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January 18th, 2008, 07:03 PM #1How to Create Content That Pulls Traffic and Bumps Sales and Profit
I'm creating a tutorial style thread that will go into detail into how I develop content that drives traffic to my sites and bump conversions. In many cases I have seen conversions in excess of 20%, if the system is optimized.
So before we begin, you must be wondering: "Who the heck is Andrew Wee?"
I'm an Asia-based internet marketer, living in Singapore, and got into the game in 1997 with AsiaOne.com, one of Asia's largest content portals (It's the online division of a media publishing group).
In those days we used text editors (I still use UltraEdit these days...) to put sites together. Pretty impressive, considering that we put up between 200-400 pages of content a day, pulled directly from the newspapers.
We didn't have very sophisticated analytics in those days, so everyone was talking about page views and impressions (and you're probably aware that number of uniques and time spent on page are better metrics now).
In the course of 5 years, I developed and launched a number of sites dealing in stock/finance, mutual funds, lifestyle/leisure, technology, business strategy and SMB entrepreneurship and bits of personal opinion/analysis (I guess you might consider it blogging these days). So I've got a pretty diverse range of experience under my belt for portal development.
Along the way, I doubled up a tech journalist, meeting the likes of Microsoft's Steve Balmer, Red Hat Linux's Bob Young, Seagate hard disk founder Al Shugart (who's now passed on), the folks at Lucasfilm's Industrial, Light and Magic as well as web consultancies and management consultancies.
The interesting thing with business strategies and e-commerce/web strategies is that the same set of rules apply, whether you're in the Fortune 50, or working solo on your affiliate business in your basement.
So what I'd like to do is share some of the techniques that I'm using, as well as some of the biggest players in the online world are using.
Since I develop my own product (so I'm considered a merchant at time), managing my own affiliate management program (so I am familiar with affiliate management issues), and promote other products and offers as an affiliate, I can see the issue from different viewpoints.
I'll be posting here at least once a week and adding posts as I go along.
You're welcome to post on-topic questions and I'll do my best to answer them or point you to appropriate resources as we go along.
If you're headed to ASW and would like to meet up, I'll be speaking at Lisa Picarille's media panel on Day 3 at the 1130am slot.
Ok, so here we go...
What is content?
In most people's mind, there's the idea that content refers to text information of some sort - maybe a press release, an article, a blog post, a report, a book.
I'd like to expand the definition to say that content is any information that someone will find useful.
[Content is independent of the medium, so whether it's a DVD, book, teleseminar, phone recording, it's indepedent of all that...]
Content is a matter of giving someone information the moment they want an answer to a question.
The question could be something high level like:
"Who's the best OPM for my products/services?"
"How often do I need to backup my data and how much security should I install on my server?"
To something as simple as:
"How do I know if that guy I like, likes me back?"
"What should I have for dinner tonight?"
"If I eat this food, will it give me gas?"
When you're getting the answer to a question, you're more likely to ask the people closest to you. You might call a friend, consult a colleague, and make the decision.
Other times, if your friends have no experience in that area (eg. managing diabetes, considering the options for an ectopic pregnancy), you'll go to high authority sources.
This might involve going to your local Borders or a library to check out a book or other resource. Or going to a specialist like a medical professional, a lawyer, a tax accountant to get the answers you need.
A lot of times, it also involves going online, to a trusted resource like Ask.com, wikipedia, a forum focused on the niche/vertical, or finding an expert site like Yahoo! answered, or posing a question to your LinkedIn network.
So one of the keys is to insert your content in one of these channels so you are able to meet the visitor's question with content.
If your content meets their needs, it will result in a lead or a sale.
The Content creation system:
At this point, you might be wondering:
1) if this content system works,
2) What's the secret formula?
3) If it works, why am I putting it down?
1) There should be a question of whether the system work. If you're meeting a demand (a question), with an appropriate supply (the answer), the "transaction" takes place.
If you're thirsty, you'll drink. If you're living, you need to inhale oxygen...
2) The "secret" formula is that
a) You need to have a system in place, you need to have a plan to follow, a goal in mind and concrete actions to take.
b) You need to be consistent about it. If you're doing something for a day or two, not seeing the results you want and giving up, pretty much most of the things you test out are not going to "work".
c) Test and track: It's rare that you're going to get things perfect the first time you do it. So measuring what you did, what it did, and why it did what it did, are going to be important.
In some ways, content tracking is going to be more complicated than conventional split testing, because beyond measuring the clicks and sales (quantitative elements - the quantity), you'll also be looking at the qualitative elements (quality) of how your content affects your reader or viewers thinking process and how it influences and affects the actions they take.
that wraps it for this post.
In a comprehensive content creation system, there are things you will do
your campaign, which i'll cover in follow up posts.
Also, why using a pure keyword strategy is not going to cut it in a longterm/longtail content campaign.
January 18th, 2008, 07:37 PM #2
One word, wow Thank you very, very much for this post and am definitely gonna have to find time to check back in here each week. Trying (seems like am always in this state of trying lol) to learn as much as I possibly can so I can improve on everything so am kinda a trying to learn junkie. lol
I have lots and lots of content on my sites but I think my problem is actually making it really interesting for others to read. lol I keep having affiliate managers suggest I make a blog but I don't really think I have much interesting to say to people. There's a difference between having content and having content that's really interesting. Anyway, definitely gonna try to make a point of keeping up with your thread. Sounds very interesting and am hoping to learn some. Thank you
January 18th, 2008, 08:05 PM #3Originally Posted by andrew wee
January 19th, 2008, 12:19 AM #4
Okay, stop the music. This is a raid.
*cut-n-scratch sound happens, then silence*
If your content meets their needs, it will result in a lead or a sale.
Then how come I can kill hours and hours on c*ntent sites without ever spending a red cent? Yet if I go to a real, obviously-sales-oriented, site, I usually end up buying something?
For the record I'm about THE MOST skeptical person on the Internet when it comes to c*ntent being worth serious money. Every yutz spouts "content is king" and all that tells me is that they're a parrot. And when someone comes HERE spouting it, it tells me that:
1) They're a n00b
2) They're trying to sell something
OR SOMETIMES, EVEN
3) They're doing it just to wind me up!
You don't seem to have been here long enough to know that it'd wind me up, and you don't seem all that newbish...
So time to cut to the chase. What are you trying to sell...
*does some research*
Uh huh. I see. "Rabid Niche"...another clickbank deal for the suckers...
January 19th, 2008, 12:30 AM #5Originally Posted by Leader
I was really hoping for some advice on a longterm/longtail content campaign
January 19th, 2008, 12:52 AM #6
- Join Date
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- Cuautitlán, Edo. de México
January 19th, 2008, 12:58 AM #7Originally Posted by Leader
Can you point out some good examples of successful content-driven sites that are structured similar to the system you're describing? I'm not looking for blogs that shill internet marketing products, but rather something with more substance -- like perhaps a mature version of the video reviews site run by Shawn and Missy.
January 19th, 2008, 01:22 AM #8Originally Posted by Rhia7
You want some advice for catching the long tail with c*ntent, here's some:
If I was intentionally aiming for the long tail (in free listings) I would come up with all kinds of ways (that still make sense) to say things and work them into the c*ntent somehow.
Although usually for a sales page I have some non-longtail word/phrase that I want to target.
On my blog where I don't care what terms it ranks under, I just write normally and people come in off of all kinds of searches--a much wider range than the narrow band that results from the "SEOful" writing style.
As for long-term, I've found that the long-tail has its own kind of instability: People will use one offbeat phrase for a while, and then inexplicably switch to a different one. Often by the time WordTracker lists a longtail, nobody's looking for it like *that* anymore--and I do mean nobody. On the other hand, I've had other longtails come into use and pay off before WT even knows they were there.
I'm tired now, so I'll leave it at that.
January 19th, 2008, 01:35 AM #9Originally Posted by ghoti
January 19th, 2008, 02:38 AM #10
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- Los Angeles
Originally Posted by ghoti
Let's give him a chance first, before jumping all over him.
successful content-driven sites that are structured similar
Those aren't affiliate sites, and if anyone thinks they can jump into that kind of model for an affiliate site they either want to be deluded and/or duped, or they've got rocks in their head.
video reviews site run by Shawn and Missy
Last edited by webworker; January 19th, 2008 at 02:57 AM.
January 19th, 2008, 05:56 AM #11
You guys must not be members of a certain other forum that Andrew frequents where people create How-To threads without any ulterior motives or link dropping or selling. I'm pretty sure that's what he was trying to achieve with this thread too. But he probably won't bother with it now.
Anyway, don't let me stop you from the lock and ban if it's the ABW way.
January 19th, 2008, 07:13 AM #12Originally Posted by Leader
- ScottHatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.
January 19th, 2008, 07:38 AM #13
What is a C*ntent site?
Seriously a good content site like Oprahs lead to a must have product page designed without long tail in mind at all. If that happens its just a bonus.
I have been tempted to start this same type of thread here for a long time but knew it would get beaten off track so why bother.
Looking forward to meeting Andrew in Vegas and thank him for the free Robert Allen book he gave away on his site.
January 19th, 2008, 10:25 AM #14
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
For some of the programs I run, content sites are making the sales. Review sites, authority sites with ads in the side bars and mixed in with the articles are converting. Sales sites aren't just catalogs anymore, but are sites that people find interesting articles at with recommended products.
There are as many ways to sell as there are products to sell. Sites of all types are the sales sites of the future. And we all know things that other people don't know, we are all experts in our own ways. I look forward to seeing ways to create a method to help people show off their own expertise.
Thanks Andrew.Deborah Carney
TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com
January 19th, 2008, 10:54 AM #15
I appreciate your honesty and candor - I've always like a no BS approach or a no "horse hockey" approach in the words of a prominent affiliate marketing forum owner...
>>> Then how come I can kill hours and hours on c*ntent sites without ever spending a red cent? Yet if I go to a real, obviously-sales-oriented, site, I usually end up buying something?
Here's the simple answer.
Most content sites you might be refering to such as news sites, or wikipedia are not set up to monetize. (although I think a majority of them have adsense blocks, adbrite, kanoodle, intellitext, kontera).
It also depends on your intent, which I'll cover later.
If you are on a site for weight loss, you'd be predisposed to clicking on appropriate advertising or affiliate offers.
Perhaps you were doing research or just a casual browser?
In that case, you're too early in the sales cycle to be buying, you'd be looking for information.
If you were a genuine buyer, a little later in the buying cycle, you'd head to a transaction site and complete the sale.
So if anything, the content site you visited helped to pre-sell the merchant or affiliates site later.
One way to get around this is to have a airtight sales funnel.
So you might locate your content sites on a .info, like a weight-loss-information.org or .info, and then funnel the traffic to a .com site which you own to complete the transaction.
In any case, as i mentioned in the 3 steps, most are only focus on step (2) - the doing phase.
If you leave out step (3) - testing and tracking, and you'll bleeding due to traffic that's not converting, then it highlights the importance of a system, doesn't it?
>>> For the record I'm about THE MOST skeptical person on the Internet when it comes to c*ntent being worth serious money. Every yutz spouts "content is king" and all that tells me is that they're a parrot. And when someone comes HERE spouting it, it tells me that:
Skepticism is important because you don't take things at face value, and gives you motivation to critically look at something, go through it with a fine-toothed comb and decide what action you want to take.
If you weren't skeptical, your house would be filled with stuff from QVC!
Having said that, a positive mindset and a "can do" attitude are essential for success.
I think you can be skeptical about most things, but if you're skeptical about EVERYTHING, it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Stuff "won't work" because the belief that it might be a scam, means less effort is put in, which means it doesnt work well and creates a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.
I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said "Think you can, or think you can't. Either way, you'll be right"
Some will believe that "SEO is king" or maybe "traffic is king" or "blogging is the ultimate lead generation mechanism".
Do whatever works for you.
If you're focused on the PPC google cash method and it works for you, go for it.
I believe there's room in cyberspace for a variety of different ideas and systems, else the digital world would be a boring place, don't you think?
>>> You don't seem to have been here long enough to know that it'd wind me up, and you don't seem all that newbish...
I agree, that's why I'm putting my action where my mouth is to create this thread. and your feedback is welcome (positive or negative).
What I hate most if ambivalence and indifference.
>>> What are you trying to sell
I am selling information, I am selling value, I am selling ideas.
You are welcome to apply it and pay it forward.
>>> *does some research*
>>>> Uh huh. I see. "Rabid Niche"...another clickbank deal for the suckers...
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Yep, I never conceal the fact that I sell books, workshops, seminars, consulting.
Again, whether you're selling a subscription, or selling hourly consulting, the best metric is the same metric as anyone would use in internet marketing - the results you get, isn't it?
by the way, I wouldn't think calling anyone a "sucker" helps either the person being referred to by that name, or the person applying that label.
People may take right and wrong actions, but that doesn't make them a "sucker".
Pigeonholing yourself either as someone who's elite and above it all, or as a newbie or sucker, locks you within the walls of your own mental prison.
A little off-topic i guess, but just a point to illustrate that your "inner game" is just as important as your "outer game" in the great internet marketing game...
PS: Thanks for your questions, I think I got the chance to clarify some points in this post.
Keep them coming.
Originally Posted by Leader
January 19th, 2008, 11:21 AM #16
I think Cnet is a good example of a good content site.
For example, when I look at their product reviews, they really are product reviews - people use them and give their personal opinion on the products.
They also have links to buy the products (which I can't use because they're mainly US merchants and I live in Asia).
On the other hand, other "review" sites tend to copy and paste info from the manufacturers product info PDF, or scrape the content off some specifications sheet.
So for example, when I was looking to buy a new digital camera recently, I couldn't find any real product review content sites, except for cnet and the digital photography photo review (can't recall the URL now).
I think the ddpr.com or something like that, had a comparison shopping engine at the bottom.
In this case, there's trust created from a geniune review (ie. content), and I'd want to support them by buying through the link.
Other examples of good content sites might be book review sites (they can be a blog, joomla or raw HTML site - the format doesnt matter)...
If a book review site does a honest review (and doesn't just swipe a synopsis from the publisher or off publisher's weekly) and I trust the reviewer, I'd buy the book from their amazon link (and probably an immediate buy, to get around amazon's low cookie persistance/life).
One of the keys is personalization and injecting your personality into your business.
Look at Martha Stewart, Oprah, Donald Trump.
The monetization doesn't always occur immediately. It may occur later as a result of branding.
So you might be in KMart and you pick up a set of Martha's towels, even though they cost twice as much as the similar cotton towels in the same display rack.
Content and branding are pretty interlinked.
If you're a gamer, you're probably familiar with fatal1ty, so you might buy his range of branded gaming peripherals.
Like i said, content is not always a written article or book, content is something useful, and can even be a quote, a sound byte.
Useful information may not even be linked to something physical...
Hmm...the bottomline for building and monetizing a content site is if you create something that people find useful, they will like you, and they will buy from you.
It applies whether you're the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, or his daughter "Bindi the Jungle Girl" (they have their own zoo in Australia which attracts hordes of paying visitors), or the latest motivational speaker.
Originally Posted by ghoti
January 19th, 2008, 11:27 AM #17
I think content has been mentioned a number of time already. lemme know if you have any specific questions.
A site just happens to be on the net.
BTW, the same content can be repurposed (this is the good definition, nothing to do with scraping/rewriting, etc) and translated into a different language - eg. Chinese, Spanish, and used to attract a whole new demographic. [obviously it means finding an appropriate offer like a spanish language dating service, or working closely with a merchant to get that out]
Oprah has a good gig going...
Have you seen how many rabid fans her book club gets?
Just a recommendation on her show sends that title into the New York Times bestsellers list.
I'm not really a big oprah fan, but if Harpo wanted to bank bigger than selling off syndication rights to the show (and now starting a new channel with the discovery channel), they could work out a distribution deals directly with the book publishers, have a joint venture in place, and leverage massively over her legions of book club readers (who probably wouldn't have picked up the title otherwise).
Originally Posted by nyfalcon
January 19th, 2008, 11:31 AM #18
Some other examples:
Siskel and Ebert's film site
TomsHardwareZone are 2 authority sites i liked for their content.
If they don't already monetize well, you could work something out with a high authority site, do the aff mktg stuff for them, and work out some profit share.
The market is wide open, and i think affiliates can be way beyond what they're doing now...
A lot of affiliate marketing is very interruption based. the monetization is outside of the main content (eg. separate adblocks, banners OUTSIDE of the content).
As you see more integrated marketing (an example is relevant and useful product affiliate links WITHIN the content), you'll see higher conversions (at least that's the way it's worked for me).
Originally Posted by ghoti
January 19th, 2008, 11:33 AM #19
As Spiderman says "With great power, comes great responsibility"
Originally Posted by Leader
January 19th, 2008, 11:40 AM #20
Thanks for chiming in.
The major reason why content strategies don't seem to work is because people are trying to solve the puzzle with just ONE piece of the puzzle.
Digg, or Squidoo, or articles arent going to create the massive results a smart affiliate is looking for.
You need to create buzz, then create traffic, have content to make them stick like bees to honey, build credibility and trust, give an appropriate recomendation, ask for the sale, do follow up, and repeat the cycle.
There're a number of resources and techniques involved in this.
Here is a simple example:
Digg/squidoo/stumbeupon -> info site -> sales site -> sales followup -> promotional notification (summer/winter/christmas/valentines) -> associated product.
Most will create a landing page, then stumbleupon it, see a brief burst of sales, then it all dies down.
But if all your efforts work in tandem and are concentrated, and are consistent (one of the reasons why I suggested 1000 articles over 1 month), that's a good way to build.
There's also the concept of "critical mass", so you need a ball of content.
A big enough ball that will keep your viewers hooked, and if you work in "episodic hooks" - (think reality TV or your favorite soap opera, and how cliffhangers are worked in at the end to suck people in) - likewise, you need to go beyond information, but more importantly you need hooks and cliffhangers to MAKE people want to read your content.
If you've done your job right, your leads will WANT to buy your recommended product.
Personally I like to create situations where my leads chase ME, rather than the other way around...
Originally Posted by loxly
January 19th, 2008, 11:41 AM #21
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- Nunya, Business
"So for example, when I was looking to buy a new digital camera recently, I couldn't find any real product review content sites, except for cnet and the digital photography photo review (can't recall the URL now)."
As far as that part, some merchants use reviews/content to help them sell. That's what Newegg and Amazon do well. I always read the reviews people post on the various products before I buy and it has directly led me to purchasing.
Andrew, what your thoughts on informational content vs. sales content? I think there is some content that you're just not going to make many/if any sales on. Take a recipe site. Content site but people are primarily going there to get a recipe, maybe print it out and use it. Compared to more of a content site that could lead to actual sales. If Consumer Reports added affiliate links to their reviews, they would get a lot of sales on some of the top rated stuff. Consumer Reports wouldn't do that based on their model but something in that realm. Or an outdoors site that might do reviews or talk about different tents and then links in there. I remember one outdoor merchant here saying those were some of the top affiliates.
So it depends on the type of content.
January 19th, 2008, 11:53 AM #22
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- Cuautitlán, Edo. de México
1000 articles a month is bogus. you'd need over 30 (32-34) articles in one day. Either you're outsourcing the work, or your definition of 'article' is much different than my own.
Please let us know how you define "article" for the over 30 articles per day to get the approx. 1000 articles per month.
January 19th, 2008, 12:01 PM #23
>>> As far as that part, some merchants use reviews/content to help them sell. That's what Newegg and Amazon do well. I always read the reviews people post on the various products before I buy and it has directly led me to purchasing.
That's true. As an affiliate, you might want to stay one step ahead of the game by aggregating customer reviews/feedback (if it's allowed) and tag that feedback with your affiliate link to that merchant?
So you could get the sale from amazon, or overstock or geeks or newegg or another electornics retailer.
You could also accompany that with a shopping price comparison or a bizrate (forget the parent company...) feed?
>>> think there is some content that you're just not going to make many/if any sales on.
Hmm....my mindset is that I can generate income or leads off any content. It has to do with how you present it.
I think as marketers, we just need to stretch our marketing muscle a little and see how we can swing it.
Let me know if you've any real world or hypothetical examples and I'll see how I can come up with some suggestions?
>>>Take a recipe site. Content site but people are primarily going there to get a recipe, maybe print it out and use it. Compared to more of a content site that could lead to actual sales.
If the recipe calls for vanilla pods or organic ingredients, maybe you could link to amazon grocery, or if trader vics or the whole foods market has an aff prog you could promote that.
If you have a hamburger recipe and it's just oats and beef, you might not be able to monetize off with a food-related offer. but if you do analytics like with quantcast or compete, you might find out that it's men aged 30-45 who are looking that up.
so you know they're making hamburgers at home. maybe you know that it's happening before monday night football (or whatever night it's on now).
Maybe you want to promote a football jersey offer? maybe a NFL DVD boxed set? Microwave ? Instant hamburger patties? omaha steaks?
Hmm.......honestly, i think it's nearly impossible not to be able to monetize with something appropriate and relevant if you understand your audience.
If nothing else, run a poll using software from surveymonkey and ask them "What would you like to see?" OR
"What can we do to make this site give you more relevant content"
Who knows, maybe they might ask you for satelitte TV signups (and we know how lucrative those are............)
>>> If Consumer Reports added affiliate links to their reviews, they would get a lot of sales on some of the top rated stuff. Consumer Reports wouldn't do that based on their model but something in that realm.
If CR has an inhouse litigation team or mediation team, they could funnel leads there, or they could recommend to a panel of lawyers who might pay a referrals (depending on the legality of selling legal leads).
CR can also provide a paid personal shopper service where you have a CR expert tell you which Plasma TV to buy (kinda like a product review?)
They could run 1-900 numbers to take questions, or provide info/updates.
They could do a premium mag subscription or a beefed-up premium online section.
They also sell review guides or some stuff with compilations of their past reviews by category - so they are selling the same content but packaged in a different form...
>>> Or an outdoors site that might do reviews or talk about different tents and then links in there. I remember one outdoor merchant here saying those were some of the top affiliates.
Back to your informational vs sales content.
All sales content needs to be informational in nature....
If you don't know what your blue widget does, you're not going to fork out $1,997, let alone $49.95 for it.
Content that converts into sales needs to have persuasive selling elements or pre-selling elements (if you're pushing traffic to a sales site after).
Er...I think if your content does the job, creates value for the consumer, wouldn't you want to buy from them?
I've walked into a in-line skating shop a couple of years ago, intending to browse.
The retail assistant brought me a pair of skates, I tried them on, he gave me info on the skates, what was great about them.
I paid and left with the skates.
So in this example, I sold myself on the skates.
Given enough appropriate information, the lead will convert themself into a customer.
There're 2 types of customers:
1) those who want to buy something and are looking for the appropriate products.
2) those who are early in the sales process and need to be educated and informed about the product (because they might be new to VOIP or satellite TV or high speed internet access). -> for these guys, once they get the right info, bing! you get the sale...
Originally Posted by Trust
January 19th, 2008, 12:06 PM #24
I define article as at least 400 words, giving good, original and relevant info.
I can do this without outsourcing, and as I layout the system it will become obvious to you.
I'll go into that in my formal posts.
but here's a synopsis:
1) Understand your market: once you know all their wants and needs, and burning problems and questions, you can come up with a list of their problems and address them in your articles/blog posts/press releases.
2) Problems are universal: have you ever read a women's lifestyle magazine? It's usually about - how to get a date, how to keep a guy, how to fire up an existing relationship. It's probably the same 5-10 themes, but these magazines have been going for 20, 30 years. how do they do it?
3) Your writing strategy: are you using a conventional strategy? Is it taking more than 10 minutes to write an article? What if you could come up with a quality article in 5-10 minutes?
Originally Posted by lostdeviant
January 19th, 2008, 12:07 PM #25
It's 2am here and I need to work on some PPC stuff before I turn in for the night.
I'll check back here the next time and go into the next set of formal posts.
Feel free to continue dropping questions...
By MicheleH in forum Newbie Affiliate FAQs & Helpful ArticlesReplies: 1Last Post: June 30th, 2011, 06:10 PM