Landing pages are the most important thing to have optimized, once you have a source of quality traffic. If the landing page isn’t made to convert, you are not using your ad spends as well as you can. Below are 10 of the most important things you need to think about and try to use (if it fits within your business model) with your landing pages to help them turn more visitors into leads and sales. [Read more…] about 10 Things To Make Landing Pages Convert
Monetizing Your Site
If you build links or recruit Affiliates, you’ve probably come across a ton of Bloggers that demand money for a sponsored post or ads. This is a warning sign to me 9 out of 10 times that they have no traffic, do not know what they are doing, they probably use follow me follow you for their social media accounts like Twitter and Pinterest (or worse buy fans and followers), and they rely on uneducated PR firms to let their clients be ripped off. That isn’t all of them, there are a few that have rightfully built a traffic and sales generator that can drive sales and are worth spending money on. I did a presentation at Pubcon on how to tell the difference between a legit blog and a fake one the other week and will eventually post it on here or on a large SEO site I guest blog on. Anyways, if you are a Blogger and you think sponsored posts are good, can help you and are a decent monetization strategy, you have a somewhat good start, but not the right strategy, plan or idea. We’ll go over sponsored posts with a one time payment for a sponsored post and also signing up with networks that provide constant flows of advertisers with sponsored posts in this post.
Why sponsored posts are usually bad for Blogs and Bloggers
There are a ton of reasons why sponsored posts are bad for you if you are a Blogger. If you rely on them for money, it’s even worse. It is not a long term strategy and can do a lot more harm than it can good. At the same time, not all sponsored posts are bad and can be a nice boost in income and content, but you have to make sure they are the right ones to do. Here are some of the things to think about from a Blogger point of view and a Merchant, PR firm or SEO point of view if you are working with Bloggers.
Short term vs. Long term revenue
Some Bloggers believe that this is a great way to completely monetize their sites. The problem is that they are doing it as a one off and not measuring any actual metrics. If they are being smart, they will include adsense, affiliate links and other things within their sponsored posts. By using multiple ways to monetize your site, if it does rank and build traffic over time, you now have multiple streams of revenue. Taking a one time payment and “selling a backlink”, which most of them do and is 100% against google’s TOS, is not a revenue model and you will probably never make a lot of money online. It can be a nice bonus, but is not a real or long term business strategy.
Short vs. Long term relationships and money with sponsored posts
One argument that some Bloggers will make with using Sponsored posts as a monetization strategy is that they sign up with networks and have constant flows of sponsors coming through. This is also a very flawed strategy for many Bloggers because they do not know how to use this properly. Here are three reasons why and a way to use this to make passive income for the long run with sponsored posts.
- If the Blogger isn’t measuring sales and actual metrics like click throughs per post over a week, month and year they cannot prove they added any value or any return on investment for the sponsored posts and advertisers. Having this data will help you to approach similar companies and even get them to buy ad space or come to you directly removing the middleman and generating more money per sponsored post. If you don’t collect this data, and the main reason is you don’t have real traffic or a following, eventually the brands and advertisers will pull and you will have nothing left except a ton of sponsored posts and a dying blog.
- If you sign on with these networks and get stuck working with specific brands for sponsored posts, the products might not be relevant for your readership. Vacuums may seem great for a recipe site because you might assume your visitors are moms with families or houses, but people want recipes and are there for cooking. What if they have a maid service, what if they don’t have families or what if the vacuum isn’t relevant to their income level. Give them products from the sponsored posts that are useful and relevant to your blog. Cookware and cooking products could be more relevant and something to use for sponsored posts.The product can be better for your audience and you can tie it in more easily because it can be used with what you would have been posting anyways. This keeps people reading your blog and hopefully keeps your audience going. Also remember that you don’t just write about the product, give a ton of ways to use it and how/why it is better or worse than others. Show a video of it being used and compare it to other products. This adds value and shows why you have agreed to let product xyz do a sponsored post. Also, if the product from the sponsored post ends up being worse, show it. It’s not your fault their product sucks, you were honest with your readers and they still got the paid sponsored post that you agreed to. If they take the money back, you still have a post written that can drive traffic and you can still make money with it.
- If you do fall into the “lets start reviewing because I can make money”, you could bore your audience and kill it off. In the long run, it may be better to do the sponsored posts and instead of just taking the money, set up between 3 and 5 ways to monetize the sponsored post. Then do your keyword research, write it for your audience and the search engines and use it to grow your site and also generate a long lifespan of traffic and revenue.
Sponsored posts are a once off thing. However, if you do get paid or have the same advertiser coming back over and over again, you could make a little bit of money. If you do your research and build in other ways to monetize your traffic, then you can turn this into a passive income post instead of a sponsored post and potentially make more money in the long run. If you do not have real traffic that can or will not shop, or the products are not relevant for your readers if you do have a real audience, the advertisers will eventually pull, you will cause damage to your readership and all of the hard work you did will have been for nothing since you have to start from scratch.
Content quality for sponsored posts
One thing that is important is the quality and relevance of your content. If you have a cooking blog, your sponsored posts need to be well researched keyword wise, include all of the important SEO features, internal links and multiple ways to relate to your audience. The products don’t just have to be cooking products either for the sponsored posts. Using a cleaning wipe or disinfectant can be good as well.
Have your family or friends make a recipe that is sloppy or eat messy food like fondue while you video tape it and the mess being made. Show everyone having fun and making a mess. Once the mess has had time to dry and get stuck to everything, shoot a second video and display the effectiveness of the product that paid for a sponsorship vs. the products you would normally use. This lets your readers have a real life situation (especially during the holidays) and actually shows a real life example of if the products from the sponsored posts work and how well they actually work. This is great for sponsored posts. You can also monetize the videos and sell products using this tool including the products from the sponsored post and competing products as well.
You can add in other forms of monetization like CSE widgets, datafeed product links, etc… Now you have a quality piece of content that may add value to your current readers, can index well in the search engines if you wrote it properly with them in mind and shows that your blog (including sponsored posts) has awesome content when new visitors find. Your blog and sponsored posts are also working with you to make money multiple ways instead of a one time payment.
Charging for posts that are actually value adding content instead of being sponsored posts.
One thing many Bloggers forget is that if someone comes to you with quality and non promotional content, like the examples above, don’t try to pitch a sponsored post or request money for sponsored posts. Make sure there is a difference in your mind and your media kit. If the post they write is amazing, relevant for your readers and well written for the search engines, take it!
Not only does this create less work for you, but it gives you a post to keep in case you have writer’s block, are swamped and cannot update your site or just want to take a break and not have to write something that day. Chasing away content that could rank well, add value and drive traffic is one of the dumbest things on earth and shocks me when I see it happen. By saying you want them to pay for a sponsored post, you might make a little bit of money, but the content will not be as good, will be more promotional instead of value adding since they are spending money and it will hurt you more than help you because you just chased away amazing and well written content. Think about long term revenue instead of the quick little amount you charge now. The well written and properly SEO’d post could bring in revenue for years instead of a quick and small one time fee. If I have to pay for a post, I usually walk away. If it makes sense to pay for the post, I will not do keyword research and the article will be nowhere near as good or rank even closely as well as a properly written and pure value adding post would have.
Telling Google you are selling links is probably not a smart idea just like buying links because the post is listed as a sponsored post.
One last thing about the majority of blogs I see that sell sponsored posts is that they list you will get a backlink or link back to your site if you buy a sponsored post. This is 100% not a good practice for Google. Even if it is no follow. No matter what, you should not sell backlinks, even as part of a sponsored post. It is easy to take a screen shot of your site selling this and submit your site to the engines for selling links. You can take the advertisers using you and report them to the Penguin reporting tool and show the bad SEO neighborhood they are using to rank their site in, which will in turn can hurt your site, your advertisers and your revenue. It is bad for everyone involved and all stemmed because you thought you should do sponsored posts.
Using sponsored posts as a main way to monetize your site is not smart. Not only do you set up a huge welcome mat for the search engines to come destroy you, but you can do real damage to your readership if you do not have the right kind or the right type of sponsored posts on your site. Using sponsored posts as a boost every once in a while can be ok, but make sure you also keep the number of review or sponsored posts to a minimum, keep your sponsored posts relevant to your readers and also make sure you have multiple forms of monetization within the posts so that you can continue to make money in the long run. The difference between the people who last for a long time and the rest of the 99% of the Bloggers is that they keep everything relevant, use multiple strategies to monetize their sites and don’t fall for the easy sponsored post route.
I’ve done a million posts about giveaways and reviews for Bloggers, but one thing I never actually wrote about was the fact that going from a quality content site to a giveaway and review site could potentially cost you a ton of money in the long run. Once you build a following that is there for your content about parenting, cooking, DIY projects, etc… everyone wants access to your readers. These are people that come to almost every post, trust your opinions and actually follow your advice. The trust that you have built is what branding is about and can drive sales because they know that if you are recommending something it is probably a good product. Unfortunately that is when the advertisers, PR agencies and giveaway companies start to try to get a hold of you the most. Although it is tempting to take their giveaways and it can cause a spike in traffic, it could not only start to cost you your SEO by creating a bad SEO neighborhood, but it could cause you to no longer be able to monetize your sites through multiple channels. Here are a few things to think about if you are starting to get calls and emails from people wanting you to do a giveaway and why you may want to be careful.
Keeping high quality traffic can help monetize your blog
Traffic quality. The most valuable thing and hardest thing for a Blogger or website owner to build is quality and relevant, repeat traffic. If all of your traffic is going to one or two pages because they rank well in a search engine or on a social media site, but not coming back for each new post, you don’t have a loyal following. For those of you who can get repeat traffic to come for every post, not just giveaways or to a specific post, you have what everyone wants, a trusted following. When your posts go from providing quality advice that helps people to giveaways and product reviews, you are no longer feeding your readers what they want and they start to leave.
If it is a giveaway/review site and people are coming in for the giveaway, your traffic might be growing and on every post, but the quality is usually very low, doesn’t shop and only wants free things. When your advertisers stop seeing the click throughs that generate revenue, have a high bounce rate, stop seeing what does click through your links turn into sales and when your affiliate links stop generating sales, you have now begun to kill your readership because you went from giving them high quality content and are feeding them free giveaways and not advice. It isn’t bad to do a giveaway or review every once in a while, but you need to make sure that the main content is focused around what your readers originally came for. If your loyal readers stop coming because they get tired of giveaways and reviews, you don’t have time to respond because you have a ton of incentivized comments, etc…, you now need to start over, rebrand your site and hope that the random reviews and giveaways haven’t hurt the quality of your site for the search engines. You might have been able to produce a ton of Affiliate sales in the past, but if you’ve killed off your quality traffic with giveaway and review traffic, when the affiliate sales die, the advertisers will start to pull as well.
Reviews are fine, but don’t let the quality or relevance to your readers drop
Reviews to build a higher quality audience and help generate revenue. If you know specific types of products generate a lot of interest and can generate sales, stick to those types of products. You also want to get the buyer demographics from the PR firm or company doing the giveaway to make sure it matches your readers. By keeping reviews targeted and tying in how it can benefit them with demonstrating them, you help to give your readers the content they always came for and you are able to not attract the lower quality giveaway traffic that only wants to win something for free. Using a video instead of just posting content or pictures is also a great way to add trust and show how the product can benefit your readers. Even if you love the product, remember that if it isn’t relevant to your readers and doesn’t generate interest, you may not want to do the review since it won’t be relevant and can cause people to get annoyed and leave your site.
Ask for sales and traffic reports and compare them to your SEO
Know how your audience reacts. It might be scary to ask for traffic and sales reports from your advertisers, especially if you didn’t get many click throughs, but by knowing what your audience reacts to you can better pick and choose what products they will like and then do the review or use Affiliate links after buying the product to generate revenue. One thing you’ll want to think about and compare are the keywords and social media sites that are driving traffic in as well. If you let the post sit for a while and then get your report, you may be ranking in the search engines or had a pin that went crazy on Pinterest. This is something that could easily skew your numbers and drive relevant traffic but may not happen on other posts.
The important thing to remember about blogging is that once you have a loyal following, you need to keep feeding them content that they will want to read. If you change over to giveaways and reviews instead of information and things that will benefit them, you could drive them off. You could also build a following that looks great, but may cause you to lose your loyal following and also no longer be able to make as much with Affiliate links, Advertisers and other channels of revenue.
One of the most popular ways to generate sales during holiday season is with a gift guide. The typical gift guide that Bloggers, Social Media Marketers and Ecommerce stores use is starting to die off in terms of how effective they are compared to past holiday shopping seasons. One of the main reasons could be that everyone uses the same type of holiday gift guide an distribution as everyone else. Many Bloggers use the same advertisers and also the same promotional methods. By thinking creatively you can push them in new ways to drive new traffic and hopefully make more sales. If you don’t know what a gift guide is, here is my post on how to create a gift guide. The post should be able to help you to think about how to create niche gift guides that can be more targeted and get more shares, backlinks and sales if people find, trust and like them. After you’ve created your gift guides, here are 5 more ways that you can create and promote a unique gift guide, while using the products from a few of my client’s affiliate programs, whether you are a blogger, social media strategist or even how to do it if you are an ecommerce store or just someone who does this for fun.
1. Theme it to a popular niche – Instead of worrying about boys pajamas or womens slippers, why not try a funny bunny themed one for women and girls. You could include bunny slippers, pajamas with rabbits on it or even tie in recipes like carrot cakes and other rabbit related things. Next go out and find presents that have some sort of tie in to bunnies like faux fur blankets and coats or even 24 “karat” earrings or jewelry. You could even do novelty products like Looney Tunes characters, famous movies starring rabbits or even cotton bedding and make a joke about cotton tails. By choosing a name like The Funny Bunny Gift Guide for Women you might be able to stand out above the other sites with boring gift guides and gain all of the attention you would have missed. Find these products inside this program to do a funny bunny or even a green, grouchy and grinchy christmas featuring Oscar and the Grinch.
Here’s another example that you can create with this client’s affiliate program. Instead of worrying about including fruit gifts or floral gifts, why not try a gluten free, international or Champagne themed one for adults. If you go for an international theme, you could include foods, oils and flavors that are unique to specific regions or countries. Once you have those, you can cross promote recipe books that tie in those flavors or products. You can also tie in gift baskets from our store that feature these unique culturally appropriate gifts.
Next go out and find presents that have some sort of tie into the theme like photo books of France or elephant statues from Africa. You could even do novelty products like Russian nested dolls and take your gift guide even further by having a continent as a theme and start with a large box and a gift from each country in each box until you get to the bottom. By creating a fun way to theme a gift guide and deliver it to the people who read and would be buying the presents, you may inspire them and they could shop for your entire catalog, not to mention might come back because you gave them something creative to work with.
One other unique idea for a niche gift guide is to break it out by life stages. Do a couples first holiday gift guide and include some of the more romantic products from this program. You can then include a section for lingerie, bedroom supplies, etc…, first Christmas couples ornaments, gifts and other presents to give to them and a ton of other things specifically geared towards couples on their first holiday season together. One really fun one could be a guide on how to survive the inlaws as a married couple for the first time.
2. Pinterest – Once you have your gift guide set up and ready to launch, don’t forget to include the proper images for each product and other things you’ll need for your Pinterest marketing strategy with your gift guide. Pinterest can play a huge role in your Q4 traffic and revenue. If you aren’t using it, then I highly recommend you start. I’ve even started to find ways to drive traffic that is relevant in a B2B market and that can convert into sales. Pinterest isn’t just posting pictures or sharing recipes, it is now a full fledged traffic and shopping engine for the B2B and B2c markets.
What you may want to do is to create a board for each of your gift guides and name them the same name as your gift guide. Now you can gain attention to your guide by pinning other people’s related gifts to your pinboard and you can also incorporate your own gift guide in, and then pin each gift from the post to your board. If you can get the right people to find and repin, pin or share, and follow your gift guide pinboards you can start to drive more traffic and hopefully make more sales. Just make sure you don’t pin anything with a store’s brand, logo or url on them because the Pinner may go directly to the store and skip over you. Having a fun name for your gift guide can also get the attention of other Pinners and bring in more traffic and sales.
3. Twitter and Facebook – Don’t forget to push your unique guides out across Twitter, Facebook and other channels. One thing that is important to remember is that not everyone on your social channels are on your newsletter lists and vice versa. There are numerous ways to distribute your gift guide on social channels, and here are a few of mine.
One guide a week – Create numerous guides that are all relevant to your readers and followers but different in theme. Use something unique that would target a different interest or person that these people would be shopping for. Then you create the guides and dedicate one day of the week and post it to your feeds and channels. You could do a gift guide day on Monday or Friday and post a few of the products from the guide with your links back to the guide, then post the entire guide when you normally get the most responses and click throughs from your shares. Just make sure you don’t over do it with the products or even try pushing all of your gift guides out one a day so that you don’t overwhelm your readers, followers and fans. You want to give them time to shop through the guide and give them a new one the following week when they are ready for new products and recommendations.
One product a day – By taking one product a day from your gift guide and dropping it out to the world on social media you can run a contest where the person who can guess the theme of the guide before you post it at the end of the week can win a prize. You will have to talk to a licensed attorney or certified lawyer to make sure your contests are legal, but this could be a great way to get exposure and also help build interest across your networks. One other option if you have a larger guide is to drop two or three products each day from the guide to help people guess the theme easier.
4. Make an impulse buy guide just before the holidays are over. Think about walking through some of the large bed and bath, houseware and large electronic stores and the products they place right as you are waiting in line to pay for your products. You’ll normally see beverages and candy which are great after you’ve been shopping, but cold drinks and candy aren’t always relevant to your online visitor. Instead look at the other products which are novelty candies shaped like Sci Fi movie figures or As Seen on TV Products. By finding these impulse buys and stocking stuffer gag gifts, you can do an entire last minute gift guide for your readers based off of impulse buy products while they are in shopping mode so they can find really cool, but useless, gifts that they still need to buy.
5. Last minute gift guides and shipping guides. One thing I haven’t seen done is a last minute gift guide or still time for shipping guide. Everyone rushes to finish their shopping at the last minute. There is someone you didn’t expect that is coming to your house or a party, you get in a relationship or someone in your family does, etc.. By going through your regular gift guide, including the last day to ship, a coupon code and a great description that would get the person to want to buy the products, you may be able to generate extra income by helping them find those last minute items and creating a sense of urgency with the last day to ship. One other thing you may want to do is include two or three stores with the products, the prices and last day to ship on each. This will help your readers, followers, etc… know where they can buy the perfect last gift, what it may cost and when they can have it by. This can add trust, a great customer experience and help you to get them to come back to you for more ideas next year. Having multiple store options can also be helpful if one or two of the stores are sold out so your users can find the products and you can still get the sale.
Gift Guides are an amazing way to drive sales during the holiday season. If you get creative and can make one that really stands out, then find a unique way to distribute it, you may be able to grow your audience, increase your sales and have a much better holiday season revenue wise. Try to look at what and who your readers are following (you could try a survey to see what other sites they read) and then see what you can do compared to their efforts that is unique, that they haven’t thought of and really drive more sales. If you have any other gift guide ideas I didn’t mention here, please feel free to share them below.
One thing I have had to go over with a ton of different people is how to write a blog post that makes money, especially with using Affiliate links. It also ended up starting a contest for one of my clients. Here is how you can win the $5 bonus.
By joining this program, or even if you are already an Affiliate and active, all you have to do is write a post (that is not targeted at ranking for their trademarks, urls or extensions), is at least 350 words, and drive two sales from it before April 30th, 2013 at Midnight EST and we’ll give you a $5 bonus on May 1st. The post also has to be dated after 4/15/2013.
So if I was given this contest, I would say it’s a pretty easy way to earn an extra $5 and give me motivation to write a blog post that will make money with Affiliate Marketing. There are a ton of ways to do it, but the easiest (at least for me) is this. It may sound tricky or like a lot of work, but it really isn’t that bad and it is something that could potentially rank and drive sales for a long time. This is a strategy I use which works for me, but may not work for you…you just have to keep trying. (BTW, I did not use this strategy for this post, this site never ranks because I purposely never optimized it for the search engines.)
How to Write a Blog Post That Makes Money
Here is how to write a blog post that makes money with Affiliate Marketing (as long as it ranks well and can create a good and relevant user experience) using affiliate links. I will go through my process and steps and then go into a bit more detail. I am going to write the post like I am an Affiliate for my client above and being given the chance to earn a bonus from something I would have done anyways.
1. Find a product to promote or a topic you want to write about.
Once I have a topic, I can find a way to tie in a product. It’s not that hard. If I find a product that is really cool or an impulse buy, then I just need to think about how to talk about it. Once I have that done, I begin my keyword research.
2. Keyword research.
Once I know what the terms that are relevant for the product are, I start to figure out how to tie them into the post. Instead of going after the actual product terms which could have a ton of competition with big box retailers, I find a few of them and add on modifiers to go for the long tail, but focus more on answering questions about these products. That is the key to generating long term revenue online and backlinks if the person has their own site, is a blogger or links from social media sites. The two quick sales are easy for some merchants, but writing the post to generate money in the long run is much more profitable. I use the bonus as a way to motivate me to get to write the post. If you decide to do a post about blue widgets, do your research and think about the audience that comes to your blog.
3. Create an outline for SEO and to answer questions for your visitors.
Now create an outline with your H1 tags for the main phrase and then your H2 tags for the next sub headers within the post. It could be about blue widgets being safe for pets, why blue widgets are better for people over 40 than red widgets and the last one could be about how long a blue widget may last for. You have to remember that Google’s algorithm is there to answer questions. By figuring out what people who are looking to buy a product are thinking about, you can now get yourself in front of them and help provide accurate information that will let them know what to worry about and then help to ease their concerns, you can now sell the crap out of the product, cross sell other products that compliment them and start making money from the post. One thing you have to make sure that you do is only use facts. You cannot make things up. If you actually own the product, you may want to create a video and show yourself using it so you can help to show what you are saying is to the best of your knowledge.
4. Adding in Affiliate Links
This is where you have a ton of options. Do you go for a direct sale by showing a product, do you just add in a link, do you place a random banner in the post or do you show a widget, a storefront or even a search field or video. There are a ton of ways to add in Affiliate links and combinations of Affiliate links to blog posts in order to make money. Here are the most commons ways I add affiliate links to blog posts to make money.
Direct off of product names – If I talk about a product, I’ll usually take the name of the product and use a deep link affiliate link from it. Other time’s I’ll say click here to see the product or buy the product to let the reader know what to do. If I have a page dedicated to that product, I’ll link to that page to help create a stronger internal linking structure for SEO.
With Widgets – If I have a general post with a lot of products or complimentary products, I’ll use a product widget. I’ll show all of the complimentary and directly related products and place it inside the bottom of the post. If I have sales copy in the title or towards the top, I’ll place the widget at the top of the post. It depends on the goal of the post, type of post and how I am writing it.
Storefronts – If I am doing a storefront I usually place it at the bottom of the post. Right now Google tends to favor posts like these. Because a log of my posts are to help answer questions, people will read and stay on my site. Because of this it shows a positive user experience for Google. If the person comes to my site and instantly leaves through an Affiliate link because they found the product on the top of the page, it looks like a bad user experience. The other reason I usually place store fronts on blog posts at the bottom is because I can cross-sell and up-sell other products and why the person will need them. This helps to increase my AOV and increase my commissions.
Banners – If I am talking about a service or specific types of services, I just include a banner at the top of the post. If it is multiple services I’ll place banners by where I am talking about each. I’ll normally include one or two text links for those services in the post as well.
Product Links – If I talk about specific products in the post, I’ll sometimes include product links with a call to action in the post, paragraph or across the bottom so people can buy them all without getting distracted. Product links tend to work the best for me when selling products through blog posts.
5. Promote via social media
Once your post is written, Tweet it, Pin it and Share it on Facebook. You don’t want a scraper site to get your content first. By tweeting your post out and also sharing on sites that index well in Google like Pinterest, you can get the search engines to come and crawl your content helping them to know they found it on your site first. Although Facebook doesn’t index well in Google or call Googlebot, it can drive traffic and sales so you may also want to share with your fans and followers on Facebook.
That is pretty much the basic way I’ll write a blog post and make money. I have a ton of variations and strategies that I use across different niches like tying in video and creating a store to link to, but this is the basic way that I do it. It has worked well for me many times and sometimes failed. There are a lot of other people who use this to rank and drive sales so there is a chance it may work for you too. Feel free to share your own ideas or strategies below if you’d like. Thanks for reading and I have another program announcement to make soon.
I’ve written a ton of posts for Affiliate Managers about coupon sites, but I haven’t really written many for actual coupon Affiliates; so I wanted to write one today to try and help coupon sites show incremental value to their Merchant partners. Many of them will have their main goal to rank for your url or trademark + terms like coupon, coupons or discounts because it’s easy, fast money with no work or effort since it poaches your customers and cart. This (in my opinion) adds zero value to the merchant, unless they can reverse all sales that came from the trademark ranking, reverse all sales and credit the original Affiliate or channel that referred them or if they can drive at least 75% more sales through the rest of their site instead of just the poached ones which the coupon sites did not earn (which is almost 100% impossible to find). With that said, here are 5 ways that coupon sites can add incremental value and how you as a coupon site can show your value to programs that won’t work with you.
1. Ranking for generic terms that you cannot rank for.
Many of the older coupon sites got wiped out of the search engines for your trademarks so you may have seen them disappear from your top ten or twenty list (again, they were just poaching sales off your trademark or url + coupons, etc…). However, if you are a coupon site with a lot of age, you have an advantage over the Merchants and over newer coupon sites. Your site probably has a lot of authority and the age can help boost you in the search engines as well. What you could do is create content pages for more generic terms like gift basket coupons, autism coupons, back to school coupons and then start building an internal linking structure off of them. After you write your content and build your structure to add some juice to it, you just have to go out to other sites and start working on building backlinks off of these terms or off of your company name with these terms by the links and relevant copy to what you want to rank for. These terms have traffic that can easily drive sales for merchants and if you can rank for them, you can start to show why they should work with you and how you can drive more value adding sales.
2. Build your SEO back and drive revenue.
If you were removed from a program because all you did was drive sales off of the merchant’s trademarks, here is a way that you can help to rebuild your SEO (It isn’t white hat but isn’t 100% black hat either) that many of the surviving sites use, and can add value to your Merchants again so that you can get back in the program and make more money.
The first thing is to build a widget that displays coupons and has a tracking system. In the widget you’ll want to include tags like keyword, name or title and if you are able to, include a keyword rich backlink from the widget. You also want to make sure your brand is on the widget so that people know where they got it and you can also place a link that says, get this same widget here. Once you have the widget built, break it out into categories like sports coupons, back to school coupons, grocery coupons, etc… Now you need to do a ton of outreach to find Bloggers and other sites that feature the adware companies that have these widgets and get them to replace their widgets with yours. Many of them will place it for free because it adds value to their site by showing new coupons from a coupon feed that you need to have in your widgets. Others will ask you to pay on a click basis. This is where it can get tricky.
If you give out your coupon codes to other sites and offer them your Affiliate Links, in my opinion (I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice), this turns you into a sub Affiliate Network and will cause you to be removed from my programs and many others when the Merchant’s find out. If you are paying them to display your widget on a click or impression basis, in my opinion this does not make you a sub affiliate network which may potentially put Merchant’s at risk of Nexus Tax issues and other problems with sub affiliate networks. If you’re giving them actual affiliate links and they are actively using them on their sites and getting a percentage of the sale, this in my opinion makes you a sub affiliate network and may potentially put your Merchants at risk if they cannot work with specific sites because of nexus laws. You do have to talk to a tax attorney or lawyer to get actual legal advice on if this is correct.
Once you have the sites displaying your widgets that rank for terms like grocery coupons, back to school deals, christmas saving tips, etc… you can push specific merchants out to these sites through the feeds and begin driving incremental traffic and adding value to them. It’s going to take a lot of effort to do this, but once a few mommy bloggers or other bloggers who copy people they look up to have them featured, a ton of others will follow if you do it correctly. This is a great way to start rebuilding your traffic with SEO and driving in new streams of traffic for your site and your Merchants. In order to not have the affiliate links appear on the other sites through the widget, just show the deal and have it link back to your own website where your actual Affiliate links are.
3. Focus on your newsletter.
Take your newsletters and make sure you are clearly displaying them on your site. When you send a newsletter make sure that you are tracking which email addresses click on which types of links and if your software or system allows you to tag them, mark them into categories like sports, home, age ranges or other things that cause them to click and potentially shop. Now you can start sending more relevant coupons to these people by pulling a list from the tags you create. This can help increase your sales and decrease your opt out or unsubscribe rate since the emails are more targeted for the user. Your merchants will enjoy the higher EPCs (which I still think is a fake metric that you shouldn’t use) because your click through to conversion rate should increase and you can still send the larger blasts with general items when you need to which usually lowers a Merchants EPC.
4. Do a featured coupon space on your site.
Almost every coupon site features coupons on their homepage or has a featured coupon of the week on their homepage. What I don’t see a lot of is a site wide featured coupon of the day or week. This could be one way to attract more clicks and drive incremental sales for your Merchant’s without a ton of extra work. If you can generate enough clicks on this space, you could also begin to sell it as ad space or a featured placement when you have sales data to back up the added value. One other option is to having a scrolling text bar that runs coupons across them and you can change out the coupons to run for as long as you want. This can help to catch people’s eyes, cause clicks and hopefully drive incremental sales. If it isn’t an option to add a featured coupon site wide, why not have space in your categories set aside for featured coupons, deals or products that are on sale.
By adding specific products on sale you can measure the products that are being moved without a coupon code and show value from your category. Even if the person uses a code with the product, if you set up different tracking urls for the products and codes in that category, you can show which sales came from it and why it is incremental (as long as it isn’t ranking for the Merchant’s trademarks or urls).
5. Add a product blog.
Because of the authority and relevance of your site, ranking for product name + coupons can help you generate new traffic and add value to resellers of the product. Think about As Seen on TV products like the neat receipt scanner. If you are in their program you aren’t adding value or incremental sales by ranking for their product names (this can be argued because they don’t want their resellers to take sales from the money they spent on their TV commercials and ads, but at the same time the resellers also buy products from them and add value with their foot traffic from in their stores and the other traffic on their websites which are incremental sales). However stores like Best Buy, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and other retailers carry these as seen on tv products and by sending them the traffic off of the product names and product name + coupon (which will be easier for coupon sites to rank for because of the relevance with coupons) you can drive incremental sales. Just remember to make it a value adding blog with actual content for the products. Here is my free guide to learn to blog.
Coupon sites can still add a ton of value to Merchants, they just have to begin working harder at it and actually showing what is value adding and what is pure theft (in my opinion) by ranking for the merchant’s trademark + coupons. There are a ton of ways to compete in the coupon space and make money with coupon sites, you just have to work hard at it, start writing actual copy and not the spam with the same or similar copy across every page, and also start working with driving traffic from sources besides merchant’s trademarks that can drive sales. Feel free to share your own ideas on how coupon sites can add value to merchants and also make more money below in the comments section.