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Marketing Overview

by: SBC Staff

Okay, you’ve taken the plunge and joined several affiliate programs that you believe will make you some decent money and create a nice residual income.  So how do you go about finding people to buy the products you represent and sign up as affiliates under you?  You know the Internet is a terrific communications medium, but you don’t know how to contact anyone other than your friends and business associates, and you’ve decided, probably wisely, that they aren’t good prospects for your new business.  The affiliate programs have each given you a website to promote, but how do you get people to visit?  They’ve been up and running for a week and you’ve had no visitors.  What gives?  What happened to “build it and they will come?”

If you’re new to running a business on the Internet, you’ve run into the realization that there are literally millions of web sites on the Internet and getting people to see yours is going to take work.  We’ll take a look at some of your options for getting traffic and generating interest in what you have to sell.  Realizing that some of you may not have a lot of capital to start with, we’ll begin with free resources and work our way up to the paid ones.  There are separate articles on each of the following sources that go into more detail and also provide you with some places to start.  The discussions that follow in this article are presented to provide an overview of the lead sources available.

Newsgroups and Opt-in Lists

These are free, or most of them are, but you must be careful with newsgroups and opt-in lists.  You’ll need to join the list and agree to receive advertising information from other members.  If you join a newsgroup, log in and follow the posts to see what people are talking about.  Note how promotion of products is done.  It will most likely be low key.  Your best approach is to attempt to be helpful where you can and wait for the opportunity to mention your product to come along.  That’s why it’s important to select newsgroups that match your interests and your product.  You want to be able to contribute something of value before you attempt to sell.

Opt-in lists will most likely allow you to send a regular ad on a periodic basis.  Find out what the rules are before posting an ad and follow them religiously!


You might overlook these at first, but that would be a mistake.  Granted, classified ads don’t get a lot of traffic, but they do get some.  The key is keeping your ad near the top of the listings long enough to get exposure.  As ads are posted, existing ads scroll down the list so that after a very short time, your ad will be so far down the list it won’t be seen by what few people do visit the classified page.  But there are options.  There are submission services that allow you to create groups of ads that can be queued and automatically submitted by the service one after the other.  So, as one of your ads is beginning to roll off the page, another will be posted.  This can keep your ads in view for several hours at a time.  Posting ads is free, but be prepared to receive a lot of “junk” mail from the people who own the page, so use a free email account to post and set up rules on your email client to move these emails to a folder other than your main inbox.

Don’t forget the major classifieds like Yahoo.  You can sign up for free email addresses and post up to ten ads for each.  They will remain for 30 days.  Of course, they will be rolling down the page as others post just like with other classified pages, so you will need to go in periodically and edit your ads to refresh them and move them back up the list.

FFA (Free for All) Pages

You will normally use a submission service, as described when discussing classifieds, to submit to thousands of FFA pages.  Again, your ads will scroll off the page as others post and you’ll be lucky to have your ad in sight for half an hour.  The same submission services you used to post your classifieds should be used to post to FFA pages as well.  Again, by queuing your ads you can keep them visible for longer.

When you post to an FFA page you are consenting to receive “confirmation” emails from everyone who owns a page you post to.  Be prepared to receive thousands of these confirmations within a short time of your posting.  Again, use a free or alternate email address and separate inbox to receive these.  Otherwise, you will have difficulty finding your regular mail.

Don’t expect a lot, if anything, from posting to FFA pages.  Human eyes will rarely see your ad.  Most experts agree posting is useless.  Our experience is that some people will see them, but certainly not many.

A better idea is to get your own FFA page.  You can find one or more for free, but we recommend becoming a “pro” or “executive” member, paying a small monthly fee, and availing yourself of the hundreds to thousands of leads you’ll get every day to advertise your product or program in your confirmation emails.  You should choose one that allows you to download the leads and mail them yourself so you can control the “lag” in sending, or choose one that lets you set the lag but mails them for you.  The “lag” we’re talking about is concerned with when you send your confirmation emails.  Most confirmation emails go out the day after posting, so your email ad will get lost among the thousands of others your prospects will be receiving. If you can delay your mailing for three to five days, you stand a better chance of getting your ad noticed.  Don’t expect tons of responses from these ads.  Most of them will be deleted without being read or will result in you receiving hundreds of ads back from the people you mail confirmations to.  But if you have a properly crafted subject line and catchy ad, you will get some response.

Search Engines

Having a high ranking in the search engines is something everyone aspires to, but let’s be reasonable.  With thousands of pages jockeying for position using your same key words, your chances of getting ranked in the top ten is small.  Anything below the top ten or 20 in the search results is useless.  The free web page you get with your affiliate program has virtually zero chance of getting such a rating.  The search engine spiders know your page is merely a replica of a thousand other pages that are identical to it.  As a result, your page probably won’t be ranked at all.  If you are running a small business rather than an affiliate or MLM program, then you should consider search engine ranking but keep in mind that not everyone can have a top ranking and you have a lot of competition.  Most of the search engines now charge for submissions.  You’ll have to decide if the possible exposure is worth the cost.  If you do decide to submit, do it manually or have it done by a specialist who knows how to get you a higher ranking.  Each engine is different, so optimizing your web pages for one engine may hurt you with another.  We won’t spend more time on this subject because, in our opinion, if you decide to submit, you’re going to need professional help, and that gets quite expensive.

Paid Email Lists

If you don’t want to roll the dice and you have some capital to spend, buying or renting a list can be your best alternative.  You can have the list tailored to your exact specifications so it is targeted toward the audience you want to sell to.  Additionally, each member of the list has opted to receive your advertising message so you don’t have to worry about accusations of spam.  Be prepared to pay somewhere between $.50 and $2.00 per lead.  I know this seems like a lot, but it will be cheaper than getting 5,000 leads for $19.95 that do nothing but fill your mailbox with notices of bad email addresses and ads sent in response to your ad.  You might want to start with the free sources and, as you generate some cash from your efforts, set aside some money to buy or rent a paid list when you can afford it.

Don’t waste your time on the offers for CDs with 2,000,000 email addresses for $19.95.  These are not opt-in lists.  These people do not want to receive your message.  You will lose your ISP account and ruin your reputation at a minimum.  You will be spamming and breaking the law.

Banner Advertising

You can pay for banner space on other well-trafficked web sites to drive visitors to your site.  You can also arrange for banner exchanges, where you agree to put other site’s banners on your site in exchange for their placing your banners on their site.  If you don’t have a lot of traffic, however, you probably won’t raise much interest in this.  Additionally, you don’t want to have a lot of banners on your site that tend to divert traffic away from your site.  It’s better to have your visitors stay at your site.  You worked hard to get them there, don’t give them an easy way to go somewhere else.

Ezine Advertising

There are many great “Ezines”, or email-based magazines, that have tremendous numbers of subscribers.  Ezines are normally targeted at specific audiences, so if you find one that targets your audience, it would be a good place for you to advertise your business.  There are several good resources on the web for finding the right ezine at the right price.

Starting Your Own Newsletter

The best of all worlds is starting your own newsletter.  This creates a wonderful opt-in list for you to use to build your credibility and reputation in your industry.  Be careful of using it to advertise your products or services.  If you do, do so sparingly and tastefully.  Strive to provide a product that provides your users with information they can use and will want to receive for a long time to come.  Build your subscriber list enough and you can generate a nice income by selling advertising in your ezine.

A Final Word About Spam

However you choose to promote your business, do not send unsolicited commercial email (UCE) or spam.  There is no quicker way to destroy your business and get yourself into hot water.

More Details?

See other articles in this series for a more specific and thorough investigations of each of the above marketing resources.


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