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The Top 12 Myths of Affiliate Marketing

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The Top 12 Myths of Affiliate Marketing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Affiliate marketing is a popular strategy businesses use to drive sales and grow their brand. Although it’s one of the most popular marketing tools in the booming creator economy, some misconceptions about using affiliate links can prevent bloggers from benefiting from them.

1. Affiliate marketing is dead

Statista shows that from 2010-2022, U.S. affiliate marketing spending has steadily increased, reaching $8.2 billion in 2022. Clearly, this channel is not only not dead but also thriving. These days, over 80% of brands run affiliate programs, with 16% of online orders attributed to affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing drives sales and is used by anyone from media companies, such as Business Insider and The New York Times, to smaller startups and brands that use it through referral programs.

2. It’s too much work

Modern tools make creating an affiliate link easy. Bloggers can start posting affiliate links and earn money from them on day one.

Popular programs include Amazon Associates, ShareASale and Commission Junction. The idea is to connect customers with brands through relevant content and tools by posting affiliate links that generate sales.

Related: How to Start Your First Affiliate Marketing Campaign

3. It’s passive, low-effort income

While some believe affiliate marketing is too much work, others mistakenly believe it takes virtually no work. Although implementing these links is indeed easy, bloggers need to work on their content, presence, and credibility and attract followers to generate sales and make money with affiliate marketing.

Influencers must be mindful of conversions since they are paid by actions. This means that more active calls-to-action, more selling content and more creative product presentation will be needed.

4. Size matters

A common misconception is that only influencers with a big audience can benefit from affiliate marketing. The truth is that conversions play a bigger role than audience size.

Not only do micro-influencers (those with 1,000-100,000 followers) perform at least 90% of successful influencer marketing, 90% of brands actively want to work with them through affiliate strategies. Because of their smaller followings and high engagement rates, micro-influencers are often seen as a cost-effective way for brands to reach targeted audiences and drive sales.

5. Affiliate marketing blocks other income streams

Earning through affiliate programs does not prevent bloggers from entering into direct contracts with brands, but it does help them attract the attention of companies they’d want to work with.

Additionally, affiliate marketing often becomes a stepping stone to working more closely with the brand. Active blogger partners always have an advantage when selecting brands for the partnership since they have the results and audience data to back up their “influencer” status.

Related: How To Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money in 2023

6. “My audience is too niche”

Believe it or not, a niche is often good for affiliate marketing.

Remember, you can’t be successful if you’re trying to appeal to everybody. Having a specific niche is good because it gives you a clearly defined audience with reliable preferences, tastes and buying habits. Brands know these things, so if your niche has gained interest from fans, it can earn interest from brands, too.

7. Brands only care about sales

Sales are no longer the only available form of brand partnership. Brands are willing to collaborate with other targeted actions that generate awareness and credibility, such as starting a trial period, installing a mobile app or requesting a free consultation.

These alternative forms of action are suitable even for bloggers who are particularly sensitive about maintaining their audience’s trust and wish to foster a relaxed atmosphere.

8. It’s not a viable long-term plan

Long-term partnerships are common in affiliate marketing because both parties benefit from sustained collaboration: You get to know the audience better, so your offerings are more relevant, and the audience builds trust in you and the brand.

Cultivating a relationship with the audience and building trust allows marketing expansion to include content like online courses, software and other digital products.

9. It’s too late to get started

The misconception is that there is too much competition in affiliate marketing. However, with new companies emerging each year, the range of advertisers to promote is constantly expanding. Blogs that provide value will always stand out and have access to profitable brand partnerships.

Related: 8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting Affiliate Marketing

10. It’s just advertising

When Forbes surveyed millennials, 84% said they hate advertising, so equating affiliate marketing to advertising can make it seem unappealing.

However, as an affiliate, you only recommend products you have personally tried and liked while providing valuable content to your audience. Your readers will appreciate your tips and personal experience because they don’t want to spend their time and money experimenting. Affiliate marketing provides a more authentic and unique approach to promoting products.

11. You need a blog to be an affiliate

To sign up for affiliate marketing programs, you just need a following somewhere that will see and click your custom links. Having a community is much more important than being on a specific platform.

For example, beauty influencers often promote brands through sponsored content on their social media platforms by creating makeup tutorials and including affiliate links to their websites in the description box of their videos.

12. Affiliate marketing is expensive

Affiliate marketing is the least costly way to monetize a blog on any social media platform. You can create a website for free and maintain a following using tools that social networks provide. For example, banners, plugins and CPA tools are usually accessible for free within affiliate marketing platforms.

While it is true that you will need to invest time and potentially some money to market your blog, it is no more expensive than monetizing through any other available tool on the market if you plan to make it a full-time job and earn a substantial income.

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ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here’s How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

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ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Unless you’ve been living under that proverbial rock, you’ve heard of ChatGPT and its creator, OpenAI. Part of the generative AI explosion, ChatGPT is revolutionizing entire industries, including branding and brand positioning. But it’s not without its drawbacks.

Some of the milder criticisms include creating generic content, not supporting brand voice or tone and failing to connect with audiences. Those are pretty dramatic disadvantages for a technology that’s supposed to be such a game changer, and they’re stumbling blocks you’ve probably encountered in your own use of AI.

There’s good news. A custom GPT lets you take AI to the next level. You can say goodbye to generic, boring copy and hello to brand-aligned, customized content that engages from the start.

Related: 5 Ways ChatGPT Can Help Your Business

What is a Custom GPT?

A custom GPT is the next step in AI evolution, at least for individuals and organizations looking to build their brand and enhance brand awareness with their audience. It’s a free option available for anyone who subscribes to ChatGPT Plus and essentially allows you to create a customized AI that knows everything about you and your business.

Rather than using conventional training materials, the OpenAI team uses your branding information to train the AI. The result? A customized version of ChatGPT that’s unique to your brand.

Related: How Generative AI Will Revolutionize The Future of Your Brand

The proof is in real-world experience

In the ever-evolving entrepreneurship landscape, I recently had the privilege of incorporating a custom ChatGPT into my toolkit. Created by a skilled team, this AI marvel was trained with insights from my articles and branding advice and attuned to my unique tone of voice. I was thrilled to discover that it could perfectly emulate my style (professional yet approachable and friendly) and provide branding advice that I would have given myself.

Why would I want to let AI replace me? Am I planning for my own obsolescence? Not in the least.

The goal here is to create an ally in sharing my expertise — an AI-powered alter ego capable of responding to questions, comments, and requests in the same way I would. It’s also an important tool for providing potential new clients with a preview of what working with me is like.

How did the experiment pan out? What benefits did I achieve, and how might you apply them to your own needs? Here’s a quick rundown of my experience.

Improved brand consistency

A custom GPT’s primary advantage is its ability to ensure brand consistency across different touchpoints. Whether people seek advice, ask questions or want to engage in another way, a custom GPT mirrors your brand’s unique voice and identity. These are not generic robots; they’re tailored allies designed to respond in the same tone of voice and style, aligning seamlessly with your brand. This not only strengthens your brand image but also cultivates a deeper connection with your audience.

Effortless communication

With my custom GPT taking care of everyday questions, I’ve gained valuable time to focus on the core aspects of my business. That’s something any business owner can appreciate. It has also become instrumental in smoothing out communication and enhancing overall efficiency.

When it comes to client relationships, the custom ChatGPT handles routine inquiries, allowing me to concentrate on building stronger connections. It’s not just about answering questions; it’s about providing a personal touch that goes beyond the basics, ensuring clients feel genuinely attended to.

Instant expertise at scale

Scaling my entrepreneurial efforts became seamless as my custom ChatGPT effortlessly shares branding advice derived from and consistent with my body of work across platforms. Whether interacting with one client or a hundred, the AI manages to deliver advice and guidance consistent with my goals in terms of professionalism and expertise. That’s good news for business owners, entrepreneurs and others trying to scale their brands without burning out.

Dynamic adaptability to trends

The world is evolving faster than ever. It feels impossible to keep up with trends and shifting market dynamics. However, my custom GPT can be retrained with new data and instructions so I can keep ahead of the curve. That’s an important benefit for anyone hoping to stay relevant today.

Related: How ChatGPT Will Dramatically Change the Influencer Space

Time-saving creative sparks

ChatGPT doesn’t just answer questions; it sparks creativity. Whether you’re stuck on a branding concept or seeking inspiration to name your new business venture, the AI’s unique insights and suggestions serve as a springboard for creative endeavors, accelerating the ideation process. This can be an important advantage when it comes to creating marketing collateral, content for your audience and even writing a business plan to get your idea off the ground.

The team you’ve been missing

Entrepreneurs and solopreneurs often try to do it all. Chances are good that you handle your own marketing, market research, customer support, email correspondence, and more. That leaves little time to focus on other aspects, like spending time with family and friends. A custom GPT can become the team you’ve been missing and handle those tasks for you in many cases, saving you time, cutting costs and protecting your sanity.

In essence, a custom GPT acts as a force multiplier. It allows you to do more, from engaging with your audience to building a stronger brand without burning out. From streamlining communication to answering questions and providing guidance to interacting with leads at different touchpoints within your funnel, a custom GPT could be just what you need to jumpstart your success.

Related: What Does ChatGPT Mean for the Future of Business?

A global solution for leaders in the spotlight

For prominent figures like business leaders and public figures, managing a constant influx of inquiries can be overwhelming. A prime example is MarcGPT, tailored for Marc Randolph, the co-founder and first CEO of Netflix. Drawing from his wealth of experience, this custom GPT delivers inspiring and actionable advice for entrepreneurs, showcasing its potency as a valuable tool for leaders. It extends mentorship and offers insights on a global scale, reaching a diverse audience without the limitations of time zones or physical presence. Since it incorporates information from various sources, including a copy of his book, interviews, podcast episodes and other writings, it becomes a versatile asset for sharing expertise on various topics.

Embracing the AI revolution with caution

While the benefits of custom GPTs are evident, it’s essential to approach AI integration cautiously. Human-to-human interaction is always the preferred option. And while AI continues to evolve, it should be seen as an ally working alongside you, not a replacement for you. Maintaining the human touch within your business remains vital.

My recommendation? Use a custom GPT to help you carve out more time to do what you do best and to provide much-needed human interaction at key touchpoints. Let your AI handle mundane but important tasks that would not be a wise use of your own time and expertise.

Ultimately, a custom GPT can provide critical automation, reduce costs, improve efficiency, save you time, improve your customer or client experience and increase the accuracy of interactions. Creating one tailored to your business is the first step toward building a stronger, more resilient brand and achieving a better balance in your own professional life.

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Innovation starts with identifying the outcomes customers want to achieve — which is why most companies rely on modern tools and technologies to acquire vast amounts of customer information for creating personalized customer experiences.

You need your customers to share their details, including preferences, to ensure you create a seamless, engaging and personalized customer journey. However, this need is at odds with the growing concerns surrounding customer privacy. Now, more than ever, customers are growing increasingly protective of their personal data.

According to a survey conducted by Gartner, consumers are less comfortable with brands collecting other types of data, including browsing history. Only 27% of respondents feel comfortable sharing information pertaining to their employment, financial data and personal health.

Users know the risks associated with their personal information fueled by various privacy breaches, data thefts and increasing regulatory scrutiny. Hence, businesses striving to innovate and meet customer demands must navigate the complexities of privacy protection since customers trust brands that value their privacy security.

On the other hand, the stringent privacy regulations, including the GDPR and CCPA, are even more concerning. These regulations demand businesses to collect, store, and manage customer data securely. Failing to adhere may entitle the business to pay hefty fines and even reputational damages.

In a nutshell, if a business wishes to jump on the innovation bandwagon, it can’t ignore the inherent privacy risks, especially when collecting vast amounts of customer data. Let’s unpack why businesses must be more vigilant about customer data security and privacy when innovating and learn how to navigate this complex landscape.

Related: Why Your Company Needs to Rethink Its Purpose to Acquire Loyal Customers — And Drive More Sales.

Why you need to innovate with privacy on top of mind

Delivering seamless user experiences is vital, but ignoring privacy security wouldn’t please your users. Stats reveal that users worldwide are more concerned about their privacy than ever and wish to do more to protect it.

On the other hand, when we see things from an organization’s perspective, they have a typical mindset of invoking technology’s true potential to innovate for improving user experiences. However, ignoring privacy and security could be the worst strategy in today’s business landscape, especially when your customers know the importance of their privacy.

No matter how unreasonable it may seem to prioritize privacy in today’s world, where data-driven decisions dominate, embracing privacy protection can eventually open up new avenues for growth and innovation.

Users are more likely to engage with digital platforms and applications when they trust that their privacy is respected and their personal data is secure. They love to share personal information, along with their preferences and participate in innovative initiatives.

Consequently, a deeper understanding of user preferences and needs helps businesses develop effective and targeted innovations.

Why ignoring privacy regulations will spell trouble for your business

The relationship between innovation and privacy is quite evident. As organizations navigate their technological advancement journey, privacy regulations guide them toward a sustainable future where innovation does not affect or compromise users’ fundamental rights.

Whether it’s CCPA or GDPR, every regulation guards privacy rights and protects organizations from legal obligations. Furthermore, organizations that cater to customers across the globe shouldn’t ignore the importance of adhering to various data privacy regulations, as failing to do so may entitle them to pay hefty fines.

What’s worrisome is that if your organization’s reputation is tarnished for not adhering to global privacy compliances, your potential customers won’t trust you and will inch toward your competitors with all the necessary compliances in place.

And regarding innovation, you can freely collect essential information about users, and they won’t mind if you adhere to the latest data privacy and security regulations.

Strategies for privacy-driven innovation

1. Prioritizing a privacy-first mindset

Organizations that don’t prioritize privacy at every stage of their product development and innovation initiatives will not be able to win customer trust.

Hence, it’s essential to lay the foundation of your product by equally emphasizing privacy along with other aspects, including user experience, usability, compliance and marketing. Collaborating development, security, user experience and marketing teams to emphasize privacy security is perhaps the need of the hour for every business striving for success.

2. Prioritize transparency tactics — communicate clearly, win trust

If you establish clear communication with your customers regarding data collection, usage and protection, you can quickly win customer trust and loyalty. Most customers are reluctant to share their personal information just because they aren’t sure why an organization is demanding it in the first place.

Once they’re comfortable sharing essential information, you can use this data to drive meaningful innovation, such as offering personalized recommendations, suggesting products/services based on their preferences, and more.

3. Tap the potential of technology

Embracing cutting-edge privacy-enhancing tools and technologies can help you navigate your innovation journey seamlessly. Using robust privacy management tools, identity management platforms and multi-factor authentication can eventually help build lasting customer trust and loyalty.

Furthermore, using cloud platforms to scale rapidly would further enhance user experience without compromising security.

4. Optimize data collection

A data-minimization approach in which organizations collect only essential data and maximize its value helps deliver impactful results. Admit it: No innovation is possible without knowing what your customers want and their pain points. Effectively analyzing essential data can help boost targeted innovation efforts, ensuring impactful outcomes.

5. Skyrocket innovation with powerful partnerships

Last but not least, collaborating with privacy experts, regulatory bodies, and industry peers to exchange knowledge and best practices can accelerate your innovation efforts. Businesses can embark on an innovation journey flawlessly through collective support and expertise.

Related: This Unique Marketing Strategy Is Winning in 2024 — Here’s Why (and How You Can Implement It Successfully)

Navigating the nexus of innovation and privacy

While navigating the innovation landscape, organizations shouldn’t overlook the undeniable nexus between innovation and privacy. Hence, ignoring privacy while pursuing innovation could hamper customer trust and lead to legal obligations.

Emphasizing a privacy-first mindset, coupled with transparent communication and technological advancement, are undoubtedly pivotal strategies for unlocking the true potential of innovation while safeguarding customer privacy.

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Email marketing is booming: last year, 52% of marketers said their campaign’s return on investment (ROI) doubled, while 5.7% of marketers experienced an ROI four times larger compared to 2022, a Statista report shows.

How can you create similar results for your business this year?

The effectiveness of email marketing comes down to a few key factors:

  • Knowing your audience and its pain points and desires.
  • Creating emails that respond to those specific needs.
  • Getting your emails in the inbox, where your subscribers can interact with them.

As the CEO of a B2B email marketing company, I often hear from customers about their top challenges. A big one? Creating emails that really engage and drive results. Getting the content, length and audience targeting just right is tough.

Related: How to Get People to Open – And Read – Your Emails

Most of your prospects prefer shorter emails

If you’re struggling to make your emails more engaging, here’s an aspect you may be overlooking: just make them shorter. Recent data from a ZeroBounce report shows that 66% of consumers prefer short emails, and only 6% favor longer ones.

But keep this caveat in mind: For 28% of people, email length becomes irrelevant if the content is well-tailored to their needs and interests.

It’s no surprise that people prefer shorter marketing emails. When inboxes are clogged with messages, why would you opt for a long message instead of a quick note? Concise and direct emails respect your prospects’ time and have a higher chance of getting their attention. But while most people prefer brevity, the quality and relevance of your emails are what truly capture and retain interest.

The message is clear for the 28% who don’t mind the length: When an email resonates well with their needs or interests, they’re willing to invest more time, regardless of word count. This segment of your audience is receptive to more in-depth content that speaks directly to their challenges.

How to determine the right email length

So, how do you strike the right balance between brevity and substance? The key is to start with understanding your audience. Segment your email list based on behaviors, preferences and past interactions. This segmentation allows you to tailor your messages more precisely. Also, you probably send different types of emails. That aspect alone should guide your approach:

  • Newsletters can be longer and cover several pieces of information in more depth.
  • Drip campaigns can consist of a series of emails that gently push your prospects closer to a purchase. Those emails can be short — sometimes, a few lines followed by a call-to-action (CTA) is enough.
  • Targeted campaigns, such as a discount or free offer, can have an engaging image paired with a couple of sentences and a catchy CTA button.

If you’re still unsure whether your email is too long, here are a few tips to save you time and make things easier.

Start with a clear goal

Every email should have a clear purpose. Whether it’s to inform, increase engagement or drive sales, your goal will dictate the necessary length. Don’t add fluff just to extend an email; keep it as long as necessary to fulfill its purpose.

Choose simplicity and clarity

Use simple language and clear CTAs. Marketing emails rarely benefit from any metaphors. Your email should guide readers smoothly from the opening line to the desired action without unnecessary detours.

Personalize to the last detail

Use what you know about your customers to tailor your emails. When marketing emails feel personal, people care more about the message and less about the length.

Test and adjust to what your audience likes

Studies can point you in the right direction in terms of consumer preferences, but only you can determine what your audience responds to the most. Before sending your next email, consider A/B testing different lengths. Then, analyze your metrics to see what performed best.

Improve your layout

Sometimes, the way information is presented can affect how we perceive the length of an email. Breaking text with relevant images or using bullet points can make longer emails appear more digestible and engaging.

Related: 4 Things You Can Automate in Your Email Marketing That Will Save You Time and Drive Sales

Ask your subscribers

Asking for opinions shows you care about serving your audience better, so why not include a poll in your next newsletter? Allow your subscribers to tell you how long they’d like your emails to be. Nothing beats direct customer feedback in helping you create more effective campaigns.

Bonus tips to increase email engagement

Here are a few extra tips to help your next emails get more clicks:

  • Try to keep your subject lines between 30 and 50 characters. Not only will your subscribers process them faster, but keeping your subject lines short ensures they display well on all devices.
  • Check your email list health to avoid bounces and the likelihood of landing in the spam folder.
  • Assess your spam complaint rate – it should be under 0.1% to comply with Yahoo and Google’s new email-sending rules.

Also, remember your goal is to connect with your audience genuinely, no matter how many words it takes to get there. If your email ends up longer than you’d planned but addresses a topic many of your subscribers care about, don’t worry. Engaging content can often justify a longer read.

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