Julian Farley : Spread Love

What Affiliate Campaign Mistakes Kill Conversions?

We go into affiliate marketing for a lot of reasons. We want passive income. We want the freedom of being our own boss. We want the satisfaction of building a business. We want to learn new things.

But at the end of the day, the ultimate goal we all share is the same: We want to make money.

Instead of learning from their mistakes and tweaking their strategies, the overwhelming majority of affiliate marketers end up spending a lot more time, money and effort than they want. Eventually they drop out of the game, convinced that affiliate marketing “doesn’t work.”

Think of affiliate marketing as the tip of an iceberg. A few hard-working people sit at the pinnacle, where the money is made. The other 99 percent or so are below the water, with nothing to show but failed attempts and bitter memories.

How can you get to the top of the iceberg? Let’s look at the mistakes that kill affiliate conversions and what you can do to prevent them.

Not tracking key metrics

You don’t have to be a math whiz to be a great affiliate marketer, but if you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your business. These are some of the key metrics you have to stay on top of:

There are some other things that any online marketer should keep track of, things like click-through rate (CTR), average order value (AOV, earnings per click (EPC) and return on investment (ROI). Each one is a piece in an overall puzzle, and how these numbers are connected tells the story of whether or not your campaigns are on the right track.

Not knowing the different kinds of affiliate marketing

Another big mistake is not knowing what kind of affiliate marketing you are doing. Are you wanting to monetize niche sites? Or are you buying traffic for limited-time offers?

Most affiliate marketing newbies don’t know the difference, so let me break it down by two distinct types: We’ll call them the Thought Leader and the Barnstormer.

The Though Leader is essentially a content marketer. He might use paid traffic methods (like PPC), but he typically leverages free traffic through SEO and word-of-mouth to make a niche site popular until it’s time to monetize.

If you want to be a Thought Leader, your site will need at least 30 pages of good, high-quality content based around carefully-selected keywords and keyword phrases. It may take months of blogging and social media outreach to build your audience.

Eventually, customers will consider you an expert in your niche. They will rely on you for product recommendations. You’ll be able to negotiate ad rates and higher affiliate commissions with merchants (brands) that you’ll develop long-lasting relationships with.

The second type of affiliate marketers I’ll call the Barnstormers. They are the rockstars of affiliate marketing. They study every angle, find what’s hot, and usually run dozens of offers at once. And most of their offers lose money.

Then they find one that hits. That’s when they stop everything and pour all their resources into the offer/traffic combination that is converting. The payday may last for a day or two, or it may last for months. But eventually, other marketers will figure it out and come crowd the space like vultures on roadkill.

The Barnstormer can make huge commissions in a short amount of time. While Thought Leaders focus on niche blogging and are more consistent with their income, they can’t scale up as fast as a Barnstormer.

What do I mean by “scale up?” When a Barnstormer finds that one-in-ten or one-in-twenty offer that makes money instead of losing money, he will drive as much drive traffic to the offer as he can, using networks like Facebook, AdWords, AdMob, or SiteScout. They might also leverage some cheaper “second-tier” traffic buys on 7search (https://www.7search.com/), or Clicksor (http://www.clicksor.com/).

Choosing the wrong network

What networks should you be using? The answer will depend on whether you’re a Thought Leader or a Barnstormer.

The Though Leader might use native advertising, Google AdSense, or Amazon Affiliates to monetize his/her sites. But commission-based affiliate offers come from networks like CJ by Conversant, Shareasale and AvantLink. These offers appear as text links or banner ads on the site, and the affiliate usually gets a flat percentage (commission) on every sale.

You can sign up for any of these networks for free—if you’re in the U.S. or Canada and you have a website, they probably won’t turn you down.

Barnstormers run commission-based campaigns sometimes, but they really like lead-generation (CPA) campaigns from networks like Clickbank or JVZoo. The Barnstormer will have a harder time getting into premium affiliate networks like W4, GlobalWideMedia (formerly NeverBlue),MaxBounty, Ads4Dough, and MundoMedia.

Why are these networks so exclusive? Because for every “serious” marketer making great money there are a thousand newbies hanging around, asking dumb questions. And the best offers usually only go to affiliates who have proven themselves. It makes sense if you think about it: Why would the network have 100 marketers out there, driving up advertising costs? Instead, they’ll let 5 or 10 proven marketers sell the offer as an “exclusive” … That way everyone stands a chance to get paid.

Check this site out for network reviews: http://www.affpaying.com/

Choosing the wrong niche

Your campaigns won’t ever get off the ground if you aren’t in the right niche. I can’t tell you which one is right for you. But “evergreen” niches always have some life in them. These include diet, fitness, consulting, dating. Some people say evergreen niches are too saturated. But there’s always opportunity there for smart marketers who are willing to do their homework.

Non-evergreen niches might be a fad item or a hot Christmas gift—something that sells great now but probably won’t be around in a few months. They’ll make lots of money for the people who market first and market best, but they’ll leave most marketers out in the cold.

Choosing the wrong offer

Even in a great niche, there are good offers and bad offers. You have to find an offer that you know will convert well.

Some marketers get too focused on chasing “hot” offers. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one eye one what is trending, but there is ALWAYS a better offer. And if you don’t dig in and make the most of the offer you’ve chosen, you are leaving untapped potential that someone else will come along and mine.

Some of the best affiliate offers are off the beaten path. I know a guy who made a fortune selling ebooks on beekeeping. For real.

Thought Leaders have to consider the price of the product. If you’re trying to build a site around a $10 product, don’t bother—the commissions will be so small there’s no way you can make it up in volume. So I like to look for items that are at least $40 or more, preferably $100 or more. My most successful site, the products range from $50-$300+.

Research your product. Know who’s buying it and what they respond to. Understand your audience. What’s their age, their gender, and their pain points? Make a list of all of their demographic characteristics. By spending more time on research in the beginning, you can avoid wasting time and money later on.

If you’re a Thought Leader, you know what your audience wants to buy. You’re an expert in that niche. If you’re a Barnstormer, Offervault.com, CBgraph (http://www.cbgraph.com/help/) and CBengine (http://www.cbengine.com/) list affiliate offers and the networks that have them.

Remember: When you’re just getting started, there’s no shame in imitating the big dogs. In fact, you’d be a fool not to. JVNotifypro (http://v3.jvnotifypro.com/account) is a great place to research Clickbank launches, while Moat (moat.com) and SpyFu (spyfu.com) let you check out the campaigns other marketers are running.

Not having effective landing pages

The biggest reason landing pages don’t convert is that they don’t present a clear objective. They have too many distractions and no clear call-to-action. Make sure your landers have the following:

Makes your landing pages DON’T have the following:

For designing these pages, I have used Unbounce (http://unbounce.com/) and I’ve hired a developer from Fiverr.com to do them for me. If you know some basic FTP and HTML, you can HTTrack (https://www.httrack.com) to copy the files of an existing landing page and make enough changes to call it your own.

No, plagiarism is not a good idea. But as I said before, while you’re getting started, there’s no harm in imitating what already works!

Not testing

Testing offers is not optional. If you aren’t testing, you’re throwing darts with a blindfold on.

And if you’re a Barnstormer, you need to be prepared to lose hundreds of dollars while you’re testing. The biggest mistake wannabee Barnstormers make is to start with promoting high payouts products with expensive keywords. Then they start losing $100 a day, they get scared, and they pull the plug and never return to affiliate marketing.

Start with low payout offers with cheap keywords and run multiple offers at once. Split-test your offers, in addition to running the usual A/B tests of your landing pages. This means running concurrent campaigns with a minor detail changed, be it an image or slightly different wording. Run the same add with multiple platforms (referrers).

In this stage, you’re buying enough data to know which referrer or keywords convert. Then you start blacklisting the non-converting referrer and keywords and only run on the converting keywords.

Keep tweaking your weak offers until they are profitable and know when to cut them loose if they never get better. Once a campaign is profitable, you scale up, buying traffic to maximize your market reach.

Making decisions based on feelings

I know a marketer who turns your nose up at email marketing. He says “I don’t look at sales emails, so why would I send them?”

He also says those pop-up overlays that ask you to submit your email address are annoying.

I agree with him on both counts.

But they work, and that’s why I use them. My friend doesn’t use them, and he’s making a huge mistake. He thinks his prospective customer has the same prejudices and feelings about their online experiences as he does. They don’t.

An affiliate marketer I know who consistently runs six-figure campaigns once told me “I don’t use Internet Explorer. But my offers convert 5 times higher with I.E users than they do with Chrome or Firefox. So guess who I optimize for?”

Think about that. While you’re at it, ask yourself how much time you’ve spent trying to make your website or your banner ads look beautiful. Do you think the owners of Craigslist.com and Google.com are losing any sleep because their home pages don’t win any design awards?

What you think looks good doesn’t matter. What you think your users should be doing doesn’t matter. What matters is the data—which you get from testing, testing, and testing some more.

POSTED: 01.15.2016

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Sanders and Trump: The Beginning of the End of Neoliberalism?

Love them or hate them, you have to admit that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have had an explosive impact on both the Republican and Democratic parties this election cycle.

Yes, Sanders fell short of securing his party’s nomination. And Trump (if the latest polls are to be believed) might also fall short of his goal.

But both men have led campaigns that captured a lot of enthusiasm and support, indicating something much larger going on: a revolutionary response to decades of an economic and social political theory, indeed the overriding philosophy of the second half of the 20th Century.

We’re talking about Neoliberalism.

This discontent isn’t new. Think of the anti-globalization protests of the late 1990s. Think of Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan with their populist, anti-NAFTA insurgencies against the GOP establishment. More recently, think of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

All of these things, as well as the latest political dramas in the U.S. presidential race, are pushback against Neoliberalism. ”Neoliberalism” itself is a misunderstood term. Many are surprised to learn it is more associated with the Right than with the political Left, although it began as a protest to the traditional liberalism (i.e. “government interference”) of the New Deal and the Great Society.

Neoliberalism calls for a strong federal government that benefits business and the wealthy ruling class. It calls for a strong military and is traditionally against unions of any kind. All these things set it apart from traditional liberalism.

You can read about the origins of Neoliberalism in books like Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste, by Philip Mirowski and A Brief History of Neoliberalism, by David Harvey. Basically, it got started when economist Friedrich Hayek presented his vision against totalitarianism and collectivism in 1947, a vision that sought to replace state control with the “invisible hand of the market.”

Neoliberalism become a dominant force in the 1970′s as a response to “stagflation”—unemployment, high inflation, and stagnant growth. Many thought America’s best chance at a bright future would be free markets and deregulation. A key element of neoliberalism is the openness to global trade and investment though eliminating tariffs and eliminating capital controls.

President Jimmy Carter (yes, a Democrat!) became an aggressive advocate for deregulation, but it was the political rise of Reagan and Thatcher, and their conservative vision of a global free market, that made Neoliberalism a global force to be reckoned with.

Reagan’s administration resulted in three decades of Neoliberal policies at the federal level. From then all the way up through the Obama administration (and the likely third Clinton administration to come), the U.S. became attached to international trade agreements that were drawn up in secrecy, with no input from the workers who would be affected. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are simply the latest example of such secretive back-room deals.

Trump and Sanders are as different as night and day, true, but they are essentially “Yin” and “Yang” of the new anti-Neoliberal revolt. Both are against Neoliberalism’s global elitism, which seeks to to undermine the bargaining power of the domestic workforce. Sanders is against the politico-legal attack on the unions; Trump is against the large-scale immigration that chips away at the bargaining power of the U.S. worker.

At the end of the day,  anti-Neoliberalism’s biggest legacy (and the thing that drive its opponents) has been income inequality. If you don’t think we’re experiencing income inequality, consider this: Historian David Harvey writes that “the median compensation of workers to the salaries of CEOs increased from just over 30 to 1 to nearly 500 to 1” between 1970 and 2000.

And there’s this: Between 1948 and 1972, every section of the American population experienced sizable increases in their standard of living. However, between 1972-2013, the bottom 10 percent  experienced falling real income while the top 10 percent continued to do better and better.

As mentioned, the populist, anti-Neoliberal backlash really got started in the 1990s, but the western financial crisis of 2007-8 ( the worst since 1931) really kicked it into high gear.

Now, as if from nowhere, Donald Trump has risen the tide of anti-globalisation to champion the rights of the American worker. Bernie Sanders, who came surprisingly close to clinching the Democratic nomination, ran on a “worker’s rights” platform that was quickly called “Socialist” (although, technically, the “Democratic Socialism” of Sanders isn’t the same thing at all).

Even if Hillary Clinton wins and Neoliberalism continues to drive U.S. policy for another eight years, the groundswell movement against it is too strong to simply go away. Clinton and her ilk will keep supporting free-market ideology. They may even push for more “laissez-faire” market conditions, letting everything be driven by what the market wants.

But let’s be clear: What “the market wants” means what corporations and their executives want.

Trump and Sanders are opposite sides of the same coin. But it’s a coin that represents opposition to Hillary Clinton—the ultimate establishment, globalist candidate. In the not-distant future, we won’t wonder how oddballs like Trump and Sanders got as far as they did; we’ll wonder why it took them so long to get in power in the first place.


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Link Building: Basics To Advanced in Under 350 Words

Link Building in 350 Words

What’s the secret sauce behind link building?

Rule #1: DON’T LISTEN to anyone that says it’s all about quality content. They’re full of baloney. The best content in the world doesn’t mean crap if people don’t see it. With no links, NO ONE will see it.

Rule #2: As Wu-Tang Clan said on the Dave Chappelle show “You gotta diversi-fy yo links, bitches” (actual quote changed to suit this article). You get the point. Diversify, diversify, diversify your link sources. This leads to the million dollar question: WHAT ARE THESE LINK SOURCES:

  1. Press Releases
  2. Article Submissions
  3. Blog Commenting
  4. Blog Reviews
  5. Blog Posts
  6. Forum Profiles
  7. High PR (in content or in the sidebar) links
  8. PDF directories
  9. Video links
  10. Social Media
  11. Social Bookmarking
  12. .EDU, .GOV and .ORG domain links
  13. Web 2.0′s
  14. Spam links (yes they serve their purpose but you gotta be careful!

If I left any out then please add in the comments below. Note: these are not tactics for getting links, but sources.

Rule #3: Build links to your links. Links to your main site aren’t enough. You need to build links back to those backlinks so that they count more. Once you get used to pumping out over 20,000 links/week you’ll know why this is the secret sauce in your strategy. First off… it stops your site getting sandboxed by Google. Secondly, it pumps up the Pagerank of all your inbound links. I forget the exact number (and no one short of Sergey Brin and Larry Page know for sure) but one PR4 link is equal to like 5,000 PR0 links.

Rule #4: Obtain your links in the correct order. Quality over quantity first. Once your domain has a high enough domain authority then you can drive thousands of links with no worry. For most of you in uncompetitive markets, all you’ll need is those high quality links to get on Page 1.

That’s it! That was 311 words.

For more great resources on linkbuilding you will want to check out the blogs below. These are leaders in the industry of Linkbuilding and if you have any questions about how to effectively get backlinks you will have to check them out.

The wordstream blog is about more than just linkbuilding. But its still got surprising data and news on linkbuilding.

Vertical measures blog has all sorts of goodies.

Another great link building resource.

Linkspiel is another link building blog with tons of great top strategies.

The Ontolo blog offers readers up to date information on link building tactics.

There are some specific people you can also look up and find their blogs, get their seo products that I highly recommend. They are: Daniel Tan, Terry Kyle and Jon Linbacher. All  very nice people to know on a personal basis too.

NEXT POSTTHE NEXT GOOGLE ALGORITHM UPDATE: CRAP ON AFFILIATE MARKETERS

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The Next Google Algorithm Update: Crap On Affiliate Marketers

The Next Google Algorithm Update

Google changes their algorithm nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. So by forecasting the next algorithm update I am talking about the next BIG Google algorithm update. Like 2010′s May Day (May 5) update that screwed eCommerce sites, particularly their long-tail searches. Google rolls out one of these big mama’s every 12-18 months and so it might come in 2011 or the first half of 2012. We’ll know when it happens….

Nevertheless, I am laying down my prediction right now: Google will make a huge attempt to screw affiliate marketers.

I say a huge attempt, because Google will never get rid of affiliate marketers. There are too many extremely smart ones out there, and there is always going to be loopholes, black hat techniques, and ways to use white hat marketing tactics with creativity for them ever to stop affiliate marketing.

Nevertheless…. when you look at the trend and pulse of Google search consumers (not SEO’rs but the other heavy internet users) there is without a doubt a growing discontent with Google’s search results.

Think like Google for a moment: the biggest revenue stream is paid search (Adwords) and so yes they want more people clicking on the ads. Right now it is currently around 8% of searchers. But 60% of searches click on the first organic result, going down to 20%-30% for the second organic result, 10% for the third result and so on. This shows that people go to Google for the organic results – they trust Google to give them quality results. When they happen to click on an text-ad in paid search Google goes CA-CHING! But paid search isn’t what gets people in the door (to use a brick and mortar anaology). Organic search is their indirect driver of revenue.

So what about the next Google algorithm change?

Google’s search quality is rapidly deteriorating and being filled up with affiliate marketers. Looking for a product? Do a search and you’ll find Page 1, Page 2 and probably Pages 3-7 filled with reviews and articles. Look a little bit closer and you’ll find these aren’t reviews at all, but instead thinly disguised advertisements for the product. Sure, most people don’t notice that when they click through to the product’s sales page there is a an affiliate tracking code on the URL so whomever link you clicked on gets paid for your purchase. But it’s still there nonetheless.

Affiliate marketers flooding the internet with these advertisements that barely pass for articles is not just skewing the search engine results, but also putting a strain on the search engine’s crawling spiders. This last point prompted Blekko (the new open source search engine) to, at midnight on January 1, launch the spam clock which counts how many pages of website spam have been launched: Blekko Spam Clock.

The crap quality of Google’s (and other search results…. looking at you Bing!) search results has created a trend of consumers going old school on us internet marketers. People are getting frustrated enough to actually pay for unbiased reviews. After searching Google they finally give up and purchase a Consumer Reports magazine.

I’m not close to the first person to observe this trend.

Broadstuff did a great post about the increasing uselessness of Google.

Search Engine Land reported findings from different polls about consumer happiness with search. The findings: it’s the best way to go about searching for stuff… but there is A LOT of noise and spam.

Google has long hated affiliate marketers. Try buying Adwords traffic to an affiliate link and you’ll be laughed at for being, oohhh about 7 years too late. Try SEO’ing a site with blatant affiliate links on before you’ve got substantial traffic and it’s going to be much harder to get those precious rankings. The reason is easy to decipher, Google doesn’t want to send it’s users through a middleman. They’d prefer to go straight to the source. So would their users. If users prefer it, Google prefers it.

What has happened in the last 6 months of search? Google rolled out local results – even for general keyword searches, curation became hot and the emphasis is slowly shifting more towards on-site factors. I think Google is going to hone their local results showing up in searches. We’ll see it less for general keyword terms where people don’t want local results and more for local business searches such as “hair salon” or “roofing company.” Real time results will continue creeping into the SERPs as Google begins to grasp how to effectively crawl, index and filter this information. With the increased emphasis of on-site factors they will finally fix their issues with duplicate content.

The problem Google has with duplicate content is that they often rank sites re-purporsing content ahead of the original. You can read about a reputable webmaster that has suffered from this immensely over the past year:

Stack Overflow reported how their scraped content was ranking ahead of them in “trouble in the house of Google”.

So what the hell is the conclusion of this long-rambling blog post about the next Google Algorithm change?

For more great “insider information” on the algorithm read this businessweek interview of 10 Google search quality employees. And above all… let me know what you think! Am I a stupid idiot that has no idea what he’s talking about? Maybe so….

POSTED: 01.19.2011

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Build An Empire By Building Great Habits

Cultivating good habits is not easy. It takes effort, patience and perseverance.

But success is the result of learned behaviors.

Some of these “learned behaviors” may sound strange. Author and former hedge-fund manager James Altucher wrote some interesting advice in this 
article:
 5 Good Habits One Former Hedge Funder Says Can Be Done In 5 Minutes A Day.

His advice seems a little quirky, I’ll admit. But it’s worth noting that I tried all those tips and they work very well … Except one.

First, here are the ones that worked:

1. “Watch stand-up comedy five minutes a day.” The idea here is that it can make you a better speaker and communicator, plus the obvious benefit being “laughter is good medicine.”

2. “Like people” on social media. Don’t let Facebook dominate your schedule, but make time to “like” the things your friends like. You’ll feel happier as a result.

3. “Use $2 bills as tips.” Get a stack of them at your bank and hand them out liberally. Servers and bartenders and cab drivers will always remember you, and you’ll get better service.

4. “Play every day.” Whether it’s a crossword puzzle or a board game with a friend, scheduling playtime will give your creative mind a chance to come forward. When you return to work, that creativity will improve your business brain, as well.

And which tip did NOT work for me?

Altucher suggests replying to forgotten emails from years ago like nothing happened. Alucher  says “miracles happen when you do this.” You can reconnect with an old friend. You can rekindle a business proposition that got left behind. You can remind someone you love that they still matter.

Well, I tried this and it was exactly what you would expect. People were like, “Dude this is from five years ago??” Needless to say, it was awkward.

So I wouldn’t recommend that one.

One study found that 40 percent of all the decisions that we make are driven by habits. And building good habits mean building systems of daily action. You can’t just flip a switch and reach your destination; you have to incorporate daily practice into your routine, stick with it, and trust that the journey itself is the goal.

What are some of your habits for success? I’m not talking about the little things like “exercise every day,” “drink a glass of water when you wake up,” “Pick tomorrow’s clothes out before you go to bed,” and that kind of thing–although those are great habits as well.

I’m talking about the things you really have to work at, but which yield great results if you make them a part of your daily life. Not all of these are going to be right for you. And I certainly wouldn’t try to start them all this week. Pick one and work on it a little each day. After a month or so, you’ll have a good habit and you can pick another one.

Here are three that I like.

Make time to read books. It’s hard to find the time to do it, but it’s one habit almost all successful people share. Reading gives you the chance to learn from others’ mistakes and think about things in a way you would never have considered.

Donate (Money if you have it, time if you don’t). Successful people allot time to give back to their community by working with charities, volunteering and donating. Tom Corley, author of Wealthy Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, reports that 73% of the wealthy people he studied volunteer at least five hours per month. Think you are too busy to work at a food bank or lend a hand at the homeless shelter? Are you as busy as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg? Because they all donate their time to community charities every month.

Keep a schedule. And stick to it. Most people go through life day by day. If they’re somewhat organized, they may have half-hour and one-hour tasks scheduled on their calendar. However, truly successful people use all 1,440 minutes in the day. Keep a schedule that maps your day out minute by minute (within reason). If you master the minute, you will master your life.

Make time for quiet reflection. Here’s another example of making time to do something that you probably think you don’t have time for. But I promise–if you make a little time every day to sit quietly and reflect on your values, goals, and progress, this quiet time will invigorate you and lead you to make better decisions with the rest of your time. What have your victories been? Where can you improve? As your tasks aligned with your big goals? What can you improve? How can you be of service to others. Just 20 minutes a day to meditate on these things could make all the difference in your life.
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What Affiliate Campaign Mistakes Kill Conversions?

We go into affiliate marketing for a lot of reasons. We want passive income. We want the freedom of being our own boss. We want the satisfaction of building a business. We want to learn new things.

But at the end of the day, the ultimate goal we all share is the same: We want to make money.

affiliate4

Instead of learning from their mistakes and tweaking their strategies, the overwhelming majority of affiliate marketers end up spending a lot more time, money and effort than they want. Eventually they drop out of the game, convinced that affiliate marketing “doesn’t work.”

Think of affiliate marketing as the tip of an iceberg. A few hard-working people sit at the pinnacle, where the money is made. The other 99 percent or so are below the water, with nothing to show but failed attempts and bitter memories.

How can you get to the top of the iceberg? Let’s look at the mistakes that kill affiliate conversions and what you can do to prevent them.

Not tracking key metrics

You don’t have to be a math whiz to be a great affiliate marketer, but if you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your business. These are some of the key metrics you have to stay on top of:

There are some other things that any online marketer should keep track of, things like click-through rate (CTR), average order value (AOV, earnings per click (EPC) and return on investment (ROI). Each one is a piece in an overall puzzle, and how these numbers are connected tells the story of whether or not your campaigns are on the right track.

Not knowing the different kinds of affiliate marketing

Another big mistake is not knowing what kind of affiliate marketing you are doing. Are you wanting to monetize niche sites? Or are you buying traffic for limited-time offers?

Most affiliate marketing newbies don’t know the difference, so let me break it down by two distinct types: We’ll call them the Thought Leader and the Barnstormer.

The Though Leader is essentially a content marketer. He might use paid traffic methods (like PPC), but he typically leverages free traffic through SEO and word-of-mouth to make a niche site popular until it’s time to monetize.

If you want to be a Thought Leader, your site will need at least 30 pages of good, high-quality content based around carefully-selected keywords and keyword phrases. It may take months of blogging and social media outreach to build your audience.

Eventually, customers will consider you an expert in your niche. They will rely on you for product recommendations. You’ll be able to negotiate ad rates and higher affiliate commissions with merchants (brands) that you’ll develop long-lasting relationships with.

The second type of affiliate marketers I’ll call the Barnstormers. They are the rockstars of affiliate marketing. They study every angle, find what’s hot, and usually run dozens of offers at once. And most of their offers lose money.

Then they find one that hits. That’s when they stop everything and pour all their resources into the offer/traffic combination that is converting. The payday may last for a day or two, or it may last for months. But eventually, other marketers will figure it out and come crowd the space like vultures on roadkill.

The Barnstormer can make huge commissions in a short amount of time. While Thought Leaders focus on niche blogging and are more consistent with their income, they can’t scale up as fast as a Barnstormer.

What do I mean by “scale up?” When a Barnstormer finds that one-in-ten or one-in-twenty offer that makes money instead of losing money, he will drive as much drive traffic to the offer as he can, using networks like Facebook, AdWords, AdMob, or SiteScout. They might also leverage some cheaper “second-tier” traffic buys on 7search (https://www.7search.com/), or Clicksor (http://www.clicksor.com/).

Choosing the wrong network

What networks should you be using? The answer will depend on whether you’re a Thought Leader or a Barnstormer.

The Though Leader might use native advertising, Google AdSense, or Amazon Affiliates to monetize his/her sites. But commission-based affiliate offers come from networks like CJ by Conversant, Shareasale and AvantLink. These offers appear as text links or banner ads on the site, and the affiliate usually gets a flat percentage (commission) on every sale.

You can sign up for any of these networks for free—if you’re in the U.S. or Canada and you have a website, they probably won’t turn you down.

Barnstormers run commission-based campaigns sometimes, but they really like lead-generation (CPA) campaigns from networks like Clickbank or JVZoo. The Barnstormer will have a harder time getting into premium affiliate networks like W4, GlobalWideMedia (formerly NeverBlue),MaxBounty, Ads4Dough, and MundoMedia.

Why are these networks so exclusive? Because for every “serious” marketer making great money there are a thousand newbies hanging around, asking dumb questions. And the best offers usually only go to affiliates who have proven themselves. It makes sense if you think about it: Why would the network have 100 marketers out there, driving up advertising costs? Instead, they’ll let 5 or 10 proven marketers sell the offer as an “exclusive” … That way everyone stands a chance to get paid.

Check this site out for network reviews: http://www.affpaying.com/

Choosing the wrong niche

Your campaigns won’t ever get off the ground if you aren’t in the right niche. I can’t tell you which one is right for you. But “evergreen” niches always have some life in them. These include diet, fitness, consulting, dating. Some people say evergreen niches are too saturated. But there’s always opportunity there for smart marketers who are willing to do their homework.

Non-evergreen niches might be a fad item or a hot Christmas gift—something that sells great now but probably won’t be around in a few months. They’ll make lots of money for the people who market first and market best, but they’ll leave most marketers out in the cold.

Choosing the wrong offer

Even in a great niche, there are good offers and bad offers. You have to find an offer that you know will convert well.

Some marketers get too focused on chasing “hot” offers. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one eye one what is trending, but there is ALWAYS a better offer. And if you don’t dig in and make the most of the offer you’ve chosen, you are leaving untapped potential that someone else will come along and mine.

Some of the best affiliate offers are off the beaten path. I know a guy who made a fortune selling ebooks on beekeeping. For real.

Thought Leaders have to consider the price of the product. If you’re trying to build a site around a $10 product, don’t bother—the commissions will be so small there’s no way you can make it up in volume. So I like to look for items that are at least $40 or more, preferably $100 or more. My most successful site, the products range from $50-$300+.

Research your product. Know who’s buying it and what they respond to. Understand your audience. What’s their age, their gender, and their pain points? Make a list of all of their demographic characteristics. By spending more time on research in the beginning, you can avoid wasting time and money later on.

If you’re a Thought Leader, you know what your audience wants to buy. You’re an expert in that niche. If you’re a Barnstormer, Offervault.com, CBgraph (http://www.cbgraph.com/help/) and CBengine (http://www.cbengine.com/) list affiliate offers and the networks that have them.

Remember: When you’re just getting started, there’s no shame in imitating the big dogs. In fact, you’d be a fool not to. JVNotifypro (http://v3.jvnotifypro.com/account) is a great place to research Clickbank launches, while Moat (moat.com) and SpyFu (spyfu.com) let you check out the campaigns other marketers are running.

Not having effective landing pages

The biggest reason landing pages don’t convert is that they don’t present a clear objective. They have too many distractions and no clear call-to-action. Make sure your landers have the following:

Makes your landing pages DON’T have the following:

For designing these pages, I have used Unbounce (http://unbounce.com/) and I’ve hired a developer from Fiverr.com to do them for me. If you know some basic FTP and HTML, you can HTTrack (https://www.httrack.com) to copy the files of an existing landing page and make enough changes to call it your own.

No, plagiarism is not a good idea. But as I said before, while you’re getting started, there’s no harm in imitating what already works!

Not testing

Testing offers is not optional. If you aren’t testing, you’re throwing darts with a blindfold on.

And if you’re a Barnstormer, you need to be prepared to lose hundreds of dollars while you’re testing. The biggest mistake wannabee Barnstormers make is to start with promoting high payouts products with expensive keywords. Then they start losing $100 a day, they get scared, and they pull the plug and never return to affiliate marketing.

Start with low payout offers with cheap keywords and run multiple offers at once. Split-test your offers, in addition to running the usual A/B tests of your landing pages. This means running concurrent campaigns with a minor detail changed, be it an image or slightly different wording. Run the same add with multiple platforms (referrers).

In this stage, you’re buying enough data to know which referrer or keywords convert. Then you start blacklisting the non-converting referrer and keywords and only run on the converting keywords.

Keep tweaking your weak offers until they are profitable and know when to cut them loose if they never get better. Once a campaign is profitable, you scale up, buying traffic to maximize your market reach.

Making decisions based on feelings

I know a marketer who turns your nose up at email marketing. He says “I don’t look at sales emails, so why would I send them?”

He also says those pop-up overlays that ask you to submit your email address are annoying.

I agree with him on both counts.

But they work, and that’s why I use them. My friend doesn’t use them, and he’s making a huge mistake. He thinks his prospective customer has the same prejudices and feelings about their online experiences as he does. They don’t.

An affiliate marketer I know who consistently runs six-figure campaigns once told me “I don’t use Internet Explorer. But my offers convert 5 times higher with I.E users than they do with Chrome or Firefox. So guess who I optimize for?”

Think about that. While you’re at it, ask yourself how much time you’ve spent trying to make your website or your banner ads look beautiful. Do you think the owners of Craigslist.com and Google.com are losing any sleep because their home pages don’t win any design awards?

What you think looks good doesn’t matter. What you think your users should be doing doesn’t matter. What matters is the data—which you get from testing, testing, and testing some more.

POSTED: 01.15.2016

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Good Boss or Bad Boss—Which Do You Have?

A company lives or dies by the quality of the leaders who run it.

And if you’ve ever had a terrible boss, you probably know how it can affect your life: Stress. Bad health. Job insecurity. Sleepless nights. In fact, a bad boss can be just as bad for your health as a pack-a-day smoking habit.

Research from the American Psychological Association tells us that 75% of American workers think their boss is the most stressful part of their job. Even more surprising? 60% of US workers say they would rather have a new boss than a pay raise!

boss

On the other hand, a GREAT boss can make your work life fulfilling, rewarding and motivating.

Why would anyone keep working for bad bosses? Sometimes it’s company loyalty. Sometimes it’s “Stockholm Syndrome,” the psychological phenomenon in which hostages develop positive feelings for their captors. Psychologically, we know that the longer a person works for an abusive boss, the harder it becomes to leave. This takes more and more of a toll on the employee’s sanity and health.

Just in case you’re not sure where your boss falls on the scale, we’ve put together a list of the qualities that make a bad boss and a good boss. Read on, and then you can honestly evaluate where you stand at your company (and whether or not it’s time to leave).

If the “bad boss” descriptions sound like the situation you’re in, don’t panic. You’re (sadly) in the majority.

But if you aren’t able to make changes in your workplace by talking to your boss about the problems, you’ll probably need to get a new job. And that’s never easy. Take it one day at a time, and don’t do anything rash—the last thing you should do is quit your current job without having another one lined up!

But start looking, and hopefully soon you’ll find yourself with a career where you are valued for your contributions, where you are encouraged to grow professionally and personally, and where you get the respect that you deserve.

Bad bosses hire to fill a position instead of hiring the right person for the job.

Good bosses build good teams. A great leader builds an internal culture and attracts the right people to the shared mission.

Bad bosses are bullies. Sometimes feedback about your job performance is necessary. But constructive criticism is one thing, and blame is another. Some bosses seem to love insulting the people under them.

Good bosses take feedback seriously but don’t use it as an opportunity to make others feel bad. They always encourage employees with praise while pointing out areas where there is room for improvement.

Bad bosses have temper tantrums. Sure, everyone has a bad day and “blows up” from time to time. But if your supervisor acts like a toddler more often than he/she acts like a leader, it may be time for you to move on.

Good bosses know that tantrums set a negative emotional tone for the entire workplace. Instead, they are in control, both of themselves and of the issues facing the team. They handle situations with grace and cool composure–not with an emotional explosion.

Bad bosses have unreasonable expectations. As a human being with a balanced life, your work isn’t everything. You also have family obligations and hobbies outside of the office. Some bosses, unfortunately, want you to spend every waking moment on your job. A good boss knows that your time away from work lets you recharge, ultimately making your work time better.

Bad bosses don’t lead by example. It’s hard to feel inspired and take your job seriously when your supervisor doesn’t do the same. A good boss will show enthusiasm and follow the same rules he/she makes for others.

Bad bosses want you to meet your objectives but they don’t care if you have the tools to do it properly. Need more money? Need support from another department? You’re out of luck.

Good bosses empower their employees with the resources they need to solve big issues with big ideas instead of quick fixes and “busy work.”

Bad bosses are very “by the book,” not wanting you to do more than be a robot. Good bosses, on the other hand, invite creative thinking.

Bad bosses want you to “shut up and do your job.” Good bosses create a relaxed environment where everyone is free to voice their concerns and frustrations. This “venting” can improve team performance by letting everyone feel empowered to create change.

Bad bosses hold you back. Good bosses encourage career growth–even if it means you have to leave the company. Learning and growing is part of a healthy career path. Great bosses know this. They aren’t going to hold you in one place for years and years.

Bad bosses hold unproductive meetings. Good bosses run effective and efficient meetings. Your time is valuable, and a good leader knows that a meeting without objective is a waste of time and resources.

Bad bosses don’t care about your feelings. Good bosses seek to help employees gain deep personal satisfaction from their daily responsibilities. They want you to feel inspired and excited to come to work and perform well every day.

POSTED: 12.27.2015

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5 Workday Strategies to Relieve Stress (and Boost Productivity)

Is there a way to maintain steady focus throughout the day? Is it possible to do everything that needs to get done and still have energy left over after work?

If you feel like you’ve been working like a slave, try these five stress-relieving strategies and start feeling like a boss.

focus5

Strategy #1: Get your priorities straight

That to-do list isn’t going anywhere, but don’t let it overwhelm you. The secret to effective time management is to keep changing up your schedule. The Pomodoro technique is one way to break your busy day into manageable 25-minute tasks (with short breaks in between).

The order you tackle your to-do list matters, too. Make sure the projects that impact your personal goals and the company’s priorities are getting most of your time. Those other tasks can probably wait.

Strategy #2: Eat like an eagle (not like a hog)

When you’re slaving over a project at your desk, meal times often get pushed out of the schedule. How many times have you “made do” with pizza, chips, fast food, or some other high-carb, high-calorie lunch while you tried to finish a project?

If this sounds like you, you’re setting yourself up for a physical and mental crash. Try a low-sugar, high-protein diet instead. Yes, it takes more time to prepare, and you may even have to leave your office for a while. But that’s a good thing (see the “More Breaks” section below). And optimal mental performance requires healthy fuel to keep you in your A-game all day long.

Strategy #3: Own your work (and don’t sweat the rest)

Stress that comes from feeling out of control kills your confidence and concentration. It’s rare that you can control all aspects of something at work, but you can control your actions and responses. This gives you a level of power that can set your mind at ease.

Example: If you’re responsible for 20 percent of a work project and it seems to be an all-around disaster, make sure your 20 percent is under control. You don’t control the other 80 percent, so don’t let how well (or how poorly) it’s going consume your mental energy.

If this sounds like a Zen master approach, that’s because it is. You must learn when to relinquish control to achieve nirvana. Or something like that.

Strategy #4: More breaks means more productivity

It’s in our modern nature to keep going until the work is done. But we always run out of hours before we run out of work, don’t we? And at the end of a day where it’s been nonstop nose-to-the-grindstone, we typically feel like we’ve been beat up.

It’s hard enough to get your work done without feeling like this. So make time throughout the day for breaks. We aren’t talking about hour-long naps here (unless, of course, that’s something you can manage!). But just two minutes of deep breathing exercises away from the computer. Or perhaps a few minutes of brisk walking after 90 minutes of intense focus.

Make time for breathing, stretching, and walking around. It’ll make the rest of your work time more productive.

Strategy #5: Interrupt your interruptions

We have more interruptions in our work lives than ever before. From phone to email to social media, we let most of these interruptions in willingly.

Why make your work life harder? If your work is getting derailed by these distractions, make sure you set aside windows of time for them.

For example, check and respond to email at a designated time in the morning and another designated time in the afternoon. Don’t look at it at any other time. Set aside a specific time every day to listen to voicemail and return calls and turn the ringer off the rest of the time.

What are your “tips and tricks” for eliminating stress and being more productive at work? I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading. 

POSTED: 11.18.2015

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13 Better Ways to Phrase Your Office Conversations

I don’t care if you’re self-employed or if you work in a giant corporation.

You can’t avoid working with other people. People you have to talk to from time to time.

And because the things you say can have unintended consequences, you have to be careful about just what message you REALLY want to send.

I’ve put together this collection, compiled from some business communications experts. These phrases, delivered with authentic intentionality, can help you to communicate better, in a more respectful yet effective way. They can help you with your interpersonal relationships and, in the end, make your work life more fulfilling. 

L19

So the next time you’re talking to a subordinate (or your boss), take a second and think about how you use your words, about the image of yourself that you want to project, and about how you can inspire everyone around you.

Say:

“Who might be able to better help with this?”

Instead of:

“That’s not my job.”

If someone dumps a task on you that shouldn’t be responsible for, keep it positive by saying something along the lines of “This isn’t my area of expertise. Let me find out who can help.”

Whether you’re the new hire or the CEO, it’s absolutely crucial that you give the appearance of being a team player. If you demonstrate leadership and express a willingness to learn new skills, you’ll earn a lot more respect among your peers.

Say

“And”

Instead of:

“But”

Okay, I know this example isn’t very clear, but I’ll give an example. Arggh—I did it myself! I mean I can be clearer, and I’ll demonstrate:

People in the workplace are trained to listen for negative feedback. If someone says two nice things and one mean thing, all they hear is the one mean thing. “But” means the positive thing you just said is completely negated. “You did a good job, but you need to check your figures” is the same as saying “You did not do a good job.” 

Sometimes you can just use “and” instead of “but.” Example: “You did a good job, and once we double-check these figures, the report will be ready to submit.”

Say

“How would it work?”

Instead of:

“That’s not a good idea.”

If your co-workers or employees come to you with an idea, don’t shot it down. Sometimes even the best ideas start out half-baked. Ask questions and let them improve the idea—or realize on their own that it wasn’t that great to begin with.

Say:

“Let’s figure out how we can prevent it from happening again.”

Instead of:

“It wasn’t my fault.”

Trying to blame someone else usually just makes you look bad. Show a willingness to understand the problem and find a way to make it better. Besides, defensiveness won’t get you very far in the workplace. Take the high road and you’ll look like a problem-solver.

Say:

“Let me find out the answer.”

Instead of:

“I don’t know.”

Being honest is important. But saying “I don’t know” is a conversational dead-end. It’s a cop-out, and what it really says to those around you is that you’re lazy and not willing to take the next step. Again, make yourself the person who wants to find a solution. It takes a little more work, but people will take notice and see you as a leader. 

Say:

“I’’ll be candid with you.”

Instead of:

“I’ll be honest with you.”

This one may sound like we’re splitting hairs. But when you’re solving a problem or making an important point, saying “to be honest” implies that you aren’t ALWAYS honest!

Don’t assert your honesty when it should go without saying. A softer word (like “candid” or “transparent”) brings the listener into your inner circle of confidence by saying “I value you enough to say this to you.”

Say:

“I wonder if we should….”

Instead of:

“I think we should….”

When you’re proposing a solution and expecting some push-back, you don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. Saying “I wonder if” means you’re curious about finding the way forward, and you’re inviting everyone else to join you in your search for the best answer.

Say:

“Let me show you some research.”

Instead of:

“Take my word for it.”

When you’re trying to prove your point, use facts and figures. Not emotions and intimidation. Here’s one where doing things the right way means a little more work for you in the end. But showing people that you’ve done your homework shows them that your opinion is backed by facts.

Say:

“Let’s try it your way.”

Instead of:

“If you say so.”

If you’ve been outvoted, move forward with the rest of the team. Show your teammates that you trust their contributions, but remind them that the responsibility for doing things their way lies with them. You need to be a willing partner. There’s no reason to fight someone every step of the way if the team is doing what they suggested instead of what you suggested.

Say:

“Can you give an example where this has worked before?”

Instead of:

“I don’t’ think that will work.”

Sometimes you have to shoot down bad ideas. But that doesn’t mean that you need to be negative about it. Always be receptive and open to new ideas. Ask for stories about how a proposal has been implemented in the past and look for similarities and differences to the problem at hand. Doing this has the added benefit of showing everyone that you’re committed to the team—you’re not just out to rain on someone else’s parade.

Say:

“What happened next?”

Instead of:

“That reminds me of …”

Water-cooler talk is a chance to bond with coworkers you don’t normally chat with. Show them that you’re willing to listen to their stories; you’re not just waiting for your turn to speak and “one-up” them with something cooler, bigger and more entertaining. Trying to dominate the discussion is a sure sign of a poor communicator.

Say:

“How can this be better?”

Instead of:

“Is there anything wrong with this before I send it out?”

This is a great way to start a conversation with that boss (or subordinate) who seems to be always avoiding you. It also lets you show off your work, while demonstrating that you’re looking for ways to improve. Simply saying “Is there anything wrong with this?” suggests that there are usually flaws in your work.

Instead, let it be known that you’re asking the other person to make a valuable contribution (if they have the time or the inclination). It shows you respect their opinion and the collaborative process.

Say:

“I can take care of that for you.”

Instead of:

“Do you need help?”

It is a natural and generous instinct to ask busy people—like your bosses and co-workers—what you can do to help. But “Do you need help?” is a powerless phrase that sounds like “How are you today?” It doesn’t really mean anything. Asking someone who looks busy what you can do to help may seem like the nice thing to do, but a better response is to identify the thing you can do to help without asking. It shows that you’re paying attention, and it gives you a chance to show off what you can do. If you volunteer to take some responsibility off your supervisor’s back, you are making yourself an indispensable part of the team. And you will be noticed for it.

POSTED: 11.03.2015

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Taxes, Robin Hood and the Myth of Wealth Redistribution

Is the economy really as strong as you think?

Most people agree that America is in a recovery compared to a few years ago, still there’s a lot of talk about income gaps are getting deeper.

Many of our economic gains are at the top 1 percent of society, where the political power and influence lie. Hence the “Occupy” movement and its rallying cry: “We are the 99%.”

It makes sense. The wealthy are in the minority, and the majority (the lower-class and middle-class) often feel their wealth is unfairly earned. So jealousy is most certainly a factor. “Take from the rich and give to poor” has been the populist rallying cry of the masses since before the Robin Hood tales were created, no doubt about it.

Globally, a lot of people think the 99 percent isn’t doing so well. The imbalance is affecting entire economies,
as financial train wrecks in Greece and Puerto Rico show us how connected—and fragile—our financial
system can be.

Puerto Rico is $73 billion in debt. Meanwhile, Greece found itself unable to make debt payment of 1.6 billion
euros to the International Monetary Fund.  The crisis in Greece and Puerto Rico contributed to the U.S. stock
market having its worst day of the year last week as the DOW plunged 350 points.

The International Monetary Fund itself holds that inequality is corrosive to growth and to society, yet the
IMF’s policies are harsh in their treatment of southern European states and responsible for the impoverishment
of “large sections” of their citizenry.

wealthredistribution

So what’s the answer to income inequality?

Some say it is wealth redistribution through taxes.

Let’s look at how income redistribution works. The idea behind Robin Hood (and Marxism) is that a lower tax
burden would give the poor more spending power.  The rich tend to save their money and invest it, but the poor
will spend what they get right away, which (as we all know) is great for the economy.

But higher taxes on the rich would lead to decreased investment. This would be bad for the economy, but
redistribution proponents say the damage would be more than offset by the purchases made by the poor on
much-needed goods and services.

There are three kinds of wealth we need to consider when we talk about taxes and wealth redistribution:

recent Gallup poll shows that about half of Americans are pro-wealth redistribution, particularly the young and
the low-income. When these groups suffer a financial disaster (loss of a job or a medical emergency, for example),
they usually don’t have a buffer of liquid assets to fall back on. Their consumption fluctuates with changes in their
income, and they often live “hand to mouth.”

Wealth redistribution is already a part of American policy: Social Security and Medicare redistribute wealth from
the young to the old, and the earned income tax credit redistributes wealth from the wealthy to the poor. Thanks
to the earned income tax credit, 32 million Americans even got money back instead of paying any income tax at all.

Income inequality is a real phenomenon—one with damaging effects. But if you believe the rich aren’t paying their
“fair share,” think again.

You may be surprised to learn that while the average American pays about 10 percent in income taxes, the rate for
the richest (those who make more than $1 million annually) is closer to 27 percent.

In fact, the top 10 percent of income earners paid 68 percent of all federal income taxes, though they earned 45
percent of the income. The bottom 50 percent paid 3 percent of income taxes, but earned 12 percent of income.

However, in some areas of taxation, the poor and middle class get hit the hardest.

Everyone pays the payroll tax (Social Security and Medicare) on wages up to $118,500. So the poorest Americans
(those who make under $10,000) pay over 10% in payroll taxes, while those making over $1 million pay only 1.8
percent.

Excise taxes also weigh heavily on the working poor. $93.4 billion is collected annually for these taxes on fuel and
certain goods.

Nonetheless, because income taxes make up the bulk of taxes collected, if you combine the different taxes and you’ll see that the wealthiest pay the highest percentage of their income (about a third) in taxes.

People with illiquid assets (homeowners, for example) would probably react to higher taxation by halting their discretionary
spending. That’s why a lot of economists actually think higher taxes on higher income brackets won’t be that great for
the economy.

In the U.S, you may be surprised that support for redistribution has remained flat or fallen as inequality has risen. So
what’s the REAL moral of the Robin Hood story?

Social inequalities exist, and there are problems with the tax code. However, the wealthy usually pay more than their fair share. The real enemy—which we should address together as united citizens—is out-of-control government spending.

POSTED: 07.29.2015

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