Monday, October 17, 2005


What is the most profitable internet application?

Have you ever wondered what the most profitable internet application is?

Web hosting?
Book or CD selling?
Merchant account providers?

You may be surprised to learn that it is none of the above although they can all be profitable in their own right (particularly industry leaders such as Amazon and Paypal).

Why did I choose the above examples?

Because they are perceived to be ideally suited to online marketing and the fact that there are so many offering those very same products/services means they have to be profitable, right? Wrong!

The problem with the above examples and for merchants in general are that for the vast majority it is just too competitive to succeed online without viable offline sales channels as well.

Without any shadow of a doubt, the most profitable of all internet applications are those that provide exchange services. That is the single most important ingredient to any online success story. The reason is simple, they match buyers and sellers of a myriad of wants and needs. Economically speaking, they match supply and demand.

Lets look at some examples.

Perhaps the most obvious success story is Ebay - an online auction service that matches buyers and sellers for an unrestricted choice of product.
Other good examples are search engines like Google and Yahoo which match information demand with supply.

Another biggie is MSN messenger which matches communication desires between friends (although they face stiff opposition from mobile phones in the offline world).

And I don't want to elaborate on the hugely successful marriage of pornographic sites to the demand for sexual fantasy.

High usage demand for these exchange services means huge exposure and advertising revenue in addition to any actual cost of using the service itself.

Many wise heads have identified the huge profit potential of online exchange services.
Online dating, gambling, school reunion, broking (share and real estate), affiliate networking, and even customer acquisition exchange websites all utilise the exchange application.

The trick is to go out and find a niche exchange service, one that hasn't already got 10,000,000 search listings for it. If you can be one of the first to develop and market a new exchange service then watch out - your profits will be about to soar!


Michael Lever

Michael Lever is a co-founder and CEO of, an independent company offering unbiased tools and services to help affiliate and network marketers build profitable online businesses. Partnering affiliates the world over.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Is your Affiliate Network upto scratch? Put them through a 30 pt. checklist.


Isn't it time you put your Affiliate Network under the microscope?
This guide will greatly assist you when deciding which Affiliate Network to join should you not yet belong to any.

Features and benefits checklist from the merchant perspective:


Per Click, Per Lead and Per Sale campaigns.
Fraud protection that prevents affiliate link hijacking and eliminates repetitive clicking on PPC campaigns through unique IP address verification procedures.
Provide targeted media by category, conversion, and even local geographic focusing.
Detailed post analysis on all campaign performance.
Provide a suite of sophisticated real-time deep statistical reporting.
Skyscrapers, text-links, banners, co-reg, pops, contextual and search should be covered in the network - shouldn't restrict the type of campaign to be run.
Efficient, reliable third party tracking of all traffic with ability to detect if tracking code has been sub-hosted on another domain to rack up false lead/sales figures.
Maximise your ROI with dedicated account management and support and by avoiding the type of kickbacks that can result in less optimal media alignment.
Secure live Order logging.
Secure Client Fund management.
Provide affiliate links that are not long, cumbersome, unsightly and overwhelming; links that won't be split and rendered useless by e-mail clients.
Examine the performance of each piece of marketing material, including information on the affiliates who are using the links.
Actively seek and recruit new affiliates through allowing direct contact.
Create links to your latest promotions and specials, new banners and HTML marketing material.
Multi performance based media channel providing maximum flexibility.
Should not require exclusive affiliate marketing contracts.


Shouldn't require an upfront deposit for leads/sales generated, reducing as leads/sales are generated and topped up at any time in the secure merchant login area.
Co-branded sign up page. Ability to recruit affiliates from your site.
Manual or Auto approve affiliate that apply to join your campaigns.
Network marketing tools and options to maximize Publisher exposure.
A tiered payout system to help Advertisers drive performance and reward performers.
Shouldn't charge a monthly fee to activate merchant's account, or charge a fee if your merchant account is inactive (i.e. not generating any revenue) for a period of 30 days.
Affiliate ranking.
In house design media provided in HTML, RichMedia, and Email marketing.
Review of your current affiliate marketing model and affiliate incentives.
Affiliates should not have to link to your home page, any page within your site (such as specific product pages) should be linked to directly by your affiliates.
Development of a one page sales guide allowing your affiliates to learn more about your product and how to sell it effectively.
Country-wide exposure on websites targeted to your audience.
Create well concealed affiliate links for web pages.
Run multiple campaigns from one account - multiple campaigns for different URLs under same account.

One of the major drawbacks of Affiliate Networks as opposed to having your own independent affiliate program is that you share affiliates who sign up to other merchant affiliate programs within the network, many of whom may compete with you thus diluting their effectiveness.

You probably weren't aware that there is now a new technology emerging that will reshape the relationships between affiliates and merchants.

Customer Acquisition Exchanges (CAEs) provide an innovative service through a process known as Customer Reciprocation.

Compared to Affiliate Networks, CAEs are a much newer concept and as such require a brief explanation.

According to Wiktionary, CAEs can be defined after understanding what Customer Reciprocation means.

Customer Reciprocation (n): The process of two parties (affiliate marketers) partnering to become each other's customer. It is largely dependent on the use of affiliate programs as a primary tool of customer acquisition by merchants.

Customer Acquisition Exchange (n): The means by which the process of "Customer Reciprocation" can be facilitated.

Comparing CAEs and Affiliate Networks:

CAEs represent one of the newest and fastest-growing affiliate communities specializing in cost-per-acquisition (pay for performance) marketing.

They employ Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) pricing models for merchants and affiliates alike. This means that clients only pay when they acquire a new customer through their proprietary technology.

This structure provides zero risk for clients while at the same time guaranteeing a great ROI for their online marketing dollars. CAEs assume the risk so clients don't have to.

CAEs deliver consumers directly to the merchant's website. Once the consumer reaches the merchant's website the consumer has the opportunity to become a paying customer for the product or service offered. The client only pays for customers acquired.

What CAEs offer to merchants that they don't get using Affiliate Networks:

A customer/sale each time the merchant intends purchasing anything online.
A customer/sale each time an affiliate of the merchant intends purchasing anything online.
The chance to super-leverage their affiliate asset base.
The chance of gaining a customer/sale merely by entering referral URLs into the database without intending to purchase anything.

From the affiliate marketer/publisher/webmaster point of view, Affiliate Networks offer pertinent information about the advertiser/merchants in their particular network.

CAEs on the other hand, offer a totally unrestricted choice of advertiser/merchants with which to partner with (promote) or purchase through.

How Affiliate Networks view CAEs and how they incorporate it into their merchant solution strategy:

They may realise the advantage they offer merchants as a way of super-leveraging off the purchase intentions of their affiliates provided the network allows direct communication between merchants and affiliates.

They should see CAEs as a complimentary service for their merchants and affiliates alike rather than a competing one. This is because CAEs offer new and previously unavailable benefits for merchants and affiliates independent of whether or not they belong to any Affiliate Networks.

Because CAEs are non-exclusive entities, there is no incentive or disincentive for Affiliate Networks other than to point out to their members the benefits of CAEs as a tool to aid in their marketing efforts.

By including them in their marketing tools and resources section they would effectively enhance both their affiliate and merchant solution strategies.

In summary, being part of one or more Affiliate Networks will provide a degree of organic growth in your affiliate marketing results; however by using a CAE as a complimentary tool, you can successfully take your online marketing performance to a new level with a greater degree of confidence.


Thursday, October 06, 2005


Turning online purchases into profit.

Dear internet marketer,

I have some advice for improving your bottom line, whatever that may be.
It could be many things ranging from improving website traffic to increasing sales or even just expanding your mailing list.
But whatever your bottom line is, you have two choices when setting out to achieve it.

Your first choice is to employ an assortment of free traffic, sales, or opt-in subscriber generating techniques.
These can be effective but generally take time and results are usually slow.

Most people adopting solely this choice end up failing and frustrated. But at least they haven't lost their pants in the process.

The second choice you have is to pay for services designed to improve your bottom line. This will almost certainly speed things up and improve the results you achieve both short and long term.

If you find yourself choosing this second option, make sure you can measure quantitative results as you need to know what ROI (return on investment) is being achieved for each paid service.

Most of you are probably a combination of both choices. And if you're anything like me, you probably started using free techniques before moving to paid alternatives.

Enough beating about the bush.
What's my advice? Simply this.

If you pay for any form of online advertising or promotion, do yourself a big favour and explore services designed to assist this process without attempting to influence your decision-making in any way.

Affiliate directories and Customer Acquisition Exchanges also known as "Customer Reciprocation" are 2 such services.

These are really an extension or improved version of link exchanges as they can provide paying customers instead of potential traffic generation (leads, click-throughs, or visitors).

It's that simple. These paying customers earn you sales or commission, depending whether they purchase your own products or products from your affiliated merchants.

So what are you waiting for?

Each time you purchase online and don't take my advice, you're missing out on paying customers willing to purchase through your own referral URLs.
Choose wisely and turn your online purchases into profit.

Side note - I've mentioned thus far your online advertising and promotion purchase intentions but did you know that all online purchases you make can gain you paying customers?
That's because customer reciprocation services incorporate unrestricted global shopping directories.

A comparison with Ebay makes interesting reading.

Whereas Ebay matches buyers and sellers of products through an auction process, customer reciprocation services match buyers and sellers through referral URLs via their own exchange engines.
In effect, they work like limited versions of Ebay.
The exchange process can only be completed for people who promote product using referral URLs.

However, they expand on the Ebay model in the sense that with Ebay, sellers can only offer their own product whereas sellers are able to offer both their own product and those of other merchants through the use of customer reciprocation services.

Affiliates: earn money whenever you shop ANYWHERE online.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?