1) Identify the market(s) you plan on entering
The more specific and focused your niche is the more successful you will be. For example, lets say you have decided to promote iPhoneGeek, which is a membership-based site where users pay a fee and are granted unlimited movie, music, video, and software downloads to their iPhone. You will NOT be successful if you base your PPC, SEO, and marketing campaigns around extremely competitive keyword sectors for the iPhone market. This includes keywords like “iphone”, “iphones”, “iphone downloads”, “iphone movies”, etc. — you get the idea. This is because you have no chance of getting indexed by google for those keywords and if you do it will not be even close to the first page of search results. In addition as far as PPC is concerned, competition is way to high for you to be profitable.
On the other hand, if you go after long tail keywords such as “what is the best site for unlimited iphone downloads”, “best download site for the iphone”, and the like you will not only have a higher probability of getting a 1st page ranking for those results for those search phrases but they are more likely to convert. In addition, there will be much less competition and a lower cost-per-click for PPC campaigns. Think about it like this, if someone finds your iPhone promotion site via a Google/Yahoo search of “iphone” they are exponentially less likely to sign up for the iPhone download service through your site than someone who finds your site searching for something very specific like “best download site for the iphone”. Some of you might be asking yourselves, “But Alex, there are not a lot of searches for those specific search terms!” This is true — however it is much more profitable to convert at 1:10 than it is to convert at 0:1,000, especially when each click is costing you money, and that’s what this game is all about; finding 50-60-100-500 long-tail keywords that convert and then sitting back and watching traffic and conversions trickle in.
You can promote iPhoneGeek via the Adblaze Network.
2) Select the network(s) and the subsequent product(s) you are going to promote
A common problem I see that newbie affiliates do is stretch themselves to thin across multiple affiliate networks. I recommend focusing on only 1-2 networks at first and then building from there. Each affiliate network has hundreds, sometimes even thousands of products, goods, and services to promote inside of their networks so pick one and begin promoting whatever you feel will convert. Some of my favorite networks to promote are Hydra Network, Clickbank, and Adblaze but please feel free to find your own networks as there are hundreds out there! My reasons for recommending you only focus on 1-2 networks are simple. First of all, most affiliate networks have a minimum payout that affiliates much reach before they will send you the money that you have earned. In addition, it’s nice to start building up revenues on a per network basis. Each month affiliate networks payout affiliate commissions via check, wire, or paypal. It’s a lot easier to deal with one large check than it is to deal with 4-5-6 checks because let’s be honest, sometimes affiliate networks can be shady and untimley with their affiliate payouts and support issues.
3) Create a “wide” keyword list for the selected product you chose
This goes back to what I said in step 1, if you go after the most popular and competitive keywords you will not be successful in your marketing campaigns. Finding a bunch of long tail keywords is what will start driving traffic and sales to your products. This can be obtained by building “wide” keyword lists as compared to “deep” keyword lists. When I was promoting iPhoneGeek I came up with hundreds of search phrases that had the same root keyword, iPhone, in them. When you go deep, you find all the various ways people are searching with the word “iphone” in their search phrase, however, this can be problematic.
When someone is searching for iPhone downloads, software, music, and movies they might type in a search term that doesn’t even have “iPhone” in the search. What else might they be typing into search engines? They could be searching for “mobile phone downloads”, “where can I get phone software”, “software for phones”, and the like. If you create a keyword list based off of a more array, diverse, and broad keyword list you are going “wide” and are much more likely to run a successful campaign. This can include the use of synonyms (phone, mobile phone, cell phone, etc.) as your root keywords, the use of more specific search terms and phrases (best iphone software, best phone downloads for music, etc), and finally the actual softwares, downloads, and programs iPhoneGeek provides to members (“iPod Touch Jailbreak Software” “IM+ for skype, etc.).
There is no point to taking the time to completely build out a site if the product isn’t converting for you. What I recommend doing is purchasing a domain related to the given product or service you are promoting and do a framed redirect to the products actual sales page. To setup a framed redirect, create an html page titled “index.html” using the code below EXACTLY as shown and upload to your server:
After you verify that your framed redirect was implemented correctly start generating traffic to your site via PPC advertising, CPM banner purchases, Blog & Forum participating, and Video Branding. Please note that there is also free traffic out there, you just have to be looking for it. Search for forums related to your product and start posting away: asking and answering questions. Find blogs related to your niche and do the same. Also, check out Yahoo Answers and Amazon Askville as I have personally generated over 500 hits in 1 day by answering a question with an insightful and informative post.
If you do NOT convert 1 sale after 800-1,000 hits to the products sales page move onto the next product and follow steps 1-4 until you find a product that converts for you.
If you DO convert some traffic follow steps 5-7.
5) If campaign shows promise, identify what kind of landing page you need
Ultimately, your goal is to build out a full-blown affiliate site that not only does well with PPC traffic, but also has built up a respectable page rank and natural search engine traffic. If your site contains these aspects, you have a real web property with multiple streams of revenue from: PPC traffic, free search engine traffic, email marketing (if you add an opt-in box to your site), and even contextual ads (if you choose).
With that being said, each niche requires a different type of landing page. There are lot’s of different types of landing pages but I’m going to only discuss review and sales landing pages. First of all, you can see what your competition is doing by searching for some of the keywords you selected for your campaign and clicking the sponsored ads served by google for your results. If 5 people are using a review site, your best bet is more than likely going to be creating a review site based sales page. A review site will generally include reviews of multiple products, usually anywhere from 3-10 products per niche where you mask yourself as a consumer while in reality you are an affiliate. Take a look at Games PSP Downloads to see a live example of a review site. As you can see, there is nothing fancy about it…most users who go to that site really believe that Luis Herrera is an active PSP gamer when in reality he is a figment of my imaginiation. Equally, you might find the most success with a straight sales landing page that presells the affiliate offer: sending the visitor to the main affiliate page or directly to the merchant order page. I personally like linking directly to the merchant order page whenever possible.
After you create your landing page select 5-6 keyword silos and build them out on your website. Charles Heflin is the man behind the Silo Structured Website which can and SHOULD be read here. This will put you in a great position to rank in the major search engines for your trageted search phrases and keywords. Please do note that Search Engine Optimization can take weeks-months-years in order for you to gain organic (free) search engine traffic but patience is a virtue as organic search engine traffic is some of the richest, highest-converting traffic on the web!
6) A/B Testing
After you create your landing page I recommend you create 2-3-4+ additional variations of your landing page changing anything from copy text, layouts, images, and colors. Each variation of your landing or review page should have only 1 change so you can see how it effects your conversions. Keep in mind that all elements will not produce drastic results. Long story short, A/B testing spreads out traffic evenly to all the pages you plan on testing and you can track which one does the best for you.
I recommend doing this because you might be happy with the results you get out of your initial landing page, however, testing, tweaking, and fine-tuning your sales page can really make a lasting impact — even if increase conversions by a minoot percentage. Interstingly enough you can also test your pages against the products landing page by doing the framed redirect I mentioned above!
7) Move onto the next product
After you have found a product that converts and have taken the time and followed the steps to successfully launch an affiliate campaign from top to bottom you should be able to duplicate and repeate the results in your next product launch. The best part is you will be able to launch a product much faster as you have gotten through all of the hiccups associated with running a campaign for the first time. Like anything, Affiliate Marketing gets easier and easier the more you do it so don’t be discouraged if you don’t knock it out of the park the first time around.
Click to download a PDF version of the Affiliate Marketing Masterplan