Friday, April 28, 2006

Targeted Marketing: Pay-Per-Click Introduction

I spoke about it briefly yesterday, but one of the most important mechanisms of the internet for successful affiliate marketing is based around targeted marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) programs. Let me explain how this works...

I am sure you have all used a search engine before and have noticed "sponsored" links listed somewhere on the page. Google, for example, has sponsors on the right column and sometimes, has 1,2 or 3 sponsors above the search results (which are highlighted). These sponsored links appear on mostly all search engines: Yahoo, Hotbot, MSN, etc. Similarly, you will find sponsors located on individual webpages. This blog, for example, has a list of sponsored links at the bottom of the right column. These specific type of ads are called "content ads". We will discuss this another day. They work in the same manner, though.

First of all, anyone can create an ad for any website at any time. To set up an account usually costs less than $5 and there are no commitments or monthly fees to join (if you are, you are doing something wrong!). The special thing about all of these ads are that you ONLY pay what people click on! My ad can be seen by 1,000,000 people (these are called "impressions"), and receive zero clicks, and this will cost me nothing. Most ads cost anywhere between 5 cents per click to $5 per click to hundreds of dollars per click (I have never seen this type, but have read about them). So, let's say that 1000 people see my ad today and 100 of them click my ad at $0.1/click. My costs for the day would be $10. Luckily, most PPC programs allow you to limit your daily budget, just in case your clicks exceed your expectations.

The other main thing to point about about pay-per-click programs is that you are bidding on keywords: these are the words that people are searching for. For example, if I am selling golf clubs, I may bid on keywords such as "golf", "golf clubs", "how to play golf", "pebble beach", etc. You would probably not be bidding on keywords such as "britney spears", "baby showers" and "asian monkeys". The significance of this is that we are now targeting our product and website to those who are actually looking for it. Target marketing is a huge component to making affiliate marketing campaigns work!

Unfortunately, running pay-per-click campaigns are not trivial. PPC are strongly based on:

1) Competition,

2) Writing good ads,

3) Relevance

and, of course,

4) MONEY!!

More to come on Sunday! And remember, you CAN make money doing this! Be sure to check out the eBooks that have worked for me at my review site to get your campaign started today!:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Staying Focused on Your Affiliate Marketing Plan

Sorry for missing a few blogs...Jury Duty, enough said!

While sitting on Jury Duty, I had plenty of time to think about life, and included in that is affiliate marketing. I came to a bit of a revelation about my current campaign...I was losing my focus! I have done this before, and I am glad that with experience that I am a bit more wise to pick-up on this mistake early on (though, I feel that I have already wasted a lot of time and money on this mistake). So what happened?

I originally developed a "plan" for this campaign. I did not set up dates, but rather, a sequence of events I wanted to follow. The first few steps of my plan were as follows:

1) Find, Research, and Pick a Product to Promote (DONE!)

2) Develop my promotion blog (DONE!)

3) Get my blog seen through search engine submissions, RSS feeds, and signatures to forum and blog responses. (75% DONE)

4) Pay-Per-Click Campaigns for targeted promotion (CRASHING!)

Wait a minute! PPC campaign? I haven't mentioned PPC campaign yet? What happened? Well, I got excited and over-anxious! In the process of step three, I was curious and checked out my Clickbank account and found that I was actually getting a few sales. In affiliate marketing, getting your first few sales on your product is almost as good as sex! The adrenaline was high, and I was eager to make this campaign work faster for me! That is when I started a few campaigns on several different PPC sites in haste. My impressions went up considerable, but my sales actually dropped and my PPC costs were going through the roof! Any money that I made prior to this is now history.

Two main lessons have come from this:

1) Haste Makes Waste! - especially when it comes to pay-per-click campaigns. To develop a proper campaign in PPC's require time, research and patience. Throwing out a few popular keywords without any thought is just asking for trouble (and a hole in your pocket-book!)

2) Stick to the Game Plan! - Don't let your emotions (and sales) get the better of you. For that matter, if things go south (and sales are not what you expect), still stick to your game plan. Again, you may feel desperate and start doing things that will only make things worse.

So for now, I am going to finish my "free promotion" plan and begin to research keywords and develop my PPC campaigns in a smart manner, not an excited or desperate manner! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Free For All Sites: Do You Get What You Pay For?

We've all seen them: "Get 1,000,000 clicks for free!". Wow! What a bargain! Just think, one million people looking at this blog! I'll become famous! Come on! Let's get real here! Unless I am Yahoo, I don't think that 1,000,000 people are going to be visiting my site anytime soon...

But then again, I was still a bit intrigued! What is this all about and how does it work? So I looked around and I found! Here is how it works: It is basically a (legal) pyramid scheme revolving around links rather than money. Visit this site, which has 6 links on it. Go to each one of these links and collect its secret code to paste into the original site. Once you go to all six links, you can now add your link to the six below (while link #6 drops off!). It took about 5 minutes, no big deal, and I signed up using an email that I usually send all of my spam to. So now you need to promote and get people to your FreeViral site to sign up. Hmmm...that seems like a lot work from this point on.

So what am I (and FreeViral) getting out of this? Well, I think I am getting virtually nothing. For one thing, I need to promote this site to get the links out there. Not worth my time! Secondly, and more importantly, what is the quality of these clicks? Are people going to my site because they are interested in my product? Probably not! They just need my secret code. I will monitor this, though, and see if anything comes out of it. It is gets me one sale in the next year (which I doubt), it would have been worth my 5 minutes.

From FreeViral's point-of-view, they get something key: YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! This is what is called an "Opt-In". Now that they have my email, they can target me more directly to sell their own products. FreeViral probably doesn't bring in any money, but can build quite a big email list. Maybe I'll try setting up my own Free For All in the future!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Obsession of Affiliate Marketing

When I started my affiliate marketing venture a few months ago, I was quite determined to make it work. A few things I have discovered over the my tenure:

1) There are a LOT of affiliate products, a LOT of forums, a LOT of pay-per-click (PPC) sites, a lot of eBooks, etc. on the internet.

2) A strong understanding of all the items listed in #1 are crucial for success.

3) Any type of SEO or PPC campaign require continuous fine-tuning, tweaking and improving.

4) Page Clicks, Impressions and Sales can occur at time, any day.

Add all four of these together and you can find yourself becoming OBSESSED with Affiliate Marketing! I kind of feel that if you are determined enough to make online marketing work, you will ultimate find yourself becoming addicted to it. I have to admit, I do work a normal 40 hour work week, but I do find myself (about 4 times per day) checking my Adsense account, my Adwords account, my Counter account, and my Clickbank account. One of the most fun aspects of this business is the real-time interaction with the internet. Getting a sale builds adrenaline! Getting low click-through-rates (CTR) drives you to develop better ads. Broken links on your website make you literally want to cry. And every success promotes further drive and desire to do more!

So here is were I (the San Diegan Marketer) says: "Chill out, dude!" I found myself spending every day on this stupid computer for about 2 months. This kind of pissed off my wife and kids a fair bit. Just like any job, you must learn to manage both your work and family appropriately. Therefore, about a month ago, I vowed that on Saturdays I would not even turn the computer on at all. Let me tell you, if is tough and I look at the computer about 3 times a day and think about checking it really quickly, but I do restrain myself. I also no longer jump on the computer first thing when I get home from work...I wait until the kids go to bed.

I always stress perseverance to succeed in internet marketing, but you need to be smart about it. One great thing about affiliate marketing is that you really are not under a time crunch. You control you own destiny and life; Don't let some like a silly money making venture take control of you!