A while ago, I posted a case study of my PPV campaign and got great feedback from you guys. So, as many of you requested, I re-published the case study. Hopefully it’ll help with your own campaigns.
Web hosting can get expensive really quick, so in this post I want to talk about VPS’s and give you a nice spoonfed tutorial on how to set them up. We are going to be setting up a cheapo $5/month server running Nginx on Ubuntu. I learned all this stuff real inefficiently (took me far too long) so I wanted to write a very in-depth guide on VPS’s for all you affiliates and SEO’s out there who are looking to get cheap hosting.
First things first, what is a VPS and why would you want one? VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s your own little computer (usually Linux) on the internet that will eventually (by the end of this tutorial) become your web server which you will use to host your websites.
What’s cool is that VPS’s are not just limited to being web servers. For instance, you could install VPN software on it which effectively cloaks your real IP address and makes browsing the internet far more secure from hackers. Instead of paying $5 or $10/month for a VPN service which you share with tons of other people, you can install VPN software (its free and called OpenVPN) on your own VPS so you have your own truly private VPN. There are also many SEO tools that can be run on VPS’s.
Maybe you are building a PBN and want to host each PBN domain on its own server (separate IP’s and all that) for as cheap as possible. Maybe you want to setup a Prosper202 tracking domain that can handle a decent amount of traffic for a new campaign of yours. I have a 1GB Prosper202 server that never crashed after doing some decently high volume Facebook campaigns (10 clicks/second at peak times). The only con is that you have to set them up and manage them yourself. But then again, that’s why I put together this post! To prepare you and give you all the information and resources you would need. For those who aren’t technical, you’ll be excited to know that we will be using a script called TuxLite that automates the entire server setup process. It’s very easy, all you need to be able to do is follow directions, copy/paste, and watch some Youtube videos which teach the basics on the Linux command line.
Ready? Let’s get started.
This is a strategy and conversion funnel post. In this post I want to talk about a campaign I saw from back in the day before I knew what internet marketing was. I think the conversion strategy this guy employed was genius. Was it a “new” strategy? Nope! Not at all, but I hope that reading the story makes it easy for you to grasp.
This is something that I do pretty frequently since it’s so easy. I won’t bore you with the intro, what you do is write review pages for the newest products/services out there that affiliates are pushing. If you’re familiar with CPA, you know first hand how often products drop-off and new ones pop up. A high converter will last 6 months-ish and then change their name or die. Since affiliates are pushing these high converting offers via paid traffic, LOTS of people are seeing their landing pages daily and debating whether they should sign up. Like most people, they immediately search for reviews. There is zero SEO competition for these keywords due to the simple fact that when a product is NEW it doesn’t have SEO competition yet. These keywords won’t show up in a keyword tool until it’s too late. As soon as 1 product drops off, affiliates update their landing pages with the “new one”. If you can spot and write review pages quick enough, you can get some super easy money rolling in.
Back in the day there was an offer called Swipe Auctions. I noticed the exact day they changed their name to Swipe Bids. Immediately I knew every paid traffic affiliate out there was gonna update their landing pages with the new name. I made a review page, spammed some links at it and made like $15,000 in 2-3 months from it. Was literally less than a day of work!
Sounds crazy, huh? I know what you’re probably thinking… Google has publicly stated that buying Adwords Ads has no effect on a website’s organic rankings.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
The simple reality is this: Buying lots of advertising not only helps generate direct sales, it also builds your brand at the exact same time. The more you advertise, the more well-known your company/product becomes. And the more well known you become, the more links you get.
Everybody in America has seen the commercials with the Fox that says “Show me the CARFAX!“. If you live outside of America, let me assure you that people literally will not buy a used car without seeing the Carfax report first.
With Carfax being the biggest player in the ‘vehicle history report’ business, is it any surprise that they rank on the first page for keywords such as ‘vin report’ and ‘vehicle history report’? Of course not, people link to Carfax all the time because their name is synonymous with the service they provide.
It’s true that this is really hard to pull off if you’re an affiliate with no business/company/product of your own. What are you gonna do, create TV ads with huge marketing budgets for an offer you are promoting? No way, you would be missing the point. The point is, that advertising aggressively will inevitably lead to more links. This post is my way of trying to help you see the big picture.
Have you seen the ads for InstantCheckmate all over the net for the past 2 years or so? They are pretty brilliant media buyers. Now check Google for one of my dream keywords to rank for: background check. Just my reminder that SEO and paid marketing go hand in hand.
Finding profitable campaigns is 100% about experimentation. If you test 10 campaigns, you may find a winner, but if you test 100 campaigns, your chances improve dramatically. It’s a numbers game. Your goal should be to test as many campaigns as you can afford.
Building landing page templates from scratch is one of those things that takes time. And anything that takes a lot of time hurts the numbers game you must play. So it’s nice to have a way of getting landing pages that requires no thought or effort whatsoever.
You know that section within your CPA network that you have grown to ignore? The advertiser-supplied creative tab, with all those crappy banners that don’t look like they possibly could convert? Pay close attention to the ’email’ creatives, those are usually pretty decent landing pages that are already pre-made for you.
Here’s an example of an advertiser-supplied email creative – just copy/paste it into your own page and in less than 5 minutes, you are ready to go! Don’t let the hassle of setting up landing pages hold you back from testing lots of campaigns. Once you find an offer with some life, then you can start testing all sorts of other landing pages, but to get started now, just use what the advertiser has supplied!
There ya go, a simple post that hopefully gets you to test more and find some winners for yourself.
As much as we all hate taxes, tax season in the USA is pretty nice for affiliates. Why you ask? Because at this time of year TWO extremely solid offers pop up: TurboTax and TaxAct (among others). These are not your average CPA offers – they’re actually good and they provide a real service that adults need.
Where do you find these offers? They will probably pop up on a few networks in the coming weeks, but I noticed that W4 has them already! I’ve written about W4 previously in my post about what I think are the best CPA networks, but the bottom line is that they really do have the best assortment of offers of any CPA network. I highly suggest joining if you haven’t. CJ.com also has them too, but their payment terms are pretty long.
Scale and how easy they are to convert! Every adult in the US needs to file by the April 15 deadline. Of course not all do, but the responsible portion of the USA does, which is a massive number of people. With a tax offer, you don’t have to ‘sell’ them all that much. It’s mandatory they file, so it’s pretty awesome for us 😀 Even the crappiest landing page ever will probably still convert.
When I think of the size of a market, I envision a line of 100 people and try to estimate the percentage of people that would say ‘yes’ when asked if they are interested in [niche]. Take eCigs for example. Not all people are smokers, probably only 10-20%. So in a line of 100 people, you’d get 10% or so of people that would like to try an eCig. 10% sounds small, but a market that big is absolutely HUGE. It’s common knowledge that cigarette companies make billions of dollars. But taxes? It’s gotta be a lot higher. It’s a HUGE HUGE market.
Another example of the ‘100 people in a line’ test is fitness. Most people would probably respond with a ‘yes’ when asked if they’re concerned with their health and would like to become more fit/attractive. This is why health/fitness/beauty is the single biggest market for affiliates to play in. You can run ads on a general news website (high volume websites) and still, a significant portion of the people are interested. Running an ad on a general news site for something super niche like Adobe After Effects tutorials? Probably way less than 1% of the population is into that, so it wouldn’t work. I find the ‘100 people in a line’ test pretty helpful for my own personal purposes.
As far as these tax offers go, I’d run these on Facebook, especially as the deadline approaches! And sign up to W4 if you haven’t, they are excellent!
Well, you’d be wrong!
It’s not a shit-ton of traffic, but keep in mind this is 1 exact match keyword in 1 country, and my daily budget is limiting the impressions quite a bit, probably 50% or more. Also, something you might want to know: Quality Score on Bing is almost completely worthless. Yes, you need to be relevant so their bot will accept the campaign, but the actual quality score is only an indicator of how well you are doing in comparison to your competitors CTR-wise. If you have a low QS, you simply need to work on your ad CTR. Pretty simple!
What about international traffic? I’ve noticed that Bing has traffic from the following countries:
Look, basic programming is not very hard. I used to think that HTML, web design, programming, etc… was as difficult as learning a new language, like trying to read greek hieroglyphics or something. In reality, it’s more like picking up the rules to Texas Hold Em or something similar.
More importantly than that though, your campaign options will BLOW UP! There is a ton of free software and scripts out there that “do things”. Your campaigns become a bit more than a shady attempt at a conversion since they will now have a function. One thing I’ve noticed is how many websites basically rely on a single function. The majority of website owners didn’t write this software, they just assembled (eg copy/pasted) it into a website.
You don’t need to become a master. The basics, which only take a few weeks to learn, will take you so far. One idea that I always thought sounded complex is those websites that convert file formats for you. Like doc to pdf. I’d imagine something like that is super HARD, for the person who did it originally!
A doc to pdf website service is as simple as running a search like this: http://www.google.com/search?q=php+convert+doc+to+pdf. Running that search leads you to here!
If you click through that link, you’ll see some smart person ALREADY did that and provides the code. Using it in your website is as simple as copy/pasting it. You don’t have to be the guy who writes the code from scratch. This is the nature of programming, people share code. There are tons of open source projects out there (GitHub is good for this). You don’t have to be computer science major, you just need to learn the basics.
If you are looking for some tutorials, I wrote a post a long time ago that
I still think is 100% relevant because I feel like it gives you the proper order to learn this stuff, from basic HTML/CSS to basic PHP. Here’s the link: http://www.trafficplusconversion.com/146/how-to-code-websites/
What’s cool is that once you start learning the basics, picking up other programming languages is easy. They are all pretty similar, at least in concept.
If you need some clarification as to how this is useful for an affiliate, leave a comment and I’ll explain some more specifics in the comment section.
How does email marketing work? Here’s a small excerpt that I think nails it.
…a better example would be comparing your list with a Special Interest TV Channel dedicated to your target market….
Now with this perspective in mind – put yourself in the “shoes” of your subscribers and consider the following:
- How long would you watch a TV Channel where the only thing it ever broadcasted were ads or infomercials?
- What would stop you from “changing the channel” if the channel you were watching seemed to get almost all of its story ideas and featured programs from other channels or networks?
- How much would you respect a TV Personality (or a public speaker) if absolutely every word out of their mouth was hyped up and pressuring you do to something?
Obviously, you’d quickly tune them out and plan on never revisiting that channel – or seeing that speaker – again, so help you God.
And yet this is how the majority of people run their “lists”.
Like a traffic strategy. And as a result, they torch their reputation and become an unwelcome, annoying intruder in their subscribers’ inboxes – ironically, without ever realizing it. And all the “proven” email tricks, headlines, best-converting solo promotions or otherwise marketing tricks will have trivial results at best.
Because they’ve clearly identified themselves as a one-trick-pony pitch artist. They’ve trained their list to expect nothing more than a shallow-coated AD each time they send out a broadcast, regardless of the headline (or promise).
And that is why their results are, or become, dismal. They no longer have “subscribers”. They merely have a list of emails, whose owners are either too lazy to unsubscribe or simply “tolerate” the emails and read something occasionally if they’re bored.
(Ironically, this leads many publishers to actually “hard sell” their list even more frequently, trying to milk a dying cow for all it’s worth…)
Now I’m not saying that you can’t sell stuff to your list.
On the contrary – you can sell, and sell a lot.
But it’s how you communicate with your audience that makes all the difference.
Just like a successful TV Channel, you can make a fortune by lining up a continuous mix of great content, paid content and ads.
Now, here’s how to do it the right way…
Part 1: Relentless Ad-Pounding VS a Compelling “Channel”
Pretty simple when you think about it that way, huh? I definitely recommend checking out the entire report if you do any email marketing yourself (or know you should). It’s a great read that deals with the fundamentals we all seem to forget as time goes by (or never learned in the first place).
If you’re looking for ideas, just pair up people’s hobbies with your email list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies. People pay attention to things (your future emails) when it’s about their hobby. And here’s another hint – ad networks like Facebook Ads is amazing for these types of campaigns.