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No-Nonsense General Affiliate Marketing Commandments

 1:30 am on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

To describe most successful affiliates the first 10k is the toughest! - I remember how hard i worked but only to make little in AM, but once you "GET IT" ,its sooo straightforward ,simple and lucurative ...The mantra is to work smart not hard!

1 , Never spend too much of your time and energy on site design and looks - Shed your ego , your site is not the reflection of your personality or taste ...The surfer never gives a sh*t about how your site looks - Remember your sales url's are not meant to put on the card you give the girl in the bar :)

2 , Your passion is different from business [unless your passion is debt consolidation or online gambling :) ] , so never confuse business with life!

3 , SEO's are in the "I NEED IT NOW" market irrespective of the industry . So give the surfer what he needs right there and dont distract him much with chocies and stupid stories ...if he typed "dark green round widget" and landed on your site for GOD's sake give him the link to buy instead of blah blah'ing how your cousin's niece liked dark green round widget :)

4, Experiment constantly and dump the niches which are not producing and beat to death the niche which makes dough .

5, Automate , Mass produce and Clone your Success ...

6, Marketing in general and direct marketing in particular is a number's game and affiliate industry is no exception

7, Domains are a $9 commodity

8, SEO is a zero sum game and here dog eats dog .

9, if your traffic is based on SE's ,remember we are not in a long term industry and you can be 100% sure your son is not going to inherit the business :) , so never reinvest or spend all you make ,hide most of it under the carpet!

10, Stay under the radar and never post like this on a public forum :)



 6:39 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the shirich is trying to say that you can have templates which are ugly but very very efficient in leading to conversions. These can't be home brewed in 20 minutes.
They involve a lot of careful decisions and once done are best templated.

As for money without happiness .. well that's an emotional conversation which really has to be had on an individual basis and doesn't really have a good place in the forums.

However, I think both people are right. You have to do what you love but make sure you understand what people want.


 6:45 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ever wonder why the messy, cluttered, ugly stores (offline) attract 1000x the walk in customers than "fancy", pretentious stores? Simple, they look like they are cheap...Go to a tourist area and listen as people walk buy a boutique - over and over they will say "that looks expensive"

Yes but in the real world it is generally true that the fancy boutiques are more expensive. So just because the cheap little stores get a lot more customers, doesn't always mean they make more profit. They have sell a lot more volume of there low priced stuff then the expensive boutique does. Because the expensive place makes a larger profit off each expensive thing sold. Unless you are a huge SuperStore like Walmart. Not as true I think for really small cheap stores. There have been many cases where merchants have gotten a huge increase in buyer conversions just by simply raising the prices of there items which made them appear more "valuable and special" to the buyers.

Out here in Cal. there is the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk which is one of the top tourist visited spots in all of Cal. Everything sold there is super cheap. Mostly cheap junk and the vendors are crappy looking. I've talked to several of the vendors and they really don't make all that much. It really depends all on real estate location in the real world. Go down to Bev. Hills and people are dishing out fortunes for just as crappy junk at stupid places like Barneys.

I don't know why I'm talking about that. I don't know how it relates online as that is an area I don't have as much information about. While ebay and amazon might look cheap, they are still well organized and there has been a tremendious amount of thought and planning to there layout and sales approach. And they also have to actually be cheap not just look it. So I would think it does matter on weather or not what you are selling is cheap or expensive. I don't know.

But there is such a range of styles and layouts of sites and functionality. I don't think it's really black and white. Pretty or Ugly. And slick does not always equal good looking. I've seen many ugly slick sites. In the adult business most of the paysites are fairly slick but guady, flashy and ugly. And that has usually what has attracted the crowd. Flashy, bright attention getting emotionally stimulating looks.
I think it matters a lot what you are selling and what you want it to do to the visitors. Calm them, excite them, draw them in, chase them away quickly to a PPC link etc.

I would think that it matters less how a site looks if just directing buyers to other "affiliate" sites. As opposed to buying from the site they are on. More professional sites give the impression of greater trust that it is a real company you are handing your money that took the time to set up there online store and not something that someone in there bedroom threw up the night before with a link to paypal and perhaps no real plans on shipping anything or may have changed everything the next day when you go back to the site. Esp. sites where there are tons of dead links and a lot of things don't work.

Again, I know I'm a minority. I would deffinitely like to test all these different kinds of styles and sale approaches to see what does better for different products.

But is there any examples of what people are really talking about when they say that an "ugly" site does better, what are you really considering as "ugly" or "home brewed"? Does anyone have any examples of each they can show? Not of there own sites but just some sites you've seen online that match your deffinitions?


 7:32 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

mfishy wrote:
It is probably best to make a definition of successful aff marketing here as folks like Ronin always seem to chime in with, "you can be successful without money" type posts.... I can guarantee you that Gopi's methods alone work to the tune of hundreds of thousands per year profit if executed properly.

I don't want to run the risk of being misrepresented here >;->

As far as affiliate marketing (or any marketing) goes, an agreeable definition of success would be maximum achievable profits. I'm not quibbling with that.

But given that you are fast-thinking, innovative, talented and motivated - and I would assume most of us here are - you don't need to think about the money that much and you can still make those profits. You don't need to make profit the primary goal - you can make following your talent and innovation your primary goal instead and sometimes find that you end up making more money than if you stuck to derivative formulae.

When I say that:

there are at least two other profitable strategies I can think of which work extremely successfully.

I mean it. Successful to the tune of six figures a year. And if I can think of two other profitable strategies, there are probably countless others.

Gopi's second rule:
Your passion is different from business [unless your passion is debt consolidation or online gambling :) ] , so never confuse business with life!

is one way of going about things, but it's only a strategy which would be pursued by those for whom their business is the means to an end (profit).

For those who see the profits they make (and I see no reason why these should be any less than those of a "hardcore" capitalist) as a way to support themselves and their future ventures and as the means to an end (pursuit and fulfillment of new ideas, projects and intiatives) the idea of ever building your business around something you are not hugely passionate about makes no sense.

Once you are doing what you enjoy, it ceases to be work. When it is no longer work and it is still making money on a cumulative revenue basis, profits will come naturally and you won't even need to think about the money as your primary goal any more... just where you want to expand your ideas next.

That was my point.

Michael Anthony

 8:10 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've built all my businesses around a subject that I'm most passionate about - money! Most other successful affiliates seem to share my passion too.
Strange, eh, you'd think that with all of us thinking the same, the niche of "making money" would be pretty full, but no, more join us by the day. :)


 8:38 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> I'm most passionate about - money!

LOL Mike :)

Ronin , Most of use here are passionate of Online Marketing i guess ,so as i said before , we all are following our passion whether we sell payday loans or pancake makers , right?

I agree other than SEO we all are passionate on some other thing... Just use your expertise to promote that cause on the internet ...So if you have a thing about conserving "Central Amazonian Frogs" create a site/forum for it :) [if you are a hardcore capitalist like me you will leverage that site to leak PR! ]


 8:57 pm on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I suspect you probably kept away from adult content and pharm affiliates. Not because of the money aspect, but because you wanted to do something that interested you.


 3:38 am on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hmmmm...why just be a mere affiliate? The real money is in playing both sides of the fence. Why not create a product and entice an army of affiliates to sell it for you? If the product is good and the commission high enough you won't have to worry about building 10,000 "ugly" sites to make money.

Ah well, why not? Another good way is producing a product that others will sell for you, all the while placing affiliate links within your product that you will get paid for...hundreds of times over...from your "affiliate" army doing the work. There, that's another way to make money with minimal effort...



 3:58 am on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, except you have to create a product that will sell. Affiliates have the luxury of simply moving on to the next if it doesn't sell.


 4:45 am on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

True blaze...but once you get the "formula" correct, it's like printing currency ;)



 4:56 am on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hmmmm...why just be a mere affiliate? The real money is in playing both sides of the fence. Why not create a product and entice an army of affiliates to sell it for you? If the product is good and the commission high enough you won't have to worry about building 10,000 "ugly" sites to make money.

Ah well, why not? Another good way is producing a product that others will sell for you, all the while placing affiliate links within your product that you will get paid for...hundreds of times over...from your "affiliate" army doing the work. There, that's another way to make money with minimal effort...

So what the only products to create are information and software? Why is that the only products people focus on? That's the only way to place links inside.

As an affiliate you are able to sell all kinds of products without having to deal with investment, development, shipping, customer service, content updating, server problems, production, staff, hackers, all the affiliates, writing checks and keeping track of everything Etc. Etc.

There are plenty of ways to make money. It just comes down to what tasks do you want to take on. The thing that got me attracted to trying affiliate stuff for the first time now is just concentrating soley on marketing. Not all that above stuff plus marketing. I used to run membership sites and I would spend half the day each day just dealing with customer service issues. Calls and emails. Servers going down. Hackers non-stop. One hacker cost us 25K. I'll let someone else deal with all those headaches and upkeep for 50% of the profit. It's like having partners to deal with all the unpleasant backend work for you.


 12:26 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is what I've learned over the years owning and/or running online and offline companies.

You have to give the client/customer/referral what they are want. If you focus on how you can help the client rather than how the client can help you (make you money) then you will be successful.

If you satisfy the clients needs, then you will make money. Quite often, if your primary focus is how you can make money, the client will sense this and leave, sensing that you don't have their best interest in mind.

You also have to keep in mind the different kinds of shopper personalities.
You have the "bottom line" kind of person, as in how much does it cost--period.
You have the "got to know every detail" person. No amount of information is ever enough.
You have the "touchy feely" people who need to have a connection or a "conversation" before they will buy.
There are lots more shopping personality types that every good marketer will know how to reach.

So in effect, what everyone saying here is partially true, but it is like the story of the blind men touching one part of the elephant and trying to explain what they were touching. They each described one part of it, but none of them got the big picture.

There are certain people who convert based on the short and sweet "here's the price--BUY IT NOW!" that would probably like the sites that GOPI is suggesting.
There are other that won't convert unless they can get LOTS of information. They would probably like the "content" sites like some others suggested.
There are even some people that won't buy because the site is not "pretty" enough.

Any marketer that does not appeal to all of the different types of personalities is leaving money on the table. It may take a few different sites to do this but domains and hosting are just a cheap commodity now. Why not appeal to all types of people in order to make more money? Like someone said use templates. One template for each personality/site type = Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money :)


 1:14 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting post, brizad.

On shopper types, I wonder if you have any experience as to which "types of keywords" will attract which shopper?

By "types of keywords", I mean is there a style to it like how, why, I want, I need, buy etc preceding (form part of) the search terms?

My guess is straightforward:

1. Buy, find, purchase, -- type of instant shopper that gopi refers to

2. How, what, where -- information seeking types

But I'm just guessing...


 1:30 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>On shopper types, I wonder if you have any experience as to which "types of keywords" will attract which shopper?

If you are interested, sticky me I can give you some sites and books where I learned a lot about these things. The information is golden.


 4:14 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree 100% with brizad. There really are many types. I wonder if there is a way to incorporate most of them all in one site?

I've always had the attitude of wanting to give more in "use" value then I took from customers in "monetary" value. But of course since there are a lot of things that I have sold that I would never buy myself it's hard for me to really tell what it is worth to others who love it. I just would test different prices and see how much they would pay. Let the sales conversion be the vote for how much it was worth. Just try to be as honest as possible about what they are getting without using any negatives or anything to discourage there excitement.

Brizad I am going to sticky you too for that info. Sounds interesting.


 7:39 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

OK, I think I responded to everyone who stickied me. If not, let me know.


 7:44 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)


You and I agree...If you always overdeliver on your promises (ie: ads or sales copy), then you will have plenty of customers.


 8:13 am on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I must protest .. unless you have known brand, I am unclear as to how under promising works in the global internet economy.

Accurately promising works, over promising works (though it can ruin your brand and cause other issues) .. but under promising?

Again, I do see this works if you have a strong brand.
And don't get me wrong, developing strong brands is a worthwhile tactic, but I still do not see how under promising directly leads to more business.

Its got to be the brand and that can't even by generated by under promising alone..


 3:53 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)


I guess you would have to rely on word of mouth... After the sale if you overdeliver, people would have to tell others about it for it to be effective, right?


Michael Anthony

 7:48 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is a golden rule in ANY business...

Under promise, Over deliver.

Perfect example, from my travel industry days..

We get/print tickets around 21 days before departure. We check them, then post them to the customers. We usually told customers to expect their tickets 14 days prior to departure, but sometimes there's a delay from the supplier and the customer gets late tickets and blows their top.

So we promised tickets 7 days prior to departure, delivered them around 14 days prior and had delighted customers. The facts remaimed the same, but my salespeople created a different expectation in the customer's mind, which then created a different customer reaction when the tickets were delivered.

Last time I ordered a new Mercedes they delivered it 3 weeks later than their promise - I was livid! I've just ordered another one, but this time they said that the delivery date is "TBA" - looks like they've learnt something too.

However, how all this translates to the web, and specifically to aff marketing, is completely beyond me!


 9:18 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, but did you tell them after the sale or before the sale?

Like .."Oh btw, before you purchase it will take 2 weeks for the tickets to get to you."

If you are trying to convert, I guarantee unless you have a powerful brand, you're not going to under promise.


 10:16 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Michael Anthony
>>However, how all this translates to the web, and specifically to aff marketing, is completely beyond me!

I/we did get a little sidtracked there :-)

To maybe stretch the concept a little...I think that you could relate overdelivering to affiliate marketing something like this:

If you have a content site don't write a lot of BS and hype just to sell the product. Make sure you are recommending quality products so that hopefully the client will be happy with your referral and will tell others about your site, which would hopefully lead to more sales, and more recommendation, and more sales, and more incoming links, etc.

As far as affiliate sites that are basically just 1 of 10,000 similar pags (ever try to buy electronics online?) It seems that if you can differentiate yourself as SOMETHING different than all of the other clone sites then you will have a slight edge.

Last time I tried to buy a DVD player and digital camera all of the friggin SERPS were the same spammy cloaked pages over and over 10 google pages deep! (Thanks dealtime!) All that does is make a customer mad. It made me mad anyway...maybe I'm weird!?

In this case overdelivering would be something a little more than just the same text from the manufacturer on every single page!

I guess the point that I was trying to make here is that marketing is marketing is marketing. Online or brick and mortar it is all basically the same. Online it is so easy to take shorcuts and do things quickly that quality often suffers.


 11:28 pm on Jun 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Again, you're developing a brand. There is no question that this works for a brand.

However, if you are converting off of PPC or SERP, I'd really like to know what percentage of sales are brand related.


 12:36 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Blaze, I'm not really talking about a brand per se, although it would probably work best for a brand.

Like in my previous example, shopping for a DVD player. I was trying to find ratings, reviews, recommendations or something other than just the stock manufacturers sales blurb and product specs. I found that almost every single page was the exact same info for pages and pages into the google results. So how does this help your potential customer--delivering the same content as everyone else? (lets not even start on spamming and cloaking)

If I could have found one site that had the even the appearance that an actual human being was involved-- say maybe a review of the product, or a comment from someone that owned it I would have been thrilled. This would have "overdelivered" on my expectation.

In the end, I did what I always do. I checked am*z*n and e*pinion to see what real people had to say and I bought from Am*z*n even though they did not have the best price. Just because I could read what other people said about it and becuase there is an actual review from big A.

A person making a buying decision goes through the exact same 5 step buying process whether they are shopping on the web or at wal mart. If you skip one of these steps, sales suffer. No question about it.

As for if this would work for PPC. Hmmm not sure. I think it would relate to acurate and not over-hyped ad copy. If you overpromise in the ad copy then the client gets to the merchant site/product and is dissapointed, then you have wasted the persons time and wasted whatever you paid for the click. You may have also hurt the "brand" of the website that you referred to.

Just food for thought. Everyone had to follow their own path.


 1:40 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Brizad ,You may want to look into shrirch's comment (msg #19) - "99.999999% of the internet users are nothing like yourself"

In AM , unless i have a "customer for life" deal with the merchant i dont think underpromising/overdelivering works! ... If i am not pushing for the sale by highlighting benefits the surfer simply may click the back button and go for the next listing!


 2:25 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't know what this has to do with underpromising. You don't have to underpromise in order to overdeliver. I would promise as much as I could feel 100% confident with being able to deliver. So just not overpromising anything that I'm not sure about being able to deliver. A good option I think is what most businesses do which is to give a wider range. Like if you are promising a time period like Michael Anything talked about you can say that they will receive the tickets in 7-14 days before the flight. Giving a range of the earliest to longest so they don't just see the longest possible time. Right now I'm offering a service to people and the time it will take depends all on what else is going on in business and the number of orders which will increase in the future. So I promise that they will receive there proof within a week. Even though right now just starting out it will most likely be only 1 day before they receive them. I'm sure they will be surprised and happy when they get them so quickly when they had different expectations.

Another thing to think about is that overdelivering is not neccesarily all about your own promises or even what you deliver only AFTER a sale. It is also about people's pre-expecations of what they expect to get from sites and services. This is based on there past experiences with other sites. Like what brizad talked about his experience with all the sites he saw giving the same limited information and totally useless gave him that expectation of what he would find by going to sites from Google searches on it. Now if he came accross a site that was different and offered actual quality reviews and an organized directory and quick comparison, articles and other quality content on the different choices and merchants that site would in effect be Overdelivering on the average expectation from other sites and get his attention. I think you should overdeliver as much as you can upfront so people see the difference in what you are offering and what others are offering. Even if part of that is in promises of what they will get only after they complete your desired action. As long as you promtly follow through afterwards.

I don't think it has anything to do with Branding either. It's all about service and usefullness. Which is all people want. They don't give a **** about your brand or what you want to call yourself. If you want them to remember that and for them to keep coming back to you you will have to make that even more solid and easy to remember, good logo, talk more about yourself and company, provide more reasons for trust and reasons to come back. So in other words a lot more content and positioned as an "expert" in your area.

But for general service overdelivery even for review/comparison aff. sites you don't need to worry about your brand. Esp. if your site is very niche that once the person is able to find what they want from your site and get it from the aff. merchant they have no reason to come back because they already found what they want from you.

I do think it is a useful service. I've been looking for a merchant account and most of the sites just list a bunch of different ones with links to them. So you have to go to each one and read through a huge site after site trying to compare them. But then I found one site that has a bunch of articles and brakes everything down by type and needs with full reviews, rates of each, benefits and drawbacks etc. Everything I needed to compare the different choices on that site instead of all the individual sites. That was the only one where I was able to find quickly what I was looking for all day. And I really don't think that accounts for only .01% of internet surfers.

I think the basic idea is to give something of value first if you can.


 12:00 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think overdelivering has more to do with what kind of value added services you throw in to the package.

For instance, you might say: "Sign up for a weekly email on the best new DVD deals". That's not underpromising, that's exactly what you're going to send them.

But when you do send the email, as well as best new deals you also include two reviews of latest releases, a promotional two for one offer and a free preview mpeg. Which they didn't expect. That's overdelivery.


 1:27 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

That has hindered me abit. Do you have any examples that this is based on for Aff Marketing?

Some aff script writers have very ugly sites and if you want to use their script for free, you sign up as a sub-aff to some large data-feed merchant's program.

While most cookie-cutter sites will look exactly alike, the ones who break out of that mould are the ones who take heed of marketing principles, e.g. add a "Buy Now" button at the first page.


 4:59 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)


While most cookie-cutter sites will look exactly alike, the ones who break out of that mould are the ones who take heed of marketing principles, e.g. add a "Buy Now" button at the first page.

Right on!

Time after time we have enjoyed better success with home brewed html pages over fancy emplates.

Does this approach work better for aff links involving thousands of products or for aff sites focusing on rather a limited number of products?

Gopi: Thanks for your excellent post -being a total newbee to AM -I find it very helpful/informative. Just added this thread to my bookmarks...


 7:05 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

AW_LERNER....Right on!

Brizad ,You may want to look into shrirch's comment (msg #19) - "99.999999% of the internet users are nothing like yourself"

Yes you are correct and I fully realize that. However, in my post I *was* speaking about *my* experience. I actually go out of my way in my work to NOT rely on my personal biases.

On the other hand, I have read many usability studies surveys, polls, etc. that show what I am saying to be true and they work for me. However, maybe these facts don't apply to your personal business setup.

I'm not trying to convert anyone, just giving opinions based on research I have read and personal experience. To each their own.


 7:39 pm on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> I actually go out of my way in my work to NOT rely on my personal biases.

I think you say this is your own expirences when you searched for your personal buys (not work related) , right?

What shrirch said is irrespective of what we search (our niche or not ) the attitude and behaviour of us online is waaay different than the normal joe bloe ...

I've watched the search behaviour of even my tech friends (Advanced Programmers and Master comp sci degree holders) and i have to say its not that much different from my non-techie aunt!


 2:07 am on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd like to chime in on this ugly v/s fancy debate. I tend to prefer simple v/s complex. Simple sites work.

Perhaps the big affiliates have mastered the right mix of simple/ugly/dancing bears in the background. I have not.

The best case-study would be McDonalds. They have apparently spent millions doing customer flow research and it boils down to this...

1) Get the customer in the door through a variety of means (traffic)

2) Greet them with a friendly smile and ask them "can I help you" (buy button)

3) Don't make the atmosphere too friendly, you want people to eat and leave.

4) Build as many stores as possible with as little expense as possible using the same designs and principles (huge amount of cookie cuttering here)

etc etc .... I'd never call a mcdonald's store ugly.

However, do keep in mind that this is not the only model that works.

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