Affiliate Marketing 101: Residual Traffic

One of the most controversial posts on this blog was that titled “Affiliate Marketing 101: Traffic: Organic vs. Paid“, where I wrote about how unreliable organic traffic is vs. paid traffic and why you should only consider paid traffic if you are going to build a business.

It is really as simple as it sounds; you can build a business only on what you pay for. The changing algorithms make it impossible to optimize your site for search engines on a long-term fashion. Instead you’ll have to be optimizing your website frequently. Compare this with paid traffic. You pay for traffic, and you get it.

But there is a draw back in paid traffic: It’s not residual. You pay for traffic today and you get it, then you have to pay again for the same traffic tomorrow and so on.

A residual source of traffic is the one that sends you traffic every day once you establish it. And the more source of traffic you build the more daily traffic you get from those sources together.

Does this kind of traffic exist? The one you work for today and get traffic for a long time as long as it is there sending you traffic? And every day you work on it you accumulate sources of residual traffic that send you more traffic?

Yes it exists, and in both forms: paid and free.

Build a List:

First off, whatever your source of traffic if you are not building a list you are losing more money on the table than you are making. Think about it. The highest conversion rate on a landing page I’ve ever heard of was around 8%. Say it’s 10%. That’s 90% of your website visitors leaving your website without making you money. You paid for this traffic, yet you are passively watching it leaving your site.

Even with free traffic, to get organic traffic you work even harder to get that, yet you don’t do anything to follow up with your visitors who don’t take action.

It’s easy by the way. The easiest thing to do on a website is to add a lead capture form anywhere and offer your visitors a gift for stopping by asking for their names and email addresses to send the gift to their inbox.

And you don’t need to create the gift. You can buy one ready and just give it away. And don’t think about it as an extra cost. By building a list you are doing the most important thing an online business owner should do. The list is your asset. A website with a list is worth several fold more than a website without a list when you consider selling it.

Write Articles:

An article that points to your website is a source of traffic as long as it is live online. The more articles you write the more streams of residual traffic you get to your website. It’s that simple.

Again, on your website, no matter which one of the three affiliate websites described on this blog (lead capture, review, or blog) always make sure you capture your visitors info to follow up with them. Build a relationship with more free stuff and valuable info.

Frank Kern once said: “Over cool your competitors” if you want to win the competition. And you do that by providing more value to your list members over the time.

Other Web 2.0 Properties:

In addition to article directories, there are other sites that let you publish your content in return for a link to your website. Squidoo and hubpages are among the most famous examples.

Again: don’t forget to build your list.

Social Media:

Social media, another type of web 2.0 sites, allows you to link to whatever you want, and build relationships with millions of people out there. Examples are facebook, twitter, my space … etc. They work like a charm as long as you don’t spam. Be cool, be likable, be social, and don’t forget your website in your profile and when appropriate.

Don’t forget: the list.

Social Bookmarking Services:

Social bookmarking services should be used for the this purpose: bookmarking and sharing your bookmarks. If you only bookmark your stuff you are missing on the value you could get from these websites. Bookmark other cool stuff. Cool stuff get large search volumes, which means more people to view your bookmarks, and your profile.

Before I finish this post there are two things you need to unleash the power of residual traffic:

1. Tools that you’ll be using to build your list, and

2. a guide on how to use articles and web 2.0 property to drive residual traffic to your website.

List Building Tools:

To build a list you need 3 things: a website, an autoresponder, and a gift to give away. If you are in the Internet marketing niche I can help you with the gift.

If you are not, first check with the product owner. Quite a number of product owners, especially on clickbank, have rebrandable ebooks or demo software that you can give away for free to build your list and make them sales. The other sources are PLRs and MRRs (you can google your niche + PLR or MRR). The good ones will cost you, but it’s money well spent.

The autoresponders are competing with one another in a way that makes your life as a user even better. My favorite is grabthatlead.com, which costs $9.95/month no matter how big your list is. It’s a very basic and reliable autoresponder. If you don’t have your own tracking system then you might as well consider other big names like icontact. They both have a free version.

And for the website, you need a domain name that tells all about your niche to your visitors, and a reliable hosting. You can get both for $42/year (vs. $9/year only for the domain and $120/year for hosting any where else) from ipage.com. I’ve got only positive feedback from people like you who took my recommendation and purchased ipage hosting, especially regarding the technical support: efficient and friendly.

Web 2.0 Guides:

1. Direct article marketing (free download)

2. Hubpages Free Traffic Report (Free download)

3. Squidoo guide (free download).

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Affiliate Marketing 101: ClickBank Gravity: High Or Low?

In the last post I wrote about how to promote just any product starting with the product itself. The example I took was GDI because it was the most common question I received. Although GDI is not dead, and still people are able to get new sign ups. it is not an attractive affiliate program anymore. In fact, I don’t see it going anywhere better unless they consider enhancing their product.

Today’s post is about promoting clickbank products starting from the product. There are several factors involved in evaluating the product before you start promoting it. In this post I’ll focus on the gravity index because the debate about it is very controversial.

First, what is ClickBank Gravity Index

Gravity: Number of distinct affiliates who earned a commission by referring a paying customer to the vendor’s products. This is a weighted sum and not an actual total. For each affiliate paid in the last 8 weeks we add an amount between 0.1 and 1.0 to the total. The more recent the last referral, the higher the value added.

That’s the definition given by clickbank itself. As you see it can be taken as an indicator of the sell-ability of any product, and also as an indicator of the competition. The higher the number the bigger the competition.

So, for a product with a gravity index of 400 you are competing with between 400 and 4000 other competitor, while for a gravity of 40 you are competing between 40 and 400 other affiliates.

When I first started I listened to a guest in one of Mike Filsaime’s workshops who was talking about competition and how one can see it like a big wave, if you stand in the way you’ll definitely get wet. So are niches with high competition. If you promote products in this niche you’ll definitely make some money. But he ignored the Return On Investment. You could make money in competitive niches, but if your ROI is negative the net result is losing money.

How I see competitive niches is totally different. I see it as a race in a funnel. With a certain number of racers they can move freely and pass one another without being hurt or damaged. The higher the number the harder it is for new racers to get through to the front line without being hurt or even completely destroyed.

So, to pick a niche (not a product) from clickbank I do the following:

  1. When I consider a niche I calculate the sum of gravity indexes of all of the products in that niche. If too high I go for subniches unitl I find a sum of gravity indexes below 100.
  2. The next step is test the competition. I check for adwords ads for those or similar products. If I find between 3-10 ads I pick that subniche.
  3. Keyword research comes next. If the first position for the most relevant keyword costs $1 or less per click I start a direct link test campaign. If it converts I scale it up with more keywords and ad copies, and go for building the three types of websites for it: the blog, the review site, and the lead capture page. If not I pause it for now and test something else.

And because this is what I do for living, I do it every day. Every single day I start a new campaign as described above.

That’s it for today, have a good day.

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Affiliate Marketing 101: Traffic: Organic Vs. Paid

Dragging traffic to your buffer pages, whether they are review pages, lead capture pages, or blogs, is the next component of the big picture. You know … the picture of a full time affiliate marketer who is making real money by choosing the right market, testing products, preparing good buffering pages, and sending as much targeted traffic to those pages as possible.

But where to get the traffic from?

Here is a list of the possible sources of traffic to any website:

  1. Direct traffic: where people type your url in their browser and hit enter, or chose it from their bookmarks. Most of the time people arrive to your site this way if they hear about it offline (TV, fliers, posts, word of month, in a book or magazine).
  2. Search engines: where people search for a keyword or phrase and your site shows up in the search results. A typical search results page includes two types of results: sponsored links (paid for showing up for this keyword or phrase), and organic results that the search engines picks from their indexed sites that contain these keywords. More on these later.
  3. Referred traffic: who click on a link or a banner on another site and follow it to your site.
  4. Contextual traffic: this one has variant definitions, but for affiliate marketers it is when your site shows up as a pop up or pop under when someone visits a related website or search for a relevant keyword. It is driven either by adware (not spyware) or pop up from the website they visited.

Out of the above sources you pay for sponsored search results, banners (sometimes) on other people´s sites, offline advertising, and contextual traffic. Organic search results, on the other hand, are free. Free as in: you can not buy them.

Now the debate whether you should go for free organic traffic or paid traffic first is like the chicken/egg one, because you need, and can get both but you don´t know which one to start with.

Here is my two cents:

You can only build a business on what you pay for. Free stuff might work for a while and even make you a lot of money, but you have no control over anything you get for free.

In this post what concerns us is the organic traffic from search engines. If you optimize your website to show on the first page of results when your keyword is searched you´ll get this kind of traffic for free (only if you consider that your time is worthless).

This search engine optimization process is time consuming and involves a lot of work, and you don´t get to see the results right away. It might take your site anywhere between 1 week and 2 years to show on the first page depending on the market you are in. One can not expect search engine algorithms to stay the same until you are done with your SEO work. They change all the time.

And when they change your site might move from the first position to the 30th or even 900th, and this unplugs your money machine immediately. Can you build a business on that? As a business you have expenses to cover and a growth plan that you want to achieve on time. You need to be in control of your traffic if you are serious about your affiliate marketing business.

Paid traffic on the other hand is an instant traffic. It means you could be making money from your sites in a matter of minutes. Besides, if you pay for traffic and don´t get it, you can call someone and have the problem fixed (money talks louder than anything today body).

It doesn´t mean that you shouldn´t work on SEO, you actually should (the process involves getting backlinks to your site, which in itself is a source of traffic). In fact SEO helps you get lower cost per click if you use Google Adwords for advertising. Just consider this kind of traffic as a bonus and don´t consider it as a source of income in your future plans for expansion.

One more thing, and it is very important. When you do the SEO you do it for a certain keyword or phrase per page. You want to spend your time optimizing for the keywords or phrases that make money. And what is the best way to know this? By tracking your Pay Per Click advertising.

More on the tracking process in the next post.

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