Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
+ 4 Steps to Affiliate Marketing Success
+ The Tools of the Trade
+ How to Build – and Manage – a Profitable List
+ What Makes a Product or Service Successful
+ Internet Marketing Karma
Affiliate Marketing Tutorial – OVERVIEW
If possible, it’s better to start with the audience than the topic.
That’s something that people do wrong: they start with an idea and then they try to back-fill it with an audience. But it’s always easier to try to find a buying audience and then create something for them that solves one of their problems.
Step 1: Research
Research more about your audience, so that you really understand their problems and how they talk about it.
The next thing you research is the existing solutions in your market that you’ll have to match up with.
In that process you’ll have a look at competitors as well, see how they’re succeeding in the marketplace. Try to see if there’s an angle where you can break in and repeat their success.
Step 2: Create Content
Get the materials ready that you’re going to then put on your website. Specifically, you’re going to start preparing content that helps translate your website into a problem-solving device.
That could be articles, audio players, pictures, or PDFs – depending on what you’re selling. It might be a free report.
The content will be helping you promote the content that you want to promote. So that will be pre-sales copy, selling articles, because you’re going to need it for both your own website and traffic to bring people to the website.
Step 3: Attract and Convert Leads
Drive traffic to your site and see if you can convert it into sales. Hopefully, you’ve targeted the right phrases and you’ve been able to explain to your target prospect how you solve their problem better than other people and why they should buy from you.
Step 4: Expand
The next logical evolution is mine out that market a little bit better.
Put out some more content and get more traffic. Generally, I’ll create information products in that market to offer as a bonus, so that I am really enhancing my conversions.
Now, that means that you’re pretty much into developing your own product phase, which is where the real money is. At this point, you may want to begin developing more websites.
AFFILIATE MARKETING TOOLS
Insights and Analytics
I would have SEMRush in my tool kit. I really like that tool because I can plug in all of my competitor’s websites and see what phrases they’re ranking for. It also gives me an idea of the cost-per-click value of those phrases. The higher the cost-per-click, the more likely it is to add value to somebody. So that’s a great tool.
I’m using WordPress.
You want to turn your site into a lead generator, not just a page that makes sales. The easiest way to do that is to offer a free bonus. I’m using AWeber.
One of my favorite tools is Zendesk, where you can have the central help desk for all of your websites in one place. There, you can create a category called “bonus claims.” That way you can use the same support team for all of your websites.
As an affiliate, you don’t need to collect money. Affiliate is just another word for sales agent. All somebody has to do is use your link to buy something and that merchant will send you the money.
So you don’t actually need a cart. You don’t need to go through the whole product development phase. But I really do recommend people do, because that’s when I started making a lot more money: when I added a cart and I created a product.
Tools are Overrated
I really don’t use a lot of tools. People like to hide behind tools and get busy with stuff, but that’s not where the money is.
The money is earned when you just roll up your sleeves and create content that gets traffic to your website.
PROMOTING OTHER PEOPLE’S PRODUCTS
Affiliate Marketing Platforms
I’ve promoted products on Infusionsoft, Nanacast, E-Junkie, PayDotCom.com, and on private systems.
I promote some Commission Junction offers, but a lot of the CJ stuff is from the bigger brands. That’s fine for some of my affiliate stuff, but I’ve found it much easier and more lucrative to promote a different type of product than the one you’re finding on CJ.
I rarely promote ClickBank products. I would rather they have their own shopping cart and, in many markets, the products are a bit shady. Secondly, there’s a lot of affiliate theft, so people will replace your link for theirs. As soon as they find out it’s from ClickBank, they’ll go and reorder with their own ID and chop you out of the loop.
How to Become a Super Affiliate
Just sell a lot of stuff.
That’s when the tide turns a bit. Instead of you competing with thousands of others, you start to get access to exclusive offers, higher payouts, and custom landing pages. They’ll start putting tracking codes on things for you and make packages and bundles that are just for your customers.
A super affiliate is like a marketing machine that they are paying on a pay-perperformance basis. So it’s pretty attractive for them to have somebody who knows what they’re doing promoting their product.
It also helps as they get a feel for your ethics, how many refunds you get, and what your conversion rate is like.
Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
Rather than pushing squeeze pages all the time, quite often I’ll have a reverse squeeze page. You can do that with free things. A podcast channel is a great way to build up a subscription list of quality people who are very loyal.
Focus on Buyers
But generally, I won’t even have a squeeze page; I’ll just collect the details of buyers. You can do that through low-priced products. Whenever somebody buys something, I make sure that they get added to a customer list for that product.
I started out just building a list of buyers. That was my primary focus and it still is. I want the name and email address of someone who’s purchased something, rather than just prospects.
How it Works
It’s through AWeber, but I integrate it through Nanacast. When somebody purchases something, it will automatically notify AWeber and send them out a confirmation requirement. So that it’s double opt-in.
It just happens automatically, but they have to confirm the email. Have it say, “Step Two of Three Completed,” and that will get their attention. Then write something like, “In order to receive updates to the product that you just purchased, please confirm below so that you can receive that and our newsletter.” Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
It’s even more valuable when you actually send some valuable updates. You get extremely high open rates for those emails. You know they’ve already purchased, so it’s very segmented and so it’s pretty easy to guess what else they might be interested in.
I had a live event. Since not all of my customers are going to live in the same country or be prepared to travel, I had a pretty light campaign promoting the event.
I recorded the event and I had a post-event webinar. The post-event webinar was for people who attended the event and wanted to recapture its value. But it also served to promote two things: a purchase of the recordings and the option to join a business mastermind.
So I took the recording from the webinar and sent it as a bonus to people who had purchased some of my related products.
For example, for one product that I’ve sold 2,500 copies of, I loaded the webinar recording onto their membership as a free bonus. Then I just send them an email letting them know that I’ve recorded this webinar for them as an extra value bonus.
The webinar educates, but it also teases them into the idea that the videos will be good to have. They’ve already purchased one product from me, so it’s a logical step for them to consider buying another one.
So I’ll make a lot of sales from the process without ever having to send them an email saying, “Urgent: Buy this today. It’s going off the market tomorrow!” and all the hoopla that we see from amateurs.
Email is the most effective tool for an internet marketer. It’s immediate.
But it’s only one way. I have a lot of ways. I put out a whole product out on twenty something different ways that I drive traffic to my sites.
High Open Rates
Think of an email list as a promise. The promise depends on how they get onto that list, but it’s your job to keep that promise. That email opt-in for my free blog has a promise.
I’ve framed that offer with the promise of sending them a report, which I do. In fact, I send them bonus materials. There’s an hour long video that I send them, as a bonus.
And then I send them an email when I do a podcast. The podcasts could be six weeks apart or, in some cases, two days apart. I’m very random with my content. And that was the promise when they entered that list. So that email list will have a pretty high open.
A lot of my lists have 85-90% open rates. That’s because they’re super-targeted.
Provide Value with Each Email
I have a golden rule about this: the reader must be better off after opening that email than before they opened it. If I can achieve that, then I’m not going to have massive unsubcscribes.
It’s about continuing the relationship. I have a lifetime customer philosophy. If people leave my list, I really take it as a harsh insult. I think that I’ve done something to break the trust or to not deliver on what was promised.
So your goal should always be to help people be better off. If you can do that, then the rest is easy. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
Email Case Study #1
I sent an email today for Freedom Ocean, one of my podcasts. It said that there’s a new episode and that you can also download the transcript. We send an email like that probably once every ten days or so for that list. That’s got an 86% open rate – and that’s a free list.
When we offer something for sale, which is rare, those people buy like crazy. They buy because we’ve built up so much goodwill by providing genuine value to those people.
They look forward to the email to the point where they’ll go onto our Facebook wall and say, “I’m really looking for my fix of Freedom Ocean. When’s episode 28 coming? I can’t wait.”
We do something else that’s rare with that list: on the bottom of the email it says, “Hey, if you want to ask us something, just hit ‘reply’. We actually read every single email.” We’ll get a ton of replies back from the emails.
People send us stories, like “I implemented that tip you suggested in episode 7 and I’ve added 20% to my bottom line profit. I just wanted to say thank you, it means a lot.” So that’s really inspiring – and you can only do that if you are doing something good for the customer.
Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
Email Case Study #2
I wrote an email about reopening my mastermind. I sent one to a small list of my previous customers. Actually, I had a list of 65 people and I deleted 25 people who I didn’t want to send the email to. So I ended up sending it to 35 people.
The email said, “We’re reopening the mastermind if you’re interested,” and from that I had about ten people rejoin. Then, I sent an email to the waiting list, saying, “We’re opening. If you’d like to join, then this is what it’s about. Just hit ‘reply’ and tell me that you’re ready to do this.” From that email, I got 20 to join.
So I had maybe 32 people paying round about $1000 a month for business coaching – and that was off just one email to previous customers and one email to new prospects. That’s a really good example of segmenting your lists into current customers and current prospects.
Of course, when they signed up they got moved into a brand new list, which is my new current customers list. That’s the freshest, most powerful list that I have. I’ll get over 100% open rate for that, because people will open it up several times and it will just show as over 100%. If they’re spending $1000 a month for me, then they’re going to open the email. I can pretty much guarantee it.
Email Writing Process
I open up AWeber and I type the message straight out of my head. Then I save it, send a test email, check the links, and then I hit publish.
It takes me ten minutes. It’s genuine. It’s just a conversation that I’m having and it literally would be the words that I would say if I were going to say the words out loud.
Rather than send people to a payment button, generally I ask people to email me and tell me that they’re interested. That’s more powerful than driving traffic to a sales page.
Typically it will be one paragraph and a bold, clickable link, and a signature. They would be a similar length to a Seth Godin email, or shorter.
Sometimes I’ll tell a little bit more of a story in the email and give specific instructions.
If it’s a sales-related email, which is very rare for me, then it might be a bit longer. But that’s only so that I can really filter for the right person that I want and so that I can give them enough information to be able to move forward.
What Percentage of Emails Promote Products?
It would be very low, maybe five or ten percent or something.
I don’t send a lot of emails, but I have one of the best email lists in the business.
Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
I think autoresponders are a great tool and, if used well, they can be very, very profitable. I got good at doing that with my free training sort of emails.
At one time, I had a lot of autoresponders built up. But I went in one day and deleted them all. I’m leaning on the side of fresh.
Today, I don’t have autoresponders loaded up for the majority of my lists. So, if you get an email from me, generally it will be one I’ve just typed. It’s fresh.
When to Use Autoresponders
I would still use autoresponders in a niche blog, if it’s one set up in a market that you aren’t that passionate about or that you don’t visit very often. You might be sending them training or reports through a series of emails. Then, use the autoresponder.
That’s a perfectly fine, legitimate model. I’ve just found a more lucrative model for me.
Sometimes I don’t send an email for six months, but then when I do, I generate as many sales as I need. In that case, I can let that tree grow its fruit and go back and harvest it again when I’m ready. I don’t wear them out.
On the other hand, with my paid community there’s a weekly newsletter. But it’s in no way, shape, or form a sales letter. It’s just a recap of what’s going on in the community.
It breaks the rule of “one message per email” because it has links to a dozen different threads within our community. It sort of gives a teaser of what’s happening. Then they go and click on that section to dive straight into an area that might help them.
We do that because it helps to inform and educate them, but also encourages consumption of the product that we’re delivering. They keep coming back each week because they feel the value in their subscription and they also get a chance to learn more stuff.
Using Social Networks
Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
Facebook’s actually pretty good these days. It’s just as instant as email and it’s pretty targeted, so I make sure that I offer my Facebook page as a link at the exit of each one of my purchases.
That way, I’m making connections on multiple mediums. So they’re now on my email list, but they’re also on my fan page.
GETTING IT ALL DONE
It’s a lot of habit. I have good habits because I used to have a more pressured job than most. I used to run large dealerships. One of them was a $100 million dollar business with 100 staff. The other one was about $50 million a year with 70 staff. So, I was used to having people attack me all the time, wanting my time.
I don’t really get overwhelmed. I’ve got systems to deal with it. I use a few tools very well, like Evernote. For my team, we use Basecamp. It’s good when the thing can run without you most of the time. The job becomes managing by wandering around rather than being the technician or the doer.
There are a lot of things that I don’t do. I’m definitely in charge of marketing and strategy and the premium emails, but my team is really capable now of going in and setting up a draft email for me to go check and then publish. I don’t do that with my primary blog, but for most of my other sites, the team is capable of setting that up. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
DEVELOPING YOUR OWN PRODUCT
People keep asking me for something to the point where I think I should probably create it.
Most often, I develop something for me that helps me with my business. Then I process it to the point where someone else will see it and then they’ll pester me for it.
Then I’ll say, “Okay, well I’ll make this something that somebody else could use.”
I have example after example of this. The first one that I did was called the XSP Cheat Sheet. That was my shortcuts on turning an XSitePro website into a really powerful SEO website and then promoting it.
The more recent information product I put out was TrafficGrab. After six-and-a-half years, I had a process for getting traffic to my sites that my team used. I thought that people would be interested in that and I was right. I sold several thousand copies of that.
At the moment, I’m developing a dashboard called SpeedDash.com, because it really helps me be organized. I’ve used it for myself for a few years. I created one and had it hand-coded. Lately, I’ve had a more scalable version created and it’s working. I’ve got people beta testing that.
Again, the reason it exists as a product is because everyone who saw it said, “I need that. I want that. Can I have it?” And that’s the surest sign that something’s ready.
STARTING A SERVICE
I started doing SEO for my own clients about five years ago. I realized that it’s not scalable, because there’s only one of me.
So, I started using a whole bunch of teams. I had good results with one or two of them. I entered into an agreement with one of them to supply me with SEO services at real wholesale prices.
Then I built an affiliate army to go promote that stuff and I was sitting in the middle.
I started doing SEO for my own clients about five years ago. I realized that it’s not scalable, because there’s only one of me. So, I started using a whole bunch of teams. I had good results with one or two of them. I entered into an agreement with one of them to supply me with SEO services at real wholesale prices. Then I built an affiliate army to go promote that stuff and I was sitting in the middle.
So I had other people selling it and other people providing it. I got that up to about $50,000 a month before I decided to bring on my own team. I switched off the contractor and started selling it directly. It’s called SEO Partner.
Now resellers buy it – a lot of it – and my own team supplies it.
It’s scaling very quickly. It’s actually increased 300% in the last 30 days. So, I’ve really hit the sweet spot of having the ultimate service to people at a very fair rate. The service is really good quality.
I think the success is partially off the back of that first information product, where I taught people my process. A lot of the people who bought that product have decided that it’s much easier to have it done for them.
They know the process is good because they’ve seen what I do. Then, when the results come through within a week, they’re blown away. If you do all that right, you don’t have to worry about promoting your products.
Keeping Up with Demand
Right now, the game for me is figuring out how to scale to keep up with demand.
We are right at capacity with our team and we’ve been adding people each week. It will continue to grow. I imagine it will get quite big.
Have a Black Box
I’ve really hit some sweet spots with products, where we actually come to the market with something that everybody wants and hardly anyone can supply.
A black box is something that you’ve got that no one else can replicate. It’s a defendable position in the marketplace. It’s a barrier of entry to others. Once you’ve got that, then people almost have to buy from you. But they love doing it anyway.
How to Duplicate Success
I’ve taken some of the resources we have and started a new team, in a separate part of my business, to provide a slightly different service. It’s called Linkjuice and it’s using the same process that we’ve learned with SEO Partner.
So that’s the next stage, duplicating your successful business units into the next version of it. Aim at a slightly different market, perhaps. So, that will be the next one to take off. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be very popular, because the first test results we’ve got are literally stunning. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
WHAT TO SELL
Coaching is the step after internet marketing.
There are a lot of things in normal business that are just not picked up by your average internet marketer. But I came from the business arena, working for big brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Vodafone, and General Motors Finance GMAC.
So I’ve taken a lot of the things that I’ve learned about hiring and training, decisionmaking, and negotiation, and I’ve created a community called SilverCircle where I help them grow their business.
The goal of that community is to help them make more profit.
Another community I have is called FastWebFormula. That’s internet marketing coaching, so we teach affiliate marketing, blogging, creating your own product, and local business marketing.
We have our services, like the SEO Partner. We also have websites, logos, and videos that we’ve created as services.
Develop a solution for the problems that your market is having.
I have a few that are in development now. There are other ones that are out there. Sometimes they’re spin-offs from webinars that we’ve run. Other times, they’re a dedicated product, like TrafficGrab.
Which Type of Product?
It doesn’t matter what format. It could be an ebook, a forum, or a podcast – it doesn’t matter. Choose the medium that you’re most comfortable with.
I like podcasts because I don’t mind doing the voice thing.
It’s a lot more fussing around to make video podcasts, because then you’re talking about lighting and editing. It’s easy to make an ebook, but you need more than an ebook.
Multimedia is Ideal
TrafficGrab, for example, contains a lot of videos – along with mp3s and PDFs.
How to Make a Multimedia Product
Open a PowerPoint or Keynote and create modules. Then record yourself talking and going through them with Camtasia or ScreenFlow. Load the videos into a membership area.
Make sure that you pull out the mp3 version of it as well because people love to listen to the training videos as podcasts. Let them download the video as well.
Then attach a copy of the slides that people can download and read. Older consumers really like to print out stuff for some reason.
The final result would be really nice product that you could sell, up to $300-400. That’s how most of my products are created now. It allows you to create the sales video and it also allows you to run a webinar promotion with partners if you want to.
I use Nanacast – that’s where the site lives. I load the content to Amazon S3 and I use Wistia for the video player. It gives me a really good multi-player. More than a dozen modules can all be in one convenient player and they’re using this quick player for each one in a row. You just embed that player straight into Nanacast.
Nanacast and WordPress
You don’t have to integrate Nanacast with WordPress. You don’t even need a WordPress site. If you were just to use Nanacast, that would be enough to load a product, put your PayPal button, and to have affiliates. You don’t even need a domain name. You could point them directly to your product page, on Nanacast.
But I tend to set up my own domain name and front-end WordPress site using Optimize Press. After purchase, they get taken to Nanacast and that’s where they live.
My two communities are still running through Nanacast, but they integrate through vBulletin. You can create an API that talks to vBulletin. I do that because I want the community aspect. I want the chatting. You can still embed videos inside the community using eZs3 and Wistia.
PROMOTING THE PRODUCTS OF OTHERS
You start with the list. What problems do they have?
In my case, they’ve mostly got the same problems I used to have before I found the products that solved them.
So therefore, most of the things that I promote are products that I use, that I’m excited about, and that are easy for me to recommend to others. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
In our Zendesk, we’ve got a JV proposal tab. That’s where we put all the products that people have sent us to review or to promote. I have a person on my team who tests it. They’ll log in and check the product. I’ll have a look at the product as well.
If it’s a software thing, then we’ll actually see if we can use it. There was a product released very recently that we got access to and we could not install. It was buggy and it would not install and we were therefore not able to say that we used it or that we liked it. So obviously we just didn’t promote it.
If they were to buy it and it didn’t work, that would reflect on us and that doesn’t build a lifetime customer. We don’t ever want to think that somebody would be better off not opening our email.
If people continually get a good experience with our affiliate recommendations, then they’re going to trust us and what we recommend in the future.
We can have the greatest relationship in the world, but if your product isn’t the right product for my customers, I’m not promoting it. It’s that simple.
I will always put the customer before a quick income fix, because my business is not geared around a quick income fix.
There’s this horrible compromise in Internet marketing. People will promote someone else’s products because they owe them a favor or because they’re a buddy. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t even used the product.
For me, that’s cause to hit unsubscribe. Who would continue to follow someone with that sort of ethics?
Be a Good Guy
In order not to have compromise, you have to not be desperate. A lot of people out there are very desperate, looking to stick a product in there for a quick commission. That’s probably the wrong approach for a long-term business and I’ve seen a lot of these Internet marketers come and go in the last seven years.
There are very few that are around that I still respect. They’re the good guys. They’re the ones that have always been in it for the right reasons. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
INTERNET MARKETING KARMA
Mark my words, the actions that you’re doing today will effect over how many customers you have access to two or three years from now.
I’ll have new customers, plus the same ones I have now for the most part. So my business will continue to grow each year, as it has done every single year for the last six years.
A lot of people will be out of business and then on to the next thing, whatever that turns out to be. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
The Problem with the Big Gurus
When you send customers to a product from one of the big gurus, you know they’re going to email your customer their next ten products. That customer will get an email for every one of their products until they leave that list.
I think that’s really, really, bad for the customer. They don’t need all those things and that’s not why I would send someone to buy the product. I just think that’s the wrong part of the industry.
Don’t Mess with the A-List
If you’re not in the A-list, you’ll never be in there. You will not have your product promoted.
But you don’t even want to be in the A-list. They have come afoul of a lot people in internet market place. They’ve probably been a little bit greedy at times. Not all of them, but some of them.
I think they’ve lost touch with the whole purpose of having a business. So therefore, I wouldn’t introduce one of my customers to that market. I think that would be a mistake for me to do that.
The Bottom Dwellers
On the opposite side, you’ve got all of these very cheeky sites that clog up the search results. They’re promoting products that are obviously not good for people.
There were a lot of bad products on ClickBank that make wild promises and claims IMHO.
Don’t Be Greedy
I’m not greedy to the point where I want somebody to buy something just so that I make money.
This is what so few people have figured out: if you look after people, they come back because you’re the only one that’s doing it.
There are not very many good guys in this market. If you happen to be one of them, then you have customers who really, really appreciate it. They send lovely emails. They tell you that they’ve achieved success, they’re helping their family, and they’re going about marketing the right way.
Give people good information and good tools. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
Five years ago around here, they would talk about their property portfolio. I think in the future, they’ll be talking about their Internet portfolio.
The Future of Internet Marketing
It’s just growing up. Bigger companies and businesses have figured out that they need to be online, so there will be more commercial stuff happening. There’ll be a lot more people moving into the space.
The weak will disappear because they’re not going to fit in anymore.
Only the Strong Survive
You have to go a level more professional and upright like a real business.
No one was paying attention to it five years ago, but now they are. Regulators will come in and start paying more attention to it.
I know in the United States they’ve started paying attention to those boiler room scams. But certainly taxation law and industry regulators will be cracking down a bit harder on some of the sloppy things that are going on.
It’s just going to get a little bit tighter and only the stronger people will survive that next phase, which is a good thing for the industry.
It’s like Snooker
If you focus on getting a proper business and you set it up for the longer haul, you don’t have to take cheap shots. That will put you in a good shape for the long term.
Being less opportunistic and a little bit more strategic will save you from some of the silly things that people do.
It’s like a game of snooker or pool: it helps to think a few shots ahead. Affiliate Marketing Tutorial
1. Do your research.
Choose an audience, not a topic. Then research your competitors to see what they’re doing and use SEMRush to find out which keywords they’re ranking for.
2. Start creating content.
Roll up your sleeves and create content that people can’t wait to consume. Encourage them to sign up for your email list by giving them something for free.
3. Provide value with each email.
James’s golden email rule is that they must be better off for opening and reading the email. If not, he doesn’t send it.
4. Create products that you need.
Most of the products James sells are resources and software that he created for himself and his team. Then people came to him saying, “I need that. Can I have it?” Your goal is to create a black box, something they can only get from you.
5. Recommend perfect products.
Like the golden email rule, only promote products that your audience will be better off for buying. Don’t be greedy and your audience will keep coming back to you.