How many times did you fall down the first time you rode a bike?
I bet you can’t remember. You probably started with training wheels and then took them off. With every mistake you learned to could keep your balance for more than 5, 10, 40, 60 seconds…
You eventually got the hang of it to the point that you didn’t need somebody watching you or even a helmet.
Like any skill in life, affiliate marketing takes practice and the road can be bumpy if you don’t have training wheels at first. The joy of first hearing that you could eventually work from home and make money while you sleep is like opening presents on Christmas morning. But many quickly realize that starting and optimizing a profitable affiliate campaign is not that easy.
There is some great content that shows you how to make money in affiliate marketing and you can check out YouTube and your favorite blogs to get advice but what worked yesterday sometimes doesn’t today. Or it might still work, but that piece of advice made it even to Buttan, so every possible online marketer is using it, making as relevant as having a banner farm on your home page.
The industry is saturated with bloggers, portal managers, e-mail marketers, and more. And (not so) strangely enough, you only notice a few of the blogs for instance. Why? They all use the same WorPress theme, type of images, type of content and plugins. But most fail or never reach the critical mass that will allow their owner to kick their boss’ ass. And it’s possible that you will fail too and it’s also possible that our blog will never be the prime destination for affiliate marketers looking for advice.
There are many reasons why campaigns can fail and if you can avoid a few of them it will possibly save you some time and money, but more importantly frustration that can lead you to stop all together your affiliate journey. That’s why I wanted to share with you some tips that might get you started on the right foot without falling down too hard with the do’s and don’ts of starting your first affiliate campaign.
Set a plan
Planing is probably the hardest thing to do, especially if you’re starting and you don’t really know where to start. Planing is what will allow you to structure your work, analyze it and make the necessary adjustments once you’re in motion. And while you should stick to the initial plan, you shouldn’t be stubborn if you realize quickly that it’s just not working. Affiliate marketing is an activity that requires agility, pro-activity, creativity and execution.
- Research: A successful campaign implies that you managed to find the right balance between the audience, the traffic cost, the offer payout and the available traffic. Without such balance, you might just be wasting valuable time and missing out on opportunities.
- Competitive landscape: Use Google Keyword Planer
- Traffic volume
- Traffic cost
- Relevant keywords
- Offers and Payout: Use AffPaying or another offer directory
- Which programs run such offers
- Find the payout (compare it with the traffic costs)
- What’s the competion like: BoxOfAds
- See what is being advertised
- What are the popular ad networks
- See what others do: Get on the forums (i.e. AffiliateFix, Stack That Money, Black Hat World) and simply ask what others do to get a feeling.
- Competitive landscape: Use Google Keyword Planer
- Find your AngleS: AngleS with a big S, because you must A/B test.
- What can trigger your audience to act?
- What content you need to produce?
- Execute: You need tools to put your plan in motion and analyse its results.
- Keyword research
- Landing page design / hosting
- Lead management
- Tracking & Traffic Management
- Set goals: Define budget and financial goals – You have to be a dreamer, but for the dreams to become true, you first need to have your feet on the ground.
- Initial budget: Start small
- Goals: Don’t aim to high!
- Analyse: Everything you can until you find exactly what works and what doesn’t.
- OS, Language, Devices, Day Parting, keywords, Landing pages, offers etc.. etc…
- Metrics such as: Click through rate, eCPA, eCPL
- Compare: Compare what’s comparable – Don’t compare results from different continents, different traffic sources or keywords.
- Optimize: Keep what works and scale up 25% AND KEEP A/B TESTING ON 25% OF THE TRAFFIC
- Get rid of the bad keywords
- Turn off the bad landing pages
- Turn off the wrong offers
- Turn on a new Landing Page / Message
- RUN AGAIN – THE “ANALYSE AND OPTIMIZE PROCESS”, AND INCREASE THE BUDGET BY 50%
- Scale up: If campaign worked on network A, it should work on network B, granted it’s the same type of traffic and in the same country.
- Apply the results from the test campaign to the new traffic source
- Start with a similar budget
- Compare results
- Analyse / Optimize
- Scale up
Find your niche
Many rookie affiliate marketers come in with the idea that they’re just going to sell everything on one website. The truth is that visitors always want to search for specific products and content, not just a website with random things.
On the base level you can always start out with affiliate programs from Amazon or Groupon and make multiple niche sites. However, it’s always recommended to choose products that you can actually relate to on a personal and practical level. Being able to understand what drives the customer to buy or act, is what will help you prepare a better sales pitch.
Making a site about women clothing when you’re interested in basketball probably isn’t going to be profitable and sustainable. Even if you don’t mind making content about women’s clothing, you must be willing to develop knowledge to provide valuable content to your visitors.
It’s easy to go on Amazon and start a page about winter clothes, but how many of those are there? A lot.
But if you really want to get specific and find a unique niche you really need to dig. Having a unique niche that provides value to a certain pain point makes you unique from the other affiliate marketers that are out there. To find it you have to define a unique topic you want to cover in your site and find relevant offers to put on there. Neil Patel gives a great explanation of the process of creating a niche 4 easy steps in his video.[ap_call_to_action button_text=”Join Now!” button_url=”http://lp.trackingdesk.com/referral?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=text_link&utm_campaign=Program_launch&utm_term=Program_launch&td_eid=0157344f340f088f01000001″ button_align=”center”]Have a friend that would love TrackingDesk?
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Track your visitors
Knowing your audience is important and it’s great to make customer personas based on page analytics. But what if you could know who your visitors are before they even arrive? Being able to track in real time and redirect your users to a specific landing page or offer according to their language, OS, device, and location is a must if you want to put all the chances of success on your side.
“Test More And Track everything in your promotions. Tracking is the sign of the mature affiliate marketers.”
-Shahnawaz Sadique, CommonStupidMan
Most beginner affiliates start out by checking out analytics after the visitor decides to convert or bounce. But knowing information before visitors come to your page lets you send them to the right place instead of sending them to one that is irrelevant.
Optimize and rotate landing pages
Let’s say you find a unique niche and you’re ready to get started. When you begin to run your campaign you get some conversions but a lot of pages bounces. Then you realize that some of your users are from China and some USA after the fact- an English site doesn’t really work for all Chinese, does it? So making a page that has elements such as language and photos that will work well with Chinese visitors will make a huge difference.
But let’s take it a step further by rotating landing pages in real time. No, I’m not saying to sit by your computer and track each visitor and send them to the page yourself (that would suck). With a responsive link you’re able to send the Chinese visitors to a page in their language with other parameters automatically. Instead of waiting for visitors’ reactions and hope they don’t bounce, you can be proactive lead them to the page that is optimized for such visitor – mobile, device, OS, language, country.
Think it’s a business of quick money
It takes over 10,000 hours to master any craft in life. Yes the number sounds painful but it makes sense, you’ve got to crawl before you walk. Affiliate marketing is no different from anything else and takes time to develop with patience. You can take courses from Udemy which are great to know theoretical, knowledge, but the only way to know is to make a website and start a campaign.
You’ll most likely lose money the first few times which is normal when you’re trying to learn the ropes. But coming in with the expectation that you’re going to get $1,000 your first campaign is unrealistic and could cause you to quit.
Rely on guess work to analyze which keywords perform well
Many affiliate marketers are used to buying keywords on adwords or bing without really knowing what is the cost of their conversion making it hard to know their ROI. So they go on mulitple platforms that aren’t meant for affiliate marketing and get lost in a sea of complexity and disorganization.
The point is, if you’re not able to know what you’ve spent on keywords how can you maximize profits and minimize losses? This is a problem, especially if you’re working with most advertisers that won’t let you put Google Adwords conversion tracking code on their website. There’s no real way to tell which keywords are performing poorly and which ones are performing great. It’s a huge setback when you’re trying to get your feet wet in the affiliate marketing world.
But with a responsive tracking link you can see how individual keywords perform even if you’re working with an affiliate network.
Promote scams or schemes
Many that are just beginning affiliate marketing only think of it as a get rich quick kind of deal- which is probably why they get caught up in scams and schemes. It can come in a lot of forms like pay-to-join affiliate programs, pyramid schemes, or fake affiliate educational programs.
If you fall into one of these scams it can hurt you financially and the technical value of your website. If Google is able to see that you aren’t providing any value to a visitor it will deduct points and lower your authority on search. In addition if a visitor sees that what you’re providing scammy content on your website it’ll be less likely shared on social and cause page bounces.
Just try to sell to your visitors
It’s true what they say, content is king and you have to provide some value to your visitors. Without making yourself an authoritive voice in your niche, then there’s no reason for your customers to buy an offer from an advertiser on your page. Making yourself a trustworthy voice brings in more organic, referral, and social traffic.
Conclusion- The right practice makes perfect in affiliate marketing
Many affiliates don’t realize that it took John Chow to lose alot before making $4000 in a single day. Starting your first campaign can be overwhelming and discouraging at times, but having the right tools and managing your traffic well will put you on the right path quickly. So take your time and remember that Rome wasn’t built in one day.
Let me know what you think. I know there are other advices out there and I’m always happy to hear and share what’s relevant and can help be a better affiliate.