Affiliate Marketers Guide To Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing generally produces a higher return on investment than outbound marketing and offers more opportunity for fast market growth. This is because many people have not yet taken advantage of inbound marketing for their affiliate campaigns.
We have previously discussed how affiliate marketing needs to change otherwise it will fall down like a stack of cards. Widespread Inbound approach to affiliate marketing is one surefire way to salvage the public perception of affiliate marketing.
Inbound marketing for affiliates doesn't have to be complicated provided you have a clear strategy for converting your visitors into buyers.
For example a plumbing company was able to generate over 95 calls per month using inbound marketing, with just 2000 visitors per month.
FireFish was able to increase their leads by 190% using inbound marketing.
What inbound marketing enables affiliates to do is:
- Lower their cost per conversion
- Increase their return on investment
- Increase their positioning in the marketplace as a “thought leader”
- Strengthen their relationships with their customers
Overall, inbound marketing means higher profits and easier marketing for you, provided you do it the right way.
Don’t try to sell using inbound marketing, try to educate.
Patience, Hard Work, Quality -> These are the three pillars of a successful inbound marketing campaign.
Many affiliates make the mistake of trying to just pitch products in their inbound marketing communications. This is a serious mistake because it prevents you from achieving the success that you potentially could.
People are not interested in reading scores of advertising; they are interested in solving their problems.
What you need to do as an affiliate is deliver useful and relevant information to your visitors, while also showing them how the products you promote can enhance their lives.
You can accomplish both with the following content model:
- Talk about the visitors’ problems
- Help them solve their problem through valuable tips
- Show them that they can get more help on their problem by purchasing a product you promote
In this way you will be able to provide value to your visitors while also getting the opportunity to promote products as an affiliate. In general we recommend an 80/20 approach to content/pitch.
- 80% Content
- 20% Pitch
This helps to ensure that both Google and your website visitors will be thrilled with what you have to offer.
Identify and give people what they need or are looking for.
You want to identify what it is that your visitors are looking for. Fortunately there are a wide variety of ways you can discover what your visitors want, and deliver it to them.
Putting a survey on your site enables visitors to give you vital feedback about new content and how to better serve your website browsers. You can put small pop ups in the corner of your site that request feedback, as well as placing a static link wherever possible.
You should ask your visitors vital questions such as:
- What content do you wish we offered that we haven’t given you yet?
- What are your biggest problems you want to solve?
- What were you looking for when you came to this site?
- What questions have you been unable to answer that we might be able to help you with?
Asking these questions can give you a wealth of insight about new ways to market to your customers. You can gain an edge over your competition through better data and stronger marketing information.
Check Google Analytics and see what exact match search phrases your visitors are using to discover your site. You may be surprised to discover that many people have been reaching your website using search terms you didn’t even target.
This can give you new content to write about, and opens up the opportunity for new keywords to target. You should also check out:
- Referring websites content for topics you haven’t covered on your site
- Most visited content pieces for ideas about what you can write more about
If you notice a few topics on your site that are particularly popular, you may want to invest into more content surrounding those topics.
Encourage User Generated Content on Your Site
User generated content plays several roles in your inbound marketing campaign. It creates a sense of community among your visitors and also helps you build valuable content that search engines love.
It helps you recognize what your visitors want and how you can deliver it to them.
Think Tripadvisor, WarriorForum, Amazon, WebhostingTalk, RetailMeNot and several other communities on the internet which thrive on UGC for increasing sales.
You can allow users to post their reviews and ratings of the affiliate products you are promoting to create greater: Authority, Trust, and Value. (ATV)
User generated content is not only the future, but soon it will be a must for affiliate marketers.
With it comes the added advantage of higher conversions. Not only do you get more website content for your site, bringing more visitors and higher SERPS. You also get higher sales from the greater trust and transparency that user generated content creates.
If your affiliate site is large enough you may also want to consider investing into:
- Website forums
- Creating discussion posts
- Viral content
- Controversial content
The more you can get your visitors to engage and interact with your website, the greater value you can deliver. User generated content is the future of the Internet, and facilitating it on your site is a must if you are serious about succeeding with inbound marketing.
Test and Track Affiliate Offers With Your Content
Using software such as Google Content Experiments (its free) you can test different affiliate products with your website content. This enables you to see which offers work best with your content.
This is a must do for any affiliate marketer because it enables you to achieve higher profits through some simple testing.
Here is how it works:
Lets say you have two different offers that you are considering promoting with a piece of inbound marketing content:
Offer A - $40 earned per 100 visitors
Offer B - $60 earned per 100 visitors
Now we can clearly see that offer B is the better choice for our inbound marketing campaign. With a simple test we have increased our ROI on this inbound marketing campaign by 50%. Imagine if we never ran that test, we never would have known which offer was more profitable.
In that case we might have chosen offer A instead, and made significantly less money for no good reason. This is why it is critical for affiliates to test their offers in conjunction with their inbound marketing content.
Useful and Engaging Content Relevant to What You Are Promoting
Engaging your website visitors has become more important as the affiliate marketing industry gets more competitive. Engagement is about turning your visitors’ brain ON and getting them interested in what you have to say. One of the simplest ways to create greater visitor engagement is through greater sensory stimulation:
- Adding relevant images to your content
- Adding videos to your content or making videos of your content
- Turning blog posts into podcasts for users who prefer to listen to content
- Ask your readers questions and engage their minds
- Talk in terms of what your readers are interested in
- Use headlines and sub-heads to keep readers attention from dropping
- Write an outline for each piece of content to keep the content on track
- Show real world examples and application instead of just theory
- Take advantage of bolding, underlines and italics to keep the content moving forward
- Write shorter paragraphs and break up your content
Ultimately if your readers don’t actually read what you have to say, your inbound marketing campaign is useless. Getting your content read means writing exciting and passionate information that people will enjoy.
You want to focus on building content that is
Furthermore you should try to avoid any content that:
- Just rehashes what’s already been said
- Is boring
- Lacks passion
- Doesn’t provide new or interesting information
Your readers are looking for the latest, newest, most up-to-date solutions to their problems. Your job as an affiliate marketer is to provide exactly that – with a pinch of affiliate promos. When you do that, driving conversions to your affiliate offers becomes simple and easy.
Stages of Inbound Marketing
We can break inbound marketing into 5 different stages. At each stage, a few crucial activities take place that take your visitors through a funnel that ultimately increases your conversions. Inbound marketing isn’t hard or complicated, you just need to know the steps and follow them.
When you understand the funnel your readers need to go through, then you have everything you need to profit by inbound marketing.
Stage 1: Attract Visitors
The first step in the affiliate conversion process is to attract the right visitors to your inbound content. You can do this by keyword research and tailoring your content for those keywords. Then you want to distribute your inbound marketing content on your site and on a variety of related sites in your market.
The attraction stage is all about building valuable content that your target customer would want to read. This means creating new and informative content that they haven’t read elsewhere. It is critical that your content is exceptional or it will be very hard to achieve fantastic results.
Stage 2: Convert to Leads
Once you have your target customers visiting your website, you need to convert them into a lead in your sales funnel. Usually the easiest way to do this is by offering something for free in exchange for their email address. Once you have their email address, you can promote your affiliate products and give them even more great content for free.
You can offer a free report about something that is of interest to your target customer, or provide a free email based course to them. The idea is to offer something of value that your target customer wants in exchange for their email.
For example, we give out the Merchant’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for free (not exactly “free” – they still have to enter their email address to download the guide)
Stage 3: Maximize Sales
Once you have someone in your sales funnel as a lead, it is time to convert them into a sale for one of your affiliate products. Remember to test out different affiliate offers on your leads to see which produces the highest profit for you.
You should also track:
- Which keyword your lead used to visit your site
- Which referring sites your lead has been to before coming to your site
- Their geographical location and demographic
You want all of this information because it helps you to improve your ROI. For example if you know that a section of your customers come from Sweden and search for "dog training collars for cold countries" - then you can segment your email promotions in a way that those people only receive “dog training collar” offers that are available in Sweden.
However, if you do not know where your leads are coming from or why, then you won’t be able to optimize your marketing for maximum ROI.
Transforming your leads into sales is a simple process:
- Identify and know your leads problems
- Promote affiliate offers that solve their problems
- Build trust and authority with your lead to strengthen the power of your recommendations
Ultimately if you are offering a great product with good marketing, that solves a big problem in your leads life, you WILL get a good conversion rate.
Most affiliates who suffer from low conversion rates typically:
- Don’t solve serious problems in their prospects’ lives
- Promote products that are not top notch
- Fail to establish a strong relationship with their leads before recommending products
You should position yourself as an educator and advisor in your leads’ life.
Would you recommend your best friend to buy product that YOU don’t believe in? The same is true for people in your sales funnel.
Ultimately if the product is good and you are targeting the right people, driving conversions to your affiliate promos becomes a piece of cake.
Stage 4: Increase Customer Value
Once you have converted a lead into a sale, the next step is to increase the average value of each customer in your database.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve that:
- Recommend new products that complement the ones your customer has already bought
- Solve new problems your customer might experience
- Offer premium versions of products your customer has already bought
Marketing statistics show that it is 10 times easier to sell to an existing customer instead of a new one. That's why it’s in your best interest to focus your marketing efforts on selling more products to your existing customers. It's been proven to be more profitable, and easier to sell to existing customers.
Stage 5: Optimize
Ultimately the Internet is constantly changing and what is profitable today may be a total dud tomorrow. With the rapid evolution of the Internet, it is vital that you have your business constantly adapt and change for higher profits.
You want to continually optimize:
- Average visitor length on site
- Average purchase value
- Conversion rates
- Lifetime customer value
- Cost per lead
- Cost per sale
By continually improving the above statistics your website will experience consistent, steady, and reliable growth that you can count on. Follow these tips for inbound marketing and watch as your affiliate profits soar.
Real World Example
This article wouldn’t be complete without showing you how this all works in action. We are going to take a look at someone you may already know, John Reese.
John Reese is a famous former Internet marketing guru who now owns a game development company. John was famous for being one of the first Internet marketers to make a million dollars in one day.
John has a product called Traffic Secrets 2.0. To market his product he did a lot of inbound marketing for his sales funnel. John created:
- High quality blog posts for 1 year
- Developed a huge following via email, twitter, and blogging
- Created high quality, informative videos
With these three things together, John was able to launch a hugely successful product. He also promoted a wide range of affiliate products such as "World Wide Brands" and experienced huge success because of his strong relationship with his following.
Here are the key elements he used to make millions of dollars through inbound marketing:
- Produced extremely high quality, innovative, new content
- Promoted that content through email, social marketing, and the blogosphere
- Got his blog visitors to sign up for his email newsletter
- Built a strong relationship with his list through great content and personal stories
- Promoted great products as an affiliate - that genuinely helped his followers
- Launched his own products to further increase his bottom line and authority
As we can see the creation of great content and the promotion of that content are the key elements of John Reese’s strategy. You can replicate his results by:
- Building a great blog
- Promoting that blog (social media, influencer outreach, PPC)
- Converting blog visitors into email newsletter subscribers
- Promoting affiliate products via your blog and email newsletter
Okay now you have everything you need. Its time to get to work and start marking money! Stop reading and start implementing.
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