Allow me to take you behind the scenes of a major internet marketing launch and into the hidden world of the SUPER AFFILIATES. These elite individuals don’t have special powers and they don’t wear their underpants on the outside, but they do have the ability to generate vast quantities of affiliate sales. The competition for the attention of the Super Affiliates is intense and the Launch Manager will have to work very hard to be assured of their support.
Over the past few years, the Launch Managers that have risen to the top have done so because they understand and take advantage of the two things that most Super Affiliates have in common:
- Enlarged egos
- A love of enormous flat-screen televisions
This is why – until someone has a better idea – Joint Venture Leader Board competitions will continue to be a staple of product launch strategy. A top ten finish guarantees some kind of prize and bragging rights over everyone who placed lower down the board (I am, of course, the exception to the stereotype. I already own a flat-screen television and I’ve had too many top ten finishes to be bothered bragging about it). If you take a closer look at the leader boards for major product launches over the past few years, you’ll start to notice an interesting pattern:
Often, the person at the #1 position is a relative newcomer to the internet marketing scene and has recently completed a product launch of their own.
In fact, by my reckoning, on most Leader boards you’re going to see an average of about six well-established internet marketing players and about four relatively unknown marketers that have recently completed their first, moderately successful product launch. And here’s the twist… the vast majority of those four new marketers will not be seen on another leader board for a very long time, and the rest will never be heard from again.
If you’re hoping that I’m about to reveal some convoluted conspiracy theory involving rigged competitions and reciprocal promotions, then you’re going to be disappointed. The reason for this trend is far less dramatic but if you take the time to understand it, you’ll discover a very profitable reality about marketing online.
Imagine you’ve just completed your first successful product launch and you’ve experienced the residual benefit of building a sizeable mailing list. Having been identified as someone with the ability and drive to put a launch together, as well as having a network of contacts, you are now a prime target for marketers looking for joint venture partners for their own launch.
Even if you’re smart enough to recognise the damaging effects of bombarding your new mailing list with affiliate offers, there is a lot of pressure to accept at least some of these invitations. The thrill of receiving free preview copies of forthcoming products, and personal emails from popular marketers is one thing, but when the invitation comes from a Super Affiliate who was responsible for 30% of your product launch sales… are you seriously going to refuse that request? You don’t want to cause offence by refusing to help an affiliate who has helped make your launch a successful one and, when it’s time for your next product launch, how can you ask them to participate again if you reject their request? So you accept the invitation.
Any misgivings you have are soon pacified when your affiliate campaign is a success and you take your place on the Top Ten Leader Board. You make some extra cash and you enjoy seeing your name in lights next to world-renowned marketers, making it that much easier to accept the next joint venture invitation, and the next one, and the one after that…
If you’re lucky, you manage to just about place on the leader board of the next joint venture competition. In the next you just fail to make the cut. The one after that is even worse. At this point you’re almost too embarrassed to accept any more joint venture requests because the responsiveness of your mailing list has virtually flat-lined. Worse still, even when it comes to promoting one of your own products or services to your mailing list, the response is almost negligible.
This familiar pattern is cause by what I’ve termed as…
…The Crush Factor
There are two stages and definitions to the “Crush”:
Crush Factor One:
When admired and trusted Gurus talk you up to their readers, you receive an instant dose of popularity. You are, in effect, cool by association and have a greater chance of closing sales. The problem is that your popularity hasn’t grown slowly over years of endeavour and evident success; it’s been created abruptly. Your visitors and customers haven’t developed a deep-seated trust and respect for your work, what they have is an intuitive gut-feeling based on little more than hearsay.
Like any juvenile crush (or, for that matter, any adult crush), the feelings of the market towards you are intense but extremely shallow and short-lived. Within a matter of days, the Gurus are shining their light on somebody new, and the respect and trust you fleetingly enjoyed are directed towards someone else.
Crush Factor Two:
As soon as you begin promoting someone else’s products, your readers are going to be added to new mailing lists. If the owners of these mailing lists promote other people’s products, your readers will find themselves on even more mailing lists. And so on…
If you assume that most mailing list owners promote an average of four affiliate campaigns over a period of two months (in reality the average is much higher), your readers only have to pass through three levels of marketers to be added to up to 64 different mailing lists. If each of those mailing lists receives only three emails a week, this represents almost 1000 emails over a two month period. Before long your keenly interested readers are having their inbox crushed by the weight of promotional emails and your ability to get their attention has been pulverised.
Congratulations! You’ve just obtained first-hand experience of The Crush Factor at work.
This is an extremely plausible explanation for the sudden appearance and subsequent disappearance of new names on joint venture competition, leader boards. Marketers come under pressure to take part in new product launches and, in no time at all, a responsive, productive mailing list is crushed down into a random collection of names and email addresses.
The End Isn’t Nigh
The above is a pretty gloomy scenario but it doesn’t mean you should give up on creating a product launch or taking part in joint venture competitions. What you must do is understand why The Crush Factor occurs and how to eliminate – or at least minimise – its effect. Accomplish this and you’ll be able to sell more of your own products and services, gain more repeat customers, and build customer loyalty that lasts and is independent of Guru recommendations.
The key to this is in the power of “Recency”.
Recency – Frequency – Monetary
The above trio are usually abbreviated to RFM (see the section called Direct Marketing Triplex at the end of this article) but relax, this isn’t about to turn into a discussion of complex mathematical formulae. We’re going to look at just the first of these terms and how it relates to the Crush Factor. Recency is about how recently a person on your mailing list has taken any kind of desired action; the greater the Recency, the greater the likelihood of making a sale.
This isn’t exactly rocket science.
Take the example of a pregnant couple. There is no end to the range of products and services they are going to be eager to purchase before and after the birth. This is especially true when it’s their first child because within the first few days or even hours of bringing the newborn home, they will likely experience a need that hadn’t been anticipated. Such as a need for more disposable diapers because the one packet they purchased isn’t going to last for nearly as long as they predicted!
If you sell diapers, when do you think would be the best opportunity to invite them to purchase from you? Would it be two months later after a carefully crafted series of mail-shots proclaiming the virtues of your world-class product and the importance of maintaining a good supply? Or would it be RIGHT NOW before the harassed couple are forced to resort to fashioning their own diapers out of paper napkins? They will have a need to purchase diapers for many months to come but their desire and willingness to purchase will NEVER be greater than during that first hectic day.
This is the kind of scenario where Recency trumps EVERYTHING!
Careful pre-launch campaigns and taking time to build relationships with your prospects is commonly taught in the Internet Marketing arena, but this can be misleading. One of the most common questions I receive is WHEN to ask for the sale and, in most cases, the answer is as soon as they express interest; usually as soon as they arrive on your website or subscribe to your mailing list.
When you receive a new visitor to your website or a new lead on your list, just about the only thing you have going for you is Recency. For an agonisingly brief moment in time, you are in the prospect’s consciousness. If you convince them of their need for your product or service, then THAT is the time to ask for the sale.
Relationship building has its place in internet marketing but 99% of the time Recency wins. True, some people won’t respond to the first sales pitch. This is where lead-capture and relationship building comes in, but don’t presume that all of your visitors will respond the same way. All things being equal, most of the time people just want to buy.
Resisting The Crush
Let’s go back to the “Here Today – Gone Tomorrow” syndrome that so often afflicts the marketer in post-launch. How can Recency fortify you against this effect?
To begin with, ignore the A-List Gurus who frequent joint venture leader boards; their success is a mixture of long-term credibility (The market doesn’t have a crush, it’s experiencing full-blown, BFF, “till death do we part”, Guru Love. This isn’t as sleazy as it sounds. Really.) and a traffic-generating system that ensures they receive a constant supply of fresh leads. Let’s assume for the moment that you’re some way off from reaching that status.
When making decisions on how to utilise your new mailing list, maintain your focus on the Recency effect and allow it to guide you.
- After obtaining a new visitor or lead, ask for the sale as soon as is appropriate.
- After gaining a new customer your best opportunity to make additional sales is immediately after the initial purchase. The importance of adding an upsell to your sales process should go without saying but you should also anticipate your customer’s needs a day after, a week after and a fortnight after purchase and create corresponding products or services to offer. Don’t join in any joint venture promotions until you’ve exhausted all your opportunities to offer your own products and services to your prospects.
- The best time to build a firm relationship with your customers that’s based on direct contact and not a Guru-inspired crush is, once again, during the days and weeks immediately after the initial sale or contact. If you’re uncomfortable refusing joint venture invitations, explain that you don’t want to bombard your mailing list with lots of offers and suggest they contact you again in a couple of months. If the forthcoming product in question is of a high quality, there will still be gain in promoting it beyond the launch period.
- When you eventually participate in a joint venture, select your recommendation carefully so as not to undo the trust you’ve worked hard to develop. Immediately after the joint venture promotion the Recency effect is primarily in someone else’s hands but you can still tap into it by promoting your own products, reminding your customers of what you have to offer. An alternative approach is to offer additional support and guidance to those who made a purchase based on your recommendation.
The Crush Factor is just one problem that can be tackled by focussing on the Recency effect. Review all of your current and planned marketing strategies with this concept in mind and test whether you can make improvements by acting sooner and more directly.
Need further proof? Keep your eyes open for the next few weeks and note how many times you see my name mentioned in someone else’s email or on someone else’s website. Assuming you’re on my mailing list or the list of one of my affiliates, there’s a strong likelihood that it will seem to be present a little more than usual. Now that you’ve taken the time to read this article and mentally made a note of my name, the Recency effect applies. Admittedly, it’s only an illusion, but if it means you’re more likely to open my email or view one of my offers, then the Recency effect has done its job.
Thanks for reading. No doubt you’ll be hearing from me again very soon…
Direct Marketing Triplex
Recency – Frequency – Monetary, commonly referred to as RFM is a system, primarily used in direct marketing, to determine the quality of a lead or prospect. The definitions are simplicity itself:
Recency = When did they last purchase (or take a desired action)?
Frequency = How many times did they place an order?
Monetary = What is the total value of those orders?
There are various methods (with various degrees of complexity) for using this formula to calculate the worth of a prospect but they all revolve around creating categories for each element, and then assigning a score to each category. Here’s a simple example:
|Recency||Purchase made within the last month.||2|
|Purchase made within the last 2-6 months.||1|
|Frequency||Two or more purchases.||2|
|Monetary||Purchase value > $500||2|
|Purchase value between $1 and $499.||1|
|Purchase value $0||0|
This method of scoring prospects is particularly valuable for direct marketing campaigns for which the cost of printing and postage has to be accounted. Email marketing often carries very little difference in cost whether an email is sent to 100 people, or 100,000, but direct marketers have to be more selective.
Using the above table, the maximum a prospect can score is 2 points for each element; a total of six points. A new direct marketing campaign can be tested by sending a promotion just to the six-point rated prospects. If this initial promotion is a failure then it is often reasonable to conclude that prospects scoring between 0 and 5 are unlikely to be any more responsive. The decision can then be made to adjust or scrap the campaign without having to suffer a heavy financial loss.
By Gary Ambrose
This article was was originally featured in Mike Filsaime’s print newsletter, “MDC Monthly.” You can get a free trial copy shipped to your door by clicking here.