If you’re going to read one of my posts this year, this is probably the one to read and if you like it, feel free to share it. Most of you that are advanced know this, but I am hoping you’ll chime in and give your own advice in the comments section. I’m also going to share some ideas on how to move into new channels and improve on existing ones.
In pure adsense form, they never wrote back to me, never helped me and I got no support. I am also still blocked from running ads. If I was an Affiliate in the Google Network with links up, I would now have to change them all out since the only way to get paid is through Adsense. Although I actually do like the Google Affiliate Network, I never had time to add links to my site from it so I actually lucked out with that one an saved time. Luckily for me I diversified my income channels and adsense was not a large part of it. This got me thinking and made me want to write this post.
My advice to you is to consider every form of traffic and if you rely on something, move on and find 2 more things that work to drive revenue. That way if the main source runs out or you get cut off, you have at least one or two more revenue and traffic streams to rely on.
In this post I am going to go to through a few channels and ways to generate traffic and some of the bad about each and why you may want to avoid them for either ecommerce or Affiliate sites. The importance of this post is so that you can learn how to diversify your traffic and revenue for ecommerce stores as well as Affiliate sites.
Ecommerce Sites – The Affiliate Channel is one of my favorites. It is cost effective because you are only paying when a sale is made. It can start out by bringing new stores who don’t have their own traffic customers and sales with a value add from bloggers, etc… but there is a down side. Unfortunately when you do have traffic, trademark bidders, sites that show up for your store + coupon or coupon codes, etc… will begin to poach sales from you. From my experience, 99.9% of the time this is bad and one of the reasons why many programs close. They get adware, shopping carts poached by coupon sites, etc… in them which many smart merchants feel is stealing, and all of the sudden you realize that your profits are gone so you close your program. If you are an Affiliate and this merchant was a huge part of your income, you are now going to have to try to replace them.
The next issue is that your competitors think that offering higher commissions, longer cookie lives, etc… will give them the ability to compete with you and take your content and value adding Affiliates away. Competing with their commissions, etc… unfortunately reduces your margin and if you are not a customer acquisition program, but are one that is going for profit on sales, it no longer makes sense to run your program, especially if margins are further reduced from coupon codes being used and commissions and network fees being paid out. What I have been trying to do with my clients is to set up a very low percentage, but give the Affiliate a recurring commissions for life. This way merchants can now have a ton of information to help other channels like media buying learn where to advertise. It also lets you know how profitable you are on the sale, how long the life of the customer is from that type of traffic and your Affiliate has reliable income streams coming in which makes them happy.
Because you know that Affiliate site type A has a 6 month customer life and type b has almost a year’s worth of life, now you can also adjust your marketing to buy media in these spaces that have volume and you can assume the buys will yield long customer lives making the buys more profitable because of the life of the customer. This also work with PPC, etc… If the cost per conversion is high, but you know the person is going to stay around, you can eat the cost of the high cpa knowing that the average life of the customer will be profitable in the third or fourth month.
Affiliate Marketing is an amazing channel and one that I love and promote, unfortunately many companies just don’t get it and rely on poor advice they are fed, or don’t want to listen to the benefits of a value adding program vs. the short sale or non lifetime value of your Affiliate and Customer.
Affiliate Sites – If your biggest money earning program closes, you now have a ton of issues. You have to find a new merchant and have to hope they pay out on time or at all. You have to research if their program is legit and your traffic will convert as well as it did with the one that closed and that their customer service will treat your visitors well so they trust your recommendations. What I recommend to you is to make an exact copy of your webpages with that Merchant’s links and store the code. Now try to go in house with them if you trust them to pay you. If that doesn’t work, as them to do a private invite only program for relevant content sites that don’t rank for their trademarks and modifiers like store name + coupon codes if that’s the reason they closed. If that doesn’t work, go to their competitors and look for similar pricing, colors, shopping paths and customer service. Then do a simple find a replace from the code to switch out your links quickly while keeping a copy of your original code, in case something goes wrong, so you have a template that works.
The next thing you should do is research what a CPC would be on that page and look up how many clicks you got. You can then replace all of your Affiliate Banners and links with channels that payout on a click basis and still be profitable. You may also want to list the page or site and sell media space instead. Since you know how many sales it can drive because of the Affiliate links, advertisers will be more inclined to spend on your site. This also helps to diversify your income so that if a Merchant pulls their program you still have money coming in.
ecommerce sites and Affiliate sites – Never rely on SEO. Search Engines are a business and will do what makes them the most money while providing the most relevant results to their end users. It still amazes me how many companies rely on SEO for their sales without realizing they could lose everything if an algorithm change hits them negatively. What you need to do is think of other ways to drive traffic into your site.
If you have money, try Media Buys and PPC. If you don’t have money to test with media and PPC, test Social Media for traffic that converts while you have SEO traffic coming in. Use social media share buttons and make sure you have a newsletter sign up somewhere for them to join your site and so you can remarket back to them again. You can also try creating a membership and benefits portal.
Not only will you be able to rely on your visitors to send you new customers, but if your SEO dies, you still have traffic and ways to generate revenue until you can build your rankings back up. Another great method that I always use is to go out and find partner sites to do cross promotions with. It helps you build a fan base or customer base fast and they are relevant to you. Not to mention you also make friends with sites that are in your niche and you can both help each other.
ecommerce sites and Affiliate sites – PPC is always getting more expensive, that is why I did this post on how to use the Google display network to try and get your CPA back down by using it as a media buy and to drive sales when your PPC keywords and phrases are no longer profitable….btw, if you would do the recurring commissions in your Affiliate program and you know what terms drive traffic to that page, although the first sale may not be profitable for you, you have an idea of how long the customer stays with you and you can now keep those terms knowing you should be profitable on the third or fourth purchase. It’s important to remember that as competition comes into your niche or as you change links, destination pages, ads, etc… your costs go up (sometimes only temporarily) and PPC may no longer be affordable for you. That is why you need a value adding Affiliate Program, strong SEO, good partnerships, A newsletter and other channels to rely on when PPC becomes to expensive.
Your newsletter list is your gold mine. It is your customers and people who are interested in your products. Unfortunately you may hire someone that abuses that list and it no longer works. Now what do you do? You can’t get delivery and you cannot get them to open their emails. This is when you start thinking about ways to get a new list built. Think of social media sites to drive new sign ups. Think about your membership section. Build a blog and try to get a following on it as well as try to get an apology message out, while staying CANSPAM compliant. It is important to keep track of who opts out, when and why they opt out and keep a record of the reasons. You may find that certain promotions or words you used end up driving people away instead of driving sales. You can also start using Video Marketing with tools like Viewbix to help gather new customers to opt in and sign up.
ecommerce sites and Affiliates – Relationships are a great way to grow your reader and customer base. They build trust and loyalty for your site because your new audience is being referred from a trusted source and you can build your brand better. If those people like your products, then all of the sudden you can get referrals from them. You can build relationships through guest blogging, cross promoting with stores that have similar products, cross promote on email and newsletter lists as well as sharing each other’s content via social media. One thing you have to look out for is that if the person or company you are cross promoting with has poor customer service or bad products, then you could anger your own customers, lose their trust in your recommendations and have your next cross promotions become less effective since the trust is gone.
Video channels are great, especially if people create spoofs and help you to go viral. However, annotations and mentions of urls can be confusing, cause typos when people look for your site and have no real call to action. To get more out of your video, look for players like Viewbix that give you the ability to really add in calls to action, newsletter sign ups and better user experiences in your videos. You also want to make sure that your channel name is easy to spell, pronounce and remember. That way people know how to search for it by a unique keyword and be able to find you over and over, as well as recommend you to a friend without the friend getting confused on spelling your channel or video’s name.
If the search engines or Affiliates or PPC end up not being an option anymore, you still have a giant traffic stream out there. If you set up a membership program or have a loyal following, try to run contests through them with sharing, refer friends and get discounts or coupons, etc… This can work great to build your customer base and newsletter sign ups back up as well as recover lost income through a new revenue stream.
Blogging is awesome for building a loyal following and an audience. It can boost your social media followers and fans as well as give you a way to cross promote with other sites better. The issue you’re going to find is that there is soo much clutter on the web which is why it is very difficult to get a new blog going.
What you need to do is find other bloggers with a large following and launch your blog by guest blogging on their sites. Even if you don’t get a backlink, if your guest post is good enough then people will look for you and find your site or follow you. Worrying about backlinks for your blog is not the most important thing in the beginning. What you need to have first is a ton of good content that will benefit people when they do start to find you. You should have at least 50 quality posts before you start your outreach. Not only will that help you know if you will keep the blog going or not, but when people find your site, they’ll see a ton of info there and be able to use it as a resource. Having a lot of solid content also helps to show the blog owner who you are pitching that you know your stuff and that their readers will be able to learn and stay on topic when they go to your site.
It is important to remember to diversify your income. These are just a few channels that are easy to get started in and can be somewhat reliable channels. The thing you have to remember is that you need at least 2 or 3 reliable forms of traffic and sales to be successful. That way if one fails, the other two are there for you so you can focus on building the other one back up again.
3 thoughts on “Probably The Most Beneficial Post I’ll Write This Year”
Welcome to the club of people who’ve been given the boot. Yours truly included. EPN gave me the shaft, Adsense just recently, and at one point a rather large concert promoter who bought a ticketing software and services company.. And a few others.
Moral of the story IMHO: If you don’t own it, its going to be disrupted. Get your own continuity membership site, ebook, service product, video series.. Build a course on udemy, create Direct deals with merchants, ad sales on site, etc. Companies will intentionally and unintentionally screw you over and over.
Some will on rare occasions even be willing to admit it and discuss future business.. Beware as corporations are filled with little peope who get reaplaced and ytou are only numbers in a spreadsheet. You’ll get no apology, there is no fairness, there is no compassion.
Large Businesses are not human. Don’t expect them to care, or even understand the damage they do when they screw us over.
Great advice here Adam. My pet peeve is merchants who think that the affiliate network is managing their program, They need to understand that the network Administers their program, but it is up to them to Manage it, to decide what methods are permitted and any rules that go with those methods. They need to know their partners and how they drive traffic, not necessarily the intimate details, but in general- what site? PPC? content? rewards? Without those basics they invite abusive affiliates. Since the FTC holds the merchant accountable for overblown promises, a merchant needs to have some idea of what you do to send them traffic.
Another problem that merchants create for (themselves and) their partners is when they have the box in checkout to add a discount or coupon code. If done right it can drive sales, if done wrong they end up rewarding an affiliate who may have obtained the shopper from the merchant’s cart. How difficult is it to post a code there in the checkout so if someone is already there they don’t need to leave for a code? That way the coupon site that sends customers gets paid and so do sites that don’t rank for merchant+coupon. Too many programs are closing because the merchant does not know what they need to know to have a successful program.
Keep up the good work!
Educating merchants should be a network priority, because the merchant’s success builds a stronger network, but it is not happening very widely.
Thank you again for the great comments. I wish the Networks would educate the Merchants as well, however they would not have nearly as much money if they did. Look at the top performers on the networks and the sites they show as Affiliates in their networks, then look at the main keywords and methods that drive the conversions. Networks would be out a ton of money.
At the same time, The network’s job is to provide tracking solutions, not education. It is the company’s job to hire an educated manager. When the network manages the program, my opinion is that they will do what is best for the Network and unfortunately that can lead to programs closing if most sales are coming up for trademark + coupon code and adware. Merchant education is key and unfortunately there is so much advice out there that it is almost impossible to know who to believe and which sites are right. At Affiliate Summit, a guru OPM firm told a merchant I wanted to add to my site that they should launch on every network and cpa and after a short period, whichever is driving the most sales is the one they stick with. It’s sad to see so many scammers out there that convince people of things as being good, and then great sites closing their program. At that same Summit, I also heard an OPM step in and give some awesome free advice to a new Merchant. It’s really hard to figure out who to listen to and where to read when you’re new.
Thank you again for leaving your feedback. Happy to have you here!