Thursday, October 28, 2004

Lesson Learned...

So, today I wish to share a little story about my own Adwords marketing.

It all started when I learned about Wordtracker and few other ways to find out what people are searching for online. Wordtracker has a "Top Searches" ticker on their site that let's you see the Top 50 most searched for (non-adult) terms of the day. Their actual product is the best search-term research tool available. It's designed to help you target the best words for your site or ads or whatever. It is very common to see referrences to Wordtracker scattered throughout the ecommerce community. They've become something of an internet marketer institution.

Anyway, from Wordtracker I picked up the fact that in October, people are looking for Halloween stuff. Lots of people. I decided to see if I could cash in on that seasonal traffic.

Before I go any further, let me give you those "other ways" to find popular searches that I mentioned. The first is the Lycos Top 50. The second is Yahoo's Buzz Index (be sure to check the Overall category). The third is Google Zeitgeist, which has quite a creative name. I'm sure that there's more out there since this is a pretty popular topic.

Okay, so Halloween. I thought, "I should find a great online costume store and promote that with Adwords." That's just what I did. I found a program that was managed through Commission Junction, allowed keyword bidding (not all CJ programs do, which is stupid), and had a really great store with tons of costumes.

So I joined the program and set everything up. I wrote my ad about costumes and got my keywords together. I focused on 'halloween' and 'costumes', but I did have to do some research to narrow things down. For example, I didn't want my ads shown to people looking for 'halloween party ideas', or 'free costume ideas' or anything like that. Google has its own keyword tool within the Adwords program which is very useful and can help you find things you'll want to exclude.

Sometime I'll get into the details of keyword research but that's not the point of this story. The point of this story is that I got almost 600 click-throughs in about 3 days. That cost me about $86. From all that traffic I made 13 sales totalling about $480 dollars. The only problem was that my commision was only 6%. I earned less than $30, putting me $56 in the hole for that campaign.

The moral of the story is that marketing with Adwords has its limitations. For instance, it costs money. If you're going to market something that has very popular terms, you need to be sure that the sales you make are going to exceed your advertising costs. I was only paying, on average, $.16 per click and never more than $.20. If I had been earning at least $6-7 per sale I would have broken even, but I was earning an average of $2.21 per sale and lost money.

As far as my ratio of clicks-to-sales, I got about 2.2%. That's not great, but most affiliate marketers would find that to be acceptable. 5-7% would be great, especially if you were making more like $15-20 per sale. If I had been earning $15 per sale I would have made $195 which would have covered my costs and a good amount of groceries. Also, I wouldn't have stopped my campaign after 3 days and the store would have gotten more sales.

I don't want to scare you away from all programs that offer lower percentage commissions. This campaign would have been very profitable if I had used a website to market it. When you don't pay for your visitors, you can leave the ad up longer and, well, you have less to risk and less to lose. I learned that with Adwords, you need to be pretty careful about that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Good Product

So what makes a good product to sell with Adwords?

Here's what I think:

1. Mid-range price. You don't want to sell something too cheap because you won't make enough comissions to cover your advertising costs. You don't want to sell something too expensive because, well, you want people to buy it. A product that makes a $15-25 dollar comission is probably a good bet (when you're getting around %50). I have tried to market a product that cost almost $100 and that really didn't go too well.

2. Easy access. Stuff that people can download and use today is probably best (that's where ClickBank comes in).

3. A Good Site. There are several aspects that combine to make a good sales site:

a) Those long, thin sites with the text in the middle are best (like the Google Cash site). I know this because the pros say so and the pros do so. You'll notice that all the big name marketers have long thin pages to sell their stuff.

b) The best sites have an opt-in e-mail newsletter that people can join. I was afraid of this at first, thinking that if people signed up for the e-mails I would lose the sale to the site owner, but it turned out that my fear was unfounded. Most site owners use the e-mails to extend their sales pitch while preserving my status as referer. They offer some free tips and advice, which build trust, and keep trying for the sale. This is good because most people don't buy on the first visit. They click, they look, and if they're interested they may come back later. Those e-mails make it much more likely that they'll come back later.

c) The site should look good. Good looking graphics are important, as well as nice colors. If you think the site is ugly, chances are other people do too. A good looking page goes a long way to build customer trust in the seller and confidence in the product.

d) The site should talk about benefits. Lots of sellers focus on the features of their product. You want to find sellers who focus on the benefits of owning the product. That is to say, they focus not on what it does, but what it does for you. What problem does it solve? What help does it give? How will it make your life better? Features are important too, but benefits are better.

e) The site should include testimonials. This is someone else, not the seller, telling about how great the product is or how pleased they are that they bought it. Testimonials are important for building that all-important confidence that people need to get to the sale.

Those are the basic criteria by which I judge a potential site and product. These aren't hard and fast rules of course, but they're pretty good guidelines. Here's a good example of a great sales site: This product is currently number one in the Pets section on ClickBank and is being marketed by quite a few people on Adwords.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


All right. I'm going to get into some details today. My first topic will be ClickBank.

ClickBank is an interesting type of affiliate management service. They only deal with downloadable products like software and ebooks. Interested parties can register to sell their product through ClickBank. It is possible to buy directly from the ClickBank website, but most sales come through ClickBank's affiliates. Each of the products are sold on their own sites and purchased through the ClickBank shopping cart.

There are several nice things about ClickBank. First, you sign up with ClickBank once and then can freely switch between any of the products being sold. All you have to do is change a small portion of your affiliate link and you're good. You could sell something different every day, or every hour, if you so chose. There's no need to notify anyone about your changes, ClickBank tracks your sales from where ever they may come.

In addition, products are ranked by performance (sales) so it's easy to spot good sellers. Of course, this has its disadvantages becuase everyone sees what you see, so competion on Adwords can get pretty heavy.

That leads into my next point, which concerns the connection between ClickBank and Adwords marketing. Because the ClickBank affiliate system is so simple (there's generally just the small standard text link which you can take anywhere), it lends itself to Adwords. Also, all the products are digital so if people like what they see, they can get it right then and there. No shipping, and no hassels. That increases the chances of impulse buys, in my opinion, which is great for selling with Adwords.

On a normal affiliate site, you might find a review, a sales letter or some other type of endorsment. After reading that presell copy, the visitor would click through to the product site and get the full sales pitch. With Adwords, your presell copy is two short lines and a title. Because you can't do much preselling with that, it helps to have products that are so easy to buy.

It also helps that ClickBank has over 10,000 products, almost all of which are sold individually. When someone clicks your ad, they'll find a site that sells exactly what you advertised and nothing else (at least, it shouldn't. If it does sell other things I would think twice about avertising it).

Conclusion: Most of what I sell on Adwords comes from ClickBank. This is a generally accepted good idea (The Google Cash site, and book, discuss ClickBank as well), though it's certainly not your only option.

That's all for now, expect more details next post.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Last post I said I'd talk about the easiest affiliate marketing strategy that there is, and so that is what I'll do.

First off, you need to know about affiliate programs, what they are and how they work. Since you're here, I assume that you know. (If not, there's a basic explanation on the BeginBiz affiliate programs page.)

So you know about affiliate programs. Perhaps you've even joined one or two or many. Now I assume that you're wondering how best to make money with them. Let it be said that there are many, many ways to make money through affiliate programs.

I think that the best way is to have a well visited site that focuses on one certain topic, like bass fishing, which you can use as advertising space for your fishing supplies program. But most of us don't have sites like that already made. So you could make one, but that takes a lot of time and effort.

The second best way is to have a massive opt-in e-mail list that you can add affiliate ads to when you send out your messages. Of course, most of us don't have that either, and it takes even more time and effort than a web site to get there.

That said, I can now introduce an affiliate marketing plan that needs neither a web site nor a e-mail list. In fact, all you need is an affiliate link and Google. That's why I say it's that easiest that there is. Unless you have a popular site or e-mail list, I think that this is the best way to start.

I did not come up with this idea. I wish I had, but I certainly wouldn't be telling anyone about it right now if that was the case. I would keep it secret until I had made some good money with no competition. The man who is generally credited with this system, or at least, who wrote the first ebook about it, is named Chris Carpenter. He titled his book, Google Cash.

I would recommend that you read it (and by that I mean buy it and then read it, because it's not free). Chris Carpenter is now well recognized for his online success. He is a 'pro' at this stuff. I am maybe some type of low-level wanna-be-pro. That means that he is making way more money than I am, and therefore his advice is better than mine. It certainly has more details.

Anyway, you're probably peeved by now since I haven't really explained anything. Okay, here's the deal: What Google Cash is essentially about is Google Adwords. That's the advertising program that puts the little ads on the right hand side of Google's search results pages (or SERPs as they're commonly called by the insider crowd). I'm sure you've seen plenty of those.

So here's what you do: Join an affiliate program and sign up for Adwords. With your free affiliate program and your $5 Adwords setup fee, you've paid your startup costs. Now, instead of posting your affiliate link on a web site, you put it in your Google ad. Basically, you take your campaign right to the source. Instead of waiting for people to find your site, where they may see your affiliate ad and click, you find people who are looking for what you sell and show them right to the door. When an interested party clicks on your ad, they're taken directly to your affiliate's site (and hopefully right to the page that has the product they're looking for). If they buy, you get paid.

The only catch is that when they click, you pay, whether they buy or not. The minimum cost-per-click for Adwords is $0.05, but popular keywords can cost much more. I'll touch on how Adwords works later. For now, I will end this post by saying that you now know about the easiest affiliate marketing scheme that there is: The Google Cash system. Simply genius.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Beginning

It always seems like the hardest part of writing is getting started. Once I have a few sentences, or a solid paragraph, things start flowing pretty smoothly. There may be some bumps along the way, even some difficult problems, but once I have some direction I can get through it.

I find that internet marketing, or at least profitable internet marketing, follows the same path as writing a paper. It's hard to get started. You need to do research. The first draft is usually crappy and should probably be rewritten (or at least edited thoroughly). On a positive note, it's about as hard (or as easy) as writing a paper. Anyone who knows about their subject can do it.

Better yet, there's never any due date for your marketing success (unless you have payments due...). Unlike a paper that you have to turn in, marketing strategies can always be tweaked, tested, and improved over time. Practice makes better.

That's why most people don't quit their day job to work online until they're already making money. Based on my own experience, I would recommend that course of action. I started getting into the internet money scene this past summer when I was out of school and out of work. I would have starved to death if I hadn't gained a sensible wife who has a real job.

Anyway, the point is that getting started can be difficult, and this blog is here to help. The internet makes tons of things easier, which is good and bad. Good because you now have hope of making money with your own business. Bad because everyone else does too (and that means everyone, even these people).

So be sure to check back soon. I plan on talking about the easiest affiliate marketing strategy there is for the next little while.