In the abstract, your website's analytics look good. Plenty of web traffic is streaming in from all directions from a healthy mix of organic and social referrals. Still, something is off: Conversion rates are down, bounce rates are way, way, up, and all the effort you've put into boosting web traffic seems for not. Common internet knowledge tells us that if a user can't find what they're looking for on a website within 3-5 seconds, they're far more likely to "bounce" (or leave your website...
5 Sustainable Monetization Strategies to Help You Earn for the Long-Term
Let’s face it; commerce makes the world go round and for every website or blog that is launched, exists the subtle or major idea of making money online. Success has a particular appeal that simply cannot be ignored and as we act on our passions, inspirations and ideas, monetization will always tend to be an option.
However, gone are the days when merely having a website in and of itself translated into immediate earnings, the online landscape is vastly different. Customers and readers are much harder to please and consume content with greater scrutiny and in some cases “blindness”. The average performance of banner ads in the late 1990’s was as high as 44%; meaning that 44% of all visitors to some websites would find banners interesting and click them. Whereas in our current digital age, click-through rates on average are at about 0.1%. It is indeed true that banner ads are not as effective as they once were and we’re just not attracted to them anymore. However, it’s not the medium that is the problem but is more a matter of context. It’s about knowing your audience, finding out what interests them, what they’re looking for and providing value which is relevant to them. Banner advertising is just one example of monetization but the greatest earnings are achieved when relevant value is delivered.
The Correct Approach to Earning Online
In the midst of the pressure for short-term gains, whether at the personal or business level, it’s quite easy to get carried away with making money while ignoring the fact that consumers demand more value. A greater focus on the dollars and cents can easily mean less investment in where it matters most, which is the customer experience. It is evident that 78% of customers tend to abandon transactions and purchases because of poor customer service, which is a clear indication on how to implement monetization strategies that work. This can be summed up in the quotes, “the person that gives value first has the leverage” and “If you’re in business, first and foremost, you have to be nice. Show your customers that you care” by Gary Vaynerchuk. Monetization should not be your primary goal nor should it be a side thought but it is most fruitful as the result of giving superior value, regardless of your product (blog, SaaS startup or online retail site)
Your investment of time, effort and in some cases money is what will help make monetization a rewarding venture.
In addition, there has never been a time when it’s easier to build websites and maintain a presence online than now. The vast resources online now make it possible for beginners to build beautiful and functional websites for free; so there’s no excuse to not get started. Also, since we’re on the topic of monetization, a few free website builders also give their users a chance to earn through affiliate sales. IM-Creator for example, has an affiliate program which pays $35 per referred customers who sign up for a premium product. The possibilities are endless for earning online.
Here are some options for monetizing your online presence.
Affiliate marketing is among the easiest methods for earning online. Businesses pay you to promote their products and make sales for them. Some affiliates offer as compensation a percentage of the value of sales while some have more set and predictable payouts.
There are 2 simple rules you need to follow here:
1) The products you promote must be related to your core topic or product.
2) The fact that you promote / sell them is an endorsement, so make sure they’re high-quality products.
A real-life example of affiliate marketing done right is Arsena Schroeder, an IM Creator user that created a special page on her website to promote IM Creator. She even goes further and provides a service designing a website using IM Creator.
In-Text Ad links
For example, VigLink is one of the most profitable and useful platforms for content-driven commerce based on affiliate sales. By using their network you’ll gain access to over 35,000 merchants who are seeking relevant websites to reach wider audiences. The key to making this kind of network work is aligning your website with merchants who offer products that offer great value to your audience. For example, if your content is about sports news and caters to enthusiasts and people active in athletics, promoting products from Nike (who is a merchant with VigLink) would produce above average results since your audience would typically be more in-tune with that content.
Google AdSense & Contextual Ads
Google Adsense is an ad network that compensates content publishers for each legitimate click they receive on banner ads placed on their website. Their ads are usually contextual which means that the advertising they serve on your site is more than likely related to your site’s content or something your visitors may have interest in based on their browsing activities. What you earn per click depends greatly on the industry you’re in and what advertisers are paying Google to distribute and serve the ads. For example, if you’re in the poetry niche, click earnings typically range from $0.10 to $1.00 per click while niches related to law, pay as high as $50 per click.
The best place to start learning about Google’s ad products is their beginner’s policy page and this in-depth guide on how AdSense works. If you have an IM Creator website, refer to this guide to learn how to add AdSense to your website.
Membership / Premium Content
If you have specialized knowledge and experience that the public would find useful, then there’s a possibility they’d be willing to pay you for it. Somewhat like an online consultant, you can create a community where your audience pays a nominal fee to gain access to a wealth of knowledge. The key here is not to charge the highest price you possibly can but to find the right figure that will attract a high volume of participants. A successful example of a membership based model in action, which you should emulate, is the community offered at Copyblogger by Brian Clark and his team. As a pioneer in content marketing from the late 1990’s, Brian has developed his profile as the “go-to” copywriter online and a content marketing expert before it was a “thing.” As a result, he has amassed a unique wealth of knowledge that is unique to the web.
Copyblogger’s membership option is the perfect mix of free membership based content for aspiring content developers as well as a paid monthly “Authority” option presenting the opportunity to gain greater access to privileged and expert-level content. It’s a very focused resource that you’ll hardly find anywhere else; this is what makes the perfect membership community and product.
The key to creating a great membership site isn’t finding the right payment model, but getting the concept of membership right. Before people are willing to pay for content, they need to see its value; the focus needs to be on value received rather than cost of membership.
It’s about delivering a great experience and members need to feel like they are gaining VIP treatment, an elite status, high-value information that cannot easily be found elsewhere, special access to you, the expert, and networking opportunities with other perceived high-value members.
Members can either pay on a monthly basis to gain access, pay for individual pieces of content like white papers and guides or on a metered approach which may allow consumption of free content up to a certain numbers of views. It’s up to you and what works best for your business model.
How To Implement On Your Own Website
As you begin assessing the right monetization strategy for your website, ensure that you clearly plan and review the experience for your visitors. You should be able to layout and anticipate what users will see and how they perceive ads; whether they add or damage the user experience. In addition, assess carefully the quality of products offered by any affiliates you choose to work with. Always promote quality brands that align with the vision of the experience you have for your users.
Monetization is quite simple if you have the right motivation. Always keep your customers’ and audience’s satisfaction the center of your focus. Start by building trust and the opportunities for earning will follow.