Dating CPA vs. Dating CPS

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that dating offers are hot shit in affiliate marketing.

The dating niche is one of the few markets that we can all trust to still be here in a few years time. There will forever be a demand for matchmaking websites. Some dude will always be looking to improve his sorry excuse of a love life from the comfort of his stained bed sheets. And even if Facebook takes over the world, we’ll still have Zoosk. So you better get used to “Want A Girlfriend? It’s FREE!”.

Dating has become such an integral cornerstone of CPA marketing that we sometimes forget to test new business models. If you’re one of the guys who combs a network for the first $5 free profile submission going, you’re probably missing out on some ripe marketing opportunities.

Most affiliates assume that the CPA model will always pay better than a CPS offer. Is that the case? Well, have you tried it for yourself? Then you probably should. For all the expert advice of split testing ad copies, it seems pretty ridiculous that an affiliate could forget to split test lead/sale.

It was only recently that I took a few hours out of my day to do a little market research. I stumbled across a UK based dating network called EasyDate.

Two offers that I regularly see flouted on Facebook – Be Naughty and Date The UK – are both listed on EasyDate. The only difference is that the street payout for both is a whooping £4.50. For the trans-atlantic amongst us, that’s approximately $7.50/lead.

I’ve scoured most networks for these offers and the street payout is normally between $5-$5.50. Even with a bump you’re not going to get close to $7.50/lead. So what’s the catch?

The quality of your traffic, my friend. EasyDate is a performance based network, which is enough to send the alarm bells ringing for the majority of dating affiliates – myself included.

pay-per-lead

What the flashy screencap above demonstrates is the margin that the advertiser is looking to deal with in terms of leads to sales.

To receive the maximum lead payout of £4.50, you need to be averaging 15% for your lead-sale conversion rate. Even if you have no burning desire to test this, it makes for pretty interesting reading. On most CPA affiliate networks, we never get to see the invisible “quality score” that tells an advertiser whether our traffic is converting. But if you’ve ever had an email stating that you need to improve the quality of your traffic, this is why. Your leads aren’t backing out in the sales department.

Most affiliates will look at the chart above and think, “Damn, I’ll carry on sending my junk traffic ’til I’m kicked off the offer, cheers for coming”. That’s fair enough. It gets a bit more interesting when you look at the CPS program though.

pay-per-sale

£25 for a sale? That’s $45 for a dating subscription, no scratchy payout by anybody’s standards.

The downside to promoting a sale based offer is the lack of visible progress unless you start converting. There’s little way of knowing if your traffic is producing a lead or simply closing the window to head elsewhere. You could be making $40 for leads that never subscribed to the full program – instead of $0 for zero sales. But you’ll never know if you’re only being paid by the sale.

This got me thinking. Well, what if I could continue to send my traffic to a lead-based offer, and somehow seperate the premium converting traffic and funnel it through to the £25 payout instead?

If you could just know in advance which leads are most likely to become sales, you could filter them from the trail and send them to the CPS link. Besides collecting your usual payouts for the leads, you’d receive the occasional £25 sale. It has the potential to blast your ROI to much higher ground. We already know that the advertiser is happy to give you the maximum payout if you can hang on at a 15% lead-to-sale ratio. This tells us a little about the expected conversion rates – particularly when we look at the payouts a network will offer.

The problem is seperating that traffic and picking out the users who are obviously willing to spend for a shag. To do this, you need to understand the true essence of delivering quality leads. You need to understand which segment of the market are buyers, and which are merely tryers. In dating terms, you need to seperate the desperate from the really desperate.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not suggesting you hijack your own quality score by sending the best leads to Offer X and sabotaging Offer Y with junk traffic.

It simply makes sense that if you have somebody reaching your landing page by the search term “cheapest dating site”, you’re looking at a potential sale. Why send them through the lead offer when you could do a little PHP link switching and funnel them to the CPS offer instead? Sure, you will lose some leads. But it makes a lot more sense than setting up a CPS campaign and then sending a bunch of clicks from “free” infested search terms.

It’s much easier to implement this form of traffic control when you’re promoting via PPC. If you have access to the search term, you can make a sensible guess at whether the user is a buyer or a tryer. The presence of “free” in the search term should be an immediate trigger to send them to the CPA offer. In fact, you shouldn’t even be using “free” in your ad copies. That’s going to fuck up your quality score regardless of anything else.

Beyond simply analyzing the search terms, I can think of one or two methods of filtering potential buyers by simply getting cheeky with your landing page. You could even resort to having two links on the same page if you’re clever about it.

Whatever you choose to do, moving in to Dating CPS offers is always going to be a gamble. I’d recommend getting in touch with your affiliate manager. You know those emails you get sent every now and then about low quality traffic? It works in reverse. Get your AM to ask the advertiser how your traffic is performing. If they’re happy with the ratios, it’s a good sign that you could be lining your pockets with some extra money by opening the floodgates on a little CPS.

If you know that you have quality traffic, you’re selling yourself short on those $4.50 payouts.

I highly recommend you head on over to EasyDate if you’re working in the UK dating market. They have pay-per-lead, pay-per-sale, and a hybrid model where you get paid for both. Maybe your best option is to stick with what’s already working. It doesn’t make sense to ignore what’s out there though. Go figure it out for yourself.

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.

9 Comments

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  • Great article, as an affiliate manager for a dating company you have basically summed up what I tell affiliates on a daily basis. Depending on your traffic and what kind of ratios you maintain, CPS can be the most profitable way to get the best bang for your buck. And as you mentioned, going directly to the company and your AM, 9 times out of 10, they’ll be more than happy to give you an increased payout. Hell, even rebills do amazing with these types of offers.

  • Another great post Finch.

    When I was first getting into the dating niche I would often find CPA networks simply brokering CPS offers from other affiliate networks.

    There are pro’s and con’s to going direct yourself. Typically payouts may be higher but not as quick. Also, depending on how many campaigns you have going on you could find you have too many networks to “manage.”

    I agree that it is a model worth testing. But be prepared to be more organised and to be able to manage your cashflow.

  • AFF had about 5 variations on the lead gen and pay per sale model, with the caveat that X number of leads had to turn into sales, else you’d get bumped into the lowest performing tier.

    As you’ve pointed out, there’s opportunity for entrepreneurial affs to do a test which might significantly increase their ROI. It takes work unfortunately, which some affs sittings on sweat-stained sheets will not be willing to do.

    Lollipops, anyone?

  • I don’t do CPA (although I’ve looked at it in the past), and what they’re doing with having a performance based network is actually pretty damn smart. Think about it…

    If you’re promoting the same offer as the other guy but you’re getting less conversion, that could possibly mean that your traffic is less likely to stick around once the very few who do actually convert, are signed up to the site.

    Of course there’s many things to consider such as the copy for your ad, where and how you’re getting the traffic and whatnot but you catch my drift. Whereas someone with a higher conversion on the same offer could also mean that those who did convert, would stick around the site longer because you’re getting a higher conversion overall.

    Either way, who knows, never tested something like that but I’m sure the business might have.

    Some people may not agree with businesses having their affiliate programs performance based but from the biz’s perspective, it seems like the way to go.

  • Good post finch,

    But this actually can be looked at from a different perspective, at a much higher altitude. In business the ones taking the most financial risk are rewarded the most. You actually don’t need split testing to tell u that do you? The odds are you will make more money on a paid per sale basis if you’re sending good decent traffic (which by the way is your job!), leave the shit traffic to others who don’t wanna put the extra hour’s work into it.

    This simple concept has proven to work for me since I first started out aff marketing.

    If u can prove this concept wrong I’ll tesco you a 6 pack of Stella or whatever beer it is u drink lolll

    Keep it cool,
    Matthew C.

  • Yes, but when it comes to split testing, I don’t like to rule anything out.

    It’s never good to assume that the odds will represent the end result. Most of the shit I expect to work…never does. It’s just a case of ruling strategies out until one sticks.

    Converting traffic is always nice to have. But it’s just one of those things that you can’t take full control over. From the traffic source, to the keyword, to the landing page copy, to the time of day…so many factors can influence your traffic quality.

  • Actually something I preach to my affiliates almost daily as well! Something you didnt seem to touch on much either was the fact that more risk to the advertiser = lower payout to the network and affiliate. CPC being the most risky obviously and requiring a good unique>free profile>sale to even continue running those offers. But if the advertiser doesnt cut you off or move you to PPS/Revshare obviously your clicks are backing out well enough, move up to pay per profile or pay per sale. YES it takes time as free profiles dont turn into sales right away but we are all in this for the long run. As mentioned numerous times above the dating niche isnt going anywhere 😉 If your a dating/adult dating cpa affiliate ploose.com has EVERY offer direct and specializes in dating/hookup dating with literally hundreds of cpa/cpl/cps offers to choose from. There are minimum earning requirements and a stringent phone interview process is required though but for those of you that have been in the business long enough you should actually appreciate the fact not everyone and their dog can get into ploose 🙂

    On another note yes split testing is key but when split testing a per sale and per profile offer you must have a LOT of patience which most affiliates dont as it does typically take 1-2 weeks or even up to 4, 5, 6 etc weeks for a free profile to convert. Patience I have found is definitely not a bountiful trait among internet marketers 😉

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