Monday, July 30, 2007

The Unmastered Affiliate - Three Keys to Starting a Successful Affiliate Campaign

Being an affiliate requires an investment of time to start and maintain a successful campaign. You can save yourself some wasted energy by conducting your research and planning upfront. Armed with a product to sell, your objective in hand, you now need to tackle these essential tasks before you launch your campaign: research keywords, writing the pitch, and getting the word out.

Research keywords

There's no excuse to not to do the proper keyword research for your product. First, you need a list of potential keywords, which you can generate from the product's sales page. You can also use the keyword tool provided by Adwords to find a collection of related terms. Once you have a larger list of potential keywords, you need to narrow down the list to viable keywords.

Here's a simple way to start: type in a prospective keyword for your product and look at the ads that show up on the results page. Are the ads promoting the same product that you are? More to the point, do the ads seem to be promoting only one product, or a number of products on a number of topics?

Whenever you do keyword research, you need to keep in mind what you are looking for. How targeted is the keyword? That is, how likely is the person searching for the keyword also searching for, and willing to purchase, your product? How much competition does the keyword have for your product, or similar products? How frequently is the keyword searched for at all?

Both Yahoo! and Google have keyword tools that will give you detailed information on each keyword so that you can reduce your trial and error before you ever start your campaign.

Writing the Pitch

Depending on your campaign, your pitch can be either ad text or an article.

Regarding ads, as much as possible, your keyword should be appear somewhere within the ad, either as part of the headline or display url. If you have a lot of keywords that don't appear within the ad at all, think carefully about how targeted those words truly are. Remember, people searching for a particular keyword should be prepared to either come across your product, or even better, prepared to purchase your product. If they are searching for something else entirely, then you have the wrong keywords. On the flipside, if your keywords are highly targeted but not contained within the text of your ad, you should think about rewriting your ads.

Regarding articles, whether your article is intended as a sales pitch, or informational, it is important to watch your keyword density. Density is really the number of times a particular word or term appears on a webpage, but it's good practice to pay attention to the density of the keywords for your product.

Getting the Word Out

You need to plan how you will spread the word about your product. Every method has its pros and cons and it is useful to do some research about each before you launch your campaign. At best, it will save you some wasted time and effort, possibly even some money, rather than learning through trial and error.

For example, right now Google Adwords is the definitive company to run ads on keyword search results. But being the best means a lot of your competitors are using it too, and the service isn't free. Even if you can get your cost per click down to pennies, that is still money you have to spend first before you have even made a dime.

As another example, an article submission site (like Ezine) is a great way to start advertising your product because spiders index new articles from those sites quickly. However, by submitting your article, you are giving permission to have your article republished almost anywhere on the internet. In addition to legitimate reuse of your article, bots sometimes steal partial text from your article and republish it with some words replaced or altered. The result is that your article is butchered and unreadable. Though this practice violates the rules of submission, it is generally difficult to track them all down and the best you can hope for is an intact link back to your article.

In order to be a successful affiliate, it's essential to plan ahead before you start your campaign. A little planning and research can go a long way to ensuring your time is spent wisely.

Andrew Marx writes weekly at about how to successfully unmaster your affiliate techniques in order to be a successful affiliate.

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