Online Marketing Essentials – The Customer Funnel

There are basically four methods

Direct to vendors sales page web site
Direct to the purchase page
Via your own squeeze page
Via your own website
Lets look at these in more detail
If you send the customer directly from your ads to the customer sales page you have no need for your own website. This means no hosting fees and no web skills required, hopefully the vendor sales page will do the selling and result in sales. This is good if you have no web skills at all or want to get started quickly. Although most web hosting companies now offer ‘no skills needed’ template built web sites. On the downside you have no opportunity to capture the customer or offer the customer any additional products. Also if you use affiliate links to the product they will clearly be seen by those in the know. There are ways of ‘masking’ your affiliate link but none are very good unless you have your own website. One quick option you do have is to simply buy a domain name. You can then set ‘forwarding and masking’ on your new domain name so that you can use that in place of your affiliate link to get to the vendor sales page. If you want to get up a running swiftly then this is a good option in the short term.
Sending traffic directly to the purchase page is pointless if the customer has not already been given the guided tour of the product and set up ready to buy. For new starters this not a realistic option. The reason for sending directly to a vendors purchase page is to bypass his sales page if it is not converting customer leads. You will then have to convince the customer to buy the product yourself. You will need to do this either on your own website or squeeze page. (See 3&4). This is an advanced marketing technique but not for a new starter.
Sending traffic to the vendor via your own squeeze page is a good idea. What you effectively do here is pre-qualify your leads. The better qualified your lead the better chance of a successful sale. If your squeeze page is very good you may bypass the vendor sales page altogether and go straight to purchase point. Worth offering the option on your page! You will also use your own domain name to get to your squeeze page and not your affiliate ID URL. On the down side you need to host your squeeze page in the same way as a web site. You also need to ensure that your page enhances your sales and not reduces them using a continuous improvement process.
Sending traffic via your own website is a great idea. You have the opportunity to mask your affiliate ID and you can capture customer details for ‘back end sales’. Long term this, or a squeeze page, must be your options. Also you can sell your own products from a website if you have them and offer content that will draw the customers back to view the website again, giving further opportunity to sell. With a web site you can also start to create your own brand and have a domain name and corporate image to use in all communications. Long term this creates recognition and more customers confidence which results in more sales. The downside is that you really need some skills in web site creation but there are plenty of tutorials and new applications that make it very very easy – honest!
Domain Name and Hosting
You will need a domain name and a hosting account if you going to put up a website or squeeze pages. You really can’t beat VodaHost at this game. They have the simplest and cheapest way to get a professional website up and running. They give away their BlueVoda (check out the video) web site creator which is absolutely the easiest one on the planet and it is not limited in functionality either. You simply buy the hosting and everything else, including your domain name and unlimited web space and bandwidth, is free so it is likely to be cheaper than other hosting companies who end up charging you for all the separate bits which can often come to quite a large monthly sum. Another big plus is that everything is integrated and I do not think any other hosting has this. i.e. you create your website in BlueVoda and you can upload it with a single click. No need for third party FTP or slow web based file managers.