CATEGORY: Marketing

How to be competitive in a crowded landscape: BE INTERESTING

Being a former East Coaster naturally I was stoked to head to Boston for HostingCon. I haven’t attended many conferences so I was excited to absorb information, hang out with my team outside of the office, and catch up with vendors and partners. Needless to say, by the time Wednesday rolled around I was officially burnt out. Between burning the candle at both ends, hitting the conference sessions and vendor meetings all day all while keeping up with email was a grind.  There was an internal thread going around questioning how effective we are in pushing our brand and producing compelling content. In my sleep deprived state I was feeling a little bummed out questioning if what we were doing (putting ourselves out there) was the best strategy. Just as I’m spiraling into this bad place I walked into an Industry Trends session presented by Christian Dawson the COO of ServInt and he reassured me that we’re on the right track.

As I sat down the slide deck read, ‘Be Interesting.’ He went on to explain that the best way to find your niche in a competitive industry is to follow your passions. He noted that you can’t beat the big guys on price, perceived quality of service, and certainly not on ad spend and mass awareness but you CAN beat the big guys by being more responsive, more nimble, more market-targeted, and most importantly by being MORE INTERESTING. (For the record, that’s why we keep this guy on staff.) Christian went on to say that sameness + smallness = invisibility. In order to be less invisible he suggests being interesting. As I’m sitting there taking it in, the internal struggle started bouncing around my head again until he closed with his most emphasized point: HAVE THE COURAGE TO BE YOURSELF.

All in all it seems like a cheesy lesson but it really hit home for me. We’re a wacky, small company largely off the map trying to compete with all the top players. I’ve learned the best thing we have going for us is ourselves and we’ve got great products to back it up. We do business openly and honestly and always put our customers first, as long as we continue to go down this path we can’t go wrong.

Big thanks to Christian for the pep talk 😉

Make your Social Media Work: Rebecca Corliss from HubSpot Explains How Your Customers Come to You

It seems anybody with a computer has become a social media expert. They’ll tell you that you need “presence on the web,” which sounds cool but is about as fulfilling as a bowl of dust. What you need are people who know about your presence, and are so impressed they tell other people about it. Imagine that. People coming to you. No more cold calling or desperate sign throwing in a dangerous intersection. It’s called inbound marketing and this quick little interview is packed with useful information from one of the most talented inbound marketing mavens in the industry, Rebecca Corliss from HubSpot.

Skip to about :50 for the meat.

4 ways to make Banner Ads work for you in Affiliate Marketing

Since the 1990’s, banner ads have come a long way.  Looky at this 1997 retro ad from apple we found:


There has been a lot of research since then as to how to make effective banners.  Let your advertiser worry about the ad design, but as far as making them work for you on your site, as an Affiliate, here are 3+1 tips:

1. Don’t clutter your site with ads.  This can come off as looking unprofessional and turn your visitor away.  Instead, space your ads and include quality content to balance the look of the site (and keep the reader on your page).

2. Choose 3-4 banners max for your page.  This number has been shown to be the most effective.  Statistics show that the first few banners get the most attention.  As the order of placement increases, the click-through rate decreases, meaning your first few ads will get the most clicks while anything above and beyond receives less clicks. Choose wisely among the ads you wish to promote  (greedy me would choose the ads that are the most effective with the highest payout).

3. Consider user experience with ad placement.  You will capture the most attention from your user with anything placed “above the fold.”  Above the fold just means the space at the top of your site before your user has to scroll. So place your banner ads above the fold. History lesson – “above the fold” originates with newspapers.  Anything that was on the front page before the fold in the middle of the paper.

Studies show it takes 5 banners to attract a sale.

This is an example of what not to do unless your customers appreciate irony.

4. Repetition.  It seems counter-intuitive, right?  A 2011 study by Casale Media  ( shows the magic number being five.  Showing an ad at least five times resulted in an increase of 175 times in the number of clicks.  Wowza!

The basic goal for any affiliate is to get the most clicks/conversions possible for the most commission possible.   If you are using banner advertising, we hope you find these suggestions useful!

Let us know if you’d like to see information on any other affiliate related topics:

This article heavily influenced by: and the statistics presented in:


Affiliate Marketing Methods

Part 2 of Caroline’s series on Affiliate Marketing. Here’s Part 1 to get you started.

Wanna know what most affiliates do with their web sites to make money as an affiliateaffiliate marketing money marketer? It’s easier than you think! I got all inspired to share this information with you after reading Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day by Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov. Try one of these 5 marketing approaches while promoting your affiliate offer. Successful affiliates rarely stick to one method – here’s to you if you give them all a try!


Think Blogs. Basically, choose the offer you want to promote, then build content (that means helpful information regarding the product), then monetize that helpful information with the affiliate merchant links. Those links are usually in the form of banners, widgets, text links, and video.


We promise it’s more exciting than it sounds – especially for those visiting your “couponing” site. Use this strategy to organize all discounts in one location for your visitors. The better the categorization of the products, the more your success. Popular methods of categorization are holidays, low price mark downs, expiration dates, deal of the day coupons, etc.


Affiliates using this method will produce websites that allow users to comparison-shop several merchants for one type of product. The affiliate will pull the product information from a data feed of each merchant to their site. Users of the site are able to price and feature check among several merchants for the same product. That’s an affiliate commission for you, if the user uses the merchant link from your page to make the purchase!


Do you have a targeted mailing list of individuals who have opted in to receive communication about certain products? If so, and you allow those individuals an option to opt out – then this method may work well for you. Just be extremely careful that the Affiliate Program you join allows for email marketing. There can be serious consequences for spamming of unsolicited commercial emails.


Affiliates are leveraging social networks, forums, and microblogs for sales (just make sure to comply with the terms and conditions with the form you choose). Some are creative to develop Facebook apps, then monetize them with their affiliate links or tweeting deals on Twitter. Some have even created social shopping engines where users help each other shop – leading to commissions for you. The more innovative you are the more success you may see.

Of course these are not the only methods of promotion for your Affiliate Links, but hopefully you’ve got a better idea how to get started! Now, get out there and make some money!

****Source Shout Out- “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour A Day” by Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov , Chapter 1 Understanding Affiliate Marketing.