The Power of List Building

Any marketer who has achieved business success in the long term – either online or off – strongly agrees with the old saying, “The money is in the list.” Indeed most marketers view their lists as the foundation for their success and their most valuable business asset.

However, despite an almost endless supply of tutorials and testaments to the incredible value of list building, most new affiliate marketers still aren’t adding those precious email capture forms to their sites. They fail to either grasp the concept of long-term visitor value, or think that list building does not apply to them.

Many of the list-less affiliates with whom I consult assert that setting up a list, generating ideas for content and publishing a regular newsletter will be difficult and time-consuming, or simply “too much work.” Let me dispel the notion that list setup and publishing are even slightly onerous tasks.

It takes all of one minute to grab form code from an autoresponder service like AWeber, another minute to place the code on a page and perhaps five minutes to tweak it to the site’s look and feel. Alternatively, those without HTML skills may choose to spend those seven minutes writing a project outline to have an e-lance Web designer do all the “hard work.”

Regular publishing is even easier than list setup, especially for bloggers who use AWeber’s RSS to email capabilities. All you have to do is add the feed URL into the Feed Broadcaster form blank and set delivery parameters. You choose whether to broadcast your message each time you post or wait until two to seven more entries have been posted. Next choose between automatic or manual delivery.

Generating ideas is the real stumbling block. Here are 10 ways to constantly come up with ideas for fresh content:

1. Solve a Problem
Identify and make a list of problems that are common to visitors in your niche market and get busy writing solutions. For example, an affiliate who promotes jewelry might suggest alternatives for those with allergies to certain metals; explain how to remove scratches from silver; and how to avoid fake diamond ripoffs. To learn about your subscribers’ problems, visit forums where they hang out and build a comprehensive list of the questions they ask.

2. Create a Series of Top-10 Tips
People love to read lists of helpful tips from which they can glean a useful nugget or three. Better yet, these lists are easy to write. To get your brain in gear, start with the base title “Top 10 Tips to ____,” then add one of following words: Improve, Save, Create, Choose, Prepare, Start, Better or Prevent and feel how the creative juices suddenly start to flow. Build your own list of add-on words or complete article titles to use when you need inspiration and ideas. Tip lists can be delivered tip by tip and day by day via your autoresponder series or written as one complete article.

3. Write a Tutorial
Do you promote a product that involves a learning curve for new users? Then consider writing a tutorial that takes your readers step by step through one element of that product’s functionality. If you sell digital cameras, you could write an article entitled “How to Remove Red-Eye from Your Digital Photographs Online.” As this type of tutorial likely will involve graphics, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring visitors back to your site to “see” the process. As a result, exposure to your site increases, as will your search engine rankings.

4. Send Out Your Latest Product Review
As an affiliate marketer, you regularly review products for inclusion on your sites. The next time you write an endorsement, write a brief summary that emphasizes the product’s benefits and send that out as your newsletter. Keep this tactic to a minimum, as overuse will sour readers and increase unsubscriptions.

5. Provide Public Feedback to Visitor Questions
When a visitor or subscriber asks you a question on a topic that has not been discussed on your site, publish both the question and your answer in your newsletter. If you want to use the name of the person who submitted the question, be sure you get their permission to do so.

6. Interview an Expert or Happy Customer in Your Niche
Other than the time involved in preparing for and conducting an interview, then producing a transcript from audio if required, interviews are a highly valuable source of free content. Adding expert or customer advice and opinion to your publishing mix enhances both your credibility and authority.

7. Look for Clues in Merchant Correspondence
Some merchants write highly informative affiliate newsletters. Look for mentions of significant industry developments, product changes and snippets that might have entertainment value for your readers. Summarize the most interesting points in your newsletter or your blog and be sure to include a link to that merchant’s product!

8. Stay Informed and Share Your Opinion
Subscribe to industry-related feeds and newsletters and review them daily. Sign up for Google Alerts to receive automatic notification by email when there are new results for search terms you specify. Subscribe to your competitors’ news as well. When breaking news occurs, digest the event in your own words and add your opinion. Always aim to be the first to inform your subscribers of significant events in your niche.

9. Celebrate the Holidays
Acknowledge and incorporate upcoming holidays and events into your messages. At Christmastime, affiliates in the financial sector could spin a generic “10 Money-Saving Tips” article into “10 Ways to Save Money this Christmas” or “How to Avoid the January Credit Card Blues.” Dating service affiliates can tap in to the loneliness that some singles feel at that time of year and write the seasonal “Give Yourself the Gift of Love this Christmas.”

10. Repurpose Your Content
When ideas for new content have started to wane, it’s time to review and repurpose your previously written material. Dig one up, dust it off and spin a slightly different twist on the subject. Give an old article a shiny new title, introduction and summary. Or, do what recording artists do and produce a “gold” version that links to your 10 best articles or blogs on a specific theme.

To guarantee that you won’t be at a loss for ideas when newsletter-publishing day arrives, start building a list of topics and article titles and save it to a spreadsheet. Get in the habit of making notes on that spreadsheet whenever an idea for a new topic, or additional content for an existing topic, pops to mind. Build a list of generic “fill in the blank” article titles such as “How to Handle _______,” “Questions and Answers about __________” and “Mastering the Art of __________” to spark your ideas.

Here’s the bonus tip for generating a rash of new ideas for newsletter content: Send a broadcast message to your subscribers and ask them to share their biggest problems or for their opinions on a particular topic. Not only will they respond to your request but they will also know that their input is valued.

Value, as always, is the key ingredient. When you give something of value, you get value in return; and nothing is more valuable than building that list of customers who trust your informed recommendations and turn to you to guide their online buying decisions.

ROSALIND GARDNER is a super-affiliate who’s been in the business since 1998. She’s also the author of The Super Affiliate Handbook: How I Made $436,797 in One Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online. Her best-selling book is available on Amazon and

Five Who Thrive

About a decade ago, a couple of college kids named Jerry Yang and David Filo built a Web site to post their golf scores and favorite Web sites. Pretty soon, their Web site became Yahoo. Tens of thousands of would-be dot-com millionaires tried to follow in their footsteps, but most stumbled.

The affiliate marketing frenzy picks up where the dot-com craze ended by providing a solid business model for doing business on the Internet, but success remains elusive. Only about 5 percent of affiliates make any real money, and only about 2 percent make enough money to change their lives.

We’d like to introduce you to five members of the upper crust.

If you’re looking for billionaires, look somewhere else. But if you’re looking for people who’ve found success on the Internet, then look no further. You’ll quickly see that the trick here is not a trick at all. Anyone can do this. Anyone, that is, with the patience, vision, wits and guts to make it work.


Age: 43
Industry: Dating

Money is good. But is it enough? Perhaps the best place to start the story of Rosalind Gardner is to note that the title of her book is The Super Affiliate’s Handbook: How I Made $436,797 Last Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online.

Catchy, huh?

Her story gets more intriguing when you realize most of her income now comes from helping people find true love. More on that later.

First, let’s go back to 1996 when Gardner was still earning a perfectly respectable income of about $75,000 (Canadian) as an air traffic controller in Calgary, a job she had been performing with few complaints for two decades. But the nights are long in Alberta, and Gardner soon found herself with a new hobby – creating a Web site about gardens and gardening.

Gardner, who “was married for eight months a long time ago,” then noticed something that changed her life: a banner ad for a dating service. (“I was prowling,” she confessed.) But instead of finding true love, she found opportunity.

She now runs about 10 active dating domains, makes $30,000 (U.S.) to $50,000 a month and spends most of her time traveling or hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

“I discovered who I am by running my own business,” she said with a lot of pride. “I never knew how unhappy I was working for somebody else. I’m basically an entrepreneur and that’s the only way I’ll ever be happy.”

Gardner said her affiliate work was an all-consuming passion when she first started, leaving time only for a quick sandwich and sleep. “I would go to work, come home and work on my sites. I’d ram-a-sammy and go to bed,” she said. “But now, it really is up to me. As far as the dating service and affiliate marketing go, I check my stats at the end of the month, and confirm that the checks are what they’re supposed to be.”

She estimates that now she only spends a few hours a month on the business, although it took a long time to get to that point. Asked why so many affiliates haven’t found success, she said she thinks affiliates need to work harder when they’re just getting started.

“I think the reason so few affiliates are making money is because the rest of them just aren’t doing it [right],” she explained. “They get to a point where they get frustrated and they give up. Perseverance and persistence are the hallmarks of entrepreneurs.”

She has more advice for those thinking about jumping into the business.

“If you’re serious about it, treat it like a business. Definitely take the opportunity. Don’t be afraid of it – just do it. Even if all you generate is $500 or $1,000 a month, it can make a serious difference in your life.”

It certainly made a difference in hers. Now she can’t imagine working in her old job: “I would have been miserable until I retired.”


Age: 35
Industry: Retail Merchant

Wendy Shepherd is a lot like most stay-at-home moms. Married for 16 years to a drug store manager, she home-schools her three boys, ages 9, 8 and 4. That alone keeps her busy from sun-up to story time.

Then she turns into Wendy Shepherd, Super Affiliate.

Working five to eight hours an evening, often working ’til the wee hours of the morning – Shepherd updates a half-dozen thriving Web sites, researches new opportunities, tracks her earnings, writes her newsletter and finds new ways to make money. How did this all start?

“I basically taught myself everything on a computer,” said the very cheery Maryland resident. “I just made a Web site. Then I found out there was a way to put advertising up on the Web site that allowed me to get paid per click.”

That was seven years ago, when her oldest boys were 1 and 2. Today, her flagship site, TipzTime, offers a wide variety of family and household goods. She also runs “about a half dozen” other sites and still finds time to do freelance design work through a merchant site called

Her nightlife is profitable, generating about $40,000 last year. “I’m pretty much doubling my income each year,” she said, modestly insisting there’s really nothing special about her approach.

“I promote product links for merchants. I mostly use the ones from Commission Junction because they provide easy access to searching the database for products that are available for all the merchants,” she said. “I just group them together. Some will be from one merchant, some will be from all different merchants. It doesn’t matter.

“Then I make up a page about them, list them and announce them through my newsletter to get traffic to the page,” she said.

She makes it sound so simple, it almost makes you wonder why more people aren’t as successful. Over the years, the circulation of her newsletter has begun to resemble that of a small newspaper. Some 30,000 people have opted to receive the newsletter, including more than 7,000 from TipzTime alone. “You get new subscribers every year,” she said. “You hang onto the old ones and it just grows.”

Her best advice to newcomers is “don’t expect results right away.” But she quickly noted that results will come if you stick with it.

“I had to work at getting out of my in-laws’ house,” she said. “So I saved up and worked hard and worked at night, very late sometimes, and I finally got my house. And I can now afford car payments for my new car.”


Age: 21
Industry: Free Stuff

Most 21-year-olds are content to spend money. Zac Johnson isn’t happy unless he’s making $200,000 to $300,000 a year from his own business.

This all started when Johnson was 14, way back in 1997, the dawn of the dot-com, when Johnson offered to sell Web site banners for $1 each. People started sending him dollars through the mail.

“That’s where I got the idea I could start making money on line,” he said. “Then I came across and I started selling stuff for them.

I made them probably around $50,000 to $100,000 in sales and I got a 5 to 15 percent cut … depending on the item sold.”

Sound good? It wasn’t good enough for Johnson: “I realized this was a pretty small proportion of the cut considering the amount of money I was making for them.”

By the end of the 1990s, at the height of the dot-com era, Johnson was getting people to sign up for “free stuff” like coupons, samples and catalogs. “You would push free-stuff items on the Web site and get paid on a CPU basis for everything you pushed through,” he said.

He saw that some companies were “pushing” newsletter subscriptions through and he started working with the company to collect names, addresses, email addresses and other data through a “double-opt-in” system that respects privacy rights.

“I’ve been pretty much staying with that scheme for some time now,” he said. That’s resulted in an income “in the low six figures.”

What does a 21-year-old do with that kind of money? Fast cars? Hot dates?

“I’m not really much of a party person,” said Johnson. “I invest it back into the company, pretty much … I save it for myself as well.”

His parents are delighted. His father, an engineer, accompanies him on trips to conventions and sits in on some of his business meetings. His mother sells church banners on her own Web site. Even his 14-year-old sister is getting into the act. “She has started making celebrity Web sites,” said Johnson. “But she really hasn’t started making money yet. So I’m trying to put that idea into her head.”

Johnson tried college once, and may try it again some day. “But if I want to do that, I feel there’s time later when I can do it,” he said. “Right now, the opportunity’s here, so I want to make the most of it.”


Age: 50
Industry: Retail Merchandise

Elisabeth Archambault’s first online business flopped. She was going to sell craft patterns on line. “I was never quite able to pull that together, mostly because of the complexities and costs of credit card servicing,” she said. “But it was while doing the research and development for that that I discovered affiliate marketing.”

That was about three years ago, when Archambault was busy working part-time as a technical writing instructor at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. She had already helped the college put some of its courses onto the Internet and, with what she learned from building her ill-fated patterns business, she quickly found herself selling products for other companies.

Today, her flagship site,, is a virtual mall, offering everything from auto parts to prom dresses. Her menswear section alone offers quality goods from more than two dozen merchants – mostly well-known name brands. Her writing background helped her create down-home prose, like advice from a good friend. If she can’t vouch for a product, she says so. Then, when she offers a recommendation, you almost can’t wait to click and buy.

The former teacher has many lessons for newcomers:

  • “Start with something that interests you, because you’re going to have quite a learning curve. With myself, I have a much easier time selling clothes than auto parts because that’s where my interest lies – although there are buckets of money to be made selling auto parts.”
  • Learn to calculate the return on your investment, including the time you invested in your site. “If you spend an hour doing this or that, there is an opportunity cost. You need to have some idea of what the returns are going to be.”
  • “You have to learn how to make your own pages … I don’t think it would ever be cost effective to hire someone else to make them for you. You have to learn the basics of HTML.”

She said her revenue “goes up and down like a yo-yo,” a phenomenon known to virtually all retailers. Shopping is seasonal and Archambault estimated her revenue can range from $3,000 in a bad month to the low-five figures in a good month. It’s enough.

“Quite frankly, I could not afford to go back to teaching. And I’m having more fun with more freedom,” explained Archambault, whose income has allowed her 53-year-old husband to quit his job and return to college.

“My business is sponsoring my husband’s midlife crisis. I’m a chief breadwinner,” she boasted. “I’m not the bread-baker any more.”


Age: 49
Industry: Travel

Affiliates can live anywhere, and Ulrich Roth has chosen an idyllic setting – the Canary Islands – as home for himself, his son and his travel service, which focuses on travel packages, flights, rental cars, cruises and vacation homes.

“I work at home in a very beautiful area on the west side of La Palma,” said Roth, a native of Germany. “My house, with a view of the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, is surrounded by a big blooming garden.”

Although Roth just entered the world of affiliate marketing at the start of 2002, he reported sales of $150,000 in his first year, with monthly revenues ranging from $10,000 to over $20,000 at peak season. He estimates sales are up 20 to 25 percent this year.

When he isn’t working on his site, Roth finds time for walking in the natural paradise around his home and traveling.

For Roth, the key to his success is concentrating on a niche he knows.

“I focused on the German-speaking market. I have no experience with the French, Spanish, Italian or English markets. Every country has its own specific peculiarity,” he said. “I design and program my own sites. For graphics, I sometimes employ a freelancer.”

His advice to newbies is to read Ken Evoy’s popular book, Make Your Site Sell. “It’s the best help for people to develop a basic comprehension for this business,” he said.

Beyond that, his advice is simple and straightforward: “Affiliate marketing is a job like others. To be successful, you have to work seriously and steadily. To put some banners on the site is not enough. The most important thing to becoming successful is to focus on one theme or business. If you are in a leading position, you can expand.”

Roth noted that his 20-year-old son, Dominique, is also working successfully in affiliate marketing for the travel industry, earning $1,000 to $3,000 a month. “Now, I’m teaching and consulting him, telling the secrets,” said the proud papa.

TOM MURPHY, editor in chief of Revenue, has been writing about business and technology for more than 25 years. He’s also the author of Web Rules: How the Internet Is Changing the Way Consumers Make Choices.

A HodgePodge of Online Marketing Happenings

Just in case you missed anything going on this week, I’ve gathered a few items to help get you back in the loop.

ShareASale earlier this week released a modified policy regarding the allowance of toolbars and other extensions of the browser such as FireFox extensions, etc, within its network. SAS CEO Brian Littleton encourages affiliates to join the discussion and review the policy. is excepting nominations in a variety of categories for its “Best of” awards. Voting ends on March 2, so cast your vote now for best service to industry, best affiliate manager, best network, best tool, and many other categories.

LinkShare released a new deep link bookmarklet for its UK Network that enables publishers to easily create LinkShare links to any page on an advertiser site, without needing to log in to the interface.

Earlier this week, online marketer Scott Jangro raised some interesting points about putting affiliate links on Twitter. Check out the lively discussion.

Four leading marketing and advertising industry associations stated their continuing commitment to work together to develop a cross sector set of privacy principles for online behavioral advertising in order to respond to the challenge issued recently by the Federal Trade Commission for comprehensive industry self regulation. The cross-industry group represents the first time the entire marketing and media industry has come together to develop a cohesive and far-reaching self-regulatory effort for interactive advertising.

Azoogle/Playboy Contest for Affiliates

If you are an AzoogleAds affiliate and want to see how Hef and the bunnies live, this contest may be for you. Azoogle, in conjunction with Playboy is running a trivia contest online Thursday, February 19 from 11am to 4pm (Eastern).

The person that answers the most questions correctly about Azoogle will be declared a winner in the 2009 AzoogleAds Publisher Challenge and go on an all-expense paid trip to a party at the infamous Playboy Mansion on August 29, 2009, along with a two night stay in Los Angeles.

For more details about Azoogle ongoing Publisher Challenge 2009 go to

Twitter: The Follow Up

There are many different theories about how to use Twitter and especially surrounding the issue of followers and who to follow. Some folks like believe that that if you’re using Twitter for branding that you should accept all comers. On the flip side, I protect my updates and don’t approve most follower requests. I also don’t follow back everyone that follows me.

There are merits to both side of the argument. But let me take a moment to let you know why I proceed in the way I do.

I use Twitter as a personal communication tool. Sure lots of my followers are folks from my work world of online marketing, but many are friends, former colleagues and family. I’m not representing my company. My Twitter bio says that I am the Publisher of Revenue magazine, but I typically don’t tweet very much about our brand. If I were to do that, I would do that under a Revenue magazine Twitter name. Instead I choose to tweet about my life, food, music, my interests and things I’m passionate about – some of that is marketing related and Web related.

I don’t want people I don’t know searching for me and assuming that because I work for Revenue I’m open to PR pitches via Twitter. I’m not. I’m always scouring the huge list of people I follow for good leads and stories, but for me, Twitter is an information gathering and communication tool, not a promotional vehicle. That’s just how I choose to use it. Others do it differently. There are many people that use it very successfully for promotion and branding. I think that’s very cool too.

I have around 600 followers. I would say that on average I decline about 10-15 people a day. I have no qualms about that. I don’t need the biggest list of followers. It’s not an ego thing for me. It’s about meaningful communications with those I’m interested in. I would rather have a smaller circle of quality people. And if you unfollow me, that’s ok by me. Maybe what I have to say is not for you. I respect that.

Today I declined a guy who sent me a request that said, “You look like a model or actress.” What the heck? Seriously? Is this guy blind, retarded or just stupid? Probably all of the above. Why, based on insincere flattery, would I want to be followed by this person? Not interested. I can’t see him add anything to enrich my life in any way. For me this is the fall out from it hitting the mainstream. Don’t even get me started on the phishing scams.

Some social media experts say to follow more people than follow you. Others preach that following half as many than the amount that follow you is the perfect mix. I’m not sure there is a right way. Only time will tell.

I can only tell you why I follow people. I follow some for fun and celebrity (@mrskutcher, @aplusk). I follow some to get deals and product updates (@southwest, I follow some for work purposes (@missyward, @affiliatetip, @jangro). I follow others just because they are so damn cool (@catango, @connieberg). I follow many for insightful social media and Web news (@karllong, @copyblogger). There are many reasons to follow someone and for me this variety creates a diverse Twitter world.

There are no hard and fast rules for Twitter. And that’s what I like about it. The best thing about Twitter is that it can be what you choose to make if of. Now go forth and make the most of it – however you choose to.

Coupon and Deal Sites Up in Down Economy

At last week’s LinkShare Symposium West in San Francisco, David Ginsberg, vice president of market researcher Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, shared the results of a study commissioned by LinkShare about online buying behavior.

He outlined a new breed of recession shopper that is flocking to online to find deals. Not surprisingly, coupon sites are benefiting from this situation.

Here’s some of what the report says, “As the nation’s economic woes continue, consumers have become increasingly careful about their purchasing decisions, with most now seeing online research as a normal part of their buying behavior, even for small purchases. Retailers that offer discounts, special promotions and product comparisons to engage – and keep – these consumers will have more success than those that continue to try striking emotional chords through traditional channels. These strategies, when combined with an understanding of the various online shopping personalities, can be effective in winning over new consumers and influencing hardcore shoppers.”

The study went to state that, hardcore online shoppers, termed “weekly shoppers”, can be influenced by coupons and discounts, but so, too, can a new consumer segment PSB discovered called “recession shoppers” – those who will shop more online if their personal economic circumstances deteriorate. Specifically, the study found that:

“68 percent of “recession shoppers” (and 79 percent of “weekly shoppers”) purchased something online they wouldn’t have otherwise because of a coupon or discount.

64 percent of “recession shoppers” (and 70 percent of “weekly shoppers”) said they purchased something from a particular online retailer they wouldn’t have otherwise because of a coupon or discount. ”

Study results also reveal that to engage these consumers, retailers must change the way they think about – and connect with – these groups. PSB revealed three things every online retailer must know in order to stay competitive in today’s tough economy.

They must:

*Cater to these consumers’ new need for information-based shopping

*Know the right channels through which to reach frequent online shoppers

build “brand champions” through consumer loyalty.

Here are some additional findings from the study:

*Seventy four percent of online shoppers receive e-mail alerts from their favorite retailers

*The “recession” shopper is 17 points more likely to research products or services online several times a week than average users

*Consumers under 34 years of age make more online purchases every month than any other age group

*Thirty four percent of those surveyed plan to make more online purchases in 2009 than they did in 2008.

Setting the Record Straight

I’m swamped catching up after Affiliate Summit, but I just wanted to make sure that I took the time to clarify a few things from the most recent issue of Revenue.

First, let me clear up some errors from the Q&A with Commission Junction’s General Manager, Kerri Pollard. It was Circuit City not Citibank that Kerri referenced as filing for bankruptcy in the fall. Also, CJ launched a pay-per-call beta test with Ring Revenue – not CallWave. I believe the confusion may have stemmed from the fact that Ring Revenue was founded by several former employees of CallWave. Also, the name of Commission Junction’s new Director of Compliance & Support Operations, Jeff Ransdell, was misspelled. Sorry.

In addition, I received some feedback from several readers at Affiliate Summit who pointed out that the pull quote we used, when taken out of the context from my lengthy conversation with Kerri, seemed very negative. “…CJ has been cleaning the stables for a year…”

I didn’t see it that way when we were doing putting together story – mostly because Kerri was so excited, positive and forthcoming about the changes that had taken place at CJ over the last year. My entire conversation with Kerri revolved around how hard CJ is working to ensure that every team within the organization – including marketing, product management and engineering – is focused and accountable to a customer segment. So, it didn’t even occur to me people would read that quote any other way than Kerri intended. I guess as a journalist I should have predicted that and I definitely should have known better. Again, my sincerest apologies to Kerri and her CJ team.

Marketers Not Too Social

This week there seems to be a lot of reports, research and studies about marketers and social media. Here’s a sampling:

According to a new survey of 180 chief marketing officers at brands with revenues ranging from $250 million to over $10 billion, 55 percent of the CMOs at leading brands surveyed say they’re not too interested (22 percent), or not interested at all (33 percent), in incorporating the social networking sites into their marketing strategies. And just 10 percent of the CMO survey respondents say they already are using social networking sites in their marketing plans.

The report, out by Epsilon and conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, goes on to note that Internet forums (52 percent), webcasts and podcasts (47 percent), email (47 percent), blogs (37 percent), and Webinars (52 percent) outscored Facebook and MySpace (35 percent), in terms of being social media elements that marketing executives said they are very interested or somewhat interested in using.

The Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) recently released the results of its social media membership survey, which shows that most marketers are still in the early or experimental phases of adopting and measuring social media.

MENG, which has more than 2,000 executive-level members worldwide, conducted the survey last month and found that 67 percent of respondents consider themselves beginners at using social media for marketing purposes. Additionally, more than 87 percent of respondents are not regularly measuring the ROI of their social media marketing efforts, according to the findings.

More than 67 percent of those surveyed say they will increase their social media advertising budget in 2009, however, nearly 80 percent say social media is not a fully integrated component of their marketing programs.

The MENG Social Media Practices survey results are available at

And despite some high-profile social media success stories, the social network ad market is suffering. In fact, eMarketer significantly lowered its forecast for US social network ad spending.

“In 2008, companies will spend $1.2 billion on US social network advertising, down 14 perecent from our previous estimate of $1.4 billion, published in May 2008,” says Debra Aho Williamson. “Even in 2009, spending will rise barely $100 million to $1.3 billion.” Read the entire report.

And finally, Williamson, offers up her predictions about social media marketing for 2009.

“E-commerce will be a growing revenue stream for social network sites. Expect both MySpace and Facebook to enhance their self-serve advertising systems to allow consumers and businesses to buy and sell real-world goods and services.

With US ad revenue growth slowing, smaller and niche social networks will have a tough time gaining traction and several may close up shop or be acquired by larger players. In addition, marketers that have built standalone social networks tied to their brands will either close them or migrate them to existing social network platforms where they can reach a broader audience.”

She adds that Facebook, “already a de facto business networking site because of the number of businesspeople who use it, will develop ad programs aimed at B2B companies. This will directly affect LinkedIn.”

She also predicts that Twitter will be acquired. “The company that buys it will use the Twitter infrastructure to offer targeted marketing and analytics to advertisers.”

Check out all of eMarketer’s analyst predictions for the coming year.

Lessons from Affiliates

Thanks to Linda Buquet for pointing out this blog post. Talk about being honest. This young affiliate details how his monthly income plunged from more than $300,000 a month to $182.64 in November. I found the story compelling. It can’t be easy to expose your missteps for all to see. But there are good lessons to be had from his experience.

I also really enjoyed a recent post by Melanie Seery at She writes about Herb, a NY affiliate that was seriously impacted by the tax laws. Definitely worth checking out.

Online Marketers Eye Green Monday

Market research figures for Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a mixed bag with analysts reporting widely varying figures for online shopping.

The biggest online shopping day is expected to be Dec. 15., which is being called Green Monday. Some researchers are expecting that 32 percent of holiday sales are expected to take place that day as procrastinators and budget shoppers hold out for better deals. It’s also typically the last day that consumers can wait and still get free shipping.

According to comScore, in 2007 $430 million spent on Black Friday, $610 million on Cyber Monday, and a $881 million spent on Green Monday.

Here are some figures from Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

Susquehanna Analyst Marianne Wolk estimated about $750 million (or a mere 2 percent growth) in online sales for Cyber Monday, compared with the same period last year.

The big winners on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were online-only retailers such as Visits to brick-and-mortar store Web sites declined 16 percent on Thanksgiving, and 10 percent on Black Friday compared with the same period a year ago, but visits to online-only retailers rose 11 percent on Thanksgiving, and 10 percent on Black Friday, according to Hitwise.

Nielsen Online reported Monday Web traffic on the Holiday eShopping Index rose 10 percent to 31.7 million unique visitors on Black Friday across more than 120 online retailers, compared with the same day in 2007.

U.S visits to online-only websites (100 total) were up 5 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Hitwise.

U.S visits to Comparison Shopping websites were down 21 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Hitwise.

The top visited retail website on Cyber Monday 2008 were receiving 10.77 percent of U.S. visits among the top 500 Retail Web sites. was the second most visited with 8.55 percent of visits followed by with 4.56 percent. was the fourth most visited with 3.81 percent and was fifth with 2.74 percent of visits, according to Hitwise’s traffic increased 21 percent on Cyber Monday 2008 vs. 2007.’s traffic increased 6 percent, according to Hitwise.

A survey of over 250,000 people who shopped online between Black Friday and Cyber Monday found that Cyber Monday shoppers were less satisfied this year than they were last year. But those shoppers were actually more satisfied than they were in November, according to ForeSee Results.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 147 million shoppers last year.