affiliate programs will provide these kind of detailed statistics for you at no extra charge.

Here’s a few additional tips for managing your affiliate programs:

Always ensure that your website is up and running. On a daily basis type your URL into your browser's address bar, refresh the page and find out. The danger in not knowing that your site is down comes hen you are running a pay-per-click advertising campaign. The click costs add up whether your site is functional or not. If your site is down, you are paying for advertising, but no one is buying. Check your statistics daily, maybe even twice a day. This will give you a better idea of your income trends and highlight affiliate programs that bring your business. Visit the statistics interface for each network and individual affiliate partner and input your total revenues into any accounting software. Using such software frequently will also keep you informed about any overdue checks.

Be prompt in answering any queries from affiliate partners or customers, especially when these are about your products or services. This probably means that the customer trusts your site and is thinking of buying your product.

One of the main benefits of many affiliate programs is residual income. You've got to make the most of each and every customer you receive. The best way to do this is by promoting affiliate programs that offer residual commission.

Residual income affiliate programs pay you repeatedly for a sale you make one time. For example, if a visitor arrives at your site and purchases auto responder services, newsletter subscriptions, ISP/hosting services, you will collect a portion of the monthly fees for as long as they remain a paying customer. Membership sites are a good way to collect residual commissions and are steadily growing in popularity. There are many affiliate programs that offer residual commission. Click here to learn about the top residual income affiliate programs that I personally belong to and highly recommend to others. Finally, track all your affiliate links. The best way to accomplish this is by setting up tracking software for your affiliate links. There are a number of scripts that will do the job. Most tracking programs typically allow you to setup tracking links for any product you promote, telling you how many hits each product has received, and where the hits are coming from. A more detailed view of tracking and analysis is given in the section below.

If you have your own affiliate program, it is not enough to provide just a few banners and classified ads for your affiliates. You must provide as much help as possible for your affiliates if you want them to be successful. You should offer tested and proven endorsements, testimonials, signature files, ezine ads, and other unique tools and techniques including individualized training for your affiliates. You must also make yourself available, either through email, phone or a member’s support forum, to help your affiliates implement these tools and to answer any questions they might have. Whether you run your own or participate in an affiliate program, you must be able to determine what methods work best in a particular medium. For instance, which ezine ads work best and in what ezine, which banner ads produce the greatest click-throughs and from which sites or banner exchanges, and the most effective spot on your website to include a testimonial are all important factors to address. Some affiliate programs have implemented unique payment procedures to get affiliates their commission checks on a timely basis.

Some of these procedures include: online electronic payment services, direct bank deposits and checks by fax. If you can solidify your payment procedures from the start you will save yourself an administrative headache, and more importantly, keep your affiliates happy and working to promote your program.

Cooking Off the Spam

Any time you run a program where your affiliates rely on sending you visitors to make money, you will eventually have a problem with spam. One of your affiliates will inevitably get it into their head to blast the web with unwanted garbage. When this happens you need to be ready to take action. Otherwise, it will cost you! Your website hosting company can boot you off your server and you can find yourself blacklisted. If you get an email from someone claiming they received spam with your URL, then take it as an early warning. I am not advising you to immediately terminate the affiliate’s account, but be sure to contact them to follow up on the complaint. Let your affiliate know you received a complaint and advise them to remove this person from their list immediately.

If you only get one or two complaints, it’s probably not spam. The complainants might simply have signed up for an email list and forgotten all about it. You will know when one of your affiliates is spamming, because you will get anywhere from 10 to 100 complaints in the same day all regarding the same URL. The best thing to do in this case is to immediately terminate or disable the account of the affiliate URL that has spammed.

Launching Your Own Affiliate Program

Joining an affiliate program and promoting it on your site is an easy way to make extra money from the traffic you get to your site. But just as you can join someone else’s affiliate program, so you can also set up your own program and invite webmasters to sign up as long as you have YOUR OWN product to sell. What would that bring you? The same as what you bring your affiliate partners: sales. Every time someone sends you a visitor who buys your product or service, you give a portion of that money to your affiliate. It’s an easy way to generate free traffic and earn extra cash. And you don’t need to be a programming genius to set up an affiliate program. There are a whole bunch of companies out there that offer entire affiliate kits right off the shelf. lets you run a fully featured affiliate program from your website. It integrates with virtually every payment method, awards down-line commissions, and can handle high-traffic websites. You can edit the sign-up form to match the "look and feel” of your site as well as delete some of the optional fields. The administration area allows you to edit affiliates and commissions, create printable reports of money due, export the data to a text file, view the traffic through your affiliate program, and much more. Your affiliates can log in at any time and see their traffic and commission statistics as well as change their information and get links banner codes and all other promotional materials you provide.

Once the program is set up you'll only need to log in once a month to print out a list of the affiliates, their addresses, and the money owed. You can do this quarterly if you wish. You can export the payments owed to a text file in PayPal's "mass pay" format and then just upload it to your PayPal account to pay everyone automatically.

Or, you can simply write your own checks. If you have to pay a lot of commissions, there is a check printing service called that works well. Simply upload the file and they’ll print and mail your checks for a relatively small fee.

Alternatively, you can run your affiliate program without installing any software on your own server using powerful server-based affiliate tracking systems like or

Getting Rich from Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs (also called Referral Programs or Partnership Programs) are essentially commission-based income opportunities. With an affiliate program, you get paid for sending customers to other company’s websites. Affiliate programs are widely believed to be the easiest way to start making money online. Here’s how it works: When you sign up to become an affiliate for a company, you receive a special link with your own unique affiliate ID embedded into it to promote that company’s product(s). Example: Next, you simply add your new affiliate link to your website, newsletter or anywhere else. Then when people use your link to get to the other company’s website and subsequently buy a product from them, YOU earn a commission. You benefit from the commission earned and the affiliate company benefits from sales it would NOT have otherwise made without your promotional efforts. For example, if you’ve ever gone to a website and seen links to Amazon, those were affiliate links. If you click those links and end up buying the product on the next page, the webmaster whose website you originated at will earn a commission from Amazon.

Joining an Affiliate Program

As with any marketing venture, you need to be careful in the selection of an affiliate program. The benefit of an affiliate program is that it gives you another way to make money from your website visitors. Instead of selling them a product yourself, you send them to a partner and take a cut.

On the downside though, your affiliate ads will take the place of a different ad that you could have put in that same spot. You have to make sure that each advertising position on your site is bringing in the maximum revenue possible. If you’re not getting the most from your site, you’re throwing money away.

The key to success is to choose the right program, right from the beginning. Click here to learn about 5 affiliate programs I belong to who pay out big commissions every month to myself and many others. Now, a lot of commercial sites run affiliate programs. That’s because they know that they only have to pay a commission if a sale is actually made; it’s a proven way to generate revenue without risk. What that means for you is that when it comes to choosing an affiliate program, you’re going to have a huge range to choose from. What it all boils down to though is product and price. While it might be tempting to go for the program that pays the highest commissions, the program won’t pay you a penny if your visitors won’t go there or won’t buy once they get there. You have to be certain that the service you’re promoting is of genuine interest to the kind of visitors you get to your website, whether you’re buying them from search engines or anywhere else.

Sure, you can work backwards: You find a high-paying affiliate program and create a small site to send users to it, but do you know where to buy traffic for a program like that? You’re going to have to research the field, check out the most popular sites, and negotiate banner campaigns and link exchanges.

That’s fine if you want to invest the time and the effort. But it’s much easier to find an affiliate program operating in a field you’re familiar with, and use that program to earn extra cash. For example, suppose you had set up a dating site. You might make some money selling subscriptions, but you might make even more by joining’s affiliate program and referring your visitors to them. Unless you’re planning to be the Internet’s biggest

dating site, you’re not going to be able to compete directly and beat them, but you can help them — and make money doing it. Or rather than sell your users directly to a competitor, you can look for services that complement your own. Visitors to your dating site, for example, might be interested in buying flowers, books on relationships or tickets on singles cruises. Instead of selling just one product such as membership subscriptions, you’d be selling a whole range of different goods to the same people and increasing the sources of your income.

Here are some tips to selecting an affiliate program that is lucrative and right for you:

Don’t accept less than 25% commission. You can find affiliate programs with great payment structures and high percentages of the purchase price in just about every field. In fact, many affiliate programs pay out 50%-75% depending on the type of product. Look for comprehensive statistics pages that list the number of click-throughs, sales and earnings so you can see how you’re doing. The information should be broken down by month.

Look for programs that offer a wide variety of promotional tools to put on your web page, including text links, banners, articles, brandable ebooks, etc.

Find out how often you will be paid and make sure that the payment schedule meets your expectations. Some programs pay biweekly, many pay monthly, others quarterly; which is best for you? Look for examples of marketing methods that successful affiliates are using to get the best results. Make sure that top level support is given. If they can’t answer your questions promptly and intelligently, you don’t want to work with them.

Advanced Ad Tracking

The Need for an Ad Tracking Program

There are two main factors that make an ad effective – Content of the ad and the sites where it is advertised. Most experts would agree that constant testing and experimenting is the only way to ensure that you get the right combination. However, the question arises – How do you test your ads? An integral part of any advertising campaign is

knowing which ads bring you the most visitors. After all, you may have banner ads, newsgroups ads, ads in newsletters and articles, ads in autoresponders, or a simple classified ad on a website. Every marketer needs to know:

.. which of the ads received the best response
.. whether free classified sites are worth the effort
.. which newsletters are the most profitable
.. how a sponsored newsletter ad compares to the standard one
.. whether animated banners are better than static ones
.. how effective email ads are
.. whether an ad at the beginning of a newsletter or article outperforms the one at the end

Ad tracking programs would answer all of these questions. They can help you analyze the effectiveness of every single ad, and hence they should be an integral part of every marketing campaign. At the basic level, an ad tracking program records when your URL has been clicked. It can detect where your visitor came from (the referring URL), the browser and operating system used and the exact time the visitor arrived. It can also record total hits and unique hits (i.e. where one visitor may click several times). This data is kept in the system so you can then pull reports on any ad campaign over any period, e.g. by month, day or even by hour.

Types of Ad Tracking Tools

There are two types of Ad Tracking programs. However, the operation of both these types is the same.

CGI Script
You purchase these programs outright and it is installed on your site. If you have some technical knowledge, you should be able to install it yourself; otherwise the supplier will charge an installation fee. There are certain minimum software requirements for programs which run on your site, including access to the cgi-bin. Hence, most free sites would not allow you to install CGI scripts. With CGI scripts, your tracking URLs will carry your own domain name.

Online Services
These programs operate completely independently from your site - no software installation or use of your system resources (such as disk space) is required. However, such programs run at the supplier site. You pay a rental (monthly or yearly) for the program. Thus, you are dependent on the supplier’s website for your ad tracking. With an online tracking service, your tracking URLs usually carry the online service’s domain name.

The main difference between these types of ad tracking tools is the installation. For some businesses, running CGI scripts may be more advantageous, whereas for others, online services would be more useful and easier to manage.

There are many ad tracking tools available at reasonable rates. Two of the most popular tools are discussed below:
This is an online ad tracking tool. AdMinder provides an ad tracking service that can be used with multiple websites. It provides the capability to track clicks, actions and sales. AdMinder provides reporting as well as the ability to export your data in CSV format, which you can use in MS Excel for additional analysis. Some of its key features are:

.. Browser-based-service, so no installation required
.. Works with all major web browsers
.. Provides key financial stats
.. Allow for grouped reports
.. Unlimited campaigns

ProAnalyzer Ad Tracking System is a CGI program that installs on your website's cgi-bin directory and tracks your ad click-throughs and sales without paying a monthly fee. When a visitor enters your website from an ad URL, a cookie is placed on his web browser and a clickthrough is recorded. If the visitor purchases a product, that cookie is read on the Thank You page with the purchase total, and the sale is recorded for the ad that generated it.

You can track sales or results either by the campaign name, the revenue generated by a sale, or the action accomplished (lead generated, etc.). The Administration Area allows you to monitor each of your campaigns showing hits, sales, and the conversion rate for each. You can configure how the program calculates the conversion rate (by raw hits or unique hits) and how results are sorted. There are lots of different ways to bring customers to your site. So far we’ve discussed search engines, banner ads, text links, classified ads and some “old-fashioned” offline marketing strategies.

As you learn these methods and begin to put them in practice, it’s important to remember that no single method has all the answers. The best marketing campaigns are a combination of them all. In the next chapter, we’re going to look at another exclusively online method of building a customer base and making money: affiliate programs. Of course, the best way to learn about affiliate programs is simply to sign up for a few of them yourself and do some marketing.

Creating Effective Ads

Online advertising leaves a lot to be desired. There are ads that emulate Windows-warning boxes, pop-ups and pop-unders and a whole variety of “interruption” style ads. All of these ad mediums are developed with the intent to make people notice them. However, most of them only end up irritating people. Advertisers, especially those with small budgets, can't afford to waste money on ineffective advertising. In order to optimize your advertising purchases, consider the following steps:

Step 1: Define your target market and specify clear goals of your advertising campaign.

The most important aspect of any advertising campaign is to have a clear objective in mind. You need to know what group of people you are targeting with your ad campaign and what specific results you want to achieve from your advertising. Do you want to make 1 sale per day or 100? It may seem silly, but defining your outcome in advance will make a dramatic impact on what you actually achieve.

Step 2: Identify the most effective sites for reaching your target market.

Sites that are most relevant to your product or service will, more than likely, be your best bet, but also consider larger sites or networks that can target the audience you're trying to reach. They can be very cost-effective. If you have multiple products or services that appeal to various target markets, you'll have to consider sites that reach all those various segments.

Step 3: Craft your message to fit the needs of the audience you're targeting.

This comes down to understanding the audience of the sites you're advertising on. The message you use on a technology site to appeal to technologically savvy customers won't have the same appeal for visitors on a small-business site. Focus your campaign accordingly.

Step 4: Develop the content of your ad.

Pay particular attention to the content of the ad. The content should be such that it clearly distinguishes your product or service from your competitor’s. Have a catchy headline. The headline is probably the most important part of the ad – It is the attention getter.

Step 5: Formulate the specific promotional messages that correspond to your goals.

The promotional messages should concentrate on the major selling points of your product or service and have a strong call-toaction. Example: “Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks and add years to your life by taking the new breakthrough Healthy Life Vitamin. Click here to get your free bottle today while supplies last!”

Step 6: Make the desired action clearly visible.

This certainly doesn't mean the desired action should necessarily blink, bounce or do flips, but it should be visible within an accepted format for the media you're using. In the case of the Internet, underlined text links, "click here" text entry boxes, and pull-down menus are all ways you can make the desired action clearly visible.

Step 7: Design the ad so it looks like it belongs on the sites where you're advertising.

For instance, you may want to use the site's font faces in your text, color schemes in your background, font color choices overall, and emulate images where appropriate. Try to conform to the environment you’re in so potential customers feel at home when they see your ad.

Step 8: Produce multiple versions of each ad.

Create three or four versions of each ad, changing the promotional message, call-to-action, font faces and color schemes. This is especially important if you're doing price testing or gauging reaction to specific promotions. By splitting your advertising buy among the various versions of your ad, you can then start to optimize your results based on the message that works best.

Cultivating New Customers

Search engines, banner ads, text links and classified ads are all ways to attract clients and build a customer base. It should also be noted that some of the old traditional methods like word-of-mouth referrals still work just as well online. In fact, word of mouth advertising brings me a lot of new business every month. In addition to the aforementioned techniques, here are some tips to help you grab as many customers as you can while you’re setting up your business and getting your online marketing programs in place.

Know Your Market

Whatever your line of business, you’ve got to know your market. You have to know who your clients are, what they want and what makes them buy. Do the market research, check out your competitors, create a formal marketing plan and be sure to take the effort to put yourself in the shoes of your buyers. Otherwise you won’t get any! Bring Out Your Benefits You might think you know what your product’s sales points are. You might even be very proud of them. But, the fact is, your buyers don’t care about all the wonderful gizmos you’ve packed into your product. They just want you to answer one question: what’s it going to do for me?

That’s what all your marketing has to be about: explaining to your buyers how you’re going to improve their life.

Update Your Site Frequently

It can take a lot of effort and time to create a website that works. But you can’t stop there. You’re going to have to keep updating it, checking it and making sure all the links and addresses work. That’s the first place to look when you notice your sales starting to drop, and it’s crucial to keep them coming in.

Be Alert for New Marketing Opportunities

You must always be alert for opportunities to make new business contacts and not allow yourself to be caught off guard when opportunities arise. It doesn’t matter if you’re out shopping or at a Chamber of Commerce meeting; make sure that you have professional business cards, brochures, etc. on hand and pass them out.

Don’t Keep Your Business a Secret

Tell everyone about your business and your product. You might even consider sending out a mass mailing to everyone you know, telling them what you’re doing. Chances are, someone knows someone who wants what you’ve got, and friendly referrals usually bring the best business!

Find Repeat Customers

When it comes to building customers, there are clients who buy once, and clients who buy lots of times. It’s the latter that you want to pack into your customer list; they’re worth their weight in gold. Big companies are good places to prospect for repeat business (they have big demands and budgets) but always treat your repeat customers well. That might mean giving occasional discounts and freebies, but the extra business and customer loyalty you gain will make up for it.

Classified Ads

Offline, classified ads are relatively cheap little ads that appear at the back of newspapers or magazines. They work well if you’re trying to sell your old Ford Escort or you’re looking for a new home for your old sofa. Offline classified ads can even work well promoting a variety of online products and services.

Online, things are a little different. But not hugely different. I post ads on classified sites online, but I don’t expect to make a lot of money from them. What I do expect though is an opportunity to test my headlines and ad copy before I start spending hard cash on AdWords, other PPC’s and text links.

That’s why I don’t bother with the dollar ads. If I’m going to spend marketing money, I’d rather give it to a search engine than a classified ad site. You’ll typically get a much better return with PPC advertising and you know exactly what you are paying for each visitor. But there are places where you can place free ads online, and you can actually do this on some of the really big sites like AOL and Yahoo. Even if I don’t make many sales, the fact that I’m getting my product in front of so many people for free certainly doesn’t do me any harm.

Text Links

Text links are much simpler than banner ads. They’re also less eye-catching and less sexy. There’s no funky animation, no neat Flash, just a few well chosen words often stuck at the side of a web page. But that doesn’t mean they’re not effective. In fact, to some extent, text links are the unsung heroes of online marketing. They don’t get half the attention they deserve, but they can do an excellent job bringing visitors to a site.

The first point to bear in mind about text links is that they’re tough to write. You might have just 50 characters to make your sales pitch. That’s about the length of that sentence, so you’re going to have to be pretty creative in what you say. That’s the downer. On the plus side though, text links are amongst the most popular form of promotion amongst Internet users. They don’t get in the way like popups, and they’re often mistaken for content so they’re actually read. And because they’re written into the site’s HTML, you know that each page view means a real exposure.

They’re also cheap. You might have to pay a flat-fee or a costper-click, but there’s much less risk than with banner ads. If you know how much traffic the site’s getting, you can figure out in advance if it’s worth your while. Best of all though, you can sometimes arrange for free links with partners in return for a similar placement on your own site. That doesn’t just give you free advertising… It also helps your search engine placements.

I use a lot of text links to promote my sites, but I wouldn’t rely completely on them alone. But, in terms of effectiveness and cost, text links are very powerful.

Banner Economics

Business online, like business offline, always boils down to math: the difference between cost and revenue. If your banner campaign is costing more than it’s earning, you won’t be in business for very long. To figure out how your campaign is doing, you’re going to need to know your CPM, your Click Through Rate and your Conversion Rate. These are your basic tools. If you don’t know them, find out! Let’s say your CPM is $20, your CTR is 1%, and your Conversion Rate is 4%. (So you’re paying $20 every 1,000 times your banner is shown, it brings you 10 new visitors, and you make one sale for every 25 visitors the ad brings). The question you need to ask yourself is how much are you wasting on the 24 users who don’t buy.

Cost per visitor = $20 / 10 = $2 So each visitor costs you $2, but you need 25 visitors to make one sale, so...

Cost per sale = $2 * 25 = $50 ...if your product is worth less than $50, you’re losing money.

That’s pretty simple, and as you can see, there’s not a lot of room to maneuver here. Margins are tight on banner advertising, and that applies to both the site selling the advertising space and the webmaster buying it.

Of course, hard cash isn’t the only way to measure the success of a banner ad, and one reason they’re still popular is that they’re a pretty effective branding tool. After all, advertisers spend millions on billboards without expecting motorists to drive straight through them and make a purchase! On the Internet, those advertisers can even be reasonably sure that the people who see their ads will be interested in them. But branding costs money — lots of it — with no guarantee of results. It’s usually best left to the big boys.

The banner ads on my sites usually send users to my affiliate partners, and the banner ads I place on other people’s sites usually come from my affiliate programs. They don’t cost me anything and as long I’m making the sales to pay my affiliate partners, everybody’s happy.

If you do decide to purchase banner advertisements though, and if you have a very specific market in mind, make sure they are strategically placed on sites where the traffic will most definitely be interested in your product or service. Find a site that suits exactly your specific product and you’re going to be appealing directly to your target market.

Buying Advertising and Keeping Customers!

In my experience, search engines and directories are the easiest and probably the most effective methods to bring users to a site. But it’s never a good idea to use one tactic exclusively. In this chapter we’re going to look at three other methods: banners, text links and classified ads.


When the Internet first started, banners were all the rage. Today, they’re pretty much passé. They’re no longer a novelty and unless they’re super-clever, users pretty much ignore them. Conversion rates have dropped through the floor and many advertisers have found other ways to promote their products. And yet, every website still contains a whopping great banner ad splashed along the top or running up the side. In part, that’s because they’ve become more sophisticated with better targeting and improved graphics. But in practice, banner ads tend to be used for one of two reasons: to attract traffic to one’s website; or as a way of visually branding your business in the mind of the public.

The key with banner advertising is always to make sure the economics make sense. We’ll look closely at the math in this chapter, but before we go on to talk about the math of banner ads and how to tell whether your banner campaign is worthwhile, let’s just take a look at the terms involved. You’re going to see these words whenever you join an affiliate program or take part in any other kind of online marketing plan. You should definitely be familiar with them.

Banner Glossary

.. Banner Ad — A graphic ad linked to an advertiser’s website. These usually run across the top of the page but can also run up the page (“skyscrapers”). Banners are usually limited by size.

.. Banner Views — The number of times a banner is seen by users. This is usually the same as "page views", but counts the number of times the banner is actually downloaded rather than the number of times the page is downloaded. Some users click away before the banner finishes loading.

.. Clicks/Click Throughs — Banners are operated by clicking the cursor over them. Not too surprisingly these responses are called “clicks” or “click throughs”.

.. Click Through Rate (CTR) — The percentage of users who see the banner and click on it.

.. Conversion Rate — The percentage of people who visit your site and actually give you money. The higher the better!

.. Cookies — Small files placed on a user’s computer. They’re used for all sorts of reasons and by all sorts of sites. Banner ads use them to make sure the user hasn’t seen the banner recently, which banner brought them to the advertiser’s site, and even which ads they’ve seen recently. .. CPM — "Cost Per 1000 Impressions" The amount you pay for every thousand times a banner is shown. This is the most common way of charging for banners.

.. Hits — The number of times a server receives a request for a web page or an image. Not a great way to measure interest. One page can have lots of images and get lots of hits, even if it’s only seen once. Often, people will say "hits" when they really mean "page views" or "impressions"

. .. Page Impressions or Page Views — The number of times a web page has been requested by the server. Much more accurate than hits: each view is a potential customer looking at a page of your site, but not necessarily a different customer.

.. Unique Users — The people who download a web page, counted by IP address. You want to bring lots of users to your site so that you can create a broad customer base. The same user clicking on a banner a dozen times could cost you money without increasing your sales. Most reputable sites will check the IP address of the person clicking on a link and only count it once in a 24-hour period. If a site doesn’t do this, don’t advertise with them.