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March 26, 2008

Monetizing Traffic vs Monetizing Websites

One of the most common questions discussed in many online
circles is: how do I monetize my website? Just how do I make
money online from my site or sites?

The solution to that problem is not just a matter of slapping
a few lines of Google Adsense code on your pages and hoping
for the best. Actually, the solution to earning income from
your online site or blog can be as complex or as simple as
you want to make it.

There are thousands of ways to earn money from your site
or blog… among the most common are selling advertising,
selling your own products, using affiliate programs,
drop-shipping, donations, Google Adsense, Azoogle…
and the list goes on.

But this is a rather superficial approach to this issue.
A more interesting way to tackle this rather lucrative
question is to define or make some distinctions between
what exactly you are monetizing – your website or your
traffic?

This may seem pragmatic to many, but any professional
webmaster or marketer who has dissected this issue will
have discovered how you approach this problem will greatly
affect how much income you will derive from your sites.

To the savvy professional marketer it is more an issue
of refinement than anything else. They make the distinction
between a general monetization of a website and a highly
targeted monetization of their site’s traffic. There is
a difference.

Any webmaster can place ads on their sites to get an income.
If you have a normal amount of traffic, you can monetize
your site with ads such as Adsense, Azoogle, Chitika…
and you will receive your monthly checks. But is this the
best way?

Any professional marketer knows you can easily get 100 times
what you can get from Google Adsense by using other means
of monetizing their sites. It comes down to a marketing
strategy that involves monetizing the traffic coming to
their sites, rather than just monetizing the sites themselves.

Not all the traffic to your site or blog is looking for
the same thing. You can have general traffic, searching
for information on a broad subject area, or you can have
someone looking for a specific product or service. Therefore,
you must closely monitor your traffic to find out exactly
what your visitors are looking for and then providing these
visitors with a solution.

Individually Monetizing Your Pageviews, Traffic…

Individually monetizing your pageviews, traffic and landing
pages is the key to deriving larger amounts of income from
your online sites. Just as “long tail keyword” marketing
can greatly increase your income, so too can constructing
income sources directly related to your long tail keyword
traffic.

Using affiliate products and services from third party
affiliate networks like Commission Junction LinkShare,
ClickBank… will earn you 10 times more income than you
would earn from using Adsense; most times it is much more.

The prudent professional marketer will closely examine
their site’s traffic logs to find out exactly the source
of the traffic and the keywords their visitors are using
to find their site. These marketers will closely examine
their traffic and then take steps to monetize it. It may
involve producing their own products or services to offer
to these visitors. It may be using an affiliate program to
offer a product.

They also know that “keywords,” the exact words someone
types into a search engine to find what they’re looking
for on the web, are the real main sources of targeted traffic
on the web. Quality traffic that’s worth its weight in gold.
Domination of the main keywords in your market or niche will
spell monetary success even for webmasters whose main goal
may not be making money from their sites… these strange
creatures do exist I am told!

Aggressive marketers will take a different route, especially
if they have gained domination in a niche area; many approach
other businesses in their niche with offers of partnerships
and independent deals… they supply the leads or customers
to these businesses in return for a percentage of the sale.

I personally go for “residual income deals” where I get a
percentage of the revenues generated for the life of the
clients I refer. Large multinational companies in your
targeted niches probably won’t give you the time of day,
but smaller, lesser known companies will give you lucrative
deals if it is a “win-win situation” for both parties.
This is my number ONE way to monetize my traffic.

Any professional marketer will also aggressively market
their traffic by collecting opt-in lists of interested
customers. These marketers will offer free product buying
guides, valuable information, deals/coupons, customer ratings…
all to capture leads because then instead of just having one
chance to market to their site’s traffic, they get many more
chances in follow-up emails. Studies have shown it make take
6 or 7 follow-ups before a sale is made.

ROT – Return On Traffic

These marketers “add value” or “pre-sell” to their site’s
traffic in order to increase their odds of producing more
income from this traffic. They never forget this traffic
is the real source of their site’s income; instead they
exploit it to their full advantage. No reason why you can’t
do the same.

Always keep in mind, you should develop different sources
of traffic: search engine traffic, article traffic, social
bookmark traffic, link traffic from related sites, viral
traffic with free PDF files, PPC advertising… if one traffic
source dries up, it won’t be a major problem for you.

Likewise, like most things to do with business, it is never
wise to just use one tactic or source of income. I have always
used a “multiple income streams” strategy. On any given site
I may use Google Adsense for general traffic, affiliate products
for my more targeted ‘long tail keyword’ traffic and, of course,
I give priority to special independent deals with long-term
residual income. Even higher PPC (Pay Per Click) bids are possible
with residual deals, as you will recoup your investment down
the road.

Similarly, it is a good business practice to find or promote
companies that will give you a “cookie for life,” which means
once you refer a customer – they are yours for life. Marlon
Sanders does this, so too does Ken Evoy’s Site Build It,
where your customers are yours for life. Also promoting
products like web hosting, marketing tools, and utility
services that have recurring income are very lucrative sales
to make. Believe me, getting a monthly payment for a sale you
made five years ago will put a slight smile on your face every time!

So the next time you’re trying to monetize your site or blog
– first take a real close look at the your site’s traffic,
monitor your site’s raw traffic logs to find out what your
visitors are looking for on each page of your site and supply
a solution for them. Be it your own products, affiliate offerings
or even Google Adsense ads… along the way make sure you offer
them valuable content to help them on their quest and help you
to collect their contact information for further follow-up.

Of course, savvy marketers will create or make the above scenario
happen from the get-go; they find a product, they target and
dominate the keywords for that product in all the search engines
and then harvest this traffic with killer landing pages, opt-in
forms and special bonuses if you buy from their links. They use
this traffic and this marketing strategy to sometimes obtain
obscene amounts of income from the web.

Your success or failure in obtaining the same results will
largely depend upon your own skill level, but mostly it will
depend on the amount of work you put in to earn this income.
This process is so simple, yet so complex to perfect, but with
a little work and some practice anyone can monetize their site’s
traffic to get the best returns.

…..

Affiliate Marketing Tips for Monetizing Your Traffic

Since I am a full-time affiliate marketer, most of the above
post is biased or geared towards affiliate marketing. It is
a simple way to derive income from your sites without having
to worry about handling sales, supply problems, customer complaints…
all you have to do is supply the lead or potential customer
to your promoted affiliate programs and let them do the rest.
All tracking, sales, product delivery… are handled by the
affiliate company, which lets you concentrate on marketing,
producing content, search engine optimization and promotion.

It’s a system that suits me to a T!

However, it is not the most profitable way to monetize your traffic.
Perhaps the most profitable way to monetize any traffic is to
produce your own products and/or services. But this usually takes
some time and skill level beyond the ordinary webmaster; and it
does create additional headaches like product delivery, support
issues, sales records, taxes… everything associated with running
a business or company.

If you’re like me and go the much easier affiliate route,
here are some tips for you:

1. Use well established affiliate networks like Commission Junction,
LinkShare, Shareasale, ClickBank… all these are professionally run,
which makes finding affiliate links/products extremely easy for you.
Besides, they will deliver your checks on time.

2. Aim for or promote affiliate products that have residual or recurring
income because these will be your most lucrative over the long haul.
Pick ones like web hosting, marketing products, utilities… or other
services, which once people sign up for, rarely change.

3. Concentrate your marketing on small, little known niches. Dominate
the main keywords in that niche with your sites and then create special
“residual” income with the main companies in that niche.

4. Pick affiliate products that have lifetime cookies and/or have high
payout rates. You can promote anything; why not promote high-ticket
items that pay the big commissions.

5. However, picking the highest paying products may not be your only
choice. For example, I have found promoting Amazon products usually
pays less than my other affiliate products, BUT the conversion rate
for Amazon products is much higher so you sell many more products and
earn many more (albeit smaller) commissions, which quickly add up to
a nice sum.

6. I have had success by concentrating on well-known products that
you can only purchase online. Smart tactic that pays off, especially
when those companies offer coupons/deals that are only available online.

7. Marketing in foreign markets has proven very lucrative for me.
Usually getting top ranking in these countries is much easier than
in the very competitive U.S. marketplace. For instance, marketing in
the UK is less competitive, and you get higher commissions when you
consider the pound is equal to two bucks in USD. I use Affiliate Window
for marketing in the UK.

8. PPC advertising is the fastest way to deliver targeted traffic
to your pages, but you have to know exactly what you’re doing or
you will lose money. Here, I concentrate on promoting products with
proven residual income so that I can make higher bids since my initial
investment will be returned to me, many times over in the coming years.

9. If you’re a one-marketer, one-person company, you will have to
choose your affiliate products very carefully. Pick only top quality
products to promote, preferably ones you use yourself. Your conviction
will come through in your content or writing.

10. Being a former teacher, I know knowledge is money. The more knowledge
you obtain about affiliate marketing the more income you will make.
But choose your learning sources very carefully, like that saying on
old maps: “here there be monsters”. Be careful. Choose your educators
wisely. Here are two sources I would recommend for further study on
Affiliate Marketing: try Ken Evoy’s free Affiliate Masters Course or
try one of top self-help guys Steve Pavlina – he has a very good page
here on how to make money from your blog.

3 Responses to “Monetizing Traffic vs Monetizing Websites

    Being a former teacher and a “revenue guru”, maybe you can answer my questions on monetizing an educational word game site. The site is vocabulary.co.il.

    The questions of industry norms are, if I am earning a $.01 per visitor, am I doing well or badly? I discuss this in more detail on my blog. For instance:

    I see $5 per CPM impressions quoted as a standard rate. Is that the rate for each banner on the page or for the total advertising on a page? Does that mean that for every visitor, assuming each visitor views four pages and there are two banners on each page, that a visitor = 8 impressions paying 8/1000 of $5. Which equals 40/1000 or 1/25 or $.04 per visitor?

    avatar Matt Kline says:

    I was wondering, if I have an ebook and choose to have affiliates market it, do you ever have to worry about the affiliates selling their own copies of my ebook?

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