Secrets of Advertising 'In Context'
"Economists have long spoken of land, labor, and capital as
the inputs to an economy ... Labor is no longer thought of as
hours of undifferentiated wrench-turning, but as talent, not
so much to be hired as to be applied to the issue of the
moment. Hence our discussion of people focuses on the nature
of the exchanges in which this talent will be the most valued
resource." -- Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer, Blur
There is a dramatic change happening in affiliate programs,
and it all involves selling items within the context of the
affiliate's website. Affiliate programs are changing from the
original "place my banner ad on your site" branding approach
to a new, integrated advertising effort. It is more important
to place your content within their website, to empower them to
sell, than to simply drive people to your website.
As Affiliate Programs evolve, a separation between pay per
sale and pay per traffic is emerging. If the goal of your
program is just to generate traffic, then offer a clickthrough
or bounty for new customers is the model. If you want to sell
products through other sites, the "In Context" selling this
article focuses on is the critical factor. Here's how.
Reinvent banner ads into text driven, lead generating tools
Banner ad space is a great place to get your brand out, but if
your affiliates do not get clicks or sales your banner will
not appear. I know, you have heard that again and again. But
the only thing affiliate programs seem to share is their love
for the banner ad. Banner ad space is the ad space at other
websites, but to improve your clickthrough and sellthrough
from banners, and to empower your affiliates, try these.
Here are three rules to follow:
The best approach is to drive them to an email request form;
here you can reward your visitors with gift certificates,
free reports, and if you have a more considered purchase
decision (anything more than $100 on the Internet is not
likely an impulse buy -- the comfortable price point for
purchases online tends to be between $20-$40), focus on your
follow-up. Send them an email, automate your follow-ups, and
gradually introduce the sale. Most people won't buy until
3rd or 4th contact, no matter what you do.
- Use text in your banner ads so they appear to be part of the site. Use only a few sentences with a compelling free offer so you can generate traffic.
- Make your brand a small logo on each banner ad, and write call to action headlines. For example, "Click here to win a $20 gift certificate from XX Company" is much better than trying to sell your value proposition. One example I have seen is a company with the USP "you are not alone" on a banner ad -- this is vague and meaningless.
- Make your offer and ad copy easy to understand; write for a 6-9th grade reading level, and keep it simple.
- Underline your headline text in blue so that it appears to be a hyperlink on the page. This fits in easily to websites without appearing to be a banner ad.
- Keep things familiar. Use Windows-like banners that include the normal commands "Go" and "Click Here" that you see on a Windows interface. When it looks like their computer interfaces, your target customers will be familiar with it.
- Drive your visitors from a banner ad to a form that requests more information. Most affiliate programs drive people to a home page, full of confusing choices. Or they drive people to a one product sale and hope for the impulse buy.
Build on your affiliate's "context" to get recommended.
The new mode of affiliate programs is to merge your products
into the context of other websites. As noted earlier, context
literally means "necessary link," but before we get to how you
make your offer "necessary," let's focus on how to understand
the context of websites you want to target.
Websites are built around a certain amount of content,
community, discussion boards, and communication that weave
together to form the "context" of the site. Remember these
important points when building your advertising to fit into
the context of *their* website:
- Target sites with a buying context. It is easy to fall in
love with the allure of millions of impressions at bigger
websites. You can pursue these people forever, and they are
in love with selling their banner ad space. They should be
in love, because selling banner ads, if done frequently, is
easy money. But more often than not, the sites with the most
banner ad impressions do not yield buyers.
Once again, this is good for branding. But if you want to
make sales, the context of the site must be towards buyers.
For example, http://Edmunds.com/ offers automobile info.
People look at the info and click onto other sites that sell
cars and insurance. People at Edmunds are buyers, and the
results they generate show that these buyers are converted
to sales. Remember that banner ads rarely convert to sales.
- Beware of "free" sites. The best things in life are free,
but the best things in business are not. Most free sites,
including all those community sites that offer free home
pages, create a bunch of people who are often not willing to
pay for a thing. They will post your banner ads everywhere,
do little promotion, and expect a lot out of you.
In our own testing, we have found that free sites generate
more headaches, questions, and low volume of sales than
anywhere else. While there are certainly exceptions, do not
target free sites if you really want to make sales.
- The best "context" is a website with a following. Throughout
the Internet, websites have sprung up with considerable
followings driven by integrity, respect, and a long-term
business relationship built on trust. Take it from me: This
kind of context is worth its weight in gold.
For example, Jeff Ostroff at http://www.carbuyingtips.com/
offers advice on how to buy cars and save money when doing
so. People trust this consumer advocate, and the affiliate
programs he recommends by positing prominently on his site.
The consumer is there to learn information about a purchase,
and Jeff drives the process. His context is a selling
context driven by the trust of these visitors.
- Target media sites with a wide variety of content and see if
you can get your products featured within pages offering the
right content. Newspaper-oriented websites share a wealth of
information and will have problems selling ad space. If you
are offering a product via an affiliate program, make sure
to match your products to their content.
For example, a book about dating would do well within the
classified, personals section of a newspaper, or in the
entertainment section. It would not do well within world
news or sports. Sound obvious? Look around at the next
content site that features an ad for furniture on a page
about computers; it is amazing how few sites match their
content to the products being offered.
- Select your affiliates on the basis of their content and
traffic. Traffic alone is not a good judge of effectiveness
for selling online. Many of the high traffic sites are
unusual or odd in their appeal, and people once again are
not in the buying context. The content of a good site has to
be updated frequently and fill a need for a specific niche.
For example, many computer programmers repeatedly visit
websites for information, because programming information
changes frequently. These are great sites for products and
services (especially computer-related ones). Other sites,
like the joke of the day kind of sites, are good for
entertainment value, and maybe branding, but if you want to
make sales, it just doesn't make sense. Do you see many ads
in the comic section, except for entertainment? 'Nuff said
Make your affiliate offer a "necessary link" in the best space on their site.
One of the biggest mistakes made by affiliate networks is
talking about your offer, like it is the most important thing
to your affiliates. What is important to them is to make
money, or at least add some value to their website.
The affiliate not only wants to find out what they can earn
but also wants to know how your offer can fit into their
website. Take the following steps to make sure that your
product becomes a necessary link to their website:
- Immediately address the needs of your target affiliates by
showing why and how your product will enhance the value of
their website. Don't assume they understand, or love your
product or service as much as you do. Assume that you love
their website as much as you love your own product, and you
will have the right approach.
Teach your affiliates how important it is to feature your
product on a prominent spot on their webpages, including the
first screen people view (640X480 area they enter on), the
left hand and right hand borders, and especially the lower
right hand of the first screen they see.
- Get them to feature your offer on a specific page; you can
use content drive webpages to promote your product. For
example, if you are selling travel to the Caribbean, offer
your affiliates a webpage with a special report on the best
hotels or best seasons to travel. They incorporate it into
the context of their site, and it appears to be another
page, not just an advertisement.
- Encourage your affiliates to promote your offer on the top
and bottom of their webpages so it doesn't necessarily
interrupt the content. If they stick you in the middle, it
is likely that your ad will be ignored.
- In your email newsletters or announcements to your
affiliates, remind them of the demographic and psychographic
makeup of a typical customer. List related products and
develop co-promotional opportunities with other affiliate
programs. Teach them how to best sell to their visitors by
clarifying who you are selling to, and what is the appeal of
this product to their specific audience.
- Bundle your affiliate program with other, related products
and offer all of these as a necessary link. Like Microsoft
created its Office Suite (e.g., Excel, Outlook, Word, etc)
to bundle software, you can offer a bundle that gets
featured as an important part of their website.
- Remember, the most necessary link is one that makes sense to
the affiliate, and drives traffic and sales for you.
Create residual income opportunities so they keep featuring your affiliate advertising.
At my own site, http://www.ActiveMarketplace.com, we focus on
the three R's for our affiliates:
- Results: We want to send our affiliates a check each month.
- Relationships: Give them a reason to keep working with you,
even if you don't make them money. Simple respect and
responding to your affiliates will build up a long-term
referral system that is not based solely on money. Good
will is important to anyone in business, and too many
affiliate programs treat their people like dirt.
- Residual Income: If you give them just once chance to make
money, they will leave. It is that simple.
Before exploring residual income, beware of a trend on the
Internet of those "netizens" who frequent discussion boards
more than marketing their own business. They insist that they
should be paid for every purchase a customer makes, even
though they send that customer to you just once.
Residual income is not something earned by forwarding one
lead; there are programs, especially those concerning
automobiles, that pay commissions on repeat buys. But think of
the logic here; I send you a customer once, and do no more
work, and get paid every time that person buys.
While it is a nice theory, in application it stinks. Your
affiliates will make little effort to sell your products on a
regular basis. Obviously there is value in the promotion, but
in reality the people who sign up for these programs are not
generating repeat income for you. To get them to earn residual
income, make sure you give them ways to, such as:
- Build two-tier programs so that any affiliates that sign up
from your affiliate network generate sales and commissions
to the person who first referred them to you.
- Encourage repeat sales by offering specials pages that you
can change, or changing your banner ads regularly to feature
new offers. As long as the name and location (URL) of the
banner ad graphic remains the same, you can instantly update
this at your affiliate's website.
- Encourage your affiliates to generate email inquiries for
your program, and place their affiliate code in your follow-
up emails. We installed such a program at ActiveMarketplace.
It took just a few days, and the results were terrific --
for us and for our affiliates.
- Build on the repeat buying behavior of your customer base.
If you know which products they will buy repeatedly, then
encourage your affiliates to promote these follow-up
products in their ezines and at their sites. Too many
programs rely on the sale of only a few, unrelated products.
- While many affiliate programs focus on promoting the
lifetime affiliate commission as some sort of annuity, like
http://Art.com does, the fact is, your best affiliates will
make sales because they work their lists and their websites.
Promising lifetime payments is nice public relations
technique, but in reality the best salespeople are
motivated, not given an easy way to make easy dollars.
Make your affiliate program a value-added service.
Setting up an affiliate program focuses so much on the actual
sale of products. If you focus only on the advertising
capabilities that your affiliate program provides, you are
missing some of the most important uses of your advertising.
Take Homestead.com for example. This site primarily
offers easy to use website design and development tools. Major
affiliate programs, like http://ProFlowers.com and
http://FogDog.com, can be added to any Homestead.com
customer's webpages with the mere click of a mouse.
But looking closer you see programs like http://HotBot.com,
who allow users to post their search engine on the site in
exchange for a pay per click model. HotBot becomes a value-
added service to a website; http://GoTo.com also done this
with their affiliate program. Let me ask you this: Do you
really think it is the money these people are making that
keeps them coming back, or the fact that the affiliate program
adds value to their site whether they make money or not?
The affiliate program at http://Travelocity.com is another
example of a program that is more a value-added service than a
way to generate cash. They pay small margins for plane
tickets, because there are no margins to really share. What
they do so effectively is match people to the plane tickets
they are looking for. Affiliates enjoy the fact that the
Travelocity brand (soon to become Preview Travel) is on their
site, and those visitors can get plane tickets easily.
Making money is not always the best way to present your
affiliate program. Often giving people a valuable service is
as effective as offering them only a way to make money.
Appealing to greed is one thing, but appealing to the value of
a website puts you in an easier position. Add value to their
site with products and services that they come to rely on,
until they can't live without you.
It is that simple.
Condensed from the IMC Private Website
Why reinvent the wheel -- wasting time, effort and money going
at it alone -- when a bunch of highly successful webmasters
and Internet marketers have SPILLED THE BEANS at a new Private
Website? Learn our secrets and especially from our mistakes,
and you'll have more time to actually grow your business!
Click for INSTANT access: http://www.MarketingChallenge.com
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
Free Insider Report|
Receive free monthly marketing updates, tools, tips and strategies to help your online business succeed. Get immediate access to our bonus ebooks AND 150 back issues.
Site Navigation Guide
Copyright © 2000-2009 by Startup Internet Marketing Services* All rights reserved|
104 Main Street. Kirkland Lake, ON, CA P2N 3E8 705.567.5850
This site is powered by Host4Profit.net