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Every successful marketer in every industry knows about this concept, and you can’t afford not to. If your business doesn’t follow a marketing strategy with all three of these elements solidly in place, it’s guaranteed to fail. There are also a few extra details that are specific to affiliate marketers, which you’ll soon see.
Pillar #1: Audience
Broadly speaking, your audience is everyone who knows that your business exists. They could have learned about it by clicking an ad you placed, by reading an article you wrote, or even by word of mouth.
Every marketer wants as big an audience as possible, because a bigger audience contains more potential customers. The trick is to maximize your audience by spending as little of your resources – money AND time – as you can.
When marketers try to build their audiences, they have two tools at their disposal: the first is content creation, and the second is advertising. Advertising is by far the faster way, but of course it costs money. Whether it’s worth the cost is a completely different topic. Fortunately, a solo entrepreneur can usually buy a few ads at a relatively low cost, so it’s still an option. The free option is to create content that attracts the attention of your audience, but that approach takes much more time to show results, even in the online world.
As for affiliate marketers, most of them purchase ads when growing an audience. They maintain ‘micro-sites’ that are meant to get the viewers interested in whatever product is paying the affiliate a commission. If these sites do their jobs, their audience continues on to the vendor’s sales page.
One final point about audiences: every marketer MUST keep attracting new audience members continually. The reason is that many people will leave your audience sooner or later and forget about your business.
Pillar #2: Trust
Most people don’t spend their hard-earned money by giving it to some random individual on the Internet. They need to trust the person before giving any serious thought to a buying decision. That’s why building trust in your audience is so fundamental. No matter who you are, you won’t earn that trust from everyone in your audience, but a good marketer can earn it from a healthy percentage of audience members.
Nowadays, nearly every successful company that has an online presence uses one of more email lists to build trust. The goal is to show, over a short period of time, that the business truly understands what its email subscribers need or want, and is able to meet those needs. Of course, these series of emails are automated. The market has a number of companies that provide autoresponder services, and the costs are very low percentage of the company’s budget.
Affiliate marketers use automated series of emails to build trust, too. However, in the world of online marketing, it can be difficult to get some people to hand over their email addresses. As a result, affiliate marketers (along with most other kinds of online-only businesses), will use a free offer that they provide people in exchange for an email. This offer needs to be something that people in your audience would consider valuable: an ebook, a video, or a piece of software with an interactive demo, for example.
Pillar #3: Monetization
This is the area that almost every entrepreneur defines well, but – again – it’s useless without the other two. Monetization is simply one of the fancy words for describing what products or services the customers can pay for, and what their prices are.
For affiliate marketers, the monetization is in the commissions they’re paid. Not surprisingly, how much they make depends a great deal on both the commission rate and the size of the market. So unlike many other businesses, every time affiliate marketers choose a new product, they make a new monetization decision.
One very interesting thing about these elements of marketing strategy is that they come together into the classic model of a sales funnel. The total audience has the greatest number of people (at the top of the funnel) followed by a smaller percentage who trusts your business to some degree, and finally ends with the smallest group: people who are ready to buy and then actually buy.
Most of the effective sales funnels out there are not much more complex than that.