Monday, March 22, 2010

My experience with survey sites

When I first started working from home, one of the first places I turned to were survey sites, drawn by the prospect of earning money without selling items or even operating a website. And I will honestly tell you the first year I was highly disappointed! Unconvinced that it was a legitimate way to make money I didn’t take it seriously and looked for other options. However, something happened that changed my skepticism---I actually got a check in the mail.

Even though I wasn’t convinced that it would work, I continued to do the surveys and update my profile. I enjoyed doing the surveys for pass time sake. Some of the topics were relevant to me, and I wanted to share my opinion. Thus, without really trying I was starting to build an income with these survey sites and began learning some tips to make serious money in a not so serious way. Here are some of the things I learned.

Note:  I have never joined a paid survey program; all the groups I belong to are free, so this article focuses on free survey sites.

1. You have to join multiple sites. The first mistake I made is actually a very common one—thinking one or two survey sites was enough. In actuality, you need to be signed up with at least 6 different sites to increase your earnings. Many survey sites are connected or merged with other sites so having an account with several sites ups your chances of qualifying and completing more surveys.

2. The points matter. Most survey sites reward with points. When I first learned this, I rolled my eyes thinking it was a scam. However, I quickly learned the points add up and because the points are redeemable for cash it really adds up to the same thing. When I saw one day that my 1000 points added up to 50 dollars, I was not only surprised but happy. It wasn’t something I was paying attention to, so to receive a check in the mail for that amount made me want to do more surveys.

3. Don’t ignore surveys for draws. Another common mistake is deleting surveys that are for prizes. These don’t give points or cash value, but give you a chance(s) to win a grand prize of some sort. Again, when I first started I thought it was a stupid waste of my precious time. But then I learned two important things:

a) Not many people complete those surveys so your chances of winning are higher (and I actually have won before…an Amazon gift card for 50 dollars)

b) These surveys boost the amount of high paying surveys you're offered. Contest surveys are a way for these sites to weed people out.
If you complete a few you are then offered “better” survey opportunities such as, big point surveys, being invited to join focus groups which can pay 40-100 dollars and being able to test products.
In the years I have been doing surveys I’ve tested chips, pop, cheese, and makeup products all before they hit the shelves and was paid to do it. I’ve sat in on several focus groups; none were more than a couple hours.

4. Reply fast. When you get an invite don’t put it off like I used to. Surveys are becoming more popular as more people are learning they can make money with them, so quotas fill up faster than they used to. Try to complete the survey within the day it was sent.

5. Complete your profile. The more complete your profile, the more chances you’re given.

Now before you get too excited, understand that doing surveys will in no way give you a full time income, not unless it’s all you do, and you belong to over 50 survey groups. Most will find it a good way to add to your income. You can make money to buy those “want” items on your list, or even earn a part time income. If you enjoy giving your opinion or being the first to try things then taking surveys is good idea.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do banner ads still work?

There have been some claims lately that banner ads as an internet marketing technique are ineffective. And in some respect I can see why.

Banner blindness is term used to describe a lack of notice when it comes to banner ads. A user may no longer see the ad because they’ve seen it so many times. They’re used to it. This is very much real and I’m sure we’ve all experience it.

You visit a website and the first couple times you notice a banner ad that may or may not be enticing. However, after a few more visits you no longer notice the ad. It’s still there; it’s still calling for your attention, but you’re indifferent to it. You’ve experienced this and so have your users.

If do affiliate marketing, you understand how damaging this can be to your business. Unless your visitor notices your merchant’s ad, they won’t click it to visit the site and take action, and all this translates to a loss of income.

Fortunately, there are some simple tricks to keep your visitors from suffering from banner blindness.

1. Rotate your banners. It’s such a simple thing, that many people don’t do. Every couple months change your banners. Use a different size, style, message, whichever but don’t have the same banner sitting for more than 5 months. Visitors become easily immune to sales pitches, especially in the affiliate marketing industry, since that same banner is on countless other sites. Changing your banners makes them aware of the ad again.

2. Create your own or use a unique one. There are a number of free tools to create individual banners or you can ask your merchant if they can create a unique one for you. This will help you stand apart from other affiliates in your niche.

3. Remind your merchant to update. If your merchant has not come out with new banners in a while, gently remind him to do so. By offering many different banner options, you will not only have several to rotate with, but it makes the business look fresh. Banners that hold the same style as those used in the 90’s are not as effective. Let your merchant know an update is in order.

It doesn’t take a lot to save your visitors from banner blindness, use the tips above to ensure that this marketing method continues to stay effective.