Vegas Is For Gambling, Vegas Isn’t For Marketing

So how did you guys enjoy Vegas?

I’ve been stalking various photos from ASW and I can’t say I’m not jealous. If I’d made the trip myself, I’d have definitely shagged something. For a single guy in his early 20s, the lure of bringing scandal to Sin City was almost enough to place my balls on a last minute flight to the strip. But alas, I’ve been busy elsewhere.

I’ve seen a lot written about the state of the rebill market. Particularly now that industry peoples have stuffed their faces discussing the topic over four course meals sponsored by every network under the sun. Things are changing, times are getting rough, yeah…we’ve all heard the drama. It’s like Kevin Hoeffer died or something.

It’s true.

Affiliate marketers have stopped making money. The game is over. Lives are ruined. We don’t know how to exist in a world where $40 street payouts and idiot:8 conversion rates are a thing of the past.

But it’s okay. I’ve got a post that can do all that.

It’s called “develop some actual assets and don’t let your paid traffic go to waste you stupid fuck”

The problem with rebills has always been the stability of the offers. A campaign that converts with a towering ROI can hit an iceberg in the night and sink before you’ve had time to wake from your fantasy. This is what happens when you buy traffic with the purpose of using it once.

I’m guessing many of you sat around the tables in Vegas and gambled away your money. It’s all about risk, right? What are your chances of success compared to your chances of failure? When you place yourself in a win or bust situation, you sometimes end up going bust.

When you buy advertising on Adwords and send a click to an offer…what are you doing? You’re taking a calculated risk. You’re anticipating that you can score a conversion to give you immediate reward. Just like many of you probably did last weekend, it’s just as possible to go bust.

So what the sensible marketers are doing is downsizing that risk. The chances of scoring a conversion are not great when you look at the state of the current rebill market. So don’t throw everything you have at crazy batshit affiliate arbitrage. Conversion rates are guaranteed to drop over the coming months, but you know what will stay the same? The percentage of users opting in to email lists. No Visa or Mastercard bullshit is going to affect the likelihood of Average Joe agreeing to hand over his email address.

Once you have that email address, you’re no longer playing the game of rolling a dice and pissing your pants for the right outcome. You can still tempt the user with an offer, but if they don’t convert – you’ve still got them on your books. You can hit them again, and again, and again.

You might not see email addresses as business assets, but if you don’t collect them – what are you doing? You’re constantly chasing the invisible margins between profit and loss. There are some niches where the arbitrage affiliate simply can’t compete with other advertisers. That’s because the arbitrage affiliate only has eyes for the one conversion, and can’t stand the thought of a loss that might take months to reverse. This is all wrong wrong wrong.

And you probably know it’s wrong, you just can’t resist January’s pay cheque.

When you build an email list, you’re taking a large slice of the risk out of your investments. Assuming you’re not a total Warrior tard. The kind who struggles to get email opt-ins without autoresponding naked pics of his 14 year old daughter as an incentive (take one look at those avatars and tell me it doesn’t happen).

Maybe it’s time you looked at your EPCs in a different way. Emails Per Click.

The great thing about becoming an emailing affiliate is that it takes away a lot of the pain that people associate to getting the scrub or shave treatment. If you’re building a list over time and get to the point where you have thousands of opt-ins, you only need to know what’s hot now. Does it matter to you that an offer is only going to be around for a week? No because when you drop that email, the large majority of recipients are going to be clicking on the hottest offer and maximizing your chances of producing the best ROI. If it doesn’t work out? Well, that’s too bad but you haven’t blown out like a bad night on the Vegas strip. You still have your data and you still have another chance to use it.

I will say that some offers are not suited for targeting with email traffic. People aren’t stupid. If you drop rebills that are attracting huge mainstream criticism, you’re probably going to pay the price. Unsatisfied customers will report you and your list will hit the skids quick. It’s important to offer genuine value. And that right there is probably the single biggest turn off for so many affiliates. Genuine value? But that takes, like, time and everything?! Yeah, it does. You’re running a business, right? Maybe consider hiring somebody to play with your balls for the nine hours that you’ll be obliged to waste doing real work. It might stop you becoming a case study of the affiliate marketing 2010 “back to my day job” brigade.

There are a couple of services you can use to make list building a simple and pain-free process. I would personally recommend Aweber (Yes, it’s an affiliate link, and yes if you’ve got any respect for my work, you’ll use it, bitch). I know a lot of top affiliates practically swear by Aweber and it really is a fantastic service.

This has been a basic poke in the tits towards considering the value of the traffic you’re buying. In the next post I’ll sum up some of the best techniques and cheap tactics for building a list.

EDIT: There seemed to be a bit of confusion over whether I was actually in Vegas for ASW. Some dude messaged me saying that it was cool to speak to me. I don’t know whether I have a double (apparently I do and she’s AdHustler’s AM), but I definitely was not in Vegas. I will be in New York for ASE though.

About the author


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.


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  • Loving your work as always. We share a similar mindset and I’m glad you’re one of the few writers out there to actually express their personality and not be afraid to put themselves on the line. I also from the UK too and also want to move to the USA – if only it wasn’t for all this goddamn visa bullshit!

  • Hey Finch –
    Good article and approach, but I was wondering if you ever ran into issues when BROADCAST mailing to users on your list. I’ve had cases where I would broadcast a ‘hot’ offer (like you mentioned you do) to 100k+ user lists and would have a complaint rate over their threshold that causes aweber to reoptin the entire list. Obviously this is no good and usually only 10-15% of the users will reoptin. And these are not spammy email blasts.

  • Finch,

    Excellent post and I agree that in building a long-term affiliate business a customer list is a must. I’ve done this a few ways: offering a bonus with purchase that requires opt-in, giving away a free report on the front-end, and even scraping data from affiliate sales I’ve generated.

    Nick’s point about complaint rates has been my biggest challenge in email marketing. I’ve lost an account at iContact and been warned at aWeber due to complaint rates in the .5% – 1% range, even on emails that are pure content (free video, free widget, etc). So do you have a recommendation on a service that’s more appropriate/tolerant for emailers with a higher complaint rate than the tiny %s the aWebers and iContacts of the world do?

  • I feel the pain RE: complain rates. It’s something I’ve suffered from in the past too.

    I’m gonna be addressing that directly in the next post, but I will say two of the best ways I’ve found to combat it:

    1. Find a way to mention why the user is receiving the email. What they subscribed to in the past, where they opted in…whatever. Some people report shit just because they can’t remember where they opted in and don’t understand why they’re getting hit.

    2. Split up your lists. This is a bit difficult if you’re already looking at a single list with thousands of contacts. I like to build multiple geo-specific lists so I can maximize relevancy and keep everything highly targeted to that set of users. I’ve even gone as far as targeting via cities in some cases. It’s a lot more involving as a process, and you have to rethink your strategy for writing the actual content, but you can combat high complaint rates by doing everything in your power to stay relevant to the user.

    As far as a a service with more leniency than Aweber, I’d be happy to hear suggestions there too. I haven’t found one personally. Some of the more experienced emailers may have something they can reveal there.

  • Awesome post Finch but I am still giddily waiting for the part where you explain some good ways to collect emails in the first place. One of my biggest challenges when contemplating getting into the mailing game was a good way to build targeted lists and keep sending valuable content users while maintaining their trust. Especially that latter part.

    Looking forward to whatever you’ll have up next. Your blog’s the best one on Affbuzz, easily.

  • I think we need a new acronym LVC for lifetime value of the customer. Your post nails it – lifetime value of customer > single time value of customer. At a minimum, even if they convert only once, the list you own itself is worth something.

  • Looking forward to the follow-up on this post. I definitely appreciate how you’re encouraging affiliates to build long-term assets out of a “grab and run” type of industry.

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