All About Affiliate Marketing

Companies may wish to partner with entities—such as publishers that are individuals or other companies—that can be beneficial to the brand. This can be a productive way for a company to expand its reach and marketing efforts.

There are two ways affiliate marketing is approached: companies offer affiliate programs directly to other companies/individuals, or they can sign up to be an affiliate through another organization. The company that is offering or controlling the affiliate program will pay a commission for every lead or sale the affiliate delivers to the company’s website.

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing where customers or partners are rewarded for designated actions that help market the brand. For example, a customer might mention in a Facebook post that he or she purchased a product and gain a certain number of reward points for their post.

The affiliate marketing program may be structured so that when more than ten friends like or comment on that post, the individual earns more points. The affiliate can then redeem these points against the company’s products or some partner brands.

Affiliate marketing helps widen a company’s reach exponentially using the most credible medium—existing customers. Websites offering price comparison services, coupons, shopping directories, and virtual currency platforms are the most popular affiliate marketing websites.

To look at affiliate marketing in a simple way, it is a cycle consisting of three key entities. These entities are the “merchant,” which is the brand whose product is being marketed, the “publisher” who is the affiliate, and finally the “customer.” In simple words, the advertiser pays a certain commission to the publisher for bringing new customers to the business.

Through affiliate marketing, merchants or companies gain a wider reach to sell their products or services, which is usually a key element to any marketing strategy. This approach can also allow the company to build a strong image or brand name.

One of the main advantages of affiliate marketing is that companies can gain more customers with limited dollars, since the approach is commission based or points based. However, there is the possibility that some merchants may incur high commission, maintenance, and initial setup costs, depending on the nature of the business.

Affiliate marketing is different from referral marketing in the way that it uses online marketing platforms—social media, search engine marketing, and more—to market the product while referral marketing is primarily based on word-of-mouth and relies heavily on trust and personal relationships between existing customers and prospects.

Affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool for a product brand because, in addition to helping grow the customer base, it can also aid brand presence in the market and create a buzz around the brand and its respective brand identities.

Attracting the right affiliates is very important for the affiliate program to be a success and in determining the volume that can be expected from the program. Updating content regularly and staying up-to-date with recent trends is equally important to help ensure that customers respond to the company’s offers.

A product or service does not have to cater to a niche market. Common-place brands, even fast moving consumer goods brands, can benefit greatly from affiliate marketing with the help of the right offers and efficient partners.

Getting products onto as many sites as possible is not necessarily the most important goal. Marketers must also consider the relevance, value, and traffic of the sites and platforms that one is able to reach.

There are some common mistakes affiliates tend to make, and businesses need to be aware of them. The job of the affiliate is to “market” the product, not “sell” the product. Selling is the job of the advertiser itself. Trying too hard to push customers to buy the product may only push prospective customers away.

Partnering with too many affiliates can be another mistake that brands need to carefully consider. Being everywhere can serve to dilute the customer perception about the brand and undermine its credibility. A crucial component to help ensure success with affiliate programs is to have robust analytics capabilities in place and to use them regularly. This will enable the company to understand which affiliates bring in more business, the value of that business, and where they should increase or decrease their efforts and investments in affiliate marketing.

 

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
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How Off-Page Optimization Influences the Success of a SEO Campaign

Search Engine Optimization involves a number of activities and initiatives that businesses can implement to achieve high search engine rankings. Such activities address both on-page and off-page ranking factors that can affect a website’s or web page’s search engine rankings for specific search terms, resulting in a high placement in a search engine’s “organic,” or “natural,” or “unpaid” search results.

The goal of off-page optimization is to promote a website in the right ways to improve its reputation, so the ranking of the website rises. Off-page optimization refers to off-site factors that have an effect on a website that are not controlled by coding on the website.

Some of the factors that deal with off-page SEO are:

  • Search Engine Submission—The website needs to be submitted manually to the most popular search engines to get listed for free and quickly.
  • Directory Submission—The website needs to be submitted to high quality directories.
  • Social Networking—A presence in social networking sites, and creation or involvement in online communities, increases the reputation of a website considerably. Search engines place a higher ranking on sites that are active in social networking.
  • Blog and Forum Posting—This is one of the most powerful ways to promote your company’s website. Writing quality blogs and participating in public user forums is a great way to increase the online reputation of a website. It is also a good idea to create a blog and forum as part of the website itself.
  • Link Building—Link building is a standard off-page optimization technique. There are several ways to increase backlinks to a website. However, it is important to note that search engines are very strict with respect to unethical Link Farming. A site that has thousands of links, often to unrelated sites, will be considered spam by the search engines. Reciprocal linking is common and generally accepted if it is not excessive and provides value to the site visitor. Public blogs, forums, and directories are great sources for backlink building.
  • Article Submission—Writing industry-related articles and submitting them to popular article sites such as ehow, Ezine, Go Articles, Hubpages, and Buzzle help to establish an online reputation and can also be used to increase links to the website.
  • Press Release Promotion—PR submissions in popular online PR websites, such as PRLog, PRWeb, Market Wire, PR Newswire, 1888pressrelease, 24-7 Press Release, Open PR, and PR Leap, increase a company’s online reputation considerably.
  • Document Sharing—Sharing business documents, information brochures, and presentation slides in document sharing websites, such as Google Docs and Slide Share, helps to increase online brand visibility.
  • Questions and Answers Sites—Participating in popular question and answer sites, such as Quora, Google Questions and Answers, Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers, and Stack Exchange, is another great way to increase website link popularity.
  • Business Reviews—Participating in business review sites, such as Google Reviews, Yahoo Local Listings, Consumer Search, Trustpilot, and RateitAll, increases online reputation.

In addition to the activities mentioned above, other off-page optimization activities such as Social Bookmarking, Photo and Video Sharing and Promotion, Search Engine Local Listings, Yellow Pages, Maps, Social Shopping Networks, and other activities help to increase the online reputation of a website leading to improved search engine listing.

It is also important to note that different search engines assign different weights to the various SEO activities. These change over time as new standards and formats are developed.

 

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
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Why you should be analyzing your metrics related to reputation?

Analyzing key metrics related to reputation in social media is important to determine the effectiveness of social media campaigns as well as to discover gaps that need to be addressed. In addition, as companies generally use more than one social media platform, it is also important to compare how effective each of the platforms is in building a company’s online reputation. For this, metrics that apply to all social media platforms should be used. For example, almost every social media platform also has a feature that allows users or viewers to express their approval of content. The most common way to express this is through action buttons such as Like, Share, Follow, Upvote, Downvote etc.

Another example that applies to almost every social media platform is a feature that allows users to share content provided by the company. Tracking the number of shares can help compare engagement across platforms. The share feature allows companies to reach out to a much larger audience than the one they initially targeted. For example, if a company promotes a particular piece of content through e-mail marketing to one hundred users, the reach is usually limited only to the recipients of the e-mail. However, if the company shares the same piece of content to the one hundred users following its company page on a social media platform, the exposure can be much wider. In this case, if ten of these users share the promoted content to their contacts within the social media channel, and assuming that they each have an average of one hundred contacts, then the company’s content would reach an additional 1,000 users (100 × 10). The fact that these 1,000 users did not receive promoted content directly from the company but received the content after it had been shared by a contact of theirs serves as a recommendation and significantly improves the company’s reputation across a wider audience. Therefore, companies should track not only the customers they initially target but also the much wider audience that actually receives their content. Most of the popular social media platforms have analytics tools that allow companies to track both sets of audiences, and knowing the wider audience can help a company better plan its reputation management activities.

It is also important to understand which segments of users are more active in promoting and sharing a company’s social media activity and updates. If those segments are the ones that a company considers as its best targets, then it can conclude that its updates are striking a chord with the right audience. If, however, its updates are shared by users who are unlikely to become customers, then the company needs to investigate whether the content it is sharing is relevant to its target audience or whether its targeting parameters are correct. Failing to conduct this analysis may result in a company meeting its short-term social media targets, such as achieving a certain number of likes or shares, but failing to meet its overall revenue targets for social media.

Here are two examples of Social Media Reputation Metrics Analysis:

  • Content mobility and engagement is one of the primary metrics of social media reputation management. For example, a company that has a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and a company blog might measure its social media reputation using all or some of the following:
  • Facebook likes and shares
  • YouTube video likes and shares
  • Instagram likes and comments
  • Twitter retweets
  • Pinterest repins
  • Blog article shares and comments
  • A furniture company, which is operating in multiple cities and promoting its latest designs through social media, may observe that the overall likes and shares of its campaigns are as expected, but a significant percentage of shares is coming from cities, or even countries, where the company does not have a presence at all. This may happen if the company has not defined its target audience correctly while promoting its content. Thus, the company may waste money on these campaigns without earning the expected revenue. 

    The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
    SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
    Important links:
    Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
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What is Search Marketing All About?

Search Marketing is the overall method of driving traffic to a company’s website through the use of search engines, and includes both organic search engine optimization and paid search strategies. Organic search is the free listing on search engine result pages (SERPs) and is governed by the algorithm of the particular search engine. A company’s effectiveness at being ranked high in an organic search can be optimized with various Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or paid search, is the way in which advertisers obtain a prominent listing for their company through the paid auction model, whereby the company bids for specific terms or phrases, called keywords.

Both paid and organic listings on SERPs show up when users search for a particular keyword. The users will then click to go to the websites or product pages of the company from the listing. There is no fee charged to the company if a user links to a company through the organic results. Organic search is therefore less expensive, but it can be difficult for a company to optimize its site adequately enough to be discovered by customers. SEM allows companies to create targeted advertisements, which are shown to users when they search for the keywords based on a predetermined bidding algorithm. Companies pay the publishers for clicks; this model is also known as pay-per-click (PPC).

There are two methods to determine the advertising cost for the PPC—Bid-based and Flat-rate.

  • Bid-Based—This practice is the way in which most search engines price paid search. The ads that appear on the right side and on top of the SERP are purchased on a bid-based PPC model. In a bid-based PPC model, advertisers bid on the highest price they are willing to pay for a click on specific keywords. The actual PPC paid and the ad’s rank is then determined by the search algorithm, based on several factors, including the bid and ad quality, landing page quality, other advertisers bids, and other undisclosed factors.
  • Flat Rate—In this model, companies and publishers decide on a set rate for each click. Publishers establish fixed rates for different keywords based on the level of competition or demand for the particular keyword. Thus, the higher the demand for the keyword, the higher the rate. Different publishers have different rates for the keywords, and companies can choose to pay more for increased visibility. This model is commonly used by comparison shopping websites. 

    The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
    SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
    Important links:
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Relationship Metrics and Targets for Mobile Website

Since customers are increasingly interacting with businesses via mobile devices, companies invest significant time and effort in ensuring that they create sites that are optimized to offer a positive customer experience by displaying useful and relevant content and by providing functionality that is suited to mobile devices. The marketing team must continuously evaluate metrics data against previously set targets in order to ensure optimal relationship targets are being met and to implement corrective measures to address any shortfalls. Some of these metrics include the following:

Active Users—This metric determines the number of daily or monthly active users or visitors of the site.

Session Length—This is the time period between when the site is opened and closed (or when the session is ended) and helps identify the time spent by users on the mobile site.

Session Interval—This is the time interval between consecutive sessions and indicates the frequency with which users launch the site.

Bounce Rate—This metric measures the percentage of visitors who exited the mobile site after visiting just one page. A high bounce rate indicates a low level of engagement with customers, suggesting the consumer did not find value in the mobile site.

Here is an example of Relationship Metrics and Targets for Mobile Website:

The marketing manager of a pet supply company had to update her manager about the performance of the company’s new mobile site. New users had been steadily growing over the prior weeks, and engagement was increasing. However, she was shocked to discover that, in the last week, the average session time had decreased by twenty-five percent. She further analyzed the available metrics and discovered that the number of page views was down and the most visited page for dog food had dropped significantly. This led her to investigate further and talk to the tech team. She discovered that there had been technical issues with the site. There was one outage and a broken link to the most visited page in the past week. As a result, new procedures were established for the technical team to notify sales and marketing immediately in the event of any site issues.

 

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
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Role of Social Media in Planning Digital Marketing Strategy

Social media refers to all channels where people and customers are able to interact with each other via digital media that are public or accessible to multiple users. There are a number of social media websites, each of which has created its own model for enabling people to communicate with each other. Social media sites use content in various forms to build digital communities in which ideas and content are shared and discussion and comments are encouraged.

It is important to keep in mind, when planning a Social Media Marketing Strategy, that consumers will not always react positively to a company’s updates and content on social platforms. Negative comments about a brand and its products are inevitable even on the company’s own social media platforms.

Some companies will choose to exert control over comments on their own platforms and delete those that they feel reflect poorly on the brand. Other companies may choose to allow the negative comments to remain and respond in an empathetic way by offering an apology and/or a solution to issues. Leaving negative comments online, along with the company’s responses shows that the company is open, honest, and transparent. This also provides an opportunity to turn disgruntled customers into a brand evangelist.

It is also important to understand the distinction between “earned” and “paid” opportunities for “sharing.” For example, building “followers” or “shares” through the development and posting of valuable content is “earned.” Alternatively, several social platforms provide “paid” opportunities for advertising and promoted posts in order to share information. Earned and paid strategies on social media are not mutually exclusive and often the most effective social media strategies employ a combination of both.

 

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
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Various Models of Social Media-Enabled Sharing

“Social media” is an umbrella term that includes web-based software and services that bring users together online and allow them to exchange ideas, discuss issues, communicate with one another, and participate in many other forms of social interaction. With the proliferation of different forms of social media, such as blogs, forums, audio-visual sharing sites, personal networking sites, and professional networking sites, consumers are constantly bombarded with many marketing messages

Social media is important to every business that has a web presence as it can help drive traffic to the company’s website and ultimately increase sales leads and conversions. As well, different social media platforms are more likely to reach certain target audience segments, and messaging can be customized for each platform.

The various models of social media-enabled sharing are of the following content types:

  1. Blogs—Blogs are content created by individuals, groups, or companies to express their opinions, or provide information or insights on specific topics of their choice. The most popular blogs choose topics that are of interest to a large community. However, niche blogs catering to a certain targeted audience can be successful if they dominate the share of voice in that particular subject area. Successful blogs have something interesting, useful, or creative to share, and do that sharing with an engaging style. Blogs may contain images, infographics, or videos in addition to text. In most cases, they are also open to comments from readers. From a company’s perspective, a blog or Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed is an effective means for updating actual or prospective customers of happenings related to the company or the company’s products. RSS feeds use standard web feed formats to publish blog posts and syndicate data automatically. RSS feeds benefit users who want to receive timely updates from favorite websites or to aggregate data from many sites.
  1. Discussion Forums—These are websites used for discussing issues related to a specific topic. Participants in such forums may be asked to register. They are encouraged to ask each other questions, answer questions, and share information. Many forums allow participants to rate each other’s contributions, enabling contributors to build their reputations over time. Some discussion forums may be hosted and moderated by the company, in which case, the company would have some influence on the content of the discussion. In other cases, discussion forums are independent of a company; however, companies should be aware of popular discussion forums in which their products may be discussed and make an effort to respond to customers within those forums.
  1. Professional Networking Sites—These sites relate to people, groups, or companies sharing professional updates, content, and discussions generally related to an organization, a company, a product, or a profession. These sites are used to build an individual’s personal brand as well as to raise awareness of businesses’ brands and their products or services within the online community. Companies share such professional updates for various purposes, such as sharing product launch information, communicating offers and discounts, announcing changes in policies, and sharing media coverage. Relevant and engaging updates can help companies build and retain a loyal base of customers.
  1. Social Networking Sites—These are posts that pertain to people or groups sharing personal updates about themselves or about a topic. These updates are generally shared with friends, relatives, or acquaintances, but they may also be shared with the general public. A company needs to create content or share updates that are relevant, interesting, or entertaining enough for people to share with their personal network, and the content shared should also align with the marketing objectives for a product or brand. Therefore, businesses should focus their social networking site updates on useful and interesting information on subjects related to the company’s product or brand. This channel provides the opportunity for companies to share their brand personality and advertise company events, sales, and discount coupons. The focus of these updates should be on fun and engaging shareable content. Also, companies that have a high level of brand loyalty and where customers relate to the brand strongly may find customers voluntarily creating content or experiences related to the brand, or sharing the brand’s updates.
  1. Video Sharing Sites—This activity relates to sharing videos, audio, infographics, or images with other people. Such content can be shared with any person or group. In most social media channels that are focused on sharing such content, people can vote on or rank audio-visual content or add their comments. Thus, these channels integrate the discussion forum element into audio-visual sharing. For example, on YouTube—a social media channel for sharing videos—users can “like” or “dislike” a video, comment on the video, and reply to each other’s comments. Companies can use such channels very effectively as videos, images, and audio can have a much larger impact on the target market than text updates. Many companies invest in creating engaging and interesting videos about their products, which sometimes become extremely popular and drastically increase brand visibility. Some also create melodies around their product, which can become as popular as songs in their own right or as ringtones for mobile phones.

The features and functionality of social media platforms are constantly evolving as lesser-used functionality is removed and replaced by new functionality. It is critical for the digital marketing team to be up-to-date on the latest trends in social media and to understand how other organizations use social media to their advantage. Marketers also need to be aware of paid opportunities within social media marketing such as sponsored updates and ads, as well as earned opportunities to disseminate marketing messages by organically building followers. Often, a combination of paid and earned campaigns yields the best results.

 

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course