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Pick a Marketing Model That Lets You Pay for Results, Not Potential

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Pick a Marketing Model That Lets You Pay for Results, Not Potential

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In an era of caution, companies need to invest in marketing efforts that lead to a direct payoff and don’t require more than they can afford. Over the past week, I’ve had to evaluate all the things I’m doing at Calendar to see what’s really moving the needle. It’s astonishing the things we’re spending money on that aren’t actually driving revenue to our bottom line.

Visual Generation | Getty Images

As today’s environment forces drastic behavioral shifts in our daily lives, companies of all sizes and in all industries are evaluating the changes they need to make to stay nimble in our new economic reality. As businesses adapt to the stay-home economy, they’ll be focusing on which investments drive the best possible outcomes.

Businesses are used to pouring money into marketing channels that require upfront, flat-fee investments for promised inputs and potential outputs. Rather than invest in these marketing channels, companies can leverage affiliate marketing, which only requires them to pay partners once they’ve achieved the desired result.

Related: How to Build a Reliable (and Profitable) Affiliate Network From Scratch

What is affiliate marketing?

When managing their marketing budgets, companies should invest in channels tied directly to outcomes and avoid unnecessary risk. After all, if they pour all their funds into marketing but see no payoff, how will they afford to develop their products and services further? 

Affiliate marketing (often called “partner marketing”) is simple: A brand partners with a publisher, or an affiliate, to market a product or service to its audience using a tracking platform. Unlike marketing channels that require upfront payment, brands pay publishers a percentage-based commission for each sale generated through their content. 

Forrester predicted that by the close of this year, U.S. ecommerce sales would total $500 billion. Combine that with predictive analytics firm Custora’s prediction that affiliate marketing will influence 14 percent of ecommerce purchases in the U.S., and that means affiliate marketing will impact $70 billion worth of sales. Pepperjam’s Adobe Summit 2017 Survey revealed that only 4 percent of are investing in affiliate marketing, meaning there’s a big opportunity. 

Related: Three Trends That Will Drive the E-commerce Sector In 2019

How affiliate marketing pays off (in more ways than one).

Affiliate marketing offers a cost-per-action (CPA) payment structure instead of a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) structure. This creates a sustainable, competitive advantage because businesses only have to pay for converted sales and leads after the publisher finalizes them. Even during tough times, brands should always want to pay for incremental revenue. It prevents businesses from throwing good money after bad — they don’t need to invest large amounts of money into marketing campaigns or ads that turn out to not convert as expected.

Instead of continuously investing money into Facebook and Google, hoping it leads to conversions, affiliate marketing enables brands to broadcast their product to a wide audience of potential customers with a pay-for-performance pricing model. It also enables them to be more hands-off, allowing their affiliate partners to use their brand standards to do the work themselves. Affiliate programs can even include partners who will share the brand via Facebook or Google; unlike traditional methods on those platforms, these will be paid based on those campaigns’ performance, allowing a low-risk entry to these channels. 

Related: How Much Should You Spend on Social Media Marketing?

Even in an uncertain economy, this framework can scale. Because the marketing investment is only a portion of the revenue the partnership brings in, businesses just have to figure what they’re willing to pay for each transaction or new customer. They don’t have to worry about pouring excessive budget into a single channel. 

In a precarious marketplace, businesses need to stabilize their immediate future by investing in channels that they know will drive profit. Affiliate marketing is the model for this moment: It’s built on transparent and trusting relationships, where brands and partners set clear expectations and companies only have to pay for the outcomes they get.

People are at home, and that’s where affiliate marketers can capture their attention. Companies can stay ahead of the game by using affiliate marketing to maximize their ROI and make sure they’re paying for outcomes, not inputs.


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These Website Mistakes Could Be Costing You Thousands. Here’s How to Maximize Your Return and Drive More Sales.

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These Website Mistakes Could Be Costing You Thousands. Here's How to Maximize Your Return and Drive More Sales.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’re losing thousands of dollars on your website and might not even know it. You have a site and a marketing team, and traffic is flowing in. But your site — and business — may fail because you’re losing customers and conversions.

How?

Leads fail to convert because of poor user interface, slow speeds and bad design practices. If your site isn’t optimized for SEO, it gets even worse: leads will never land on the site in the first place.

How much does a website cost?

Small websites cost $500 to $5,000. Your costs will vary depending on whether you use a template, hire a developer and the complexity of the site. Sites with hundreds of pages, expert optimization and design can cost $10,000 to $20,000. Your initial investment can’t be recuperated if your site isn’t optimized properly or set up to convert leads into sales.

Site visitors have higher expectations, and there is a growing list of requirements that sites must meet. You need a snappy site, and it must be accessible. However, you also need to capture the right data from your forms, continually optimize your site and fill in the leaks that are causing you to lose money.

Related: 3 Powerful SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Website’s Search Engine Ranking

Is your website investment worth it?

Small business owners lose customers, even with a well-functioning website, because they don’t know how to utilize the data available to them. So, after all, is your website investment worth it, and if yes, how can you make sure you get an ROI?

Nobody tells you that web forms can cost you a lot of money

Forms are boring input fields to failing site owners and a goldmine to successful ones. What are leads doing when they enter data into the form? Are errors causing potential customers or clients to leave the site? According to WP Forms, more than 67% of site visitors will abandon your form forever if they encounter any complications; only 20% will follow up with the company in some way. Analyzing how users interact with forms is especially critical for small businesses, which may not have as many opportunities as larger corporations. They can identify common issues such as broken forms, confusing fields or errors. This insight allows small businesses to simplify and optimize the form-filling process, improving the overall user experience and significantly increasing the chances of conversion. Thankfully, you can use a form tracking system that will help to pinpoint problems with data entry and missed opportunities, ensuring that small businesses are not carelessly losing leads.

Testing your forms and sales funnel regularly can save you a lot of money if you fix issues that are found in the test phase.

Data is the king of website optimization

Analytic data is king of website optimization, but you need to know what to look for and how to make changes. For example, if you have a high bounce rate, your site may look like it was designed in 1999, or it takes 15 seconds to load.

Bounce rate means users are leaving the site on the page of entry, and you have multiple areas of potential improvement.

Review your site speed and follow PageSpeed Insights’ recommendations to optimize your site. Try to bring loading time down to two to three seconds at most. Complex navigation and poor-quality landing pages can also cost you sales. Work with a copywriter to optimize your sales funnel copy.

Data will help businesses to pinpoint exactly where users engage most frequently and where they face obstacles. With careful analysis of this data, companies can optimize every aspect of their website, from navigation to content.

Important aspects of a high-converting website

High-converting websites have a lot in common:

Content

Expertly written content, with the help of a copywriter, will allow you to hit on the pain points of leads and close more sales. Hooks and storytelling from an experienced copywriter can help you turn a low-performing sales funnel into one that exceeds sales forecasts.

Design

Poor design practices cause sites to fail. Yahoo! is a prime example. The site was once Google’s biggest competitor, but with the bland and outdated design, the bounce rate was high, and people flocked to Google.

Work with a design team to create a functional, feature-rich site that appeals to your target demographic.

Lead capture forms

High-converting sites use lead capture forms to collect basic information about visitors, such as their email or phone number.

In exchange for providing information, leads receive something valuable in return, such as a discount or free eBook.

Once a user provides their email address or phone number, you can start nurturing them and eventually convert them into a customer. It’s important to note again that receiving instant notifications about broken forms and issues is a solution to avoid losing potential customers.

Related: 9 SEO Tips to Help You Rank No. 1 on Google in 2024

Call-to-action: More than just a button

Call-to-actions (CTAs) tell visitors what to do next, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase or scheduling a consultation. They play a crucial role in improving your site’s conversion rates.

Without them, visitors would leave your site without taking action, resulting in lost opportunities to convert leads.

To increase conversions, CTAs must be clear and concise and use action-oriented language, like “Buy now” or “Contact us.” Tell your visitors exactly what to do next so there’s no confusion and they feel confident taking the next step.

CTAs are highly effective at improving conversion rates, but visitor behavior can change over time. Testing and optimizing your site’s CTAs can help maximize your conversion rate and adapt and change as user behavior changes.

Make sure that you’re engaging in A/B testing to determine which CTA works best for your audience.

You must respond to leads right away

Research shows that 78% of customers purchase from the first responder. Surveys also show that the highest-ranking companies in lead response audit reports respond to leads in 30 minutes or less. The quicker you respond, the better. Conversion rates can be as much as eight times higher if you respond in the first five minutes.

Every minute that passes increases the chance that the lead will move on to a competitor.

How can you improve your lead response time? Start by automating your lead qualification process to identify and prioritize high-quality leads. Track the lead from start to finish and pinpoint the issues that leads are facing. Set response time goals, train your reps, and streamline your lead management processes to reach out to leads as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

You spend thousands of dollars on a website. To maximize your return, you must ensure that your site has all the right elements to increase conversion rates. Once you have these elements in place, you must respond to leads immediately to seal the deal.

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What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every U.S. State: Report

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What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every U.S. State: Report

Sometimes, it’s not just about finding a job that pays well, it’s all about location.

A new report from Career.io shows that compensation for the same job can vary from state to state, so where a job is located can really matter, especially if you’re trying to maximize your earnings.

The report matches pay to location by figuring out which jobs yield the highest average salary in each state compared to the national average.

The result is a map of the jobs with the highest earning potential specific to every U.S. state.

Credit: Career.io

The map shows the professions in each state with the highest differences between the average statewide salary and the national average pay.

Related: These Jobs Have the Highest Entry-Level Salaries

Every state has a minimum of one job that pays at least 25% more than the national average.

In midwestern states, such as Minnesota and Indiana, medical professionals make more than they would in other parts of the country.

Physicians take home 38.63% more pay in Indiana, and dermatologists make 56.98% more in Minnesota than either profession makes on average in the U.S.

Related: College Graduates Make the Most Money in These U.S. States

Three states have jobs in business and finance that pay more than 50% more than the national average.

Alaska pays personal financial advisors 66.69% more, Nebraska pays credit counselors 59.46% more, and New York pays credit analysts 50.98% more than the U.S. average overall for those occupations.

1716944163 691 What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Every US StateCredit: Career.io

Here are the highest-paying jobs in some of the most populated U.S. states and how much more (%) each job pays than the national average.

1. California

Craft artists: 89.06%

2. Florida

Quarry rock splitters: 42.40%

3. New York

Crane and tower operators: 109.03%

4. Pennsylvania

Iron and rebar workers: 65.30%

5. Illinois

Hoist and winch operators: 71.79%

6. Ohio

Mathematical science occupations: 40.46%

7. Georgia

Cloak room attendants: 52.49%

8. North Carolina

Healthcare practitioners and all other technical workers: 34.49%

9. Michigan

Plant and system operators: 63.48%

10. New Jersey

Floor layers: 90.03%

Click here for the full list.

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5 Types of Content That Will Attract Ready-to-Buy Prospects

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5 Types of Content That Will Attract Ready-to-Buy Prospects

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

They say that content is king — but not all digital content is created equal. While most digital content can help increase awareness for your brand, the most valuable content is designed to draw in warm prospects who are ready to make a purchase from you.

Of course, even the best content isn’t likely to result in a purchase on the first exposure. The marketing rule of seven indicates that consumers must be exposed to your messaging at least seven times on average before they decide to make a purchase. While this may often be the case, strong digital content will go a long way in lowering this total.

Related: 5 Digital Content Types Prospective Buyers Love to Engage With Online

1. Email campaigns

Email marketing remains one of the most effective methods for communicating with warm leads and staying in touch with existing customers to ensure they will buy from you again. Not only are emails far more likely to be read than other types of content, but their average return on investment towers over other options.

According to the HubSpot Blog, most marketers see an average open rate of 46-50% and a clickthrough rate of 2.6-3% — numbers that far outpace the engagement levels of social media and other popular forms of content.

Even if they are mostly comprised of previous customers, email lists are an essential marketing tool because they are made up of people who agreed to receive additional messaging from you. This fact alone already makes them far more qualified leads than someone who randomly stumbles across your blog.

2. Personal engagement on social media

While the overall engagement and reach of many social media platforms have declined, there is still much to be said for the potential these platforms offer for fostering one-on-one engagements with your warmest leads.

When marketers comment strategically on other people’s posts, actively participate in relevant groups and conversations, and respond to the comments and messages they receive, it helps create a meaningful dialogue with their target audience.

By pairing this personalized engagement with relevant, authoritative content (including videos, polls and more), you can leverage social media to nurture warm leads.

3. Cost calculators

Most companies have at least some kind of on-site content marketing strategy, which usually revolves around blogging. A blog can be undeniably beneficial for building SEO and domain authority, but depending on the type of content you create, it isn’t always going to create warm leads.

However, if your website content focuses on the customers who are ready to buy now, you can greatly increase your own sales potential — and one of the best ways to do this is with a cost calculator.

From calculating the cost of shipping a car across the country to determining how much it would cost to build your own website, these tools are inherently targeted at warm leads who are ready to make a buying decision. In this case, providing useful budgeting and planning information directly influences the user’s purchasing decision, providing a powerful way of reaching warm leads.

Related: 4 Steps to Writing Content That Converts

4. Webinars

Webinars have become an increasingly popular digital content option, and for good reason. When webinars are promoted to the right audience, they can become far more engaging and attractive to warm leads than a blog post covering the same topic would be.

The simple fact of displaying content in an audiovisual format helps make the webinar feel like an event in its own right. With an engaging topic and professional presenters, you can build a large audience. And when the topic of the webinar itself ties into your offerings, you can create a natural segue into how you can help viewers solve their most pressing problems.

Webinars can be even more effective when paired with other content, such as an e-book or follow-up video lessons. When done right, webinars can be an excellent resource for collecting email addresses and other information from warm leads who are most likely to be interested in your services.

5. Software demos

Admittedly, this digital content option doesn’t apply to every industry. However, there is a wide range of companies that offer software services, addressing everything from tracking logistics and customer relationships to managing the back end of a website.

A software demo gives warm leads the opportunity to try the service before they commit to a purchase. Firsthand interaction and experience with the software is ultimately far more convincing than a series of sales calls could ever be, as this helps buyers clearly determine whether or not a particular product works for them.

It should be no surprise, then, that opt-out free trials see an incredible 48.8% conversion rate. It’s worth noting, too, that companies that don’t sell software can use similar “trial” options, such as a two-week trial for their services. Trials and demos appeal to the warmest buyers, who often use them to finalize their purchase decision.

Related: 5 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Business Results

While regularly updating a blog or social media profile can be useful as part of your content marketing strategy, it is essential that brands in every niche focus on the types of content that are poised to deliver the greatest return.

By focusing on the types of content that are most likely to capture warm prospects in the first place, you can turn more leads into sales and maximize the success of your content strategy.

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