41 of the Best Marketing Books to Upgrade Your Game

School doesn’t create great marketers.

The proper education – no matter where you get it – does.

There are two ways to go about it:

  • Fumble around and do a lot of trial and error
  • Stand on the shoulders of giants and cut your learning curve in half

This article is for those who choose the second route. I’ve compiled the best marketing books across a wide variety of disciplines.

These marketing books are about more than just marketing. They’re about consumer psychology, copywriting, advertising, and branding.

You don’t need to read everyone on this list. Choose a few from each category and apply what you learn.

Marketing books on psychology

Great marketing doesn’t start with tactics.

Those are the least important.

It starts with a deep understanding of human psychology.

These marketing books focus on human and consumer psychology. After reading them, you’ll have deep knowledge about how your prospects function as human beings and consumers.

With that information, you can make marketing campaigns that strike a nerve and compel people to take action.

1.      Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

This is an oft mentioned book on psychology and for good reason. It peels back the covers and shows us that we’re not as rational as we’d like to believe.

There are 6 principles which are mentioned.

  • Contrast – comparing one solution to another is incredibly effective
  • Reciprocity (this is why people give away value through things like lead magnets before asking for the sale)
  • Commitment and consistency – when someone commits initially, they want to appear consistent with their earlier decisions. That’s why micro commitments are so powerful in conversion optimization.
  • Social proof – If others think you’re awesome then your prospect may form the same opinion
  • Liking – If someone likes you they’re more willing to give you an opportunity to sell them something
  • Authority – We seek out experts to solve our problems. Be the expert.

2.      Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The author proposes we have two systems at play in our heads.

System One makes automatic or snap decisions for us. It’s difficult to control or even detect. These are our biases developed from experiences in the past or skills we’ve acquired.

System Two is the slower, calculated, and methodical thinking we do. This is the conscious part of the mind that analyzes decisions before making them. This is where beliefs and justifications for our actions play out.

As a marketer, you have to appeal to both systems. System One allows people to make impulse decisions but System Two helps them justify it later. If you appeal to only one system then the sale won’t happen (or it’ll happen but there will be buyer’s remorse which may lead to a refund).

3.      Contagious: The Way Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

This book deals with the way ideas are spread from person to person and has a few major pillars.

  • Social currency – As they’re sharing it, it should make them look good.
  • Triggers – Something makes it appear top of mind (Facebook notifications, lyrics from a song, etc.)
  • Emotion – Before it can be shared, people need to feel something (any emotion will do).
  • Public – Your prospects should see others using your product or performing the desired action
  • Practical value – People should believe it’s useful for them to spread it
  • Story – We’ve evolved to find the narrative in almost everything. Infuse your message with a story.

4.      Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Dan is a professor of psychology and economics so a lot of his work deals with the psychology of buying.

This book focuses on three major areas:

  • Our love of comparing products and prices. You should give people a point of reference when presenting your offer.
  • Free isn’t free. It’s a price point but one that’s hard to pass by. Offer something free (buy one get one free) so people are more likely to take action.
  • People overvalue things they own and will put in more work to keep something than to gain something.

5.      Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

There’s a reason why regular users of apps like Facebook and Instagram spend so much time there. The creators have built them with dark patterns so we form habits and even take actions we don’t want to.

Anyways, this book is about the psychology that goes into product creation. It needs three things:

  • It needs to get users to form habits around them
  • The rewards should be variable
  • Answer two questions (the answer should be yes)
    • Does the product make life better for users?
    • Would I use the product?

6.      Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die Chip and Dan Heath

Good ideas die because they’re presented poorly. I’m sure you can think of a few yourself. The world is a busy place so an idea needs to catch attention quickly or your prospects will keep moving.

The major elements are:

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness
  • Credibility
  • Emotional
  • Story

Are you seeing any patterns here?

7.      The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by chip and Dan Heath

This is another one by Chip and Dan. In The Power of Moments, they look at how certain experiences can remove us from our comfort zone and change us. It goes on to build out a strategy to apply that in business and life.

There are five central ideas:

  • We remember three parts of an experience. The peak, the pits, and the transitions. Your job is to remove the pits and create peaks.
  • A defining moment is one that’s memorable and meaningful. These are the peaks.
  • Defining moments start with one or more of these elements: Elevation, insight, pride, or connection
  • If there’s a struggle with transitions, create a defining moment that marks the new and the old
  • Transitions are marked, milestones celebrated, and pits filled

8.      Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom

This book is built on research conducted in the ever-evolving field of neuromarketing. It’s not an exact science but the conclusions drawn are useful.

  • Product placements work better to influence buying behavior than ads
  • Subliminal messages can work but people actively resist logos
  • The most powerful brands in the world create rituals and follow the same pillars as religion (Apple, Nike, Oreo, Etc).
  • Full sensory experiences, when you can create them, are one of the most powerful ways to elicit a response in your prospects
  • Sex is overrated.

9.      Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

This book focuses on the factors that affect a buying decision.

It deals mostly with retail but the lessons are applicable in multiple settings.

In short, small changes to the shopping experience (placements, prominence, presentation, etc.) can have a huge impact on your sales.

10. Consumerology: The Market Research Myth, The Truth About Consumers, and the Psychology of Shopping by Philip Graves

This book argues that market research is only a small part of the puzzle because human beings are irrational. Market research is rational.

Instead, Graves has a different approach to market research which will help you unlock insights based on the unconscious behaviors people perform when they want to buy.

11. The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More By Barry Schwartz

Schwartz talks about two types of consumers. The satisficers and the maximizers. Satisficers buy the first product they find which meets their needs. The maximizers perform exhaustive research before they make a purchase decision.

The book outlines the psychology behind the groups and how to position your products for each one. He also goes on to discuss the pitfalls of offering more choice to consumers.

Marketing books on copywriting

Copywriting, no matter how you feel about it, is an essential skill.

These books will help you up your game.

12. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman

Sugarman was one of the great copywriters of his day and used his skills to make millions through direct response advertising.

This book is a classic copywriting guide that walks through the fundamentals of writing compelling copy. Many of his techniques have been applied to modern web copy.

If you’re completely new when it comes to copywriting then this book is essential reading. Even if you’re an old hand, it’ll deliver a few nuggets for you to digest.

13. The Gary Halbert Letters by Gary Halbert

Gary Halbert is another copywriting legend who built an empire, lost it, and rebuilt it with the written word.

His regular letters teach copywriting lessons from a different age like how to place an ad in newspapers and the proper way to buy lists. That notwithstanding, he also teaches fundamental copywriting techniques that’ll serve you well.

There’s a website aptly named The Gary Halbert Letter but the newsletters are out of order which can make it a difficult read. Shoot us an email and we’ll see if we can’t find a PDF file for you with all the letters in order.

14. Breakthrough Copywriting: How to Generate Quick Cash With the Written Word by David Garfinkel

Though the title of the book makes it seem like they’re selling a get rich quick scheme, it’s not.

Garfinkel is a tested copywriter who distills years of wisdom into Breakthrough Copywriting. It focuses on proven principles that most people will be able to copy and paste into their current marketing campaigns, letters, or website for quick results.

15. How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking up More Customers By Henneke Duistermaat

This is a modern book that looks at how to write content for the web – a discipline on its own.

It goes through six pillars that help you research and write copy that will sell your products, get people on your site, or take your desired action.

16. Copy Logic By Mike Masterson and Mike Palmer

The authors are responsible for building Agora into the multimillion-dollar financial advice powerhouse it is today. Needless to say, their techniques work.

The book focuses on a methodical approach to transforming subpar copy into the stuff that converts all the traffic you throw at it. It’s full of examples and templates you can use to speed up the copywriting process.

17. The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier

Collier wrote a lot of ads in the early 1900’s. He specialized in books because he felt that if you could sell books then you could sell anything.

The Robert Collier Letter Book is a “how I did it” kind of thing. Even though it was published almost 100 years ago, it’s still effective.

18. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Jay Abraham

This isn’t a 100% copywriting book but it does relate to marketing.

The first part of the book focuses on guarantees that are so compelling your customers and prospects have no choice but to try it out. These are guarantees that go above and beyond risk-free like the 110% guarantee that Tim Ferris offered or the one-year return policy from Zappos.

19. The Copywriters Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells By Bob Bly

As the name suggests, this is a handbook that should be readily available whenever you’re writing copy. There are five main points in the book:

  • Copy must get attention, communicate, and persuade in order for it to be effective.
  • Free is a powerful tool – use it wisely
  • Most people will only read the headline and skip the rest of the copy. Spend most of your time here.
  • Don’t’ over polish testimonials.
  • Look at the product from the perspective of your customers and highlight features/benefits they’ll find useful

20. The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales by Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a successful copywriter and pretty funny to boot. The Ultimate Sales Letter focuses on removing the art from copywriting and boiling it down to a process.

Key takeaways:

  • Figure out what your buyer wants
  • Enter the conversation in your reader’s head where they are. Don’t try to start by changing the subject.
  • Present features/benefits based on importance
  • Acknowledge the drawbacks of your offer
  • Remember, people are busy so get to the point

Marketing books on advertising

Advertising is where the money is made and lost.

It’s a multibillion-dollar industry for a reason.

A good ad can earn you your first million. A bad ad can lose you your next million.

The following books will help you create compelling ads that are ROI positive from the first day.

21. Breakthrough Advertising: How to Write Ads That Shatter Traditions And Sales by Eugene Schwartz

This is one of those classics that everyone should read at least once. Yes, everyone.

Schwartz focuses on a few key areas that’ll set your ads apart.

He touches on so many aspects of advertising and also bleeds over into copywriting.

A few lessons you’ll learn are:

  • Stages of awareness
  • How to develop a compelling headline
  • Market research/analysis
  • The maturity of your market (first mover or last mover)

It’s worth a read but is expensive. Look for the Ebook or check it out from your public library.

22. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy is considered by many to be the father of modern advertising. He help put Puerto Rico on the map as a tourist destination and grew his agency into a powerhouse.

This book distills a lot of the lessons he learned. Keep in mind that it was written in the Mad Men era. Things were different then.

 

23. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

John Caples is another prolific copywriter that made quite a few ads in his day.

In his book, Tested Advertising Methods he doesn’t just give you a bunch of tactics. He admonishes you to test everything. In fact, he creates two categories of people.

  • Those who test
  • Those who don’t test

The ones who test win more often than not.

He touches on multiple subjects like headlines, appeals, testing, writing the lede, etc.

24. My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising Claude Hopkins

Do you know why it’s common to brush your teeth every day? It’s not because of the FDA or any public health push.

It’s because of Claud Hopkins work with Pepsodent. Over the course of a decade, the number of Americans who brushed their teeth daily increase by roughly 10x.

That’s effective advertising.

In his book, he tells his personal story as well as how to create a compelling ad. Both aspects are worth reading.

25. How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab

Do you know why How To Win Friends And Influence People was such a success? You can praise Victor Schwab for that. He’s the ad man responsible for getting it in front of the right people.

His book details the lessons he’s learned in the field.

He considers only four parts of the ad:

The headline

Body copy

The promise and supporting information

The summary and call to action

26. A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

This isn’t about advertising but it’s all about advertising.

Let me explain.

Ads are effective when they’re relevant to the product but also have a novel element. Unfortunately, there’s nothing new under the sun.

What are you to do?

You create ideas from what’s been done before and combine them in a new way. That’s what this book is about.

27. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan

I first read this book a few years ago and I loved how it was hilarious while distilling sage wisdom. Few books toe that line successfully.

Sullivan is an advertising veteran. In this book, he talks about different forms of advertising, his experiences, multiple mediums, and how to break into the ad business (if that’s your thing).

28. Cutting Edge advertising by Jim Aitchison

I like this book because it’s written from the perspective of the sharpest minds in the business. It takes successful ads and gets the people who created them to break them apart and reveal why and how they did what they did.

29. The Advertising Solution: Influence Prospects, Multiply Sales, and Promote your Brand by Craig Simpson

This book by Simpson distills information from many of the great copywriters of the age. It’s meant to be used as a reference guide when you’re creating ads or writing copy.

The emphasis is on testing and you’ll notice that each one of the people profiled had different techniques and philosophies.

Don’t copy them. Learn and improve on what you find.

Marketing books on marketing

I’ve focused on everything but pure marketing.

Now, it’s time to learn the business of marketing with a few hard-hitting books.

Some of them will be familiar and some may make you go what was he thinking. All of them are useful.

30. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate them at your own risk by Al Reis and Jack Trout

I’m not a fan of calling anything in marketing a law. With that being said, this book is a good primer.

A few lessons I appreciated were being first in peoples mind, creating a new category for yourself, and the opportunity costs of products.

31. How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp

Byron takes a contrarian view in his book. There’s a lot of information that says consumers want a relationship with a brand or that they want a deeper meaning. He disagrees.

While I don’t agree with everything he says, it’s worth a read to see what it’s like on the other side. After reading, you’ll be better equipped to form your own opinions on the matter.

32. Marketing in the Era of Accountability by Les Binet and Peter Field

This book takes 880 case studies of campaigns submitted to the IPA Effectiveness Awards and dissects them to find out what worked, what didn’t, and why.

It also has rare insights into ideas that are more detrimental than good when it comes to effective marketing.

33. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

The title is a bit misleading. Godin doesn’t make a case for how marketers lie. In fact, the consumers are the liars about their true motivations and beliefs.

He talks about stories and how they shape our lives as well as how to harness them for better marketing. The best product doesn’t win. The best story does.

34. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

What would you do if you were driving down the road and saw a bright purple cow? If you’re like most people you’d slow down, stare, and possibly stop to take a selfie.

It would definitely be a talking point at your next get together or over dinner. The concept of this book is simple – be remarkable and it’ll be much easier to sell.

35. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most vocal entrepreneurs alive. He made his fortune by being visible on social media.

Now, he’s one of its biggest champions.

In his book, he talks about how to tell your story on social media in an authentic way.

36. Trust Me, I’m Lying

This is one of the first books from Ryan Holiday and focuses on how influential blogs have become and the effect on society as a whole.

The author has a less than nice opinion of bloggers but the lessons he teaches are real. Blogs are businesses, they will publish your content if you pay them or if it turns heads, and it can get ugly fast so take note.

It’s an insightful read about how the internet currently works.

37. Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Reis and Jack Trout

There’s nothing new under the sun.

Facebook was just another social media platform and so was Snapchat. They’re both billion dollar companies.

What’s unique is the way products and services are positioned inside the customers head. Facebook marketing can be positioned as Facebook marketing for doctors. It’s the same service – trust me.

This book shows you how to win the positioning battle.

38. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

The title of this book truly says it all. We’re always selling something whether that’s an idea to your family, a business to another company, or a pitch to a client.

Instead of looking at it like a burden or something to dread, embrace it for what it is. Use honesty and service to convince your prospects and customers.

There are a few nuggets in the book which makes it worth the read.

39. Everything I know by Paul Jarvis

I wouldn’t say this is a pure marketing book but the lessons can be applied to your efforts. Paul Jarvis talks about a lot of things in this book but there are two lessons that stand out:

  • Find your values and align your life mission around that
  • Share what you’re doing out in the open – welcome the feedback and take the criticism in stride

40. On Writing Well by Willam Zissner

Marketing includes writing. This is true whether you like it or not.

You can say you don’t like to write and struggle or you can bite the bullet and improve. I started out as a horrible writer.

While I can’t hold a candle to Stephen King just yet, I can compose prose that gets people to think and occasionally buy.

I’m content with that.

On Writing Well looks at how to write compelling nonfiction. It’s the kind of book you keep by your desk.

41. They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer by Marcus Sheridan

Inbound marketing is a new discipline when compared it to print or radio advertising.

The principle is simple: create content so people come to you instead of vice versa. Even though this seems simple on the surface, it can be much more difficult.

Marcus Sheridan is in a unique position to talk about it because he used inbound marketing to build a multimillion-dollar fiberglass pool business.

His approach is simple. Answer every question and teach every lesson. If you do it well you’ll get more customers.

Conclusion

I’ve gone through over 40 marketing books that deal with multiple aspects of the craft.

Even if you read everything on this list, you’ll still need to put it into practice. I suggest you take one or two books from each section and read it while applying the lessons you learn.

Rinse and repeat until you’re ready to write your own book or until you finish the list. Keep in mind that this list isn’t written in stone because marketing is always evolving. If you find something useful then, by all means, use it.

Let me know what you think of my list of the best marketing books in the comments and don’t forget to share.

Marketing Myopia: Definition, Examples, and How to Move Beyond it

I have a confession.

I suffer from a condition known as myopia.

If anything is more than ten feet away from me I have trouble seeing it. It’s also known as nearsightedness.

It’s the same way some people look at marketing.

Many businesses have had to close their doors because they were, without their knowledge, practicing marketing myopia.

In this article, we’ll look at what marketing myopia is and the impact it can have on your business. More importantly, I’ll share a way to move beyond marketing myopia and build what your customers love to achieve lasting success.

What is marketing myopia?

The phrase was coined in 1960 by Theodore C. Levitt. It’s a theory that states companies focus on their needs and short term growth strategies. They neglect the needs and wants of their customers and fail as a result.

In short, businesses are busy selling what they have instead of improving it based on what their customers tell them. The market votes with its wallet and will force anyone out of business who doesn’t meet its needs.  

The perfect example of this is Blockbuster. People were leaving the video rental service behind and instead of making the painful changes needed to survive, they buckled under the pressure.

source

There are countless examples just like this. Huge as well as small businesses were doing well for a period but failed to adapt to changing times and were left in the past. A few examples:

  • Circuit City
  • Nokia (Microsoft bailed them out)
  • JCPenny
  • Kodak

These are just the notable ones. There are countless small businesses that’ve failed under similar circumstances.

What causes it when people should know better?

What causes marketing myopia in the first place

There are many reasons. Some say hubris and some say it’s naiveté. In reality, it’s a mix of both. One of the most common causes is the business landscape.

Growth industries

In the mid to late ninety’s the internet was the only place to be. If you opened a website and got a few people to visit it then investors would be throwing millions of dollars your way.

It didn’t last long.

Almost overnight, the bubble burst and billions of dollars in value were wiped out. It’s not that the companies weren’t innovating – they were. It was innovation in the wrong direction. They created products people didn’t truly want or were too far ahead of their time.

source

Webvan tried to pioneer online grocery delivery and was valued at over a billion dollars with 4,500 employees. They couldn’t get their business model or message right and went bust in two years.

In 2010, Bitcoin was worth $100. At the beginning of 2018, it peaked at nearly $20,000 a pop. If you would’ve invested $20,000 in 2014 and sold at the peak, you’d be a millionaire many times over.

Bitcoin is a bit abstract and it’s not technically a business. The Dot Com Bubble was almost two decades ago. We’ve learned from our mistakes right?

Not exactly.

Just a few years ago, Juicero received millions of dollars from investors and was considered a Silicon Valley darling. It produced an expensive juicing machine with expensive refill packs. It said the packs needed to be squeezed under high pressure only the juicing machine could produce.

Those claims were proven wrong by two reporters from Bloomberg who squeezed the packs by hand.

It suffered from marketing myopia because it fooled their customers in the hopes of short term gain. Did it believe no one would ever try to squeeze the packs by hand?

I wouldn’t buy a $500+ juicing machine that didn’t juice fruit, but if I did, my son would be the first one to squeeze the things by hand when I wasn’t looking.

The mystery would’ve been solved and millions of dollars saved.

Oh well.

Lack of competition

Innovation is expensive because you invest a lot of money for products and services that may not catch on.

If no one can challenge you and people are patronizing you, there’s no incentive to innovate. You can get by doing what you’ve always done.

Eventually, competition will come out of the woodworks and even though they may not be as cheap as you, they can compete on different aspects.

An example of competition is Google and DuckDuckGo. While it’s not hurting Google’s revenue, it’s a viable option if people don’t want to be tracked while using search engines.

A more serious example would be Standard Oil or the railroads in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. John D. Rockefeller created one of the most successful companies to have existed up until that time.

They controlled the entire value chain from production to distribution and the competition simply couldn’t stay afloat. The ones who tried were bought or run into the ground.

Source

Eventually, the Supreme Court stepped in and disbanded the company in 1911.

During its most successful years, oil was cheap but there was no incentive to develop products that meet the needs of its customers or deliver top tier service. Either you bought what it produced or you didn’t. End of story.

It felt it was untouchable and its marketing myopia combined with the public outcry was its downfall.

Even if there’s no competition, continually innovate so when you do encounter competitors, you’ll be lightyears ahead of them.

Shifting consumer trends

They say the only constant in the world is change. In the 20’s women were required to wear skirts that were a certain length.

Now, well, that’s not the case.

People change. Things go in and out of style. Technology improves. In the early 2000s we were using AOL in my house. Now, I’m streaming Netflix on my LED TV.

As long as we have the ability to make decisions and change our minds, no product will last forever.

Do you remember fidget spinners? They were all the rage a few years ago.

Now, it’s part of a niche movement and most people can’t be bothered.

If you don’t keep an eye on the pulse of your industry and where people are headed, you’ll be left behind. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a hundred dollars a year in revenue or a hundred million a year in revenue.

Implication of marketing myopia

You go out of business.

That made me chuckle.

The reality is that marketing myopia can eventually cause your business to fail. It doesn’t happen overnight.

First, customers become dissatisfied with an aspect of the product or service delivery. They’ll reach out, complain on social media, and a few will leave.

Over time, it compounds. Reviews turn negative, it’s harder to acquire new customers, and business gets worse.

That’s the tail end of it all. A business that fails to evolve fails. It’s pretty simple. Let’s say you used to solve the need of getting from point A to point B. At first, you did it with horses. After a while, you started to do it with trains. Finally, you adopted busses.

Now, your customers want planes. They’re expensive and you’re not interested so you ignore them. For a while, people will continue to use the trains and busses but more and more will leave you because they don’t want to use a bus to cross the country.

How to move beyond marketing myopia

In a word, customer development.

As far as marketing myopia is concerned, this is the universal panacea. The reason why marketing myopia affects businesses is because they lose touch with their customers.

Customer development makes sure you’re always abreast of the wants and needs of your customers.

There’s one note about customer development though, you can’t truly innovate if you only follow what they say.

Before there were cars, if you asked someone what they needed to get from point A to point B with more comfort and speed, they would’ve told you to breed faster horses.

When cars came along, horses were replaced in short order.

Understand the job your customer needs to get done but also think of novel ways to achieve the end goal. It’s a difficult road to tread but no one said your business would be easy.

Look at and understand their jobs to be done

We each have a job we want to get done when we buy a product or service.

You buy a pair of jeans to clothe you when you’re going out to the park as well as a night on the town. The jeans you wear for each occasion are different.

You may wear a suit to an important meeting.

Someone signs up for KyLeads to finish a different job. There are a few, segmenting their audience, capturing leads, and understanding their wants. It’s an intermediate step between interacting with their brand and becoming a customer.

People stop by Starbucks in the morning to drink coffee but the job they’re getting done is filling their stomach. If there’s a better or more convenient way to do that same job then they’ll ignore Starbucks.

I recommend the insightful book When Coffee and Kale Compete by Alan Klement to better understand the Jobs To Be Done Theory.

Only one solution can fulfill a job at once. Make sure it’s yours.

Customer development surveys

A great way to find out what people want from you is to run customer development surveys. There’s a lot of information about it around the internet so I won’t go too deep.

Here’s the basic premise.

You ask your existing and potential customers a series of questions about your products and services to better understand how they’re using it and how they feel about it.

Don’t send it to your entire customer base at once. Rather, segment them into different groups based on demographic qualities, psychographic qualities, or even behavioral markers. The choice is yours but make sure you’re tracking who’s getting the survey and why.

  • Optimize for the most engaged users, not the largest group
  • Ask open-ended questions that lead your survey takers
  • Request a phone follow up after the survey
  • Don’t put too much explanatory text or you’ll risk leading your customers
  • Keep them short and to the point. You can get more detail in the follow up call.

Conclusion

Marketing myopia has real implications in your business. If you’re not aware of it then a slow decline can set in right under your nose.

Knowing it exists isn’t enough though. It’s important to take action to prevent it from affecting your bottom line.

There’s a simple two-step process you can employ:

  1. Understand your customer’s Jobs To Be Done
  2. Send out regular customer development surveys and have conversations

Let me know what you think about marketing myopia in the comments and don’t forget to share.

How to Craft a Damn Good Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Here’s a quick question. As soon as someone lands on your websites do they know what you’re all about? Do they have to continue scrolling or read the copy to figure it out?

If they can’t figure it out immediately then your unique value proposition (UVP) isn’t doing its job.

A UVP should:

  • Let them know how your product solves their problem.
  • Show the quantified value
  • Illustrate why you’re better than the competition and therefore receive my hard earned cash.

It’s like a condensed elevator pitch.

A drive-by pitch (I chuckled when I wrote that).

A great value proposition is able to communicate the main benefit of using your solution over the competitions.

In this article, we’ll take a deep look at the steps needed to create a Killer UVP.

Your UVP taps into existing desires

You and I don’t create motivation on our websites.

We don’t create desire (according to Eugene Schwartz in Breakthrough Advertising).

We don’t create need.

The only thing we do is tap into it.

We channel it.

We amplify the motivations, needs, and desires already present.

You can build on them to create something even more powerful. It’s not created out of thin air.

So who creates motivation that makes your UVP shine?

Motivations are created by society, marketing, family, friends, PR, propaganda, and many other factors. When you understand those motivations — when you’ve done the research — you can piggyback off of it.

Your value proposition is a reflection of the motivations, desires, and needs of your audience. It also encompasses how you’re going to make them a reality.

That’s why you do research before you get to this point.

Your unique value proposition is the first thing most people see when they land on your website. It can be defined as:

A unique value proposition is a clear statement that reflects your audience’s motivations, explains how you, your product, or service solves their problems, and lets your ideal customer know why they should buy from you.

Your UVP has a lot of work to do.

Setting yourself up for a compelling UVP

There are a few preliminary criteria before you jump into writing a compelling UVP.

The value proposition should never be written in marketing speak.

  • World class leader in x
  • Setting the industry standard for x
  • A purveyor of best practices for x industry over the last 50 years

All of these are marketese. They don’t help the person viewing it determine how the hell you’re going to help them solve a real problem.

A value proposition is not:

We make widgets that increase the connectivity throughout the system to ensure maximum output and interlinking capabilities for better digital transfer.

Translation: Widgets that make calls clearer.

Run from marketese.

Run from useless grammar.

Your aim is to communicate and convince. Not to show them you know how to speak English.

The elements of a UVP

A unique value proposition has a few moving parts.

Headline: This is the big promise. You tell your customer what they stand to gain from signing up, reading your content, buying your products and services, or just following you around the internet. You can mention the product or the person you’re targeting here.

Subheadline: This is 1-3 short specific sentences that does one of two things:

  1. Further iterate the benefits.
  2. Further explain what you offer.

Bullets: List out the primary benefits of your solution (a rule of thumb is no more than 5 bullets, but test it).

Visuals: Images help us imagine what the “big promise” of the value proposition means in our lives. A hero image, in action image, or graphic image work well.

How does your current Value proposition measure up?

  • Does it have a compelling “big promise” your ideal customer instantly understands?
  • Does it speak to a particular group of people?
  • Does it incorporate at least 3 of the 4 elements that make a great value proposition (headline, sub head, bullets, and hero image)?
  • Is it specific?
  • Is it free of marketing jargon like “world class” “industry leader” or “innovate?”
  • What is your unique angle?

So, a good value proposition is:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Illustrates your unique difference
  • Communicates the end result of your product, service, or message.

How to craft a winning value proposition

If a visitor stays on your website for more than a minute, you’re doing something right.

You’ll spend a lot of time and energy driving clicks to your website through social media, SEO, advertising, and other methods.

Once there, they’ll meet your headline.

What is your headlines job?

Yes, it can convey the benefits of your product/service. Yes, it can show your visitor how you’re different. Yes, it can communicate your big promise.

It can do all these things but that’s not its real job. Its real job is to make people so interested in what you’re offering they read the next line.

Let me repeat that.

Your headline should be so compelling that it gets your visitor to read the next line.

Your subheadline should get them to read the line after that.

Your bullet should get them to read the line after that. On and on until they’ve gotten beyond your value proposition, are in the body copy, and have finished the last word on the page.

If the UVP isn’t read then it’s all for naught

If no one reads the next sentence then all the time you’ve spent fighting to create a value proposition is lost.

Not to mention the time you spent creating everything else on the page. Understand, the only purpose of each line is to be so compelling that the one after it has to be read.

While they’re reading, your message will jump out.

Now, Back to The Big Promise

The headline of your UVP is the big promise. It’s what you can do for your customers and what they can expect from you. In essence, it’s how you position yourself in the market. Unlike some titles in blog posts that can be curious, click bait, or resemble a news headline, the value proposition must be clear.

  • If it’s not clear, no one knows what you do
  • Without clarity, no one will stick around
  • If it’s not clear, you’re wasting your time and your visitor’s time

A clear headline has your unique promise. By unique, I don’t mean you need to be the only one in the world with that promise. I mean you need to be the only one in your customer’s mind that can do what you – and do it well.

The value proposition doesn’t start with you; it starts with your customer.

Sure, 30 people offer fitness services in the metro Atlanta area. Your unique value proposition can focus on how you offer a bespoke fitness service for busy executives so that they can….

Fill in the blank.

Being unique in something your customer doesn’t care about or something that doesn’t have utility is just as bad as not being unique at all.

“The inner lining of our pants are green.”

And so bloody what?

Conversions don’t happen in a dead space in the world. They happen in the minds of individuals.

Finding The “Unique” of your Unique Value Proposition

What pains and objections are your customers repeating on Amazon, forums, Reddit, and every other place you’ve checked?

Why do they want to alleviate that pain?

What benefits are they happy they’ve been able to receive while interacting with the products, services, and messages being used in your niche?

Here are a few examples from a quick search through Amazon.

Just from these Amazon reviews, I can see messages I can work into my headline. Messages people care about.

  • Easy workouts
  • Not time-consuming
  • Foods to eat and not to eat
  • Meal plans
  • No more dieting
  • Simple way to measure food servings for protein, fat, and carbs
  • Well researched
  • Prefer videos
  • Bodybuilding without weights

These messages can become a part of your big promise — your headline — and many of the others can become the subhead and the bullets of your value proposition — on to that in a moment.

Go through your data and reevaluate what people say they want and already have.

Now, move on to what your competitors are talking about and showing their customers.

Are they emphasizing the same things you picked up in your review mining? Can you do it better than them?

Can you do it in a slightly different way?

Can you target a different segment?

Your big promise isn’t something you rush into because it’ll determine the direction you take for the next few weeks, months, and even years.

It’s a combination of what you can give and what they want.

Take your time. You only need one big idea.

The Subheading and Bullets

After you figure out a concise headline that’s done its main action — resonate with visitors enough to get them to read the next line — it’s time to create a stunning subhead that follows up.

The subheadline can take one of two forms.

  1. Can show off benefits
  2. Can further explain what you offer

Let’s look at benefits.

A common thread you’ll see on many websites is confusing features with benefits and listing fake benefits.

What’s a fake benefit you ask?

A fake benefit is something that seems useful on the surface but actually isn’t.

“Lose weight naturally!”

There’s no true benefit therein.

Clayton Makepeace — an amazing copywriter — prescribes a simple test he calls the “forehead slap” test. Have you ever stopped what you’re doing, slapped yourself on the forehead, and exclaimed: “I need to lose weight naturally!”

You probably never will.

Getting me or anyone else to buy that is going to be tough — really tough.

Nobody really wants to lose weight for the sake of losing weight. The real power behind that statement is what can happen if you don’t stay in good shape. Public ridicule, lower self-esteem, premature death, predisposition to diabetes which comes with its own host of problems, hypertension, increased risk of stroke, cancer, blindness, kidney disease, heart attack, etc etc.

An overweight person wants to avoid the dangerous complications associated with obesity. That’s the real benefit of the fitness program or dieting regime being offered.

Features Vs Benefits

Features and benefits can be hard to sort out and easy to confuse — especially when you’re close to the message or product being sold.

Features are facts about what you’re offering.

Benefits are the ways it helps your customers.

A good portion of your time will be spent educating your customers on what you’re offering and how it can make their lives better.

Sure, they know they need to lose weight, but they don’t know why you’re the best person for the job.

Take off the glasses of the creator and put on the glasses of your customer and ask yourself “and so what?” about every benefit and feature you think you have.

Imagine you’re selling laptops and one of the features of is a 1 terabyte hard disc. It’s a feature because it’s a fact about the laptop you’re selling.

The laptop has 1 terabyte of hard disc space.

And so what?

So you can store more things.

And so what?

Life is less stressful, you don’t have to worry about what you download or store because there’s enough space to accommodate it. Take as many pictures, record as many videos, and install as many games as you want knowing your laptop will always have room for more.

Let’s keep going.

The chairs have a reinforced steel frame.

And so what?

No matter how much weight you put on it, your chair will keep your loved ones secure.

Our shirts or made with patented stain resistant fibers.

And so what?

Your life becomes easier because you won’t have to worry about your children messing up their clothes five minutes after being dressed.

Real Benefits Connect Desires

The real benefits to your customer mirror their desires, wants, and needs. Saving time, cutting costs, making money, becoming healthier, and being happier all qualify.

When you know the real desires of your customers, you can write a string of benefits that work every time.

When you don’t know the desires of your customers, your benefits will seem hollow and uninspired.

That’s why you’ve done the research.

That’s why you’ve picked out their exact words.

That’s why you took the time to figure out their real objections.

Go through your research and figure out what your customers really want — listen to what they’re telling you. At the same time, look at the benefits your competition is offering your customers for choosing them.

Look for ways to structure your message so it taps into their deepest desires.

Perform the “and so what” test on every benefit you list in your subheadings and bullets to make sure it’s filling a real need/desire.

When you’re done, the subheadline will be a short, powerful, benefit-driven sentence. Your bullets will continue that interaction.

Let’s talk about that hero image

Is a hero image strictly necessary? No, it’s not.

Does a hero image help? Yes, it does.

The hero image is usually the first thing someone sees when they land on your page. It sets the tone for the rest of the interaction with your website. It tells a story.

If your hero image shows class and sophistication that’s what they’ll expect throughout your website. If your hero image has a playful edge then that’s what they’ll expect throughout your website.

Here are a few tips to help you make or choose a better hero image.

1.     Show them where to look.

Directional cues have been used for a long time in advertisements. Countless studies have shown that we tend to follow the gaze of people we’re looking at. Use a photo or image that points your customers in the direction of your UVP. People work best but arrows and other directional cues are still effective.

Fashion Metric, an analytics agency that caters to fashion ecommerce brands, uses this approach well. Notice how the lady is looking at her tablet which happens to be blocked by their value proposition.

The proposition could be clearer.

 

2.     Let the Image Support Your Value Proposition

Your promise to the people visiting the page should be supported by the elements and images on that page. It’s shouldn’t overpower it. A hero image can mirror the exact statement of your value proposition.

For example: if you’re a fitness trainer, a hero image of people in action at the gym or obviously healthy smiling people would be in line with what you’re promising.

I have no idea what the value proposition is but the image makes it clear that they make fit people happy. They get points for using directional cues.

3.     Emotions

An emotional appeal, used the right way, can almost never go wrong. A thick, guttural, emotional reaction will entice visitors to stay on the page and find out more.

Another benefit of an emotional image is quickly showing the world — and your customers — who you’re serving.

4.     Bold Colors

Nothing grabs attention like the right colors. You have your brand colors and then you have complimentary colors. Switch it up here and use a color that contrasts sharply with the one’s you’ve chosen for your brand.

Conversely, you can choose a plain color background that puts more emphasis on the message of your value proposition.

The green against the muted background begs to be clicked and interacted with.

5.     Illustrations

Your hero image doesn’t have to be a picture. You can use illustrations to set yourself apart. They’re harder to get right and usually require a deeper understanding of the people you’re serving.

Just make sure your illustration doesn’t overpower the message of your value proposition but rather compliments it and you’ll be fine.

6.     Show your customers themselves

If you know your customer is a young college student, a hero image of young college students works well to reinforce that.

Grain and Mortar does a good job of letting you know real people — normal people — are behind the spectacular results they achieve for their clients. This is a hero image of people who aren’t heroes at all.

 A few Things to consider for your UVP

Your hero image is there to compliment your unique value proposition, not overpower it. Let’s dive into some things you should always keep in mind when choosing a hero image.

  • Subject and Text Placement

There are a few ways you can use a hero image on your page. Subject left aligned, subject right aligned, and no subject. Let’s look at each one in turn.

  • Subject left aligned. The hero image is pushed to the left and the text is on the right. Usually, the text will also be left aligned — not a must — to keep the overall balance on point.

  • Subject right aligned. This is the exact opposite of the subject left aligned. The images are on the right and the text is on the left. The text itself can be right or left aligned.

 

  • No Subject. No subject seems to be the most popular type of hero image and it’s easy to see why. This keeps the messaging front and center and truly makes the image complementary to the value proposition.
  • Contrast

No matter which type of image alignment or hero image format you’ve chosen, there needs to be contrast. There’s nothing worse than people struggling to see what you’ve written.

If possible, add an opaque overlay or slightly blur the background image so you’ll be able to see the text more clearly. I know it’s going to sound obvious — use dark text on light backgrounds and light text on dark backgrounds.

If you’re ever in doubt about the readability, change the image. As far as where to source your image, I suggest you take one or design one yourself.

If neither of these are an option, you can use a stock photo service, but avoid the free ones. Shell out the few dollars it’ll cost for a compelling image.

Why? Because people in the same space browse the same websites and you don’t want your hero image to be the same image someone else has used as a featured image for one of their blog posts.

Now it’s your turn, sit down and think about the message you want your hero image to deliver and the type of images that’ll embody that. Once you’ve gotten an idea, capture it yourself with your camera or design it.

If those options aren’t viable, go to a premium stock photo site like Fotolia or Shutterstock and browse their library for something you can use.

Examples of Unique Value Propositions

Stripe

What is the company selling? Web and mobile payments platform.

What is the benefit of using it? It lets you easily accept and manage your online payments.

Who is the target customer? It’s been built for developers and businesses that know a thing or two about technology.

What makes the offering different? They start out with tons of API’s so you — as a developer — can easily integrate it with custom payment solutions you’re using in your business.

Bonus The two mobile phones have the apps of two well-known Stripe customers for a bit of subliminal social proof.

Dollar Shave Club

What is the company selling? Shaving supplies.

What is the benefit of using it? Blades and other accessories delivered directly to you.

Who is the target customer? It doesn’t explicitly say it, but it should be men (for something as universal as shaving, it’s not necessary to be so explicit).

What makes the offering different? It’s incredibly cheap. If you’re a guy, you know how much it can cost to buy good razors. On top of that, they’re delivering it to your doorstep.

Vimeo

Vimeo UVP example

What is the company selling? Video hosting platform.

What is the benefit of using it? No ads (like YouTube), strong community, privacy for your videos.

Who is the target customer? People who create videos, but there’s a catch. You agree to “make life worth watching,” not to spam the platform with dozens of cat videos. You can go to YouTube for that.

What makes the offering different? They don’t have an advertising model so you watch only what you want to watch. Another benefit, which you can infer from the value proposition, is a community of high-quality creators.

Freshbooks

What is the company selling? Small Business Accounting Software.

What is the benefit of using it? Made for small business owners who’ve not gotten a degree in accounting. Simplicity

Who is the target customer? Service-based small businesses.

What makes the offering different? Built exclusively for service-based businesses as opposed to anyone and everyone that needs accounting software.

Bonus Great hero image showing the type of people who’re using the software.

Tortuga Backpacks

What is the company selling? Traveling backpacks.

What is the benefit of using it? You can carry everything you need without extra luggage.

Who is the target customer? Travelers.

What makes the offering different? That’s where it gets dicey. It’s not exactly clear how they are different from other backpack companies.

Skillshare

What is the company selling? Online creative courses.

What is the benefit of using it? Large library of courses to learn a new skill at your own pace.

Who is the target customer for this product or service? People who want to learn new skills but can’t (or don’t) want to commit to a physical location.

What makes the offering different from competitors? It specifies that you’re going to be learning creative skills. Not accounting, not financial planning, and not fundamentals of engineering.

Bonus: They use a background video that shows people learning and practicing their newfound skills.

Zapier

What is the company selling? A way to connect the apps you use.

What is the benefit of using it? Automate tasks that would otherwise be repetitive and utilize your data more efficiently.

Who is the target customer for this product or service? People who want to be more efficient with their apps. Anyone who uses more than six apps has had the trouble of organizing all that information and would love to connect them and make it easier to manage.

What makes the offering different from competitors? Instead of offering another app, it’s a way to connect your apps through one app. On top of that, many of the functions are automatic.

Conclusion

You’re equipped with all the information you need to make a truly powerful value proposition.

  • How to create headlines that communicate your value by using your customer’s words.
  • The ins and outs of creating a powerful subheading that showcases benefits rather than features.
  • How to use bullets to engage your reader
  • The different parts of a hero image and how to choose the right one for your business.
  • Examples of companies that have made great value propositions.

The only thing left is to create a unique value proposition and test it in the wild.

Let me know what tricks and insights you use to craft a powerful UVP in the comments and don’t forget to share.

 

44 of the Best Affiliate Marketing Tools, Programs, and Resources for 2019 (Free and Paid)


Last updated April 23, 2019

In 2018, Affiliate marketing was responsible for billions of dollars in sales for vendors.

It was also responsible for billions of dollars of revenue for the affiliates promoting the offers. Instead of shrinking, the industry is growing. The problem is a few super affiliates are taking home most of the earnings.

Not anymore, we’ve compiled a list of affiliate marketing tools, platforms, and resources to build your affiliate marketing empire. These affiliate marketing tools will cut down the learning curve, make it easier to implement campaigns, and help you find the best offers available.

    1.   KyLeads

There are a lot of solutions that do one thing well but force you to get other tools to pick up the slack. KyLeads combines multiple tools together to help you create a lead generation and feedback powerhouse.

KyLeads allows you to create popups and quizzes that turn more website visitors into subscribers. That would be cool in and of itself, but it goes deeper. Instead of guessing who your subscribers are and what they want, you can unlock that information through the quizzes and specialized survey popups.

Once you add that information to your email marketing service – you can personalize the experience even further.

For example, you find out your subscriber is new to strength training through a survey pop up or quiz. With that information, you can market products to them that match their level of expertise.

Ready to build a massive mailing list? Start your free trial of KyLeads by clicking here and mention you came from the post about affiliate marketing tools – we’ll hook you up.

Affiliate marketing tools for research

The first step in optimizing your website for conversions is knowing what your audience wants. Once you know that, you can create the right content, messages, and offers. In this section, we’re going to look at tools that’ll help you research.

 

2.      SemRush

SEMRush is a powerful competitive analysis tool. The number of features it has and continues to add is impressive. What makes it such a useful affiliate marketing tool is the ability to spy on paid advertising campaigns.

You get to peel back the covers and look at what your direct and indirect competitors are spending money on. With this knowledge, you can start to craft your own profitable campaign.

The paid advertising research is just one of the things this robust tool can do for you. You can also see the organic rankings of websites, get a picture of how many links they have, know how much traffic they’re getting, Etc.

Sign up for a free account to play around with the tool and you’ll quickly realize how useful it is. We’ve started to use it more and more and now log in at least a few times a week.

3.      Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a content research tool with a host of features. It lets you search the web for content which has done well on social media in the past. They’re partnered with Majestic and give you a snapshot of links pointing to a particular piece of content.

There are many options to narrow down your search. For example, you can choose to only search for long-form content, infographics, or videos. If you’re familiar with the competition, you can search their website for the best-performing articles.

Once you know what has done well, you can create better content and reverse engineer the promotion process to get massive traction. It’s an indispensable tool in your arsenal if you want to be an effective affiliate marketer.

4.      Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is a mainstay when it comes to researching profitable niches, products, and topics. Over the years, the amount of information they give has been curtailed, but it remains useful.

This is where you should start your keyword research journey. Even though the data is limited, it’ll give you a solid picture of where to dig deeper. Here’s a quick way to find some useful keywords.

On the home page of the keyword tool, after you log in, there’s a place for you to type in the seed keyword. Below that, you can also type in a URL to a landing page. Usually, it’s your own, but you can also put in the URL of a competitor’s landing page.

Here’s an example:

After you insert the URL, you’ll be taken to the page where keyword results are shown. It brings back lower volume keywords that look promising. From here, you can further research the keywords to until you pull out a few gems that’ll work well in your niche.

5.      CoSchedule Headline Tool

We all know a headline is seen 5x as much as the body copy. It makes sense you spend 5x as much time creating a powerful headline. Lucky for us, this is the internet age.

The CoSchedule headline tool analyzes your headlines based on a number of criteria. It takes into account the length, power words, uncommon words, and common words. They use these factors to give you a score. The higher the score, the better your headline.

Always remember it’s just a tool. Use proven headline formulas to give you a headstart and tweak it from there. Always test your headlines. You can always go back and change it later.

6.      Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another competitive analysis and research tool. The reason it got a separate mention here is two-fold. The first reason is because it has a backlink profiler that blows every other tool out of the water. The only one that comes close is Majestic.

It also has some different features from SemRush which makes it a great standalone affiliate marketing tool. The Ahrefs suite has something called the content gap. Type in your website and the websites of your closest competitors and it’ll show you opportunities you have to create more relevant content.

I can’t mention all the features this tool has. Some that stick out are the keyword cloud, the ranking tool, the TLD (top level domain) distribution, the robust backlink profiler, the content research tool, and the content gap feature.

7.    Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to monitor your website. Add a line of code to prove ownership of your website and watch as the data starts to flow.

From Search Console, you can submit a sitemap which will help Google index your website more quickly. Over time, you’ll also get data that shows you which search terms you’re ranking for, how often people are clicking through to your website, and search impressions.

In addition to that, you’ll get insights about crawl errors, speed suggestions, and mobile optimization.

You can take these insights and fix errors on your website and further improve your organic click through rate.

8.     Keyword Spy

Don’t let KeywordSpy put you off by its design. It looks like it hasn’t been updated since the early 2000’s. Fortunately, the keyword index is still useful. They claim to have over 127 million keywords and growing.

If you know your competitors, plug them into the tool and find out which keywords they’re ranking for. That’s a plus but the main benefit of this affiliate marketing tool is the ability to uncover high performing affiliate offers.

They have over 300 affiliate networks in their database that are analyzed and updated every day. It gives you a snapshot of the top selling products so you can add them to your promotions and reap the rewards.

Finally, you can track your keywords in the three largest search engines and make sure you stay on top.

9.    Long Tail Pro

Google is one of the best ways to get consistent traffic to your website. It’s free (kind of), consistent, and long term.

It’s also difficult to rank for competitive keywords because everyone is working on it. LongTailPro helps you find long tail search terms that can drive a huge amount of cumulative traffic.

Instead of going up against a huge brand like Mens Fitness, you’ll be ranking search terms that make you money before you know it.

Their tool uses a few simple metrics like keyword competitiveness, competition, and ranking value to give you a better idea of the keywords to target.

An interesting feature is the ability to see the search results breakdown. Google has started to introduce things like featured snippets and local search results which push the organic results further down and reduce traffic.

When you have this information up front then you can make better decisions about which keywords to target.

10.    Moz

Moz is one of those tools everyone stumbles across when they’re doing anything online. They have a robust suite of tools that allows you to check everything from the likelihood of a domain to rank on page one to a keyword research tool.

Not only do they have the tools to help you get the results you need, they also maintain a comprehensive blog that covers everything related to digital marketing.

One of the tools we find the most useful is the domain authority and page authority calculator. This is a unique metric they’ve created that’ll let you size up your competition in organic search at a glance.

They allow you limited use of some of their tools every month like Link Explorer, Keyword Explorer, and Moz Bar to name a few.

11. ContactOut

contactout header image

ContactOut is a simple browser extension that helps you find email addresses and phone numbers of anyone on LinkedIn. ContactOut finds emails from 75% of Linkedin users (2x better than the next closest competitor) at a 97% accuracy rate.

It’s considered one of the best freemium email outreach tools by many and for good reason. Sign up to get 50 free credits per month by default.


Email Marketing Providers


Everyone has different needs and won’t buy some things you’re offering, the best strategy is to capture their email addresses and market to them over the long term. Here are some of the best email marketing services to make that a reality.

12.      ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is the email marketing service we’ve used for some time and we have very little to complain about (they’re differentiating into the ecommerce space so a lot of the features they’re adding aren’t necessarily useful for us). In a nutshell, they’ve been able to combine enterprise-level email marketing with a solopreneur budget. You get the best of both worlds.

If you’ve never tried marketing automation, here’s your chance without paying an arm and a leg. Click here to read a full review and get some deep insights on how to use the platform.

13.      Get Response

GetResponse is another great option when it comes to getting the most out of email for affiliate marketing. If you’re new to everything, it has a  docile learning curve which means you can set up and run your first campaigns within a few minutes or hours. They have a comprehensive knowledge base, allow you to create landing pages, and even allow you to host small webinars.

They focus mostly on autoresponders. If you’re looking for more automation then you’ll need to upgrade to one of their tiered packages.

That notwithstanding, GetResponse will get the job done and help you make a solid affiliate revenue for your business. One of the features I like most about GetResponse is the intuitive interface. As I mentioned earlier, even if it’s your first time working with an email marketing service, you can be up and running within a few minutes.

14. Drip

Drip image

The people at Drip bill their software as an Ecommerce CRM. I don’t think that description does their service justice.

With affiliate marketing, it’s important to be able to react to what your website visitors have done on your website. For example, if they’ve visited certain pages, you may want to send relevant emails.

Drip was built from the ground up for this kind of behavioral segmentation.

Inside the platform, you’re able to create email marketing automation campaigns that fire when certain conditions are met.

One of the most powerful features of Drip is their deep integration with Facebook ads. You can control all your campaigns from within Drip and drive real results for your business.

15.      ConvertKit

 

ConvertKit is a newer service when compared to some of the others. Don’t let that discourage you. It was started by Nathan Barry, someone who’s no stranger to what a good email marketing service should provide.

They have marketing automation baked right into the product and there’s no tiered pricing. You get all the perks and features no matter what plan you choose. The pricing is based on how many subscribers you have.

One thing ConvertKit chas going for it is the ability to trigger emails based on actions taken either in the email or on your website. For example, if someone has visited the same web page multiple times, you can start a specific email sequence. If someone has interacted with a particular type of email multiple times then you can trigger a different email sequence.

You can take your email marketing to the next level with the amount of control ConvertKit offers.

16. MailChimp

MailChimp has been around for a long time and boasts hundreds of thousands of customers. If you don’t have the money to invest in a premium affiliate marketing tool for email then MailChimp may be for you.

They allow you to collect up to two thousand subscribers for free but keep in mind the plan is limited. All you can do is send newsletters. You lose out on all the premium features you’d expect in an email marketing service.

The learning curve with MailChimp can be steep, but the pricing is

17.    Mailerlite

Mailerlite affiliate marketing tools

Mailerlite is an email marketing tool that combines your standard email newsletters with marketing automation features. It comes built-in with landing page software and popups that you can easily embed into your website.

If you need more functionality than what’s possible with their built-in landing page builders and popups, you can easily integrate with other tools.

One of the best features of this product is they give you full access to the platform for free until you pass the first one thousand subscribers. There’s no sending limit or reduced functionality. It’s ideal to get started on a shoestring budget.

18.    Vertical Response

Vertical Response is another email marketing platform that allows you to speak to your customers and email subscribers at scale.

They have a neat feature to send surveys to understand what your subscribers want from your business.

The reports are comprehensive and easy to read. Vertical Response has struck a nice balance between functionality and insights which is difficult to attain.

Though it doesn’t have a few of the advanced features many email marketing tools come with, they make up for it by nailing their core competency. Their delivery rate is high and you can tailor emails to fit your needs.

In the end, all the bells and whistles don’t matter if you can’t get your email in your prospects inbox.

19.      Aweber

Aweber is an older service on the market. Some of the largest websites and most successful marketers use it on a regular basis. If there’s one thing I can say about the service, it’s that they get your emails where they’re meant to go. Aweber prides itself on deliverability.

If the backbone of your affiliate marketing success is email then the backbone of your email marketing success is deliverability. Without one, you can’t have the other. Though it doesn’t have as powerful a feature set as some of the other providers, it’s still worth the investment.

Another plus is that it’s easy to learn the ins and outs of the service.


Affiliate marketing platforms


Affiliate marketing is built on partnerships, when you can find the right partnerships, you thrive. The following are a few platforms that make finding those partnerships simple so you can get down to the business of making money.

20.   Clickbank

Clickbank is by far the largest network to find people and organizations willing to partner with you. They have everything from dating products to fitness products. All products on the platform are digital so once you sign up, just find a product that works for you and you’re good to go.

I’ve been a member of this platform for years while working on different projects and haven’t had a bad experience yet. They pay on time and resolve any issues you may have in a quick and professional manner. The only drawback is that many of the vendors use overly formulaic sales pages which turn me off.

Remember, any product you sell or promote is a reflection of you and your brand. If you promote something that comes off as sleazy then you and your brand, by extension, come off as sleazy. Apart from that, if you’re looking for digital goods then this is a great place to start.

As an added plus, Clickbank has a training library. If you’re willing to invest in it then you can join Clickbank University as well. Finally, they have built-in analytics that let you know which offers are converting the best for you and which ones are holding you back.

21.    FlexOffers

FlexOffers has a wide range of products, strong reporting features, and different packages to meet your needs. For a little extra, you can even get a personal manager for your affiliate marketing campaigns. If you have the necessary experience, you can find what you need using the self-service dashboard.

This platform is mainly focused on cost per sale which means you only earn a commission when you make a sale for a vendor. They still have a few offers that are cost per action. These can include free trial signups, lead generation, and downloads.

Many industries are represented by FlexOffers so it’ll be simple to find an offer that’ll appeal to your audience.

22.    CJ Affiliate (Formerly Commission Junction)

CJ Affiliate is one of the larger affiliate platforms and they’ve been operating for a while now. Their offers are cost per action meaning someone has to sign up, buy, download, or perform another action as stipulated by the vendor before a publisher is paid.

Since they’ve been around for quite a while and have been to attract many vendors to their platform. That translates into a wide range of offers for you to promote. Their reporting interface can get a bit tricky so spend some time learning it before you dive in headfirst.

To implement ads and start generating revenue, you need to be approved by the advertiser. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. Most often, it’s an instant process. They have a minimum payout threshold of $50 every 20-30 days.

23.    Linkshare (now Rakuten)

Linkshare was founded in 1996 which makes it one of the oldest networks of its type, but is significantly smaller than CJ affiliate. Linkshare is a cost per action (CPA) network like CJ affiliate which gives you the flexibility to earn without making the final sale.

One of my favorite features of the platform is the ease of reporting. When they designed Linkshare, they made sure to keep reports front and center. They have a very low payout threshold of one dollar. The drawback of their payments is that they don’t pay regularly.

It’s a solid alternative to the other networks and should provide a good pool of offers for you to promote while growing your empire.

24.    ShareASell

ShareASale is an affiliate marketing platform that connects merchants with publishers. They’ve been around for almost as long as the internet and specialize in merchants that sell physical goods such as clothing, accessories, and automotive.

They have a small area for online dating services.

Because of their specialization in physical goods, their commissions are much lower than you’d see on other platforms. That doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, it just means you need to do the research and build your list from day one.

They have a relatively straightforward sign up process. Once you’re approved, you can choose from almost four thousand merchants.


Analytics tools


You only grow what you measure. When it comes to affiliate marketing tools, the ones that help you keep track of where people are going and coming from are the most important. It’ll give you a feel for the traffic sources that are converting the best for you. Here are a few tools to make your job easier.

25.    AffJet

AffJet is your affiliate marketing HQ. It’s built to help you monitor all your affiliate marketing networks performance in one place. AffJet is a tool that enables you to streamline your affiliate income reporting.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of affiliate marketing and you are starting to see the sales come in, of course, you want to start reporting on your success. AffJet connects to all your networks for you and gives you one central dashboard to monitor your performance.

Once you have an account, just add your networks to start importing the data. Create custom reports including affiliates across different networks, or see an overview of your entire earnings.

You can keep on top of programs or networks that are doing particularly well, ones that aren’t as popular, or even spot ones that have stopped working. This means you can spend more time optimizing your site to get more sales for you – and less time dealing with the reporting side of things.

26.    Bitly

Bitly is a popular link tracking and URL shortening software. You insert your long ugly link like http://example.com/my-affiliate-link-ddsafesk and it’ll spit out a shorter link. The reason for this is twofold.

1. You get a shorter link. Affiliate links are notorious for being long and unwieldy. This will shorten it and make it easier to work with. At the same time, you can make it pretty or even add a custom domain to the link. Your long affiliate link can turn into something like ky.co/link. It’s easier for you to remember and keep track of.

2. The Bit.ly app allows you to track all the clicks on your links. It gives you information such as device, location, and gender. You can then use this information to determine what type of traffic is converting best and optimize your campaigns. EG mobile traffic is converting or people using Android devices are converting.

There are many options for link shortening and tracking services on the market. We use Bit.ly for KyLeads and I use clk.im for many of my personal projects. An added benefit of Clk.im is the ability to monetize every shortened link you use.

This feature can turn into a viable source of income for you if you’re so inclined.

27.    Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most robust platforms of its type on the internet. For this type of functionality, you’d be happy paying a few hundred bucks a month. It’s free.

Since the tool is so powerful, it has a lot of functions which escape the average user. In addition to the basics like knowing the number of site visitors and how long they stay on your website, you can go advanced.

Of course, you can track where people are coming from, but you can also segment the visitors and get granular with your assessments. For example, let’s say you’re active on Facebook and get a lot of traffic. You can drill down and see what device, demographics, usage activities, interests, and a whole host of other information.

You can use the information to build robust customer profiles and create highly targeted affiliate offers for them. Running through how you can use the platform is beyond the scope of this article, but here’s a resource to get you started.

Be sure to check out the Google Analytics knowledge base as well. It’s helpful.


Affiliate marketing tools for social media


If you’re not using social media in the digital age, you’re dead in the water. If you’re spending all your time on social media, you’re dead in the water. The following tools are ideal for managing and scheduling your posts to your social media accounts. In addition to that, I’ve included a few social media analytics tools.

28. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an older player when it comes to social media management. They’ve built an easy to use platform and have a free forever plan that allows you limited access to the tool for multiple social media accounts.

Here, you can schedule your tweets, Facebook, Google+ and other social media accounts. Hootsuite was built to serve as the hub for your social media management needs. More than just scheduling, you can monitor the feeds of multiple social media accounts and add teammates for easy collaboration.

One of my favorite features is the ability to manage social media from a mobile device. You’re not always at a computer. I’m not always at a computer, but we need to get stuff done. The mobile app makes that possible.

Hootsuite doesn’t stop with their app. They have a comprehensive training library and certification program that’ll keep you on the cutting edge of social media.

The last thing I want to mention about Hootsuite is the built-in analytics. If you’re using them as your predominant social tool then you’re in luck. At the end of every week, they’ll send you a breakdown of your most popular links, number of clicks, and the geographic location of the users.

29. Buffer

Buffer is another social media management tool that’s widely known and used. They boast a user base in the millions and have an uber-popular blog to boot. That’s not what this is about.

Their social management tool allows you to schedule to all the major social platforms with just a few clicks and even pulls some of your metadata for you. They have a host of complementary services like Pablo that makes it easy to create engaging social only content.

Buffer only takes a few seconds to set up and start using. The emphasis is on scheduling updates to your social accounts and because of that, they don’t have a strong reporting feature.

The one thing that sets Buffer apart from other platforms is their amazing customer service. They practice what they preach and have created an enviable culture that rubs off on their staff and customers alike.

30.    SumoGram

Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms. With that size comes opportunity and something else – competition.

Without the right Instagram strategy in place, it can be difficult to peek your head above the noise and gain a huge following. Content is just one part of the puzzle.

Unless you have a dedicated social media manager or the right tools, it’ll be impossible. SumoGram is an Instagram automation app that allows you to do almost everything from the backend.

You can schedule posts, automate liking, and follow targeted users. SumoGram doesn’t stop there, it allows you to interact with specific hashtags, blacklist accounts, and access detailed reports about your activity and growth.


Websites and Landing Pages


31. WordPress

You can’t do affiliate marketing properly without a strong online presence. How else would you rank in the search engines, build your email list, and create specific offers?

WordPress is free and one of the simplest ways to build a website. It’s what our marketing site is hosted on. They have thousands of plugins, a built-in blog, and a community of committed developers.

There’s almost no task that can’t be completed with WordPress.

Please use a wordpress.org account with your own hosting instead of wordpress.com. WordPress.com is free but it’s unprofessional and also limits your ability to customize and promote products the way you’d like.

32.    Instapage

Instapage is a landing page creator that’s positioned as the best tool for agencies. That doesn’t mean an affiliate marketer can’t use it.

The reason this tool gets on the list is because the page builder itself is one of the best I’ve used. There’s a free form editor that allows you to place elements anywhere on the page instead of snapping it into place.

When you’re done editing the desktop version, you’ll also be able to edit the mobile version separately.

They have another feature called global blocks. The problem I’ve experienced with landing pages is that if you make a change on one page, you’ll have to go back through every page individually. With Instapage, you can make a change to the global blocks and it gets changed everywhere you used them.

A priceless time saver.

Instapage only has two plans and is the most expensive option on this list. It’s a powerful tool but not reasonable if you’ve not started generating money from affiliate marketing.

33.    Unbounce

Unbounce is one of the most powerful landing page creators out there. You can do a lot with this tool and it may be a steep learning curve if you’re just getting started with digital marketing.

Unbounce, in a word, is robust. They have featured bars and popups in addition to their landing pages. A few of the features you may be interested in include:

  • Unlimited A/B testing
  • Dynamic text replacement
  • Duplicate your forms
  • A wide range of targeting options

It’s on the higher end of the pricing scale but if you can swing it then go for it.

34.    Leadpages

Leadpages is a popular landing page builder and the most affiliate friendly one on this list. They have over a hundred templates and a marketplace to buy more.

There’s an interesting integration with Facebook ads that allows you to set up and manager your ad spend from directly inside the app.

Integrations are taken seriously over at Leadpages. All of the major email marketing services are accounted for and they also connect with other services such as Stripe and Zapier.

If it’s useful in marketing then they probably have an integration to go with it.

Last on the list are their unique popup tools. The allow you to embed links that open into popups once users click on them and progress bars which improve your conversions.


Writing tools


35.    Grammarly

Grammarly isn’t an affiliate marketing tool per se. It’s a tool that helps you check your grammar. A large part of affiliate marketing is writing. There’s no getting around that.

With Grammarly, you can install the free Chrome extension and check your writing on almost any website (it’s blocked from a few). That way, all your comments, social updates, and short form posts will be grammatically correct.

It’s free for most of the features but to get advanced grammar checking, you’ll need to pay for it. We use it all that time when we’re creating content for KyLeads and other appearances around the web.

36.    Hemmingway

Ernest Hemmingway was a novelist, short story writer, and journalist that became well known for his preference of economic prose.

Where his peers would use a paragraph, he’d use a sentence. When others were using perplexed, he’d use confused. In essence, he believed that less is more and the success of his novels is a testament to that truth.

Hemmingway App is a tool that tries to emulate the style Hemmingway called the Iceberg theory. When you’re done writing, copy and paste your text into the editor.

It will highlight long sentences, confusing words, passive voice, and other issues in your writing. When you follow the suggestions, you’ll find your writing cleaner, clearer, and more powerful.


Affiliate marketing tools for traffic


Without traffic, all your other tools are useless. Here are the most powerful tools you can use to generate traffic to your website over time and on demand.

37.    Facebook

Facebook is the one thousand pound gorilla in the room. When you talk about referral traffic from social media, Facebook is always at the top of the list.

It’s different from a few years ago. The reach of Facebook pages has reduced and you have to pay to play. How to use Facebook properly is beyond the scope of this post. I’ll just touch on a few things to keep in mind.

  • People aren’t on Facebook to buy. It’s best to get them off the platform, onto a blog post, and into your mailing list. From there you can market to them over time.
  • Engage with your target audience in groups by being helpful. Don’t join the groups and drop your links everywhere. It’ll destroy what little goodwill you have.
  • Set up campaigns for cheap clicks to your posts to establish social proof before you set up a campaign to drive traffic.

Over time, you’ll see just how powerful Facebook can be.

38.   Pinterest

Pinterest image

Right after Facebook Pinterest is the social media platform that drives the most referral traffic. This is even more surprising when you think about the fact that Pinterest has less than 20% of the monthly active users Facebook commands.

Pinterest has been described as a platform for women. It was at first but the highest growing demographic now is men.

A good thing about Pinterest is the high income of the people that visit the website. If you’re promoting a reasonably priced product then the people there have the resources to buy it.

The backbone of generating Pinterest traffic is through groups. Use Pingroupie.com to find relevant group boards and request an invite.

39.    Google Ads

Billions of search queries are processed by Google every month. Not all searches are made with commercial intent.

Some people are just looking for information while other people are ready to pull the trigger.

Before you sink your money into ads with little to show for it, there are two things I recommend.

  • Make sure your affiliate offer is converting your current traffic
  • Start with a low budget and relatively broad keywords.

Cull down your list until you find a few high performing keywords. Optimize your landing pages until you can turn them off and on at will and generate revenue.

40.    Twitter Ads

Twitter has a problem with bots and the traffic has been said to convert poorly. From our experience, Twitter is a great way to create awareness around your brand but may not be the best platform to drive tangible conversions.

The only thing to do is test it.

Set up campaigns that use a video for the creative. These have been shown to receive higher engagement and click throughs.

41.    Scoop.it

Scoop.it is a smaller social platform which has roughly fifteen million visitors a month. It’s built for content discovery and curation.

It’s divided between a free service and a paid service for businesses and individuals. When you sign up for an individual account, you’re limited to just a few actions a day.

You can curate your content into topics which makes it easy to organize and find. The more you interact on the platform, the more traffic you can accumulate.

Users have the ability to suggest content for your topic boards and you can also do the same for them. Look for active boards that generate a lot of daily traffic.


Affiliate marketing tools for design and media


42.    Canva

canva image

When you don’t have the skills to create beautiful images in Photoshop, you’re left with two options. The first is to buy stock images and the other is to hire a designer.

Neither one is ideal when you need custom work in a short amount of time.

For that, we have Canva. You can start with a high quality image and add your own touch to match your brand.

Use Canva to quickly make the perfect images for social media, blog posts, and marketing collateral. They have tons of templates to choose from and most of their services are free.

43.    Pexels

Pexels image

Pexels is full of high quality stock images that you can use whichever way you choose. I mean that literally. There’s no limit to how you can use the images on the platform.

It’s easily searchable and more photos are being added every day.

If you need high-quality images for your website or a blog post then start here. Use Canva to customize the images you get or adjust them to more closely match your brand.

The platform is monetized with ads so keep that in mind while browsing so you don’t get redirected somewhere else.

44.    Unsplash

Unsplash is similar to Pexels. They both allow you to use high-quality images however you like without having to pay.

It’s also easily searchable but seems to have a larger selection than Pexels in specific categories. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Pexels (or vice versa) then try out the other platform.

Between the two of them you’ll come across what you need.

The only difference between the two platforms is the layout and how the photos are presented. Even though you can use the pictures however you want, it’s a good idea to customize them.

Why?

Because they’re free, a lot of other brands use them. If a prospect in your niche browses more than one website, they’re likely to come across one image on multiple websites.

With a bit of customization, they become wholly yours. Use Canva to accomplish this in just a few minutes.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is a discipline that requires a wide skillset and can bring amazing returns if you’ve got all the pieces. A major part of the puzzle is having the right tools in your arsenal. Check out the tools listed here and use the ones that make the most sense for you and your business.

Let me know which affiliate marketing tools you’re using or the ones you think I should add to this collection.

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