I’ve worked with Affilorama for over a year and half as an in-house SEO (since early 2010 to mid 2011), and became an external marketing consultant for them for almost a year now. Those experiences alone have taught me ton of things that I’m sure I will not be able to learn if I’ve chosen to work for other companies.
Even the story of my career – as an online publisher, online marketing professional and entrepreneur – has revolved around the fact that I’ve been once a part of a really strong team. That part of my career has been a solid core of who I am and what I do now.
And the thing that I loved the most about working with them is that it allowed me to see more things beyond marketing. They indirectly showed me how a successful business is built, handled and scaled.
Making me understand that inbound marketing is not just about being excellent and resourceful in utilizing/integrating different marketing channels. Because the truth is, building a successful brand/site/business online will take real company shit stuff (#RCS) to get it done.
That’s how you win in online marketing from now on.
Before I start off, here’s a brief background (in case it’s your first time hearing them). Affilorama is a web portal that offers educational resources, training lessons, news and tools related to affiliate marketing. The brand was founded by New Zealand-based tech entrepreneurs, Mark Ling and Simon Slade on August 2006.
Below are few of the biggest factors that made Affilorama a success, which almost anyone can replicate to achieve bigger things when building an insanely awesome brand online.
A really useful product that no one in your market can match can be the strongest marketing arsenal a business can have. People will always voluntarily share a product if they find it valuable. And that alone can semi-automate a big chunk of the business process, which is marketing.
Affilorama did well in both creating their products and in promoting them. They have efficiently aligned the product development with marketing, wherein the marketing team had a good grasp of the problems that their products want to solve.
Since when your marketing department fully understands the product, it’s easier to create campaigns that are specifically tailored to its target audience (SEO, content strategy, user-experience, etc…).
Offering more products
More products simply means more chances at increasing conversions, as the more products you offer, the more segments of your market you can target.
Affilorama has offered several products these past few years – from extensive educational courses, themes to pro tools – and that allowed them to improve the ability of the site to constantly get new customers.
Some of the branded products that they’re offering:
Another positive impact of this approach is that each product launch creates an inbound effect. Given that the team makes an effort to promote each product launch/update.
Bonus: Here’s a great guide from John Doherty on making product launch viral.
Continuously improving your product (for it to be great for its users) can tremendously help not just your marketing campaign, but can also ramp up your sales.
For instance, I have been part of the development team of the AffiloBlueprint’s version 2, and I know that it’s way better than the first version. And now they’re already developing the 3rd version, which means more reasons to promote/share the brand/story, and bigger potentials of getting more sales.
Affilorama has also benefited a lot from its strong microsite that has built its own brand identity and community – better known as Traffic Travis.
Traffic Travis offers both free and paid version of the SEO software that Affilorama has also developed. Since the product is so great (I even highly recommend the free version), it was able to grow its popularity on its own, with minimal marketing effort.
Over 250,000 online marketing professionals use it, and that certainly is a strong indication that the microsite has a huge email subscriber list.
Affilorama can easily promote their new stuff using Traffic Travis’ network, which extremely amplified their traffic and lead generation processes.
Key takeaway: Instead of building dozens of microsites for link building purposes, invest on building one that can cultivate its own community, build relationships and attract more opportunities/leads to your business.
High Value Freebies
The brand has lived by its philosophy – “give more to sell more” (or something similar to that phrase).
Both Affilorama and Traffic Travis have offered ton of useful free stuff, from free video tutorials to free-to-access tools/software. These helped the site attract more visitors (that eventually became loyalists), as these elements of the site are genuinely worth sharing.
Some of the free stuff that Affilorama has been using to continuously attract new visitors/leads:
- Comprehensive free affiliate marketing lessons (videos and text documents).
- Free SEO Software (Traffic Travis v4).
- Free affiliate marketing tools.
- Affilorama SEO Toolbar (for Firefox).
Providing so much value on the things your brand is giving away for free to its target consumers can help demonstrate and establish itself as an authority in the field.
If people are finding your free stuff very useful, they’d be putting more trust and be more interested with the stuff that you are selling. This increases the chances of converting your returning visitors.
Another reason why this approach really worked with Affilorama is that they have really committed themselves to serving their audience. They continuously update the giveaways they are offering to their potential customers.
Exceptional Customer Service
Affilorama has an amazing support team and system. They not only just serve paying customers, but also extend their help to new site users (particularly to those who ask questions on the site’s forum section).
When I was still working there as a fulltime in-house SEO, some of the support team members forward technical questions to me. That’s why I’m sure that the team is doing the best they can to provide good experience to Affilorama’s users and community.
One of the best advantages of providing great customer support is that it helps maintain the brand’s reliability. In which it is able to develop involuntary word-of-mouth marketing, as the process of retaining visitors/users through satisfying and answering to their needs transforms them to become brand evangelists.
Being excellent on this area of business operations can massively influence the increase in amount of referred customers/users/visitors to a site. People love sharing their experiences, and when the experience is good, they’ll definitely want that to happen to their peers as well (and yes, you’ll earn the links!).
Co-creation and Partnerships
Another key to Affilorama’s rapid and substantial growth is the professional partnerships that they have built over time. They have partnered with some of the biggest names in their industry (such as ClickBank) and other influential individuals that they have well-utilized in endorsing each other in so many ways.
For instance, Affilorama has been co-creating most of its webinars with several top-notch industry experts to provide up-to-date tips. This has grown both entities’ following base, given that Affilorama has a big network, and whereas they also get to absorb their guest presenters’ followers.
Affilorama has been very open to joint venture partnerships as well, where they grant few selected affiliate marketers with higher commissions when promoting their products. Likewise, Affilorama also promote and endorse their partners’ products by providing reviews of them.
Their affiliate program was also a good inbound channel for the overall campaign, since it easily spreads brand awareness, knowing that affiliates will heavily promote the product(s).
Diversified Content Marketing Strategy
Even before content marketing became the new black, Affilorama was already active in pushing out high-utility content to their target audience.
They have gradually molded a strong community through the various content formats they were consistently launching, such as:
- Regularly updating their affiliate marketing blog (that has 130,000+ feed subscribers)
- Maintaining a vibrant forum (with 200,000+ members)
- Monthly newsletter (definitely have thousands of subscribers)
- Monthly webinars (that’s effectively promoted through email marketing)
- Guest blogging and authorship (which we’ve started doing few years ago)
- Crowdsourcing and user-generated content (allowing members to contribute to our content development campaigns)
These series of initiatives that are mainly intended to educate Affilorama’s target market have allowed them to scale the lead nurturing process.
Acquiring good (natural) links, building a strong brand presence, getting more leads/sales and attaining better search visibility (for both long tails and competitive terms) have been easier because of this holistic approach to online marketing.
Personal Branding, Story and Transparency
Stories make brands remarkable. Every business has a story, and that story sometimes separates a business from its competitors.
Affilorama has utilized theirs quite well, seeing that they have shared Mark Ling’s compelling story on how he started (and turning to a point where he taught his dad what he does best).
Those things make people trust a brand, especially if the brand has its own ambassador that says they are real people. If you’ll notice, most successful brands online have a face that people look up to.
Including personal branding as a goal for a business entity is a strategy that allows brands to touch the personal side of their consumers. It is a force to reckon with.
Write, connect and move people. Be good at it. Because that’s what it takes to become an industry thought-leader that earns links, shares, rankings and conversions.
Final tip: You don’t need to be a technical marketing expert at all times. Sometimes, you’ll just need to be really smart in running a real business to be good at inbound marketing.