Welcome to the sixth tutorial in the ‘Journey into internet marketing’ tutorial series which focuses on ‘Review’ sites.
In this tutorial, you will discover what review sites are, the circumstances where you might use them and why review sites can be extremely profitable for you. As with all modules in this tutorial series, this unit logically follows those that have been published before.
If you have not already done so, I recommend that you read Part 5 – Introduction To Search Engine Marketing now as well as any previous tutorials that you have not yet looked at.
In the third tutorial of this series, you learned the basics of affiliate marketing whereas in the fourth tutorial, you were introduced to Clickbank and several alternative affiliate marketing networks.
You should therefore have picked up the basics of making money as an affiliate already. Even so, it is important that you fully understand your role in the affiliate product sales process.
As an affiliate, it is not your job to sell the product. That is the job of the sales page to which you send the prospect.
Sometimes, pre-selling the product might not be necessary at all. You could for example send the prospect directly to the product sales page. However, this is not always the most effective way of convincing your prospect to buy what you are recommending. On the contrary, it is sometimes necessary to pre-sell the prospect before sending them to the sales page.
You might for example need to get them excited about the product and what it can do for them before sending them to the sales page. Perhaps providing them with additional information before they see the sales page might help them decide whether your offer is for them or not.
For example, there are some types of products that Internet users are more suspicious about than others. For instance, weight loss is a huge online market because there are millions of people all over the world desperate to lose weight. Many of these people have spent money on weight loss plans and products on the Internet and have been hugely disappointed with the results. Consequently, they are naturally skeptical about whether spending money on another weight loss product is a good idea or not.
If you promote such a weight loss product, sending them directly to the Clickbank sales page might be a waste of time. They are already skeptical because of past disappointments. They land on the sales page and immediately recognize it for what it is.
They know that the job of that page is to force them to get their credit card out, something that by now, they are extremely reluctant to do. In short, there is no way that this prospect will be receptive to or open-minded about the offer if you send them straight to the sales page.
This is where providing your prospect with more information before they are presented with the sales letter should pay dividends. This is also where review sites come into the picture.
A review site is exactly what it sounds like, a section of your site where you review a product or products.
Review sites can take different formats. One option is to publish a review page where you give your opinion on the merits of only one product. In this case, it is quite common for online marketers to use a blog site rather than a full-blown HTML site. Using a blog for a single product review of this nature is simple, quick and there is no reason why it cannot be effective:
On the other hand, many online marketers prefer to feature multiple reviews on the same page, in which case it is more common to code the page in ‘traditional’ HTML:
Apart from the fact that creating a single product review site using a blog is easier, many online marketers prefer the multiple review HTML site model for several reasons.
First of all, if you have several products on the same page, the amount of review information you need to provide for each product is less. This makes writing the review considerably easier. In addition, this option presents your prospects with several choices.
As when they are shopping off-line, online prospects like to know what is available in the market. Consequently, offering a choice is often an approach that is popular with potential customers.
The bottom line is, creating a single product review site is easier but a multiple product review site may have more appeal to potential customers.
The basic concept of the review is that you provide additional information about the product that you are promoting. Furthermore, you try to do this from a user’s point of view wherever possible.
This information must be presented in a reasonably neutral, impartial voice. Remember that the purpose of the review site is to provide information that will help your prospects make up their mind, not to ‘sell them’.
Writing a ‘success story’ is the most widely used format when creating single product review pages. It will be something like ‘I tried to do this for years, never got anywhere, then I discovered and started to use XYZ, now my troubles are all behind me’.
On the other hand, you need to write a far shorter, more concise report on each product for multiple review sites. In this case, you focus on the benefits of each product in turn, emphasizing where each alternative is strongest. The format of each individual product review is ‘this is what it does and this is how it benefits you’.
In all product reviews, your primary focus should be on the positive benefits the product provides. But it pays to include one or two minor downsides to balance the positive benefits. Doing so makes your review appear less biased and therefore more credible.
At the same time, you should never be unnecessarily negative about review products even when there are several products on the same page and you have a clear favorite. Even when one product is your ‘standout’ recommendation, some prospects might prefer one of the alternatives, especially if there is a price variation. Don’t allow your negativity about the product they prefer to kill the sale.
On your multiple review page, create a merit scoring system by rating each product out of five stars or something similar. Make sure that your top selection scores 4.5-4.75, with the other products scoring progressively lower.
Of course, you must be an affiliate for every product that is featured on the review site. This ensures you get paid irrespective of the product choice of every targeted prospect you send to this page.
Equally obviously, your affiliate link must be attached to the review on the page. This ensures that if the visitor clicks the link to visit the sales page for more information and buys, you receive the commission payment for the sale.
Finding Products To Compare
Review sites are normally used to present information about products or services you promote as an affiliate.
Consequently, you can use any of the affiliate marketing network sites highlighted in the previous Clickbank tutorial to find suitable products to compare on your multiple product review page.
The key to creating profitable multiple review sites is to make sure that every product reviewed on the same page potentially appeals to the same type of customer. In addition, the more tightly ‘grouped’ the products being reviewed are, the more effective your review page is likely to be.
For instance, imagine that this is a $49 Clickbank weight loss product that your research suggests should be a good seller:
You already know that the most effective way of promoting weight loss products is to pre-sell them with review pages.
On multiple review sites, you also need to make sure that there is a good choice of products on offer and that each product featured has merits.
You therefore need to find two or three more products from Clickbank or one of the other network sites that you can review on the same page. It also helps if you can find comparable products that are broadly similar to the one that is going to be your main recommendation.
For example, the main attraction of the product featured in the previous screenshot is ‘easy weight loss’ without dieting or working out.
You should therefore attempt to feature products that have similar benefits like this $20 weight loss program:
This product description makes it clear that this weight loss plan makes very similar claims to those made by the product which you selected as your main recommendation.
The following variation on the weight loss theme however is very different:
It might be a very effective weight loss plan but it is not directly comparable to the other two because this is ‘exercise-based’ weight loss whereas the other two are not. For this reason, it might not be the best product to feature on the same review page as the other two.
However, if you were featuring the two ‘easy weight loss’ products on the same multiple review site, there is one difference between them that could be extremely significant for your site visitors.
One costs $49 whereas the other is less than $20.
Reviewing products with a range of prices on the same page is a very good idea because once again, it extends the idea of offering a choice.
For example, whilst skepticism (or a lack of cash) might prevent people spending $49 on a new weight loss product, they will probably be far more comfortable with (or capable of) spending less than $20. Less obviously, it also makes it easier for you to establish your credibility.
Your site visitor would expect you to score the cheaper product lower than the more expensive one because they probably suspect that you earn more commission from the more expensive product.
But if you ‘pitch’ it right, you can turn this apparent disadvantage into a credibility-enhancing advantage.
Saying something like ‘For the money, this is a great product but as it does not have the XYZ feature that the (more expensive) alternative offers, I’ve given it a slightly lower score. But it’s still a great product that I would recommend…’
A cheaper product being slightly less well-featured than a more expensive alternative is the norm in business. Therefore, the fact that you confirm their suspicions is no more than they would expect. But if you follow this up by adding that you would still recommend it, you remove the suspicion that you might be biased towards the more expensive product because it puts more money in your pocket, thus raising your credibility, and increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
In every single aspect of online marketing, tracking your results is absolutely critical. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or how much money you’re making, you can always improve, but the only way you can do so is by accurately measuring how successful you currently are.
If you have created a single product review site, tracking the traffic to a single page is straightforward.
Check within the control panel of your site as most hosts (particularly those who offer a cpanel) include several free ‘stats-packs’ in the control panel area. For instance, if you are using cpanel, scroll down the initial dashboard page after logging in to find the ‘Logs’ available on your site:
Incidentally, availability will vary from site to site but most sites feature Awstats and/or Webalizer as shown.
Although both of these stats programs do a very fine job, I’ll use Awstats to demonstrate the basics of keeping an eye on your site performance.
After clicking the Awstats link, click the ‘magnifying glass’ icon next to the domain name to ‘View’ the stats:
After doing so, you are presented with detailed statistics demonstrating how your site is performing:
At the bottom of this page, there is a detailed analysis of visitor numbers for each individual page on your site. Hence, it is easy to keep track of how many people are visiting your review page.
Once you know what your visitor numbers are like, the next thing you need to establish is how many of those visitors are becoming customers. To do this, log on to the network site or the individual affiliate program you’re working with to establish how many sales the traffic to your single review site is generating.
From this, you can calculate what percentage of visitors are becoming customers by comparing visitor numbers to the sales that are made.
As an example of finding your sales figures, let’s use Clickbank. To find how many sales you have made, all you need do is log into your account as the figures appear on the homepage of your account member area:
This is a test account which is never used, hence there are no sales shown. But I’m confident that your sales figures will look an awful lot better than this, but at least it gives you an idea.
Okay, that’s the basics of tracking the performance of a single review site. But if instead of a single review site, you have multiple reviews on the same page, you will track your results in a slightly different way.
In this case, you still know the total number of targeted prospects who have visited your page from the statistics provided by Awstats or whichever program you prefer. From this information, you can calculate the total number of action takers by combining the stats from each individual offer featured on your page by reference to the statistics provided by your affiliate network.
As a simple example, say you feature three reviews on the same page.
Review 1 persuaded 10 people to click your unique affiliate link, review 2 generated five visitors to that offer whilst review three sent 2 visitors to the sales page. By combining these three results, you have a total of 17 visitors who clicked your unique affiliate link.
If this was from a total of 100 visitors to your site, your total click through rate would be 17%. You would then be able to compare this with sales achieved to establish an overall conversion rate.
To establish exactly how many people followed your unique affiliate link from the review page, log in to the network site that controls the offer you are analyzing.
As an example, with Clickbank, you would click the ‘Reporting’ link over to the top right of the ‘Account Home’ page:
Now click on the ‘Analytics’ link just below ‘Reporting’ when you hit the next page:
This produces a page with a ton of information about how many clicks there have been on your ‘Hoplink’, how many people have got as far as the order form before dipping out and so on:
Once again, this is a test account, so there is not much activity but it gives you an indication of the kind of statistical information that the network sites make available.
You will find similar statistics on all the major networks, information which allows you to calculate your click through and conversion rates.
Be aware of the FTC guidelines
As of the beginning of December 2009, the FTC issued new guidelines to govern what you are allowed to do when promoting products as an affiliate.
These guidelines basically state that if you are promoting a product on the net from which you will earn a commission payment, this must be disclosed.
This is definitely not a set of guidelines that you can afford to ignore as there is a $11,000 fine in store for anyone who breaks the rules. Even if you live outside the USA, you can be fairly certain that the FTC have very long arms, so don’t even think about chancing it…
These rules definitely apply to review sites. You need to make it clear on your page that if there is any sale generated as a result of your advice, you will be paid for it. However, make this a positive rather than viewing it as a negative.
For instance, stress on your multiple review site that you will be paid for your advice should it generate a sale. Despite this, you are still prepared to recommend cheaper products even though they will put less money in your pocket because they represent outstanding value for your potential customer.
This can go towards establishing your credibility as an affiliate, and building trust with the prospective customer.
Creating both single and multiple product review sites is a perfect way of presenting additional information to prospects about a product, information that might help to clinch the sale.
The beauty of using review sites in this way is that a little knowledge of the product goes a long way. Even when the only product background you have access to are the details on the sales page, using this as the basis of your review still provides value to your prospect.
How you write effective sales copy for your review pages in order to increase your conversion rate is something that we will return to in a later tutorial.
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 7 – Article Marketing.