My friend Mark is a well-respected affiliate marketer from New Zealand who recently opened up doors for his Training. In conjunction to the launch, he taught a webinar hosted wonderfully by Reena Shohet at Associate Programs (who are giving away 7 valuable bonuses) which had great takeaways for affiliate marketers.
Mark’s affiliate marketing adventures started in 2009 when his friend Charlie put up a website on GeoCities. This lead to Charlie putting up an affiliate link for a dating site and earning commissions for about US$90 per month. This prompted Mark to ask the question, “How do I link up people with products and earn commissions?” and like they say the rest is history.
Mark is based in New Zealand which shows time and time again that you can be successful on the Internet even from outside of the US as location generally has no impact on online business. What’s inspirational about Mark is that he started out small (like the most of us) and had a student loan to pay. He juggled his Internet business with a part-time job at Pizza Hut.
His early success came from free search engines and for the first 4 years online, he did not buy any products by gurus for making money online. He had a simple formula that worked and he simply rinsed and repeated it.
Affilorama is a training and community site for affiliate marketers founded in 2006 by Mark Ling. It has a two-tier membership (basic and premium – I’m a basic member) with lots of video lessons, interviews, tools, blog and a forum.
STARTING OUT WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING
A question was asked about what is the bare minimum required when starting out on a shoestring budget? Mark’s recommendation was:
- Website hosting account: I’m glad Mark is not like one of those gurus who state that you can make bucketloads of money without a website. He prefers Hostgator but for me personally, I prefer BlueHost.
- Domain name registrations: Mark prefers GoDaddy (all my domains are registered via GoDaddy) but lately I have found NameCheap to be quite good as well.
- Optional: Mark said that other than your own domain and a web host, all other things are optional. However, outsourcing work like article writing and link building can definitely accelerate the process. A view I concur with.
NEWBIE MISTAKES IN AFFILIATE MARKETING?
Another great question that was posed was what mistakes newbies make in affiliate marketing. Mark’s views were as follows:
- Monetization: Newbies often do not monetize their pages, they don’t put in their affiliate links. Giving an example of his website, www.wowblackbook.com, Mark encouraged newbies to put in their affiliate links above the fold, have a call to action in the graphic instead of just a plain graphic and put in affiliate links at the bottom of the page.
- Keyword Research: Mark said newbies do not tend to think closely about the search terms. for instance, a lot of people just go wholesale with their PLR articles instead of tweaking it and using the proper keywords.
The second point of Mark’s response brought in another relevant question “How does Mark research his markets?”. This was the part I was waiting for eagerly.
MARK LING’S MARKET RESEARCH METHODOLOGY FOR A PROFITABLE NICHE
I found this part the most valuable where Mark candidly shared how he does market research to find profitable niches.
- Mark goes to the ClickBank Marketplace and searches for a particular keyword or clicks on any category to see what is hot within that category.
- He then looks at the ‘gravity’ which is a measure of how many separate affiliates made a sale of that product in the last week. He believes there is more to the formula for gravity than that and thinks that it also takes into account sales from other weeks but on a weighted scale. Mark says that a gravity over 30 can be a profitable niche.
- He then tries to find at least 5 products within or outside of ClickBank for that niche as he believes in promoting more than one product.
- Mark usually stays away from promoting dodgy products and services like ‘paid surveys’, ‘downloading DVDs from the Internet’ which are not only unethical but do not provide a base for a sustainable business.
This brought in a question of how someone can have their own product listed on ClickBank. Mark’s advice was to meet all of ClickBank’s requirements and submit it for approval. This was kind of obvious but he followed it up with a great tip that you have to actively promote your own product to push up the gravity and ensure that it becomes successful.
AFFILORAMA AND MARK LING’S APPROACH TO KEYWORD RESEARCH
- Forum Research: Mark suggested that forums are a very valuable tool to find out what kind of keywords your potential buyers are using.
- Create article topics based on the keywords found on the forum.
- Use Traffic Travis (a free tool from Affilorama) to build a giant list of keywords, sort the keywords by search volume, remove duplicates, filter and categorize the search terms and save it as a set.
- Pay attention to needs-based keywords rather than want based keywords. Mark refers needs based keywords as crisis keywords.
- Additionally, Mark also uses the Google keyword planner.
- Product name review type search is an absolute needs-based keyword. It is vital to focus on these type of keywords even if the keyword research tool shows low volume because the leads convert well.
HOW TO ACHIEVE HIGH SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS?
To achieve high search engine rankings, Mark’s lesson was to focus on the following:
- On-page search optimization which he reckons weighs in about 20% for search engine rankings. He suggests paying attention to the following:
- Title optimization
- H1 tag
- the keywords at least once in the first 50 words
- Go for about 1% keyword density which can be checked from within Traffic Travis
- Off-page factors account for the remaining 80% for search engine rankings, especially the links and anchor tags.
- Get links but do not make it look unnatural. For instance, do not have the same anchor tags for all incoming links.
- Submit to article websites like EzineArticles
- Use the affordable services of www.submitedge.com
- Use www.amautomation.com (which is a network of blogs). This allows you to reword articles and have up to 3 links. However, this method of link building seems potentially gray hat.
PPC VERSUS SEARCH ENGINES
Mark recommends using PPC or Pay Per Click advertising once the money starts rolling in because it is virtually impossible to rank for all different variations of search. Additionally, it is another way to generate traffic into the website. However, with PPC Mark recommends keeping the following pointers in mind.
- For PPC landing pages do not use menu bars as it distracts the user into clicking other parts of the site.
- Use a noindex-nofollow tag for PPC landing pages so that Google doesn’t penalize you for duplicate content.
- Add links at the bottom of the page to other parts of your website so Google does not think that this is a one-page website. This generally improves the Google quality score which means paying less for the clicks.
- For starters have 3 product name adgroups + 3 buyer adgroups (crisis or needs based keyword adgroups)
- Start with product name per click bid at $1 or needs based keyword bid at $0.60 to improve click through
- Reduce the bids about 20% for every 30 clicks until positions 4 or 5 is reached. Assess profitability only after 300 clicks
EMAIL MARKETING TIPS
Last but not least, do not ignore capturing email addresses of prospects. Mark uses AWeber for email autoresponders and has about 2 million subscribers in his various lists. He usually gives a free 6 part mini course in exchange of an email address and uses what he calls a day 7 trick to give a free report if the user purchases the product.
In my opinion, AffiloBlueprint is really great for beginners and do check out the bonuses they are giving. Also worth checking out is the Affilorama training portal and their keyword research tool, Traffic Travis.