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Learn how to become an affiliate marketer, from A to Z, with this comprehensive guide by Jeremy "Shoemoney" Schoemaker, one of the most famous affiliates in the world.
AFFILIATE MARKETING A Word From ShoeMoney I’m Jeremy Schoemaker and I’ve been an affiliate marketer for almost seven years. Some of you may know me by my online nickname, “ShoeMoney,” which I use on my blog and social media. I came from a humble background and have a very limited education – I meant it, I barely made it through high school. I was struggling on unemployment for years, until I discovered Affiliate Marketing back in 2005. Not to make this sound like a cheesy scheme, but I on my blog and occasionally saturated my own market. So I’m more than was able to go from unemployment to a happy to walk through every step of affiliate marketing with you, and help net worth of over 10 million dollars in out anyone willing and ready to learn. just a couple of years. Really, if I could do it, so can you. We’ll start with the basics of becoming an affiliate and advance from there. I’ll also walk you through everything an affiliate marketer should know I’ve always believed in transparency, to about compliance, testing, networks, case studies and avoiding fraud. Let’s the point where I’ve outlined my tactics do this thing! C h a p t e r s 1. WHAT IS AFFILIATE MARKETING? 6. ADVERTISER’S PERSPECTIVE 2. GET STARTED: AFFILIATE 101 7. WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR 3. LANDING PAGES AND TESTING 8. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL 4. DOLLARS & SENSE: AVOID FRAUD 9. CASE STUDIES 5. ADVANCED TACTICS 10. CONCLUSION ADAPTED BY ROCHELLE BAILIS What is Afﬁliate Marketing? The Basics In a Nutshell Affiliate marketing often begins with a network, which connects affiliate marketers Afﬁliate marketing at its to companies who are looking for help in core is essentially hiring marketing or sales. FOR EXAMPLE a commission sales person, but on the Companies might be seeking leads through a I used to sell dryers at internet. customer phone number or e-mail address, which means they would pay you for every Sears, I’d get a 12% new person who signs up. Or they might have commission of the sales a difficult product to sell, and join a network price whenever I sold a to offer affiliate marketers a percentage of each sale they bring. dryer. If I could also interest the customer in The network takes a piece of these interactions as a price for connecting companies and affiliate marketers. a Sears credit card, I’d get a flat commission of $50. This is pretty much how internet affiliate marketing works: I sell a company’s products online, and some companies will pay me a percentage of the sales price, while others will give me a flat dollar value. Popular Markets There are many mar kets afﬁliates cater to, bu t these are the top three yo Why do advertisers and companies need afﬁliate u will likely come across: networks? Advertisers and product owners need networks to reach a lot of affiliates at once. Some networks have tens of thousands of affiliates, ° Dating many of whom have worked to sell products online for years. Suddenly, advertisers have gained access to a virtual sales force that’s ° Religion willing to experiment, test and improve their click rate in order to maximize their cut. Product owners and advertises can be assured that because they only pay in commission, they aren’t risking ° Weight Loss losing a return on their investment. They also can be assured that by using a network they are avoiding fraudulent affiliates who generate fake sales or emails. photos courtesy of katiew and baronsquirrel Afﬁliate Marketing 101: Getting Started PASSION WHAT YOU’LL NEED HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? I can’t stress this enough. You need to be Signing up for an intro afﬁliate network doesn’t passionate about what you’re promoting. Afﬁliate cost money. The greatest cost when you start out marketing is about generating creative approaches • A computer and internet connection is going to be your time. Expect at least ten hours on a topic, and it’s very difﬁcult if you’re dedicated to doing research, signing up for a completely unfamiliar with it. Even more • A lot of patience network, and browsing offers importantly, you need to get in the head of a RESEARCH FORUMS in your subject of interest consumer. If you’re disconnected from what they • Background research before you ﬁnd one. want, you won’t be able to sell to them. If you Resea rch for free here: have a website or blog on this topic, you’re already at a serious advantage. • Digital Point • Wickedfire Intro To Afﬁliate Networks Low Entry Networks Tactics on Specialized Networks ••• These are four common afﬁliate marketing strategies. Many specialized networks I’d recommend signing up for at least will focus on one of these tactics, and require a more complicated registration. two of these three intro networks. These are low-entry networks without a review Co-Reg process, and are great when you’re A co-registration network involves customers who are signing up starting out. They’re also massive, so for an email list. While they are signing up, customers will be you’ll have a range of products to choose directed to an affiliate page that says “check off any of the topics from: you’re interested in.” For each box that the customer checks, the affiliate marketer will receive a small commission. ••• 1. ShareASale CPA A cost per action network is exactly like it sounds, the marketer 2. Clickbank will get a commission based on a customer’s action, this 3. Commission Junction obviously includes a purchase, but also filling out their information or providing an email. CPA networks often involve weight loss, dating or the mobile industry. ••• Lead gen Lead generation networks collect contact information of customers who are interested in a specific product. This often involves health insurance or beauty products, and might be seen in the form of “win a free iPod if you fill out this survey!” ••• Incentivized network This is a network that contains nothing but offers where the affiliate marketer can actually pay consumers to complete the affiliate’s offer. Example: Many ringtone offers will allow you to incentivize. Let’s say you’re getting paid $12 per conversion, you can tell a customer you will pay them $10 to sign up for this service. You’ll be receiving a $2 flat commission for each subscription. Networks Cont. Choosing the Right Network Choosing a network depends on what you already do on your own website, and how you want to leverage that. Let’s say you have a dating blog, you can place a little pop-up on your website that asks the reader if they want more information on discounts for match.com or eharmony.com. Or if you already have a newsletter, you can create a checkbox for users who are interested in more information, and it will pull from the list of emails you already have. This sort of opportunity would be ideal for co-registration. If you cover a very specific niche on a website, a CPA network might be your best choice. For example, I had a website on Search Engine Optimization, and would get a flat rate every time someone Registering for a Network bought or signed up for our partner SEO services. ••• Other networks, such as a lead generation network, aren’t the best for people who have websites and great content. They are for Registering for a low-entry people who want to advertise on multiple pages, and offer people network is a very simple process. prizes to sign up or participate. Be prepared to provide: Incentivized offers make sense when you receive a flat cost per • A social security number to conversion, part of which you can offer to the customer. If you have prove US Citizenship something of value to offer the customer, such as a free eBook, you • Address and contact can use this as an incentive as well. information Note: If you denote an interest in certain types of marketing, but a network’s companies aren’t looking for affiliates in this space, they might automatically disapprove you. Also remember that specialized networks often require more steps for registration and approval. CREATING CONTENT PRO TIP Creating great content is, of course, pivotal for Use Google Adsen boosting your affiliate marketing revenue. Don’t se on your website, not be modify your content or subject in order to fit your cause it will generate you re venue, marketing tactics; if you attempt to make a but you can see wha t people commission your writing will suffer. Write the are paying to advert ise in copy naturally and then see how you can leverage relation to your cont ent. it. So if you write a movie review for your film This will give you id eas for what to sell as an af blog, for example, you can link to that DVD on filiate marketer. Amazon. Landing Pages and Testing Building a Landing Page Tracking Stats Your landing page should not Each affiliate network KNOW TERMS TO look like an advertisement, it provides a dashboard per click needs to feel personal and offer ost • CPC: c value. If you’re trying to sell a that shows which offers cost pe r mille ringtone, do not go in for a are getting clicks, how • CPM: s) sand click (thou hard sale, consider reviewing many and how much the song. Include pictures, you’re making per click, in embed the music video, talk real time. about the artist, then at the bottom you can say “click here and we’ll send the song to your What is a SubID (Tracking ID)? phone!” This is the crux of how affiliate marketing differs from Once you’ve narrowed down to the most successful advertising, and it works. The offer, you can rotate the ad to different places on the key is to test different page: a bottom bar, a top header, in the content, a approaches. You will have sidebar… and you can label these with unique sub- multiple offers to sell, so tracking IDs, like sub 1, sub 2, sub 3. Then you can consider rotating them and easily track which is performing best. seeing which ones generate a higher click rate. Hone in on the offers with the higher conversions, and focus all your energy on the one with the highest. Testing Tools Google Website Optimizer This tool allows you to test offer locations, colors and sizes, and tells you what’s performing best. Clicktale This tool will track mouse movement on your page, and collect visual data on what people are clicking and how they experience the site. Dollars and Sense HOW TO AVOID FR AUD PAID FORUMS There is a lot of fraud in the affiliate marketing space, includ A paid forum ranges ing networks that MY PICK don’t pay. The best wa from $30-$100 per y to avoid this is to do your research. Goog .com: This month, and le the name of your IMGrind k sometimes they can network, and read wh et you bac at people say on fo rum will s be worth the public forums. s a month, money. Paid 100 dollar ave th e best forums provide a You can also check ou but they h space for t a Facebook group t there. called “Internet Dead guides ou dedicated affiliate people will consistently beats” where marketers to report when they haven’t been paid by a share case studies and network, how much, and for how lon secret step-by-step guides to how g. they are making money. The Next Steps: Advanced Tactics KEYWORDS Landing Page Tip: A great way to boost your traffic is to track which keywords lead to your “Advertorials” website by using Google Analytics. You can personalize landing pages It will show you which keywords are even more by taking an editorial converting at a high rate, and then you angle. This could be a review, or a can bid on them using Google personal story. Be sure that you Adwords. Try testing keywords that are in compliance with legal requirements, you need to be nobody else has, sometimes that might clear that you are advertising, but even include misspellings, brand even with a disclaimer people will names, and things professional often trust a blog-like page over a websites don’t want to use. hard advertisement. Advanced Tactics Cont. Get it Built OUTSOURCE RESOURCE You have two options: you can build a Elance provides access to basic landing page using some HTML freelance web designers, if your and stock photos, or you can design is simple you can probably outsource it for fairly cheap. get a page made for less than $50. Multivariate Split Testing More Testing Tips Masking Try changing between Google Website Optimizer will allow Links short form and long form landing pages. Even you to do something Also referred to as called multivariate cloaking links, though being concise split testing. This masking links are links that you seems better, in some cases involves testing don’t want Google to recognize longer pages have more multiple variants, on your page. Whe n you’re success. Small changes in and splitting the linking to pages th at Google testing amongst doesn’t like, mas copy can make a big king links these different prevent Google fro difference. Another m penalizing variables. It will you on its SEO ra nkings. You can technique is to include then use a genetic use services such current events that relate as: algorithm to to your topic. You can determine which include a quote from the ° Bit.ly news source, and bring ones are performing better and relevance to your ad. ° Wordpress Plug automatically focus ins on them. In fact, the How do you know it’s genetic algorithm working? will automatically pair and combine the factors that are Everyone always wants to know this: when testing, how do you know a converting best for strategy is working? Let’s say you have a page where you are running an you. Don’t get affiliate ad, with Google AdSense running at the overzealous with bottom. Google AdSense will often pay the amount of you at least $1 per thousand visitors, so a DIREC T DEALS variants you use, good way to measure your affiliate establish especially if you ave begun to success is to make sure it’s outperforming Once you h ting have limited iliate marke AdSense at least 2 times (so $2 by the yours elf in the aff traffic. You need kipping time you’ve had 1000 unique visitors). space , consider s enough traffic direct deals networks a nd making g in order to get 1000 is a good number for measuring isers. If you’re gettin conclusive with advert ave data, so limit traffic, because it’s also how a lot of ad traffic and h significant t the amount of clicks are priced. So for example, aim to get able contac p ublicly avail styles at first, mes the one thousand visitors per page for A/B informati on, many ti and expand Testing, which is where you send visitors ct you compa ny will conta with your to two completely different sites. This is a growth. good minimum amount of traffic to offer directly. conclusive data on performance. photos courtesy ofnickwheeleroz The Advertiser’s Perspective WHY ADVERTISERS HOW ADVERTISERS GET AFFILIATES AFFILIATES Afﬁliate marketers are going to If a product owner wants to join an afﬁliate network they pay a ﬂat rate of something around $5,000 admission, which is used as a sort of do market research, take risks and deposit. The networks credit this deposit towards their percentage cut, potentially even lose money which means that the network will not be taking any more commission getting an advertiser’s product until they work through this deposit. out there. The afﬁliate’s research data is sometimes so valuable that Once in the network, the advertisers use a variety of tactics to lure advertisers will even occasionally afﬁliate markets, like payouts or high-end product give-aways to the top use the market research done by afﬁliates. Sometimes even Lamborghinis or BMWs. Whatever it takes to their afﬁliate marketers and take attract the attention of the skilled afﬁliates who are already ﬁnding it in-house. success elsewhere. Events Events are a great place for advertisers, product owners, networks and affiliates to connect face to face. This is a great opportunity for you to connect directly with some product owners, and ask for a better pay out. Here are a few big events: 1. LeadsCon 2. AdTech 3. Direct Marketing Association 4. Afﬁliate Summit photos courtesy of kk MY PICK Key Things to Look Out For Compliance Copyright and Trademark There are countless incredible opportunities for affiliates, but When you’re creating an affiliate page, there is a cost. Be sure to read FTC remember to get permission for any photos or guidelines on disclosure and logos that you use. Even if it’s a company terms of service, because they are you’re marketing for, never assume you can going after people who aren’t in full use anything because the damages on compliance. Also keep an eye on the infringement cases can run incredibly steep. Affiliate Nexus Tax on affiliate revenue, which has passed in four states already. SHAVING •••••• Shaving is when new companies only pay out some of the time, let’s say 4 out of 5 times.You often don’t have any recourse as an afﬁliate, so be very wary of suspiciously high payouts. S HAVED SCRUBBING DON’T GET •••••• d or etting shave If you th ink you’re g r Scrubbing is when a product owner tate the offe want to prevent it, ro other changes and speciﬁes the criteria for between an you’re advertising e exact ven if it’s th which they’re willing to pay. They netwo rk’s offer. E rotate a ood idea to suddenly may only be willing to pay for a same offer, it’s a g ffic e of your tra speciﬁc demographic, so keep tabs on sma ll percentag ur ake sure yo tworks to m this to be sure your revenue is not being between ne par with click are on e arnings per scrubbed out. one another. photos courtesy of Stefán Afﬁliate Master: Taking it to the Next Level Retaining Users Once you start garnering a lot of clicks and money, advertisers might start to copy your methods. One of the best ways to minimize this potential blow to your trafﬁc is, rather than merely directing users to the product, retain them yourself. One of the best ways to do this is through an Afﬁliate Cash Tree. An Affiliate Cash Tree means that instead of linking users to an offer, you create your own offer. For example, invite users to sign up for a free newsletter with dating tips by Dr. Anna. They will get an initial greeting from Dr. Anna, LEVERAGE HIGHER PAYOUTS maybe even a picture. In another email you can include a break-down of how to use Match.com with an affiliate link at the bottom that will generate you commission. Next you If you’re starting to deal with a higher can send a review of eHarmony. And so on. volume of traffic, consider negotiating a better price with your affiliate BENEFITS manager. Let them know that you can handle more volume, but need 1. Personalized better payout because your margins 2. Educational value are too small. Many affiliate 3. 3-4 times the conversion rate managers get a percentage of your traffic, so it’s in their interest to get you a better payout. START YOUR OWN NETWORK NETWORK SOFTW ARE A successful affiliate marketer will eventually aggregate their own database, assets and products, and at that point HasOffers.com is free may consider creating their own network. If you already for the first month and have a good payout and can pay a higher starting price $90 monthly after that, than other affiliate networks, it might be worth starting This network-build ing your own network. For example, if you moved up from an software was made by affiliates and is extr initial payout of $5 to $8, you can create a network with a emely well-designed. starting payout of $6 and still earn money. photos courtesy of andy doro Afﬁliate Master Cont. RETARGETING RE SOURCE Complex Testing Tactics Retargeter.co m: allows you to and target users track Once you’re competing with the big dogs across the intern and follow them et and managing a lot of traffic, there are with ads. some very complicated options for testing. You can test multiple times a day, see if certain offers convert better in the morning Retargeting and others at night. You can also look into A great way to monetize your affiliates is re- what pages across targeting. The average person needs to interact the web convert with a brand at least 8 times before they make CHECK OUT better, what a buying decision, which means as an affiliate l: a free browsers work Link contro better with specific marketer you’re hoping to catch a person on roduct their 8th interaction with a brand. This leaves open source p pages, or even if people only a 1 in 8 chance of catching them during that will allow there are their purchase phase. Re-targeting allows you to test these variations icals to track a person who has visited your landing complicated vert between Apple page, and show them your ads as they continue and PC users. through the internet. This is an incredible way to bring in returns on your commission. Afﬁliate Marketing Done Right Examples of low investment/high reward afﬁliate projects The Cornhusker Quiz FREE SEO REPORT: THE POWER OF “FREE” I mentioned earlier that Netflix offers a great payout I created a site called FreeSEOreport.com that hooked of $30-$40 for signing up a user to a free trial. I live in people in with a free SEO report on their website. The code for the report cost me about $3000 to program, and after Lincoln, Nebraska, and I decided to take advantage of that the site was fairly sustainable. I would charge users something I knew well: people’s obsession with $10 for additional reports, but also offered another free Cornhusker football. report if they referred another person. This referral system brought us from 4 to 500 people in one day. In less than 20 minutes, I copied a free quiz template I found online and created a Cornhusker trivia quiz We also had an affiliate program with 100% payout, which with a Nebraska logo at the top. If you scored well, you sounds crazy, but it brought in a ton of traffic. We educated would win a free trial of Netflix. In fact, even if you users on what they wanted to know: SEO. We would offer a scored terribly you still won a free trial. But the point paid SEO tool with a guide on how to use it, or offer to was the challenge; people could share it on social design a webpage for free if they use a certain web host (a media and challenge their friends to get a better score. referral). We weren’t making money on the front end, but on the back end they were making us $50 or $60 a piece on commission. This Cornhusker quiz went viral, and hundreds of people signed up for a Netflix free trial they easily I also ended up selling this site in 4 months flat for six could have acquired on their own through Netflix. But figures, due to the amount of traffic and interest it was after the quiz they felt as if they’d earned something. garnering from the obsession with “free.” Conclusion in place, and be prepared to jump on opportunities. A lot of the things you try will fail, and some of the most unexpected endeavors might succeed. Don’t be discouraged. Secondly, compliance is incredibly important. Keep up with FTC regulations, and have attorneys look over your landing pages and A Final Note on Afﬁliate Marketing terms of your offers. Look out for being ••• scrubbed, and remember that affiliate There are a few key things I want to re- marketing probably won’t be around forever, emphasize for those of you considering affiliate so try to build assets and a sell-able business marketing. First, is that things change rapidly, by using the Affiliate Cash Tree method so you need to be willing to act quickly and mentioned earlier. But for now, it’s jungle a out keep up with the trends. Always have tracking there, so get swingin’. photos courtesy of slorp Resources Jeremy's Blog: http://www.shoemoney.com/ Events: Jeremy's Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ Affiliate Summit: http://www.affiliatesummit.com/ shoemoney AdTech: http://www.ad-tech.com/ Direct Marketing Association: http://www.the- Google Resources: dma.org/index.php Adsense: http://www.google.com/adsense LeadsCon: http://leadscon.com/ Adwords: http://adwords.google.com/ Wedbsite Optimizer: http://www.google.com/ Testing and Page Building: websiteoptimizer Clicktale: http://www.clicktale.com/default_b Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/ Elance: https://www.elance.com/ HasOffers: http://www.hasoffers.com/ Forums Retargeter: http://www.retargeter.com/ Digital Point Forum: http://forums.digitalpoint.com/ Bitly: https://bitly.com/ Wickedfire: http://www.wickedfire.com/ IMGrind: http://www.imgrind.com/ Networks: Advertisers Who Don't Pay: http:// ShareASale: http://www.shareasale.com/ www.facebook.com/groups/internetdeadbeats/ ClickBank: http://www.clickbank.com/index.html Commission Junction: http://www.cj.com/ Compliance: FTC Website: http://www.ftc.gov/
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