Affiliate Marketing

5 Alternative Marketing Strategies for Niches

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Find your niche

Find your niche

Creating marketing strategies for niches is a daunting task for any marketer. Niche businesses can only cater to a small audience and address very specific issues. Unlike commodities or retail, which cater to a broad audience, niche markets have a harder time getting people interested. Here are a few key strategies for getting your niche business off the ground.

Build a Community that Generates Content

Communities, whether online or offline, are built around the specific interests and traits of their members. These groups are bound by the things that set them apart. You’ll probably never see a group of people who get together to discuss a very generic topic like eating. Everyone eats. On the other hand, a community might spring up when several people who are interested in a specific aspect of eating come together, like people who enjoy cooking and meet to swap recipes, or those who enjoy exotic foods and want to share their experiences.

Your niche can be just the thing to plant the seeds of such a community. With readily available social media tools, all potential customers need is a small incentive: a rally point. From there on, your clients and potential clients can do a lot of the marketing work for you. But it’s absolutely vital that you create a solid, customer-centric culture. Your customers should be your top priority, and they should know your business is geared towards them, not selling as many products as you can.

That’s why you should encourage debates and even constructive criticism in your community. On the one hand, this is going to give you some valuable feedback and insights that will help to improve your business. On the other hand, you’re going to encourage a conversation that has the potential to raise brand awareness and promote customer loyalty. When each customer feels like their opinion is valued, they are more likely to promote your business and generate useful content.

You can also engage with influencers to help consolidate this community. Influencers already have a group of loyal followers with common interests. If the influencers you choose to engage with are a good fit for your brand, raising awareness will be a piece of cake.

Focus on Client Needs, Not Product Specifications

There are certain products that tend to sell themselves. Marketers often focus on highlighting all of their product’s assets to make it stand out, but neglect to tell customers how exactly this is going to help them. For certain products or services, this approach works just fine. All customers know why they should buy clothes; all they need to know is what makes one brand superior to another.

When it comes to marketing for niches, however, you can’t just focus on how good a product is (although that can be important, especially when you have competition). Many times  - especially when it comes to cutting edge technology and recent developments -  customers won’t understand what a product even does, and won’t have incentive to buy unless you specify its practical functions. If you find it difficult to promote a niche product or service, try to focus on your client’s needs and how the product is tailored to address those needs, instead of trying to constantly prove it’s better than the competition. Although potential customers  may not know what your product does or how it can help them, they certainly know what their problems are.

Highlight What Makes Your Niche Business Special

Many products that are now wildly popular had a very limited appeal in the beginning, and didn’t catch on at first. But they knew how to make the most out of their uniqueness, and they are now household brands: they offered something no other product did, and that’s what made them so popular.

When you operate in a niche market, there are two situations you can find yourself in when it comes to competition: either you are faced with a small number of powerful competitors , or you are the only company providing the specific products or services that you offer.

In both cases, there is always something that sets your company apart. In the first case, you are already providing a service few other companies are. From a marketing perspective, you should use that as an asset rather than a downside.

If you do have competitors, it’s worth  analyzing how they do business. Maybe your products are similar, but your brand’s personality can make the difference. Combine this with an in-depth analysis of your target audience to figure out how you could approach your customers differently, or diversify your client base.

If your niche tends to focus on senior professionals, for example, maybe it’s time to reach out to the growing millennial market, even if it may seem like that won’t work. When it comes to marketing strategies for niches, there is no beaten path: whatever makes a brand special - whether it’s reaching a new audience or just finding solutions to unique problems -  is worth investing in.

Marketing Strategies for Niches Are Like Stage Performances

Though it may not seem like it, marketing and entertainment have a lot in common: they both imply an audience, and they both imply a space in which to meet this audience. The context of this space determines who will come to a performance, what they expect to see, and what shape the performance should take.

When it comes to marketing, there are many different stages you can use to reach out to your audience. Social media platforms are fast becoming the go-to place where brands and customers interact. And while we tend to discuss these social media networks as a group, just by using them you’ll quickly come to realize that each has its own unique perks and disadvantages when it comes to crafting marketing strategies for niches.

For example, most Twitter users claim they use this platform to stay updated on current events, traffic and weather reports. But the site is less popular when it comes to entertainment. And even though it has far more users than Instagram, teens believe Instagram is the second most important social media platform, which proves Twitter has a more mature audience.

We shouldn’t forget offline marketing either. While the digital world has become one of the most popular marketing playgrounds, there is still very much we can gain from traditional marketing strategies. This is especially useful when it comes to physical products. An image and good copy can do a lot to promote your brand, but nothing compares to sampling the products in real life or getting a behind-the-scenes look at your business.

Concentrate Your Efforts

Obviously, it’s a good idea to test out new and untapped markets. The more people you can reach, the better your chances of converting leads and raising brand awareness. But ultimately, you cannot turn every potential lead into a loyal customer. You need to focus on the audiences that work best, lest you end up angering your current customers while chasing leads that won’t work out.

Testing out how your product is received in different markets can show that some audiences are just not a good match. You can try to adapt your products and your brand to match the preferences of these groups, but if after months of trying it’s still not working out, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses.

In order to encourage customer loyalty, your current customers need to feel like they are important for your business. If you are constantly rebranding in order to reach out to increasingly diverse groups of people, your loyal customers might feel like they are no longer respected.

Sometimes, the best way to create brand awareness and maximize revenues is simply to consolidate a consistent brand image. Especially when you are operating in a niche market, it’s important to maintain coherence when it comes to the tone and personality of your business.

Conclusion

Marketing strategies for niches must be extra careful when it comes to tailoring campaigns to the requirements of the business. The uniqueness of the products, services or field in which the business operates can be the greatest asset a marketer can depend on. If you’re having trouble developing a marketing strategy for your niche, try one of these tips today, and embrace the strengths of your brand while building it.

Dustin Ford became interested in technology at an early age. He read as much as he could and now he enjoys writing about gadgets, online trends, and apps for TechExploring. He wants to share his knowledge with others and help everyone who has technology-related questions.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How to Build an Affiliate Website [infographic]

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Depending on who you choose to follow or believe, affiliate websites are an easy way to make money online.

Affiliate marketing has been around for a long time but the stratospheric rise of e-commerce has seen it transform into a massive global industry worth billions in sales every year. As most of us should really know, there is really no such thing as easy money and anyone jumping on the affiliate marketing bandwagon and hoping to ride off into the sunset with a stash of cash, is almost certainly going to end up disappointed.

Related Class: Affiliate Marketing 101

Whilst the basic principle of affiliate marketing is pretty straightforward and can be an effective way of generating a decent income online, the assumption that it is an opportunity to generate a passive income with minimal input and effort required, will almost certainly lead to failure at some point.

The How to Build an Affiliate Website infographic sets out to explain the basic concept behind this multi-billion dollar industry and runs through a useful list of basic errors that many new entrants tend to make as well as pointing out the components that should be included if you are going to taste the sweet smell of success for some time to come.

The affiliate marketing arena is a crowded space and you really need to find a niche and a way to stand out from rest of your competitors. Creating a point of difference (POD) is one of the keys to ensuring that you avoid the prospect of blending in with other affiliates who are promoting the same products and services that you are.

To achieve profitable longevity in affiliate marketing you need to employ multiple methods so that you have the chance of diversifying your monetization, and you also need to successfully develop methods to contact users without them actually visiting your website.

Affiliate marketing can definitely be profitable when you do it right, but it certainly isn’t easy money.

For more on how to create an effective affiliate marketing foundation, view the Online Marketing Institute class, Affiliate Marketing Foundations. This class with teach you all about relationship building, but on an entirely different level. Enroll today to learn the basics of affiliate marketing: what affiliate marketing is, who the major players are, and what to expect from your affiliate marketing program as a whole.

 


How to Build a Loyalty Program That Gets Real Results

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Loyalty programs keep business leaders connected to repeat customers for weeks, months, and years. They are a staple of customer relationship management plans. If you're looking for a loyalty program that your company can use to demonstrate appreciation and incentivize devoted customers, there are several options available to you. To keep pace with growing sales, at some point your organization will likely have to pull in a retail POS system.

Your Choice of Customer Reward and Appreciation Programs

There are reward, appreciation, rebate, affinity, coalition, and partnership loyalty programs. If you want to keep customer data inside your organization, partnership and coalition programs might not be right for your company. If you choose a coalition or partnership loyalty program style, then discounts and freebies given to repeat customers will come through third parties.

Among the earliest loyalty programs is the S&H Green Stamp program, which was running during the 1950s. Instead of giving customers rebates, S&H Green Stamps were given to customers who shopped at certain grocery stores or bought gasoline from particular stations. Inventory control systems used to operate this early loyalty program were not as automated as programs that are linked to retail POS systems today. improve results

Getting real results from loyalty programs requires that you choose the right program. Determining which program is right for your organization means that you have to decide if your loyalty program is only for customers or for customers and employees. After all, some of the best loyalty programs reward both customers and employees.

Choosing the right loyalty program also requires that you develop a program that gains:

  • More customers for your organizations, preferably more loyal customers
  • An increasing number of sales from current and future customers (meaning that customers start buying more products or services from your organization, even if the products and services are offered at reduced rates)
  • A reduction in the number of customers who stop shopping or doing business with your organization
  • Customers who purchase higher priced products or services from you
  • Data for marketing purposes about participating customers

Achieve these five important goals, and don't be surprised if your organization's loyalty strategy is picked up by other companies, which is precisely what happened with S&H Green Stamps. Plainly stated, word-of-mouth about your organization's loyalty program is one way that the first goal is achieved. Unless you want the program to start costing more than it yields, you're going to have to use automated inventory control systems. Keep the points system associated with the program simple: reward customers who spend the largest amounts of their income with you. As an example, grocery stores such as ShopRite give customers free food items after they buy $100 worth of groceries.

Related Class: Why You Need a Performance Marketing Program

Connecting Retail POS and Customer Loyalty

An automated retail POS system, like the complete retail management solution offered by NCR Counterpoint can track when and how frequently customers buy from you. Another way that a retail POS system could help upgrade or enhance a loyalty program is by giving you the data to add tiers to a reward or appreciation plan. With a tier platform, the value of the products and services customers are rewarded with increases as customers start buying more expensive products or services.

Building up a customer database can also be strategically arranged by developing a membership or subscription platform. An example of this is when retailers or airlines charge customers a small monthly or annual fee. Active members receive giveaways, prizes, and coupons. They may also receive exclusive newsletters or catalogs that highlight products only members can purchase at significantly reduced prices.

nonchalant loyalst

Regardless of the loyalty program your organization chooses, you're going to have to continue to communicate with your customers. Achieving this calls for direct communication, not just relying on a retail POS or inventory control systems. A successful manager or business owner must understand shifts in their customers' perceptions and expectations. It's this communication that will reveal when you need to change the rewards or discounts your customers are offered.

For as long as you operate a loyalty program, make sure that you measure the results of the program. Don't assume that the program is growing your bottom line, directly or indirectly. Instead, regularly measure the results of direct mail campaigns, inventory control systems, coupon initiatives, and credit card discount programs that are linked to a retail POS.

This class, "Social Collaboration: How to Turn Loyalty Into Demand" will give you a brief run-through on how to turn customer loyalty into demand. Your customers are your best sales people, and are key to driving more demand for your services. In this class, you will learn how to not only use your existing community to engage customers, but also how to use your current customers to attract and educate prospective customers on your brand.

 


3 Tips for Promoting Your New Product Online

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product launch rocketSo you have big news!  You’ve been hard at work over the past few weeks creating something pretty special. It’s a new product and it’s going to rock! But wait, no one knows about it. Have you been there? Ready to tell everyone about your new “thing,” but had no idea who to do it?

Follow these 3 steps to kickstart your product launch campaign:

Step 1: Let everyone on your email list know what you're up to.

Use these 6 key elements in your email.

  1. Write your ‘can’t pass up’ headline. Check out my proven formula for effective headlines.
  2. Write your attention grabbing opener.
  3. Share your story/reason for the message.
  4. Explain what you are offering.
  5. Describe what’s in it for them.
  6. Give clear concise directions on how to respond to the email with a call to action to buy your product. Craft your call to action to make it as specific as possible. Common ones are "Buy Now", "Enroll Here", "Get the Goods Here", "Try Now", "Subscribe Here" and "Click for Instant Access".

Step 2: Schedule advance praise.

You want your launch to be strong from the get go. Scheduling advance praise will generate excitement leading up to the launch, and will put you in front of other people’s subscribers/readers/followers/fans.

Make a list of people who have a similar target customer—complementary businesses and potential partners. They can even be in a completely different industry. This works best when their target customer is someone who would be interested in your product.

Craft an email like this.

Hi <blank>,

I’ve been hard at work over the past few weeks creating something pretty special. It’s a new product and it’s going to rock!

I am sending my special product to a micro-handful of amazing people, in the hopes of gathering advance reactions, reviews, praise, feedback & general applause.

I’m launching on <date>, which is <number of days> from today. So if there’s anything you’d like to share, please give it to fast.

THANK YOU for your support.

<your name>

Step 3: Generate more excitement with pre-feed praise and affiliates.

Big, successful launches generally have a lot of people supporting the launch. Pre-feed praise and an outstanding affiliate program will get other people to spread the word for you.  Get other people behind you, supporting your work and telling others how great it is. This will also spread your message to people that would otherwise be out of your reach. RELATED CLASS: Effective Affiliate Recruitment Strategies

Again, start by crafting an email to people that would be great people to promote your product—these can be the same people you contacted in step 2.  Design an email like this.

Hey <first name>,

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your sneak-peek at my product. It was a joy to create, and I’m revving up for a big launch.

Want to help me spread the love? I’ve got a handful of ready-to-go tweetables that you can copy & paste, straight into your social media feed.

And better yet...become an affiliate for the product and include a shortened version of your affiliate link, whenever you tweet, post or toss your praise around.

You’ll earn <number of dollars> for every click-through sale, plus my unbelievable amounts of appreciation.

CLICK HERE to enroll, and email me at <email> if you need any help at all. Your support means to world to me.

Thank you so much, <fan’s name>.

<your signature>

Then, attach the details for your Affiliate Program.

That’s it.  3 steps and you are on your way to a bug successful launch!

Learn how to drive high email response rates.

Watch Email Marketing Best Practices now. From creative and offer to list building and timing, this class covers what you need to know to take your email marketing to the next level. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.

 


3 Tips for a Successful B2B Affiliate Program

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Affiliate programs have long been known in the B2C world for being able to provide a great value for growing your ecommerce business with a pay-for-performance model. For B2B marketers it isn’t as easy and obvious, but there are still great opportunities out there for those who are willing to give an affiliate program a try. Below are three tips to help you be successful in B2B affiliate marketing.

1. Find the Right Affiliates For Your Business and Aggressively Recruit Them

It will be crucial to your affiliate program that you target specific partners based on research and aggressively pursue those partners to become affiliates. Most B2B products and services have a limited scope in audience and you’ll want to make sure you are reaching the right customers. A big chunk of traditional affiliate partners have more of a B2C focus such as loyalty, deals and coupon sites that typically don’t work well in a lead generation B2B affiliate program. Once you have found the partners you’d like to target, it makes the most since for you to get in contact with them. This is true for all affiliate programs, but it is crucial for a B2B affiliate program because you are likely dealing with a limited audience.

2. Fully Inform Your Affiliates of Your Sales Cycle

Sales cycles in B2B can vary wildly and some can be very long. It will be crucial to inform your affiliates upfront of how long and how complex your sales cycle can be. This will help temper expectations and calm any tensions if they don’t see any commissions immediately after becoming an affiliate. The more communication with your affiliates on your sales cycle upfront could save headaches later on. If your affiliates are used to a simple B2C sales cycle, you must get them to be patient for a longer sales cycle, and remind them their patience will pay off.

RELATED CLASS: Affiliate Marketing 101

3. Find a Resource with Time to do Heavy Lifting — Or Hire One

It’s going to be important that either you or someone who knows something about affiliate marketing make time for your B2B affiliate program. As mentioned before, it will be important to do plenty of affiliate recruiting and affiliate communication. There is also tracking, reporting, order management and much more. All of this time adds up to be a significant amount and it might mean adding additional resources to your team. If you think this might be the case, do not be afraid to reach out to find an employee or agency partner to help you out.
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Is Affiliate Marketing Right for Your Business?

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Affiliate marketing is a traffic driving practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's own marketing efforts. That sounds simple enough.

From a business standpoint affiliate marketing is advantageous because it uses a "pay for performance" model. Meaning, the merchant does not incur a marketing expense unless results are accrued (excluding any initial setup or ongoing costs).

Some quick facts:

  • U.S. affiliate marketing spending will reach $4.1 billion in 2014, up from $1.6 in 2007. (Forrester Research)
  • Affiliate marketing was used by 28% of all marketers (DMA Digital Marketing Practice and Trends)
  • 46% felt the channel was very cost-effective, 48% felt it was quite cost-effective, Only 6% thought it was not cost-effective (lowest of all channels) (Econsultancy and R.O.EYE)

If it is so easy and low cost why wouldn't everyone be on board? Managed correctly, affiliate marketing can be one of the most effective tactics in your interactive marketing toolbox. However, too many people jump into a network or buy the software without having an affiliate marketing plan. Slightly editing a famous movie quote they go under the assumption of “If we build it, they will come.” Like any other interactive tactic, resources and commitment are the keys to being successful. When educating clients on the potential of affiliate marketing we use the 4 P’s; Plan, Prepare, Promote & Protect.

  1. Plan: Before launch you need to consider the bandwidth necessary to run the program.
    1. Contractual costs and commitments
    2. Management resources (Agency, Internal, or Consultant)
    3. Base Creative Development
    4. Accounting
  2. Prepare: Once the contract is signed there are a number of steps before launch.
    1. IT Network / Software implementation
    2. Affiliate rules of engagement
    3. Resource assignments
  3. Promote: You need to ‘sell yourself’ and provide Affiliates the resources in order to make them successful.
    1. Your Value Proposition (Bio, best-selling products, promotional plan, key metrics)
    2. Base Creative assets (Text links, copy, keywords, banners)
    3. Advanced assets (Product catalog, rich media, coupons, video, offline, etc.)
    4. Affiliate recruitment
  4. Protect: Your brand and products now have more exposure.
    1. Affiliate approval method
    2. Establish brand guidelines around keywords
    3. Network and SE monitoring
    4. Reporting and analytics

If done right, Affiliate marketing can draw customers in and be a low-cost incremental source of revenue via a “Virtual Sales Force”.

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