Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck

It’s a new month full of new projects and new targets. Kids are about to go back to school and Christmas is looming in the not too distant future. If mindless seasonal fever does the trick for you, I guess you could say it’s a great time to make some money online. Same as it always was.

I’ve been speaking to quite a few virgin CPA marketers recently. One of the recurring questions I get asked is “If I have X amount to spend per month, where do you think I should invest it?”

Working with a limited budget is something that most of us had to deal with when we started. You’ve probably noticed how a lot of the top affiliates out there are young entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s. These are guys and girls who probably didn’t have fortunes to invest.

Personally speaking, I’d only just turned 21 when I first hit success. Besides the odd scrunched up tenner in my back jeans pocket, most of my money was…err, the bank’s money. When you’re crashing in to your overdraft on CPA campaigns, you kinda have to get the most bang for your buck. Or you’re metaphorically shagged.

I consider myself lucky that much of my initial investment was made at a time when you could rip out a CPA campaign and treble or quadruple your money overnight.

ROI is especially important when you’re just getting started. If you’re barely managing to break even on your campaigns, and wondering how the top affiliates manage to build up these empires – well – cheer yourself up with the knowledge that it gets easier. Everything gets easier. You just need to scrap away. Increase the size of your investment pot, by any means necessary, and get your cashflow sorted.

My life as an affiliate is a lot easier now that I can get away with running 25% ROI campaigns. I don’t really care if I blow a few thousand dollars in a day, as long as I’m seeing profit and enough of it to cover the risk and outgoings.

Let’s say you have a monthly budget of $500 after deducting what your wife’s blown up the wall to fill her wardrobe. It’s tough to pinpoint where to start. Do you go in to promoting car insurance offers on Facebook? Rebills on PPV? Maybe even gaming offers on the content network?

The way I see it, if you don’t have much money to invest, there’s no point in entering a market where volume is a necessary ingredient to survive. Thinking of slinging a dating offer to 25 year old guys in mainstream America? Forget about it. Even if you find a profitable campaign, the ROI is likely to be so slim that it’ll take you twelve months of waiting on cheques in the mail before your business has taken a single step forward. That’s the reality if you’re working with Facebook, Adwords or even POF lately.

If you don’t have a big budget, your mind should naturally be focused on cornering small markets instead. Now you’ve probably read this endorsement of scaling and placed your finger on the reply button, ready to call me a lousy lying hypocrite. Yes, scaling is what puts the finishing touches on a super affiliate’s new LA mansion. But without having money to invest – and lots of it – scaling is like climbing in to bed after too much tequila. Really fucking difficult and really fucking slow.

I’ve posted time and time again about laser targeting your campaigns; both on PPV and Facebook. This is the tactic I used regularly before I had the muscle to compete with other big spending affiliates on broad demos.

If you’re looking to promote dating offers on a small budget, make yourself familiar with the niche markets where it’s possible to make a killing with highly targeted, albeit low volume, campaigns.

Markets like Single Parent Dating, Black Dating, Jewish Dating, Asian Dating…these are all great entry points for the newbie marketer wanting to increase his capital with a high ROI. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you’re wasting an entire budget only to claim ten bucks of profit with Mate 1.

If there’s no logical micro-market for you to target, it’s just as easy to create one for yourself. Your network might not have a suitable offer for Midget Albino Dating, but that’s not to say your CTRs aren’t going to be through the roof if you decide to target them anyway.

The key to initial success is to sweep underneath the heavyweight affiliates. If you can’t compete with their budget, compete with the time and care that you dedicate to your campaigns. Pay attention to the details, the small print of the demos. Produce creatives that strike close to the mark.

As an affiliate who now works mainly with broad demos covering millions of people at a time, I can say that there are a lot of micro-markets that I’d love to scale in to and dominate – if only I had the time. But I tend to dedicate my resources to those mainstream campaigns where most of my money is made. And it’s the same for many high volume affiliates out there. Your best opportunity is to cover the ground that we don’t bother getting dirty with. Like a local politician going door to door while we can only put a sweeping ad on TV.

There are some campaigns that I had to turn down as a newbie marketer simply because they weren’t cost-efficient. And yet they might have been producing 50% ROI. That’s madness, isn’t it? Like your mum buying you a unicorn for Christmas only to slap her in the face and moan that you wanted something more mythical. Beggars can’t be choosers, but profit isn’t always the footprint of money well spent.

It’s important to make every penny count while you’re still dealing in small business steps. Forget about the rulebook that super affiliates abide by. They’re competing on a different playing field under different rules altogether.

The CPA landscape is dramatically different in 2010. It’s no longer possible to fill your boots with overnight riches by going straight for the kill in huge mainstream markets. You need to operate on the fringes, reap profit where the markets aren’t so saturated, and dig deeper to grow your business.

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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.

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