Does The FTC Hate Internet Marketing?

Internet marketing changed forever after December 1, 2009. On this date, the FTC implemented a set of guidelines that would restrict how bloggers, eBook authors and affiliate marketers could promote their wares. Many panicked at these changes. All throughout the blogosphere, Internet marketers voiced concern over how these guidelines would ruin their business. Some of this talk even scared away new entrepreneurs, who were already distrustful of online money making schemes. However, whether you are old or new to Internet marketing, the FTC guidelines are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, when implemented properly, these new rules could actually increase your conversions. You just have to follow the FTC Internet marketing plan.

The FTC Internet marketing plan should address two major components of your advertising strategy: testimonials and your relationship to the company at hand. In the past, Internet marketers ignored or exploited these factors, which resulted in consumer distrust. It got to the point that anything associated with ClickBank or affiliate marketing became viewed as a scam. The overly-hyped copy and dishonest testimonials weren’t enough to generate new sales. If customers didn’t request refunds, they simply bad-mouthed the brand. When the FTC took notice, they began to believe that ALL Internet marketers were unethical. You can change their views with the FTC Internet marketing plan.

In regards to testimonials, you have two choices. You can either eliminate them from your campaign, or you generate them based on the FTC’s new guidelines. In the FTC Internet marketing plan, positive testimonials are allowed, but they must be offset with a statement describing a more “realistic” result. For example, if you sold a weight loss eBook, it would be acceptable to showcase testimonials where customers claim that your product helped them lose 10, 20 or even 100 pounds. However, at the end of this charade, you must include a statement saying that the average customer only loses “X” number of pounds based on whatever study you did. If your experiments reveal that 99.99% of your customers didn’t lose anything, that fact must be disclosed on your copy.

If your results are especially disheartening, you will have to revise your FTC Internet marketing plan. You can either use humor to balance out the negative results, or you can omit the testimonials and lower the price of your product. In the meantime, focus on the facts in your copy. Tell what your product does, but do not give any wild promises of results. By doing so, customers will actually develop more trust in your brand.

Now you are ready to learn about the second component of the FTC Internet marketing plan: material disclosure. With material disclosure, you must tell consumers what your relationship is with the merchant you’re promoting. If you created a product yourself, make mention of this fact in your copy. For affiliate marketing and/or paid endorsements, you will have to say you’re an affiliate that receives commissions or endorsements for your reviews. Now this might seem like a drag, but in the FTC Internet marketing plan you can work this to your advantage. If you do not already own the product in question, purchase it and start analyzing what it does. Take pictures of your investigation so that consumers know you’re not faking. In the case of eBooks, you will have to take screenshots or pictures of the results of the information.

When consumers reach the end of your copy, they will see that you’re an affiliate not because of some get-rich-quick scheme, but rather because you have faith in the product you’re promoting. You can even tell them that they can get into the business too, if they are pleased with the product. Of course, this type of promotion should be done separately, as you still want to keep them on the same thought within your main copy.

If you do decide to initiate a “second” promotion, include a free newsletter subscription at the bottom of your Web page. It should come after your payment buttons and affiliate links, as it is your last chance to try to connect with the customer. If they subscribe, you can send them newsletters explaining how they can copy your success. In the process, you can sell even more materials.

In summary, the FTC Internet marketing plan is really what webmasters should’ve been doing all along. It is sad that so many in the Internet world forget that ethics generates far more sales than sleazy, overhyped copy. At the core of the FTC Internet marketing plan, you would never promote a product you didn’t try for yourself. You would also give more realistic testimonials. Beyond that, there are no additional concerns with the FTC Internet marketing plan. As long as you remain honest with your promotions, the FTC will not curtail your online advertising. Remember, the FTC is not against Internet marketing. What they are against are advertisers selling inferior products to gullible, uninformed consumers. If you give consumers honest information, you will not have any problems with the FTC’s new rules.

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