Internet marketing is a fast-growing business opportunity that allows an internet savvy entrepreneur to make serious money while working from home. Simply put, an online marketing professional knows how to leverage their presence on the internet to drive sales of a product or service they offer. Many successful internet marketers can earn a full-time income once they take steps to get their at-home business up and running.
There are lots of ways to make money marketing online. In 2012, research guru’s Forrester predicted that by 2016 more than half of the money spent on retail purchases in the US will be influenced by information, marketing, and advertising found online. This influence equates to billions of dollars, and savvy online marketers can get a piece of that pie.
Here I’ll walk you through how to do it from start to finish, and include helpful tips and great resources on how to build and grow your audience, develop your strategy, and monetize your at-home marketing venture.
- Build an Audience
- Paid Channel Advertising
- Targeting your ads
- Make Money off Your Audience
- Type 1: Content Marketing
- Type 2: Email Marketing
- Type 3: Affiliate Marketing
Build an Audience
The first component to any successful internet marketing endeavor is to hone in on who, exactly, your target market is. Then you need a plan grow it.
There are many ways to do this, but the first step is always to determine your buyer personas. Also referred to in the industry as a customer profile, your buyer persona will help you to understand all of the details about your target visitors. You may have more than one buyer persona for your site, so it’s important to take the time to do the research and fully understand what your actual audience looks like.
Once you know who your site best attracts, you can then execute a plan to expand that audience, as well as the programs and services that you offer for those demographics.
To grow your audience, you’ll want to incorporate some (or all) of the following elements:
Search engine optimization, or SEO, takes the organic content available on your website and blog and ranks it in a search engine based on relevance to the user. A site with good SEO will attract new visitors because they have fresh and relevant content that includes keywords and phrases that their buyer personas are looking for online.
Paid Channel Advertising
Also called pay per click (PPC) or search engine marketing (SEM), paid channel advertising allows you to place paid ads on sites where users frequently search for information. These ads are typically placed above organic search results on search engines like Google, or alongside relevant content on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
There are two main pricing models with paid advertising, cost per thousand (CPM), and cost per click (CPC). In cost per thousand, your ad is displayed as a banner and you’re billed an agreed-upon flat rate based on the number of times the ad is displayed. This model is usually less expensive and is helpful in saturating a potential market.
Cost per click advertising is charged based on every time a user clicks on your ad. This model is common on social media sites like Facebook, and is also used on the ads located on the top of the Google search results page. These ads are significantly more expensive, but are also more targeted and receive much higher click-thru rates.
Targeting your ads
If you decide to pay for advertising to grow your audience, it is important to target your ads to reach the best representation of your buyer persona possible.
Depending on the platform you use you may be able to target your ads based on:
- Geotargeting– selecting specific locations, cities, states, zip codes, or a mileage radius from a specific location
- Behavioral targeting– displaying an ad to a visitor with a specific purchasing history
- Internet browsing targeting– showing an ad to a visitor with a history of visiting certain sites
- Day parts– displaying your ad only during certain times of day when your buyer persona is more likely to be online
The right growth strategy is one that will be ongoing. Once you develop an audience base, you’ll see it grow and evolve over time organically as you create content. This process allows you to continue to funnel new prospective customers to your website resulting in the opportunity over time to make more money from your visitors.
Make Money off Your Audience
Once you have a plan to obtain and grow an audience, it’s time to use that audience to start making money from home.
Here we will discuss the three most common types of internet marketing, what’s involved in each, the right way to execute them, and how to best monetize them.
Type 1: Content Marketing
While there are several methods of choose from to earn a living as an online marketer, there is one common theme among all of them- great content. Internet marketers who want to pursue a content marketing strategy become an expert in their field by developing and sharing content with their audience that is applicable and credible.
It’s important that your area of expertise and the content that you produce is closely related to the product or products you will be selling. Great content can come in many forms like blog posts, informational or how-to videos, webinars, online learning courses, e-books, and white papers.
The goal of a marketer using the content approach is to attract an audience based on predefined buyer personas who are interested in the goods and services you are able to provide.
Content Types and Purposes
Creating a blog on your website is one of the easiest and most common ways to develop an online following and carve out your expertise in a specific space. Blogging about topics that your buyer personas may be interested in and providing free content that is interesting and accurate can establish you as a credible expert on a topic.
Blogging also allows you to drive traffic to your site by using relevant keywords and phrases in your entries that will help to increase the search optimization for your website. You can also use your blog content to reference products and services available for sale on your website.
As you become established as an industry expert, there are also opportunities to earn income by offering your expertise in a blog or article on other websites within your niche.
Users love the experience of watching a video online. Cisco determined that of all the internet traffic in 2014, 64% of it was consumed as online videos, and that number is expected to grow.
By creating engaging video content, you have an opportunity to educate your customers about your services and products, as well as teach them something in the process. It’s important that videos are relevant, well-edited to remove “fluff,” and are promoted across all of your social media platforms to ensure maximum engagement by your potential customers.
Established industry experts know the power of the e-book. Formatted as a typically free informational download, e-books are helping to drive small business sales of products and services. In fact, Price Waterhouse Cooper estimates that e-book sales revenue will grow 276% by 2018 for a total of $8.69 billion in the US alone.
To capitalize on this opportunity, you can produce relevant book content that is educational and informational and self-publish it on a platform like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing to potential customers.
Some online marketers will charge for downloadable e-book content, and if it’s good enough, it can be a powerful online money making tool.
The key is to produce a quality e-book and to promote it on every available channel to your audience and buyer personas.
It’s important to appeal to potential customers who are visual learners. One way to address this is through video, and another is through a powerful infographic. An infographic is a way to illustrate complex information through an easily understood graphic, and it can be a great stand-alone or complementary piece within a blog, article, or e-book.
Successful online marketers may also use infographics to compare products and services.
Webinar or Online Class
One way to truly establish yourself as an expert in a field is to host a webinar or teach an online class in your specialty. You’ll want to spend time developing your class content and rehearsing what you’ll say leading up to your webinar so that it flows smoothly and delivers great information in a user-friendly format.
It is also important to promote your webinar or class ahead of time to your followers on social media, email subscribers, and website visitors. Collect registrations for the event to build your email database, and to also have a list of “hot” leads to follow up on relevant services following the training.
For maximum impact, record your webinar or class and have it available to use later to continue to attract new customers by addressing a need in the marketplace, or to offer value and reconnect with current customers. Sites like GotoWebinar will both host and record your webinar for you at a minimal cost.
Type 2: Email Marketing
Email marketing is a powerful tool to connect with customers and potential customers about what you have to offer. Online marketers can use email to deliver content that is relevant and valuable to their buyer personas while also including advertisements for services, webinars, e-book content, and more. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing solutions for businesses.
There are three important things to remember when it comes to effective email marketing.
Make it relevant
Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is the cornerstone of a good email marketer. Great content only part of how to do this. Taking the time to determine which segment of your email audience is right for the content is the second step.
There are marketing automation software solutions like HubSpot, MailChimp or Marketo available that can help manage campaigns and provide targeted messaging to a cross-section of your audience or one specific buyer persona.
Follow the rules
To maintain a presence as a reputable internet marketer it’s important to follow the laws laid out in the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act. This act lays out specific requirements for any email coming from a business to a customer or potential customer. It specifies that recipients need to be able to opt-out of the email list, and enforces penalties if you’re not in compliance.
You’ll want to ensure that your emails:
- Clearly state the business or person they’re coming from
- Have a clear and not misleading subject line
- State in the body of the email that the message is an advertisement
- Includes the physical address of your business
- Allows recipients to opt out and ceases communication within 10 business days
Note that even if you hire a company to handle email marketing on behalf of your business (or if you are the company that someone hires), the business is still the one responsible for following these rules, and liable if they aren’t followed.
Measure your Results
There are lots of different types of email analytics available depending on what type of distribution service you use. Whether you’re simply sending a bulk email from your email address, or you’re using one of the more advanced automation solutions, it’s important to track the emails you send and what sort of response you receive.
Information like the open rate, click rate, and conversion rate can help you answer important questions. Emails with a high open rate, for example, can show you that your subject line was powerful and delivered to the right cross-section of your audience.
Emails that received a high or low click rate on your call to action can help you to determine if your offer was strong enough to engage your potential customers. Finally, by tracking the conversion rate, or how many sales occurred as a result of your marketing, you can determine the cost efficacy of your campaign.
All of these statistics help you to be a better internet marketer and produce stronger results in the future.
Type 3: Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative ways to make money online. What’s more, many internet marketers find that by doing it right, they can start earning quickly and build a full-time income with this method.
Simply put, affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service that would be of interest to your core audience on your website or blog for another company. If your visitors click on the affiliate product, they will be redirected to that company’s website for more information and to make a purchase. You earn money when that purchase is made. Depending on the company, you can make a commission of anywhere from $1 to $10,000 for each sale.
How affiliate marketing works
While every affiliate marketing program may have their own individual nuances, most will have these common themes.
- You will need an established website or blog audience. Many affiliates will want information on your audience including things like monthly visitors to your site, demographics, where your visitors are located geographically, and other analytics.
- The affiliate will provide you with a tracking link or graphic for your website or blog. This link will store a cookie any time a visitor clicks through from your site for a specific period of time, usually 30 or 60 days. This cookie is how the affiliate will know if you have directed a buyer to their site and when you are eligible to earn commission.
- As the program is dependent on cookies, if a visitor does not have their cookies enabled or they delete their browsing history, it will not track as a purchase to be credited to you.
- The program is free to participate in. Affiliates do not charge their partner sites to host their links, and you aren’t required to house any inventory or provide customer service or support for their transactions. This makes affiliate marketing an easy way to earn passive income.
How to be Successful at Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an easy and no-cost way to earn a passive income, but there are a few best practices you can implement to make the program as successful as possible.
Choose an Affiliate with a product that’s a good fit for your audience
The most important step in creating a successful stream of passive income through affiliate marketing is to choose the right affiliate. You’ll want to take a look at your buyer personas and think carefully about what types of products or services might most interest them. It’s important to choose an affiliate that fits with what your visitors might be looking to purchase, as well as one that integrates naturally into your site.
For example, if you are a health and wellness blogger you could affiliate with companies looking to sell supplements, fitness equipment, apparel, or even beauty products depending on your audience. However, it would be a disconnect to feature affiliate links to landscaping or pool maintenance equipment.
Obvious and out of place affiliate links rarely results in sales, and they may compromise the trust of your reader. Remember, your goal is always to deliver value to your audience with your content. That goal should cross over to affiliates you promote as well.
Choose the type of products you want to promote carefully
In affiliate marketing, there are typically three types of products you can feature- physical products, informational products, and services offered by the affiliate. It’s important to determine which type of product your audience is most likely to buy.
are actual goods that a consumer can purchase. Typically, you will find programs with a 30-60 day cookie and commissions on these programs are in the 4-10% range. This is the lower end of the commission spectrum as the affiliate has to pay for the production, storage, and shipping of the physical product.
That said, many times the buying cycle on physical products can be very short, and many customers are easily impulsed into these purchases. Additionally, on goods with a high-dollar price tag, this can be a lucrative way to go.
To find programs like these, try entering your blog niche or area of expertise into your favorite search engine. In our example above you could try “health and wellness affiliate marketing” or “fitness affiliate marketing” to find companies with programs available.
are another thing you can sell through affiliate marketing. These can include things like e-books, webinars, white papers and have the goal of teaching the reader something.
Generally, the commissions on these types of products are much higher, in the 30-50% range as the affiliate doesn’t incur any cost producing or delivering the product. To get connected with a program like this you’ll want to reach out to the author or blogger you feel is a good fit directly.
Promoting services is a great way to give your audience resources that meet their needs. Keeping with our example above, a health and wellness website could promote affiliate services like personal training, nutrition management, or food delivery that would appeal to their audience and make sense on their website.
Depending on the service offered, commissions typically range from 15-30%, and some programs will offer additional incentives if the service is renewed. In the example of personal training, you may be offered a flat-rate commission for the original referral and then additional incentives if the client renews their training sessions.
Creating an ongoing income with these internet marking strategies is simple. While there is a significant amount of thought that goes into the planning, promotion, and execution of your strategy, it is completely possible to make a full-time income while working from home.