If you've a home-based internet marketer like me, you probably already know that it isn't an easy choice, even though it may have been presented to you as a simple solution to your financial worries.
The failure rate for new marketers is sky high with more than 90% making nothing or even losing money.
There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is:
“failure to accept the REALITY of trying to make money online by marketing products and services”
Today I am going to reveal 8 UGLY truths about internet marketing and explain exactly what you need to do to prevent them from destroying your chances of building a successful online business.
Ignoring any one of these could prevent you from ever breaking free of the endless ‘shiny object syndrome' cycle of excitement, disappointment, failure and repetition that traps most newbies and even experienced ‘dabblers'.
OK – here they are:
Ugly Truth 1: You MUST Build an Audience
It doesn't matter what you're selling. If you want to sell it you need to be able to put your product in front of people who want it and you need to be able to do that QUICKLY. For most marketers, this means building an email list. Email marketing is still the most effective and profitable channel there is. However, there are a lot of people doing really well with social media audiences eg. Youtube subscribers and Twitter followers.
Ugly Truth 2: Traffic is NEVER Free and ALWAYS Risky
You ALWAYS pay for new visitors outside your current audience, one way or another. You pay for them with money when you buy advertising and you pay for them with time when you try to get free visitors by posting content and using multiple free ad sources with a smaller reach than paid sources. You risk losing money when you buy traffic as you might not hit ROI (return on investment). You risk wasting time when you try to generate free traffic as your blog, video or social content might never rank or be shared, or your free ads may never be seen by a significant number of potential customers.
Ugly Truth 3: You MUST Build a Brand Platform
If you want people to buy things from you, even if you're just promoting other peoples' products as an affiliate, they must know who you are and care what you say. They must know you and trust you. To achieve that relationship with your audience requires you to have a ‘brand platform', that is, a base you use to communicate your ideas to the world. For most marketers, this platform is a website / blog displaying a logo that prospects grow to recognise, but some people just use a branded Youtube channel, Twitter account or Facebook page. Either way, it must be a platform that your potential customers see as being a trustworthy source of information and recommendations. Basically, your brand platform is a digital asset that grows in value as your audience grows.
Ugly Truth 4: You MUST Stand Out & Above The ‘Noise'
There are LOADS of affiliate marketers. In the IM niche, whenever a new product is launched by a popular product creator, there's a bunch of affiliates jumping over each other to promote it. The level of competition you face as an affiliate in any major niche is INSANELY high. If you want people to buy products from you rather than your competitors, there are a number of strategies you can use to stand out from the crowd:
- Be memorable. Use ad copy that commands attention by inspiring curiosity or including emotionally charged language and images that stop your prospects scrolling.
- Don't STOP being memorable. Don't worry if you get a subscriber now and again that tells you they don't like your emails or promotional tactics as never saying anything remotely controversial might ensure you don't offend anyone but it WON'T make you wealthy.
- Promote bonus pages to bribe your prospects to buy from your affiliate link.
- Launch your own unique products by creating them yourself or rebranding whitelabel products that you license from other marketers.
Ugly Truth 5: You MUST Add Value
As a marketer, your job is to sell. However, nobody likes being sold to and you need to reward your audience for their attention. You need to genuinely help your leads by providing them with helpful content that goes some way toward solving their problem(s) and then present them with multiple opportunities to buy products which provide even better or more permanent solutions to those problems. That is why the ‘freemium' model works so well as a selling system. It gives your prospects a ‘free taste' of your product so that they enjoy the benefits it provides. If they have a good experience with the free version of your product or service, they are then much more likely to want to multiply those benefits with a premium purchase or subscription. Adding bonuses for people who buy from your link is a really easy way to add value to your audience if you're an affiliate.
Ugly Truth 6: You MUST Be Able to Communicate Effectively
Being in marketing means that communication is not only important to your business, it IS your business. It is your job to convince people that they need to spend money with you to buy a solution to a problem that they have. For this to work, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your prospect's problem. You then need to get their attention and focus that attention on their problem and eloquently present your prospective solution to that problem. You then need to be able to convince them that you have a solution to that problem that is effective, unique, valuable and scarce ie. not widely available elsewhere. You then need to be able to make them want that solution so much that they are prepared to pay for it. If you want to succeed in marketing and you aren't already an effective communicator, you will need to practice until you are.
Ugly Truth 7: You MUST Track Traffic
Not all traffic is the same. Some traffic isn't even traffic. By that I mean that it comes from bots rather than real people. Sometimes traffic comes from real people who never buy anything on the net. This fact leads us to the inevitable conclusion that tracking clicks is not enough. You must track CONVERSIONS too. Some traffic sources give you lots of clicks and no leads or sales. Some traffic sources get you clicks and low quality leads who rarely or never make purchases. Some traffic sources get you clicks and high quality leads who are in the habit of buying things online and you MUST have a system in place for identifying these sources and calculating whether they are viable in terms of cost (in money or time spent). I have two systems that I use to track conversions. The first is a WordPress plugin called ‘Pretty Links' that enables me to track paid traffic campaigns on ClickMarketer (this website). The other system I use with my ad sites simply involves adding a bit of tracking code to the end of my links. For example, if I am promoting my latest site SoloAdvertiser.com and I want to measure my results with a (made-up) source like ‘Twitbook', I simply add an appropriate string to the end of my link.
Here is my affiliate link:
Here is my affiliate link with the tracking string added:
This measure will not enable me to count the clicks from that source but it will tell me whether that source provides me with any leads and customers.
Ugly Truth 8: You MUST Master ‘Funnels'
Put simply, a funnel is the ‘telling and selling' mechanism you use to market your product(s) and it begins with the first contact your prospect has with your marketing campaign. This could be anything from a banner ad placed on a website, a text ad delivered via a search engine search or a ‘gif' animation in a Facebook timeline. In the case of an email (solo) ad, the first part of your funnel is your subject line which gives your prospect some basic information about the nature of your offer in order to target the right prospect for your offer and also grab their attention. Next comes your email body which provides more information about your offer and piques your prospects' interest in the offer so that they go on to click the link in your solo ad. If you are paying per click with a solo ad from a source like Udimi, you will want to make sure your subject line and email body target the ideal prospect for your offer so you don't pay for untargeted clicks to your landing page, whilst simultaneously building a sense of excitement and curiosity about what is behind the link. The prospect then clicks the offer which opens a landing page which must be coherent with the email they just read. The landing page for many funnels is a simple squeeze page which offers some sort of valuable ‘lead magnet' in exchange for an email address. Most funnels collect email leads and then immediately present a relevant paid offer via the ‘thank you' page, either by redirecting your prospect's browser or with a page which presells the offer. The paid offer could be a relevant product of your own or a relevant affiliate product in the case of an affiliate funnel. In order to boost ROI, funnels often incorporate a high-ticket ‘back end' product which could be presented to buyers of your first paid offer, or via the thank you page which prospects reach immediately after subscribing, or at some point in the email follow up sequence which forms the latter end of the sales funnel. In addition to creating more opportunities for your leads to buy your paid offer and high-ticket offer, another function of the email follow-up sequence is to build rapport with your leads. This relationship enables you to make more money from future promotions when you mail them out to your lead base. Affiliate offers usually have multiple upsells, downsells and sometimes high-ticket products built into them to maximize revenue and ensure more valuable products and services are available for customers who want them. I know funnels sound quite complex and difficult if you aren't already familiar with them but digital sales funnels are by far the most profiable type of content to promote, especially with paid advertising. In fact, launching just one high converting sales funnel could enable you to earn a full-time income. All you need to do is create something that converts well enough to be scalable with paid traffic sources.
I know there is a lot to take on board here but don't worry because, as far as I know, nobody every mastered all the skills you need to become a professional marketer overnight. For most of us, it is a gradual learning process which involves lots of trial and error. I think the main characteristic separating those who succeed from those who don't is persistence.