Salespeople and marketers like to talk about the funnel. The funnel is a way of describing all of your business’ potential customers, and how some of them will evolve into actual customers. The top of the funnel (TOFU) is full of leads — potential customers, most of whom are just trying to find solutions to the problems they’re experiencing but who may not be ready to purchase right away. The goal is to help guide as many of those leads as possible through the middle of the funnel (MOFU), where there is more interest in your product or business, to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), where fewer people remain, but they’re the ones who are ready to do business.
Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005. MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
When you launch a new business, you must register it with the state, obtain licenses and permits, check what you can and cannot do, purchase equipment and more. Start-up legislation can be mind-wrecking, especially in the healthcare, construction and manufacturing industries. Things are even more challenging for those who are just starting out and have little experience running a company. If that's your case, consider purchasing a turnkey business.
Focus on reviewing products and services that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product or service you are promoting. Almost anything sold online can be reviewed if there is an affiliate program – you can review physical products, digital software, or even services booked online, like ride sharing or travel resort booking. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
Nurturing is so aptly named because it’s all about giving your new relationship what it needs to prosper. Some leads will want regular emails, some will want quick responses to questions on social media, and others will want an 800 number and a conversation to learn more about your offerings. Developing an effective lead nurturing strategy pays off: Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost and boast 9% more sales reps making quota than companies that struggle with nurturing.
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How to Get It: Begin with sites like UserTesting.com, YouEye.com and Userlytics.com. Register with multiple companies for opportunities to test as many websites as possible. Once you're in the system, you'll be emailed when testers are needed, and if you're one of the first to respond, expect to spend 15 to 20 minutes completing the test. Many sites require a microphone and/or webcam, which are built into most laptops—but if you need to buy one, they aren't expensive. The tester sites typically pay within a week or two via PayPal.
Affiliate marketing is an ideal solution for those looking to gain control of their own income by focusing on performance-based revenue options. Working in tandem with a seller, a motivated affiliate marketer will be able to achieve a passive income from the comfort of their home without worrying about producing their own product or service. Although the success of the job does depend on the affiliate’s marketing skills, it can prove to be an effective way to meet your income goals as either a primary career or a profitable second job.
Lead scoring is a shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. You score leads based on the interest they show in your business, their current in the buying cycle, and their fit in regards to your business. Lead scoring helps companies know whether prospects need to be fast-tracked to sales or developed with lead nurturing. Lead scoring is essential to strengthening your revenue cycle, effectively drive more ROI, and align sales and marketing.
Gone are the days that a marketer only relied on outbound techniques like trade shows, cold calling, and advertisements to get leads. Today’s buyer is in control. According to Forrester, buyers seek out three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece sent by a marketer, and for every one piece sent by sales. Because of buyer self-education, your job as a marketer is to be heard through the noise and come up with new ways for leads to find you. To be a marketer in today’s world, you need a solid grasp of inbound in order to truly amplify your lead generation impact.
Imagine you have 125 leads. Every lead has engaged with your business in unique ways, and they’re in different stages of your sales funnel. It’s not humanly possible to glance at a lead and recall how closer/farther they are to your business—until you use lead scoring technology. Lead scoring is a method by which you define parameters to qualify or “score” a lead in the CRM. So a CTO might get 15 points by virtue of their designation, and a lead who clicked on a link in your email might get 10 points (versus a lead who only opened your email and gets 5 points). All these points add up, and the higher the score, the hotter the lead. Putting a score on a lead cuts down your decision-making time in terms of which lead you should contact first.
Good content marketing entertains and informs with blog articles, social media posts, and other bite-sized content that adds something to readers’ lives and draws them to your brand. Small businesses in particular should remember that with a little know-how, a single piece of content is easily repurposed as a mini marketing campaign (or even a killer sales deck). Why constantly reinvent the wheel when you can keep riding the ones you’ve already made?
The Internet has increased the prominence of affiliate marketing. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program whereby websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a reviewed or discussed product to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling is outsourced across a vast network.
Because prospective buyers won’t always end up at your website as they start their purchase journey, it’s important that you establish a presence where they may show up. A great way to deliver high-value content to the correct prospects is through content syndication – a content sharing strategy that can be used to promote your whitepapers, articles, news releases, etc. on other websites for greater reach and engagement. Through content syndication, your content appears on third-party sites and newsletters. And because most content syndicators deliver leads directly to your inbox, it’s a great way to keep leads coming in the door.
The advertising company sets the terms of an affiliate marketing program. Early on, companies largely paid the cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. A technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
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