Saturday, 29 March 2014

Check out the auctions & mindblowing winning prices....


Did you see yesterday's "Wow" auction?

Elvis A. won this Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch Tablet (Wi-Fi, 16GB) (Retail price: $229.00) for just $6.60

IT COULD HAVE BEEN YOURS FOR $6.61*

Thursday, 27 March 2014

LESSON #8 DOORWAY PAGES - PART 1



WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:
In this two-part lesson, you will learn the basics of planning, designing, building, and publishing doorway pages. This lesson will cover planning and design. The next lesson will cover building and publishing.


REVIEW OF THE CONCEPT
There are many different types of Websites and Web pages used for different purposes. One category of Web pages is "doorway pages." You may recall that we introduced you to doorway pages in Lesson 4 of this course. We said there that a "doorway page" is a Web page used to lead people to another target interactive site. The doorway page contains a link to your target page. The target page is where you hope the user will take some action such as purchasing an affiliate product or opting in to your program. The target page sells. The doorway page gets people's attention and leads them to the target page. Doorway pages serve two main purposes:

1. To optimize search engine placement, and
2. To target your initial approach to different demographics.

We also said that the best doorway pages are pages that attract the targeted demographic by providing useful information or entertainment, while remaining easy to navigate. In Lesson 3, we concluded that any Web page must have valuable content and must be easy to use if it is to succeed. That is, a Web page must flow. A doorway page must flow with content and ease of use, and it must flow into the target page where the desired action can happen.

While the information in this lesson applies generally, we will focus on the SFI affiliate program to simplify our discussion. As an SFI affiliate, you already have several very effective target pages with effective opt-in programs. Your doorway pages can point to the SFI main site, the SFI Affiliate sign-up site, the Full-Circle Success site, or any of the product pages. Any and all of these are effective target sites.

You can have one or several doorway pages for each target site. You can design your doorway pages to attract specific types of prospects (demographics) or to be general in approach.

Before we begin, let me reiterate from our last lesson that you can succeed in SFI with very little technical knowledge. Following the procedures from our last lesson will get you well on your way to success. For those of you who want to learn more of the technical process, let's look now in more detail at the process of planning, designing, building, and publishing doorway pages.


AN OUTLINE
It will be helpful if we start first with an outline of the process.

Planning Your Doorway Page
- Choosing the "value" you will offer
- Deciding on the demographic you will target
- Deciding whether to use a virtual domain or a subordinate URL
- Choosing a name
- Planning your "flow" from the demographic to the value to the target page
- Deciding on the level of interactivity
- Determining update needs
- Determining security needs
- Deciding whether to farm it out
- Designing Your Doorway Page
- Wording your content
- Choosing your layout
- Optimizing your search engine use
- Gathering your graphics
- Choosing which editor to use
- Building Your Doorway Page
- Browser compatibility issues
- Resolution compatibility issues
- Loading speed
- Language, grammar, and spelling
- Graphics refinement
- Navigation issues
- Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
- Space requirements
- Code writing
- Publishing Your Doorway Page
- Choosing an ISP
- Contract issues
- Uploading your site
- Registering your site
- Maintaining your site

With this outline, we can now discuss each item in turn.


PLANNING YOUR DOORWAY PAGE
As with anything worthwhile, planning is the most important step. You should put a great deal of effort into your planning. This will save you effort later on.

The first two issues you must address in the planning stage are interdependent. They are "What demographic group will you target?" and "How will you provide value to that demographic?"
You can provide the valuable information or entertainment for your doorway page yourself, or you can obtain it from another source. There are sources on the Internet (such as YellowBrix or BraveNet) that will provide dynamic information that you can easily incorporate into your Website. They have both free and fee options. The free options may have links in the content that will divert some of your traffic to the content provider's target pages. The reason they provide free content to you is to gain that traffic. If this is all you can afford—and you can not come up with value of your own—this is far better than nothing. If you can afford it, you can purchase information from many different sources to provide on your page that will not divert traffic. Better yet, you can provide your own valuable content.

Most everyone knows something that would be of value to others. Maybe you are good at small-engine repair, gardening, canoeing, backpacking, fresh-water fishing, photography, skydiving, or fashion accessorizing. Or, maybe you just know the good restaurants in your city and the ones to avoid. You can provide value to your doorway page with well written information on any of these subjects or an infinite number of other subjects. The one catch is that you either have to be able to write fairly well . . . or you have to find someone who can write well to help you. If you have a creative streak in you, it can be worlds of fun to plan your doorway page.

The point is that you have to have valuable information or entertainment from somewhere to offer on your page. A Web page must have value. If you expect your Web page to be effective, it cannot just be a list of links and banners. Doorway pages, however, by definition, can be very short and sweet. In fact, the more focused they are, the more effective they will be. Do not try to do all things with your page—just do one thing well.

Depending on the value you have to offer, you can identify the demographic group you will be targeting with your doorway page. Or, if you will be acquiring the content from other sources, you can pick that content to match the group you want to target.

Let's look at an example. Let's say you decide to target persons approaching retirement who are worried that their retirement income will be insufficient to meet their needs. First, think of information that this group will find valuable. A lot of companies offer senior discounts. You could research and formulate a list of such companies and the discounts they offer. You could then offer this information on your doorway page. You can then easily make this content flow into your link to the SFI program by stating that savings from discounts is one way to manage your retirement budget, but increasing your income by working part-time from home is another. Then provide the link to your SFI page as the means to obtain that extra income.

When gathering content for your page, be careful to avoid violating copyrights. You cannot just copy information from someone else's page without his or her permission. Either get permission to use content created by others, find content which is in the public domain (such as certain government publications produced for free dissemination), or create your own content.

Another decision you have to make is whether you will purchase a virtual domain or just use a subordinate URL. A virtual domain is where the name you have reserved, such as "mydomain.com," is permanently tied to your Website through DNS (Domain Name Service) entries overseen by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the authority responsible for managing domain names for the Internet). Alternatively, you can purchase space from an ISP or even find free space from services, such as Angelfire.com, where your URL (the address of your Website) will be a subdirectory of someone else's domain, for example, http://angelfire.com/yourname. We refer to these addresses as subordinate URLs because they are a subdirectory of someone else's domain name.

If you want to have your own domain name, you have to pay a fee to register it. More importantly these days, you have to find a decent name that is not already taken. That gets more difficult to do with each passing day as millions have already been reserved. The oldest and most respected source for searching and registering domain names is Network Solutions. At the time of this writing, they charge $35 per year for registration of a domain name. Other services, such as 000domains (which charges only $13.50 per year) are now available for much less.

Having your own domain name will help your standing with the search engines and provide ease of advertising. Picking the right name is important. You can search for available names at one of the registrar's sites or at a Who-is site. Most obvious names that you could think of are already taken, but with some imagination and time you may find a suitable one still available for your purposes.
Once you know what your address (whether your own domain or a subordinate URL) will be and have decided on your demographic group and content, you need to give some careful thought to making it all flow into the link to your target page. We cannot overemphasize the value of flow. Your viewers' mind must be naturally led to your link from the content of your page. If not, they will not likely click on the link regardless of how much they enjoy the content.

Any time you plan a Web page, you should give some consideration to interactivity. By interactivity, I mean that the viewer can select choices or input information, and the content will change accordingly. A quiz is a good example of interactivity. Correct answers yield a reward. Incorrect answers result in a buzzer effect. Interactivity makes your page much more interesting than a static, brochure-type page. Interactivity requires some programming beyond basic HTML, however. You will have to use a CGI scripted program, JavaScript, or VBScript, or your host will have to have an API (Application Program Interface) program available for your use. Doorway pages do not have a great need for interactivity since their sole purpose is to catch traffic and direct it to the target page. Interactivity is always a plus, however.

Another important consideration is updating your Web page. You will need to keep the content on your page current as the information changes. Design your page to make updating easy. Some of the free hosts allow you to update your pages at will. Some Web designers will design your own custom administration section to allow you to update your page at any time, even without knowledge of HTML. Both of these methods allow you to add changes to your content into Web forms, which when submitted will update the content of your Web page. The traditional way of updating your Web content, however, is to use an FTP program, such as WS_FTP Pro. This will let you upload a new version of the entire page each time you change it. You also need to plan and schedule when and how you will go about the updating process. A regular schedule and a routine of keeping your page current should be an important part of your plan.

Your plan should also take into account any security needs. There are generally two types of security. One type of security is limiting access to specific pages so that only authorized viewers can see them. The other is protecting private information as it travels across the Internet to and from your site. Will you be collecting private information from your viewers? If so, you will need to have the HTTPS protocol available. This protocol encrypts the information as it is passed to and from the site so that it cannot be read by unauthorized persons, even if it is intercepted as it travels across the Internet. To obtain this latter type of security, you have to obtain and install a Security Certificate (such as the ones available from Verisign) or use one already obtained by your ISP. Security certificates identify you as being who you say you are to those passing private information to you from forms on your Web page.

Unless you are already familiar with HTML (the code language that is used to build Web pages) and are not traumatized by the above discussions of CGI, Java, APIs, and Security Certificates, you may want to farm out the building of your Website. Many people have enjoyed the process of learning to build their own Websites, but many have found it to be extremely frustrating. If you fall into the latter category, there are many good Web design and hosting companies available at reasonable prices.
You must be very careful in choosing a Web design firm, however. Because this is all so new, there are few standards to judge who is really an expert and who just claims to be an expert. I have encountered many people who have proclaimed themselves to be Web-design experts but who are in fact dangerously ignorant. You do not become a Web-design expert just by figuring out how to build a basic template site with one of the HTML editors such as FrontPage. To be a true Web-design expert, one should be thoroughly familiar with computers, operating systems (including Internet server operating systems), Internet protocols, HTML, CGI, APIs, and some of the scripting languages such as JavaScript or VBScript. The firm you choose should also have good knowledge of graphic design and graphic file compression standards and software. Some artistic talent needs to be added to this knowledge base for a firm to produce high-quality products.

Also because this is all so new, there is tremendous variation in pricing for these services. Some not-so-expert firms will charge thousands of dollars to design a site which could have been obtained from a true expert for a fraction of the cost. Thus, you should use great care in selecting a design firm you choose to farm out the building of your site.

At the time of this writing, SFI is negotiating with expert firms to offer special deals to SFI affiliates who are members of the IAHBE. If you're not an IAHBE member yet, e-mail me at talk2paps@gmail.com and I will direct you to suitable firms for design and temporary hosting in the interim.


DESIGNING YOUR DOORWAY PAGE
Once you have a good solid plan for your doorway page, you need to begin the actual design process. Whether or not you farm out the design of your doorway page, you need to participate in the design process. At this point, it is time to turn your attention again to the content you will have on your page. Hopefully, you have decided during the planning stage the type and source of content you will use. Now you must decide how to display that content on a Web page.

The next step is to rough out a design layout on paper. Think about the most pleasing way to display the content on your Web page. This is where you begin to think seriously about the graphics you will use. You will need a background color or image for your page. The subtler, the better. You do not want to blind your visitors and overwhelm the content on your page with a busy background. You will also need a logo or similar type of "branding" graphic to give your page some identity. You may want to use photographs that you have available or can take to add a visual dimension to your written content. Consider how you will place the logo and photos in relation to the textual content on your site.

The goal, again, is to create flow. You want your visitors' attention to start at the top and flow down your page to your target link. Mentally and visually, you need to have a starting point and a flow path. Design your graphics (or have them designed) so that the eye is naturally led down the page from the top to the bottom. Remember that the focal point of the entire page is the link to your target page. Design your page so that if attention is first caught by any other part of the page, it will be led to your target link. Word your content to have the same directional effect mentally as your graphics have visually. Work to make both your graphic content and your textual content come together as a unified whole that creates a reaction in the viewer and leads him or her to your target link through a pleasant and interesting visual and mental process.

One of the most important aspects of design is to optimize your page for the search engines. Web pages contain metatags which are invisible to the visitors to your page, but are specifically read by the search engines. We will have more on this in the next lesson and even more detail in subsequent lessons, but for now you need to come up with about 25 to 30 keywords for the search engines to index that will draw people to your site. You also need to draft out a one paragraph description of your site, utilizing the most important keywords from your list. Your description should concisely state in very inviting terms what your site has to offer. Finally and most importantly you must word the content of your entire site with your keywords and description in mind. Search engines are not happy when a site has keywords and a description which has little to do with the actual page itself.
After creating the layout for your site, it's time to prepare the final wording of the content and to gather up the graphics you need. You can design your own logo with a drawing program or you can have someone else do it for you. You need a graphic file preferably in a .GIF or .JPG format that is small in terms of the bytes used in the file size so it loads fast. Using a digital camera or a scanner, you can digitize the photographs, if any, you need for your page. When you have all this together, you are almost ready to start actually building your site.

The one final issue before beginning to build your site is how you will write the code. If you have the knowledge, the prefered method is to write your own HTML code in a simple text editor. If not, you will have to rely upon an HTML editor. HTML editors are like word processors that allow you to type text, insert graphics, build tables, insert links, and do the other things necessary to build a page. The editor then writes the HTML code for you in the background. Most HTML editors provide pre-built templates which have a layout already in place for you. Many feel it is better not to use these templates because they are recognized as such when people see your page. If time is an issue and economy requires you to build your own page, however, templates can be useful.

If you are going to use an HTML editor, you want to find one that actually saves you time, rather than one that burns up your time while you try to learn how to it. If the editor is not very user friendly, your time might be better spent learning the HTML code itself, which is not really that complicated. HTML is a tag type code. You insert tags before and after content to produce the placement and effect you desire for that content. Learning HTML is not like learning a programming language, such as C++ or Visual Basic. It is much simpler.


CONCLUSION
Doorway pages can be very useful in promoting affiliate programs. They allow you to target specific audiences and lead them to your target link. Doorway pages allow you to optimize search engine acceptance and placement. Just as with any other undertaking, good planning is the key. Start with planning and designing your site as discussed in this lesson before you begin to actually build your site.


WHAT'S COMING NEXT
In this lesson we discussed planning and designing your doorway page. Our next lesson will continue with discussion of building and publishing your doorway page.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

LESSON #7 BUILDING YOUR TEAM OF AFFILIATES



WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this lesson, you will learn how to get started on building your team of affiliates in SFI.


CHOOSING UP SIDES
When I was a kid, the boys from our neighborhood would meet at the vacant lot on the corner every Sunday afternoon to play ball. The first thing we would do is choose two captains for the day, and the captains would choose up sides. The captains would take turns picking players for their team from the ragtag group of neighborhood kids who showed up that day. Often the outcome of the game for that day was predetermined by the choosing of sides, due to an uneven distribution of ages, sizes, and talents. Getting the right players on your team was very important to the outcome. 

Team effort and healthy competition among opposing teams is the most natural of things for human beings. Cut a bunch of kids loose on a Sunday afternoon and that's what they will most likely do: choose up teams and have a competitive game between the opposing teams. The games may be different in different parts of the world, but the activity of picking teams and playing some sort of competitive game is universal.

When you join the SFI affiliate program, you have two ways to advance your business:

1) Build your team of affiliates
2) Market products from the Website

While you can do both simultaneously, the question arises as to which of these two tasks should be given priority. The answer for SFI is to first focus on expanding your team of affiliates. Like the kids at the neighborhood vacant lot, most ventures naturally begin by picking your team. In SFI, like any venture, picking the right team can be the most important part of obtaining a successful outcome.
Picking your team might not be your first priority if you were solely responsible for training the affiliates you bring into your team. In SFI, the training is allocated to the Team Leaders and Group Leaders, who already have the experience and proven track record. Were that not the case, it would be necessary for you to gain experience in Internet marketing of the products before bringing in new affiliates who would depend on you for training. After all, no one makes any commissions until products are sold. But since experienced Team Leaders and Group Leaders are available to train your new affiliates, you can follow the natural order of things and focus first on building a great team of affiliates.


ONE BAD APPLE DOES NOT SPOIL THE BARREL

In many ventures, whether those ventures involve sports or business, picking one bad apple on your team can often cause problems and interfere with the overall success of the team. (The scrawniest kid with the thickest glasses was always the last one to be picked in our neighborhood ballgames.) The careful design of the SFI program, however, substantially eliminates this risk. SFI has "full compression" in its multitier pay plan. That is, there can be hundreds of inactive affiliates between you and the next member, and the next member in line will still be considered to be on your next level for purposes of the pay plan. Thus, while you definitely want good, motivated affiliates on your team, you do not have to worry about excluding the bad ones in the process of finding the good ones. This said, however, you want to make an effort to find and recruit good team players.


FINDING THE GOOD ONES

When you are first getting started in SFI, you will want to hand pick several good affiliates to start your team. This activity comes naturally and does not require a lot of technical training. Even if you know very little about Internet marketing, you can begin to succeed immediately by finding and recruiting good quality affiliates. The remainder of this lesson will outline the simple steps for you to follow in order to accomplish this task.


PUT YOURSELF IN THE SHOES OF THE ONES YOU WANT TO RECRUIT

As discussed in an earlier lesson, you should always focus on the perspective of your potential recruits. Put yourself in their shoes. Think like they will be thinking.

First, you should spend some time thinking about what qualities you want in your affiliates. What are the characteristics of the new affiliates that you would want on your team? You probably want people who enjoy a good challenge and are willing to become involved in new things and learn new ways to increase their income. You should want people who are capable of critical thinking, but also capable of taking practical, effective action. You also want to find some people who already know a good deal about Internet marketing. People who already have a good Website that draws substantial traffic would be great to have on your team. Ask yourself, "What would these people search for on the search engines when looking for new and better ways to make money on the Internet?" Come up with a list of words and phrases with which they would likely search.

I cannot offer you any example search words or phrases. In order for this to work, you have to come up with your own search terms. If I or anyone writing about Internet promotion to a large audience were to give a specific list of words with which you should search, several thousand people would wind up at the same Websites and those poor Webmasters would be inundated with queries. Originality is what makes this work. You have to be original and come up with your own search terms for this to work for any of you. This is your chance to use your own imagination and creativity to rise above the crowd by finding those choice spots to advertise. You do this by carefully thinking out the search terms your targeted recruits would likely use.

When you have come up with your list of search terms, go to the popular search engines (Yahoo!, AltaVista, WebCrawler, Google, etc.) and perform a search with the terms on your list. The sites that show up on the first three pages of your search engine results would likely be the sites also discovered by the people you want to be on your team. If these are personal sites, rather than large, corporate venture-capital type sites, the Webmasters of these sites themselves would be a great addition to your team! Thus, you want to inquire both about advertising on the site and recruiting the Webmaster as well.


MAKING CONTACT

Any time you start to contact someone over the Internet regarding a commercial matter, be very careful not to spam. Thus, you must be careful how you contact the Webmasters of the sites that turned up in your search. If a site in which you have become interested allows free postings such as classifieds or announcements, you have hit pay dirt—but read the rules for posting on the site very carefully before posting and follow the rules! The next thing you would look for is contact information for the Webmaster. If there is a phone number listed, you have also hit pay dirt. You can call the Webmaster on the telephone without any worries of a spam complaint. In your phone conversation with the Webmaster, explain that he or she has a Website you believe could help you recruit a team of affiliates for SFI. If you have an advertising budget, tell them that you would like to purchase some advertising on their site. (Don't say this if you can not afford any advertising because you do not want to be misleading.) Explain further, however, that they can doubly profit from this if they will also join SFI. Tell them that they can join as an affiliate for free, and all of the recruits you obtain from advertising on their Website will also fall under them. Thus, they will profit twice from selling you some advertising.

If the Website on which you arrange to advertise this way is productive, the Webmaster will see all of the affiliates coming into the network and will soon get the idea. The Webmaster will likely start promoting on the site with his or her own affiliate number. Then you will not have to pay for advertising on that site anymore and yet it is still building your team.

If you cannot afford any paid advertising, you will have a somewhat more difficult task. Webmasters get very interested in speaking with someone who is offering to pay them for advertising on their Website. Most people who have worked to build a good Website and build good traffic to it have planned on making their money through paid advertising. On the other hand, they will not be terribly receptive to using space on their sites for an affiliate program with which they are not familiar. Nevertheless, a polite phone call in which you give them your Gateway URL for the affiliate program (www.YourGateway.com/YourSFIID/FREE/) and a brief mention that there are presently over 7 million affiliates, some of which are earning over $10,000 per month with this program, may well get their attention.

If there is not a phone number for the Webmaster on the Website, but only an e-mail address, you will have to be careful that your e-mail does not give the appearance of being spam. Remember that even if your message is technically not spam, a recipient who erroneously believes that it is spam may well report you anyway and cause big problems for you. All Webmasters who list their e-mail address on their Website get a lot of spam and are, consequently, quite annoyed by it. The reason that happens is that the people who harvest e-mail addresses for the spammers get those e-mail addresses with software which searches Web pages and grabs any e-mail addresses listed. Thus, anyone who has had a Web page with their e-mail address on it up for any length of time is already on these lists and is being bombarded with spam. Most of those spam messages begin with "I was looking at your Website . . ." In almost every case, it becomes immediately apparent that the spammer has never seen your Web page. They are clearly lying and that makes you mad right from the start. Thus, whenever you send e-mail to a Webmaster, you must make it clear from the beginning of the message that you have truly just visited their Website and are responding to the e-mail contact link you found there. You must make it clear that this is a single message (not bulk) sent only to that Webmaster. Something very important to realize is that you can not make these things clear simply by asserting them in the e-mail. Spam e-mails that Webmasters get daily boldly (albeit falsely) assert that they are not spam. Thus, you have to PROVE that you were just looking at the Webmaster's Website by mentioning very specific things about their site right up front. Otherwise, you will not only lose their attention, but they will likely report you for spam.

Because you are responding to a Contact Us link on their Website with a single, non-bulk e-mail, you are not technically spamming them. By placing that link on their Website, they have given you permission to send them a one-time personal, non-bulk e-mail pertaining to their Website. And if they recognize your e-mail as being honest and sincere and recognize that you have indeed spent some time at their Website, they will welcome your correspondence. It is important that the subject heading and the first sentence of your e-mail reference something that could only be known from having seen the Website. Mentioning the domain name itself is not convincing because the spammers know that as well, but it does help to mention it. Mentioning the color scheme, the graphics, and some of the advertisers or information on the site will be convincing—if you are very accurate. The more you talk about the Website with specific and accurate information, the more the Webmaster will be intrigued by your e-mail. You need to be complimentary and not critical of the site, of course. People love compliments. Your e-mail should not sound like an ad, but should sound like personal correspondence from someone who became excited from visiting their Website. In your first e-mail, do not mention the SFI affiliate program by name, but rather make a general inquiry about advertising on their site for your business. (If you cannot afford paid advertising, just make a general inquiry as to whether they would be interested in an affiliate program that would work well on their site.) After they respond with interest, it is appropriate for you to reveal the nature of your business. As discussed earlier regarding the phone call, explain that the Webmaster can doubly profit from selling you advertising and becoming an affiliate. Add that that there is no charge or obligation for becoming an SFI affiliate.


CONCLUSION

With the process outlined in this lesson, anyone, regardless of their technical knowledge of Internet marketing, can begin immediately to build a successful team of SFI affiliates. By following the steps which have been outlined here, you can find appropriate Websites and, through free or paid advertising, place on these sites the SFI-approved banners or textual ads provided for this purpose. If you have a bit of luck, you will find a few Webmasters who will also join as SFI affiliates. Just like playing ball on the corner lot, I think you will find building your SFI team to come naturally and to be a lot of fun!


WHAT'S COMING NEXT

Our next lesson will touch on the basics of designing a Website that you can use as a doorway page to help build your SFI business.



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mindblowing prices, check it out....


Did you see yesterday's "Wow" auction?

Debdas B. won this Samsung S5830 Galaxy Ace (unlocked) (Retail price: $349.00) for just $1.05

IT COULD HAVE BEEN YOURS FOR $1.06*

Check the deal of the day...

VersaPoints
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You Save: $4.50 (48%)

Deal of the Day

You - Stress Less: The Owner's Manual for Regaining Balance in Your Life
This condensed book offers a holistic perspective on everything readers need to know--the basic science, how it influences everything from appearance to longevity, and even how diet can help regulate it. Packed with meditation techniques, food recommendations, and lifestyle evaluation tools, this paperback is the essential guide on how to reduce stress and improve one's life.
For more money-saving deals, check out HOT DEALS and CLOSEOUTS

Saturday, 15 March 2014

"Online Business Operators" - Check out the business opportunity!

We are looking for: Online business operators. You’ll run your own business through the internet from home, part or full time. For more details contact me: talk2paps@gmail.com.

You can also directly visit the web-link: http://www.sfi4.com/12725870/FREE

Thursday, 13 March 2014

LESSON #6 HISTORY OF AFFILIATE PROGRAMS



WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this lesson, you will learn how affiliate programs have evolved as the means of advertising for e-commerce. You will learn how the Internet created an entirely new channel for selling goods and services and how the multitier commission structure supplies the missing link to make this new channel fully effective.


THE EMERGENCE OF THE WEB
 Ten years ago, there was no such thing as e-commerce as we know it today. Although the Internet has been around in some form or fashion for many years, for most of its history it was used only by the military and research scientists. As the technology became friendlier, others began to use it. The key event to the popularization of the Internet was the creation of the World Wide Web—especially the capability to show pictures and play sound from the Web, which became available around 1994. Adding that multimedia capability to the Web made it inevitable that the Internet would eventually pervade business and commerce. It did not take long.

The graphical Web was shortly followed by the capability to transmit credit card information securely online, which was shortly followed by the ability to process the card payments in real time online. A new venue to sell products and services had arisen seemingly overnight.


A NEW DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL
The Internet provides a new and quite different distribution channel for vendors to sell their products and services to consumers. Consumers can learn about, view pictures of, and order products from anywhere at anytime from the comfort of their home or office.

To sell anything, though, a vendor needs to get traffic to his or her Website through advertising. This was first approached from the old model of TV, radio, and print ads. That is, vendors went to popular Websites and offered to pay for placement of their ad for a period of time. Since the Internet is different from the old broadcast media, however, new more efficient methods of advertising were sought. It is relatively easy to determine the size of a TV or radio station's audience. The same is true with the circulation of print media such as newspapers and magazines. It's not as easy with a Website, however. Sure, there are counters, but they can not always be trusted.

Plus, a Web page being retrieved from a server (and thus adding to the counter) does not necessarily mean it will be seen by a human being. Bots and automated processes can retrieve pages that are never seen by any human being. It became important to know whether the page views were coming from the same source or whether they were "unique views"—i.e. new people rather than the same few over and over or some automated process. Another problem was that unless the ad is placed prominently and in context on the host site, it will not draw traffic, even from a large audience of unique viewers to the host site. So, paying a flat fee for displaying an ad on a Website for a set period of time turned out to be undesirable.

Rather than paying for a set period of time, advertisers began to prefer to pay according to the number of clicks on their banners. Standard sizes evolved for banners used to advertise Websites on other Websites. The banners can have words, pictures, and animation and serve as a link to the advertised Website. When you click on the banner, you are taken immediately to the advertised site. Thus, with "pay per click" if you did not get any traffic, you did not have to pay. This motivated the host site Webmaster to place the banner effectively on the site so it would draw traffic. Even "pay per click" had its problems, though. Clicks could also be automated and unscrupulous hosts could cheat. Clicks also needed to be from "unique viewers" to be effective.

Thus, vendors ultimately came to prefer paying only when a sell was actually made or someone at least interacted with the site by joining an opt-in program. The vehicle for paying only for sells or opt-ins on your site from persons sent from the host site became known as "affiliate programs."


AFFILIATE SERVICES
As the popularity of affiliate programs has grown, services, such as LinkExchange, Commission Junction, BeFree, and many others, have arisen to provide centralized locations where Webmasters can pick and join affiliate programs. These services also monitor the vendors and keep them honest. They provide standardized software and interfaces to run the affiliate programs so that each new vendor does not have to re-invent the wheel when they start up an affiliate program.

As a Webmaster, you can go to one of these sites and pick out the programs you want to join. You fill out a form providing information about yourself and your Website and then you download the "banner code" to place on your site. When someone clicks on the banner from your site and buys something from the vendor, the sale is tracked and they pay you a small commission. Most provide online reporting so that you can see your how your sales are going at any time.

While these affiliate services help to promote affiliate programs for the vendors, and provide some efficiency for the Webmasters, vendors are still looking for better ways to promote their affiliates' programs and Webmasters are looking for more profitable arrangements.


BUYING FROM YOUR OWN STORE
Only a small percentage of the millions of Websites on the Internet actually draw any significant traffic. ISPs and other services provide free personal home pages and many people have designed sites more for their own amusement than any serious purpose. Nevertheless, it is advantageous to vendors to have their affiliate banners on as many pages as possible. Even the sites that do not draw significant traffic have the benefit of the loyalty of their own Webmaster. If you have put the Amazon.com affiliate banner on your site, you will go there to buy your books rather than Barnes and Nobles because you get a little commission back when you buy from your own "store." Because of this, most vendors make it as easy as possible to join their affiliate programs and want affiliates even with low traffic sites.

After the new wears off, however, most Webmasters realize it is too much work for too little value to keep affiliate programs on their low traffic Web pages. Because vendor sites are constantly being redesigned, your banner stops working and you have to download new "banner code" and replace it on your site. As promotions change, the vendors make you change your code or the pictures stop showing up. A few of the major vendors with affiliate programs have gone bankrupt and the links just quit working. It turns out to take a lot of time and effort to keep affiliate banners working on your site. Yet, it would benefit both the vendors and the Webmasters of the low traffic sites if this could be more conveniently and more profitably done.


A BRAIN TEASER SOLVED
There are thousands upon thousands of affiliate programs available on the Internet. A Webmaster cannot put more than just a very few affiliate programs on any one Website without losing effectiveness. (Nothing is worse than a Web page crammed full of banners.) Thus, Webmasters have become selective in choosing affiliate programs. As competition heats up among the vendors, the vendors find themselves focusing on finding creative ways to promote their affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are excellent for marketing products and services on the Internet, but how do you effectively market an affiliate program to the Webmasters?

A few bright entrepreneurs, including SFI marketing Group's founder, Gery Carson, have come up with the answer. The answer is to have a multitier affiliate program. This solves two problems. One, it makes it worthwhile for the ordinary person to become involved in e-commerce. You can make good money even without a high-traffic Website because you share in the sales of an entire organization. Plus, you don't have to hassle with keeping banner code for multiple programs up to date. SFI's Catalog allows all SFI affiliates to "buy from their own store" without the hassle of trying to maintain hundreds of affiliate programs yourself. Two, the attractiveness of the multitier commissions effectively promotes the affiliate program without distracting from product promotions.
Plus, this solution involves multitier training as well. Webmasters become involved in affiliate programs not only for their own savings but also to generate income from selling to others as well. This is not easy and requires training. It would be extremely costly for each vendor to establish an effective training program, providing the one-on-one communication necessary for true results. A multitier system with Team Leaders providing one-on-one training as needed eliminates the vendors' substantial affiliate training costs.

Thus, the next logical step in the evolution of affiliate programs in e-commerce is exactly what the SFI marketing Group has already done: a multitier commission and training structure.


NETWORK MARKETING AND THE INTERNET
When you step back and look at the history of e-commerce, you see that affiliate programs have independently evolved into something very similar to network marketing, which has been around for a long time. Ironically, though, network marketing itself has not taken well to the Internet. Most network marketing companies mistakenly believe that face-to-face interactions are necessary and that recruiting can not be effectively done online. (The research is in, however, and it shows the contrary to be true.) Another factor is that many network marketing companies do not encourage analytical examination of their opportunity, which is inevitable on the Information Superhighway. Thus, most network marketing companies only use the Internet to provide forms downloads and similar services to their existing representatives. They do not effectively use the Internet as a recruiting tool or to sell products to the general public.

Some enterprising independent representatives, however, have evolved the "downline clubs." Downline clubs sign people up on the Internet, promising to place them in multiple network marketing opportunities based on the order in which they signed up. Downline clubs theoretically offer the possibility of a large organization below you in multiple opportunities without any recruiting effort on your part. In actuality, though, most downline clubs have been disappointing. The greed of the club founders, the hope of instant riches, and the lack of focus due to joining multiple network marketing companies have usually yielded poor results. Training and commitment are lacking, so large downlines (if they get built in the first place) often crumble even faster than they were collected.
Thus, network marketing as we traditionally have known it has not grasped the potential of the Internet and does not appear likely to do so. Plus, and perhaps because of the Internet, the old model of network marketing is less effective in any venue of late.


THE NEW PARADIGM
SFI's founder, an experienced and successful network marketer, was one of the first to recognize that the old network marketing model quit working for many previously successful marketers around the same time that e-commerce was evolving toward a similar but different paradigm. He realized that an entirely new model was needed. He drew upon those principles of network marketing that remained viable and applied them to solve the current e-commerce challenge of promoting affiliate programs on the Internet. The results are phenomenal. SFI now has well over 10 million affiliates and the numbers of new affiliates each month is growing progressively.

SFI works because it is an e-commerce affiliate program. Unlike the old network marketing model, SFI does not require you to make unnecessary purchases or meet stringent qualifications to earn commissions. In contrast to almost all of the old network marketing companies, SFI fully embraces the powerful recruiting potential of the Internet. The SFI opportunity stands up well to the analytical scrutiny characteristic of the Information Superhighway. It is a forerunner in the next stage of evolution of e-commerce. Adding the multitier structure to an Internet affiliate program makes the new e-commerce channel of distribution fully workable. Because of this, SFI has been able to negotiate fantastic savings and commissions for its affiliates from world-class vendors and will continue to attract more and even better deals as SFI continues to grow.


CONCLUSION
The natural evolution of e-commerce has pointed to a multitier commission structure to give life to the new channel of distribution of goods and services created by the Internet. SFI is in the forefront of this new adventure in commerce. SFI embodies the most advanced stage of evolution of e-commerce. As Moore's Law (discussed in an earlier lesson) ensures the continued growth of e-commerce, history and logic dictate that affiliate programs will continue as the distribution channel for e-commerce. It follows that SFI, representing the most advanced evolution of affiliate programs, will continue to have lasting phenomenal growth and prove profitable for all involved.


WHAT'S COMING NEXT
In our next lesson, we will focus on how you should approach finding other Webmasters to join your team of affiliates in a multitier affiliate program.