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.
Think about it. If the highest converting skin-care offer right now is “Old Grandmas Wrinkle Cream” and it just came out 1 week ago on the CPA networks, there is a shitload of review traffic without any SEO competition. You pretty much just have to put up a page with the keyword in the title tag to get this type of trending traffic. When a product is 1 week old, not many pages on it even exist yet!
Here’s a pic of a product-name keyword that would have paid off more long-term (not a fly-by-night offer).
If you would have spotted this one in early 2011, you would have made, and probably would still make nice money from it. How much would of course depend on the product you promoted, how engaging your landing page was, and how well you SEO’d it.
Now here is a picture of a product that is spiking right now.
When I look at the SEO competition of this keyword, it’s stupid easy. Just have to put up a page basically!
Conversion Strategy: What If The Product Doesn’t Have an Affiliate Program?
What if the product you’re seeing spiking in searches doesn’t have an affiliate program? That’s just fine! A lot of people thing that if you rank for “Product XYZ” then you have to promote Product XYZ. Not true! In fact I get better conversion rates by saying, “Yea Product XYZ is OK but “Product ZZZ” is a far better program for reasons 1, 2, and 3. Be honest here and tell them some information. I think that whenever somebody searches for a review, they really want to see the cons and if there are better options out there. Every affiliate site they see says “Product XYZ is the fricken greatest!” even when it’s a proven scam. These affiliate sites talk about it being the best product ever only in an attempt to get a conversion. Screw that! Don’t promote scams, promote 1 stable offer. If you have 1 skin care offer that is pretty legit (well, as legit as they can get) and converts well, then setup SEO pages for all the newest skin-care creams and say “Yea it looks alright but you’d do well if you try [your 1 stable skin-care offer] instead.”
Whenever somebody advertises a product, that product is going to get review interest. If they (or affiliates) advertise that product on a BIG scale, that product is going to get a TON of review interest. Get that first-mover advantage on the review pages! If you monitor the ad networks and CPA networks for the newest hot offers, those are the keywords you should go after to make this technique work for you.
For clickbank offers, I highly suggest using CBEngine for monitoring the new offers that are spiking, it works super well for this. For other offers, I recommend using Alexa, Quantcast & Compete to see which offers are suddenly getting tons of traffic (which signals they convert well and are advertised heavily, which I’ll say again, means lots of review traffic).
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 sales, it also builds your brand at the exact same time. The more you advertise, the more well-known your company/product becomes. A company that actively markets itself reaches far more people than companies that don’t.
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. Used car dealers throw Carfax reports at prospective customers like it’s a golden ticket.
With Carfax being the biggest brand 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, Google would look foolish if Carfax wasn’t highly ranked. And not only that, people with websites link to Carfax because their name is synonymous with the service they provide.
TV advertising helped build the Carfax brand, and now they dominate.
Now 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, you would be missing the point. The point is, if you want to create a real business one day, that advertising aggressively will inevitably lead to more links. This post is my way of trying to help you see the big picture.
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 pages 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.
Why Tax Offers are Good
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 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:
- USA (most, by far)
- United Kingdom
- …and others that you’ll have to figure out for yourself
FUCK YES you should, and here’s why.
Basic programming is NOT 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 stuff” which you can just use. Your campaigns become a bit more than a shady attempt at a conversion since they have a function now. One thing I’ve noticed is how many websites basically rely on ONE programming function to “do work”. 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 to do useful stuff. The basics, which would take you a whopping 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. 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 will give you the code! Using it in your website is as simple as copy/pasting it. You don’t have to be the badass who does it himself. This is the nature of programming. You don’t have to be computer science major in his 4th year of study, you just need to learn how to use a hammer and drive the nail in.
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/
I urge you to start studying. It’s fun, satisfying and gives you a massive advantage as an affiliate. So much of affiliate marketing is tracking data points and “reading” the results of your test. Learning the basics is like taking a QUANTUM leap – and it really doesn’t take much time or effort. I hope you jump in.
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 – Facebook Ads is amazing for these types of campaigns.
As somebody who has dealt with some pretty shitty affiliate networks in the past, I figured I’d use this post as an opportunity to share what I think are the top CPA and affiliate networks around today. What you will not find on this list are networks that are brand-new or so small that nobody even knows who they are. There are no fly-by-night companies listed here. If one thing is for sure, it’s that you can’t go wrong with any of these networks.
- Neverblue – NB is the first CPA network I ever signed up to and they are as strong as ever. They have the best interface in the business and when it comes to payments, they pay when they say they are going to. Neverblue is pretty much everybody’s top 3.
- W4 – Hands down, W4 has the best array of offers of any CPA network I’ve seen. While most CPA networks have the same offers as each other, W4 has got a bunch of unique ones! They are strong in pretty much everybody category. I’ve never had, nor heard of, anyone having any issues regarding payments with W4. Highly recommended.
- Ads4Dough – I know at least 3 or 4 affiliates who call A4D their favorite network. What’s cool about A4D is their willingness to work with you and help you succeed. If you’ve got an awesome campaign, A4D is the kind of network that will pay you faster so you can scale (just ask them!). Very approachable and very reliable.
- Maxbounty – damn-near bulletproof when it comes to payments and just being an all-around honest, reliable network. Even if their offices were burning down, I get the impression that Maxbounty would still manage to get your payments to you on time (they are that solid). MB also pays weekly by default (which is absolutely critical for most people).
- Mediawhiz – A hidden gem. Home to my favorite offer of all time. I’ve never had any problems with Mediawhiz. While they aren’t as well-known as some of the other networks listed, they are certainly respected. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this now, the ex-CEO of Neverblue just became the CEO of Mediawhiz. Check them out for sure.
- Clickbooth – Probably the biggest network of them all. The reason Clickbooth is so highly rated is because they have offers you can’t get anywhere else. And a lot of times those offers are the highest converting offers in their niche. I’ve had a fantastic experience with Clickbooth myself and would recommend them to anybody.
- Convert2media – C2M is one of the best networks out there. They are 100% reliable and the crew there knows what they are doing. If you’re new to this, DON’T sign up with C2M. They cater to more advanced marketers, specifically paid traffic affiliates.
The networks listed below are ones that I don’t have much personal experience with, but I’m including them here because I know they are legit and have great reputations.
- Clickbank – My favorite network of all time. A lot of CPA marketers like to talk trash on Clickbank, but that’s mainly because of all the scammy “make money online” crap that tarnished has Clickbank’s reputation a little bit. Clickbank has a lot to offer, especially for newer marketers. Stable offers FTW.
- CJ.com – Again, a lot of CPA marketers like to hate on CJ, but if you’re looking for quality affiliate offers, go set up a CJ.com account right now. Big brands work with CJ, and they have arguably the best quality offers of any network.
- RevenueWire – I love these guys. If you’re a software marketer, you probably already know them. If not, do yourself a favor and go check them out. RW is like the Clickbank of software offers.
- OneNetworkDirect – Just like RevenueWire, OneNetworkDirect is a network for software offers. And like CJ, you’ll find the big brand software offers here (like Kaspersky and McAfee).
Have I missed any? Disagree with me on anything? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
A few weeks ago I got turned on to a service called inspectlet.com that lets you record a screen capture of your visitors’ sessions (they offer heatmaps too).
There is something about watching a real visitor wave his mouse around your LP (and not clicking your CTA ) that really brings things home. Before I was done watching the first video, a flood of ideas hit me over the head of things I need to test!