Email is both a great productivity tool and the world’s biggest time suck. It’s a conundrum that faces all businesses, whether they have one employee or tens of thousands. Without taking some steps to ensure its efficiency, businesses may find email getting in the way of meeting deadlines, goals and client needs. Despite it being an effective communication tool, email also has the potential to be a huge distraction.
Email statistics now through 2017
From 2013 to 2017, the number of email accounts will increase from 3.9 billion to 4.9 billion. During this same period, business email accounts will grow from 939 million mailboxes to 1.1 billion by the end of 2017. The majority of this growth will be in cloud-based hosted business email accounts, such as Microsoft Exchange. But consumer email accounts far outnumber business accounts with consumer email recording 76 percent of all email accounts. This statistical advantage in the number of accounts will continue through 2017.
Despite the numerical advantage in mailboxes, business email is the predominant source of email activity, with over 100 billion emails sent each day. By 2017, business will send over 130 billion email messages daily. Clearly, managing this huge amount of email requires business people to initiate efficiencies.
Email handling software/hardware
One thing that makes email far less valuable is the amount of spam or junk mail that goes out each day. The research shows that 66 percent of all business email is junk mail. This much junk mail is akin to a plague that’s killing email’s usefulness.
Different varieties of software, hardware and combinations of both can be used to filter spam. Some block spam completely, whereas others segregate it to a spam or junk mailbox. Unless you trust the setup completely, segregating junk mail and then reviewing later is the best solution to be 100 percent accurate. That way an important email getting trashed by a spam service becomes less likely.
Handling email efficiently
Frankly, the best way to handle email efficiently is to control as much of it by yourself. The following are four tips to make handling email as systematized as any other business task:
- Email as an agenda item: When an alert announces a message has arrived and you read it, you’re inviting distractions to your work day without a solid block of uninterrupted work time. Schedule email as a daily agenda item. Some people choose the middle of the day, just before or after lunch and handle all email at once. Others may choose one or two times, such as first thing in the morning and the last thing in the evening. Finding a time and sticking to it helps in taming the email beast.
- Fulfill the email when reading it: Emails require action. An informational email needs filing or deletion. Some emails require scheduling a meeting or phone call and others need a response. Whatever action is required, doing it at the time of reading is the most efficient process to use.
- Use filters and folders: Inboxes should have zero new mail after processing. If something isn’t deleted, it should be moved to a folder. Folders can be created and be organized by contact, topic or alphabetically, any way a user wants them. In addition, email programs have filters that automatically sort email for you. This reduces the steps a user needs to process email.
- Be an example: Keep emails on topic, concise and devoted to a single subject, the one in the subject line. Aids for keeping email short include bulleted and numbered lists. Since email is a different form of communication than face-to-face, tone is important. Using a neutral tone is best as it is devoid of emotion that could be misinterpreted.
Keeping email organized is a little like taming an addiction. When your inbox is out of control, use these tips to help conquer it.
Marketing your business can get pretty overwhelming in the current climate. The always-on nature of an online business means even when you’re not working, your marketing should be working. To add to this, online marketing is forever evolving, so keeping up with the frenetic pace of change can get hard to handle at times.
As a marketer, you want to try every new trend and throw in a gimmick or two for good measure … but what if I were to say SIMPLE is the new trend?
Diversity is beautiful and the diverse opportunities of Internet marketing can be addictive. Yet there is so much complexity in diversity, and so much noise in the digital space right now.
We’re trying to get our audience’s attention in every way possible, but is it all just amounting to white noise? We need to take a step back and re-evaluate our goals and messages. By focusing our energies on simplifying the processes and the output, we can get the attention we’re craving without having to work 24/7 for it.
Simpler Marketing – Ditching the Noise
So yes, marketing is making your life complex. Simple sounds good, but what does it actually mean in practical terms?
Realign Your Focus
Every now and then it’s a good idea to readjust and take a good long, hard look at your marketing strategy and what you’re hoping to achieve with it.
To find your focus, ask yourself questions like:
Who is my target market?
Don’t try to attract the largest audience possible. Instead, narrow it down to the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service. If you try to market to a diverse group of people, you’re either going to need multiple strategies or not get the results you’re hoping for.
For example, if you were selling an eBook about dating sites, you would market it differently to men and women. An overarching marketing strategy for both males and females would likely be a flop, because men and women respond to dating differently.
You would need to figure out who your eBook would appeal to and focus your marketing efforts on that gender. This would help you come up with more targeted messaging and creatives. This would then simplify the process for you and simplify the marketing message your audience would receive.
What are my goals?
Sometimes it’s easy to lose focus on goals when you’re doing something day in and day out. Ask yourself what the goal of your marketing is. Whether it’s traffic, leads, conversions or anything else, try not to have multiple goals—zero in on one goal instead. One goal will help you focus better.
What is working?
Are you regularly monitoring and measuring what is working? If certain strategies or tactics are not really delivering as expected, you need to remove them from your strategy and instead focus on what is working so you can keep growing.
For example, let's say you're advertising on Google, Facebook and even Bing, but your conversion rates from Facebook are much higher than the other two. In this situation, you should either switch off your advertising on the other platforms or at least transfer the majority of your budget to Facebook.
One Thing at a Time
If you have been trying multiple tactics/platforms/channels of marketing, this is a good time to thoroughly analyze what is working. You don’t have to do everything and be everywhere just because the Internet says so.
The best example of this is when I see businesses set themselves up on multiple social networks when their audience is only really available on one or two. Why try to juggle Pinterest and Twitter when it’s obvious that your audience is hanging out only on Facebook and LinkedIn?
Keen to try some new tactics you’ve picked up from your affiliate marketing lessons? Go for it! Just implement them one at a time instead of overwhelming yourself with too many changes all at once.
Clean Up Your Act
Has it been a while since you’ve looked over your marketing messaging? Review it to see if it’s clean and crisp and communicating exactly what you’re trying to say. Make a habit of constantly refining your communications so your audience knows exactly who you are and what you stand for. Stay focused on quality content rather than churning out large quantities of irrelevant, off-brand materials.
Most businesses have a vision for themselves. Your aim should always be to communicate this vision to your customers in the cleanest, simplest way possible.
Organize, Delegate & Automate
You don't have to stop living your life and focus all your energies on being hands-on in order to perform good marketing. Simplifying your marketing also means simplifying processes so you’re not tearing your hair out in frustration. Learn to set up processes and use tools that will help you delegate responsibilities and automate tasks where possible. Additionally, work on being organized so you don't end up overwhelmed with 100 to-dos on one day, then having nothing to do on another.
- Use task management systems like Trello to stay organized.
- Schedule your social media posts with tools like HootSuite.
- Set up reports to run automatically and receive them via email weekly/monthly.
- Outsource content creation if it’s not your cup of tea.
It’s a mobile world, so if your marketing is not mobile-ready, it should be. If you’re working on a new website, for example, you should be thinking about making it mobile-ready right from the beginning. Don’t add to your workload by creating desktop-friendly versions of your marketing first and worrying about mobile-readiness as stage two.
A large majority of your audience is coming to you via a handheld device. Even Google is encouraging businesses with their Go Mo site, which is aimed at spreading an understanding of why mobile is important.
Image source: Why Go Mo? – Go Mo
Simplify your life by making sure your content is mobile-responsive automatically.
Most importantly, remember that simplification is an iterative process. You should find yourself simplifying things over and over again to make sure you keep your audience listening even when things get noisy for them.
What about you? Do you find that marketing can get complicated sometimes? Any tips on simplification that you’d like to share with us?
We're getting closer to "the most wonderful time of the year!" Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is only a few weeks away. Were you able take advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals?
Unfortunately, we don't have Black Friday where I come from, BUT we do have the longest Christmas celebration in the world. It's not unusual in my country to have Christmas sales as early as October. In fact, I did my Christmas toy shopping right after Halloween. It was a major crush. You can hardly move between the aisles without bumping into another person or a stack of toys.
The long line at the cash register made me long for the convenience of shopping online. I then started thinking (and browsing on my mobile phone!) about where I could buy online aside from Amazon and eBay. I then came upon toy affiliate programs. Amazingly, I can shop for toys AND earn from them by promoting them on my website.
The toy industry is apparently an old and very lucrative trade. This infographic claims that the toy industry is worth GBP £2.9B. Yet another infographic, Toying with the World, claims the US toy industry alone is worth USD $21.5B, with about USD $280 spent on toys per child. That is just in the US. A statistic site, Statista.com, writes that the UK spent around USD $499 per child on toys alone in 2011.
Looking at how many toys I bought during my recent Christmas toy shopping and how much they cost … those figures are not too far from reality. This only means these toy affiliate programs look promising.
Playing With Keywords
I didn't stop with just that thought. As soon as I had spare time, I got into Traffic Travis and looked up "toys." This is a very broad keyword, and not surprisingly, has high competition. I tried to narrow it down to "educational toys," but no luck. It and its variations have mostly high competition. There are only a handful of keywords that are in the medium competition area.
I went to KeywordBuzz to get more keyword ideas, typed in "educational toys" and checked out the results. The keywords I got from there gave me a good idea of the kind of search words my target market is using. I could target some of them, but the high competition is a bit intimidating.
I decided to check out product keywords like "Fisher Price educational toy." This keyword brought about more encouraging results. I can definitely put this and its variations on my list. I would also be looking at the toy affiliate programs and their sales pages as well, so I'm bound to pick up more keywords to target there.
Toy Affiliate Programs for the Big and Small
You know how when you search for something on the Internet, you get more information than you really want or you get information that you didn't know was related to your keyword? Like when you type "Asian" on Google Images, you get a different image of Asians, and Asian women in particular?
It happened exactly like that when I was doing my research on this niche. Apparently (and so silly of me not to realize) "toys" are not just for children. There are those vintage toys and never opened-boxes of action figures for adult collectors; then, there are those toys that adults play with. Yes, that's right. Those toys and their affiliate programs came up too. I'm sure there are marketers promoting such and I thought to include them in this post as well, since they are toys. But no. This post is for children's toys. Those "special toys" will have to be in a separate post, if ever I will be allowed to write about something that risqué.
Now that I got that lengthy explanation out of the way, let's continue with this niche. I looked at ClickBank first but they don't have the toy affiliate programs I'm looking for. They did have a few of the other toy affiliate programs, but again, that's for another post.
So, I moved on to looking at big-name toy brands like Mattel and Little Tikes, then took it from there.
Mattel is one of the biggest toymakers in the US. They are the creators of Barbie, Matchbox, Fisher-Price and Monster High, to name a few. You earn a commission of 4% on each sale of any of these toys, as well as their other brands. You can join their affiliate program through Commission Junction, Affiliate Window, eBay Enterprise and WebGains.
LEGO is a well-known toy brand that is popular across the globe. They offer a 3% commission for each sale. They offer the affiliate program through LinkShare.
Toys R Us is a big retail toy store in the US. Unlike Amazon, they have physical branches across the Unites States. They offer a 3% commission on each sale and offer their affiliate program through eBay Enterprise.
It's interesting to note that you can purchase through your affiliate link and pocket the commission. It's like purchasing a product and getting a rebate for it.
Melissa & Doug is similar to Toys R Us. They carry a wide range of toys, from educational toys for toddlers to dollhouses for the bigger kids. Unlike Toys R Us, they create their own toys and are a toy brand as well. I am unable to find information on how much of a commission they give, but if you want to join their affiliate program, then you can go to eBay Enterprise, Commission Junction or LinkShare.
5. Little Tikes
Little Tikes is another popular toy brand. They are the creators of the Lalaloopsy dolls and are well-known for their swings, climbers and playhouses. They offer their affiliate program through Commission Junction and Avantlink. There's no information on the commission they offer, but given the trend of the commissions in this niche, it's between 3% and 8%. It's small, but it could still come up to a considerable amount if you're able to sell the playhouses, sandboxes and other pricey items from their catalog.
Fat Brain Toys is another repository of toys, like Melissa and Doug and Toys R Us. They have a wide range of playthings, but as their website name implies, they have mostly educational toys that feed the young and not-so-young brain. Their affiliate program is through Commission Junction and they offer a 6% commission per sale.
If none of the above toy affiliate programs look interesting, you can always go to places like OfferVault. They have toy affiliate programs that pay you between USD $7 to USD $20 per lead.
As always, Amazon and eBay have plenty of toys that you can promote on your own site. The commission is not any higher though, and you'd be promoting the same brands anyway, so it might be better to just go directly with the toymakers.
How to Play Up Your Site
Once you've taken your pick of the above toy affiliate programs, the next step is to form a link-building or marketing strategy of sorts. This is so that you can get started on promoting your site as soon as it is up.
These are just recommendations, of course, and you are free to try any link-building method. In fact, it's best to try your hand at all link-building and off-page SEO methods. It's all trial and error, and spending a bit of time learning each method helps you determine which works best for your site.
Social Media Marketing
Again, it's important that your site has a strong online presence, and one of the ways to do that is to have an active social media page on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I think Pinterest would be the best social site for this niche because you can post images of toys on Pinterest under "Gift Ideas" or "Christmas Gifts" and link back to your site. You can do the same for Facebook and Twitter too. I think you can try this same method on Instagram as well.
Forum and Blog Commenting
This is another link-building essential. Not all niches have forums, but most likely there are blogs or sites about them, so always find out if the niche you're going into has blogs or forums you can participate in. If it does, then go ahead and join the conversation!
Forums and blogs are great ways to learn more about the niche, and to become part of the niche's community. Not only are you building links, but your site's reputation as well. Keep in mind that users are more likely to purchase from you if they "know" your site and trust it.
You can promote your site on parenting forums and blogs where parents may be looking for specific toys and special deals.
This is one of those niches where competition is high. You can find out what sites your competition is building its links on and build your links there too. You can use tools like Traffic Travis and AffiloTools to find out which sites you can build links on.
Are Toy Affiliate Programs Child's Play?
Toys are definitely in demand, particularly during the holidays, but it's not an easy niche with its high-competition keywords. The commissions aren't much as well. There's also the question of how you can review these toys. I don't think any of the affiliate programs listed above are willing to provide review copies.
Another thing to consider is that the affiliate program provided by these toy stores and toy brands may, and can, restrict you from targeting certain keywords and brands (like in Mattel's case, you can't use brands like "Barbie").
Then again, if this is a niche you're interested in and would want to try, then by all means. I suggest that when you do, you pick a specific sub-niche, like educational toys for toddlers or dollhouses for children 6 years old and above.
Consider the site you're going to put up as well. I think a parenting blog would work for this niche. A site where you share information about children—raising them, how to care for them, etc.—would also work.
The commissions in this niche are some of the lowest I've come across, so you really need to make sure to get plenty of traffic on the site. This will help increase your chances of making a sale. This is a tough niche, but not so difficult that you won't earn from it. It's just going to take its sweet time.
I hope you enjoyed this week's Niche of the Week! Please make sure to share this post on your favorite social media sites using the share buttons below. Please be sure to let me know what you think by leaving a comment!
With all of the internet watching and noticing every update, like, tweet, post, and share, there are bound to be a few mistakes. Now there are the small mistakes that can be edited or deleted, but what about the big mistakes that affect your business? These are the mistakes we need to take note of and make sure they are never ignored or repeated.
Ignoring Social Media Altogether
This could be one of the biggest mistakes of them all. No matter who you are, ignoring social media when it comes to your business is not a good idea. If you’re trying to isolate yourself completely and make sure no one has any contact with you ever, then you’re probably heading in the right direction.
However if you have a brand to market or need to get the word out about anything, you can’t afford to not use social media. Information is most effectively brought to the masses through social media. There are valuable opportunities to connect with fans and customers, reinforce brand messaging, and promote products. Slip up here and your competitors will engage with your audience instead.
Making It All About You
Most brands try to just use social networking as they would with traditional advertising. That is, they use it to direct consumers’ attention to a certain product in an effort to persuade them to purchase it, offering discounts to get them in the store. Social media marketers need to concentrate on finding out what kind of content their customer base is interested in and invest in high quality content creation to meet the need.
If you want to go the extra mile, you could definitely make your Facebook more customer-oriented and respond to every comment, good or bad. Just grab a convertible laptop tablet for on the go, sign on and Let the people know it’s about them and the community, and not about you.
All Those “Likes” are not Sales
Companies often boast about some new product and plaster it all over social media accounts with calls to action like “share this! “Like this!” “Tweet This.” But do all these shares and likes really transfer to anything but that?
It may help market your product, which is a great achievement, but is that the goal? If the end goal is to sell your product, will a certain number of likes translate to a certain amount sales? The truth is, probably not. And because likes don’t equal sales, you shouldn’t make them your end game. You need to aim for more and not just settle for a few clicks of a button.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
With so many platforms it’s easy for brands to bite off more than they can chew when it comes to social media. Rather than taking on every social network, brands do well to strategically choose a few to which they may devote more time and effort toward. Take time to figure out which networks mean the most to your audience, and stick to those.
With so many ways to market your product, you need to pick what will work for your audience. It’s not a bad idea to cover all areas of media, including music. videos, pictures, and ads, but try to devote some time to each on in particular as it’s better to do one thing great then ten things okay.
No Plan, No Future
An unplanned approach can result in lost opportunities. For instance, if your business doesn’t have an editorial calendar for your social media presence, you may simply neglect to say something important and relevant when a big event comes around. Timing is everything.
Even when a big media event is taking place, like the unveiling of a new apple product, people are always looking for the best updates. If you’re trying to market your product or your business as a whole, you need to take advantage of having a social presence when it comes to the unveiling of big events. Plan ahead and plan wisely so that your social media presence sticks out.
With all these tips in mind, you should have a good outlook on what to avoid doing. This way you can focus on making your online presence more effective and more purposeful. Get more online attention, and ultimately more business by marketing successfully through social media. If you have any tips for using social media to promote a product or service, please feel free to share in the comments below.
As lawmakers pressure the US Food and Drug Administration to clamp down on the marketing of e-cigarettes, manufacturers and distributors alike are wondering what it will do to their $1.5 billion industry.
“We do anticipate becoming a regulated industry, so it is very possible the way in which we advertise will change,” said Andries Verleur, co-founder of e-cigarette maker VMR Products.
A new industry fights for its say
While stricter standards and regulations are expected, not all those involved in this industry are standing by as health officials and politicians hammer them in the press. Groups like the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, SFATA, have taken the offensive and are warning lawmakers that lumping them together with the tobacco industry, which many are pushing for, would be a mistake.
“We would really like to set up a separate framework for regulation. It wouldn’t have the burdensome compliance expenses. The reporting expenses under the Tobacco Control Act are onerous,” said Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA’s executive director. “No one is saying that there shouldn’t be regulation but that there should be appropriate regulation for this product.”
Historically, the tobacco industry has been accused of targeting young people with campaigns using Joe Camel, a cartoon character, and popular actors who appeal to the younger generation. This strategy has led to an almost complete ban on any type of marketing or advertising of these products.
This loss of marketing avenues, complemented by years of negative campaigns, have hurt tobacco sales in the US; and many believe that big tobacco is behind the push to constrain e-cigarettes with the same regulations.
“Big tobacco companies are encouraging the federal government to exert their regulatory authority that would effectively wipe out its competition. It seems a little like the government would be leveling the market for them,” Cabrera said.
Stark contrasts between the two
To keep themselves from being viewed in the same negative light that traditional tobacco cigarettes are, the e-cigarette industry is quick to point out that there is no smoke involved with their product. Users inhale a vapor rather than smoke produced from burning tobacco, and some of their products don’t even contain the addictive nicotine.
Studies conducted outside the industry also make claims that the electronic version doesn’t pose the same risks that traditional cigarettes do. One study conducted by Drexel University’s Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health revealed that the level of contaminants found in e-cigarettes are insignificant and far below levels that would pose any health risk to users or bystanders.
Two separate studies conducted in Greece found that there are significant differences in how the body reacts to the two products. In one, it was found that tobacco users suffered significant heart dysfunction after using tobacco products, but e-cigarette users were found to experience only slight increases in blood pressure.
The second study reported that the electronic versions had little impact on lung function, which is a long step away from traditional cigarettes that are the leading cause of lung disease.
But public health officials insist that more evidence that these products are safer than tobacco is needed, despite the number of studies and members of the scientific community that back this claim.
Officials remain unconvinced
Until they see more, some public officials believe that e-cigarettes should have the same marketing and advertising restrictions, and regulations, to keep these products from being offered to children or as a safe alternative.
“We need FDA oversight of these products urgently,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association. “From a public health perspective, they need to prove that these products are not detrimental to public health and they haven’t done that.”
Yet these misunderstandings, according to SFATA, could lead to regulations that would devastate this industry in its infancy.
Experience Advertising is the best affiliate marketing agency, at least according to the November 2013 edition of TopSeos.com rankings. Experience Advertising’s history of providing successful Internet marketing solutions and continued performance are the reasons the agency received an excellent ranking.
Each agency that receives a ranking has had its core services methodically analyzed. An independent research team thoroughly examines a variety of affiliate marketing consultants. The team evaluates five areas to determine an agency’s overall efficiency level. These areas include optimization, monitoring, reporting, network and implementation. These meticulous investigations ensure that only the absolute best affiliate marketing consultants are included in the listings.
Experience Advertising Offers a Proactive Approach
Experience Advertising uses a proactive approach with its dedicated affiliate managers, creation tools, copywriting and numerous resources to help their clients reach their goals. The company has more than 10 years of experience using industry-leading procedures and processes to expand affiliate marketing efforts so you can achieve your goals.
Experience Advertising’s Affiliate Management Techniques
Some of the management techniques used to grow affiliate programs and increase productivity include:
- Strategy sessions to determine which activities will expand their affiliate program.
- Personalized follow-ups for all publishers and affiliates.
- Managing sales contests, sweepstakes and appealing promotions.
- Site chat, telephone, IM and email are available to clients 24/7.
- Affiliates are encouraged to call Experience Advertising to discuss ways to promote your business.
- Providing website analysis in order to convey how affiliates can improve their website to generate more traffic through both search and social.
- Recruiting super-affiliates through leveraging Experience Advertising’s numerous network accounts.
- Providing its affiliates with complimentary tools, top selling products, original content, and customized banners.
- Providing affiliates with a social media strategy so they can use social networking advantageously.
The agency frequently reaches out to engage affiliates and build personal relationships with them. They also offer friendly managers with extensive experience related to:
- PPC Management
- Article Marketing
- Social Media
- Link Building Tactics
Find Your Niche
Consider that as an affiliate, trying to create sales on your dresses to compete with Macy’s sales on dresses is probably not feasible. However, you can make money by finding your own niche. This allows you to reach out to a smaller group of consumers, and serve their specific needs. Feedback is also much easier to deal with when you are working within a niche market.
What Affiliates Receive
Experience Advertising works with each of its affiliates on a personal level, providing them with the resources and tools necessary to increase revenue production. Their ultimate goal is to provide each affiliate with everything necessary to become an active producer.
1. Complimentary Website Building Tool
Experience Advertising states that affiliate marketers should focus their time on creating content, not trying to launch new pages manually. That is why their website builder has the ability to launch a site in just minutes.
2. Content Request Tool
The most popular complimentary tool offered by Experience Advertising is their Content Request Tool. This tool allows you to request a unique article or merchant review. They have writers ready to create the reviews and articles you need to add fresh content to your site, at no cost to you. They do not charge their affiliates for anything the agency provides, as they feel strongly about providing affiliates with unique content to inspire focus and provide them with a head start in the organic search rankings.
3. Daily Account Management and Dependability
The affiliate managers dedicate themselves to reviewing and approving affiliates several times each day, including weekends. This ensures that promotion can begin immediately. Affiliate managers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4. Exceptional Newsletters and Banners
- All Experience Advertising’s designs look professional and offer optimal click-thru rates.
- Customized landing pages, banners and sites
- Affiliates can take advantage of free custom-designed banners, landing pages and sites.
Affiliate marketing is a booming and competitive business. In fact, the 2013 Affiliate Summit AffStat survey found, of the sixteen hundred attendees surveyed, more than 30 percent had begun their careers in affiliate marketing in the last 3 years. As the industry has ballooned in recent years, it has become even more necessary to have the best tools available to stay ahead of the curve. Here are five modern operations and marketing tools that can give you an edge in the growing and competitive field of affiliate marketing:
Quora is a veritable goldmine when it comes to generating ideas for content. Quora collects questions and answers from it’s users on a wide variety of topics in a digital environment that combines familiar features from social networking sites. A large number of Quora users are involved in the tech sector, and users are required to use their real names.
Quora stands out among the crowd of Q&A sites due to it’s “follower” mechanism, which allows users to follow the topics presented and answered by tech and business minds that they might not normally be able to network with. Mia Yiannopoulos of The Telegraph predicts that Quora’s popularity will one day outshine Twitter, and that more than one techblog’s content agenda already seems to be dictated by topics trending on Quora. For those looking for ideas for content, Quora is an indispensable tool.
For marketers who have a lot of content to distribute across many different social media networks, Buffer can save you a lot of time and a lot of headaches. Buffer allows users to create a schedule for automatically posting content to various sources throughout the day. Additionally, Buffer provides social media analytics to let you see who is viewing and sharing your content, allowing you to adapt your content stream on the fly.
Storify is a social networking tool that allows users to easily search through various media sources, and arrange the elements selected from those services into stories and timelines. These Storify elements can then be embedded into articles and blog posts, effectively collating vast sums of information from across social media into one organized source.
Though it has been around for a few years, Storify’s release on the iPad in 2012 solidified its position as one of the great content curation services. Its popularity has only bloomed since then, and currently the news show “The Stream” on Al-Jazeera uses Storify almost exclusively to collect and present various perspectives on news stories. For an affiliate marketer, the potential to collect various stories from across the vast social media sea and link them into one article for presentation is invaluable. Storify’s clean and professional design lends itself to an authoritative presentation, and allows users to update and add their own perspective’s effortlessly.
If you’re like many affiliate marketers, you probably don’t have an accountant handling your books. Intuit free accounting software puts you in charge of your finances, allowing you to track payments and invoices, estimate future income as well as expenses, and organize all of your paperwork come tax time. Created by the folks at Quickbooks, Intuit links to your bank accounts so your collective financial information is available at the press of a button. If you are still using spreadsheets to do your accounting, switching to Intuit software can simplify your life as well as eliminate common calculating errors before they punch a hole in your bankroll.
Consumer Barometer, developed by Google, provides users with vast insights into how various consumers search for and decide on products to purchase. As an affiliate marketer, insight into consumer habits is a valuable commodity, allowing you to tailor content to match the patterns created by consumers. Customer’s past purchasing data is available, and Sogeti Trendlabs reports that this data is mined from both the Consumer Barometer Study and the Enumeration Study. By creating a visual representation of the large amount of complicated data analysis, Consumer Barometer makes accessing the minutia of analytics easy and streamlined.
Social media marketing can get hectic. Whether you’re promoting your blog, promoting your products or simply being social and building relationships online, being good at social media often means being on the ball 24/7. Thanks to smart-extension-of-my-arm phones, though, you no longer have to stay deskbound while you maintain your always-on social presence.
Here are 10 of my favorite social media apps. They make sure I can keep an eye on social media, whether I'm at my desk or at home, and even while I'm traveling.
Tweetbot is an iPhone app (no Android version … yet) that makes Twitter management easier. If you’re a power tweeter, it lets you manage multiple users and mute certain topics (or users) in your timeline. It also syncs with the iCloud so you can bookmark away on your iPhone, iPad or even your Mac. A newly updated version of Tweetbot has recently become available and it’s aimed at making your friendly neighborhood Twitter bot even friendlier and more useful.
If your social media efforts involve more than just Twitter and you’re juggling multiple clients or multiple channels of communication, you really need HootSuite. HootSuite lets you multitask like a pro. While the desktop version provides a great experience, the mobile app will make sure you are up to date with every Twitter mention and every new Facebook comment, and you can even set up feeds to keep track of key phrases you’re interested in or follow along with Instagram posts.
It’s super handy if you’re collaborating with a team: You can keep track of who is working on what, and the detailed analytics also give you a great indication of your performance. You can also use it to schedule posts and cross-post to multiple platforms at the same time.
Sprout Social is another great option but I have only recently started using it. Until I learn more about it, I'll remain partial to HootSuite.
If you aren't using Buffer yet, you really NEED to get on the wagon. You can share content to multiple platforms, and Buffer will choose the best time of day for you so your fans aren’t overwhelmed with a barrage of content only at certain times of day.
Buffer is now integrated with a number of sites and even has a Chrome plugin so you can keep scheduling content for sharing. Rest assured your social media audience will receive a steady flow of content from you.
Catching up is fun with Flipboard. Keep up with social media, blogs, videos and photos—all laid out like your very own personalized glossy magazine. You can customize it to deliver the news and updates you want and, of course, it’s well integrated. When you want to share you'll have plenty of options, including Buffer!
If you’re a podcast addict like me, you’ll agree that even though this isn’t technically social media, it deserves a place on this list. I follow some social marketing podcasts and the Downcast app lets me keep up and tune in when I please. You don’t even have to worry about iTunes and can simply subscribe via Downcast.
Ever since the death of Google Reader, I’ve learned to really love feedly. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and feedly is a great way to keep up with everything while on the go. I personally love the interface and think it makes the articles really easy to read, even on a phone. If you want to share, there are plenty of options including sharing to Buffer—which is the best!
7. Google Analytics
Love data? Then you need the Analytics app. Keep up with your data and make decisions on the go with this app—no reason to leave your numbers behind ever again.
Listening is an important aspect of good social media marketing and Mention is the perfect tool for keeping an eye on what’s being said about you online. You can monitor brand mentions and track keywords, and you can keep up with the conversation by responding via the app or having the details emailed to you. Move over, Google Alerts!
Dropbox is not a social media app per se, but it helps me keep up with all the additional documentation that is part of the package when managing a social media presence. The Dropbox mobile app is great and lets you easily view your content schedules, client edits, social media strategies and more even while you’re half asleep in bed.
I really couldn’t do a post on mobile apps for social media without Instagram. Sure, it has a Web version now, but Instagram is designed to be a mobile social media app and boy does it excel with that. Such a simple concept but such great execution.
If you are a regular ‘grammer for your brand, your website or even for yourself, you know that the Instagram app is a great way to keep the world up to date on that perfect latte you had for breakfast or your view of the beach. But jokes aside, brands are doing great things with Instagram by posting a real, human side of themselves with their photos. For this reason, I really believe Instagram is a must-have app on your phone.
So that’s my favorite 10 at the moment, and I reckon I work much harder thanks to being able to take my work everywhere! Seriously though, even if you have all these apps you should probably take a break sometimes. But after the break, do come back and tell us—what are your favorite social media marketing apps? Do they make life easier or do they just add to the pressure of working 24/7?
Let's face it; Black Friday is one of the most awesome "holidays" around. It might not have the same cultural and historical significance as Christmas or Easter, but if you're looking for fantastic bargains on a wide range of desirable items, it can't be beat.
Black Friday traditionally marks the start of yearly profits for retailers. It's also the busiest shopping season for customers. Since the mid-2000s, we have also seen the rise of "Cyber Monday" (a day where online bargains abound for time-pressed shoppers). All things considered, the Black Friday period is just about the best time possible to buy great items at low prices.
Our Very Own Black Friday Affiliate Marketing Deal
This Black Friday season, don't limit yourself to cut-price electronics or clothing. Instead, take the opportunity to build yourself a profitable online business. Rather than buying stuff you might not use more than a few times, why not make Black Friday 2013 the one where you take a fresh direction and really start profiting from affiliate marketing?
To help you out, we are offering an unbeatable (and very limited) offer on our premier affiliate marketing training course, AffiloBlueprint. For the next four days only—that's Black Friday through Cyber Monday—you can join AffiloBlueprint for a massive 50% off. This offer is only available for a strictly limited time, so join AffiloBlueprint for $97 (remember, that's 50% off) today.
While every man and his dog are suffering in massive queues for another waffle iron they don't really need, or fighting tooth and nail to get the last parking space in the mall, you can stretch out in the comfort of your own home and start your journey towards being a successful affiliate marketer. Whether you're totally new to the world of making money online or have plenty of experience with affiliate marketing but little to show for it, AffiloBlueprint will help you to build a reliable and meaningful income online.
Here's Why AffiloBlueprint Will Be Your Best Black Friday Deal Ever
AffiloBlueprint is a step-by-step training system for affiliate marketing. Most other affiliate training providers tend to skirt around the basics and focus on boring theories or disjointed lessons. With AffiloBlueprint, though, you get an over-the-shoulder view showing you how legendary super-affiliate Mark Ling builds many of his most profitable websites. This is a no-holds-barred approach to learning affiliate marketing that has worked like a charm for many others.
Here are just a handful of reasons why AffiloBlueprint is the best Black Friday purchase you could ever make:
- It teaches you everything you need to know to build a profitable affiliate website that will make you money for years to come.
- You can mastermind with other affiliates in an exclusive members-only area.
- You get the tools and resources you need to build a successful affiliate website, including free hosting for your first website and our own exclusive site-building tool.
- You get to enjoy the accuracy and usefulness of regularly updated training lessons and stay ahead of the curve.
- It supercharges your earnings with a free trial of Affilorama Premium and AffiloTools, our best-ever suite of marketing tools that help you get the most out of your online business.
- Plus a whole lot more.
Imagine the feeling of satisfaction you'll get when you build a profitable affiliate site with AffiloBlueprint (and the bundled AffiloTheme) that looks as great as this:
Go here to get full details on AffiloBlueprint and lock in your membership for $97 (before the price goes back up).
This Black Friday Holiday It's YOUR Chance to Get in the Black
Black Friday got its name because it's the date that many retail businesses start turning a profit for the year; they get out of the red and into the black. Unfortunately, this time of the year means the complete opposite for most consumers. If you're already fearing the post–Christmas shopping credit card hangover, you certainly aren't alone.
That's why we're offering you the opportunity to get your online income in the black this Black Friday holiday season. For just $97 (an incredible 50% off the regular price) you can discover the power of affiliate marketing with AffiloBlueprint.
Make 2013 the year when YOU profit from the Black Friday shopping frenzy. Put down that discount smoothie maker or set of hair straighteners you don't really need, and join AffiloBlueprint instead for the unbeatable price of $97. You'll get access to all the training, tools and support you need to make great money promoting other people's products as an affiliate marketer. While everyone else is blowing their money, you'll be investing in your future—how awesome is that?
Click here to lock in your 50% discount and join AffiloBlueprint. When this deal expires on Monday December 2nd at midnight, it will be gone for good. To avoid disappointment make sure you order now.
See you in the AffiloBlueprint members' area! Also, if you have friends or family who would love to get started with their own profitable affiliate marketing / online business this holiday season, then share this page with them on your favorite social network using the buttons below.
Two things come to mind when I hear the phrase "green energy": (1.) The Green Lantern and (2) The Hulk.
Seriously. I guess one too many sleepless nights and cups of coffee can warp your brain. However, I don't think I'm too far off when I associate these superheroes with green energy. They're both green and powerful; pretty much how I view green energy.
Green energy is sustainable or renewable energy. It encompasses geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy, tidal power, hydroelectricity and all other technologies that help increase energy efficiency. Now, that's a lot of power.
There has been an increase in awareness of the need to save the planet through recycling materials and reducing energy consumption. With this awareness comes the need to acquire and use everything "green." According to GreenAffiliatePrograms.Net, "internet sales for natural products now exceeds annual revenues of $800 million." Wikipedia claims that the market for renewable energy continues to grow and LOHAS, or Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability, states that 13–19% of adults in the US alone are LOHAS consumers.
As always, where there's a need, there's a product, and with every product comes an affiliate program.
Green Energy Keywords Don't Need to Be "Green"
Just because we're going into the green energy niche doesn't mean all our keywords will be green. "Green energy" as a keyword is too broad and has high competition, along with the rest of its variations.
You can use "green energy" as a target keyword for informational articles, but you need to be specific for the rest of the articles on your site. I suggest that you take a look at the products prior to looking at keywords to target. Once you've decided on which products to promote, you will be able to determine the keywords you need to target.
The Great Green Affiliate Programs
ClickBank has a lot of green energy affiliate programs. The best ones I found are Nikola Tesla Secret, Solar Stirling Plant and Save on Home Energy. All three products offer a 60–75% commission for each sale. The average earnings per sale range from USD $15 to USD $35.
I came across EarthyEasy.com during my research and I am impressed with the site. They offer all things "green" such as water conservation and energy conservation products, as well as nontoxic pesticides and solar cooking aids. They offer a 10% commission for each sale. That's not much but they do offer phone and email support to affiliates. You can sign up for their affiliate program through ShareAsale.
Eco-Affiliate.com is a green affiliate programs directory. They carry all "green products" like organic products, eco-friendly clothing and "green energy" affiliate programs which they label as "off-grid affiliate programs." Some of their off-grid affiliate programs are the Spheral Solar Power Affiliate Program and the Solar Royal Affiliate Program. Both affiliate programs pay USD $25 for each sale. Payouts are made by check or through PayPal.
GreenAffiliatePrograms.Net is similar to Eco-Affiliate. They are a directory of green affiliate programs ranging from body and healthcare to vitamins to yoga programs. They have solar power products as well as green building products like Neutral Existence and Green Nest. Their commissions range from 7 to 12%.
Ways to Start a "Go Green" Movement
Now that we have our list of green energy affiliate programs, it's time to come up with a strategy on how we can start our own "Go Green!" movement.
Amazon Kindle Traffic
Users tend to look for information or to read about their interest before they buy a product. You can create a free eBook (or charge a minimal fee for each download) covering the various aspects of green energy and why there is a huge need for it. Through your literature, you need to convince users of the advantages of using solar panels, for example, and how much they (and the planet) will benefit from the practice. Doing so helps increase clicks to your site, which is your main goal in creating a Kindle eBook.
Again, users will want information on green energy: what it is, how to do it, ways to save on energy costs, etc. You need to be able to supply them with helpful information and then direct them to the products that can help them get started.
There's a lot of information on green energy, so you need to come up with a schedule of when to do your research and when you will publish a new post. You can create infographics too, or slideshows on the value of renewable energy. You can also do content curation where you share other green energy resources with your readers.
Blog and Forum Commenting
There are a lot of green energy sites, as well as blogs and forums that you can participate in, not just to help out and promote your site, but to get information as well. There's a lot of information-sharing that goes on in blogs and forums. These sites can give you ideas about what to write next, as well as what the people in your target market are interested in learning and what products they're looking at.
Green Energy Affiliate Programs: Stop or Go?
I say it's a "Maybe." The keywords are a bit on the competitive side, really. There aren't many low-competition keywords you can target. That means you need to work double on your on-page SEO as well as your content, because your content will be the main thing driving traffic to your site. The articles on your site will also help with conversion, so they need to be well-written and credible.
The commissions on most of the affiliate programs in this niche are not as high as those in other niches. That is a bit of a drawback for me because this niche requires quite a lot of content.
It's also important that you have a genuine interest in this niche. You need to believe in sustainable energy and its benefits. Otherwise, you will not be able to fully immerse or commit yourself to this niche, nor will you be able to convince others of the good in green energy.
That's plenty to think about. But hey, being Earth's advocate is no mean feat.
I hope you find this week's niche helpful. Please make sure to share it with your friends and colleagues through the share buttons below. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below, too!
If you have been in Internet marketing long enough, you know you need to understand the magic of SEO. You should at least have a working knowledge of how “doing SEO” brings traffic to your site and helps it move up in the world of rankings and relevance.
With this in mind, you have probably mapped out an SEO strategy for your site (if you haven’t you really should!). You’ve planned and executed and planned some more and then one day … you find out you have ended up in SEO oblivion! You panic and wonder what you did that was wrong enough for Google to wipe you off the Internet … but did you ever think that it could be someone else causing you this grief?
Welcome to the evil and sneaky world of negative SEO techniques. What’s negative SEO? You know how doing all the right things moves you up in the rankings? That is positive SEO. When someone else does all the wrong things to try to sabotage your site, that is negative SEO.
Here are five common ways unscrupulous competitors can try to hurt your site with their completely evil negative SEO techniques.
When someone is trying to send your site to purgatory (i.e. page 15 of Google), the first (and most common) tactic they will usually try is to send huge numbers of poor-quality links your way. True story. They will pay for hundreds of spammy links and point them to your site in an attempt to adversely affect your link profile. Then you will get a warning that looks like this:
How many links does it take for Google to send you a warning? I'm unsure of the exact numbers but let's just say if there is a sudden, completely unexplained spike of links to your site, it’s likely to sound off warning bells for Google. After Rand Fishkin put out the challenge for anyone to try and take down his site, he found out that even a site as well-known as SEOMoz will get a notice from Google for poor-quality backlinks.
Google’s head of search engine spam, Matt Cutts, has said that Google is aware of this growing negative SEO trend.
Can you avoid it? While you can’t stop someone from pointing links to your site, you should definitely monitor your backlink profile actively to make sure there are no unnatural spikes. You can monitor your backlinks using the Affilorama backlink checker.
If you notice unexplained growth, it may mean you’re under attack. In such a scenario, Google suggests contacting the webmaster first and asking him or her to take down the links. Should this fail, Matt Cutts suggests using Google’s Disavow Links tool to help you address the issue.
Watch Matt Cutts explain this in the video below.
Evil Content Scraping
Of course, negative SEO doesn’t just stop with backlinks alone. Duplicate content can get you severe penalties from Google. Those trying to sabotage your site can try to duplicate your content before your site is even indexed. Why? They are trying to make it look like the original site (yours) is actually the one trying to steal and duplicate the content.
How can you check if your content is being scraped? Run a quick Google search with any sentence from your site in quotes.
Can you prevent it? Yes. Just be sure to maintain an up-to-date sitemap, especially when you publish new content. Additionally, including the rel=canonical tag on your pages is also a good way to establish you as the authority.
If you’re really unlucky, hackers might try to take you down as well. If your site has any loopholes, hackers can try things like strategically placing a noindex tag within the code or even adding malicious links. Additionally, denial of service attacks, where your website gets overwhelmed with way more requests than it can handle, aren’t uncommon either. This makes it impossible for Google to crawl your site and could affect your rankings.
Make a habit of regularly scanning your site for any changes in code to secure it against malicious hackers.
Website speed is an important factor in SEO as well. Saboteurs can use crawlers to continually crawl your site. This will make it slow to load and use, and it will become a poor experience for users. This in turn will not just affect your SEO; it could even affect your conversion rates.
Preventing and controlling web crawlers can be difficult, but there is some good advice here.
Customer reviews are valuable commodities in the SEO world these days, but if Google notices you’re making up fake reviews online, you’re likely to get punished. Competitors can do this to hurt you by making it appear these reviews are coming from you. If you start noticing a pattern on Google reviews that don’t look quite right, be sure to report the reviews to Google for review before they start affecting your search engine rankings.
Don’t panic—I don’t want to scare you off the Internet. The idea is to get you thinking and actively keeping an eye on the vulnerabilities of your site. If there are holes, you are better of plugging them before your competitors spot them. SEO can get competitive. It’s good to stay informed about what others can do to bring you down, and what you can do to prevent that from happening.
I’m interested—have you ever had your site brought down by negative SEO? Any stories to share?
P.S. If you want to build a Google-friendly affiliate site, our AffiloTheme product could be exactly what you’re looking for.
An eCommerce platform must be strong and robust if it’s going to succeed in the long-term. A country like Australia, according to Roy Morgan, has a $24 billion online retail trade. If you want a slice of this, you have to do the right things.
Your platform is what will get customers to buy whatever you’re selling. There are so many things you need to do to build a great platform, but we’ve narrowed it down to just a few things.
Here are the main things you should have for building a robust eCommerce platform.
Product Image Handling
A sizeable part of any eCommerce platform is made from images. You have to make sure you’re taking into account SEO with your images. Take a grid of products, or a product wheel, like one of those on www.batterystation.co.uk, as an example.
These product images can be clicked on. They remain on the same page, though. They should never point to a unique URL. Do this and your SEO is less concentrated and you’re lessening your chances of gaining exposure through organic search engine traffic.
How You Display Reviews
To check if your reviews are in HTML, view the page source and see if the review appears in the page code.
Caching is a way of making sure pages load quickly and effectively. If there wasn’t a highly advanced caching system on your site, loading each new page would be very slow. Every eCommerce platform must have an advanced caching system for both SEO and conversion purposes.
From an SEO standpoint, Google monitor page speed. If it takes longer than five seconds to load, you’ll be penalized for it.
When we look at conversions, though, we can see how important it is. Conversions require fast loading or people will get bored and abandon their purchases. According to TIME, this generation is 52% more likely to make an impulse buy than previous generations. You need a good loading speed to take advantage of this.
Your data should be easily accessible at all times. You should have the option of downloading everything from your platform onto your computer. At some point, you will move platforms and make a new website. It’s much easier to do this if you can recycle the things you had before.
This is also important for security. If your servers are hacked and site taken offline, it can take weeks to get back up and running without the data.
Ability to Update
Your platform should be on the cutting edge of eCommerce. You need to do this in a certain way, though. If your site hasn’t been updated in a few years, you’ll notice things have changed. What worked before doesn’t necessarily work now.
At the same time, updating with every trend will just frustrate your customers. What you need is a platform which allows for change as and when you need it. You shouldn’t have to call your designer for every minor update.
Your hosting choice will play a central role in the strength of your eCommerce platform. Pick a host with a bad record and all the work making your site will be for nothing.
The key to success is to opt for a host with a strong network of data centers. The major providers have centers all over the world. Data is stored in multiple locations. If a natural disaster devastates an area, your site remains online because it’s stored elsewhere.
You might want to consider cloud hosting. This takes away many of the vulnerabilities of having everything stored on a physical server. Cloud hosting is the storage of data online. It might make it more vulnerable to hackers, but physical threats are more dangerous and potentially more problematic.