The 3 Tiers Of Internet Marketing
With so much content on the web it’s easy to feel a bit of information overload. I seem to find myself sliding up and down the scale between input and output, but more recently I’ve taken quite a bit more in than I’ve put out. When I start to feel a bit guilty about the consumption I have to remind myself that some of my best output is borrowed from or inspired by those people who I think provide true value and actionable information. This will be a very subjective post, of course, but thought I’d share with you my thoughts on other blogs and how I view the content they put out.
With so many bloggers/authors/podcasters out there, it seems that you have to step through quite a bit of shit to get to the good stuff. Keeping that in mind, I’ve come up with a simple classification system I use to help separate the “wheat from the chaff” so to speak and wanted to share that classification system and method I use to determine which of the categories the content should fit in. I originally wasn’t planning to name any names or include some of the most popular blogs, but I thought it might be important to share that as well so that you can see exactly where I’m coming from. I should add that their Tier is in no way determined by how much money they’re making, how many readers they have, etc. as you’ll see below. I’ll also mention that it’s specific pieces of content that are technically in each tier, but based on the overall content the person puts out I assign a general category to that person.
Tier 3 Marketers: Always Be Closing
Definition: These are what I consider the “weakest” forms of content or marketers. Their content can range from gobblety-goop stuffed with affiliate links to even more well-known marketers that put out a bit of content, but ultimately stand to hammer you until you buy something from them. The newer guys and girls are those that read some free eBook extoling the riches that can be found online by simply putting some content up with links and decided to run with it. Those that have been in IM a while probably found some success with their method and look to expand their reach into the new or gullible by continuing the process, not trusting that there might be a better way for them to do things and not having tried to do it differently. Most of their fan or reader base consists of those they network with to promote products together. These blogs don’t tend to be very popular or, if they are, tend to have a focus on people new to IM.
How To Spot: The lowest forms of content in this tier are relatively easy to spot and, if you’re reading this post, you can probably classify that content within 5 seconds of checking it out. The upper levels of Tier 3 might take a bit longer to catch, but there are some general guidelines you can follow:
- No Meat On The Bones – You’ll find that their posts are quite general and might explain the benefits of something without getting into how to actually get it accomplished.
- Heavy Sales Push On Their Email List – They’re constantly promoting products to you in emails, using list swaps to help others sell products, etc.
- Silly Comments – They’re less likely to have real discussions or questions in their comments (or many comments at all) so they tend to accept somewhat spammy comments or short replies from those they know.
- “Fake It Till You Make It” Mentality – While I don’t necessarily disagree with parts of this philosophy, these are the marketers that will do everything they can to make it seem like they’re killing it online while pushing info product after info product on you. They’re generally not very up-front about their intentions, either.
Examples: Time to call some people out! I’ve mentioned the lower level content on this Tier is pretty easy to spot, so I don’t need to describe that in too much detail, I think, but sites like makemoneyfreemoney dot com and makemoneyinlife dot com should give you a pretty good idea as to what I’m talking about. Towards the middle of this spectrum you have sites like adsensemakemoneyonline dot com that aren’t cluttered with advertisements, AdSense, etc. but don’t provide any real meat behind their posts. On the upper-end of this Tier I’d mention sites like 2createawebsite dot com. This site is quite popular and gets a ton of traffic. I hesitated to put this site in Tier 3, because it does provide some useful content for beginners, but the promotional nature of the content ad-nauseum would classify the site in the top of Tier 3, I think.
Tier 2 Marketers: Balancing Content And Profit
Definition: Tier 2 covers quite a wide range of good content online. These marketers either trade off between useful content and promotional content or they provide useful content and fit in promotional offers when and where they can. They’re usually up-front about their approach, telling you what products are theirs, which they’re promoting for financial gain, etc. The problem with Tier 2 is that you often have to dig a bit through their information to find the really good stuff. They typically have a few fanatical readers or followers with the rest fitting into the casual reader category, although this varies due to the wide range found in Tier 2.
How To Spot: Unlike Tier 3, I find it’s a bit more difficult to classify content as Tier 2. You’ll also find some Tier 1 content that’s been provided by these marketers, usually in the form of pillar posts or those that have obviously had more time spent on them than others. These marketers may show flashes of Tier 1(or Tier 3, depending where on the spectrum they lie) and do include blogs I read on a regular basis.
- Varied Quality Of Content – You might find a few posts, podcasts, videos etc. that you found to be exceptional, with others falling into the “filler” or promotional category.
- Product Reviews – You’ll find reviews ranging from somewhat useful/promotional to excellent. These reviews are typically honest, but the promotional intent is evident. If it’s TOO salesly, it might be a Tier 3 post from a Tier 2 marketer.
- Useful Comments – You’ll find a few true fans that post on a regular basis. Many more comments than Tier 3 marketers, but you might find less debate or thought-provoking points made.
- “Honesty Is The Best Policy” Mentality – Tier 2 marketers will usually be very upfront about how they’re making their money by letting you know which are affiliate links, providing income reports, etc.
Examples: At the lower end of this spectrum, you’ll find sites like Michael’s IncomeDiary.com or Trent’s OnlineIncomeLab.com. Both of these sites bounce around a bit in the value provided in their content, but provide good value overall with some useful information and are upfront about how they’re making their money, even if they’re a bit more promotional than others. In the middle of Tier 2 I would place sites like Chris’s VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com and (surprisingly) Tim’s fourhourworkweek.com (While I feel Tim’s book the 4HWW was definitely a game changer and Tier 1 material, his site would be a wildly popular example of your average Tier 2 site, I think) In the upper tier, you might find sites like Pat’s SmartPassiveIncome.com, Spencer’s NichePursuits.com, or the TropicalMBA.com site. These guys are providing high-level content on a regular basis, offering extremely useful reviews and posts, and offer their own products or services in a much more passive way. I’d also put forums like the WarriorForum in Tier 2, although probably at the lower end of the spectrum, overall. Alternatively, the Dynamite Circle would be classified as a high Tier 2 (or possibly low Tier 1?) forum.
Tier 1 Marketers: Thought Provoking And Game Changing
Definition: These guys and girls are at the top of their game, providing mind-blowing content on a regular basis. They’re so passionate about what they’re doing that they don’t even have to bother being upfront about their intentions and the content is so good you WANT to give them your money so that they can continue their work/mission. Typically, they find a way to explain a story or situation in such a way that, even though it might apply to their particular niche, it speaks volumes to you in yours as well and has broader appeal. Their content is the type you can get lost in and it’s important to intake in bite-sized chunks so that you can have a chance to digest it and implement in your work or life.
How To Spot: It’s easier to find these people that have already become quite well known, but I’ve found secret pleasure in trying to discover them before they reach the point at which they go mainstream and start running popular blogs. (Probably similar to those who are really into music love digging through the Indy singers and bands and finding the diamonds before they become “famous”) Often, their content comes out without any obvious promotional intent that’s noticeable at all…they might have written or produced it simply because they had the need to make their point or to help others.
- Sometimes Less Actionable, More Philosophical – If I’m looking for more information about how to setup and distribute a podcast, I’m more likely to look for a high-end Tier 2 to help me. If I’m dealing with a problem like determining the best point for me to fold on a project or to pivot/change strategy, I’m looking for a Tier 1.
- Strategy Reviews – They typically don’t focus so much on particular products, but more on your overall strategy or approach to business.
- Debate/Discussion In Comments – Some of their writing would be considered quite controversial and you might see some pretty high-level debate or discussion going on between the readers or with the author in the comment section. (If they leave comments open at all)
- “Change The World” Mentality – Typically, their vision goes way beyond affiliate or book sales and they have a laser-like focus on getting out their message. (Although the subject of their message may change over time.) They may consider taking their best content and providing it on their blog or through videos for FREE, simply because selling it may have less of an effect as it won’t be distributed enough to truly make a difference.
Examples: I would mention Jonathan Fields and Eric Ries at the lower end of the Tier 1 spectrum. Some of the more famous or well-known Tier 1 marketers would include Seth Godin, Derek Sivers, or Paul Graham. A great way to find some Tier 1 content is to go to TED Talks and research some of the speakers, as they have a very high quality-to-noise ratio there.
This tiering structure helps me make sure that I’m going to the right places and people to get the information I need. I find that Tier 2 provides more of the actionable content required while I rely more on the Tier 1 content for strategy, business ideas, inspiration, etc. In case anyone was wondering, I’d classify AdSenseFlippers as a mid-Tier 2 resource (with flashes of upper Tier 2, I hope?) but, if I’m being honest, I really wish I was regularly producing content at the upper Tier 2 or lower Tier 1 level. I’d classify our niche sites as low Tier 3 resources, although I’m hoping with time we can be more in the upper Tier 3 or low Tier 2 range with them as well.
So how do you rate the content and content providers you come across? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.