For affiliate Marketers (AMs) success is all about investing in effective advertising. That sounds simple enough. Except that, for every successful AM, there are dozens who never get past the “first base" of making an income (no matter how small) from their efforts.
Because, no matter what the elements of any advertising campaign, one vital factor is knowing how to choose the best, most cost-effective products (advertising tools), for the investment dollar. In short, they need to learn how to shop smart.
While “smart shopping" is a term usually reserved for back-to-school moms or the choice of a ripe melon (in which case, the ladies definitely have it all over the guys in this segment of the business), for an AM to break out and start showing a profit, they must adopt the same, basic principles. They must find good, cost-effective, yet quality products and services.
Here, then, are the basics of smart Shopping, Affiliate Marketer-style:
1. THE WORLD (WIDE WEB) IS YOUR OYSTER
No matter the service - whether it's lead generators, auto-responders, links, ad trackers, you-name-it - when looking for a product or service, enjoy the advantages of the competitive marketplace. In other words, shop around. The time is past of being blindly led, either by recommendations, past experience or, worst of all, habit.
Realize the potential and look around because every day, just as in any other aspect of the internet, new advertising competitors are joining the ranks, with fresh ideas, competitive pricing, new or better offerings. For example, while many still swear by such lead generators as Lead Factory and Cutting Edge Media, SimplerLeads.com has stepped in to offer true high-quality, double opt-in leads, plus offer their own auto-responding system and auto-mail system for true auto-pilot access- all at rates lower than the competition.
2. INVEST NOW, IT PAYS LATER
Invest the time now to research and study the various companies and it will pay off richly later. Pick a few different companies, research them, get familiar with the various features of all of them. Or, even more importantly, features that some companies have while others don't.
In doing all this - and, yes, it often takes a week or two - a marketer not only benefits from the education, but can can also gain a clear perspective of what's available and a product versus pricing comparison.
3. ASK AWAY- EMAILS TO CUST SVC
Never be afraid to ask questions. Even stupid ones. It's all part of the educational process. And that's what Customer Service - bless their CS little hearts! - are there for. And, too, CS gives a marketer a good idea of the quality of the company. It a good idea to note their turn around time. By and large, companies go out of their way for their newest and/or prospective customers. So if their response is anything less than stellar, keep looking. After all, if they treat new customers shabbily, how will they treat existing customers. Note, however, two things about CS: 1) They MAY have a good reason for a poor response rate (such giving preference to existing customers); 2) Never bother a company with truly silly questions. Don't, for instance, ask their cost, when it is clearly visible. Find questions that are relevent and genuinely add to your information. Then wait for the response.
4. NOTES, NOTES, NOTES
While it sometimes happens that one company stands out among the rest, it's more common for the differences to be slight or the offers varied enough to leave a marketer dizzy. So note-taking becomes essential in the research process. For anyone who never kept good notes in school, the marketing version is simply a matter of deciding on the key factors in the proposed business, then keeping track of those factors from prospective business to business.
5. COMPARE COST VS. SERVICE
This is when those notes become elemental in the process. Once several different companies have been explored and notes compiled, it simply becomes a matter of choosing which company offers the best product/service for the money.
6. TRIAL PERIOD
Once chosen, the process is far from complete, however. As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding, " meaning that a marketer will see how a company/service performs only once they begin using it.
The next step is to follow a company closely for the first 1-3 weeks, making a note of any problems, delays, etc. , that might arise. This doesn't necessarily kill a company's possible success, but a bad experience at this point does not bode well.
If there is a continued or repeated problem, the company should be re-evaluated, based on the new information.
7. REGULAR REVIEW
Okay, so the AM has all the marketing they need, the business is well-established and the advertising has performed well. The AM's smart shopping has been successful and the job is done, right? Wrong.
As mentioned in Tip #1, above, the market is constantly changing and so are the advertising options available. Plus, while a company may perform well initially, their performance could change. Sometimes those changes are sudden and dramatic. But more often they experience a gradual decline that only becomes discernable when analyzed over a period of time.
So, unless a marketer decides to *opt-out* themselves, it is essential to continuously monitor and regularly review their advertiser's performance. And, when necessary, begin the process of smart-shopping all over again.
Does it ever end? Expert marketers know this is just one part of the on-going process known as affiliate marketing.
Marige O'Brien has worked as a writer, web designer and, most recently, affiliate marketer. Her own website can be found at http://www.trackermo.com , where she actively lists the best opportunities and affiliate tools available