X-Ray Vision For Web Marketing

Seeing what others miss
How many small business owners really have an accurate description of their web market?

The reason this question comes up is because the vast majority of business web sites do not even speak to their market. In fact, the only people the web site speaks to are company people such as owners and managers.

We can all see the company clearly in any business design, but our market is not interested in our company. They have their problems and they have no need, right now, to know what wonderful people make up this business web site.

If our market cannot see how the web site is trying to help them then help is not there. If our intention is to build a relationship with our market then the help we offer needs to be the first thing our market sees. They love this and they want this and it is the best part of our marketing.

How do small business designs block their own market?
A good analogy is found when we meet someone that only talks about themselves. We get bored instantly when we realize they have nothing of interest to offer us.

I remember growing up as a young kid and with friends we would sometimes run into this older character that bragged about his rich uncle that had a Cadillac a block long and he had to take it to the airport to turn it around.

We weren’t fooled but we got a good laugh. At least he was entertaining even if he wasn’t helpful. And after the second time there was nothing new and we got bored by his bragging because this guy didn’t care who he talked to as he just kept telling the same stories.

Isn’t this just like a typical small business web site?
Not once on the page is there any recognition of who the web market is. Not once does the web site mention a problem their market experiences and the causes for the problem. Not once is there a sense that the web site cares about the market and wants to serve that market.

No, all that the web site shows is that the only interest is in selling us something whether we need it or not. That’s their story being told over and over.

The bottom line about customer relations
As small business owners we get in our own way and totally block any communication with our own market when we focus on our product or service. Nobody is interested in us talking about ourselves and what we have to sell.

Read any business home page and it tells you about the company and why you should be impressed with the company, but you cannot find a clue as to the market. Not even with X-ray vision can you find who the market is.

Our market wants to know how we can solve their problems and we totally ignore the issue while we talk about product features and benefits. We actually think that a product description is real content – but no one cares about our product description, in fact, no one even cares about our product until they know it really has a solution to their biggest problem.

How does it feel?
How does it feel when someone ignores you?
How does it feel when someone asks you to buy?
How does it feel when someone asks us how they can help?

The last of those 3 questions is what attracts us the most. It captures our interest and our curiosity. It is just like getting a free gift because that is what it is, and we are going to benefit by learning something we never knew before.

How did we get here in the first place?
How did we come to build such poor marketing web sites? We got here by listening to web designers instead of thinking with a business mind. Web designers paid a lot of attention to us and our business and it all felt good and so we thought we were on the right track. The end result is that our web site pays a lot of attention to our business and zero to our web market.

Lesson learned
We cannot let our web designer be the one to design our web site. All we want our designer for is to do the technical aspects of building a web site. It is our job as small business owners to figure out what our web market wants and how to serve them best.

Okay, so you want ideas on how to display your helpful information and a web designer could help if they forgot all about their trendy design packages. It is going to take something different in web design to put your helpful information first, but in bite size chunks.

Navigation for information is going to take some thinking. Hypertext lists may work. Paragraph intro with hide and click drop down information may work. Hover text with slide in info may work. The real job of a web designer is to help you find and use the best means of providing information to your market.

Seeing your market
I challenge you to go look at your home page, or any other business, and see if you can figure out who the market is. Almost all small business web sites fail to identify their market and you can’t build a relationship by saying, “Hey you, look at what we have!” But you might sell if your web site said, “Hey farmer Jones, would you like a fence post that lasts 100 years?”

How do you get X-Ray eyes?
To acquire x-ray eyes you just need to look inward, that’s where you find all your insight. It’s not difficult at all and if you’ve ever been caught daydreaming then you are using insight.

We need to pretend that we are the market. We are the homeowner with a leaky pipe, or the guy with a hole in his shoe. Whatever we sell we need to be that market and wrap ourselves up in the problem that this market has. If we don’t feel the pain then we can’t talk about it, and we want to talk about that pain and how we are going to solve the problem that creates the pain.

When we then put our eyes back on our own web site we can see through the filler we thought was real web content. We can see as our market sees and we will find lots of things in need of change.

Using logic and foresight
Analysis and logic can confirm, or it can contradict the feelings and insight you have about your market. I recommend using insight and if logic doesn’t back it up then toss out the logic.

Why toss out the logic?
The web does not work with factual data like demographics. Instead, web marketing works best with psycho-graphics where beliefs, habits, Likes & dislikes, and shared values play a big role in defining a market. These are intangible and emotional values that are difficult to back up with logic.

We need to go with our emotions and intuition because they are the same tools we use when developing social skills, and our web site is sorely lacking in social skills.

Before we even think about connecting with social networks we need our web site to express its own social attitudes.

Affiliate Marketing Tips For the Advertiser

Many businesses miss out on the true benefits of affiliate marketing. As an advertiser (the business looking to obtain affiliates) you really need to understand the extremely delicate balance that needs to be achieved in order to hit that sweet spot of unbelievable business success.

So, What is This Sweet Spot Exactly?

First, this depends on the goal of your affiliate marketing campaign. For most companies there are 2 main targets that are zeroed in on:

1. Building Your Brand

2. Making a Ton of Profits

However, many businesses forget about old #3, Making a Ton of Profits for your Affiliates.

Hitting the sweet spot involves all three of these targets. I’ve seen a lot of companies start an affiliate program and generate a bunch of leads, and just dump their affiliates without even a care. If you do this you will miss out on a ton of money that could have been made.

You have to understand what affiliate marketing is really all about, and having been on both sides of the table (meaning I have ran affiliate programs for my business, and have also been a publisher selling affiliate products) I know exactly what needs to be achieved for both to have success.

You see, affiliate marketing is about much more than just you (the advertiser) making a great business decision to pay for only advertising that results in sales and therefore profits, it’s also about building your company brand while building strategic partnerships with individuals who can literally make your business explode.

It’s fine and dandy to use affiliate programs to have individuals throw up a few banner ads to make some extra money and generate leads for your business, but that’s what most companies do, so why stop there? You don’t want to be like everyone else, you want to be better than them. You do want to be better than them don’t you? I sure hope your answer is yes, because if not you can stop reading now. You don’t have to know these strategies if you don’t want to, but for those who do, pay extremely close attention to the rest of this article.

Your goal with your affiliate program from this point on should be to aim for the 3 targets I mentioned earlier: Building your brand, Making a ton of profits for yourself, and Making a ton of profits for your affiliates. Helping your affiliates will help you, I can guarantee that, and this will come down to how you ultimately structure your affiliate program.

So How Do You Structure an Affiliate Program?

First, it’s all about the commission. You have to give people a great incentive to advertise for you. Your goal is not just about making that quick sale (quick sales are good, but there is a lot more to this), it’s about the lifetime value of the customer and building that strong brand image with them. If you don’t know what the average lifetime value of your customer is, you’re going to have to go through your records, do some research, and probably do a little math. You at the very least want to know how much they spend, and for how long they remain an active customer.

Typically a good commission to start with for physical products is 6-8%, and once an affiliate shows good sales volume you can increase the commission amount to 12% or even 15% if it is feasible. Keep in mind at this point, whatever commission you decide on, make sure you’re still making a profit. I know that sounds like common sense to you, but later on after you’ve tested your campaign for a while you make actually find it more affordable to take a loss up front on the first sale. Don’t worry, I’m going to cover this in a little bit, so just keep reading, but first I want to cover informational / digital product affiliate commissions.

For informational / digital download affiliate programs, you want to at least offer a 50% commission. Statistics show that programs that don’t offer 50% or higher do pretty miserably. There have been a few exceptions with products I worked with that did well, but that was only because they had extremely high conversion rates. So use this as your baseline, test it, and see if you can afford to go higher. With downloadable products it’s usually not the first sale that will make your business, but it’s the backend products and the upsells that come later on. So just like with physical products, you want to know what the average lifetime value of a customer is, and from there, you can assess how much of a commission you can afford to give out.

Second, is cookie duration. This is very important to your affiliates because most sales do not occur on the first visit. Studies show customers on average come back between 4-7 times before a sale is actually made depending on the product that is being sold. I advise companies to use at least a 60 day cookie. Why 60? because everyone else uses 30, 30 days is the standard. Even though most sales do occur within that time period, you’ll attract a ton of more affiliates with a 60 day (or greater) cookie duration.

Third, besides the cookie duration, something for you to consider is the attribution of the sale. Attribution basically means deciding on who to credit the sale to. If you have a customer who goes to one affiliate, and then doesn’t buy, but a day or 2 later manages to land on a different site and then buys, who do you want to credit the sale to? Most companies prefer a last click attribute, meaning the last site to get the click that results in the sale gets the credit. This is the most common method, but there are other companies that prefer the opposite which is a first click attribute, which means even if someone bought from the second site in the above example, the site that got that first click will get the sale. Choose which rationale works for you, for me I tend to favor the last click attribute as well.

Fourth, pay your commissions on time. If you do not pay your affiliates on time they will venture somewhere else, even if it’s for a lower %. Your affiliates are working hard for you and many times are paying to send traffic to their sites for the possibility of making commissions for advertising your products, and most of the time those advertising bills come in way before they get paid, and I know because I’ve been there. Nothing would get me more ticked off than the affiliate company not paying on time, and even worse than that, some will even wait till the next paying cycle. You need to feel your affiliates pain and know what they go through. There’s nothing more agitating then spending a few hundred or thousand dollars on advertising and having to wait 2 months to get paid on it.

More Advanced Affiliate Marketing Tips For The Advertiser

So what’s the point of making sure all this happens? Why is it important to make sure your affiliates are happy? Well here’s some stuff that will really put you above the competition. I’m all about giving great content in my articles, so here’s some juicy stuff for you.

Making Outstanding Affiliate Offers

Anyone can recruit a bunch of affiliate marketers, slap up a good offer following the basics that i listed above and you’ll make a bunch of sales, but will they make your business explode overnight? Probably not. It’s where you take it from here that will depend on how much success your affiliate program will be. After you (or your affiliate manager) has started generating affiliates, contact them. Send a message to your affiliates and ask them if any of them would want to take advantage of a special offer, and how you’d love to work with them personally. You see many companies will give their affiliates coupon codes for shopping discounts like 5, 10, 15% off, or offer free shipping for people that buy through affiliate links. Now these work pretty decent from time to time, they do help people to buy through affiliates, but there is always a way to take things one step above the competition, and that’s what I’m going to teach you here.

Typical Multi-Product Website Affiliate Offers

You want to work closely with a few select individuals that responded to that email that you sent to them about working with them personally. Depending on your business structure, there are a few directions you can go from here. First I want to talk about your standard multi-product website. Let’s say you sell furniture online and really want to get your business to explode. Instead of just giving coupons to your affiliates you want to try to get your affiliates to promote different categories or even a specific product in ways that aren’t possible through your site.

Let me explain, a typical product website can only do so much. You have a product picture, a description, maybe a bit of ad copy, and a price. The only factors that you can really change to increase sales are Price, Free or Reduced Shipping, tweak the Copy, and Brand Image. This is pretty standard stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but there is a whole other level that you can hit with your affiliates, but will not be able to fly on your site. Since we’re talking about furniture, let’s say you have a product that you want to work with an affiliate to sell. The product is called the Super Deluxe Bed. With your chosen affiliate there are a lot more things you can work on to get this product sold. An affiliate (with your supervision) can create copy for the product that will be able to incorporate so many other sales triggers to get it sold.

Example: Your affiliate is promoting the Super Deluxe Bed. For his customers you allow him to have an exclusive offer (or allow him to say it’s exclusive) for this bed, and that the only way they’ll get this exclusive offer is if their customers buy through him. However, that’s just the beginning. Allow your affiliate to inject some scarcity into his customers veins. Make it an “Extremely Limited” offer that’s only available for a limited time, or that you’re only allowing a certain # of these beds to be sold at this price. You can also allow your affiliate to offer a bonus to the customers that buy the Super Deluxe Bed. The bonus can either be a physical product like a “limited edition lamp”, or a Free “How to Get an Amazing Nights Sleep” Special Report. Salesmanship like this will get a ton of more products sold for you.

Exploding Your Business With Affiliate Marketing

These are things that will get your business to literally explode but something you can’t do alone. If you did this on your site for every product or category you would come off as too salesy, or too pushy. I mean think about it, if every product bought got the same special bonus it wouldn’t be special any more, or if everything is listed as “limited quantities available” you’d seem more like a business that can’t manage it’s stock rather than one that’s giving people an “exclusive limited offer”.

Really take a few minutes to picture the 2 different sales processes I just described, and put yourself in the customers shoes to feel the experience they would have in each situation. Which do you think would be more likely to make the sale: Your site listing the product with free shipping, or an affiliate site listing the product with an “exclusive limited time free shipping offer”, with a bonus (only for the next 10 orders) Free “How to Get an Amazing Nights Sleep” Special Report (a $37 value), along with some longer more compelling copy?

See you can’t do that with every product on your own site, but with the power of affiliate marketing you can drive highly targeted traffic to amazing offers like this without tarnishing your brand. It’s really just unbelievable with how doing this with multiple affiliates with several different products or categories can blow away the competition and make you and your affiliates a lot of money, and I’m just talking about visitors coming to your site via advertising, don’t even let me get started with what this process can do for you in a product or business launch or relaunch sequence. Ever want to know what it’s like to make a years worth of sales in a few days? You just try this in a launch or relaunch and the results will surely make your eyes plunge out of their sockets.

Information Product Website Affiliate Offers

For an Information / Digital Download type of site, you can use the same techniques as above. Work with your affiliates to allow them to offer something unique specifically for their customers. Either you can create it for them or let them do it with your supervision of course. The point is to make it so that your affiliate is giving them something exclusive for ordering through them. Also, just like with the physical products above, If you do a well coordinated product launch with your affiliates you can expect to make a lot of cash quickly.

Why You Need to Keep Your Affiliates For the Long Term

So why do you want your affiliates to succeed so badly? What do you need them for after the sale is made? I mean you got your money your leads, what else can they possibly be good for? Because your affiliates, if you work with them and help train them with the example techniques I mentioned in this report, they will always continue to bring you high quality leads. You always want to allow them to make available to their customers “highly exclusive” offers on a continuous basis. Don’t forget, affiliates one way or another through using their time or cold hard cash, that they are covering your advertising expenses.

Making a Profit Selling at a Loss

Remember way up at the top of this article when I mentioned sometimes you can have an affiliate program where you can actually take a loss up front on the first sale? Well I want to get into that here a bit like I promised. You see, making that first sale is what is crucial to your affiliate marketers, it’s what gets their motor going. If you can afford to take a loss up front then do it and you’ll see more affiliates then you can handle sign up for your program, but only if you have an awesome backend to sell those customers, and this is something that requires testing. If you’re not making a profit, don’t do it. Your backend, whether digital download or physical product, has to make you a nice profit. I’m not talking nickles and dimes, I mean a hefty profit. I know the bulk of this article talks about being good to your affiliates, but you’re in this to make money and they understand that. They may be taking on the bulk of your advertising expenses, but you’re here to make a profit too. If you’re going to go for a loss on the front end, you don’t give your affiliates backend commissions unless you’re making huge profits yourself, but if you structure it so that you can make some good money on the front end, there’s no problem with thanking your affiliates with a nice commission on that as well.

Building Your Brand With Affiliate Marketing

Throughout this whole affiliate program process remember your targets. You now know how to make a ton of money for yourself and your affiliates, but don’t you dare forget about that brand! You must build your companies brand in with the affiliate marketing process. Even though the link of the product will be redirecting to your site, your sites name needs to be on that page. Those customers need to know that those Super Deluxe Bed “exclusive offers” are going to Squiggly Doo’s Furniture Store before the link sends them there. It really helps the credibility of the switch from one site to the next. Take note however, that you are not endorsing any bonuses (anything separate from your sites offers) that may be offered through your affiliates, you’re just privately approving them. It’s just a matter of protecting your brand, and guarding yourself legally. If you find yourself getting complaints about the bonuses being offered, look into the matter immediately and notify the affiliate to stop offering it because your brand is your #1 long term asset.

Your brand is what will keep those customers coming back to you for repeat business and continually buying your products. Another reason why you want to keep your affiliates for the long term is because if they know the right techniques (which you’ll enlighten them with) they will build deep relationships with the people that just bought through their link. So you want to encourage your affiliates to build a list and stay in close contact with your shared customers so they can continually promote for you, and both make a lot of money. So for your benefit, reach out to your affiliates and make sure they can capture leads effectively. It’s much easier to have individual affiliates build those relationships with you’re customers as opposed to having it all on you. With you and your affiliate marketers working as a team you all will make lots of cash, and build a solid brand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s about all I have for you now. There’s just a ton of information out there that I could write hundreds and even thousands of pages about it, but for now I’m going to have to stop here. I would like to thank you for allowing me to help you in you new affiliate marketing venture. I hope you found these tips helpful, and I’ll be looking to post some more articles soon.

Naked Web Marketing Part 2

The web shares

This should be a major consideration for web marketing, but instead it is ignored. A web marketer will suggest that we use Facebook, Twitter or Linked-in, among other social media because they all share. And that means that we forget about sharing through our own web site and we end up giving our best content away. And for what?

The time focus for Facebook is short. Even shorter for Twitter. Our best content should be shared from our own site first because it makes our web site stronger. Then we can feed bits to social media to attract attention. Attention from social media sites is very short lived and has to be constantly repeated, but on our own site the same information builds and attracts, and then builds and attracts even more.

If that doesn’t hit you between the eyes then you are not getting the significance of sharing. It is not just social media that can use this powerful aspect of web marketing and we would be wise not to put control of our most attractive content in the hands of social media. They can use or misuse it all however they please.

Web marketers don’t seem to get it

Web designers and web marketers are pretty much sold on letting trendy social media control your web marketing. They can make money by running your social media campaign, which may be quite alright if they also helped you share directly from your own web site.

Sharing is important for long term growth and it can be accomplished over time. Don’t rush or panic. The truth is that all your, so-called, competitors are not sharing and are not growing. Time is something you have a lot of, but there’s no time like the present for getting started. And you are probably wondering just what your business has to share with its market.

A brief list of the more important web attributes:

• No time or space limitations on web marketing

• The Internet swallowed all other media and makes them adapt to the web

• The web is a virtual reality – having many more nodes plugged in

• You don’t find your market – they find you

No time or space:

As soon as you start talking about your market’s biggest problem – You know, the one you solve – then you have all the time and space you could ever want. Your market likes that, it attracts them and it interests them. Keep going, talk about other problems they have so as to include an ever wider market.

Swallowed all other media:

The web is not like any other media. It can be your telephone, but it works differently. It can be your newspaper, but it works differently. It can even advertise and use push marketing, but most of the benefits come from using pull marketing. In fact, pull marketing is second nature to the web and has a much greater reach than trying to push.

The web is a virtual reality:

A virtual reality is no less real than a physical (material) reality, it’s just that a virtual reality has many more social, business and institutional connections all plugged in and ready to connect.

Your market finds you:

Your web market is anonymous. It is your web site that has to have attractive content in order to stand out from other sites. Web designers like to think their awesome designs attract but search engines don’t pay attention to graphics. Web marketers like to think their advertising attracts but web users (you and me included) try to ignore ads.

The biggest attraction for our market is when we share information about solving their problem. They didn’t come to our web site to see pretty web designs or to see and read our ads – they came thinking we could help them.

Attracting your market

Helping your market by sharing your information does not mean giving away the recipe to your secret sauce. Your competitors may want the secret but your market could care less. They are not going to mix up a batch of your secret sauce, instead they are going to want you to implement your secrets and pay you for doing that.

You will have many ways your secret sauce can be used and your web site can list them and hold them all. All of the problems your secret sauce has solved can be written up and go on the web. As you share all the problems and solutions you can remember you will be building a destination web site while other business owners are chasing after a market they can’t see or touch.