NPT reader Sean wrote this week to ask me a whole bunch of questions about how I was able to get traffic to my websites to the extent that I was able to ‘crack' the $100,000 earnings level.
Because I reached that level back in 1999, and my traffic generation strategies have changed considerably over time, I've answered the questions to highlight those differences.
Here are both Sean's questions and my answers…
Can you please tell me, when you first cracked the $100,000 level, exactly how you were driving traffic to your site(s)?
I broke the 100K mark in 1999, my second year in business. At the time I was working with only one site, Sage-Hearts.com. Traffic to the site came from 2 primary sources – pay per click search engine advertising and natural / organic search – which were about equally split.
A larger percentage (between 60 and 70%) of my traffic now comes from natural search and other free methods of traffic generation, primarily article marketing.
These numbers are highly dependent on the month and season, eg. I drive more traffic using PPC in advance of Valentine's Day and other gift-giving holidays.
Were you doing anything to optimize your traffic source(s) once you found the ones that were working the best for you?
I used to spend a LOT of time tweaking my pay per click advertising campaigns to maximize conversion rates.
They're so fined honed now that I barely even check the long-standing campaigns in the dating niche.
Were you offering just one product at that time, if so, what was the price of that product?
Much as I do today, my visitors were offered a variety of product and service options relevant to their needs. For example, if a surfer found my site via a pay per click search engine while looking for ‘mail order brides' and therefore landed on my mail order bride page, he would have seen services relevant to his specific search on that page.
However, he would also have seen the sidebar navigation that would present him with alternative options, such as International / Ethnic dating services.
Dating service membership prices varied according to subscription duration – anywhere from $19.95 for a one-month membership to over $200.00 for a year-long membership.
Most of the services that I promote (then and now) offer recurring commissions.
The primary difference between then and now is that I concentrate on sending more traffic to pages that promote higher-priced products – some of which pay between $500 – $1000 commissions per sale.
What was your sales process like, once a visitor got to your landing page?
Then, as now, I posted reviews of various dating services. Summary reviews were included on primary category pages, eg. faith-based dating services. Two links for each service are generally provided on the category page – one that goes directly to the merchant site and the other to a longer review where the visitor can learn more about the specific service.
For those visitors that did not buy initially, did you do any email or autoresponder marketing to them, if so, how many more contacts were needed before a sale was made?
Absolutely! I've been using Aweber's autoresponder service since my first year of doing business online and visitor followup lies at the very heart of my marketing strategy.
Although I've never tracked exact numbers from the time a visitor arrives on the site to the point of sale through the autoresponder sequence and broadcast messages, conventional marketing wisdom states that it takes 7 contacts to penetrate a consumer's conciousness with a specific product or brand.
The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule is also a common rule of thumb, e.g., 80 percent of your sales are generated from 20 percent of your visitors.
That said, response rate is highly dependent on the product being offered. For example, the response rate to a very generic free offer (on which you are earning commissions for the lead) will be much higher than on a product targeted at a narrow niche, eg. senior singles.
For that reason, I generally include a mix of both generic and more targeted offers within each message – whether it be the autoresponder series or a broadcast message.
How many visitors were you getting on a monthly basis?
Although I no longer have traffic statistics for that period, I estimate my numbers (based on commissions earned and conversion rates) at between approximately 12 and 25 thousand visitors per month.
What were your conversion ratios for that traffic that was visiting your site(s)?
At that time, my average conversion rate for traffic sent to a merchant's site was 2.544%.
When making your first $100,000, how much did it cost you, in marketing, to generate that revenue? How much were you spending per month to get your traffic?
In the early days, it typically cost me $1 to earn 2 bucks.
My PPC spend is considerably less now and my conversion rates are higher – to the extent that on some product offers I can spend one dollar and make $10 in return. Although those results aren't typical across the board, I now earn approximately $4.6 for every dollar spent on advertising.
Although I've been immensely satisfied with the results of my traffic generation efforts, one area in which I've fallen far short is in tracking.
John Reese (Traffic Secrets 2.0) emphasizes the need for all Internet marketers to track where their traffic originates and at what cost. Basically, you can enjoy even better results when you know exactly how many sales, newsletter sign-ups, or other leads your particular marketing campaigns generate. Once tracking is in place, you will know where best to concentrate your efforts and can therefore ‘work smarter, not harder', make more money… and truly live the affiliate lifestyle. 🙂