Spying On Your Competition
In this third and final tutorial in this affiliate marketing series, I am going to highlight several more unusual or less well-known ways of increasing your affiliate marketing earnings.
The Lesser Travelled Traffic Road
I have no doubt that I would be preaching to the converted if I were to start telling you how important it is to drive targeted visitors to any affiliate offers that you are promoting.
Consequently, instead of doing so, what I will highlight in this chapter are a few less commonly used marketing approaches and ideas.
Whilst I make no claim that any of these concepts are revolutionary, there may be ideas that you have not come across before or have forgotten about.
The most important thing is that every one of these strategies is one that you can use quickly, easily and at no cost to put any offer you are promoting in front of targeted prospects who you are most keen to reach.
Many forum sites allow you to add a signature file to your forum profile, sometimes immediately after joining and sometimes after you have made a certain number of posts or threads to the forum.
Every forum site on the Internet is a meeting place for groups of people who have been drawn together by their common interests or love of a particular topic or subject matter.
Hence, if you can find forums that focus on the market niche in which you are promoting and you can add a signature file to your profile, you are able to promote your offer to just about the most targeted bunch of individuals on the Internet.
To find targeted forum sites, all that is needed is a standard Google search for ‘your topic + forums’. This for example is the results page for ‘weight loss forums’:
There are 41 million broad search results returned by weight loss forums, so there is certainly no shortage of forums and information available.
Start at the top of the page with the most popular organic results to check for those that allow a signature file. A quick look at the site should confirm whether there is anyone using signature links, if not, you may still be allowed to include an HTML link in the body of your posts on some forum sites.
In either case, the important thing is to post as much useful, informative content to the site as you can to establish yourself as a trusted, honest, respected member.
Do this and include a link to your landing page (never link from a forum directly to an affiliate offer) in every post and you will see plenty of targeted visitors arriving every time you contribute to the forum.
Okay, everyone knows eBay but did you know that in certain auction categories, you can post a Classified Ad which you can use to send targeted visitors to your landing page?
What is more, you get to feature your Classified Ad on the world’s most popular online auction site for 30 days for just $9.95, which is outstanding value for such great publicity.
And of course, if you create an ad which focuses on a valuable free gift anyone can obtain by visiting your landing page, this is a very cheap way of adding additional subscribers to your list. You don’t make an immediate sale but of course, you start promoting to your new subscribers immediately after they have confirmed list membership and that’s when the promotion starts. Equally obviously, you can now keep promoting multiple affiliate offers unless (or until) they decide to unsubscribe from your list.
As suggested, not every category accepts Classified Ads but there is a list of the categories where classifieds are accepted at the bottom of this page.
You might have to be a little imaginative to use this resource but with a high quality free gift allied to a landing page, using eBay Classified Ads can be a targeted traffic goldmine.
There cannot be many active online marketers who are not aware of the power of video marketing. A well-positioned video published on a site like YouTube can drive thousands of targeted prospects to your landing pages, and marketing with videos is of course free.
The problem that many marketers seem to encounter is that they have difficulties creating effective videos, videos that are entertaining enough to draw viewers that can nevertheless be linked in some way to their opportunity or market niche.
Publishing videos is however an absolute breeze if you know about one of the Internet’s best kept secrets – public domain content.
Public domain content describes materials where the original copyright has expired or where there was no copyright in the first place.
In effect therefore, all materials that are available in the public domain can be used by anyone for any purpose in any way they like without restriction.
And at the time of writing, there are in excess of 257,000 public domain moving image downloads available completely free at Archive.com, any of which you can edit and republish as your own marketing videos:
If for some reason you have avoided marketing using video to market affiliate opportunities to date, you can start using them pretty much straight away armed with such a vast library of free materials (including for example some Disney movies!).
As highlighted in the previous tutorial, as well as making money from your affiliate marketing efforts now, it is also important to remember the bigger or longer term picture too.
In this respect, what you should always be looking for are opportunities to generate a more reliable income than that which is normally associated with affiliate marketing which traditionally tends to be ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ or forever boom, then bust, then boom again.
So, here’s a thought that doesn’t seem to occur to too many affiliate marketers.
Why not spend at least some of your time promoting products and/or services that pay a regular, residual income rather than being 100% focused on products that pay once and that’s the deal done?
There are several ways you can go about doing this.
One option is to use physical product network sites like Commission Junction to find products or services that people buy on a regular basis.
Consumable goods as an example have to be replaced every time they have been consumed so at least a percentage of customers who buy products like these will come back month after month.
When this happens, you will also earn a commission on a monthly basis as well. So, if for example a customer of an affiliate program which you have joined through Commission Junction is buying top grade health supplements, or even something as basic as orange juice online, and they come back month after month to do so, you keep getting paid monthly as well.
Another option is to check out the information products that pay a residual commission that are available through Clickbank.
To do this, open up the ‘Marketplace’ page and either type in your keyword term or (preferably) search by category.
When the next page opens, change the default ‘Popularity’ setting at the top right-hand corner of the page to show ‘Future $’, changing the setting as shown in this screenshot of the ‘Health & Fitness’ category:
Every product that shows a ‘Future $’ figure is one where there is residual income of some form being paid by Clickbank.
However, before deciding whether to promote any particular product, you need to do your background research to establish on what basis the residual income is paid.
For instance, with some products, the residual income is only paid because of an upsell offer or OTO that is presented to the customer after they have made their initial purchase. This could mean that although there is a residual income theoretically payable, you won’t see it if the customer does not buy the upsell offer.
If however it is a regular membership site, it means that you should get paid month to month no matter what happens.
Moving beyond Clickbank, there are several sites that focus on residual income affiliate programs.
You should definitely take a look at these sites because including at least some residual income affiliate programs in your overall business mix is a very good way of starting to build up the regular monthly income that should ultimately be the ‘holy grail’ of all professional affiliate marketers:
One of the things to understand about marketing online is that there is an immense amount of information available that can be extremely helpful to your affiliate marketing efforts if you know where and how to look.
In this section, I will show you a few ways of spying on what is going on, firstly to establish beyond all doubt that particular keyword terms are profitable before demonstrating how they are used by your closest competitors.
Spying out profitable keywords
One way of finding keyword terms that are making money for other online marketers is to keep an eye on the advertising that appears on the Google search results pages. If marketers are willing to spend money using particular keyword phrases over a long period of time, you can be almost certain that they are making money with those particular terms.
The problem with this approach is that establishing beyond all doubt that a particular keyword phrase is profitable takes time.
For example, if you see an advert appear on the search results page, you cannot automatically assume that it is making money until it has appeared on the results page for a reasonable period of time, with a month or more of regular appearances needed to confirm profitability.
This means that assessing what keyword terms are profitable with this method is effective but it is also frustratingly slow.
Here is a quick and easy way of speeding the process up that very few marketers are aware of or use.
Log on to Spyfu.com and enter the keyword term that you are researching.
Say that the term is ‘australia flights’ and that I am particularly interested in the activities of PPC advertisers in the USA.
I enter the keyword term on the Spyfu homepage (the default setting returns information from the USA) and hit ‘Search’:
Now I have a page where there is information about the top ten PPC advertisers for this particular keyword phrase shown in a tabular form at the top:
What you see here is a record of all of the top PPC advertisers over the past months for any keyword phrase you enter.
The information that is provided if you subscribe to Spyfu is a great deal more detailed but even this free snapshot indicates what the main keyword advertisers have been doing the past few months.
If you now run a standard Google search using the same keyword phrase, you can quickly see how many of these advertisers are still featured on the page:
Qantas and Etihad are both there a month after the Spyfu stats were compiled (1 & 2) whereas Expedia are a new advertiser who had not previously appeared.
This tells you that both of these major airlines are making money from these ads, which indicates that this is a profitable keyword.
I might however further confirm this using the excellent Microsoft commercial intent analyzing tool to establish whether a specific keyword term or a site is one that is commercial or not.
In effect, Microsoft tell you whether a keyword is one that a buyer or an idle web surfer is more likely to use.
Given that you are looking for potential buyers for the affiliate offers you are promoting, this is extremely valuable information:
Type in your keyword term and click the ‘Query’ radio button beneath it before hitting the orange ‘Go’ button.
The tool measures the probability of whether your keyword phrase is being used with commercial intent or not, with the ultimate measurement being a maximum of 1 which equates to being as near to certain as possible.
Quite naturally, you would assume that anyone looking for ‘australia flights’ information is in the market for tickets but the answer to the question would not always be quite so clear cut as it is here:
Spying on your competitors for free
Spying out profitable keywords is one thing but it is even better to know exactly what products other affiliates are promoting and making money with as well as the keywords they are using to drive traffic to their offers.
There are two ways of doing this, this method which is free and a more automated method highlighted in the next section that is not.
Head over to Keyword Spy and sign up for a free trial.
It’s a lifetime free trial but there are some areas where the availability of information is restricted as you will see later. Nevertheless, you can still use the free version of the tool to do a lot of your research.
Once you have your account and have logged in, look for the ‘Research’ link at the top left hand corner of the page. Clicking the link opens this drop down menu:
Each of the links provides a wealth of information about what is happening in affiliate marketing so you should definitely have a play with all of them.
For now however, I want to focus on the two highlighted links.
The first ‘Affiliate Intelligence’ link shows you information about the products available through a fairly incredible 122 affiliate networks that Keyword Spy report information for.
In this example, you can see that the top network is Target.com with the chart on the left highlighting that they carry over 1.2 million products (left side axis) and that there are in excess of 3.2 millions ads out there for these products:
This is further confirmed beneath the charts in numerical form:
However, this is where it starts to get really interesting.
Click any of the blue ‘Total products’ links to the right of the network name and you get to see all of the best selling products on that network (this is Clickbank):
Click the blue ad links and you get the best selling ad copy plus the keywords, including search volume, cost per click and average ad position:
You already have a wealth of information that you can use to take your affiliate efforts to the next level right here. Copy the ads that are making money (using slightly different wording for example) and the keywords because you know that this means that you have a potential winner on your hands.
But now we can step it up further still by using a very sneaky method to spy on the guys that really make the money in affiliate marketing, the legendary ‘super affiliates’.
Go back to the ‘Research’ link and click ‘Affiliate Reports’.
This will produce reports from many of the top networks but for now, we’ll stick with Clickbank:
Scroll down the page and you have charts that show what the super affiliates are doing:
On the right, you see how many keywords each affiliate is using to advertise but what we are looking for are the affiliates who are using the least number of keyword terms in association with the largest number of products. This information can be seen from the graph on the left.
Here’s why this is so important.
A larger number of products with less keywords is showing you an advertising campaign that has already been optimized!
In other words, they have already tested all of the possible keyword terms and have got rid of those that are not profitable.
In the previous screenshot, ‘disaster’ is promoting 12 products with 4116 keywords whereas ‘purchse01’ has 15 products and over twice as many keywords. The various campaigns being run by ‘disaster’ are therefore far more optimized than those of the latter affiliate.
After clicking the blue name in the table, you see information about the products that this affiliate is promoting.
This is unfortunately where the free trial membership is limited as you only see the top 10 results, which is why I would ‘Sort Descending’ by clicking the highlighted arrow:
Now you are presented with the top 10 keyword terms, the products, the ROI, position and competitor information:
You already know (and can see from the top left of this screenshot), there are 4116 keyword terms and you can only see the first 10. If you want to see the complete picture, you will need to upgrade to a paid monthly membership.
However, one final thing that you can do is click the ‘Ad Variations’ tab at the top left hand corner to see the top 20 adverts that this particular affiliate is currently running for these products:
Although it is not made clear, you can assume that the adverts are shown in the same order as the keyword phrases in the previous chart, so that the first of these ads probably relates to ‘windmills’, the second to ‘windmill’ etc.
There is without a doubt a huge amount of free information available from Keyword Spy, stuff that you can use to tweak your own affiliate marketing campaigns.
It is unfortunately also true that if you want all of the best information, you will have to upgrade, which costs just short of $90 a month.
Spotting the ‘Movers & Shakers’ for free…
Going back to a resource we looked at earlier, you should sign up for a free 15 day trial at CBEngine.com if you did not do so previously.
When you do, you have access to a lot more extremely useful information about Clickbank products, including the current ‘Movers & Shakers’ as well as the ‘Insider’ information as well. Both of these should provide additional insights about products to keep an eye on.
When you see new products that are acquiring Clickbank ‘Momentum’ very quickly, you often have a product that is going places, one that you want to jump on very quickly (perhaps using the ‘new product’ strategy highlighted in the previous tutorial) if you have not already done so.
One of the beauties of this approach (one that you probably noticed looking at the earlier spying tools) is that they tend to highlight products that are outside the internet marketing field.
For example, the #1 CBEngine ‘Mover & Shaker’ according to current momentum levels is a non-fiction writing course:
This is probably a niche which you would not under normal circumstances investigate, so using this tool helps you to find less overexposed niches than you might otherwise discover.
During the three parts of this tutorial series, I have tried to highlight as many lesser known affiliate marketing tactics as possible with the objective of enabling you to take your affiliate marketing efforts to the next level.
Take advantage of all the suggestions, tools and resources proposed and I have little doubt that you can move your business from where it is now to a level where it brings in far more profit.
And in terms of affiliate marketing, profit is always the name of the game.