Many marketers think they need to run ads on Facebook or buy banner ads on websites to attract potential customers. Truth is, you can be highly effective without spending a penny, if you know the right tricks.
If you’ve ever shopped for shoes online, you’ll know that sometimes you’ll visit a website and the first thing the site will do is ask you to join a mailing list. What is a mailing list? Essentially, it’s a list of people who have expressed an interest in what you offer (in this case, shoes). When you join the list, the website will typically send you content about shoes and offers about shoes. In some cases, the content may even be somewhat relevant to what you need (but don’t expect every piece of content to be directly pertinent to your business).
This type of content is usually shared among a small group of people (“insiders”) who have signed up for this particular mailing list. If you want to reach this audience, you have to be on the mailing list. If you want to reach this audience without being on the mailing list, you have to do some “discovery” (a word used a lot in marketing to describe the process of identifying and reaching potential customers).
Depending on your niche, you should consider building a mailing list in no less than three ways:
- Through an opt-in form on your site (either on the home page or elsewhere on the page).
- Through a lead generation program (like a Qui.co or a Leadfeeder network).
- By using a tool like Convertkit or mailChimp to build and send out a weekly newsletter.
The key takeaway from this is that if you want to be discovered, you have to do some “discovery” (ie., build a small list).
Once you’ve made the initial discovery, you’re going to want to activate your leads. What is lead activation? Essentially, it’s taking the discovery list and turning it into paying customers (or potential customers). In the earlier example, once you’ve made the discovery that mailing lists are a useful tool in attracting potential customers, you can take the information you’ve gathered and use it to invite people to take action (join the mailing list in this case).
One of the simplest ways to activate a lead is to send them an email inviting them to take some action (like buying a product or trying out a service).
You can also use inbound methods to build trust with your potential customers and ultimately drive sales. For example, if you’re selling dietary supplements, you might want to host a webinar with a well-known industry expert. Or you might want to establish yourself as an expert in the field by publishing an e-book that becomes the “go-to” resource for people interested in your product.
Now that you’ve got people interested in your product or service, you’re going to want to start making money off of them. How? You’ll want to use a tool like Google Adsense to display ads on your site. With Adsense, you’ll want to pick a related affiliate program (like Amazon’s affiliate program for shoes, for example) and apply for it. Don’t worry, this is a totally free service and you won’t have to worry about any up-front fees.
Once you’ve picked your affiliate program, you’ll want to create ads for your site. To make money, Google will match whatever you spend on ads with what you bring in from affiliate sales. So if you want to earn $100 a month, you’ll need to spend at least $100 on ads. The matching money system is a bit complicated, but if you want to be successful with affiliate marketing (and you want to avoid headaches), you’ll want to learn more.
Last but not least, you’ll want to track the results of your efforts. How are you going to know if what you’re doing is working? Measurement is key in any form of marketing and you should look into investing in tools to track the results of your efforts. Luckily for you, we’re going to list some of the best free tools that will help you measure the results of your marketing efforts. Once you’ve got this measurement platform, you can then use the information you’ve collected to determine the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing efforts.
There are six key metrics you’ll want to track:
- Web traffic
- Social media activity
- Conversion rate (the percentage of people who became a paying customer after joining your mailing list)
- Email open-rates
- Lead generation (the percentage of people who signed up for your mailing list)
- Churn rate (the percentage of people who unsubscribed from your mailing list)
To start seeing results, you’ll want to track these metrics for a few months, maybe even a year. You might also want to consider looking into Google Analytics (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) or a comparable tool. Once you’ve collected enough data, you can determine the ROI of your marketing efforts and determine the next steps (you might decide to double down on webinars or expand to other mediums like social media).
Whether you’re looking for a complete crash course on how to do online marketing or just want to learn more about the topic, this post is for you. Hopefully, you learned a lot and are able to use the information presented to improve your marketing efforts. If you’d like to stay in touch with the author, you can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.