Affiliate Marketing 2011 – Affiliate Marketing Predictions For 2011

© 2010 Doug Champigny, http://captain-affiliate.com
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Affiliate marketing in 2011 will require more effort but should lead to higher residual affiliate commissions for those who put in the effort to start affiliate marketing correctly.

Earlier today I posted my Internet marketing predictions for 2011 – if you haven’t read that post, please do before carrying on reading here. Not only does it give a lot of background on the basis for those (and these) predictions for 2011, but there’s also an important case study on blogging for affiliate marketing and Internet marketing in general.

Let me preface the following Affiliate Marketing Predictions for 2011 by separating affiliate marketers into two groups – the wannabes who have bought into the push-the-button-and-make-millions-with-no-effort-or-experience myth and serious affiliates intent on building a stable online income, either to become self-employed entrepreneurs or simply to create an affiliate marketing income stream as a supplement to their current offline earnings.

In 2011 the former group will find reduced returns that continue to drop throughout 2011, and we’ll ignore them in this post. If you believe you can make a good income or reach super-affiliate status with little or no effort, stop reading now – you’re just wasting YOUR time and MY bandwidth. But if you’re less gullible and realize there’s great money to be made online but that it requires time, effort and a reasonable investment in your own future, read on – this post is for you!

2010 Was a brutal year for most affiliate marketers, as response to mailings dropped and people dropped out of membership sites in droves. Not those who were using and making money from the memberships, but the 50% or so who sign up, seldom or never use the sites, but also don’t bother to cancel – this year they did.

Not everyone saw major problems with affiliate marketing in 2010 – and those who did well point to the solutions for affiliate marketing in 2011. Those who combined effective pre-selling with a diversified marketing mix set up affiliate marketing funnels that led to, and will continue to lead to residual commissions that continue long after the affiliate has moved on to other projects.

Forget about the ‘wild west’ days of affiliate marketing in the 1990’s and most of the first decade of 2000 – 2009 when you could just choose any product at random from ClickBank, send out your e-zine promoting it and be finished for the day, knowing the commissions would come pouring in. Same for jumping from big JV launch to big JV launch, simply sending out the same canned pitch as 50 or 100 other marketers. Successful affiliate marketing in 2011 will require more planning, research and effort than that.

Don’t misunderstand – affiliate marketing will remain the easiest way for someone to start a business online, and the sky’s still the limit for what you can earn in affiliate commissions. But to achieve those lofty super-affiliate incomes you’ll have to convert your affiliate marketing efforts into a professional and polished business, not just a haphazard collection of promotions. And you’ll need to pay more attention to testing & tracking in 2011, to be sure you’re using your time and energy in the most effective way possible.

If you’re already groaning at the idea of the extra work, re-examine your goals to be sure you’re not really in the first of the two groups mentioned above. If it hasn’t already become obvious to you, 2011 will hammer home that affiliate marketing part-time or full-time is a BUSINESS, and you’ll need to make sure you operate your online business that way. Salespeople focus on getting THIS sale – marketers focus on building sales volume in a sustainable fashion over the long term. Yes, anyone can be an affiliate – but only those willing to invest the time, sweat-equity and at least some capital will be able to build a solid affiliate marketing business that can sustain them long-term.

Credibility in Affiliate Marketing

Forget the days of sending out just anything or promoting a product just because it pays a high commission. In fact, when you get an invite to a JV launch that focuses on how much you make per sale or the prize you can win, simply delete the invite without wasting your time clicking through. If the product is truly useful and of benefit to your target market, they’ll focus on how good the product is instead – telling you how much you’ll make because it’ll be an easy sell since it delivers so much value for the price.

Too many people are starting to see affiliate marketers in the same light as the offline world views used car salespeople, but acting professionally can keep you from being tarred by that same brush. For proof, look at the reputations of super-affiliates like Rosalind Gardner and Willie Crawford – both have huge followings that love, trust and respect them – and trust their product recommendations completely.

So how did they get, and continue to earn, that respect and credibility? First, they check out any product before they promote it – both to ensure it’s high quality and that it over-delivers value for the price and, more importantly, that it will help their people in their online pursuits. Recommend just one or two poor products and your credibility plunges – recommend good products that aren’t of help to your followers and your affiliate commissions plummet.

So rule #1 for affiliate marketing in 2011 is to never recommend a product you haven’t checked out first. Yes, this means investing a bit to get the product yourself first. But if it’s the right product you’ll make that back many times over when you promote it, and if it isn’t then it was a cheap price for protecting your reputation and credibility and keeping the trust of your hard-won audience.

Residual Affiliate Marketing Commissions

Historically, the way to residual commissions has been to promote great services or memberships that continue to pay you as long as your referral stays a part of the site. For example, in 2010 we received ClickBank cheques every month from promoting ClickBank Pirate and Affiliate Silver Bullets, a cheque every month from Socrates Socratous at Resell Rights Fortunes, and affiliate commissions via PayPal from Viral E-Book Explosion, Hosting4Marketers and Expert WordPress.

But 2010 saw the trend to people being more leery of joining membership sites, or joining and then leaving sooner. In tough economic times caused by the global recession, your target audience will be less likely to commit to ongoing payments than they will to paying a one-time price for a product, except for necessary services like hosting and autoresponders. So what you need to do is create your own recurring commissions from products and services that only charge, and pay out, once.

How do you do that? By creating resources online that presell the product and sending traffic to that page using your long-term traffic tools like your blog, social bookmarking, article marketing, podcasts and videos, etc. For examples, see my Advanced Twitter Marketing Blog and Road To Twitter Success website, both of which exist to promote my Advanced Marketing on Twitter e-book and various Twitter-related affiliate opportunities. Another example is my Simple ClickBank Profits Blog. Even if I never touch those sites again, they’ll still get traffic, will still be in the search engines and will continue to generate recurring affiliate marketing income streams for us.

Affiliate Marketing Pre-Selling

As stated above, pre-selling is becoming more and more a part of affiliate marketing success. Lets look at the two reasons for this…

As an affiliate, your job isn’t to sell the product or service – that’s the merchant’s job. Yours is to deliver targeted traffic to the site, traffic that is liable to buy the product. But what if a great product has a salespage that sucks? You’re not making any commissions. Even a great salespage may not convey all the benefit of a product, or may go over the top in it’s description of the benefits and ease of use and make the prospects cynical of it’s claims.

By putting up a few blog posts on the product and it’s benefits, or building a small site outlining the problems prospects face and the solutions the product provides, you’ve ‘warmed your audience up’ to the product, and can now send them through to it via your affiliate link in a much more receptive mood. Trying to do all that in your e-zine is sure to run afoul of the junk mail filters, and even if it got through it’s often buried under dozens of other marketers’ e-mails. Plus, your audience either takes action right then or forgets about it quickly, stopping it from being viral or producing recurring commissions.

And that brings us to the second reason for effective affiliate marketing pre-selling – your ongoing and growing sphere of influence. People signing up to your optin list don’t know what you sent yesterday, last week or 6 months ago. But your blog visitors can look over your posts on any topic, and visitors to your pre-selling sites will always see the information since that’s all that’s there.

Another powerful pre-selling strategy is to write short 5 – 10 page reports that provide useful and helpful info to your target market (NOT salespitches) and end them with a recommendation and your affiliate link. You can offer the free report through a squeeze page to build your opt-in lists or just give it away to achieve even wider distribution. Be sure to include a squeeze page in the download so others can distribute it to build their own lists – without that added incentive they probably won’t pass it along. Most won’t pass it along anyway, but those who do will be spreading your branding and your affiliate link in the report.

Driving Targeted Traffic For Affiliate Marketing In 2011

The bulk of the targeted traffic you send to your affiliate links should come from your e-zine and your blog. That hasn’t changed – but what has changed is the strategies and techniques you use to drive that traffic to your blogs, pre-selling sites and squeeze pages.

Your blog can attract a lot of traffic all on it’s own if it’s done right. Be sure you’re using a good SEO plugin, keep your blog tightly focused to one niche only, and use the standard keyword strategies in deciding what to blog about, what to title your posts and the actual content as well, aiming for search-engine-friendly posts that still read properly and deliver true value to your blog readers.

After each posting be sure to bookmark your post to the social media. Plugins will tie your blog post to your Twitter account, FaceBook Account, LinkedIn, MyBlogLog, etc, giving you much wider exposure with no additional work on your part – and those links can also be backlinks that help the search engines find and spider your post that much more quickly! Also use plugins to make it easy for your readers top promote posts they find helpful – like the ones on this page for FaceBook, Twitter, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, etc.

Long-Term Traffic Resources
Use a variety of methods to drive targeted traffic to your blogs. Submit articles to the directories, podcasts to iTunes, Podcast Alley, Podcast Ready, etc, and videos to YouTube, Viddler, etc. Do teleseminars and webinars on your own and/or with niche experts you’re interviewing – then use the recording as a giveaway to drive that audience as well. From time to time build a Squidoo lens, a HubPages hub, a Google knol or a WetPaint site, again pointing them to your blog.

“Sure – But where do I find time for all that???”

I heard that… And the answer is one of the things that’s changing for Affiliate marketing 2011. The online marketing case study I wrote about earlier shows that you’re further ahead doing SOME of each of these methods than you are focusing on just one or two. Instead of blogging 7 days a week, blog two days a week and use the other days for the other traffic-generating activities. Instead of writing 5 articles today, write one, then record it as a podcast & use both to make a video version of it.

While each activity gets less attention than it would if you focused just on it, the overall effect is you build up an empirical body of work in all different markets, all linking back to your blog. As I write this, when I Google “Doug Champigny” I get over 75,000 results in Google – think that brings me a bit of traffic on a residual basis? 😉

A Word On Blog Commenting…

As a final note, a quick spotlight on blog commenting. Not the spam blog commenting by those nonsensical ‘auto-comment-posters’, but true blog commenting where you go to the site, read the blog and leave a legitimate comment that directly relates to the post in question. I’ve been truly surprised by the traffic those have started to generate for me, especially those using the CommentLuv plugin. Plus the volume of Google Alerts I get on those makes me wonder if Google is now ignoring the black-hearted ‘no-follow’ tag that WP uses as standard coding on WordPress blogs. (If you haven’t installed the DoFollow tag on your blogs, do it right now!) So be sure to add blog commenting on blogs related to your niche as of of your regular promotional activities for Affiliate Marketing in 2011!

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