Affiliate marketer Steve Scott earns a nice full-time living from just ONE affiliate niche using a fairly simple but very effective business model.
1. By submitting high quality content to EzineArticles.com and YouTube, he attracts visitors to a squeeze page.
2. There, he tempts them with a powerful freebie.
3. They subscribe to his email list, where he provides them with useful information and promotes affiliate offers.
He earned about $110,000 doing this last year.
I interviewed him about his success with squeeze pages.
In the interview, Steve generously provides handy tips on what works best, what he could have done better, and – based on what he has learned – the steps he’s taking to improve his online business.
You write well. What were you doing before you became a full-time Internet marketer?
Why, thank you!
After graduating college, I spent two years in the United States Air Force. When my enlistment was completed, I landed the standard 9 to 5, dead-end, entry-level job for another two years.
In the four years working for “the man,” I realized there had to be something more in life. So I made the decision to never let another person (or business) control my destiny. Ultimately this choice led me to focus on building an online business that can be run from any spot in the world. And as they say, the rest is history.
Would you mind giving some stats for your main niche, whatever you’re comfortable with revealing. Number of subscribers? Website visitors? Revenue?
Sure thing. I don’t like to provide exact details for my primary money maker (for competitive reasons.) But I’d be more than happy to show limited screenshots and examples.
Number of Subscribers:
I’ve been building my email lists since 2006. At its peak, the list was generating 200+ new subscribers per day. Now it’s down to around 30 to 70 a day. The good news is my marketing has improved – so I actually make more money with less daily subscribers. One technique that I use is list segmentation. This is where I get subscribers to take action and join specific “topical” lists. This helps me promote affiliate offers that are tailored to their specific interests. Right now, I have a total of 21 different email lists with a grand total of 86,443 subscribers:
Number of Website Visitors:
I get anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 monthly visitors. So far in 2012 I’ve had a total of 96,688 unique visitors. Half of my web traffic goes directly to my squeeze page – coming from EzineArticles.com and YouTube videos. I tried a bunch of other article marketing sites, but that’s the one that still generates a lot of clicks. The rest of the traffic finds my site through organic search traffic. I then use web content to presell my free offer and entice them to subscribe to my email list:
In 2011, I earned about $110,000 from my authority presence in this niche. This is an approximation because I promote a few non-related offers on one of my ClickBank accounts for various small niche sites. Most of my income comes from two separate ClickBank accounts in addition to an affiliate product that generates a $100 commission. Here are some images from my accounts: Screenshot 1, Screenshot 2, and Screenshot 3.
I think my overall income for 2012 will be down. That’s because some of my “promotional content” took a hit from the recent Google Penguin update. The good news? My site is still very profitable and is able to provide me with a full-time income.
Can you give us an overview of your main business? I assume you direct traffic to a squeeze page offering a lead magnet or freebie (Is there any difference?) to encourage people to sign up for a newsletter?
My entire business model relies on the free offer – what I call a “lead magnet.” This is something that’s offered in exchange for a person’s email address.
Basically, my goal is to drive ALL traffic to a squeeze page where I sell the value of the lead magnet. On this page, prospects have one of two choices:
1. Subscribe to get the free report
2. Leave my site.
You can build a list really fast when you limit the number of options people can take. I know there has been a lot of talk about the need for “warming prospects” before asking them to take action. But I’ve found you can provide great content off your website (on other people’s sites) and get folks to immediately subscribe when they arrive at your squeeze page.
After joining my list, a subscriber receives a mix of autoresponders and broadcast messages every 2 to 3 days. Some messages are full of quality content. Others are direct promotions of an affiliate product.
This might sound a bit confusing. So here’s a quick diagram that explains this affiliate strategy:
Some affiliates who submit their articles to EzineArticles do Google searches for website publishers who have used one of their articles, and then contact them each time the affiliate has a new article to offer. Have you tried that?
I used to do a bit of article syndication a while back. But I got out of the habit over the years. I do hear that people still have a lot of success with it. So I might start to do it in September when I get back from my vacation.
I assume you also have a large authority site to attract free traffic from search engines? If so, how large?
Actually my main traffic comes from article marketing and YouTube. A few years back I tried the “authority site” route. But it got heavily penalized by one of Google’s constant updates. So I decided to stick with what was working and ignore everything else. Between these video marketing and article syndication, I attract around a few hundred visitors directly to my squeeze page on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, article marketing doesn’t work like it once did. So now that I’m developing my new blog (SteveScottSite.com). I’m focusing 100% on creating an authority presence that can’t be turned off by any sort of algorithm change. The heart of this technique is to give a lot of value before asking anything in return.
And you have a series of articles on an autoresponder?
I do recommend autoresponders for people starting out. I use them for my information product email list, which is 100% on autopilot. This sequence has a total of 50+ emails. It starts out by providing bonuses and extra content to customers. And after a week or so, I work in related affiliate offers.
On the other hand, I don’t use autoresponders with my primary list. Instead, I rely on broadcast messages (emails). This has proven to be my most profitable strategy after years of testing and tracking.
My advice is test to see what works in your market. Autoresponders might work great in a specific niche and do poorly in another. It all comes down to seeing how people respond and using concrete, statistical proof to back it up.
What methods do you use to find and persuade people to visit your squeeze page?
My two traffic strategies would be article marketing at EzineArticles.com and YouTube videos. I tried a bunch of other article marketing sites, but that’s the one that still generates a lot of clicks. Plus, I get a little bit of residual traffic from search engine optimization, Squidoo, and various sites that produce a few clicks each month.
I’ve also found it’s important to get a diverse amount of web traffic. The mistake I made with this site is to not concentrate on social media, authority blogging, and guest posting. All of these can provide a flood of traffic (if done correctly).
Do you advertise or rely purely on free traffic?
Yes, 100% free traffic. I’ve tried pay-per-click (PPC) a few times over the years. For some reason, I could never turn it into a cost-effective source of traffic.
Any special tips or tricks to creating a lead magnet?
At the risk of sounding self-serving, I wrote a 2,000+ word blog post on creating lead magnets. This post comes from a lot of hard lessons I’ve learned about designing free offers. So you should definitely check it out.
How much experimenting have you done with squeeze pages to find the most effective formula? Do you do A/B split tests? What tools do you use for testing?
Split-testing is mandatory for all squeeze pages. You’d be amazed at how one small tweak can have a dramatic impact on your opt-in rates. For instance, I recently saw a 21% decrease just by changing the color of an arrow. Split-testing takes the guesswork out of list building. Simply make one small change every week and you’ll slowly create a page that has killer subscriber rates.
What conversion rates are you getting on your squeeze page for your primary business?
Right now I’m hovering at a 25% to 30% opt-in rate. At one point, I was getting 40%, but that decreased over the years because people have become more wary about entering their email address.
What tools do you use?
Since 2006, I’ve used the AdtrackZ software on my primary site. It’s a pain to install. So I’m starting to use other split-testing tools for my new blog.
Currently, my favorite is the free tool from Google (Website Optimizer). Unfortunately Google is discontinuing the Optimizer tool in August. They’re supposedly making it part of their analytics program. But who knows if it’ll work like it does now.[Like many affiliates, Steve also uses Aweber email marketing software.]
Could you show me a few examples of good squeeze pages and explain why each one is effective?
My first piece of advice would be to look at squeeze pages in your specific market. This will provide the best examples of what’s currently working. Just do a keyword search and see what advertisements show up for Google AdWords. People are paying money for these ads – so you know they’re working!
(Be sure to copy-n-paste the URL that’s listed into your browser. I don’t like to click on ads because it’s bad karma.)
With all that said, you can learn a lot by studying other markets. I’m always looking at different squeeze pages to see what people are doing.
Here are a few of my current favorites:
Rusty does a great job of combining authority blogging while promoting his premium products. Take a look at his squeeze and you’ll see:
- He uses video to presell the value of the free offer
- He makes his opt-in box noticeable with big red arrows
- He offers a Facebook “share” button which makes this offer more viral
- He provides a real world value of $27 – even including an actual sales page
I love how Brian integrates Facebook with the squeeze page concept. Look at this page and you’ll see:
- He limits the number of actions on this page:1. Subscribe 2. Like the page 3. Leave
- He speaks to a painful problem many business owners have: Not getting results with Facebook
- He provides two instant solutions that can be immediately implemented
Christian also does a great job of projecting authority and credibility on his page. Take a look and you’ll see:
- He increases the perceived value of the freebie by positioning the offer as a membership site
- He builds authority by filming himself; explaining the value of the information
- He uses the color purple as a way to brand his entire product catalog
- He includes a giant arrow that clearly identifies the opt in box
There are a lot of things happening on Jim’s squeeze page. Look closely and you’ll see:
- He established authority with the #3 Best Teacher in America by Golf Digest claim
- He creates curiosity – what the heck are the 10 Death Moves?
- He has an opt-in box three different locations
- He offers previews of this free content
Tips for newcomers? For example, tools to use, where to start?
My advice would be to take immediate action. There’s no time like the present to start building a dynamic email list.
Don’t have a lead magnet? Then create a valuable piece of content around a major obstacle in your niche and then give it away.
You can generate a bunch of ideas by checking out the:
- Most view/commented posts on forums
- Questions you commonly get
- Paid products marketed in your niche
- Popular posts on your blog
- Content and categories on EzineArticles.com
Already have a lead magnet? Then you’ll want to do two things:
1. Set up a split-testing program and make small changes every few days
2. Promote the heck out of it! Make this page a vital part of your overall marketing message.
Here are a few ideas for getting more eyeballs on your free offer:
- Design multiple subscriptions points on your content site/blog
- Mention it in podcasts and YouTube videos.
- Link to it within your content articles – especially when you’re talking about a related topic
- Write compelling content and build a social media following – ultimately these people will discover your lead magnet
- Use a splash page to get subscriptions. (If you use WordPress, then pay a few bucks for the plugin at WelcomeSplash.com)
Finally, you have to remember that building an email list is an ongoing process. Don’t expect to work hard one day and think that will generate a flood of subscribers. Instead the best way to build an email list is to get out there and hustle!
Let me know.