The “Good Product” Traffic Generation Strategy

November 21, 2013 , 40 Comments

When someone asks me about how to get more traffic to a website, my answer usually something like this:

“The most important thing I do to get more traffic to my sites creating and selling good products.”

I’ve said before that selling is easier than blogging. In fact, I’ve said things along those lines many times.

In this post, you’ll discover exactly how creating and selling great products is a traffic generation strategy in itself (when it’s done right). Read on to learn what steps you can take, to drive more traffic to your products and get more customers.

Affiliate Traffic

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first: when you’re selling your own product, you can invite affiliates to promote it for you.

Affiliate marketing is a wonderfully low-risk, high-reward advertising method, because you’re never out of pocket.  The worst that can happen is that no affiliate sends qualified traffic, you make no extra money and it costs you nothing, either.

The best case scenario is that a few strong affiliates pick up your product, start sending droves of visitors your way and all you do is pay them a part of the money you would have never made without them.

How to Get More Affiliate Traffic

Affiliate MarketerUsing affiliate marketing requires an investment of time and effort on your part. First of all, note that I am only talking about good products in the context of this post. Sure, you can also sell rubbish, but selling genuinely good products makes everything easier, including the affiliate thing.

To get more affiliate traffic, you need to make things as easy and profitable for your affiliates as possible. Here are the 6 most important steps:

  1. Have a good product that is highly relevant to other people’s audiences.
  2. Create a sales page or sales process that converts well (this drives up the earnings of your affiliates and makes them eager to continue promoting).
  3. Keep your customers very happy (this keeps refunds low and prevents affiliates from experiencing negative backlash after promoting your product).
  4. Provide incentives for affiliates who go the extra mile. Give a commission increase to affiliates who promote you in the long term. Pay bonuses to affiliates who perform well.
  5. Provide all the promotion material your affiliates could want.
  6. Make it easy for your affiliates to find their affiliate link, check their stats and get their money.

[thrive_text_block color=’note’ headline=’Run Your Own Affiliate Program’]There are countless ways to set up and run an affiliate program for your products. The easiest way to get started is to simply add your products on an existing affiliate network such as ClickBank, Zaxaa, DigiResults or JVzoo.

On these networks, you can list your product for free and they take care of payment processing and affiliate payouts for you. They charge a fee per product sold, so you’re trading in a small percentage of your revenue for the convenience of using the network.[/thrive_text_block]

The Tipping Point

Reaching the Tipping PointEverybody knows about big, exciting product launches, where a shiny new thing is offered for a short time only and hundreds of affiliates rally together to promote it. For me, the real benefit of a product launch comes after the exciting part, though.

The greatest benefit in a big affiliate-fueled launch is that it can help push a product over the tipping point. That’s the point after which it gains momentum and sales keep coming in, almost on their own.

A product launch doesn’t just bring affiliate traffic and sales, it also brings attention, awareness and even excitement – assuming it’s done right. This can be the beginning of a virtuous cycle for your product: the more people know about the product, the more they discuss it online. The more people discussing your product, the more new people learn about it and the more popular it gets. A more popular product will also attract more affiliates, which starts the whole cycle all over again.

If you’d like to learn more about the tipping point and how to reach it, listen to this podcast episode about evergreen marketing.

The Branding Effect

BrandingThe above is basically what branding is all about. The goal is to get people to know about your brand, have positive associations with your brand and spread it around to more people.

It is immeasurably easier to get this kind of brand momentum going with a product or service that you sell than with a blog or a mailing list or anything that isn’t a value based business.

I noticed this as soon as I released my first own product. People started talking about me – although only rarely, at first. Interestingly, I would get referred to as “the Backlink Battleplan guy”. People associated me with the name of my first product. Over the years I’ve created many more products and I still often get referred to as the “SECockpit guy” or the “Thrive Themes guy”. Even though products have come and gone, while the brand of my blog has remained, I’m very rarely, if ever, introduced as “the ActiveGrowth guy”.

Products are taken more seriously. Our minds easily latch on to the idea of a product – there’s something solid about it. It’s far more difficult to get the same kind of effect for something less tangible like a blog or news source.

It’s a long-ball game, but this branding effect eventually leads to an increase in traffic.

Leverage for Paid Traffic

Dollar SignsWhen you’re selling your own product or service, you’re sitting at the top of the proverbial food chain. As an affiliate, you may get a 50% commission, which makes it difficult to make paid traffic work. As the product owner, you can spend twice as much and still break even.

And there’s an additional advantage: each new customer is also a new lead for your business. In some cases, you can make a loss on the initial purchase and turn a profit later down the line (through upsells, recurring fees, repeat purchases etc.).

As the product owner, you can also easily track conversions, run split-tests, create special offers and create different landing pages for different traffic sources, without having to jump through any extra hoops. All the tools you need to make paid traffic work are at your disposal.

The bottom line is: it’s easier to pay for traffic and make a profit when the product you’re selling is your own.

The Strange Case of Perceived Value

Attention HackThere’s some weird psychology at play, when you sell something. In fact, here’s an example from my own business that’s so weird it’s a bit hard to believe:

I give away many things for free. I write in-depth blog posts (sometimes massive), I share my hard-gained experience on a free podcast, I share behind-the-scenes looks at my business in free email updates, I give away valuable products for free.

I let my subscribers and customers know about all this shiny new free stuff via my email newsletter.

But you know what? There’s a simple little trick I can use to double the number of clicks I get from an email I send out. That means doubling the amount of people willing to pay attention to what I’m saying and doubling the amount of traffic I get from an email broadcast.

The trick?

Selling something.

Without exaggeration, I usually get twice as many clicks when I announce a new product than when I share anything that’s free.

Isn’t that interesting?

I’ve even “cheated” a couple of times and written an email subject line that seems like I might be selling something (e.g. “My New Mini-Course, Now Available!”), even though I’m linking to something that’s free, just to get more traffic.

And it worked.

No matter how good something free is, anything that has a price tag on it automatically benefits from increased perceived value because of that very price tag.

Charging money for something is also an attention hack, because once someone has paid for something, they are more committed to the product and therefor more likely to actually use it (this is called the commitment bias in psychology). Learn more details about this in the “selling is easy” podcast episode.

This brings us back to the importance of creating good products. Your customers are more likely to pay attention and use your product, if they first pay for it. If the product is good (ideally, spectacularly good), they will take notice and you’ve gained some of their trust and attention. With that, we close the cycle: these customers whose trust you have now earned are much more likely to also pay attention to your free stuff in the future.

So if you want more people to read your (free) blog content, sell them something first.

In conclusion, this is how and why creating and selling good products is my most important traffic strategy. What other questions do you have about this approach? Leave any questions and comments below and I will answer as best I can!

Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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    • Thank you, Matt!

      I still need to get back to you about a video project. Sorry that it has been delayed so long.

    • I’m glad you advocate creating a product for traffic generation purposes.

      That’s just what you did, and although sales aren’t huge yet, I did notice that it helped me build a rapport with the bigger players in my niche. They instantly presumed that because I wrote a book about my topic that I know what I’m talking about. Previously when I contacted a similar group of bloggers I had less positive results.

      Thanks for the pointers especially the affiliate programs, I’ll be looking at those next.

      • Ah, that’s another very interesting effect! Yes, having your own product lends you some authority and that can really help with getting in touch with the right people.

  • This is a great read Shane and it’s not the first time I’ve read this. People always put a higher value on products that have a dollar value. I am actually about to launch my first joint venture product tonight. It happens to fit the theme of buyers on the Warrior Forum and we are using JvZoo.

    We teach a form of simple middle-man arbitrage to make profit.

    It’s funny for me to read this because when you launched your most recent product I went ahead and checked it out where as I find myself overwhelmed with “free” stuff from being subscribed to various emails lists. I spend more time looking for ways to make my life easier and my marketing more effective even if it means spending money.

    P.S. I wanted to ask if you or your team would design a sales page for a cost? I really like your product sales pages / videos.

    • Thanks for your comment, John!

      I wish you the best of luck with your first product release!

      The sales pages have all been made entirely by myself, so far. Since it takes me a long time to create them, in most cases (and that’s when I’m already familiar with the product), I don’t see how I could find the time to offer this as a service. I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.

      • John Shea says:

        No problem, what are you using to create your sales pages? It looks like LeadPages?

      • In the past, I’ve used “regular” WordPress themes and heavily modified them. Now, I use Thrive Themes and Thrive Content Builder. :)

        LeadPages is great landing pages and squeeze pages, but I wouldn’t recommend it for sales pages. For me, it’s way too restrictive for that kind of thing.

  • Great post Shane! Your point about perceived value is so true. I’ve noticed that stuff I download for free usually just sits on my harddrive gathering dust. But I would never have guessed that making people think you were selling something would actually increase your click-through rate! Very interesting.

    • Thanks for your comment, Priscilla!

      It’s the same for me, too. When it comes to free stuff, I’m much more likely to be “too busy” than with things I’ve paid for.

  • Great article…I already knew that being the product owner, so work WITH affiliates instead of working as an affiliate is far more intresting , but the explanation about the “momentum” , “tipping point” are great..especially when you kinda reach a “perpetuum mobile” once enough people are speaking about your product in a “positive way” keeping the flow going.. increasing the number of affiliates and inherently the number of future customers.

    The only thing I was a bit confused about was the branding Part… as to me you ARE the IM IMPACT guy :-) – but I recognize your name “Shane Melaugh” in my emails , do not delete them and actually open all of them…very few Online marketers have achieved this behaviour the past 2 years….

    Quality matters! keep up the good work.

    • Anton Visser says:

      I am with you Davy, I flick off so many emails now without even reading them, just based on how they look, but I always read Shane’s.
      Quality counts and when it comes to blog & video quality shane has mastered that. I always look forward to receiving, reading and watching his content.

    • Thank you, Davy!

      You must be one of the exceptions, then. :)
      I guess some people do associate me with the brand of my blog, but it seems to be the exception, rather than the rule.

  • Shane,

    Do you have a recommendation for keeping track of and paying affiliates for a PHYSICAL product?

    I have a small line of amazing herbal and mushroom products I’ve been using (Cold & Flu Prevention Kit) for years, and just had formulated. But I primarily want to reach people with lists and offer 20% ongoing commissions for anyone they send that buys first time and repeat.

    Any suggestions on affiliate tracking tool to do this?


    • There are solutions specifically made for ecommerce, such as this one. I don’t have any experience with affiliate marketing for ecommerce, but the basics should all be the same.

      • Thank you!

  • Hey Shane,

    there is a very good point here: Perceived value. You can give a way an audio/ebook/course or you can sell it. The responses to the product will always be better if you charged for it. Because people are actually using it!

    And the other point is: Of course people like free – but there is so much free out there that people (including me ;-) ) often decide to watch / read it later. And we all know when later happens … ;-)

    But if there is something somebody is charging for – it automatically indirectly says: This has a higher value than a free thing. So I pay more attention. ;-)

    We could even go further and add some classic Frank Kern here too:
    Higher prices increase the desire to aquire. ;-)
    Because the perceived value even goes up.

    You really should sell your blog posts as a subscription based newsletter.
    Maybe there is an alternative to somewhere out there. ;-)

    Many greetings,

    • Thanks for the comment, André!

      You hit the nail on the head about the “read it later” problem.

      And I also agree that higher price = higher perceived value. With virtual goods, this creates a real problem, the most extreme result of which were the multi-thousand-dollar info-products that were so popular for a while.

  • I am trying to convince people of this in the Catholic market where we are being pressured to give our parenting program away for free. I keep telling parishes – and my partner – that giving it away is the best way to make our message irrelevant.

    • What about products that aren’t quite up to snuff and no funding or time to improve them? I have a product that is decent, but it has some limitations, and I’m not getting any sales at all.
      So I was thinking of giving it away to at least pull in some leads, even if many will be freebie seekers. The product works but it is one of those “recipe” software programs that requires a little time setting it up.
      Just seems a shame to let it wallow in the dust.

      • That’s a tricky situation. I would go with the “get the first customer” approach, on this one. Whether you give it away for free or charge for it, all you want to do is get in touch with the ideal customer and get some feedback from them. If you can get a small number of people to use the product and talk to them about it, you’ll have a much better idea of what needs to be done, in order to polish it up.

        Also: consider creating a sales-message that sells the ideal product, with a price tag and everything. Then, when someone purchases, explain that the product is still in development and either give it for free or at a much lower price than advertised. This way, you can already work on refining the sales message and USP for the product.

    • Yes, you’re probably right. It is a bit of a dilemma, because sometimes we want to be helpful for free.

  • Very good article and finally we have some access to “Shane’s traffic generation”. :)

    But I think it is only applicable in English. Do you have experience on smaller areas, for example German?
    We are in Hungary, so it is even smaller.


    • Hello Andras,

      Please listen to this podcast episode. The idea that this only works in English is a bit silly, quite frankly. :)

      Think of it like this: do you think that, in all of Hungary, there might be 1,000 people who are in your target market? Or even 100?
      You can probably walk down the street and meet 100 people who are in your target market.

      Depending on what you’re selling, 100 people is all it takes.

      Listen, I was selling DIY watercooling components for high-end PC gaming systems in Switzerland. Switzerland has a smaller population than Hungary. And this niche is just ridiculously specific. Most people, even people who are PC gamers, don’t even know it exists. Or maybe they’ve heard about it once and they think people who cool their computers with water are crazy (disclaimer: most of them are a bit crazy).

      And you know what? That store made a lot of money. Orders were coming in every single day and sometimes I could barely keep up.

      If I can find enough people interested in watercooling components for their PCs, in Switzerland, to create a successful business, do you think you might be able to find enough people in Hungary, for whatever you’re selling? :)

  • Hey Shane,

    I would’ve never thought that people would click through more if they thought you were selling something. I always thought it to be the opposite.

    Being a product creator is whole lot better than being an affiliate. I was an affiliate with a program last year and was making about $900 from one niche site per month.

    However, the affiliate program went away and so did the income I made. Now I don’t focus 100% on affiliate marketing anymore. It’s not as stable as having your own products.

    Thanks for opening my eyes to this and making me look at it a whole lot differently.

    • Right? That’s what I thought as well! Surely, the idea of having to pay something would turn people off… but nope, apparently it’s the other way round.

      Sorry to hear about you getting the rug pulled from underneath you like that. This happened to me too, a couple of times. Back when I was making almost all my money in affiliate commissions. It really sucks.

      But if you start creating revenue streams from your own products, I have no doubt that you’ll see your income grow beyond what you lost again.

  • Great post Shane! Very informative. I am still working on a good product to “really” start building a list with. I have just finished a product but was made off a PLR product, so many people will have this kind of product.
    What do you think?

    I will be searching to all your posts for more information. Thanks

    • Hi Wilfred,

      I’ve always steered clear of PLR, so I can’t really comment on that.

      If you’re looking around for possible product ideas, the best advice I can give you is to get deeply immersed in your topic. The more you learn about it and the more involved you are the easier it is to see product opportunities.

  • Thank you for sharing your thinking Shane! It’s valuable information because it’s based on your experience.


  • Shane, your posts are always really useful and informative! And I agree with your observation based on my experience with my own business, although it seems counter-intuitive at first glance. I just had never noticed this phenomenon. But now after reading your post I realize that I get the best open rates when I am selling a new product. It doesn’t turn people off, they like reading about a valuable product which can actually help them in some way. Thanks for pointing this out!

    • Thank you, Shama! Glad you liked the post. And it’s interesting to see that you have similar experiences yourself, as well.

  • Hi Shane

    Really a great article! Thank you very much.

    Just a couple of qiestions

    1.How to create a (physical) product page that sells?

    2.How to promote my (physical) products using affilliates? Most affilliate networks reject new eshops or demand a lot of money to join their network.

    Thank you again for your help

    • Hi Dimitris,

      1) The basics are the same. There are a few different “standard” (i.e. what people expect) for physical products and ecommerce than for digital products. People will expect a product image/image gallery at the top, a brief description etc. But apart from that, a product description for a physical product is just another sales page. For a great example, look at the Kindle product pages on Amazon. It’s typical ecommerce at the top, followed by a full-blown sales letter. That, in my opinion, is the ideal way to do it.

      2) There are systems specifically made for ecommerce affiliate marketing. I’m not very well versed in this area, but one that I know of, from the top of my head is Jrox Jam.

      1ShoppingCart is also very ecommerce focused and I’m not sure about Zaxaa, but they might also be worth looking at for this purpose.

  • Nice post Shane. I will test some selling emails subject ;)

  • Hi Shane,

    I wounder if without your generousity (free content) the response to your emails about your paid products would not have been lower!

    Your free high quality content set a certain expectation in people in respect to the quality of your present and future paid products. You fullfil that expectation and go even one step beyond that….

    So why should you be surprised that people are anquoux to own other great products from you and happily follow your link to your sales page.

    I think that somebody who gives a lot will receive a lot (recipercation).

    Fröhliche Weihnachten – Merry Christmas

    • That’s a good point. I wonder about something like that as well: I can imagine that even for people who don’t open/click emails with free stuff, I still kinda get a bonus point in their mind. They might think “I don’t have time for this right now, but it’s cool that he’s sending something free”. It’s pretty much impossible to measure whether this is true or not, though.

      • Well I’d bet you that if you replaced all of those free info/product emails with paid product promotions, your clickthrough rates would go down significantly over time.

        The alternative I suppose is the style of teaching a lesson that ties into a product/service you sell, and putting a link to it in the bottom. Some people do that and are therefore able to combine the free and paid emails into one and do that consistently…

      • Yes, that is no doubt true. It’s not a method to be abused.

        And I like the idea of the teaching/promoting combo, as well.

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