Article: Carl Hruza

The Small Business Library

June 21, 2000

Marketing... The Affiliate Way!

An affiliate marketer is someone who actively promotes the products or services of one or more businesses, and receives commissions on sales generated through his/her referrals. A successful affiliate marketer is efficient and savvy, can locate a good business opportunity and extract it's full income generating potential.

Applying affiliate marketing techniques to promote your business on the Internet can be very successful, once you understand some of the basics. We estimate that around 5 million people are involved in promoting affiliate web sites. The majority of these, perhaps 75%, will not generate a single commission check. Approximately 25% will make supplemental income from their programs, relying on income from other sources, with only a relatively small number of affiliate marketers who are very successful.

Therefore, what do the 'successful' marketers do differently and how can we apply their techniques to our Internet business? Broadly speaking there are six methods of promoting a web site on the Internet:

  1. Through the Internet Search Engines.
  2. Banner advertising, both pay-per-click and reciprocal banner exchanges.
  3. Opt-in (subscription) email lists.
  4. Ezines, article submission sites, and reputable Business to Business resource sites.
  5. Free-for-all link boards (FFA), classified ad boards and directories.
  6. Unsolicited Email (Spam)

Let us deal with the last two points first. We do not advocate the use of unsolicited email, and recommend to all our clients that they do not respond to unsolicited email. Period.

FFA boards have become totally useless. FFA boards have evolved into 'automated' link sites where you submit your 'offer' to thousands of boards through automated bulk-submission services, and you receive auto-responders from the board operators advertising their services to you. Most of these auto-response messages are filtered out and deleted by the submission service before you get to read them, or are directed to a 'free' email address where they are dumped - automated submissions, automated deletions! That is not to say that they serve no purpose. There are a very few FFA boards that can enhance the 'link-popularity' of your web site, which can gain you valuable points with some search engines.

Which leads us to answer the question posed above: "What do successful marketers do differently and how can we apply their techniques to our Internet business?" The answer is to implement a short-term strategy, and then plan and implement a strategy for the mid to long term. An effective short-term strategy might involve the use of a combination of banner advertising, opt-in email lists, and Ezines to get some traffic flowing quickly.

The effectiveness of each will be largely dependant on your category of business and the marketing message you create to front your ads (your web copy). At the same time you must implement your mid to longer term marketing goals, which will form the 'backbone' of your marketing strategy. The ideal vehicle for delivering steady 'targeted' traffic in higher volume and at low cost - 'Search Engines'.

Consider this. If I email my 'sales offer' through opt-in email to a subscriber base of 300,000 people, I can expect to pay anywhere between $1500 and $5,000 for a one-time mailing, depending on the target audience. Alternatively, for less than $1,000 I can register a domain name, setup some basic advertising web pages, have the pages 'optimized' to rank well on the search engines and host the site for a whole year. When traffic starts to arrive through Internet searches it will be targeted and will produce a far superior visitor/inquiry ratio than through any other advertising medium. Most importantly it is a sustainable and predictable flow of visitors, generated at a very low 'cost per visitor' rate.

Those businesses that plan for the long term will mostly likely be around in the long term. Those that do not plan for the long term most certainly will not. "Making it big without spending a penny on advertising" - we see very few ways of effectively promoting a business on the Internet these days without some costs. There are many places where your site can be advertised for free, but how effective are they?

Be prepared to invest some money into marketing your business and try to seek out reputable services. Exercise caution whenever you see 'money for nothing' style promotions and do not gamble with your livelihood.

Thoroughly test all your marketing campaigns so you can identify those that are successful and those that are not. In the same way, monitor the progress of your web site and record information about your visitors and how they found you.

As a small or home based business entrepreneur, value your time! If you spend five hours submitting your site to free resource boards that bring you little or no business, remember that it has actually cost you at least $500.

Trust only to hard work, never to luck!

Article by Carl Hruza, of Carl has written for several Independent Marketing web sites and operates a successful promotion business. Learn more on how to market your web site effectively and improve visibility through the Internet search engines, along with how to start and operate your own Affiliate Program.