Qualifying Your Traffic Will Save You Money, Fool

One of the biggest mistakes I see from newbie affiliates is the desire to run before they can walk. The difference between success and failure is rarely a stroke of luck. It normally has much more to do with understanding your market and reaching it effectively. So today I was hoping to chat some shit about qualifying traffic for the offers you’re promoting. It’s rarely as simple as it sounds.

By qualifying traffic, I’m talking about getting the most out of your paid advertisements. In your head you know the type of people who you want to direct to your page, right? But are you getting your message to them without massively overspending?

The difference between breaking even and 100% ROI can often be as simple as cutting out the crap. Just like the difference between slim and fat can often be cutting down on the calories you shovel down your cakehole every evening. And instead of going out to buy some berries, you should probably first look in the mirror and ask what you could be doing more effectively. Same concept for scaling a PPC campaign (err…I think…somewhere in there). If you want to increase your profit margins, you should weed out the bad traffic before you go hunting for more.

If you don’t qualify your traffic, you are quite literally engaging in the very unsophisticated art of throwing shit at a wall and hoping something – anything – sticks.

Too many affiliates think of sailing the ocean before they’ve explored the depths of their own ponds. They cast the net wide and try to capture every last stream of traffic. Presumably because this is what the “super affiliates” are doing to harness big volume and big earnings. Well fuck what the super affiliates are doing. You should start worrying about your profitability before you start dreaming of your palaces.

Right from the very first planning stages of any affiliate marketing campaign, you should be considering these key points:

1. How can I drive targeted, relevant and interested traffic to this offer?

2. How can I make sure that I’m not paying for clicks, page views and impressions that are never going to convert?

3. How can I ensure that the CTR from advertisement-to-LP is just as healthy as the CTR from LP-to-offer?

You wouldn’t believe how many campaigns I’ve created that have failed under the scrutiny of that third point. It’s very easy to get a strong CTR to a landing page. You can make up any old bullshit if you know the demographics that you’re targeting. But if your creative is mustering a stench of false promise, you’re going to see a huge drop-off in clicks through to the offer.

Successful affiliates know how to create a sales funnel. They know how to grab an innocent Googler by the wrist, drag him kicking and screaming through a text ad, appeal to his needs with a relevant LP, and then finally seal the deal by convincing him that he genuinely needs Product X.

The art of this process is understanding your traffic. You need to understand where those clicks are coming from, why the user has decided to click your ad, and what you can do to stop them from nailing the Back button.

If you are one of the many newbie idiots who moves in to a new niche, downloads a 15mb database of keywords, imports to Adwords and sets a default bid to $0.50 across the board – you are walking in to a complete unknown. You don’t truly know why your users are clicking your ads. How could you?

If you don’t know what your users are searching for, you can’t possibly design a landing page that slaps them in the face and says “it’s your lucky day, bitch, come on in”. No, you’re an Eric Generic affiliate – and considering most ordinary affiliates despise the sheer thought of losing money, this is a great way to create 1000 campaigns, lose money on all of them, and etch yourself the certainty that affiliate marketing doesn’t work.

I know there are many affiliates out there who can afford to unleash a new campaign, lose a thousand dollars, optimize and eventually see a profit. But most new affiliates are too piss poor from their day jobs to afford such luxuries. That’s why you’re following the dream, right?

So start small.

Let’s take colon cleansing as an example, if only because I’ve got it on my mind after the chilli I had for dinner.

So you’ve designed your beautiful flog to scam the living christ out of every last poor American with a weight problem. You sit there staring at your masterpiece and thinking “Damn, how could anybody NOT want their colon cleansed?” I mean, just look at the before and after pics, right?

The newbie affiliate will then assume that his hard work is done. The hard sell is there. He just needs to get people on the page, right?

So he’ll load up Adwords, create maybe 4 ad groups, empty entire categories of suggested keywords in to each and hit the Activate button. At this point he probably minimizes his window, posts some advice on the Warrior Forum, and waits for the clicks to roll in. Which they do.

He checks his stats (probably every 7 minutes), and notices – firstly – that not many of those visitors are clicking through to his Pure Cleanse Kit V909.

Secondly he notices that those who are clicking through to the offer…aren’t actually signing up their free trial. How inconsiderate of them, I know.

A few hours pass and Google Adwords swallows the equivalent of this poor mope’s subscription to PPC Coach. He pauses the campaign and moves on to the next niche.

Of course, if you were to look through his stats, you’d probably find active keywords like this:

“cleanse my colon”
“clean my car”
“free colon kit none of that rebill shit”
“professional colon treatment in texas”
“lose weight with colon”
“put on weight with colon”

I’m exaggerating, but the point I’m trying to make is that each of those keywords expresses a different need. A different want. A different desire.

It doesn’t matter how well suited your landing page is to your target market…if you’re not finding that target market. What is actually a very easy problem to correct for the experienced affiliate becomes a campaign breaker for Average Joe. He assumes that because he’s tried every last keyword in the colon niche, there can’t possibly be any profit there for him.

If you’re new and inexperienced, I can’t even begin to stress the importance of testing with the lowest number of factors to consider. Troubleshooting is a lot easier when you have less data to work with.

Start with small ad groups that are direct matches for the content of your landing page. Worry about scaling in to general and broad terms when you’re making profit. I know a lot of guys will say that their best success has come when they tested a few thousand keywords and filtered out the crap. Well…nice. But I’m speaking to the affiliate mindset that’s still paralyzed with fear over the idea of losing money. And it’s all a learning process. If you scale upwards slowly, research your niche well, and target separate content to separate audiences, you’ll find that you lose a lot less money on clicks that were never going to convert in a million years.

Another classic example of qualifying your traffic comes from working with CPS offers. If you’re promoting something that requires the target to part with his credit card and pay a hefty sum – you damn sure better mention it in your ad text.

Your CTR will naturally take a nosedive if you start mentioning that Product X costs $74.95 plus shipping. That’s because most people surfing the Internet are not in a buying mindset. You can decide not to mention the price, have them click your ad, and smile at your lack of conversions. But that’s pretty stupid, don’t you think?

The CTR from LP-to-offer is just as important. There is absolutely no gain in having somebody click your ad on Google if they never even had $75 in their bank account to begin with. Bust out your most appealing ad text but do yourself a favour and mention the catch. If you’re paying by the click, you don’t want to waste a windfall on unqualified traffic.

To advertise something like dating with PPC, particularly if you’ve chosen an offer where your payout is only confirmed for a specific market (say 30-40 males) – it goes without saying that you should be dressing your ad text with incentives for that audience.

“Aged 30-40? Want A Girlfriend?”
“We’re Offering A Free Pass This Weekend”
“Chat To A Girl Near You Tonight…”
“DatingSite.com/30sTo40s-Only”

You’ve qualified your traffic in several ways. You’ve narrowed down the field to only 30 to 40 year olds. And you’ve mentioned the search for a girlfriend. In theory you should be attracting males in the right age plan. You shouldn’t be wasting too much money on clicks that can’t bring you conversions. Either that or you’ll attract a bunch of keen bean lesbians. And if that’s the case, opt them in to an email list and forward that shit to me.

At the same time, it’s very easy to play some neat mindfuck tricks on your target audience to get them to click ad texts that they otherwise would have ignored. I’m a believer that if you can get the user to say “yes” to several questions, they’re more likely to say yes when it matters.

There are many other examples. You really should be making use of negative targeting to filter out the crap traffic that isn’t suitable for your offer. I normally make sure that any search query with “free” doesn’t get the slightest sniff of my sponsored ads. The same could be said for “torrent”, “download” and a few others. Your negative terms will vary according to the offer.

I’ve been talking a lot about PPC here. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what form of advertising you’re currently using. There are many ways to qualify traffic and avoid wasting money. The super affiliates might be happy to burn through their wallets for quick success. But you have to earn the right to enjoy that freedom. So you better start from the ground up and get to know your target markets.

If you’re wondering why you always fail, it’s probably because your sales funnel is trying to please too many people. Make everybody who visits your landing page feel as if it’s been designed just for them and you will start to see a lot more success.

About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

12 Comments

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  • one of the biggest lessons i’ve had to learn is to stop and think, which is kind of the point you are getting at with your three steps. it’s for real people. anyone can throw shit at the wall, and you might even be successful, but you won’t know why, which is why it will be hard to repeat and you’ll have to keep throwing shit. that said, it helps to understand a traffic source or two

  • who would have thought…that there are actually affiliate marketing blogs that are worth reading lol
    keep up the good work Finch…and the warrior forum bashing 😀

  • Good post. Regarding dating: I’ve done dating ads per-lead where I would encourage free registration because I get paid either way. But many programs only pay per credit card sign-up. I’ve taken the approach of trying to get as many people as possible to sign up for free, assuming that the dating company has their shit together and knows how to upsell their users. But I’ve never tried to qualify traffic only to users that are likely to fork over actual money instead of getting drawn by the free part. I suppose the best answer would be to test and see what happens. Just wondering if you had a theory or any experience with this…

  • Great post.

    Minor note: I think you reversed #3, and really mean

    3. How can I ensure that the CTR from LP-to-offer is just as healthy as the CTR from advertisement-to-LP?

  • “Secondly he notices that those who are clicking through to the offer…aren’t actually signing up their free trial. How inconsiderate of them, I know.”

    LMAO, so true… so true

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