Affiliate Marketing - The Comparison Model
The value of an affiliate is nil in a customer's mind - ok, so you've shown them where they can get a few products related to that niche, but there needs to be some sense in their mind that you have offered a genuine reason for choosing those particular affiliate partners. Are the chosen partners simply making you the most handsome commission? How do you turn a lifeless "I make money off you" affiliate link into an appreciated "These are the only products you want" recommendation?
Some marketers scatter freebies around their newsletters, such as valuable advice, hoping to build positive relationships with potential paying customers, then spring the partner links on them. Others cloak their ugly affiliate hyperlinks in a ".com" sub-domain name that makes people believe the partner site is in fact owned by them. This is an effective, if slightly immoral, option if you have no products of your own to promote, plus it will make your business look more established than it actually is.
There is, however, one method of promotion that capitalises on the income immediacy of affiliate programs and adds value for the customer at the same time - Comparison sites. We've all used them, and they are a god send for consumers who want to shop around and find the cheapest place to buy. The beauty of comparison sites such as Pricerunner.com or Kelkoo.com is the visitor identifies that you, as a webmaster, have gone out of your way to find them the best websites - you've cut their search time and saved them money. This service will instantly gratify people's shopping needs in a few clicks, distracting them from the fact you've embedded your affiliate link in the comparison results and you're making money from them. Yes, being obvious about making money from people is a big turn-off in commerce - my advice would be to keep it under your hat. Some will ask "what's in it for them?" but will soon let it go.
I know what you're thinking - "when will I ever have the time to create a site to rival Kelkoo?"
The answer; think small.
Don't forget the golden rule - niche marketing. If your website or newsletter deals with "money making opportunities," draw up a page that compares five of the best money making opportunities, the best being your opinion of course, and embed your affiliate link into the "visit now" link. It works best when you do a "chart" or ranking because the number "1" automatically has positive connotations for most people. The number 1 site you can make money is? The cheapest place to get this service is? This site was ranked 1st by our team because?etc.
Visitors would also appreciate a small review or some form of analysis to make the comparison valid. Many affiliates prefer to actually sign up with the affiliate product or service themselves to rate the overall experience - this is not a bad idea when you think about how in-depth your reviews could get if you know the product you're placing at the top of the rankings is genuinely the best.
If you don't have an existing website, it shouldn't matter. Pick anything in the world market and I guarantee you can add value to simply linking to products by comparing them and helping customers narrow down their choices. Having too much choice is the big off-putter for shop surfers. Help them out. The good thing is your "mini site" can be as mini as you want it to be.
Another tip would be to offer what I like to call an "income exit" - sign up with Google's Adsense service and place a small Google search box on your mini-site. This way, especially if you've used Google Adwords, if visitors don't really find what they're after on your site, they can re-search in Google straight from your site. All has not been lost, as you make money on searches made from your Adsense search box.
The chances are, however, that your affiliate links will pull in some good income, most likely from your cheapest or "number 1" labelled product or service. There's a whole mindset with this which subconsciously places customers in debt to your service. I won't go into the psychology right now, but if you take the visitor off the search engine and place them in your capable hands, they will feel embodied by your service, not the search engine's, and will therefore feel they have already found a resolution and direction to their aimless window shopping.
Your options are seemingly infinite - I've seen comparison mini-sites for those paid survey websites, spyware programs, computer RAM, autos, games, everything. You just need to find a service or product that there is an abundance of on the web so you can say "come to my site and I'll show you which one is the best / where the cheapest is."
Offer your customers some extra services, help them make decisions and build that relationship with them. Perhaps add a newsletter stating you have other services similar to this they would be interested in and you'll keep them notified in future emails. Big potential! Bottom line; always look to add extra value to the service you initially offer your customers.
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