An Online Marketing Platform for Independent Business Owners
Important update: I no longer recommend IBO. Read why at the end of this review.
IBOtoolbox is a comprehensive marketing platform designed to level the playing field for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. It offers a way to brand your business, build relationships and get traffic without spending thousands of dollars.
Not only is IBOtoolbox is completely free, but there are no packages, pay-plans, up-sells or other gotchas. Yes, there are are things you can spend money on once you are a member…if you so choose…but you can benefit from the platform simply by participating. All members have access to the same tools and features.
What you will find at IBOtoolbox is a “safe haven” of like-minded business owners (including home-based, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, solopreneur, bricks and mortar, MLM etc) who are there for the same reason as you.
There are many facets to the platform. The main ones are…
This is like the water cooler where you interact with other members. You can promote your business, post sales or specials and comment on other wall posts. Posts to the wall are spread across other parts of the platform such as IBOsocial and are indexed by the search engines so there is potential for much more exposure.
Members are known as “associates”. By making and accepting associate invitations you can build business relationships and grow your network.
The platform gives you the ability to collect leads and build a mailing list. If you don’t have your own autoresponder (such as AWeber) you can access an approved 3rd party application.
This is the most useful feature in my view. You can set up your own banner ads or “AdWords style” text ads which are displayed on your profile and various websites within the network. You can select which websites your ads are displayed on. These sites have on average 250,000 visitors a day.
To be able to display your ads you need to earn credits which can then be converted to impressions. There are several ways you can earn credits such as collecting regular free credits, reading newsletters and posting press releases. From my experience I’ve found I can keep my ads running most of the time by accessing the free credits. However there is an option to purchase additional credits if you so wish. The cool thing is because your ads are being shown to targeted, like-minded, motivated business owners the click-through rates tend to be pretty good.
IBOsocial is where your profile page appears. Access to this page is not restricted to members. It can be picked up by the search engines and will send you plenty of referral traffic as well. Mine does! You can customize this page to your heart’s content. Add business links, graphics, videos and your social media pages. Your profile page will also include links to PR’s and videos you have published as well as active associates and other IBO platforms.
Another way to earn credits for your advertising is by referrals.You can use text links, banners or splash pages and tools are provided for this. You can also use widgets on your website and a dynamic email signature.
PRs are a great way to brand yourself. When you publish a PR it not only appears on IBOtoolbox but also on your IBOsocial profile and any other sites that pick up the IBO RSS feeds. It’s also published to Facebook, Twitter and networked blogs.
An app is provided for you to create your PR and allows you to add images, links, videos etc.
IBOurl and .net Alias
This is an app which allows you to shorten long, ugly affiliate links and track how many hits you get. It’s also a great lead generation tool as it allows your visitors to easily create an IBO account. This is achieved by using the “auto show” feature.
This is a special site designed to give you easy access to your tools from a mobile device. There is no app required, you just login to the mobile site with your regular login.
IBOtoolbox SMS/MMS Lookup Utility
With this tool you can obtain SMS (text message) & MMS (multimedia text message) email addresses for any phone number. So if you have a phone number you can send an SMS to that phone by email. A very powerful marketing tool!
With IBOtoolbox you can start building your list. There are a number of ways to create leads for list building, such as the contact form on your profile page, referrals and IBOurls.
IBOextra Banner Exchange
With this banner exchange network you can promote your business for free on other member’s websites. You can also have your banner shown on other IBO websites. To do this you earn credits by displaying banners on your own site.
This is a banner creation tool. You can select a template and customize it, or create and upload your own banners and have them hosted.
Add your social media pages to IBOexchange and you can and you can promote your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. profiles to other members. Get more likes, followers etc. from real people.
If you’re heard of Fiverr you’ll be familiar with the concept here. Post jobs for services you offer or find service providers.
This is a classified ad service designed specifically for affiliate and network marketers, home business owners, solopreneurs etc. If you’ve found it difficult to get your business opportunity posted on sites like Craigslist this is a great resource.
A home-business-friendly platform where you can upload your videos without fear of being penalized.
In the same vein as Yahoo Answers, IBOanswers is a question/answer site for Internet marketers and is a great way to gain exposure for your business.
A unique web-stats and analytics platform created specifically for small and home based businesses.
Kris Karafotas is an official IBO trainer. At MarketingWithKris you can access a complete suite of IBO training videos. By simply watching these very helpful videos you will earn credits which you can convert to impressions for your advertising. Kris also offers many free marketing courses and resources.
Another traffic generation platform created by Kris, KrisClicks allows you to place your banner on well established partner sites. You can buy impressions for your ads, but if you have a very small advertising budget…as in zero…you can participate in the exchange program whereby you can earn credits by viewing other members’ ads. This works surprisingly well. I have Google Analytics open as I use it and can see the clicks happening in real time. Many of these navigate further into my site. Of course the results you get will depend on your offer but for me setting aside some time each day to participate in the exchange is time well spent.
You don’t have to be a member of IBO to use KrisClicks but the two platforms work well together. If you join KrisClicks you will receive regular bonus credits for you to use on IBOtoolbox, just for being a member.
Another website traffic generation system, Rebrandable Traffic pulls in traffic from around the world. RT has hooked up with hundreds of ad networks and traffic sources, giving your ads great exposure. Not only can you send this traffic to your own sites, you can “re-brand” it and sell it to your clients.
When you first come across the IBOtoolbox website you really don’t get a sense of the full extent of what’s on offer. It’s easy to dismiss it as some membership site that will want you to upgrade as soon as you you join. That doesn’t happen…because there are no upgrades. What you’ll find instead is a community of friendly, independent, like-minded, small business people. The more you participate…the more you gain.
2019 Update – Important!
Since publishing this review back in Nov 2017 things have changed at IBO, unfortunately for the worse. I’ve become aware of issues such as…
- Associated sites such as IBObanners, IBOlist, IBOtube etc. are no longer active. Worse still…some have been taken over by dodgy operators.
- Reports of falsified data
- Non-delivery of paid services
- Lack of support
- Heavy-handed treatment of members who raise concerns
For my own part I haven’t seen any referral traffic since January, despite continuing to run banners using the free resources. Admittedly I haven’t been what you’d call an active user in the last few months, or used any paid services, but there are just too many red flags for me to continue to recommend IBO in good faith.
Out of curiosity I checked on how a press release I wrote called “Google Search Console – The Basics” fared in the SERPs. As best I can tell, Google haven’t even indexed it.
Currently, there is a notice on the home page indicating that the current system will be replaced by a new one called IBO3 in May 2019. As I write, it’s mid June and that clearly hasn’t happened. Hopefully the new system, if it eventuates, will address all these issues and IBO will once again be a useful resource.
For now, I feel IBO is an outmoded platform with many issues and simply not worth your time and/or money. Sad to say…but that’s my personal opinion.
Are you an IBO member? What has your experience been? Let me know in the comments below.