Affiliate programs dumped

Associate Programs Newsletter #137

Joanna and I are back in beautiful Dunedin, in beautiful New Zealand's beautiful South Island.

Here's a heart-felt description - southernscenicroute.co.nz/dunedin.htm - which sums up why people choose to live here.

See the houses in the top left-hand corner of the photo of the beach and golf course? The third of an acre of land we bought last summer is near those houses. One day we'll build a summer house here.

If you like even more spectacular scenery, ooh and ahh over this - southernscenicroute.co.nz/fiordland.htm . Isn't that awesome!

Today I'm continuing the series on affiliate mini-sites.

Thank you to everyone who sent me tips on interesting affiliate mini-sites. Please keep them coming.


CONTENTS:

1. Affiliate banner achieves 14.5% click-through
    ... for a merchant who cares
2. More affiliate programs dumped
3. Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 2)
    Think big
4. Busy little sites "monetize" everything
5. How to make your affiliate mini-site work even harder
6. Mini-sites help make Eva's traffic soar
7. Todd finds way to make malls search engine-friendly
8. $3,300 commission from $5 investment
9. How affiliate tracking works
10. Wotch.com slashes bounty to 10 cents per lead
11. How to side-step crashing and burning dot-coms
12. NEXT WEEK: Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 3)
13. Thought for today: Don't blame your affiliates


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================================================
1. Affiliate banner achieves 14.5% click-through
... for a merchant who cares
================================================

Affiliates sometimes complain that they don't receive enough USEFUL advice from affiliate program managers.

One merchant providing very useful advice is Kudosnet. I joined its affiliate program recently and I'm really impressed.

For example, Kudosnet's latest newsletter contains a "Top Cash Generating Tips" report for affiliates by search engine guru Michael Campbell. He describes step-by-step exactly how the top affiliates successfully sold his "Search Engine Positioning Reports" last month.

This is right up-to-date, proven advice. You can't get anything better than that.

This week Kudosnet also provided affiliates with a banner which is achieving an awesome 14.5% click-through.

You can see the winning banner on this page:
http://payperclicksearchengines.com/other-search-engines.shtml

Michael, as you probably know, is the author of "Nothing But Net".
 
[UPDATE: Kudosnet died. If you want a really good, comprehensive instruction manual on affiliate marketing, I recommend Rosalind Gardner's Super Affiliate Handbook. Here's a review of Super Affiliate Handbook.]

With that sort of experience to impress people with, you'll find his new "Search Engine Positioning Reports" easy to sell. They're crammed with traffic-boosting tips which every business on the Net needs.

This is a fantastic combination - excellent products and simple, step-by-step instructions on how to achieve sales.

Even better, although EVERY business on the Net needs tips on how to rank highly in search engines, I was surprised to see that the top affiliate earned only $662.53 last month.

That means if you act fast you won't have much competition selling Michael's new reports.

I've met Michael and spent quite a while chatting with him. He's one search guru who really knows his stuff. You can promote his products with confidence.

Remember, EVERY business on the Net needs tips on how to rank highly in search engines. That's a MASSIVE market.

If you sign up for the program and have any trouble getting hold of Michael's "Top Cash Generating Tips" for affiliates, just contact me and I'll send you a copy.

[UPDATE: Kudosnet died. For excellent search engine tips updated every month, the best source on the Net is Stephen Mahaney's Unfair Advantage Book On Winning The Search Engine Wars ]


=================================
2. More affiliate programs dumped
=================================

Some merchants don't seem to care if they upset their affiliates.

Backflip has bitten the dust, reports Lorri Nevil of Lorri's Free Stuff and Bargains - http://freestuff.kaelinweb.net .

"Nice of them to notify us on a holiday weekend - and giving us less than 12 hours to remove the links. This is particularly annoying as I have this on each of my archived newsletters - so I have about 13 hours of work to do."

Another Be Free program, iChoose, is also discontinuing its program.

"Another one you might notify your members of since they didn't bother to send out emails notifying their affiliates is NetMarket (again through Be Free) . . . If I hadn't logged in to check and see if they had new banners - I would have never known."


============================================
3. Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 2)
Think big
============================================

Planning a mini-site? You don't have to think small.

Affiliate mini-sites can vary all the way from very simple, free-hosted single pages which I examined last week - Research affiliate mini sites - to highly professional promotions attracting MILLIONS of visitors.

At Jonathan Mizel's Boulder conference this year, Patrick Anderson of ADNet described a mini-site involving truly astounding traffic figures.

I can't reveal the URL - that was only for people who attended the conference.

However, I can tell you about ADNet's latest mini-site.

"I am certainly enjoying your latest spin on mini-sites!" Patrick says in a letter.

"And you are right - no one wants to talk about these secret methods! Anyone who can really bring in the big bucks, by using simple pages, wants to keep the competition away.

"Here's our latest mini-site:
adnetintl.com/christmas

"It shows people how to get Totally Free Christmas Gifts!

"This is an example of a mini-site with a bundled offer that is naturally incentivized due to the complementary nature of the promotion."

The mini-site pays money three ways:

First from CyberRebate ("We've sold over $75,000 with two short ezine articles," Patrick says.)

Second from American Express (pays $30 to $45 per registration - great offer!)

Third from Best20Sites.com (pays 10% of all search income)

"The whole thing is bundled through ActiveMarketplace and payments are guaranteed by Declan Dunn, who is managing the American Express and Best20Sites.com affiliate programs.

"I am buying 2 million page views of traffic to this site over the next month," Patrick says.

"That's right - I said 'buying' traffic. I can afford to purchase banners and interstitials for these affiliate programs, because the ROI (return on investment) is so high. That's one of the beauties of bundled offers!

"Some of your readers may be interested in joining our network of partner sites and making money with us this holiday season. My staff will gladly produce a customized promotion page for anyone with a fair amount of traffic or an opt-in list - FREE of charge.

"All of the affiliate codes will benefit the partner, not us, as we are paid separately by the merchants based on overall performance."

The idea of a mini-site paying for millions of visitors intrigued me. I asked Patrick for more details.

He says ADNet is buying traffic from:

ADNet's existing network.

Researched Holiday sites.

Keyword buys in search engines (CPM and per-click)

Newsletters.

Affiliate sites

ADnet is paying between $2/CPM and $15/CPM, or straight revenue- share on each of the offers.

You'll have to be quick for this one. Take a look a look at the calendar and be prepared for a shock. It's nearly Christmas.

Here's the revenue-generating mini-site:

adnetintl.com/christmas

[UPDATE: This link no longer works.]


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==========================================
4. Busy little sites "monetize" everything
==========================================

One piece of advice you've probably read about building a website is to offer heaps of useful content.

You find a topic in which you are passionately interested, build a complex site based on that theme, and perhaps help build a community fascinated by your topic. You build trust by providing a reliable source of information. Only a very small percentage of the links you offer need to earn you money. You'll enjoy what you're doing so much that doing this won't seem like work.

You might call that the "wise old dog" method.

A totally different approach is to build a mini-site and "monetize" everything you possibly can.

You might call it the "busy little pup" approach.

The notion behind this technique is that your visitor will stay on your mini-site for only a few seconds, or perhaps a few minutes, and may never return, so you have to work hard to catch a bit of revenue as your visitor leaves.

You don't waste a single click.

The busy little site buys traffic and makes almost every link on the site earn revenue in some way - though CPM sales, per-lead, per-sale or per-click. It is crammed with little revenue-earners, all aimed at a targeted audience.

"Does every action generate revenue? Look at each click, each form, each piece of ad space and be brutal," Declan Dunn advises. "If it is not making you income, dump it. Monetize every action, and make this a rule."

You can see the approach at work on the latest ADNet mini-site:

adnetintl.com/christmas


========================================================
5. How to make your affiliate mini-site work even harder
========================================================

Sometimes an affiliate mini-site goes one step farther - using a technique you may not have considered.

It collects email addresses.

It does so by prominently offering useful free info, so that it can continue selling to its visitors, via an autoresponder or newsletter, long after they have left the site.

That's rare on mini-sites.


==========================================
6. Mini-sites help make Eva's traffic soar
==========================================

Somewhere between the wise old dog and the busy little pup are the ebook mini-sites set up by Eva Almeida.

"I am enjoying your ongoing tips on mini-sites that you have started and I just had to mention my own experiences - they fit in exactly with your discussion," Eva writes.

"I started with a free site on business and marketing - I was lucky to have 1,000 visitors a month.

"Then, my passion for ebooks got the best of me. I started creating mini (or should I say mega in one case) sites on different topics pertaining to ebooks and my traffic soared!" Eva says.

"I couldn't believe it when I started to rank high in the search engines for ebook-related keywords for my primary ebook site - http://www.ebooksnbytes.com - as well as highly specific sites that I created from noticing the popularity of different sections of my ebook site - namely ebook (HTML) compilers. I started reviewing them and placing my reviews at http://www.ebookcompilers.com .

"My monthly affiliate income has increased from next to nothing to hundreds of dollars (spread out amongst many different programs related to ebooks and marketing.) I have also noticed traffic boosts from a few people daily to almost 1,000 visitors a day for eBooks N' Bytes. Now, people are emailing me for advice on ebook publishing on a daily basis and my newsletter on the topic, eBooks N' Bytes Informer, is increasing in popularity - the feedback has been incredible.

"I just wanted to let you know that you are exactly right about mini-sites. They are an excellent way to promote affiliate programs. My best advice would be to make sure you have a passion on the topic and it will be even more successful!"

Here are some of Eva's ebook sites (you can see how she uses a variety of designs and techniques):

http://www.ebooksnbytes.com
http://www.free-ebooks.net
http://www.ebookbroadcast.com
http://www.ebookcompilers.com
http://www.ebookpublishingtips.com
http://www.ebook-promotion.com
http://ebooks.searchking.com


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======================================================
7. Todd finds way to make malls search engine-friendly
======================================================

Affiliate Todd Chas says he's been making money steadily using the techniques - the legitimate ones - which I described in my report on affiliate mini-sites last week.

"Needless to say, I wasn't exactly overjoyed to see you writing such a perceptive article on the subject," Todd says.

"But, since the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, I would like to share a few tips with you and your faithful subscribers.

"As you correctly pointed out, one of the downsides to mini-site marketing is that it doesn't emphasize the long-term goals of TRUST and EQUITY. If I build a one-page site that sends a visitor directly to a merchant, I am probably never going to see that visitor again regardless of how much effort I put into my mini- site.

"But this challenge is not insurmountable," Todd says.

Here's how he combines the strategies effectively.

"When you build an affiliate mini-site that sends visitors directly to a merchant site, you are essentially building a gateway page for an individual merchant that pays a commission or bounty.

"My approach has been different.

"I create thematic malls of affiliate links (see FreebieOasis.com and CultureShopping.com) and then create individual gateway pages for each of the merchants in my malls. My gateway pages (which I use a simple but search-engine friendly template to build) send traffic to my malls, rather than directly to individual merchants."

Todd says this approach is useful in many ways.

"Visitors to my gateway pages will see lots of revenue producing resources, not just one. They are more likely to bookmark my main site, which contains more content. My affiliate mall has an identity of its own and it can withstand changes in individual partner programs so there is an incentive for me to put more effort into it.

"My early efforts with affiliate malls were not very effective because affiliate malls are not search-engine friendly. Gateway pages, however, can be. Conversely, gateway pages aren't long- term oriented. But affiliate malls can be. By combining the notion of an affiliate mall with the strategy of developing gateway pages, I have made both approaches more effective.

"I hope your readers find this tip helpful, Allan. I have reaped the rewards of the Associate Programs newsletter and website for years so I hope I have been able to give something back."

Todd signed his letter:

Todd Chas
Affiliateguidebook.com
"Your guide to affiliate program profits"

(Now that's a great signature! It's designed to make any affiliate's clicking-finger itch. The good domain name is followed by a great slogan. Todd has bought a keyword-rich domain name and built the site using material reproduced from an affiliate merchant's site. Nice work! If you're going to use this technique, please ask permission before you copy any material from a merchant's site.)


=======================================
8. $3,300 commission from $5 investment
=======================================

Occasionally, affiliates strike it lucky. Joe Soldonia of http://www.ezshopn.com did.

Joe says the highest affiliate check he has ever received is $3,300 from SierraCities, for the third quarter of 2000.

He earned it after creating an affiliate mini-site using information I wrote about SierraCities and about how there were a lot of keywords available for 1 or 2 cents at pay-per-click search engines.

"That was back in June. This check was earned on a $5 investment at 10 pay-per-click search engines, all with 1 cent keywords," Joe says.

He uses about 100 keywords. "I get around 100 clicks to my mini- site and about 50 click through to the application page on SierraCities."

You can find more than 50 pay-per-click search engines here:

http://www.PayPerClickSearchEngines.com

[UPDATE: The SierraCities program has closed.]


===============================
9. How affiliate tracking works
===============================

Todd Farmer has written an article explaining six affiliate tracking methods and their advantages and disadvantages:

Simple direct URL links

CGI/URL tracking

Cookie tracking

Self-replicated pages

Sub-domain tracking

Database record match tracking

"How does affiliate tracking work: A not-too-technical overview"
affiliatemarketing.co.uk/howitworks.htm


=================================================
10. Wotch.com slashes bounty to 10 cents per lead
=================================================

Wotch.com has upset affiliates by slashing its affiliate bounty to 10 cents per lead.

"How heartwarming that after the US Thanksgiving celebrations are over, this company feels it can say 'Thanks but we don't need you any more so we are going to cut your commissions by 3/5ths'!" writes Chris Sadler of Mindentimes.on.ca.

"Who exactly do they think made them one of the top 250 sites on the Net in the first place? Without the hard work and loyalty of their affiliates, where would they be? . . .

"Can you guess whose advertising is getting ripped off MY site today?"

[UPDATE: The program has closed.]


==================================================
11. How to side-step crashing and burning dot-coms
==================================================

E-Stamp will phase out e-stamps and lay off 30% of its employees - msnbc.com/news/495144.asp - as the dot-com death march continues with more layoffs - techweb.com/wire/finance/story/INV20001127S0007 - but affiliate marketing is alive and very well, says Shawn Collins - clickz.com/cgi-bin/gt/article.html?article=2870 .

Here's another clear indication that online selling has a strong future. The number of US consumers doing at least HALF of their buying online will rise from 9% in 1999 to 20% this year - ecommercetimes.com/perl/story/5541.html .

One thing I find fascinating about crashing and burning dot-coms is that NOT ONE of the businesses which I've been concentrating on promoting for the past year or so has shown even the faintest hint of faltering.

Guys like Corey, Declan, Ken, Marlon and Mark don't crash and burn.

If you learn from them, you won't either.

These winners know what they're doing on the Net:

Best affiliate programs


========================================================
12. NEXT WEEK: Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 3)
========================================================

Next week I'll publish "Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 3)". I'll examine some new ways of using mini-sites to generate affiliate commissions.

Is YOUR affiliate mini-site worthy of a mention? If so, I like to see it.

Please tell me the URL and tell me why your mini-site is special:

allan AT AssociatePrograms.com


==================================================
13. Thought for today: Don't blame your affiliates
==================================================

"If your sales conversion rate is poor, don't blame your affiliates for not being productive. Get a good website marketing specialist to analyze what's wrong with the sales process and then revamp your site."
– Linda Woods, Affiliate Goddess Newsletter


All the best

Allan Gardyne

November 30, 2000

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