Best Internet Marketing Strategies – Part II

In Part I of “Best Internet Marketing Strategies”, I described some basic guidelines for creating an effective Internet marketing strategy for product and service based business models. In this column, I would like to examine online affiliate marketing and how one can compete in the sea of affiliate arbitrageurs.

What is online affiliate marketing?

Online affiliate marketing, for the purpose of this writing, describes the act of marketing a product or service that is owned by someone else for the sole purpose of making a commission or some other satisfying equal benefit.

Generally speaking, most successful affiliate strategies employ arbitrage as a model for monetary gain. That is purchasing one resource that can be immediately resold for a profit. You probably have come across some online models such as these:

· Affiliate Networks- ClickBank or Commission Junction

· Lead Generation Networks- home, auto, medical, mortgage, etc. (www.insureme.com)

· Advertising Networks- Google’s AdSense or Yahoo!’s Advertising

Similar Strategies, Worlds Apart

Online affiliate marketing strategies are very similar to traditional product and service strategies in that the basic fundamental marketing concepts apply. One still must consider variables such as:

1. Budget

2. Regionality of market

3. Target audience

4. Core competencies

5. Website (functionality, ease of use, and conversion friendliness)

The context however differs in that the “action” takes place on the affiliate or partnering Website. Therefore, the above variables must be invariably in sync with the value proposition of your affiliate and communicate joint benefits. The Website objective on the other hand, is to seamlessly transfer prospective buyers from the partnering site to the affiliate in a way that maximizes conversion behavior. In contrast, traditional online strategies typically aim at keeping the visitor on the page and thus making the content sticky.

Benefits of Online Affiliate Marketing

One of the major benefits affiliate marketing is lowered risk. Risk in this marketing model is shifted to the affiliate whom assumes risk for ultimately creating and maintaining the sale.

Another equally attractive benefit is that partnering site is exempt from carrying any Inventory and only must focus on online marketing efforts.

Lastly, online affiliate marketing can be lucrative when successfully executed. For some Websites, this is the only source of revenue, which can even surpass the sites primary objective.

“Work from home and earn $1000′s while you sleep!”

It’s easy money, so why doesn’t everyone do it? Unfortunately, the Web is full of too many get rich quick programs that promise big returns in exchange for little effort. You know…the American way! But in the sea of affiliates there do lie opportunities for those who are willing to work form them. However, affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. Just like any other strategy, it requires a great deal of thought and resources to market successfully. If you’re looking for the get quick riches, it’s a die-hard game that’s played best by the ones who wrote the book.

Affiliate strategies can also be difficult to execute given the amount of affiliates competing against one another. In addition, this increased competition inflates marketing costs associated to the advertising vehicles used to promote the affiliate. For example, if you plan on advertising via pay-per-click, keyword costs can be very high for generic terms thus pushing affiliates to buy keywords that carry less competition. When many affiliates go to purchase the same keywords, this in effect inflates the keyword market. Worst of all, more money for the affiliating site means that keyword costs will continue to rise.

So how can I compete?

If your going to compete in the affiliate world, there are two key factors that will equal success:

1. Quantity of quality targeted traffic that provides ROI

2. Solid online objective in persuading visitors to click on your affiliate sites

The first factor relates to how relevant your audience perceives your value proposition in relation to what they are seeking. Quantity refers to the amount of targeted visitors you can attract that works to your ROI model. The most successful affiliate marketers can calculate their ROI attributed to their online marketing efforts on the micro level. Moreover, if the ROI is determined to be positive, the game quickly turns into numbers.

The second factor relates to how well your Website can persuade visitors to click on affiliate links, which in turn means commissions. However, without executing the first key factor successfully, all the traffic in the world to your affiliate will not translate into the desired outcome. Here are some things to consider when optimizing your website for your affiliate strategy:

1. Website communicates similar value proposition of the affiliating site

2. Website clearly directs traffic off site to the affiliate

3. Advertisements and marketing efforts are in sync with the website objective

4. Website is resource oriented and not “spammy”

5. Website look and feel is in keeping with competitor sites

Summary

Finding the ultimate online affiliate strategy can be challenging. After all, if it were easy, not only would everyone be doing it, they also would be making tons of money. I suggest that you first start by examining the affiliate’s chosen business model before diving in with both feet. What is their value proposition? How can you make use of that proposition, yet still be unique in the market place? (If your not, who would want to do business with you?) As I stated earlier, affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. However, you your strategy is solid, you might find yourself writing the book for others to follow

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