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  1. #1
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Putting the marketing back in Affiliate Marketing
    As I close up shop here on a Friday, I was thinking back on the past couple of weeks, and my decision to get out of the management game, and back into making money the old fashioned, honest way: Affiliate marketing the way it was meant to be done.

    I think we all (and by that, I mean the industry, including us here at ABW, the fringe players, the merchants, and the service provider cottage industry that has grown up around affiliate marketing) need to reflect on what the purpose of this industry is.

    We spend a lot of time talking about restricted keywords, trademarks, legal issues, and other incidentals that we bump into daily.

    We spend a lot of time talking about datafeeds, widgets, software, and other tools that HELP us do our job.

    I don't think we spend enough time talking about.... marketing.

    This industry isn't just for techno savvy folks. It should be an opportunity for everyone. Certainly, the proliferation of websites in the last 10 years has changed the landscape quite a bit. The value of eyeballs, thanks to the acquisitions of Youtube and MySpace, has gone a long ways towards changing the way some folks look at online marketing altogether.

    But it's really only value added affiliates that can drive sales, and aid in the holy grail of new customer acquisition. Quality, engaging sales copy, product placement, and product organization are what drive sales on the internet. Not banners on social networks. Not cookie cutter datafeed sites. And certainly not breaching contracts.

    While there is room to make money in other avenues, including social networks, as an affiliate, perhaps we need to harken back to what a wise parrot once asked:

    What have YOU done to put value into a click today?

    Something to think about over the weekend while you're pondering the next great niche.
    Kevin Webster
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  2. #2
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    Great post. I think an affiliate site should actually sell the products it advertises.
    If you have a sports site - sell related sports gear as an affiliate.
    If you site is a shop with many tabs, sections, offerings sell them by including unique value, testimonials, information etc.

    I stumbled across a BlogSpot blog today where every other word was hyperlinked back to a fast money webpage with his affiliate ID - there was no value to a consumer at all. It was 110% pure spam with his blogroll including other identical blog formats for other products. Completely useless.

    Earlier this year I read of a successful affiliate whose goal was to create x thousand of new sites this year. Im sure hell make some money but, in the process is he creating any value or just a bunch of spam?

    Affiliates are salespeople and are essential for many companies especially as you truly market and sale the products/services on their behalf.

    cougarmark

  3. #3
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Thanks for commenting.

    With all the pushback we're seeing from OPMs and in house AMs alike, I think we need to consider what were doing. As affiliates, we can't control the rest of the affiliate "marketers".

    What we can do is show the merchants we choose to represent what made this the highest ROI channel in the past.

    We need to stop asking why they don't want us as affilliates, and start showing them why they should.
    Kevin Webster
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
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    Your post is dead on. Too many people just think Affiliate Marketing is search engines, it is more. And care about what you are selling, that makes all the difference.

  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    Quality, engaging sales copy, product placement, and product organization are what drive sales on the internet.
    Thanks for the great summary!
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
    Twitter me

  6. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Great post, Kevin. While we do need to talk about some of the tools and about what NOT to do, we really should focus on what TO do. Let's make money the old fashioned way, with integrity and hard work, and focus on selling products for the niche(s) in which we choose to work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    We need to stop asking why they don't want us as affilliates, and start showing them why they should.
    Spot on, Kevin. Thanks for the reminder.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  7. #7
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    Hey, you're speaking MY language now...

    I sit here every day, unwilling to be side-tracked from the main objective: offer quality & relevant content/info in my niche, and give people a reason (or idea) to buy...

    Others can site-scrape, black-hat & poach keywords all they want, it doesn't change what I do...

    It really does seem straight-forward.

  8. #8
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    Isn''t this in effect what that Jason guy said at the summit that caused so much controversy?
    Expert who says Moo

    a.k.a. OJMOO

    Cow Dance


  9. #9
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I still haven't watched that speech, nor was I there. My impression was that he said Aff marketers sucked, which I don't agree with. Although I watched Ms. Ward's response to the SmartMoney article last night (granted, after a little Pinot Grigio), and I think I understand that whole situation a little better now.

    We have a good core of honest, hard working folks here at ABW. And some registered members who aren't. And plenty of lurkers that fall into either of those categories.

    But the active, vocal group here unfortunately makes up a very small percentage of the industry as a whole. So Calcanis was speaking directly at that other, larger, less informed, more questionable percentage.

    Further, even we tend to say things here that put doubt in the minds of some merchants as to the value of affiliate marketing. Whenever protected keyphrases are mentioned, or situations are brought up that include a merchants desire to not have affiliates promote certain offers, I think we often end up responding in a way that makes it look like we need them more than they need us.

    And for my money, that should never be true.
    Kevin Webster
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  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Basically your making a product page so good that the merchant, upon finding it, would want to place a "add to cart" button on your showcase.

    Reflect on how the above senerio would benefit the affiliate page builder and the merchant partner.
    1. The informative customer facing product info page impresses the shopper landing on it from a SERP or PPC listing. In just one step (not the current 2 step shuffle) the shopper can buy one now.
    2. Placing a legit "add to cart" button/form on that affiliates page immediately jumps him to Merchant status in the SERPS. Therefore more likely to get and maintain a SERP friendly keyword buying listing for those profiting from filling that page's orders. (Total cost to merchant to setup a cart for this 3rd party sales service is $30/month)
    3. Every page built this way is eco friendly too as it certainly is like building a eyebqall pleasing green space within a Adwhore getto neighborhood. Even Butthole keynote speakers couldn't trash these landing pages.
    4. Above senerio works perfectly for any and all merchants including those infected with BHO rashes, cookie stuffers, coupon poachers, as it rewards the affiliate page builder with a commission ... each and every time. Impossible not to track the sale back to the page owner unless the "add to cart" feature is turned off.

    This customer facing value-add approach works for developing niche product sites too if the sales profit/volume justifies the extra promo/informational pages... to seal the deal. Idea is the customer has to go NOWHERE ELSE to purchase the presented DEAL right now. That's marketing 101.

    I have real project pages up and running to prove they're profitable... IF the merchant is cooperative. Works best on unique and/or controlled distribution products not available at any local corner store.

    Mike & Charlies Sample project #1. http://www.pampermyskin.com/products.htm
    (idea trigger was a Frontpage promo from ABW merchant GreatSkin for RevaleSkin with powerful anti-oxident Coffeeberry ingrediant) Limited distribution by Steifel Labs on controlled niche product line that works.... with high markup. Let's see if GreatSkin can step up to the plate and hit a home run on unlimited pitches.

    ...Plus opportunity #1 .... Their landing page SUCKS http://www.greatskin.com/product/revaleskin.htm as they're trying to sell just the 3 product kit (without the free cutsie carry bag) for above the suggested retail price... LOL :-) with no option to buy the night/day cream or cleanser seperately. Bad 2 step affiliate/merchant partnership guaranteed to produce NO SALES for either party. Googling offers shoppers full kit w/case for 189.00 ... not $260.00 from merchants who also sell individual products for those all important repeat customers.

    Not much relief from the "indy" merchant "Make Me Heal.com" for Revaleskin's 3 products as they have no individual product linking senerio available for the normal affiliate willing to put out marketing efforts. GreatSkin or MakeMeHeal could easily afford giving the affiliate site PamperMySkin.com some private "add to cart" buttons and immediately have a second complimentary sales channel for this unique product. If not then normal affiliate 2 step process sucks from Risk/Reward and the site should consider stocking high-markeup product, or a dropshipper, and host their own $20/month cart.... eliminating GreatSkin and MakeMeHeal traffic waste.

    Other promotion options for working with a listening merchant are working much better.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  11. #11
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    thanks for the info Zeus. I relize now from my initial search I was hasty and brough the product, then more and more research I found you can get more out of the internet than from one manaul. Thanks again and happy marketing

  12. #12
    Full Member Jim Guinn's Avatar
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    What a refreshing thread! Even though I signed up here well over a year ago, I only became active recently. (I actually forgot I signed up and tried to sign up again! )

    Until coming here, I frequented a few smaller affiliate forums and one very large one that has a big affiliate section. This large one has me so disheartened. So much of the talk is about proxy servers, getting US bank accounts, warez, black hat tactics, marginal programs, make-a-quick-buck-and-to-hell-with-the-customer, and how-can-I-get-over-in-this-situation, etc. Last night I even saw a video on how to exploit 2Checkout.

    So many affiliate marketers today have forgotten the John Houseman ethic when he used to do the Smith-Barney commercial...."We make money the old fashioned way; we earn it." I am not saying that new technologies are inherently bad for affiliate marketers, it just seems that so many have lost their roots or never grew roots in the industry. I can see why increasingly the affiliate marketers of the world are being seen more and more as the "used car salesmen of the internet".

    This forum, and this thread, have been a breath of fresh air for me. I used to do a lot of affiliate marketing, but a few years ago I began my own company selling my own items. I just recently added an affiliate program. Now, I am getting more involved in affiliate forums again, not so much from the affiliate marketer's perspective, but from the owner/affiliate manager's perspective. I hope to learn a lot.

    My emphasis with my affiliates has been on marketing, not gadgets, which I think it should be. I hope to learn a lot here. Just wanted to say thanks.

    Jim

  13. #13
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I'm glad you agree and find ABW a worthwhile channel to watch.

    It's certainly true that adapting to current technology and trends are part and parcel of marketing. But they are the avenues, not the destination. With the industry veering further and further off course thanks to more bad actors, in part powered by technology, and in part powered by unethical greed, it's important that the cream of the crop (the good cream, the good crop) stick their necks out a bit and take accountability for their actions.

    And those actions should be simple: Clean, effective marketing.
    Kevin Webster
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  14. #14
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well the transition is complete for (edited out) and it's already booking Revaleskin sales. Who said there is no way around the Google Sandbox and getting the #1 & 2 SERP inside of 1 week for buying keyword terms.

    The site was indexed immediately after placing the live shopping cart "add to cart" links on the pages. Sales were generated from just immediate SERP traffic (Adwords wasn't added till today) based upon customers trusting the new site and product line. It will be interesting to map out what triggers high SERP placements and Google Link love within a crowded skincare/cosmetic marketplace run by professional Adwhores.
    Last edited by Trust; June 5th, 2008 at 01:51 PM. Reason: link drop
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Hey Kev,

    Great observations young man! Remembering from where we came, why we got into online marketing and what our "entry" game plan, optimism and creative energy was all about in the beginning - are all things that benefit us well when revisited on a regular basis.
    Join the Spicy Aprons Affiliate program on ShareASale Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/spicyaprons Follow us on Twitter @Spicyaprons

  16. #16
    Affiliate Network Rep Louis's Avatar
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    Hi Kevin,

    Great thread! I think every affiliate manager wishes there were more affiliates who think the way you do!

    I actually made a post about this thread on our Share Results blog, suggesting a few other ways basic level (not super tech savvy) affiliates can "put more value into a click":

    1) Actually demoing a product and writing original product reviews

    2) Using deep linking to send visitors further down the conversion path

    3) Rotating banners and ads regularly (keeping marketing creative fresh)

    4) Using web analytics to better understand your traffic

    Obviously these are just a few ideas. There are so many more, and good affiliates are always inventing new ones...

  17. #17
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I thought about this a lot while I was canoing around Pennsylvania. I decided to cut out a few projects I had planned because I didn't think I had the product knowledge to bring value to the sites.

    So now, I'm going to focus on 2 sites, one on a topic I know very well, and one that's real nichey, and I can squeeze a lot of info out of the AM so I can stick some value in there

    Sell what you love, and love what you sell, IMHO.
    Kevin Webster
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