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Does accepting affiliate commissions cheat your customer?

November 27th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Recently I sent, as an affiliate of WW, an email to my list
promoting her upcoming webinar.

Subscriber RK immediately emailed me: “Is this a shameless plug?”

Meaning: “Are you just doing this for the money, Bob?”

Well, if RK is reading this essay, then I want to take this
opportunity to educate him — and others who hold his wrong-headed
view — as to how the internet marketing world really works.

To begin with, it is a standard practice for people to be paid
for their products and services. It’s simply working for a

You wouldn’t ask your dentist to whiten your teeth for free,
right? And when you fill up at the gas station, you give them
your credit card.

So this idea that products and services, including information
products, should be free … and it is wrong to get compensated for
providing them … strikes me as odd, to say the least.

Next, I don’t offer affiliate products just for the commissions:
The truth is, in most instances, I make more money from a sales
email that promotes my own products.

No, the main reason I offer affiliate products to my subscribers
is that I don’t know everything about everything.

Therefore, when I feel my subscribers want to learn something I
am not qualified to teach, I find a product that does teach what
you want or need to know — and then offer it to my list.

One common complaint among online shoppers is the perception that
affiliate commissions are not revealed and are a secret pay-off that
takes place without the customer’s knowledge.

Well, not by me; here’s the standard disclaimer on every sales
email I send out:

“The Direct Response Letter only recommends products that we’ve
either personally checked out ourselves, or that come from people
we know and trust. For doing so, we sometimes
receive a sales commission.”

Again, not the case at all: The products I offer through
affiliate marketing are the exact price they sell for when there
is no affiliate involved.

Yes, I get a commission for affiliate products I sell to my list.
But that commission is paid to me as a percentage of the sale by
my affiliate; no extra charge is ever tacked on to the consumer’s

Subscribers are also concerned that I don’t vet the affiliate
products I offer them and just do it, as RK accuses, to make

The fact is, I only sell products from affiliate partners whom I
either know personally or at least know by reputation and think
highly of their work.

If I sell a book, I may not read the whole book. But I spend enough
time reviewing its contents to make sure it is well worth the asking

Plus, I only sell products where the affiliate offers an
unconditional money-guarantee of satisfaction to ensure you are
happy with your purchase.

My main complaint with RK, aside from him being snarky, is his
lack of understand of how the business world works — and his
erroneous belief that it is somehow immoral to make money by
providing people with products and services they want.


Category: Online Marketing | 5,941 Comments »

How often should you email your list?

November 23rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DK writes:

“Bob, I am a fan. I’ve read your copywriting book a dozen times
over the years. Then I found your site and signed up for your
e-newsletter. But I want to tell you that you send it too often.

“I don’t really want to unsubscribe. But I also don’t want to
get things to read several times each month. How can we come to
some middle ground? Do you have some ‘occasional contact’

“Also, your newsletter often has an air of ‘Desperately Seeking
Susan,’ when it should be relaxed and informative. I mention
that for your benefit, not mine.

“After years and years, I’ve learned to adjust my own ‘level of
significance’ meter that’s equivalent to turning down the radio
when a commercial blares. Others might not do that, but rather
be put off by the blare.”

DK is debating an issue — optimal email frequency — based on
subjective opinion. But actually, the matter can be determined
through simple testing.

Here is the formula….

>> First, start with a modest initial frequency.

If you don’t have much content to share, or have limited time,
you can start with a monthly e-newsletter.

On the other hand, if you do have lots of valuable tips to share
and the time to write them up, start with a weekly email.

>> Measure your opt-out rate, which is the number of subscribers
who unsubscribe to your list with each email distribution.

Ideally, the opt-out rate should be 0.1% or less, meaning for
every 1,000 emails you send, at most just one person

At that level, your content is probably good enough that most
readers want to stick with you.

>> Next, gradually increase the frequency of publication.

If you are monthly, go weekly. Already weekly? Go to twice

Then watch your opt-out rate. If it does not spike when the
frequency increases, you can now send more emails without eroding
your list.

>> Of your emails, at least half should be content and less than
half sales emails for products, either yours or your affiliates.

If you send too many sales emails, subscribers quickly tire of
being sold all the time and not getting useful tips from the
newsletter — and so they opt-out or stop reading.

>> But keep in mind: the more emails you can send at a frequency
acceptable to your subscribers, the more sales messages you can

And the more sales messages you distribute, the more you sell
online — which if you are an internet marketer, is how you make
money from publishing an e-newsletter beyond just giving away
free content.

Regarding subscribers who just take all the free content offered
them, Ben Settle has this to say:

“[Many] freebie-seekers just flit from one free opt-in to
another, and brag about all the free stuff they find but never do
anything with, or ever will do anything with.”

This is based on an old observation: “People value free advice
based on what they pay for it: zero.”

Not always the case, but there is more than a little truth in it.


Category: Online Marketing | 4,334 Comments »

Packaging info profits for maximum profit

September 21st, 2018 by Bob Bly

The strangest thing, at least to me, about selling info products
is this:

You can take the same content, and sell it for different prices,
in a variety of formats, the price depending largely on how you
package it.

Which means if you are an info marketer, you should give some
serious thought to how you package your products.

A case in point: In the 20th century, an info marketer named DD
sold a course on how to make money in mail order, which he
marketed primarily through an infomercial.

The course had almost a dozen components — most of which he
called “manuals” — each selling for $19, $29, or $39 (one was

When you added them all up, they had a total list price of $250.

Then he offered them for only $39.95 — an 84% discount off the
combined retail value of the 11 components.

Each manual had a beautiful shiny color cover, making them look

Curious, I ordered DD’s mail order course.

When I got the package, I discovered that the manuals were thin
saddle-stitched reports — only a few pages each.

When I stacked them up, in total they were much thinner and had
far fewer pages than the paperback books I was writing back then
on similar subjects … and my books sold for around $15 in

Because my books were sold in bookstores, I did not capture buyer
names and therefore could not market other offers to them.

But DD was marketing his course through direct response TV, and
so he rapidly built a list, which he upsold on other products and
expensive coaching services — making tons more money than I was.

The lesson: sell your info products via direct response — either
infomercials or online — and turn your content into a lucrative
info marketing empire like DD did.

And repackage the content so you can charge more than if it’s
just an ordinary book.

The more elements in your info product … especially one with
multimedia elements such as manuals, reports, resource
directories, video, audio, and live components such as webinars
or coaching — the higher the price you can command … and the
more money you will make.

If you sell only low-priced ebooks at say $19 each, you have to
make 26 sales to match the revenue of the marketer who sells one
high-priced course for $497.

Also, by selling his product at $497, he builds a list of people
who spend a lot of money for valuable information, while your
list prefers cheaper bargains.


Category: Online Marketing | 321 Comments »

The awful truth about single-page websites

September 18th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A big fad in website design today is “single-page” sites.

This is where, rather than create separate web pages for each
major topic (e.g., testimonials, client list, about the company,
products), where you reach each page by selecting the topic from
a menu …

…all the topics are on one long home page, and you reach them by
scrolling down that home page.

Usually there is also a menu.

But when you click the topic button on a one-page website menu,
instead of taking you to a separate page, it just takes you
immediately to where that information appears on the home page —
eliminating the need to scroll.

Single-page sites are popular today, even “all the rage.” But I
don’t like them, and I recommend most businesses do not use them,
for three reasons:

>> First, and others note that one-page
websites are not good for search engine optimization.

With a one-pager, you usually can’t drive a lot of organic search
traffic via SEO.

The reason is because you won’t have enough content to target a
wide range of keywords and topics.

So if you hope Google organic search to be the key source of new
customers for your business, a one-page website could be your
biggest mistake.

And if you already have a one-pager, and you seek Google traffic,
consider changing your site from single to multi-page.

>> Second, a lot of people like single-page websites because they
find them to be aesthetically pleasing.

Turns out, that’s not a good reason to have one.

According to a study by NN Group, 76% of users surveyed said the
most important factor to them when on a website is that it’s easy to
find what they want.

Traditional multi-page sites make it easy for visitors to quickly
go to the content they seek.

A beautiful design came in a distant second, with only 10% of
users saying the design is first in importance to them when
visiting websites.

Single-page websites were innovated for their cool look, not
their SEO or usability.

>> Third, your prospects prefer to consume content in small
chunks rather than big, huge gulps.

That’s why books are divided into chapter …

Why white papers have multiple sections …

Why CDs have tracks …

Why the high-school day is divided into one-hour periods …

And why symphonies are broken into movements.

Traditional multi-page sites accommodate the visitor’s natural
preference for modular content.

Single-page sites violate it, presenting all the content in one
enormous page that is intimidating to search and to read.

The “4 S” formula says that to make writing easy to read, you
should use small words … short sentences … short paragraphs … and
short sections.

Single-page websites violate the “short sections” part of the 4 S
formula for clear, comprehensible writing.


Category: Online Marketing | 1,073 Comments »

Boost your ranking with these SEO hacks

August 10th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Many SEO experts advising you on optimizing your website for
Google focus on just a few things, mainly use of keywords in web

But here are some website problems and errors that cause search
engines to have a poor opinion of your site — and by fixing these
harmful errors, you can boost your SEO significantly higher:

1–Broken internal links.

An internal link is a hyperlink on one of your site pages that
clicks to another page on the site.

Not only do broken internal links frustrate visitors, but they cause
search engines to rank your site lower.

2–Broken external links.

Links from your site that do not work to other sites or pages can
lower your search engine ranking.

3–Duplicate content.

Duplication of page titles or copy may ultimately cause the
search engine to ban both pages from search results. In
particular, duplicate title tags can also confuse the search
engines. H1 tags and the HTML title on pages should not be
redundant but should use different wording.

4–Site map errors.

An error in site map code may make it impossible for search
engine crawlers to find certain pages.

5–Missing alt tags.

Without an alt tag to define the purpose of an image, the search
algorithms may find the whole page less relevant.

6–Pages that take more than 7 seconds to load can hurt your
search engine ranking.

7–Missing meta description tags.

Both users and search engines use description tags to understand
the content and value of pages.

8–Low word count.

Text length on web pages should be 200 words or more. Fewer make
it difficult for search engines to assign the page a topic and
index it.


Judiciously use keywords on pages while maintaining a natural
conversational tone. Overuse of keywords that render the page
awkward to read can depress the page ranking.

10–Title too short.

Pages with titles of less than 10 characters may not show up in
search results for different keywords.


Category: Online Marketing | 7,707 Comments »

Why you should NOT clean your elist

July 17th, 2018 by Bob Bly

The conventional wisdom has long been to zap people from your
email list if they have not responded to any of your offers
within the last 6 months — and especially if they have not opened
any of your emails within that time.

But now, a new study from MailChimp suggests you should not.

The reason?

MailChimp found that inactive subscribers, contrary to what many
believe, are far from worthless.

The MailChimp study shows that just because an online subscriber
is inactive does not mean he will remain so.

In fact, many inactive subscribers eventually buy again — even
after a year or several years of taking no action.

MailChimp says that, on average, about one-third of online
revenues from your elist will come from inactive subscribers — so
clearly they have real value.

Because keeping the inactives on your list is relatively cheap,
and inactives are 26% more likely to purchase than
non-subscribers, to me it makes good sense to leave people on
your list until they opt out.

Many of my readers have confirmed with me the value of inactive
names on their list.

BS says: “Yes, we just had one of our leads who ignored all of
our emails and phone calls for 7 months buy a product from us

JH comments: “Dean Jackson is as good as it gets with email. He
recently said the people who convert to some of his highest level
stuff have been on his list for 2 years.”

SB: “I convert customers who’ve been on my lists for 1,2,3,4
years later. This purge thing was partly started by the advice of
not sending to unopens.”

JL: “If someone raises their hand in terms of going to a workshop
or seeing me, we keep them on our newsletter until they cry uncle
or die. We get at least a few new clients a year that have been
on that list for years. There is gold in unconverted leads.”

KD: “I had one guy order a product, then two weeks later bought
another product. Week after that bought another. So I checked him
out. He’d been on my list for years but never bought before.”

AR: “I’ve had email subscribers who tune out for months at a
time… and then suddenly hire me or buy stuff I recommend.”

The major argument in favor of purging inactives is that having a
lot of them on your list hurts your email delivery rate.

Well, yes and no. There are two types of services providing email
delivery. The first includes vendors such as Constant Contact and
Bronto, where the bigger your list, the more they charge you.

These email service providers make more money from clients with
large lists. So they have no incentive to penalize you for having
a big list. And as far as I know, they do not.

The other category is services that give you an unlimited number
of email distributions for a fixed monthly cost, such as

Since it costs them money to distribute … and earns them no extra
money to email to large lists … they have a motive for actively
encouraging you to drop inactive subscribers from your list, and
some of them do so.

That being said, I agree with JL: In my experience, there is gold
in unconverted leads. And I am really not into throwing gold in
the trash (or delete folder).

The other argument in favor of purging inactive subscriber names
is that their non-responsiveness brings down your key metrics
including click-through rate and open rate. JA comments, “If your
open rate is below benchmark despite having consistently good
content, there’s probably some dead weight in your list.”

However, low CTR and open rates are a problem mainly if you have
a boss or client judging you by those numbers.

But if you are an entrepreneur with your own internet marketing
business, the most important key metric to use is weekly gross

And as MailChimp and others quoted above note, continuing to
email to your inactives can boost what is arguably the most
important key performance indicator — revenue — substantially.

So what’s more important to you — good-looking analytics reports
… or money in your bank account?

It’s your call.


Category: Online Marketing | 232 Comments »

My info product pricing strategy in a nutshell

March 30th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber GK writes:

“Many of the big guns in info marketing believe in the concept of
charging very high prices, which sometimes annoys me with their

“On the other hand, Bob Bly, you make ongoing offers of
inexpensive info-products which seem to recur about every few

“Why do you do what you do? And which should I sell — big-ticket
items or less expensive programs?”

I can’t tell GK what to do. But let’s take a closer look at
strategic pricing of info products for greater ROI and maximum
customer satisfaction.

There are a couple of reasons why many info marketers, both the
top and others, charge what may seem like almost usurious prices
for their courses.

The first is obvious: to make more money.

If a guru has a $3,000 course on Topic X — and I cover the same
material in a $30 ebook — I have to sell 100 units to make the
same 3 grand he makes with just one sale.

The second reason these gurus give for their high prices is:
“Charging a lot of money is the only way to motivate customer to
take the information seriously.”

And to a certain degree, they’re right: If you pay only $30 for
my course on X, then get busy, put it aside, and never return to
it, you haven’t lost much — at least not much money paid for a
product you didn’t really use.

But if you paid 3K for Mr. Big Guru’s program, your large
investment makes you more likely to pay attention to it. Right?

Conversely, when you or I give someone free advice, that person
values our info based on what he or she paid for it: nothing.

So, why don’t I jump on the bandwagon and bring out a line of
super-expensive info products for my readers?

For these 5 good reasons:

>> First, one can argue that, in particular when selling to
first-time customers, it is better to make $3,000 in revenues by
selling 100 units of a $30 items vs. by selling just one unit of
a $3,000 item.

Reason: With the first order, you acquire 100 new customers
instead of just one, building your list 100X faster.

>> Second, with reasonable pricing, it is easier to deliver value
many times in excess of what the customer pays for the product.

Fred Gleeck says the info products you sell should be ideally
worth 10X or more the list price.

Well, creating a $30 ebook that delivers $300 or more in value is
an achievable goal for me and you.

On the other hand, it’s more difficult to create a $3,000 program
that you can honestly say is worth at least 30 grand.

>> Third, many consumers perceive, rightly or wrongly, that some
of the higher-priced info product marketers are really in the
“money extraction” business more than they are the value delivery

So many buyers, like GK, feel they are being treated as a mark
rather than a student or valued client.

As for me, I want a reputation of delivering real value as well
as never ripping people off.

>> Fourth, big-ticket products — such as conferences, boot camps,
coaching, masterminds, and multimedia programs — are usually more
complex to produce than low-priced ebooks, DVDs, or audios.

Orchestrating the creation, production, delivery, and marketing
of big-ticket items takes a lot of time and effort.

That works if you are a full-time info marketer, especially if
you have a team to help you.

But for a little operator like me, for whom info marketing is a
spare-time income, the simplicity and ease of producing and
selling books, audios, and other lower-priced items is more

>> Fifth, most big-ticket info products these day have live
elements, such as webinars, mentoring, meetings, or coaching.

For that reason, they are not purely passive income, but a mix of
active and passive.

And again, as a small operator who already had a full-time job
(in my case, freelance copywriting), I want my info products to
be purely passive, requiring zero time on my part to deliver and

Which is why ebooks, DVDs, and other one-shot products are right
for me.

That being said, the best strategy in online information
marketing is to offer an extensive line of products covering the
full price spectrum:

Low … medium … and high-priced items.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all of these programs have to be
YOUR products: some can be those of other marketers, which you
offer as their affiliate or JV partner.

That way, you get a share of the profits from someone else’s
expensive info products — without doing the work!


Category: Online Marketing | 246 Comments »

Why would any big marketer want YOU as an affiliate?

February 27th, 2018 by Bob Bly

The “99/1 rule” of affiliate marketing says that 99% of your
affiliates aren’t going to sell any product for you.

And conversely, the top 1% of your affiliates — the “super
affiliates” — will account for 99% of all your affiliate sales

But the super affiliates are rather picky about whom they do
deals with … and they are incredibly difficult just to reach.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd of other newbies asking
super-affiliates to consider them for a JV deal?

Here are 3 proven methods:

1–The “commission bribe.”

On information products in the low to medium-price range, a
common affiliate commission is 50% of gross.

I wanted a marketer with a huge list of 450,000 subscribers to
promote one of my lower priced ebooks to his list.

To get him interested, I raised his affiliate commission to 100%.
And he bit!

Why would I do this and give up all my revenues to him?

Simple. To get new subscribers: everyone who buys becomes a
customer of mine, and therefore is on my e-list — meaning I can
e-mail them any time.

The affiliate promotion generated 989 orders from a single
e-mail, adding nearly a thousand new subscribers to my list
within 24 hours.

For me, that’s a list-building home run.

2–Event marketing.

I am not a fan of internet marketing conferences for several

First, I hate to travel.

Second, I don’t have the time, as my copywriting clients and
publishers keep me plenty busy, and I have deadlines.

Third, a lot of the entrepreneurial internet marketing
conferences are a bit too high-testosterone for my taste.

But there is one reason you should go to internet marketing
conferences aside from the obvious one of learning:

To meet in person bigger players than you who can become your
super affiliates.

These are mega-successful marketers who normally don’t give small
fry like you and me the time of day.

But when you make their acquaintance face-to-face at a live
event, you have a much better chance of forging a relationship
that leads to affiliate and joint venture opportunities for a
win-win scenario.

3–A personal note.

There is a major player who is so far ahead of me in level of
online revenues it isn’t funny.

I read his book and liked it so much, I sent him a fan letter.

He responded with thanks and an open invitation to become an
affiliate of his!

By the way, I sent a postal letter, not an e-mail.

Reason: People perceive it as a more personal touch.

And, in a sea of e-mails, it stands out.

Try paper letters. You’ll like it!


Category: General, Online Marketing | 248 Comments »