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Affiliate Marketing ? My Best Decision
When I decided to quit my job and start an internet business, I was clueless. I researched and found several viable opportunities however the more I read, the more I realized how difficult this was going to be. I did not have a product and was in no position to create one. I had it in my head I wanted to sell something so I started out in the drop shipping business.
I researched wholesalers that were willing to drop ship and found a few. I built a simple yahoo! site, created a merchant account, got my resellers license and voila, I was in business. Did I get a sale? Nope, because I did not know how the internet worked with regards to website marketing. No one could find my site and I was a marketing failure.
Because my site didn't sell anything, I gave up and continued on the research path. I slowly learned about how to market my site but wasn't sure I wanted to stick with drop shipping. My site costs combined with credit card merchant costs and plain old competition didn't really leave me with much profit. I realized I still had much to learn.
I went back to the research drawing board and joined a few forums to learn what else I might be able to do. At that time I learned about affiliate programs. I met people I trusted and admired who promoted affiliate programs. I asked a lot of questions and began my research. Affiliate marketing appealed to me. I didn't need a merchant account, I didn't need inventory, I didn't need my own product and I could even get away without a website. Wow, how good is that? So off I went.
As I began to research I found the best selling products were informational products and the best commissions were internet marketing products. Because I was familiar with setting up a website previously I decided to set up another site to list of all my affiliate sales products. I fell into the trap that most new web business owners fall into. Setting up a 'How to Market on the internet site'. I liked it because I was familiar with it and I had purchased some of the products through my research. So why not? Well, simply put there is too much competition in that category. I still have my site today but my sales are minimal. I offer only products that I trust and many of them I use but it's not a business path I'd recommend to someone starting out, particularly because many beginners tend to gravitate there. There are lots of other things that have good marketing potential. Affiliate marketing can be successfully applied to almost any product on the net.
If researched carefully and applied correctly, affiliate sales can be a very profitable internet business. The object is to find something you can sell and promote for merchants that will offer you a commission to sell it. You don't have to carry inventory, collect money, worry about delivery or even have a website (although a website is a good idea), but you're going to have to think about what products best suit you with regard to sales. I feel it's best to sell things that you like. Things you're interested in or have a fetish about. For instance, let's say you love crystal. If you love it then you probably know something about it, but more importantly you will enjoy researching it and offering it to someone else.
Next, research web businesses that sell crystal and offer affiliate programs. I recommend using Commission Junction or Linkshare. Keep in mind that the sites you select can sell other things, however you're focusing on just crystal. Find several sites and apply to them all. Most affiliate programs are free. A note to the wise, be sure to read the affiliate agreements and understand their rules. They are not all the same.
Once you've signed up for the programs of your choice, pay per click (PPC) search engines are the best and easiest way to sell your affiliate products. You can promote each product individually or you can promote them all by building a website and promoting your website. Again, be sure to read the agreements as some affiliate programs restrict affiliates offering their competition on the same website. This isn't true for all of them but you want to stay aware.
To get started you'll need to set up accounts with PPC search engines such as Google, Overture and Findwhat. Research how they work and set up some simple ad campaigns to start. You will also need to research keywords and what words cost the least and are the most effective. This is a topic for another article, however time spent and proper research tools such as Overture's view bids and search term suggestion tools will help keep your costs low and your profits high. By the way, use each of the keyword tools provided by each PPC search engine; this will help guide you as to what keywords to use. Keywords entered by users can differ from search engine to search engine.
If you choose to build a website, keep your sight on topic. Getting back to our crystal example, keep your site focused on crystal or glassware, don't throw in pictures or garden chairs. The worst mistake you can make is being everything to everyone. I know; I've made that mistake.
Offer information such as types of types of crystal, how it's made, textures, weight, where it's made, history of crystal, etc. Concentrate on offering information. If you give people valuable information on something they're more likely to buy it.
Of course crystal is just an example; you can apply the same principles to sofas, bicycles, computers, toys or whatever you might take pleasure in. Give it some quality thought, research carefully and take your time. If it's something you enjoy, you'll enjoy your business.
About The Author
Elizabeth McGee is the owner of Pro-Marketing-Online, the Expert Marketing Tools site. If you wish to learn more about how to market online from the experts and find expert, trusted tools for promoting your site then please visit Pro-Marketing-Online or subscribe to her newsletter found at http://www.pro-marketing-online.com or email Elizabeth at email@example.com
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10 Things WalMart Teaches About Affiliate Marketing
We already know about wal mart because of their ads in local papers, on billboards, on the radio and TV. So finding a local Wal Mart is easy, and so should it also be easy to find your web site. Although you may not need to use radio and TV advertisements, you should still use offline promotion such as business cards or direct mail. Naturally, you want other web sites to put your billboard ad onto theirs. So that's our first lesson on how Wal Mart can teach us effective affiliate marketing. Now let's visit a Wal Mart store. Once we arrive at Wal Mart, we enter a huge parking lot. Your web site must also enable a lot of visitors. If your site is on a slow server, you may be losing customers. That's lesson #2. As soon as we enter Wal Mart, we are welcomed by a Wal Mart greeter. This greeter not only welcomes us to the store, but also offers help in pointing out where to find what you're looking for. That's lesson 3a and 3b. Your site should welcome visitors and provide navigation to all the products and services you offer. You can do this by simply including a graphic on your page that says "Welcome, Click Here to find what you're looking for" and have that link go to your site map. Beyond the greeter is a wide path that branches out to different areas of the store with banners overhead that tell you what you can find in those areas. Your site map should consist of main links, as well as sub-links to corresponding pages. Now we get to lesson 4, that each page of your site needs to have a topic, a main header, that defines what each page is about, as well as provide links, pathways to corresponding pages, because you'll notice that Wal-Mart arranges their store to group products that are similar. The hardware section is near the automotive center, housewares are near food items, lawn and garden items are near the hardware and pet supply areas, etc. But you can still get from one area to another. As you browse the shelves, you see more than one type of item. If you're in the grocery section; for example, you'll see many different types of beans. Canned beans, dry beans, even beans from different companies. That's lesson #5. You should offer your site visitors more than one choice. If your site offers auto loans, for example, offer your visitors new auto loans, used auto loans, even auto refinancing loans. And, you may want to offer them more than one choice for each type of auto loan. Afterall, visitors came to your site because they are shopping around... so let them shop and choose from multiple options. Just remember not to stick cheese products in your automotive section! Another thing you'll notice as you browse the shelves, which leads us to lesson #6... although the shelves are stocked full, it's still easy to pick out your favorite can of beans. This is because the shelves are stocked neatly and orderly. The ads you put onto your site should also be neat and orderly. Mixing in tall banners with short banners and having banners for totally different products and services can make shopping your site more difficult. For example, if you have a page about auto loans, you wouldn't want to put a tall auto loan banner right next to a short casino banner. Instead, put a tall auto insurance banner next to the tall auto loan banner. As you roam the store, you frequently encounter employess who can help you find items. This goes back to lessons 3a and 3b. Each page of your site should have a help link to your site map, or you should have a site search. Since Wal Mart makes it easy to find an employee to ask for assistance, that leads us to another lesson: Does you site offer customer service? Can visitors click on a button to ask you questions before they make a decision? Or do they simply exit your site? Lesson #7: How many times have you heard announcements in Wal Mart? They frequently announce specials over their public address system. We are not suggesting that you force visitors to endure slow loading sound files. But you can make sound an option. To see how you can use this marketing option, go to www.geocities.com/pulsarmarketing We have an example there on how you can offer your visitors the option to hear your audible promotion without forcing them to listen and making your pages load slow. All you have to do is create a wav sound file, and launch it by using a graphic or text link such as: "Click Here to listen to our promotion". The personal touch of a person's voice on your site can help increase your conversions. But don't force the loading of sound files. Instead, use the method we recommend at the URL below: www.geocities.com/pulsarmarketing Another thing you can do to tell your site visitors about specials or new products and services your site offers, is to offer them a free subscription to your newsletter. Now that we've toured Wal Mart and we're ready to make our purchase, we know our way to the checkout counter because Wal Mart makes it easy for us. That's lesson #8. Your site needs to make it easy for visitors to purchase. If you do not provide any of your own products or services and strictly use affiliate programs, you need to make sure your relevant banners and text links are at the top of the page, clearly and readily visible, to the people visiting that page. When we arrive at the checkout counter, besides asking us if we want paper or plastic and if we will be purchasing with cash or credit, the cashier asks if we found everything we needed. That's lesson #9. Make sure you offer your site visitors more options when they checkout. And, once again, if you do not directly sell your own products or services and you strictly use affiliate programs, you can offer your site visitors two links to click on: One link that opens the offer into a new window so the person may continue browsing your site after they are done applying or buying from your sponsor, and another link that simply goes directly to the sponsor in the same window. Think we're done learning from Wal Mart? No. After we make our purchase, and even after we go home, there's lesson #10... the return policy. If you sell your own products or services, you need to assure your visitors that you stand behind what you sell, and make your return policy very clear. If you do not sell your own products and services, does your site have a way for customers to resolve problems, or to ask pre-sale questions? If not, you may lose customers to sites that do provide online customer service.
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