Effective marketing should be able to survive even my scrutiny
As an affiliate, and future product publisher, proof (that is unequivocal) is something in which I place a great amount of emphasis.
- It allows me to recommend a product or service with reduced risk of damaging my own reputation
- I want to be sure my readers will be delivered the product or service promised, thus giving them the potential to achieve any results claimed
- Reputation is important – often proof also acts as a significant guarantee that customers will be treated well (within the boundaries of what the product or service encompasses)
- Reliable data – if I can dig holes in claims made in promotional material, so can my readers
- Real testimonials – you can pay huge fines for astroturfing
- Proof in advance during product launches by providing real substantial results in advance is a powerful concept.
- Proof increases conversions
Lets look at a few good and bad examples
Formula 5 From Stompernet
I was travelling in the UK when this launched first time around at the start of the year, and actually picked up a big heavy box from my UK address by hand rather than having it forwarded.
Stompernet have in recent times made a massive move in providing their army of affiliates with review samples in advance of a launch – not necessarily a “final” version, with all the bonuses and long-term subscription, but certainly enough for an affiliate to review a product with significant authority.
Now Formula Five is being relaunched, they went through a similar launch process, with the added benefit of genuine customer testimonials.
Following the same formula as the initial launch, providing free training that is intended to create “results in advance” – prospects take action based upon the free training, and see the benefit to their business before the product is even on sale. In many ways more effective than free samples or $1 offers for a higher ticket product.
Case studies where students by increasing perceived value, and enhancing their product offering (additional cost 3%), increased revenue by 35% and profits by a staggering 68% – same number of sales
A sales page packed with case studies and genuine testimonials
And of course some fast mover bonuses and strong guarantee
Be warned – whilst Paul’s teaching is extraordinary, this is business training – just like at school you really will need to take frequent breaks, and possibly “rewind” the video repeatedly until some strategies really sink in.
When Paul suggests you take action when you think something could be implemented in your business, do it, your business (and family) need you to take action based upon Paul’s teaching.
Howie Schwartz – IM Remarkable
I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of promoting Howie’s IM Remarkable unless I felt the training he was providing before asking prospects to get out their credit card was going to be exceptional.
He had more than 100 people take part in his pre-launch competition, and 1000s of people joining leaving comments on the pre-launch blog and training blog.
It also added a little variety to coverage. Howie’s SEO strategies in many ways are different to what I have experience with, and of the people I know working using those techniques, he is right up near the top of the earnings scale.
The Ugly Proof
AWStats / Webalizer
Stats based upon server logs have immense value, but they need significantly intelligent filters to weed out all the bots.
Here are some old stats from this blog (at least I think they are)
Wow, over a million “hits” per month and look at those page views!
It is meaningless rubbish, when some bots hit you 72 times per day
It gets even more ridiculous if you host your RSS feed on your own server, though all it takes if you have a long RSS feed is a small update to mean 10s or even hundreds of media files get accessed… but possibly just the headers to see if they have changed… but that still gets counted.
No earnings shot… but just think of these factors that are rarely mentioned on sales letters.
- Traffic cost – Adwords etc
- Outsourcing costs
- Tools / Software / training costs
- JV / Affiliate cut, for many products up to 75%
- Travel (for the JV deals)
- Partners – many products are the combined efforts of a number of marketers
Earnings might still be significant, but with the FTC crawling over every form of word of mouth marketing these days, and various forms of false advertising, both product owners and affiliates have to be especially careful.
The funny thing is, from an accounting perspective paying an affiliate 75% through Clickbank is in many ways “free traffic”, as long as you don’t claim gross income as yours.
Network Effects Tactics & Automation
Lets look at claims often made by people promoting social media and Twitter products
I am not going to single anyone out specifically, but one current promotion does come to mind. This doesn’t mean anyone is being dishonest, or reflect the quality of the product which I haven’t seen, but in many ways the data seems from my slightly more critical eye to be looked at through “rose coloured glasses”.
We will take the following as fact
- Huge twitter following
- Significant email list
- Decent earnings per “twitter follower”
However we have to look at correlation, causation and add in a lot of other factors
- Partner with a list
- Created a number of products, including social media / Twitter training
- All products have been promoted by affiliates
Plus 5 tactics
- Autofollow people who follow you
- Proactive following up to your limit daily
- Unfollowing people who don’t reciprocate within set period of time
- Lots of tweets
Lets look at how some of those factors might influence Twitter follow size
People with huge responsive lists that promote Twitter to their lists, used autofollow, and have promoted twitter on blogs and landing pages.
Rich Schefren 22793 followers 462 Tweets (only started autofollowing later on)
John Reese 24840 followers 3450 Tweets (recently stopped autofollow and cleaned list)
Andy Jenkins 12388 followers 1433 Tweets (Only started autofollow later)
Mike Filsaime 34055 followers 908 Tweets (recently stopped autofollow and cleaned list)
So being a huge list owner doesn’t get you to 100K+ twitter followers
So how about being a reasonable sized list owner, who is super helpful but doesn’t autofollow?
Lets grab a few Copywriters
Michel Fortin 6735 followers 5059 tweets
Marlon Sanders 4308 followers 3581 Tweets
Brian Clark 27933 followers 5110 Tweets
Ray Edwards 6630 followers 2044 tweets
Brian from memory was an early adopter, and is probably better known among tech and “blogging” bloggers.
None of these guys autofollow
To compare, Darren from Problogger has a very similar audience to Brian, and also has a blog on Twitter tips.
Darren Rowse 72477 followers 13185 tweets (I believe Darren autofollowed for a while)
Someone not afraid to use “tactics” in social media
Reg Saddler 93795 followers 20353 tweets
Reg certainly autofollows, possibly also used other tactics in the past
Robert Scoble 98371 followers 21817 tweets (proponent of autofollow)
I don’t think Robert uses other tactics, but he is know to be an early adopter, and his use of Twitter gained lots of coverage and links, plus his blog is popular.
Other Social Media Mavens (those who don’t grace the Twitter “blogroll”)
Coach Deb 19874 followers 18617 tweets (doesn’t autofollow)
Mari Smith 44456 followers 25273 followers (autofollows afaik)
Alternatively you could just be a bot tweeting links to Delicious popular items and have 50K followers with some smart automation or outsourcing.
The idea that you can just be a cool dude, behave like you are at a party, and gain a huge number of followers just doesn’t correlate – the highest correlation is autofollow combined with other tactics and automation.
Personality, engagement and useful content would however play a factor in monetization – maybe a good idea to use that in your email marketing.
It should be noted that Twitter has been cracking down on autofollow and various gaming tactics involving following/unfollowing. Most of the people employing such tactics in the past have slowed down to gains of just 500 followers per day, and those are not targeted.
I also want to highlight this post from John Reese
5 Reasons Why Twitter Auto-Follow Is Bad Marketing
Thus to achieve the results claimed by “Twitter” marketers:-
- Huge twitter following = automation + tactics
- Significant email list = major problems with correlation
- Decent earnings per “twitter follower” = major problems with correlation
I am not saying that building a relationship with a list or Twitter following isn’t important, and it would certainly help with monetization, but to attribute that with huge twitter followings would be naiive, or atypical – I look on @Garyvee as atypical, and from memory (before he was added to the “blogroll” on Twitter) he wasn’t touting 6 figure Twitter followers.
I don’t know anyone who engages their audience more on Twitter.
The biggest correlation on sales as an affiliate?
- Released a product heavily promoted by JVs to build a massive list of fresh leads who trust you (even if they didn’t buy)
- Offer the leads who didn’t buy that product, the product as a bonus, or something of equal or greater value in an affiliate promotion. Fresh leads and $5000 worth (real worth) of bonuses sure does have a MASSIVE effect on conversion rate.
It is nothing to do with Twitter follower count…
If I made extraordinary claims as an SEO about a certain ranking factor without evidence that I had carefully isolated as many outside factors as possible, and created a test that could be repeated, I would likely be ripped apart by my audience.
As a marketer, assume every claim you make will be put under the microscope by your customers and peers – ideally they should find more proof that supports you, not less.