Your customers, prospects, and partners are the lifeblood of your business. You need to build your marketing strategy around them. Step 1 of marketing is understanding what your customers want, which can be challenging when you’re dealing with such a diverse audience. This guide will walk you through (1) the process of building personal connections at scale and (2) crafting customer value propositions that funnel back to ROI for your company. Get Started
Let’s say you have a promotions page where you’re promoting a product via affiliate links. If you currently get 5,000 visits/month at a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To get to 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increasing the conversion rate to 4%. Which sounds easier? Instead of spending months building domain authority with blogging and guest posts to get more organic traffic, you just have to increase the conversion rate by 2%. This can include landing page optimization, testing your calls-to-action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you’ll get far better results with much less effort.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations.
“Time is money for a rep,” said Tony Rodoni, Salesforce EVP, Commercial Sales, and Market Readiness. “You need to know the most important thing to do right now, and what to do next. If you’re not clear on which opportunities are accurate, you’re relying on your memory to know which ones need work. As you take on a bigger book of business, with more opportunities, quarter after quarter, relying on your own memory means mistakes and wasted time.”
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The truth? Today, rising above the noise and achieving any semblance of visibility has become a monumental undertaking. While we might prevail at searching, we fail at being found. How are we supposed to get notice while swimming in a sea of misinformation and disinformation? We've become immersed in this guru gauntlet where one expert after another is attempting to teach us how we can get the proverbial word out about our businesses and achieve visibility to drive more leads and sales, but we all still seem to be lost.
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
Marketing automation can eat up a significant portion of your client’s budget, leaving less room for your agency’s retainer. (Psst...SharpSpring’s agency pricing model is as little as 1/10th to 1/20th the cost of others). You’ll want a platform built around the needs of agencies to help you create higher-value relationships, generate monthly recurring revenue and prove your ROI. Look for a provider that lets you reinforce your brand by rebranding the platform interface, domain, login screen, and notifications. The vendor should treat you like a partner, including sending you new business referrals.
As an inbound marketer, it is one of my goals to generate high-quality leads for my sales team to successfully close into customers. Marketing automation has helped me streamline my own process and gives me greater visibility into what my visitors and leads are actually doing. I can quickly find what content they’re downloading, how they are responding to my emails, and how they are moving through the sales funnel. Each step of the way, I can monitor and measure how the marketing automation system I have in place is performing, and shows me where I might need to make tweaks to get better results.
Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing automation. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database, and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.
Conversion & Progression Through The Funnel: Once you have visitors on your website, the next step is to convert them. At the very least, you should start collecting their email addresses. Once you start building an organic email list, you can start reaching out to your customers and prospects so that you can re-engage them through your content: ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets.
In addition to using your sales funnel for strategic planning, you can use CRM software to save time and focus on moving more customers to the end of your funnel with customizable pipelines and email integration features. For example, customizable pipelines allow you to engage with customers in a way that fits your business. Email integration lets you send communications without leaving the CRM.
Organic SEO's flip-side offers up a paid method for marketing on search engines like Google. SEM provides an avenue for displaying ads through networks such as Google's Adwords and other paid search platforms that exist across the web throughout social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and even video sites like YouTube, which, invariably, is the world's second largest search engine.
There is serious competition in the affiliate marketing sphere. You’ll want to make sure you stay on top of any new trends to ensure you remain competitive. Additionally, you’ll likely be able to benefit from at least a few of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure you’re keeping up to date on all these new strategies to guarantee that your conversion rates, and therefore revenue, will be as high as possible.

Use variety. Mix and match affiliate ads so you don't overwhelm your visitors (content-embedded affiliate links usually have the best click-through rates over image links.) Consider using a lead page and funnel system to market your affiliate business. Lure prospects to your email list with a free offer and include links to your affiliate product pages.


Marketing Automation platforms allow marketers to automate and simplify client communication by managing complex omni-channel marketing strategies from a single tool. Marketing Automation assists greatly in areas like Lead Generation, Segmentation, Lead nurturing and lead scoring, Relationship marketing, Cross-sell and upsell, Retention, Marketing ROI measurement.
Using influencers to market your products or services is a great way to quickly saturate yourself into the marketplace, no matter what you're peddling. However, finding the right influencer at the right price is the hard part. You don't necessarily have to go to the top-tier influencers; you can also opt for micro-influencers (those that have 10,000 to 100,000 followers or fans).

If you're serious about finding your voice and discovering the secrets to success in business, one of the best people to follow is Gary Vanyerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, and early-stage invest in Twitter, Uber and Facebook, has arbitraged his way into the most popular social media platforms and built up massive followings and often spills out the secrets to success in a highly motivating and inspiring way.
Your sales funnel is healthy if you have enough prospects going through it. If you’re moving enough prospects through the funnel with the experiences and interactions you create, and if you are able to profitably convert enough prospects into paying customers, your sales funnel is healthy. See our article on Sales Metrics—17 Reports That Improve Your Sales Pipeline Performance to help measure your funnel’s health.
There is considerable evidence supporting the value that marketing automation can bring to marketers. According to a report by VB Insight, 80% of marketing automation users saw their amount of leads increase, and 77% saw their number of conversions increase. Furthermore, companies using marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates from initial response-to-MQL and a revenue growth rate that is 3.1% higher than non-users.
Provide the content that people are looking for. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a moment. Say that you’ve engaged with a company; maybe you’ve downloaded a piece of their content and really loved what you read. The next email you get is for a completely different topic that has nothing to do with what you just read. Wouldn’t it be more impactful if you received an email that continued to dive further into the topic that you are interested in? You’d be much more likely to buy from that company since they’re answering your questions, wouldn’t you? With marketing automation, you can do exactly this.
A sales funnel reflects the prospect’s journey or path that takes them from awareness to becoming a customer. It encompasses actions you take to create this journey or experience. The sales pipeline, on the other hand, is the specific stages that a deal or opportunity moves through in your sales process from the salesperson’s perspective. See our article on the eight sales pipeline stages every sales team should have.
Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. This spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
Marketing automation offers a number of specific benefits for small and medium businesses (SMBs). First, it helps you monitor the effectiveness and ROI of your digital marketing campaigns, so you can find out what’s working and what’s not. Next, it automates many activities – like lead follow-up, email campaigns, list segmentation, lead scoring, etc. – saving you tons of time and effort. Marketing automation also has great tools to support drip marketing campaigns. It enables you to build quality emails and landing pages, and then track your campaigns from start to finish to see how leads are moving through your funnel.

In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
By offering marketing automation and related services, you’ll become an integrated and indispensable partner to your clients. This helps you move from unpredictable project work to retainer-based relationships, helping you grow your agency and boost your monthly recurring revenue. Marketing automation also provides you with comprehensive reporting and analytics, so you can prove the value of your services to your existing clients as well as prospective ones. Some marketing automation platforms are built specifically for marketing agencies, so there are some important things to look out for, including flexible agency pricing, a rebrandable interface and domain, and much more.
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.
Using influencers to market your products or services is a great way to quickly saturate yourself into the marketplace, no matter what you're peddling. However, finding the right influencer at the right price is the hard part. You don't necessarily have to go to the top-tier influencers; you can also opt for micro-influencers (those that have 10,000 to 100,000 followers or fans).
Depending on your business and industry, you could have 1,000 prospects at the top of your funnel. However, towards the end of your funnel, you may have 25 qualified leads. While these 25 prospects are more likely to convert than the ones at the top of the sales funnel, at the very end, there may only be five customers who make a purchase and only two that go on to become repeat customers.
Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing automation. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database, and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.
Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.
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