I've broken down ten strategies that will help you to develop a good, qualified list of prospects into two categories -- building your list and strengthening relationships with the people on your list. Both types of activity are important if you want to not only grow a larger list, but also persuade the people on it to buy affiliate products from you.
Five List-Building Strategies
I. Experiment with Squeeze Pages: There's no reason you can't build your list of prospects while selling affiliate products. Create and test different squeeze pages. Start tracking which combinations of content and positioning of your contact form result in more people buying products or asking to be added to your list.
II. Try Pay-Per-Click: If you've never ventured into pay-per- click advertising, consider test driving a few keywords! PPC is one of the quickest ways to build your list, if done right. Set a goal for the number of new prospects (and conversions!), research your target market, experiment with keyword phrases and landing pages, and dip your toe into the lucrative world of pay-per-click advertising.
III. Consider Starting a Blog: Blogs have really come of age in affiliate marketing! They allow you to speak directly to clients and prospects on a regular basis about what interests them. If you can write, or hire someone to write, interesting short blog posts on topics related to your affiliate product, you can build a following that will lead to a larger list and more sales. Most blogging applications offer free accounts, so why not give blogging a try?
IV. Become an Author: Articles on topics relevant to your affiliate product can be written and submitted to free article directories. That's important, because ezine publishers love free content for their publications! Having an article published in an ezine, complete with author's bio containing your niche website links, can result in greatly multiplied exposure, and more people on your list. You should definitely be regularly submitting articles that provide useful content while driving people to your website.
V. Optimize Your Website: This, my friends, is a no-brainer!
Use the SEO tools available from almost every web host to choose good keywords, set appropriate page titles and create relevant content. Your search engine ranking won't improve if you don't bother to optimize what's on your website.
Five Strategies to Build Relationships with Your Prospects
I. Work to Establish Trust: Once someone has allowed you to send them email, continue to build that trust relationship by offering good, quality content. If your websites give them something to improve their lives, people will be back. Even as an affiliate, you can offer useful products and keep your landing page content relevant. If it's all empty flash and dazzle, good luck keeping them on your mailing list!
II. Offer Them Something Free But Valuable: Everyone likes a bargain! Here's an illustration of how free downloads translate to sales: "Affiliate A" markets my Private Lending Home Study Course, has a nice niche website and a large list, but has never offered my ebook or any other free download to her prospects. "Affiliate B" also has a nice niche website for the same product, but offers my free "How to Get All the Money" ebook in several ways. She offers it to her list in a promotional email. She has a blog her list likes to read, so she also links to the free email download on her blog sidebar. One more way she offers this valuable product to her prospects is through a squeeze page on her affiliate product's niche website. Affiliate A's list may eventually buy her affiliate products, but Affiliate B's prospects see her as someone who offers a good value. That's a good place to be with your list!
III. Always Follow Up! Ever purchased something and never heard another word from the person who sold it to you? The people on your list who purchase products should be handled with appreciation. One way to show it is to make sure they received what they ordered and are happy with it. If your "after sale" auto responder series is simply focused on the next sale, your clients will get the feeling they're just a number. Follow-up with buyers immediately after a sale to make sure everything was received, then again a few days later to gauge their satisfaction.
IV. Focus Your Affiliate Sales: Personally, I'm getting tired of hearing from the same affiliate marketers on a daily basis offering "the best product they've ever used!" Being able to market to someone is a privilege, not an open door to bombard them. If you're representing lots of affiliate products, plan strategically and target different groups within your list with different auto responder series. You'll see a better ROI, and less "list burnout" if you avoid the shotgun approach.
V. Develop Your Unique Affiliate "Voice": Let's face it, the Internet allows us to do everything at arm's length! Some people like that distance, but most people look for someone to identify with when they buy online. If you'll consistently let your own personality shine through your articles, blog posts, emails and website content, your prospects will begin to feel a connection with a real person, rather than an invisible force trying to sell them something!
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list of the things we can all do to build and cement our prospect and client relationships. Try a few of them, though; I think you'll be surprised how much difference a little effort can make.
E. Alan Cowgill