List Building 101: The Best Source of Traffic

To build a list you need to have a website, on which you have a lead capture form you (you got from an autoresponder) on what is called the “Landing Page”. This page is where you’ll be sending your visitors to see your offer and subscribe to your list in order to receive it.

Building a website, copy writing, and designing a landing page is not rocket science, but if you have the money to outsource it (or just out task it) go for it. The hours, or days, that you will spend on doing this is much better used in finding markets and designing list building machines … let someone else worry about the technical stuff.

Once you have a “list building machine” you need to start sending people to the landing page. Most of the time you’ll hear people, including myself, talking about PPC, banners, social media, SEO … etc. Those are great sources for the long run, but you want thousands of people to sign up to your list now, then add some more using the above sources of traffic.

Here is what the “gurus” do, and works like charm every time:

Joint venture with people who already have lists and give them a good percentage of what you are charging for entering your list (whether on the front or the back end).

To do that go to Google and search for your niche. You’ll find websites that have lead capture forms. This means they are building lists. Send them emails requesting a joint venture: they send their list emails about your offer and in return you give them 75-100% of the immediate revenue when they take action.

This way you’ll have an army of list owners sending you the most responsive people on their lists for free. You pay them the money that they will make you, and only when you get paid that money.

If you do it right, like having them create a buzz for you a week or two in advance before your site goes live, then let them all know in advance that the offer will be available in a specific time window … if you do it this way you’ll get flooded with new members signing up to your list in a matter of hours.

Owning this list, and managing it the right way (by building trust and emotional attachment with your subscribers) is your gate to have money knocking your door asking you to take it.

By owning a huge responsive list you get other webmasters and list builders to contact you and ask you to do just the same as you did to build your list. Do that in different niches, like one niche every month, and in one year you’ll have 12 virtual ATM machines that only cost you hosting and autoresponder fees.

How does that sound? Please share your thoughts and concerns by leaving a comment below.

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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: 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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Affiliate Marketing 101: Catalysts

Now that you have a product and a market you need to bring the product to the market. And to bring the product to the market you need a catalyst (as in chemistry) that brings the two together on a medium that facilitates the reaction (in our case the reaction is the purchase or subscription).

The catalyst for the affiliate marketer could be as simple as a direct advertisement, or as complicated as a niche site, and each market-product combination has its own optimum catalyst.

Your job as an affiliate marketer is to find out which catalyst, or let´s call it ¨platform¨ from now on, that fits with your audience. Then adapt your promotion method to fit with this platform. You should have already got this piece of information from the market research step.

For example: if your audience trusts forums, your job is to modify your promotion method to fit with forums. That could be simply a banner at the top of that forum (buying banners is usually referred to as ¨media buy¨) linking directly to your affiliate link.

If your audience needs more pre-selling (persuasion), then your job is to be the star of these forums at this subject. It will take you a bit of effort to learn all about the subject, and you´ll need to have the best answer to every question asked on these forums. But this is a business. You have already done that in the school by doing assignments about subjects you´d never heard of at that time. Consider this as one of those assignments, but you´ll be rewarded in cash instead of marks.

Let´s take a live example:

One of the niches that have been making me money is the online business niche. Within this niche there are sub-niches, and you can divide the market into several sectors, such as: newbies, not-too-newbie, drop out, advanced: needs traffic, advanced: needs hosting, advanced: needs a membership management script, advanced: wants to stay up to date … etc. Even these sectors can each be divided into smaller categories, like MLMers, MLM drop outs, affiliate marketers, direct sellers (on auction), store owners .. etc.

If you have a guide that explains the basics of generating more targeted free traffic, your target should be [advanced: needs traffic]. If you are building a list with this guide then you can sell to this list in the future more advanced traffic generation techniques, alternative sources to buy traffic from, keyword tools, and keep advancing with them. Parallel to this line, you know that they need services such as web hosting and autoresponders. Your job is to keep an eye on the best offers from these service providers and keep your list updated.

Now let´s dissect this example:

Your audience is allover the internet, but there are authority sites that rank at the top of search engine results for the term ¨online business¨ and, therefore, are more trusted than other sites.

Some of these sites are interactive, and you can post comments or articles related to the content of these sites. Examples are forums, blogs, and article directories.

Your product serves one sector of this community: people who already have an online business and need more traffic to their sites.

You need those people to see your offer. And to do this you buy advertising space on these authority sites, post useful information about the issue and link to your ¨site¨ in your signature, or just get a back-link to your ¨site¨ from these authority sites to increase your chances of ranking higher on search engine organic results.

Your ¨site¨ could be the direct affiliate link, but this is not a good idea. Your traffic will see your offer once then you lose them. Besides, back-linking to your affiliate link only helps the owner of the product, and doesn´t help you at all.

Above all, as in the example above, I need to build a list of those people and build a relationship with them so that they buy from me in the future.

So .. you´ll need a ¨buffer¨ website. (I keep using chemistry related terms today … :-).

This buffer website could be a blog full of free useful information and pre-selling your affiliate product, or a review site/blog that provides useful information about a group of products and an honest evaluation.

And to make sure you make the most out of your visitors you´ll need to ad an opt in form that you can get from your favorite autoresponder. Just paste it on your site and offer a free gift for everyone who fills it.

Why it is important to have your own site/blog?

First of all you are building a traffic history for the site you are advertising, why not benefit from this effort on the long run?

Second, some offers convert very well at the beginning then they stop converting. The traffic is going to the site that you control, if the offer is not converting change it with something else. You already have a list of products that you can sell from the product research step.

Third, you can build your own list. This is one of the biggest assets in your affiliate marketing business. Some markets respond after being exposed to your offer many times, sometimes 4 weeks after they first come across your site. Your chances of selling to them increase with following up with them with different pitches.

That´s if for today. The next posts will cover advertising resources.

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