12 Ways Service-Based Businesses Can Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

12 Ways Service-Based Businesses Can Take Advantage of the Holiday Season


The holiday season is usually a gold mine of opportunities for product-based businesses that can deploy special holiday products or sales to make their business stand out and be relevant for that time of the year. While service-based businesses may find it more difficult to capitalize on the season’s business opportunities, there are still several creative strategies they can utilize to make holiday marketing work in their favor. For guidance, we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:

“In your opinion, what’s the best way for a service-based business to take advantage of the coming holiday season? How might this differ or relate to a product-based business?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say.



1. Provide A Unique, Streamlined Experience

“Purchasing products online tends to be a great user experience because it’s easy and streamlined. At my company, we think purchasing services should be the same way. First, ensure your booking and sales processes make things easy for customers. Then, dream up some unique experiences and special holiday packages.” ~ Diana Goodwin, MarketBox

2. Create Holiday Packages

“A good way for service-based businesses to take advantage of the coming holiday season is to create holiday packages for their customers. For example, if you have a massage parlor, you can offer a free foot massage with a head massage for the festive season. People love offers, so when they see such offers they will definitely come in to take advantage of them.” ~ Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

3. Offer Free Trials and Other Deals

“Service-based companies should be thinking about how they can get more people to try their services this holiday season. I suggest that you start offering a free trial so consumers can get a taste of what your business can do. Once you start publishing holiday sales, you’ll see many consumers who were trying your demo service will convert to regular customers.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

4. Add Extra Perks to Your Traditional Offer

“Add extra perks or services on top of a traditional offer. You don’t want to discount your rates; however, you could instead introduce additional support, marketing services, an SEO review or a consulting call on top of your current plans.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

5. Make Clients’ Holiday Experience Special

“As a service-based business, you can affect your clients or customers in ways products can’t. Use the holiday season to make their holiday experience special. Let your service packages be adapted to the season. It’s not very easy to replicate this with a product based-company. Products are mostly set and are therefore hard to customize to fit holiday seasons. Services are usually more flexible.” ~ Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

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6. Partner Up With a Product-Based Business

“Partner up with a product-based business and together create a bundle offer over the holiday season. Whether you are a service-based business that already carries your own products, or you have a product-based business in mind that you could partner with, take advantage of creating something unique together and target both of your customer audiences.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

7. Plan and Publish Holiday-Specific Content

“Service-based businesses can take advantage of the holiday season by planning and publishing holiday-specific content. Your emails, landing pages, website homepage and social media posts can all be used to increase sales around the holidays. With content, product-based businesses focus more on brand identification, whereas service-based businesses can focus on their reputation and quality of service.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. Market Holiday-Themed Services

“Service-based businesses should take advantage of the holiday season by using holiday themes in their marketing. For example, instead of just offering a regular cleaning service, a cleaning company can use its marketing to offer cleaning to help people prepare for the busy holiday season, ensuring a clean home for their guests and saving time for hosts so they can focus on other holiday tasks.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Have a Holiday Marketing Calendar

“Each year, every business tosses around ideas for the holiday season, but it’s easy for many of them to fall through the cracks as the hustle and bustle begins. One of the best ways to take advantage of the season is to create a holiday marketing calendar ahead of time and automate promotions. Whether your business is service-based or product-based, this will ensure you never miss an opportunity.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

10. Leverage Any Intellectual Property You Own

“Leverage any intellectual property that your business owns and offer deals on service maintenance for your clients. Whether it’s a course on how to use a product, learn a new skill or another valuable asset, you have the potential to tackle everything. This is different from product-based businesses because you are selling an intangible benefit to your audience, which may come with upgrades.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

11. Send Out a Holiday-Themed Newsletter

“Take advantage of your email subscribers by sending a holiday-themed newsletter showcasing popular services and discounts. People are ready to spend for the holidays, so simply sending an email about your holiday event or sale is enough to grab your audience’s attention.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms

12. Send Customers Holiday Cards

“Sending out holiday cards to your customers is a great way to take advantage of the coming holiday season. Service-based businesses are more likely to have face-to-face relationships with their customers than a product-based business, so you can really build meaningful relationships. Sending out a holiday card will show your customers that you care.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

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5 Ways to Stand Out in a Saturated Market

5 Ways to Stand Out in a Saturated Market


Fit in? Or stand out? Most startups and small businesses would opt for the latter. Nonetheless, it’s notoriously tough to avoid blending into the crowd in saturated markets.

That’s not to say being distinctive is a unicorn dream. Plenty of companies have solved the riddle of how to attract attention in a crowded field. Take Amazon. It’s certainly not the first online retailer; it’s just the one that broke the mold by being totally different.



Stand Out in a Saturated Market

If you want your brand to be memorable, consider applying the following strategies to your everyday workflow. Each idea can help your organization woo attention from the competition in genuine, and often clever, ways.

1. Give away your industry knowledge.

You’re an expert in what you do. In fact, your whole team’s backed by years of expertise. Don’t hide what you know: Flaunt it, “humble brag” style.

For instance, why not create and share thought leadership content? Many publications eagerly accept well-written articles and opinion pieces. Additionally, LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform can be your soapbox to give advice on anything from where to buy your morning coffee or how to effectively handle your finances.

Don’t be afraid to compare yourself to your competitors, as well. One of the best ways to share industry knowledge is through unbiased and informational reviews of all industry contenders. For example, If you’re in the home warranty industry, you want your customers to feel confident that they are choosing a great home warranty after reading reviews and doing their research. Never underestimate the power of being seen as a go-to person for industry advice. Your popularity as a thought leader who generously shares knowledge could help you net significant attention for your business.

2. Construct a captivating backstory.

Who doesn’t love a good tale, especially if it’s true? Your company probably has an interesting origin story composed of unique components. Maybe your founder overcame a physical disability early in life, showing tenacity, perseverance, and faith. Perhaps your product grew from identifying and solving an underserved community’s pain point.

Take time to lay out the backstory of your brand so you can use it to generate an emotional attachment with customers. When someone reads the story and thinks, “This brand aligns with who I am,” they’ll be more apt to send their disposable dollars—and referrals— your way.

As a side note, be sure to leverage your corporate story to guide and inform marketing campaigns, mission statements, and visuals.

3. Take an unexpected stance with your customer service.

Why do customers invest in one company over another, especially when their offerings are fairly similar? The answer often boils down to customer service and the overall customer experience (CX.)

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Let’s say you’re a cleaning services provider. You can’t necessarily beat the competition on price or speed. However, you can offer a memorable client journey from beginning to end. By focusing on delivering top-notch interactions, you can break free from the mold. And people will definitely talk.

If you’re stumped on how you can ensure your CX is second-to-none, see what works for businesses in non-competing markets. What are CX practices that you could borrow? How could you modify winning CX strategies and own the corner on concierge service for your clients? Answering those questions can get you closer to making waves quickly.

4. Fix a nagging problem everyone takes for granted in your industry.

Think about your industry. Is there a snag that everyone overlooks? Or brushes away with a nonchalant, “Oh, that’s just the way it is. Why rock the boat?” Those are the magic words for innovation, which is your key to major disruption.

Remember that anything can be changed, even the stuff that seems like it’s inevitable. If change weren’t an option, we’d still be walking everywhere and might not have invented carriages, let alone trains and motorized vehicles.

Of course, finding this needle in the haystack may involve some Sherlock Holmes-type scrutiny. Consider bringing in industry outsiders to help you pinpoint areas of friction inherent in your business. Once you pinpoint those issues, you can brainstorm ways to overcome them. As long as your solution doesn’t cause more serious problems, feel free to test it out. Who knows? You could leapfrog ahead of industry behemoths by interrupting what everyone takes for granted as “normal.”

5. Empower your employees to take action.

Your employees aren’t like any other group of employees in the universe. Collectively, they bring a fresh perspective to whatever you do. Give them the tools and freedom they need to guide your differentiation.

First, train employees to think like entrepreneurs and take ownership of their roles and choices. Give them the authority to solve problems, even if a supervisor isn’t available. Offering a wide latitude shows you trust them, and trust is a key aspect of employee engagement, which is rocky given the current climate.

Remember: Your workers are often clients’ first introduction to your brand. If they’re satisfied and excited, they’ll energize consumers to patronize your company. As an added benefit, happy and knowledgeable employees tend to attract other talented professionals. That means your company will continue to get better all the time as your business scales and your team expands.

It’s understandable to be daunted by the thought of trying to stand out in a saturated market. Nevertheless, don’t allow yourself to wallow in the belief that you can’t possibly gain significant attention as the “new kid” or “little guy.” Becoming the center of attention (in a good way) is within your grasp if you reimagine what’s possible.

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13 Strategies for a Successful Microinfluencer Partnership

13 Strategies for a Successful Microinfluencer Partnership


Influencer marketing is one of the best new ways to reach out to social media audiences. Influencers thrive on building relationships between themselves and their audiences, which makes them ideal partners for brands looking to reach the same market. Microinfluencers, by definition, have fewer followers, but often have an even more close-knit community. In many cases, this closer relationship allows for greater trust when it comes to marketing products. When dealing with microinfluencers, then, businesses need to understand what will make this particular relationship work well for both parties. To help, we asked 13 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What’s the best strategy for partnering with a microinfluencer and making sure the relationship goes as expected or that shared goals are met? Why?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say.



1. Do Your Research

“Do your research and pay close attention to whether or not the microinfluencer you are interested in has consistent, genuine content as well as deep audience engagement. Are their followers actually interested in the products the influencer is using? Work together with the influencer to create content that is authentic and engaging. A good influencer will know what their audience is looking for.” ~ Reuben Yonatan, SaasList

2. Do a Deep Dive on Their Audience

“Do a deep dive on a microinfluencer’s audience. If they have your exact customer base or a new market you would like to enter, it could be a beneficial relationship. Check the nature of their engagement. Are the comments generic or do people dive deeper with questions about product size, ingredients or use cases? Check this thoroughly before partnering.” ~ Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

3. Have a Written Agreement

“Make sure to put your agreement into writing that both parties can follow. It should include goals, expectations, deadlines, rights, payments, etc. You have to ensure that there is mutual trust between both parties by executing the written agreement to also overcome possible hurdles down the road. It also gives either party the option to exit the agreement in case anything goes wrong.” ~ Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Set Up Benchmarks and Milestones

“Setting up benchmarks and milestones for microinfluencer marketing campaigns can help determine if goals are being met. It also establishes parameters both parties are expected to work within and can help define success.” ~ Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

5. Have a Clear Reputation Agreement

“Have a clear reputation agreement. Your reputation is the biggest risk factor that you have with a microinfluencer, because if their actions are not reflective of the values of your brand, you risk a dangerous association.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

6. Create a Relationship First

“Create a relationship first before making your pitch. Get to know them, and vice versa. Then you can discuss the goals each party wishes to reach and how you can go about doing just that. Jumping right in by haphazardly pitching microinfluencers usually doesn’t go very well.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

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7. Don’t Micromanage Them

“Don’t micromanage how they create content. This microinfluencer gained their following by the competitive advantage they already have. Let them propose videos, photoshoots and other media that can promote your product and service. While you can provide feedback to ensure the content is in line with your branding, it is better overall to let them take charge of the creative process.” ~ Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow

8. Seek Value Alignment

“You must know what your company values are all about and see if the influencer shares the same values. Also, identify the audience that the influencer reaches on a daily basis and see if it’s aligned with your brand’s target audience.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

9. Plan Your Content in Advance

“Once you’ve researched, found and partnered with a suitable microinfluencer, a helpful strategy is to plan out your content in advance. In this way, instead of going on a case-by-case basis, you have prepared content that aligns with both parties’ values. You can always make changes later based on results. But drafting your content first will keep you on the same page.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

10. Leverage Influencer Marketing Tools

“Be sure to take advantage of influencer marketing tools when searching for a microinfluencer. For example, with tools like Upfluence or HypeAuditor, you can easily find microinfluencers who align with your business and your target audience. You also get stats on their follower counts, engagement and more. Tools like this will save you time in your search for the perfect influencer.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

11. Start With a Trial Period

“Working with influencers can be a tricky situation. One way to ease the stress is to start every microinfluencer partnership with a trial period. Pay them for a couple of posts and see what kind of engagement they get compared to their other posts. Use this data to determine if you want to have a long-term business partnership or if it’s time to try something new.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

12. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

“I think that partnering with microinfluencers is great for business, but you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Seek out multiple microinfluencers and simultaneously build rapport with each person. Spend time reviewing the data after each campaign and work on keeping the people that yield positive results for your brand.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

13. Keep Track of All Steps

“Put together a nice spreadsheet where you can track the agreed commitment and next steps, and link to the promotion when it happens. These relationships should be tracked in a spreadsheet from prospecting to completion of their task. With all of the information in one place, including the agreement and outcome, it’s unmistakable whether they performed or not.” ~ Andy Karuza, LitPic

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Tips for Creating a Logo for an Agriculture Business

Tips for Creating a Logo for an Agriculture Business


 

A logo is one of the most important elements of a business’s branding. And none more so than with an agriculture business.

Certain colors and imagery denotes agriculture. By incorporating such recognizable features into a logo, it becomes instantly identifiable as an agriculture business to audiences.

LogoDesign, professional logo makers, provide tips on how to create agricultural logo designs. The infographic looks at the best types of logos for an agricultural business. Some of the best type of logos for agriculture ventures include:



Monogram Logos

These logos combine the initials of a brand into the design of the logo.

Wordmark Logos

Another font-type logo, which combines the brand’s name with a distinctive typeface.

Iconic Logos

Iconic logos use real-world objects that are easily recognized as an agricultural item, such as a farm or field.

Abstract Logos

These graphic-led logos represent a concept embodied by the agriculture business.

Mascot Logos

These logos use a mascot, animal, or person – real or fictional – to depict the brand.

Combination Mark

Combination mark logos combines words and picture using both a monogram and wordmark to represent an agriculture business.

 

agriculture business logo

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Choosing the Right Font

Different fonts denote different messages. The choice of font for a logo is important in creating the right image and message for any business, including an agriculture business.

If, for example, an agriculture business is trying to create a serious, formal tone to establish trust and authority, they might want to opt for Serifs. Serifs is a traditional, classic font, which provides an authoritative and formal branding message.

By contrast, Sans-Serif is more informal, creating a modern, fun and creative feel, which could be more suitable for newer businesses.

Think About the Color

 

agriculture business logo

Being ‘at one’ with nature, agriculture is an inherently colorful industry. The choice of logo color is therefore significant and important. Green is an obvious choice for a logo for an agriculture business, denoting the environment and an aura of vitality.

Brown is another ‘safe’ agriculture color, recognizable as being ‘at one’ with nature. In psychological terms, brown also imbues reliability and authenticity.

Organic Farm Logos

 

agriculture business logo

Organic is a buzzword in farming. For agriculture businesses that pride themselves on being organic, they might want to get this message across in their logo. Organicity can be achieved by making green the dominant color of the logo. The logo could showcase a connection to nature through the choice of imagery. The logo could also incorporate company achievements or certifications to prove it offers organic farming.

You might want to “think outside the box” somewhat and create a logo that doesn’t comply with conventional agriculture branding. Either way, your logo should reflect your agriculture business’s brand, personality, message and mission.

Images: LogoDesign.net




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5 Ways to Make Your Content Marketing Strategy Work for Your Small Business

5 Ways to Make Your Content Marketing Strategy Work for Your Small Business


Content marketing is widely successful for generating new leads and attracting new customers to your business. A full 70% of companies say they invest in content marketing strategy, and 

60% say that content marketing is very or extremely important to their overall business strategy. 



How to Make Content Marketing Work for Your Small Business

But successful content marketing requires more than simply starting a blog and posting on social media. You need an effective strategy that connects up all your content marketing efforts, and that’s far more challenging. Many marketers still aren’t handling it efficiently, with one study reporting that only 23% of marketers agreed that they are succeeding at managing content across the organization. 

 If you’re part of the remaining 77%, don’t panic. We have some essential tips for boosting your content marketing strategy.

Optimize Your Blog for SEO

You’ve set up your blog and you’re posting regularly, but you’re just not seeing the results you hoped for. It’s not necessarily because your content is weak; it could be that you’re forgetting to optimize for SEO. 

Only 30% of small businesses have an SEO optimization strategy, which means over two-thirds are neglecting this vital marketing tool. SEO is crucial to help your blog rank high in search engine results for specific queries and terms, helping more people to discover your content.

In a guide to starting a blog, Neil Patel explains many of his tips for helping your blog traffic take off and generate significant revenue, including the need to optimize for SEO. Neil recommends using Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress, setting up permalinks, and other handy tips.

Build a Content Marketing Funnel

Your content is awesome, people love reading your blogs and watching your videos, but you’re not seeing an impact on sales. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you need a content marketing funnel

It’s very rare for someone to read a blog or social media post, or watch a video, and then immediately make a purchase. Generally, people want to learn more, follow your brand on social media, or read a few more blogs while they make up their mind. 65% of consumers are more likely to shop at brands they follow on social media for more than 1 month, and in the B2B world, the average buyer visits 5.1 information sources before they buy. 

A funnel helps you tailor your content to move these leads from one piece of content to another until they are ready to to buy. It’s called a funnel because it helps you attract a lot of traffic initially, but then the number of leads becomes smaller as they move along it. That’s not a bad thing; although it would be nice if all of the droves of people who visit your blog become paying customers, it’s not realistic. Not everyone who arrives at your blog is looking for your products or is ready to buy.

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Listen on Social Media

While it’s important to post regularly on social media, it’s your relationship with customers that entices them to return to your business. You can’t have a relationship if one side is the only one doing the talking, so you need to listen to what your target market is saying instead of shouting into a void. Customers want you to respond to their posts, with 61% of consumers agreeing that it’s very or extremely important to get a response from a brand after providing feedback on social media.

Social media listening tools help you track public opinion, spot emerging trends in your vertical, understand your customers, so that you can generate the content that they really want to consume. 54% of people will stop following you if they think your content isn’t relevant, and 34% will leave if it’s boring. Social media listening means you can think up more appropriate and engaging topics that grab your followers’ interest. 

Content marketers say that their main secret to success is their ability to understand and connect with their audience’s interests, needs, and values. Social listening helps with this immensely.

Don’t Be Scared of Data

Many marketers are nervous about marketing data, especially if their main strength is content creation. 20% say that they aren’t sure how to measure the impact of their social media, and 59% struggle to track lead nurturing. But that’s no reason to give up. 

As the saying goes, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. It’s vital to track the success of your content marketing funnel, social media posts, and more, to learn which types of content are the most popular, which topics perform best for each stage of the funnel, how long the headline should be to attract readers, etc. The right marketing tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, or BuzzSumo help you gather and track how consumers respond to your content, and analyze it for useful insights.

Make More Video Content

Video is the leading content type, with 68% of marketers saying that videos and other visual content is very important or crucial to their marketing strategy. Video consistently outperforms other content types, so it’s no surprise that marketers produce more video than any other content. The rise of TikTok alone, which is a pure video platform, emphasizes the demand. Only 14.5% of businesses don’t publish any video content, and it’s hard to believe the number could even be that high. 

It’s clear that you need to include video in your content marketing strategy. There are many different formats, like Instagram and Facebook Stories, which use short video snippets to tell a story; live video on social media; and YouTube videos. Video content could be behind-the-scenes style, or informational how-to guides, and more. 

The Right Content Marketing Strategy Can Boost Your Business Skyhigh

Content marketing can attract, convert, and retain loyal customers to power your business to increased revenue and higher profits. When you build a content marketing funnel that includes social listening, video content, SEO optimization for your blog, and uses data to finetune your strategy, you’ll soon see results for your small business. 
 

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How to Earn More Positive Reviews for Your Business (In Less Than a Week’s Time)

How to Earn More Positive Reviews for Your Business (In Less Than a Week’s Time)


Times have changed, and your digital presence is arguably more important than your physical store these days. There aren’t the same limitations for online sales as there are with brick and mortar stores, and even small ecommerce businesses can quickly be catapulted to the international stage.

Making your digital presence strong is of the utmost importance, and positive online reviews are one of the most surefire ways to boost your business’s value in the eyes of new consumers.



Aggregating Customer Reviews

Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center has found that aggregating customer reviews next to online product listings boosts sales conversion rates across the board. Interestingly, while products with lower prices saw a conversion rate boost of 190%, which is impressive enough, in the case of higher-priced items, researchers observed a jaw-dropping 380% conversion rate boost.

There’s arguably no other aspect of ecommerce with such a direct positive correlation to customer sales conversion. The numbers speak plainly in that having both positive and numerous reviews is a boon for any business.

Utilize the following strategies for positive review acquisition, and you’ll have a powerful marketing tool that is more valuable than any advertisement could ever hope to be.

Fan Positive Flames

An easy and quick method to build a positive review base is to simply capitalize on your successes. Train your customer service team to take note when you have an especially satisfied customer, and once the issue is fully resolved, reach out about leaving a review.

If you grow your social media presence authentically, then in time you will likely gather what some call “superfans.” These customers strongly identify with your brand and are looking for an avenue to become more involved and deepen their connection. Capitalize on their interest by encouraging them to post online reviews.

When reaching out about leaving a review, ensure your tone is personal and earnest. Insincerity reeks and could potentially flip a positive review to neutral — or worse.

When you can identify customers who are already excited about your product and service, sometimes you just need to hold their hands a bit through the review process. By doing this, their positive energy expands beyond word of mouth into a concrete asset for your business.

Engage via Email

Review acquisition is an art in itself, and email outreach is by far the most effective channel, simply because by the time a customer is ready to leave a review, they’ve already grown used to seeing your brand’s emails in their inbox. Not that this means outreach is simple. It’s an important enough niche that entire agencies specialize in review acquisition experiments and analytics.

Ryan Chaffin, founder of KAHA, breaks email-based review requests down into three types of methods. “An email blast is when you simply email your entire email list and ask for reviews,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Personal emails are when you reach out to customers individually with a personalized email and ask for reviews. Automated email sequences are our favorite because you can reach out to your entire email list while making the emails feel personal, which increases the odds of getting more real reviews from happy customers.”

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It’s a deep game, and each of these methods can be fine-tuned over time to best fit your business’s needs. Once you have a winning formula, they require little in terms of time and upkeep.

With an effective email workflow supplemented by outstanding customer service, your business has the necessary tools in its hands. From there, the only obstacle is time.

Persist and Respond

Sometimes the process is a bit like having to jiggle a key to unlock an old door. Apply too much force, and you might snap the key outright, but without enough pressure you’ll never move the deadbolt. It requires a little patience and a combination of techniques until you finally find that sweet spot to pop it open, and once you do, it all becomes more natural.

Having a framework in place for your review acquisition experimentation processes can mean the difference between growth and stagnation. It helps avoid your outreach coming across as overbearing and gives you the time necessary to observe what’s working. Once you’ve identified your most effective tactics, the plan can then be further improved upon with new insights.

One parameter worth experimenting with is the lag time between order fulfillment and outreach. “In most cases, it’s a good idea to ask for a review 3-5 days after the transaction has taken place,” suggests marketing thought leader Neil Patel “This will give them the chance to engage with your offering and come up with an honest opinion, in terms of how good it is and if they’d feel comfortable recommending it to other people.”

Patel goes on to elaborate on how split testing different aspects of your emails, and tracking the different results, can ultimately lead to an overall more effective process. When a customer does leave a review, don’t leave them out in the cold. Respond to them warmly, so this kind of behavior is recognized and affirmed, increasing the likelihood they (and potentially others) will leave a review again. And replying to negative reviews can help protect your reputation, while also paving the way towards fixing a bad customer experience.

As with so much else in the business world, persistence pays dividends. While these techniques can certainly work for you within weeks, the true rewards will be reaped in the many prosperous months to follow.

Show Your Strength

Once you have glowing reviews at an impressive and trusted industry level, don’t be shy with them. These are just as impactful as any photo could be, and they should be an integral part of everything from pitch emails to point of purchase displays.

By showing that it’s not just you standing by your products, but your past customers as well, you exude confidence that all customers seek when considering their next purchase.

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10 Small Shifts That Can Make a Big Impact in Your Marketing Strategy

10 Small Shifts That Can Make a Big Impact in Your Marketing Strategy


Improving your marketing doesn’t necessarily require a complete overhaul. Sometimes, small shifts are enough to make a major impact. Some of these changes can come in unexpected places. Here are some suggestions from members of the online small business community.



Use These Metrics to Evaluate Content Marketing Success

Measuring content marketing success can help you determine which tactics are most effective. So how do you determine what’s working and what isn’t? This Content Marketing Institute post by Ann Gynn includes several metrics for marketers to consider.

Own Your Marketing Strategy

If you want to tailor your marketing to your business, it helps to have a dedicated team. But some businesses opt instead to go outside or “rent” their marketing. In this Duct Tape Marketing post, John Jantsch discusses the idea of owning your strategies vs. renting them.

Get More Instagram Followers Organically

Instagram can be a powerful tool for marketing a business. But you need followers to actually get the word out effectively. If you want to grow your following without ads, check out this Moss Media post by Ravi Singh. Then head over to BizSugar to see what the community is saying about the post.

Correctly Position Images in Blog Posts

The visuals you choose for blog posts can make a big impact on your blog’s effectiveness. But it’s not just about choosing the right images. It also matters how you place them. In this Blogging Brute post, Mike Allton goes over how to correctly position images in each post.

Create Better Content with These Tools

The quality of your small business content can go a long way in determining its impact. So how do you make improvements? Luckily, there are tools that can help. Ivan Widjaya shares eight of them in this post on the Biz Penguin blog.

Optimize Your Yelp Presence

Yelp is a popular online platform for consumers to learn about local businesses. So if you’re not leveraging it to reach your goals, you could be missing out. Yelp recently added some new features that could help. Greg Sterling details them in this Search Engine Land post.

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Rank Blogs Highly on Google

Google is often the first place customers go when looking for information. So if you use blogging as a marketing strategy, you need it to be easy to find on Google. In this UpCity post, Tarek Mohajer offers tips for ranking blog posts more highly in search results.

Drive Traffic with the Right Hashtags

Hashtags are similar tools to increase the visibility of certain posts on social media. So how do you choose the right ones for your content? In this Pixel Productions post, Ashley Lipman shares a selection of relevant hashtags. And BizSugar members discussed the post further here.

Embrace Online Communities

Many small businesses use social media and blogging for marketing. The crux of these platforms is about surrounding your company with an active community of potential customers. But there are other online communities to consider as well. Suhaib Zaheer explores the power of this tactic in this Small Biz Daily post.

Set the Standard with Your Welcome Emails

When you add someone to your email list, a strong welcome email can set the tone. But many small businesses just send a generic message. If you’re ready to make the most of this opportunity, turn to the experts. This GetResponse post by Pam Neely features quality examples from other brands.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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5 Reasons You Should Send Clients Handwritten Notes

5 Reasons You Should Send Clients Handwritten Notes


Two things – email and direct mail – often get deleted or trashed without being opened. In fact, stats bear that out. The average “open” rate for those is barely above 20%.

Rick Elmore was in a college marketing class listening to a professor relate those facts. He has always remembered what the professor said.

“You know, what really works is a handwritten note,” the professor said. “But who has time?”

Flash forward a few years. Elmore is CEO of Simply Noted, a company he founded.

Simply Noted is an automated handwritten letter company. Through the company’s advanced technology, it is easy for anyone to create simple, scalable, powerful, and meaningful real pen-written communication.

Simply Noted combines technology with a personal touch, putting real pen and ink to paper to create beautifully crafted products for every occasion.



5 Reasons to Write Handwritten Notes to Clients

You should send a handwritten note because it’s more likely to get opened and read. Remember that 20% “open” email or direct mail stat? Well, compare that to the handwritten note, opened at a 99% rate. That’s right, 99%!

“It’s a tool to get in touch with clients, and a way to stand out to customers, partners and employees,” Elmore said. “There’s an even stronger need for that in the Covid era.”

“This is especially true in businesses that are relationship driven, such as insurance, real estate, non-profits and others,” he added.

Elmore said that handwritten letters are a way to stand out from the competition and add personal connection to your communications and customer service outreach. Many adults have returned to handwritten letters during the pandemic to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, and the same practice can be applied to business.

If you own a business, Elmore named 5 reasons to use handwritten communications:

Mailed Letters Get Opened

Compared to email marketing’s average open rate of 22.7%, handwritten letters enjoy a 99% open rate. You can safely assume that the letter’s recipient will open a handwritten letter that’s been delivered to them.

Handwritten Letters are Rare

According to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, the average American received only 10 pieces of personal mail for the year in 2017. Handwritten mail stands out.

Handwritten Letters Stand Out

Customers recognize that email is extremely economical and simple to generate. Likewise, mass-printed direct mail pieces need only be designed once and then they can be printed by the thousands. Compared to the “junk” mail an average person receives, a handwritten note stands out and gets noticed.

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Cards and Letters are Often Kept

People keep handwritten letters because they are not just a letter. They are a gift. The longer that note sits atop your customer’s desk, the more likely they are to remember you and think positively of you.

Handwritten Notes are Inherently Personal

Emails are impersonal. Texts have about as much value as the time it takes to generate them. Handwritten letters, on the other hand, show you care. If you are trying to build a positive relationship, there’s no substitute for the power of the pen.

How Does Simply Noted Do It?

Anyone savvy on a computer can play around with fonts and look at various print styles. Simply Noted is much more involved, in fact, the technology is very advanced.

Not to mention, really cool.

“We took a lot of time perfecting the technology,” Elmore said. “We took the unique characteristics from handwriting.”

Simply Noted has 21 handwriting samples to view on its website, but that’s just a small showcase of what’s available. There are about 900 versions of writing styles available.

There will be some style that looks just like your handwriting. Or, there will be some style that really appeals to you, that you’d like to use.

“Everybody uses it (Simply Noted) so differently,” Elmore said. “One of the most popular uses has been for Announcements, to draw attention to an event, or a change of location.”

“Customers might use us for a basic Thank You note, or they might include a Come Back note and include a promotional code,” he said. “Nonprofits like it because it adds a personal touch.”

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “All of our customers are either repeat customers or referrals.”

Elmore said that handwritten notes can also be effective doing outreach to a brand-new business prospect or sending a thank you to a longtime customer.

“Especially as we continue to navigate the business and social implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the extra personal touch of a handwritten letter can go a long way,” Elmore said.

About Simply Noted

Designs, handwriting samples, and pricing is available at simplynoted.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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Best Affiliate Programs – And the Highest Paying

Best Affiliate Programs – And the Highest Paying


If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

As a website owner, writer, blogger or social media influencer you work hard creating quality content. Chances are you dream of finding the best ways to make money from your efforts — and that includes the best affiliate programs.

Savvy content creators look for the highest earning opportunities that are relevant to their audience. That way they can earn cash at the same time as they serve their readers, by highlighting products and services they’ve taken the time to investigate and carefully select.

The great news is that even people with small social followings or the owners of small blogs can make money from their content. With affiliate marketing you can literally earn while you sleep — waking up to see a nice juicy commission in your dashboard. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

The only problem is, there are thousands of affiliate earning opportunities. How do you find the top affiliate programs? That’s where this article can be your guide. We help you focus on choosing the best programs and networks for your needs.



What is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a program set up by a merchant to pay other parties for each new lead or sale they bring in. The party bringing in the lead or sale is usually a website publisher, content creator or blogger, called an “affiliate.” From the merchant’s standpoint, the model is attractive because the merchant only pays if a defined action occurs leading to increased sales.

Marketing affiliates like this business model because they make money by serving their readers with great suggestions for products and services. And they don’t have to create their own products to sell — they simply insert affiliate links in their content. Creators can focus on content and maintaining good relations with their audience — while the merchant handles sales, invoicing, delivery and customer support process.

Finding the Best Affiliate Programs

With so many programs to choose from, it’s daunting to select a handful to promote. So we’ve curated a list of what we consider the best affiliate programs for entrepreneurs, small business owners, creators and bloggers. We further broke down the list by popular categories that may be attractive to you.

Not every category will be relevant to your audience. Focus on finding the best programs covering offerings your audience cares about. Likewise, you should have a passion for the offerings you are going to promote. If you are not interested in them, then skip over them — because your lack of interest will be obvious.

Last but certainly not least, choose from among the affiliate programs that will pay you more. After all, you’re going to work hard on your content to serve your audience. So you should be paid well.

Best Recurring Commission Affiliate Program

Recurring commission affiliate programs are where you earn repeat commissions from the same sale, over time. For example, let’s say a reader uses your affiliate ID to sign up for a monthly software service at $20.00 per month. You earn a 30% commission initially — or $6.00 (20 x .30 = 6). But in this case, you would also earn 30% or $6.00 every month thereafter as a recurring commission, as long as the reader continues to use that service. In a year, you would make $72.00.

That’s just from one affiliate sale. Imagine over time that you make 100 sales. That would bring you up to $7,200 a year (72 x 100 = 7,200). See the potential? Here are the best recurring revenue affiliate programs:

SEMRush

SEMush’s affiliate program Berush, offers up to 40% in lifetime commission from SEMRUSH subscription sales. This follows a revenue-sharing model where the affiliate promotes SEMrush and gets a commission on every sale made in return. The process takes three simple steps: join BeRush; advertise and start earning commissions. BeRush comes with pre-designed banners, landing pages, links to SEMrush with affiliate’s unique reference ID and SEMrush widgets. Commissions are paid twice a month on the 10th and 25th of each month.

LeadPages

The Leadpages Affiliate Partner Program offers a suite of lead generation tools. With this affiliate program you get 30% monthly commissions for the lifetime of the customer. It also provides a 50% recurring commission on all sales generated, for as long as the referrals remain customers. This also expands to renewals and upgrades of their Leadpages plan.  Leadpages comes with free hosting on a Leadpages domain, more than 200 mobile responsive landing pages templates, text-to-Opt-in comes/ SMS campaigns and much more.

AWeber

Aweber’s affiliate program is an email opt-in marketing tool. Its templates simplify the process for creating visually attractive email marketing campaigns and the reporting dashboard provides insights on visitors and sales statistics. It comes with newsletters emailing, auto responding, and RSS-to-email converting features as well. This affiliate program give a commission rate of 30% for recurring referral payments.

Ezoic

Wwith Ezoic, an affiliate can earn 3% of a publisher’s total revenue on all traffic they send through Ezoic for the lifetime they use the Ezoic platform. Referrers also receive direct help from Ezoic to support their introduction to new website owners and publishers. The minimum threshold for payment however is $20 and you must have at least one conversion. Conversion takes place when a publisher starts generating revenue through Ezoic’s platform.

GetResponse

GetResponse affiliate program provides marketing automation, landing pages, opt-in forms, webinars, customer relationship management and more. GetResponse offers two programs. An affiliate bounty program offering $100 for every sale referred and affiliate recurring program which pays 33% for every sale referred. The programs also offer free promotional materials including banners, videos and sales copy.

Pabbly

Pabbly offers a commission rate of 30% for recurring sales. Pabbly subscription plans start at $19.00 a month and there is a free version as well. The program gives you two functional dashboards to manage both traders and developers’ campaigns. The merchant dashboard offers affiliate settings, commissions, and click results. While the affiliate dashboard provides information related to subscription, invoice, transaction, profile and affiliate information.

Kajabi

Kajabi affiliate partners can earn a 30% lifetime commission for any new member they sign up that stays active past two years. This comes with special rewards package as you bring in more revenues. Kajabi’s partner dashboard allows users to track your rewards, trailing referrals, earnings and total campaigns.

Unbounce

Unbounce’s Affiliate program provides the opportunity to earn 20% of the recurring revenue for every customer they refer to Unbounce. This landing page platform helps users design converting landing pages for SaaS businesses, e-commerce sites, and agencies. Furthermore, site visitors or social media followers get 20% off their first three months using Unbounce. All these come with support tools that include a Partner coach, a dashboard to track progress, and training and promotional materials.

Teachable

Teachable is an online course platform that allows bloggers and website owners to build their classes to sell to their students. They offer a 30% commission for every signup done within 90 days. Its platform program gives you access to A/B tested funnels containing information about Teachable’s target audience.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit comes with a visual automation builder and can create triggers based on website actions and actions inside of emails. They offer a 30% commission per month. The company does not cut-off the revenue of an affiliate as long as they are active and paying.

Kinsta

Kinsta’s affiliate program starts by paying an initial commission, followed by a recurring 10% monthly payment. They can earn up to $500 initially, depending on the type of plan the referral has purchased. Plans include Starter ($30); Pro ($100), Business ($150) and Enterprise ($500). Support also comes by way of a custom-made affiliate dashboard that allows real-time tracking of subscriptions, analytics and payments.

Best Loan Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are programs that help you become an affiliate marketer for a lending platform and start generating a secondary stream of income. The following is a brief list of the top loan programs in the market that you could consider joining.

BlueVine

BlueVine is an online lender that provides multiple financing products for small-business owners. BlueVine offers invoice factoring, where the company purchases your unpaid invoices at a discount. It allows partners to refer their unqualified or declined deal-flow to BlueVine for invoice financing up to $5 million and lines of credit up to $250,000. For referrals, it provides support and residual commissions.

Credibly Business Loans

Credibly’s Referral Partners send leads to Credibly and receive a commission on the deals that fund. The sales process is handled internally by Credibly’s Customer Success Team and provides reports on which leads have been successfully funded. Businesses are generally funded in fewer than 48 hours from approval. Credibly works with referral partners in various industries and has incentives ranging from straight commissions to bonus miles and others.

SmartBiz

SmartBiz’s marketing partner program is ideal for alternative lenders, financial consultants, accounting firms and small business aggregators. Its dedicated online portal helps an affiliate refer loans as well as track the status of the sale.

Kabbage

As a Kabbage affiliate, you can get $250 for every referred customer who qualifies for the loan, and they get an additional $50 when the referral gets approved. Each small business referred to Kabbage will also receive one $50 gift card once they’re approved by Kabbage. There is no limit to the number of referrals one can make or the amount they can receive. Kabbage’s program is supported by APIs to put the power of growth directly into the hands of small business owners

OnDeck

OnDeck is an online small business lender and offers two types of business loans: short term loans and revolving lines of credit. Payouts are set at 2% for advertising performance campaigns to your audience on your blog, website, newsletter, search landing page.

Fundbox

Fundbox helps each affiliate to integrate its solutions into their platform to send over referrals to them. Affiliate partners can have their customers join Fundbox’s B2B credit and payments network by either integrating it into your workflow or through a referral link. Its partner portal dashboard provides easy status updates on your referrals, commission structure and renewals.

Funding Circle

FundingCircle is a business that allows anybody to lend small amounts of money to businesses in return for interest. It offers partnership opportunities through the landing page where you leverage FundingCircle’s brand API integration.

Fora Financial

As a Fora Financial affiliate partner, you can earn money online through commissions on all new deals and renewals. Additionally, Fora Financial’s account management team will be part of your support team.

Fundera

Fundera is a business funding matchmaker who will match businesses with funders. Any time you refer a small business using their unique affiliate link they get $1,000. However, you have to sign up for the referral program.

LendingClub

LendingClub offers each affiliate the opportunity to drive traffic to LendingClub and get commissions. It will provide commissions from referrals for its loans, investment accounts and auto refinance loans through banners and links.

Best Gaming Affiliate Marketing Programs

For content creators who stream or review games on their site or through YouTube, the following gaming affiliate programs are the best:

Alienware

Alienware is a subsidiary of Dell. The PC gaming company provides sales commissions ranging from 1-6%. The affiliate program provides banners as well as a 90-day cookies. It also helps you earn $71.86 through Earnings Per Click (EPC).

HP

HP is offering influencers to partner with who have audiences that are passionate about gaming, imaging, entertainment, or business technology. Through this program each time a visitor from your site clicks through to the HP online Store and makes a qualifying purchase, you earn a sales commission. Orders are tracked and sales credited to your site through the use of cookie technology.

Microsoft

Microsoft 365 for business Affiliate Program allows an affiliate to start earning money online through commissions on Microsoft 365 referrals. There are no limits on the amount of commission you can earn and comes with a referral window of 30 days.

Playstation

PlayStation Store offers affiliate marketing to earn commissions by referring new customers to PlayStation Store. Through online marketing, an affiliate can earn a commission rate of 5% on all sales generated by their links.

Best Buy

Best Buy offers the opportunity to start earning money by directing visitors to BestBuy.com. Every time your visitors click on Best Buy’s content and make a qualifying purchase, you earn a commission. The program includes all your necessary online marketing offerings like banners, text links, and copy aimed to improve conversion rates.

Gamestop

GameStop is a retailer providing video games, consoles, digital goods, and electronics. Its affiliate program pays a commission rate of 5% on all goods with a 1% commission on select goods. For gaming fanatics, this offers opportunities to earn a commission for click-throughs and purchases on GameStop.

Gamefly

each time a visitor signs up for a free trial and becomes a paying member on Gamefly you can earn commissions. On average commissions are $15 with a $20 commission for those able to refer 500+ sign ups a month. A 5% commission rate is earned for new game consoles as well as further improving affiliate earnings.

Newegg

Newegg helps you earn money when your website or blog refers a customer to them. In addition, when your audience makes a purchase, you earn a commission. Support comes by way of text and banner links, support team, product catalog, RSS feeds and more.

Tiger Direct

Tiger Direct is an online retailer dealing in electronics. It offers up to a 3% commission rate for sales of its products. You can add links to your site and access reports online so you can see how well you’re doing as an affiliate.

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Marketing Programs

Web hosting affiliate programs are one of the most popular categories. Is your audience interested in places to host a blog or website? Do you cater to do-it-yourselfers or developers who need to find hosting? Then web hosting affiliates are worth exploring as they one of the highest commissions.

Bluehost

Bluehost’s affiliate program includes banner ads on your site to drive interested readers to Bluehost’s products. This comes with easy-to-use instructions and widgets, by simply embedding an HTML code you can add banners to your website. Plans start at $2.95 per month with one-time payouts starting at $65 for each qualified web hosting plan purchase. Considered among the highest paying affiliate programs, payments are processed between 45 and 60 days after the sales are made.

Hostgator

Using HostGator’s new signup custom coupon codes and tracking links you can start getting commissions per signup. Hostgator is also another affiliate program with one of the highest payouts. It offers up to $100 per signup, a flexible commission structure, co-branded landing pages and others offers. Payouts are tiered starting from $65 and can go up to $125 for more than 21 sign-ups.

GreenGeeks

GreekGeeks is a web hosting service that has support for WordPress websites, offering reseller and VPS hosting for your websites or applications. Through its partner program, it offers a reward of $50 per sale, placing it among the highest paying affiliate programs. It has a cookie 30 days and the platform will immediately track the sale back to you and generate the equivalent commission.

Flywheel

Through Flywheel’s referral program you can earn 300% of the first month’s payment on any plan up to $500 for every referral. By using Flywheel’s custom referral links to promote Flywheel on your blog, your social media channels or sites get paid per referral. However, if your customers use a promotional code or coupon, payouts will be adjusted accordingly.

Namecheap

By placing a Namecheap affiliate link on your site you can start generating commissions. Namecheap will provide you banners and text links for your referral offers. You can earn revenues for every new customer along with real-time reporting on their earnings.

DreamHost

Dreamhost offers a $120 commission per signup for customers looking for a web hosting service. Referrals can reach up to $200. It offers a variety of ready-to-use banners and tracks URLS to ensure that every person that signs up through your affiliate link is tracked. Its dashboard also helps you track of the high commissions the company pays out.

Best Website Tool Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are affiliate programs that allow you to join programs under categories like web hosting, website builders, VPNs and technology.

Fiverr

Fiverr is great if you are into promotion. It has over 250 categories to promote and include logo design, writing, programming, WordPress and business services. Its Cost Per Action goes of up to $150 and this comes with no referral limit along with lifetime attribution. Another benefit of the Fiverr program is its user-friendly dashboard, as well as the portfolio of creative resources that you can use to promote Fiverr.

Wix

Wix offers unlimited payouts with minimum effort. This site builder has over 100 million users and offers $100 per premium referral. Wix’s support includes links, banners and multi-language landing pages. However, there is a minimum sales target of $ 300 per month.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact offers unlimited commissions through its email marketing platforms. Partners earn $5 for each referral that signs up to free trial and get an additional $105 when referrals pay for a full account.

Squarespace

Affiliate partners can earn payouts for every website or commerce subscription that you drive from a first-time Squarespace customer. They are also eligible to receive commissions as long as their audience is converting.

WordPress.com

WordPress affiliate programs allow partners to promote WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce to earn referral rewards. The program was created for WordPress professionals including site and plugin developers, designers, theme creators, and others who are part of the WordPress ecosystem and its associated products. Because the program is only open to a select number of partners, specifically those who can deliver demonstrated new traffic and sign-ups to WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. Partners who have less than $100 in accrued rewards on a consistent basis will be removed from the program.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy offers a 40% commission in addition visitors who click through to GoDaddy from ads are considered referrals as well. If they make a qualified purchase, you can automatically earn a commission. Its cookies last for 45 days and average commissions range from 10-15% per sale. GoDaddy offers over 1,000 affiliate links including banners.

Best eCommerce Affiliate Marketing Programs

Ecommerce platforms have become very popular, and some offer excellent affiliate programs. With many working towards working with affiliates. Here are some examples:

BigCommerce

BigCommerce lets you earn 200% of the customer’s first monthly payment or $1,500 per enterprise customer. Promotions can be made through referral links, pre-made banners, emails and other marketing tools. BigCommerce’s dashboard allows users insights on clicks, trials, sales and commissions. As an affiliate, you can also use it to track earnings, performance and also receive support from a dedicated account manager.

Shopify

The world’s most popular e-commerce website builder boasts of having over 500,000 merchants and a substantial 200% commission on paid stores. When referrals sign up for a Shopify Plus account, they get paid a flat $2,000 bounty payment. Once you are an affiliate, you can get support for your own Shopify store, as well as free Shopify content to use for promotion.

3dcart

3dcart is another eCommerce platform that hosts its own program and offers a 300% commission for paid conversions. It focuses on SEO and provides tools to build, promote, and grow the online store of an affiliate. The affiliate program runs on both the Commission Junction and ShareASale networks, and both offer the same commission and 120-days cookie life.

Volusion

Volusion’s e-commerce solution helps small businesses to create, manage, and expand their online stores. It provides customers with support for domain purchase, web design, cart integration, SEO, and security. It offers commission for clients that you refer to Volusion with back end marketing support. With it, you can earn a 200% one-time commission payment of your client’s monthly hosting plan. visitors who arrive at Volusion through your referral link are yours.

Weebly

Weebly is a website builder with over 45 million users. Its drag and drop interface make it easy to build a quick site. In its affiliate program, it offers a 30% recurring commission for as long as the customer is active, and features a 120-day cookie window. Through its third-party affiliate, ShareASale provides an affiliate with third-party tracking, real-time reporting, and monthly commission checks.

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Flippa

Flippa’s makes it possible to make 15% on all and any successful site, store, app or digital property sale referrals. They also have the option to further earn another 15% on all and any site, store, app or digital property listing referrals.

Best Big Box Store Affiliate Programs

Well known big retail websites can be very lucrative because of the value of each sale. Think big screen TVs, electronics, home improvement products and more. One of the biggest challenges with the companies in this category is going to through the product list. We’ve combined them all here under the banner “big box stores.”

Amazon

Through its affiliate program, Amazon provides commissions between 1% and 10%, depending on the category of the product purchased. The most lucrative items to promote are clothes and luxury beauty products, both of which can earn a 10% cut on the price. If visitors end up on Amazon through your link and buys something other than what your content links you get a commission on the shopper’s entire cart. To be a member of Amazon Associates, you must have an active site, blog, app, or YouTube channel

Bloggers, publishers and creators with a qualifying site or mobile app can participate in the Amazon Associates Program. Amazon also has a separate influencer program.

Walmart

Walmart’s Affiliate Program allows participants to earn commission by placing banner ads or text links on their site and referring customers. They can earn money each time a visitor follows a link and then completes a qualifying purchase. Commissions are between 1-4% of the item’s sale amount or $10.00 per item. One of the biggest challenges with the likes of Walmart and the others in this category is going to through the product list.

eBay

Enjoying over one billion listings from a wide range of product categories, eBay’s affiliate program offers high conversion rates and a diverse selection of products.

Through its partner network, it pays out commissions of 50% to 70% of auction fees. This means that for each item sold, eBay gets a cut by charging the seller an auction fee. An affiliate can then earn a percentage of the revenue eBay earns from that purchase, based on the product category. Items such as parts, accessories and fashion often generate good commissions.

Target

Target’s affiliate program allows users to place links via banners, widgets, text links and other tools on websites. In return, visitors are tracked within a 7-day cookie window until they place orders. There are no charges to join the Target affiliate program. The program has four categories for earning commission for affiliates. These include apparel & accessories; home & outdoor living; baby gear & furniture; and health & Beauty. These commissions range from 1% to 8%, depending on the category the sales affiliates

Best Buy

Advertise Best Buy products on your social media, your blog or site, and get a commission from every product sold via your link. Best Buy offers free tools, content, and weekly banner ads to add to your site.

Home Depot

Affiliates who join Home Depot’s affiliate program can start earning revenues on every qualified sale they refer to homedepot.com. They will receive support by way of text links, display banners, project and buyer guides. Commissions include 1% on products, mobile, and buy online pick up in-store orders, 1% on appliances, and 8% on select home decor merchandise.

Lowes

Lowe’s affiliate program is managed by Commission Junction (CJ). To be eligible as an affiliate you have to have a website and be focused on home improvement, construction, design and similar areas. Lowe’s pays 2% in commissions and cookies last for one day.

Costco

You can earn commissions as an affiliate marketer by referring new customers to Costco through Skimlinks and Commission Junky.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club offers commissions on sale when visitors click on a SamsClub.com ad from your site and complete a qualifying sale through SamsClub.com. Just like the other big box stores this is a company with a lot of products in its inventory. So there is a great opportunity to earn commissions.

Best Office Supply Affiliate Marketing Programs

Office supply chains in the digital and physical world are highly competitive. One of the ways they stay on top is by using affiliates and their digital presence. Here are the top office supply affiliate programs.

Office Depot

Through the Office Depot affiliate program, you can earn income by placing text links, product links, and graphic banners from OfficeDepot.com directly to your site. Each transaction made through these links from your site earns you a percentage from the transaction of the item. For example, office accessories such as binders commissions are set at 6% while a 4% commission is available for paper, inkjet cartridges and toners.

Staples

With the Staples affiliate program you have a choice thousands of office supplies. By referring your visitors to Staples and having them purchase items you can receive commissions between 1-5% in sales commission.

Quill

Quill’s affiliate program allows influencers to promote Quill products by using links to divert traffic to its site and earn a commission per sale. Through VigLink technology, it automatically monetizes terms by transforming them into revenue generating hyperlinks whose destinations are determined in real-time auctions. Quill’s solutions work across sites, apps, and social networks.

Best Furniture Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are paying affiliate programs that feature furniture retailers. They come in handy if you as an influencer or website owner have a strong following in interior design, home furnishing and related topics.

Wayfair

Wayfair affiliates program allows websites and blog owners to promote Wayfair through affiliate links and earn commission on orders from those links. Wayfair offers thousands of items across all major home categories, giving affiliates more choices and opportunities. Affiliates in return get dedicated in-house management, 7% commissions, and a 7-day referral period.

Overstock

Overstock is an online retailer offering commissions with deals on designer brands and home goods. Affiliates can earn 6% on commissions on all items, a 14-day referral period and paid media opportunities. Overstock partners with CJ affiliate for tracking, reporting, and payment for its affiliate partner program.

West Elm

West Elm is a retailer for modern furniture and home decor featuring inspiring designs and colors.  Affiliate marketers can earn 3% commissions of sales through the VigiLink platform.

Houzz

Houzz is a platform for home remodeling and design. Its affiliate program provides commissions of up to 5% per sales, a 30 day cookie duration and a catalogue of 9 million products available for purchase.

Anthropologie

Anthropologie needs affiliates to showcase its ads, banners and links on its site. In return, they receive a 6% commission on net sales, real-time reporting and sales tracking, a 30 day cookie window and other perks.

Best Educational Affiliate Marketing Programs

Help your audience increase their skills and education levels — and earn at the same time. Online courses and remote learning have become tremendously popular during the CVOID-19 pandemic, and are likely to continue long beyond that. Here are course or educational affiliates.

Kajabi

As a Kajabi affiliate marketer, you can receive a 30% recurring commission for any new member you sign up and stays active past their trial period. If you sign up one member who sticks around for two years that means you made around $1,000. Kajabi’s dashboard helps you track clicks, form submissions, conversions and conversion rates.

Coursera

Through its paying affiliate marketing program, this online learning platform offers between 20-45% in commissions with a cookie life of 30 days. Coursera has over 4,000 courses on offer and makes the generous commission worth exploring.

Teachable

Teachable is an online course platform that allows bloggers and website owners to build their classes to sell to their students. They offer a 30% commission for every signup done within 90 days. Its platform program gives you access to A/B tested funnels containing information about Teachable’s target audience.

Udemy

Udemy is probably the skill-learning platform that has the highest number of courses. It boasts of offering 150,000 courses and having 24 million students. It offers a baseline commission of 20% with a 7-day cookie.

Skillshare

Skillshare is another learning platform that provides 29,000 online and video classes. It offers a fixed commission of $7 for every new customer you refer to it with a 30-day cookie life. Each affiliate creates a custom account through Impact Radius that tracks their referrals in real-time.

DIY.org

DIY’s influencer program allows you to earn money by promoting memberships to it creative online community. It hosts courses targeting children, and commissions are given per converted sign-up or for each trial you refer to.

Best Cosmetic and Makeup Affiliate Programs

Do you run a site or blog in the beauty niche? Are you an influencer on social media who often shares makeup tips and product ideas? These cosmetic affiliate programs are for you. These programs are really good for those who have a makeup tutorial or beauty YouTube channel. The category often includes something called influencer programs.

As an influencer, you can tap into your social media following, blog or website to review products or help promote them. By joining an influencer program you use your creativity to create compelling content with advertisers to reach out to your audiences.

Murad

Murad the skincare products for acne, anti-aging, cellulite, age spot treatments has an affiliate program. Website owners can help promote special Murad deals and special promotions. It offers commission on sales of their products starting from 6%.

Jane

Jane is a boutique marketplace featuring women’s fashion, home decor, and children’s clothing. Through the ShareSale affiliate network it provides opportunities for bloggers working in baby products, home goods, clothing and other opportunities to earn revenue. With Jane commissions from new customers are 9% and for returning customers it is set at 8%.

Yves Rocher

Yves Rocher offers a selection of beauty products, including skin and body care. It offers a 15% commission with a 30-day cookie duration.

Scentbird

Scentbird has an n affiliate program for those interested in perfumes. The company helps affiliates earn $14 per sale or subscription generated through your link. This means for just 1 subscription sign up per day affiliates could earn $420 a month. Scentbird has a 45-day cookie and provides text links, product links and banners.

BH Cosmetics

Through BH Cosmetics affiliate program each time you direct a visitor to BHCosmetics.com and they make a purchase within 60 days of their visit, you earn an 8% commission rate on that order. Additional perks include bonuses, personalized creative content for your website and much more.

MAC

Mac is a cosmetics company globally recognized as one off the leading brands in the industry. It offers affiliate marketing opportunities through Skimlinks where websites or blogs owners can send traffic to them using tracked links. Sales that are generated from that link will earn the affiliate a commission rate.

ULTA Beauty

The Ulta affiliate program simply places links, promotional banners and available products on your website to start making commissions. Additional incentive offers include free shipping, exclusive free gifts with qualifying purchases, buy one and get one free promotion, affiliate special offers and more.

Sally Beauty

Sally Beauty’s program will help you earn a commission rate on every transaction referred from your site. As one of the biggest suppliers in the industry, the company has a lot of merchanidise. As a matter of fact, it has more than 6,000 hair, skin, and nail products for customers to choose from.

Best Affiliate Networks

A merchant is the or advertiser and is often the creator of the product or services. While an affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchant and the affiliate marketer. They help merchants find affiliate marketers to help them make sales and conduct marketing campaigns. Their job as matchmakers is to help businesses select affiliate marketers which is a good fit or them.

For affiliate marketers they help provide you with a portfolio of companies and products that can meet your niche. Very often affiliate networks work around a specific industry thus offering specialized expertise for businesses. This includes identifying the best influencers, blogs or websites that can best leverage a product or products and services.

Impact Radius

Impact Radius manages a number of affiliate programs, and by joining their marketplace as a media partner you gain access to these advertisers. These include merchants such as Best Buy, Door Dash, Cabela’s, Kohl’s, McAfee, Walmart, Lenovo and Adidas.

Using multi-layered tracking methodologies, it claims to be able to combat cookie blocking and deliver close to 100% tracking accuracy thus yielding 17% in higher revenues on the same traffic.

Commission Junction CJ

Commission Junction (CJ) like other affiliate networks helps affiliates earn commissions by driving traffic and conversion to advertisers through websites or blogs. CJ affiliate offers a pay-per-call solution enabling the promotion of advertisers’ products or services through traceable distribution channels. CJ affiliate clients include Blue Apron, Acer, AT&T Samsung, Dell, Canon and others.

ClickBank

ClickBank is an affiliate network for merchants that affiliates can choose to promote based on the interest of their audience. It offers a product database that helps to navigate and find to promote. ClickBank is one of the biggest brands in this segment and the company has a lot of products. To date, ClickBank has paid more than $4.2 billion in commissions from the sale of its product line.

ShareASale

ShareASale is an affiliate network that houses affiliate programs for more than 4,500 merchants for affiliates to choose from. Some of their clients include Freshbooks, Reebok, Etsy, Weebly and Sally Beauty along with many other products and services to choose from. With the ShareASale dashboard you can sign up to all these merchants, generate links, view your statistics and earn commissions. However, you are required to individually apply to the merchants and get approved by each.

Commission Factory

Commission Factory works with affiliates that have ave a website, blog, mobile app or a social media presence. Affiliates can take advantage of the tools it offers to easily generate revenue through links, banners, click-less tracking, coupon codes and its API. It represents over 600 small and large brands and many items to choose from.

Rakuten

Rakuten is an online store stocking everything from high-end electronics to clothing. Here affiliates can apply to each individual brand they want to promote. The consumer insights it provides measures decisions based on impressions, clicks and other metrics.

Sovrn Commerce (Formerly VigLink)

Sovern’s affiliate program allows food bloggers to draw traffic to its clients’ sites. It works on Cost-Per-Thousand system where an affiliate gets paid for every thousand ads that are viewed. It has over 70,000 merchants and it can automatically route your links to the highest bidder who wants their product or service promoted.

Skimlinks

When signing up on Skimlinks you earn commissions through link referrals. When an affiliate signs up, they are required to simply copy and paste a short line of code into the footer of their site once. Links that you add from merchants that are signed up with the Skimlinks network will then earn you a commission rate when a reader clicks through the affiliate link and makes a purchase.

ShopHer

ShopHer is an affiliate program for women bloggers. This program helps female bloggers earn revenue through referrals to ShopHer’s network members. It provides affiliate links, sponsored posts and customized video female bloggers.

AWin (Affiliate Window)

Awin is another popular affiliate network that gives you access to over 13,000 different merchants. Some of the notable brands carried by AWin include Etsy, AliExpress, HP and Under Armour. They have a user-friendly system and offer twice-monthly payments with small minimum requirements in multiple currencies.

PeerFly.com

PeerFly is hailed as being the fastest-growing affiliate network program in the world. The program is a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) based affiliate ad network which means they are paid for their ads when those who view it complete the desired action. PeerFly has over 2,000 live offers and guarantees top pay-outs. In addition, it offers access to its rewards program and contests as an affiliate.

MaxBounty

MaxBounty is a performance marketing network which connects trusted affiliate marketers with high paying advertisers. For adverts placed on your site, this affiliate marketing program provides monetized rewards on a Cost-Per-Action basis.

Webgains

Webgains allows advertisers and publishing partners to generate additional revenue through its affiliate program. They offer support in terms of training to create content to drive clicks to brands, convert to sales and get paid. They cover industries that include technology, sports performance, lifestyle, travel and leisure, and more.

Pepperjam

Pepperjam allows an affiliate to help run promotions for its clients and earn revenues through commissions. Through its ascend platform it offers advanced tracking, robust reporting and payment flexibility.

Avantlink

AvantLink works with affiliate marketers on CPA and lead marketing. It offers multi-channel analytics and referral tracking for its affiliate marketers. Payouts are made through commissions, bonuses, paid placement earnings and cost-per-click earnings.

Reward Style

With Reward Style your job as an affiliate marketer is to bring new clients from external traffic sources to Reward Style’s network of clients. There are 5,000 retail partners and a higher number of products to choose from. As an influencer, you are required to generate mobile-first content that’s immediately shoppable and even applies on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

FlexOffers

Flexoffers provides programs from well-known brands and niche markets alike. As an affiliate marketer you have over 12,000 programs including JCPenney, Hulu, Microsoft, Lego, Gamefly, Lenovo, Nike, L.L. Bean, Xfinity.  With its FlexRev-$hare program, you can refer as many publishers as possible and earn up to 50% of the FlexOffers.com profit.

10 Criteria to Select Affiliate Programs

When selecting an affiliate program to promote on your website or blog, the following factors matter the most:

  • Relevance to your audience: who your audience is will help determine what products and services they will be more willing to purchase or use. For you to get started in affiliate marketing you will need to understand and segment your audience to leverage them for businesses that are looking for promotional partners. This will require an understanding of who your audience is, what products or services might be of interest to them. A large and engaged audience will raise your chances of generating higher revenue.
  • Commission rate: Commissions for market affiliates are often paid on a monthly basis. Some commissions for electronics such as PCs and smartphones can go as low as 1. %. Others offer high commissions and can go up by 200% for specialized services such as loans, health care, or web hosting.
  • Average order value: Average Order Value (AoV) calculates the average dollar amount a customer places on order on a website or mobile application. This helps determine the long term value a customer brings to the business rather than focus on individual purchases. Simply explained it is about the quality of customers you bring rather than the numbers. Customers with high AoV indicate you are driving high volume sales which means you earn more in commissions as well as bonuses and incentives from the advertisers.
  • Cookie length: also known as cookie life it is the amount of time when all actions made by a user, directed by you from your site, are commissioned to you. This is all about referred customers not deciding to move into action quickly. Some businesses offer a week others offer a 90 day period. The longer the cookie length it increases the window where you receive commissions and rewards in the event the customer decides to make the purchase or take action.
  • Recurring commissions: also called lifetime commission it is an offering that pays every month the customer is active with the companies product or service. This is often offered among software companies and membership programs.
  • Dashboard, data, and support: are important for you to measure progress on your promotional efforts. Unless you measure it, it will be difficult to know where you excel and where you need to improve. It is also important to have good and responsive marketing collateral to bring more impact to your marketing efforts. Support also should come in terms of offering incentives and reward packages for good performers to recognize their work and encourage them to do more.
  • Payout threshold: refers to the minimum amount of money you need to make for you to receive payment. Some merchants or networks require a minimum of $100. This is in a bid to encourage more sales as well as avoid transaction and processing costs for small payments.
  • Fair merchants: As an affiliate in marketing you are a promotions partner for the merchant. For your services, you require compensation in terms of commissions and rewards. Some merchants look for ways to avoid paying commissions per sale after the fact and don’t treat their partners fairly. To avoid such conflicts it is important that you as an affiliate make sure to do your due diligence to see if the merchants have a fair paying affiliate program offers.
  • Link generators – An affiliate referral link is used to promote a merchant’s website or products. It has the affiliate’s ID or username appended to the URL so a specific affiliate can be tracked when a visitor or customer visits your website. If the customer successfully completes an action a referral will be generated and the affiliate will be awarded a commission. They can also generate their own referral URL from the merchant by pasting the page URL.
  • Restrictions – Some merchants do not allow an affiliate to use coupon sites or discount pages. This might be because they do not want to have a lot of bargain seekers. Others will not give you commissions if your referrals opt to use discount codes for their product.
  • Discounts – Does the merchant offer discounts, free trials, or special offers to your affiliate? These will do a lot to help speed up conversions as people will automatically take on the impression their risk has been somewhat reduced as a consequence of the offer.

What is the best affiliate program to join?

It’s hard to pick just one “best affiliate program” because it depends on your audience and their interests, as well as your own interest in promoting an offering. Instead of looking for a single best program, make sure what is best for you and get started. The list herein broken down by categories should help you pick the best affiliate marketing solution for your situation.

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10 Tips for Making a Positive First Impression and Building a Strong Brand

10 Tips for Making a Positive First Impression and Building a Strong Brand


Customers’ first impression of your brand can make a major impact on whether they choose to buy from you. Making a good first impression requires lots of work. You need to create valuable content on your blog and social media. You need to build a personal brand. And you may even need to learn about new options for starting a business. Check out the tips below from members of the online small business community to help you make a positive impression.



Make a Great First Impression with These Techniques

You only get one chance to make a good first impression on potential customers. So you need to carefully plan what you want customers to take from their initial interaction with your brand. The techniques in this Crowdspring post by Katie Lundin can help your business stand out.

Justify Your Price to Customers

Price is often one of the first things consumers look for when considering your products or services. If you want to charge enough to cover your costs and earn a profit, you need to justify it to customers. Ivana Taylor explains how in this DIY Marketers post.

Make Use of Google “People Cards”

Your personal brand can make a big impact on people’s impression of your business. Many people perform a simple Google search when researching a company or founder. So a new feature called “people cards” may help you make an impression. Learn more in this Search Engine Land post by George Nguyen.

Build a Personal Brand

If you have yet to build much of a brand for yourself online or off, doing so many help your business. In this Biz Epic post, Ivan Widjaya discusses the benefits for building a personal brand.

Use Blogging to Build Your Personal Brand

In fact, blogging is one of the best ways to build a brand for yourself online. For those interested, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media offers thoughts here. You can see more conversation surrounding the post over on BizSugar.

Get in Front of People on Instagram

Instagram can be an effective way to get new eyes on your brand. Once you’ve created an image that can help you make a positive impression, it’s time to get it out to as many people as possible. Learn more in this Social Media Examiner post by Marly Broudie.

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Start Microblogging on Instagram

One of the best ways to make a positive impression once you grab attention on Instagram is through captions. In fact, you can basically use Instagram as a microblog to share useful content. Moss Clement of Moss Media elaborates here. And BizSugar members joined the conversation here.

Learn How Franchising Works

Franchising can be a great way for new entrepreneurs to jump into the business world. But understanding the ins and outs of the business is a must before you get started. Joel Libava of The Franchise King offers some insights here.

Make the Most of Email Marketing

Email is often one of the first methods you use to communicate with customers. If your business is relatively new, the beginner’s guide in this GetResponse post by Irek Klimczak may help.

Launch a Successful Blog

A blog can be a business in and of itself. Or it can be a marketing channel to help you make a good first impression on potential customers. Regardless of your reasons for starting, proper planning is a must. Check out the tips in this Blogging Brute post by Mike Allton for more.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

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