Gaming User Attributes For Better Or Worse

I have many tools at my disposal that allow me to spy on the ads of my competitors. Tools that automate the task across Facebook and Plentyoffish on a sweeping scale that simply wouldn’t be possible with my own eyes.

I’m not a huge fan of these tools, personally. I use them, but I wish they didn’t exist. There are a thousand copycats for every creative marketer who manages to find a formula that hits the sweet spot. The harm far outweighs the good when you’re in the small minority who actually pave the way for others to follow (and rip, and steal).

Regardless, the tools are out there. If you’re not going to use them, somebody else will. So I choose to use them. One of the things that strikes me most about the ads I see being published is the sheer weight that affiliates are placing on user attributes to promote their offers.

Here’s the thing. User attributes are like the holy grail of direct response marketing. If we don’t have them, our best laid marketing plans are metaphorical turds being launched in to a whirlpool. On a good day, something solid will come out the other side. On most days, that’s not going to happen.

But give an affiliate some user attributes and what do you know? He suddenly becomes the world’s most in-your-face marketer.

A perfect example of an affiliate ad relying 100% on user attributes would be this:

“Single, UK Male, Aged 23?” Followed by some drivel about why you’re in high demand to join whichever dating site is paying him the most.

I’ve received a few emails asking me to elaborate on a post I made a couple months ago highlighting this issue. So let me explain the problem with ads like the example above.

Firstly, they have no relevance. If I’m answering “YES!” to all three of these attributes, it doesn’t mean I give a damn about your new dating service. For all you know, I could be clicking in the hope that being 23 and thrust out the womb in the UK somehow entitles me to a free monkey spanker. Imagine my disappointment when I land on a default Match.com lander and see some cake-faced bint in her panties asking for any poor sod with a credit card. Wait, I’m 23 year old English stallion though? Where’s my VIP membership?

That’s right. It’s nowhere. Because you sold me a false dream. So now I’m going back to my Plentyoffish account, crying boohoo, and falling victim to a better marketer who realised that my attributes were worth more than a dynamic headline.

I’ve explained many times the importance of having an effective sales funnel that acts on your original message. By knowing that a user is 23 years old, single and from the UK…you actually have a great foundation to build on.

But calling out those attributes is like reciting a horoscope and expecting me to stand like a fucking meerkat with my notepad ready. I know Mystic Meg is a fraud. I know I can’t be the only Aquarius in the world who should be “paying special attention at the water cooler today because new love starts with S and the moon is changing” or some shit.

Yes, it pains me to say it. But most victims of our marketing ploys have cottoned on. It’s going to take more than simply reading them a horoscope to get them to do what we want.

What you need to do is let your marketing create a picture that appeals to this demographic, without giving the game away that you KNOW their frigging attributes.

I think the attribute targeting that boggles my mind most is the “smoking” card. Do you really think that you can sell a service in one swoop by claiming that Match.com is looking for more single smokers? I mean, seriously? A smarter move would be to say NOTHING about what you know, use a nice stock image with a woman taking a puff from a cigarette and casually mention that you’ll find women who cater exactly to your lifestyle by joining Dating Site X.

Maybe even use a testimonial with a scorching hot female – miraculously the same age as the user, and from the same town (WTF?) – who happens to be enjoying a smoke while beckoning your loins forth. This kind of subtle marketing sends a message to the user without giving the game away that your marketing is actually a lot dumber than he has any reason to suspect.

Building fictional selling points in a service might grab you a few extra leads, but the long term damage is much more severe. You can’t sustain those leads when you’re kicked off the offer for poor quality.

I have several direct relationships with dating services who have been so happy with the quality of my leads that they’ve taken me on personally and offered me payouts beyond anything I can get with CPA networks. If I have one tip for developing relationships like these, it’s to keep your main sell simple.

I think it boils down to grasping the single biggest selling point of the service. Ultimately, the final shove down your sales funnel has to be an acknowledgment that the service IS exactly what it is. If you bait and switch, you better have humble intentions of scaling because you’re gonna get shot down sooner rather than later.

Exploiting what we know about the user is so important to a profitable campaign, and yet the art of subtlety seems to be lost on so many. It’s possible to grab a demographic by the balls without spitting out your bullet point list of desired attributes.

If you’re using landing pages, you have SO much opportunity to “divide and conquer” as I like to put it. I’ve seen many dating services publishing alternate landing pages aimed at niche markets – whether targeting by religion, race, age or location. And still, many affiliates choose to ignore them in favour of the manufactured selling points that bring them the highest CTR. These are the marketers who will drop first as competition increases and bid prices rise.

Once again, I’ve got to stress that so much of your success is going to depend on whether you treat this as a short or long term business. Our ability to target user attributes makes us an absolute Godsend for every single company that doesn’t know what we know. You can either use that advantage to game traffic, or you can use it to show the kind of stunning returns that will have companies paying higher and higher to retain your services.

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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.

12 Comments

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  • Good stuff Finch. Targeting can provide incredibly valuable for marketers, but like any tool it can be used effectively or poorly. Lazy marketers will do something like your example and just throw the targeted demos into the ad headline. Smarter marketers will be more creative about it and find images and copy that will connect with the targeted demographic without coming right out and saying “hey, you’re a 23 year old, single, UK male…”.

  • Great post like always.
    Like Tom said, “lazy marketers” will make a stock ad and hope to make money, but the ones who achieve will be more creative. I have found that questions generally lead to more clicks because the user is being questioned, therefore they will click on the ad.
    What’s your ROI usually with dating on POF & Facebook?

  • With my top dating offer at the moment, 200%+ ROI on high volume. Usually I’m happy for anything over 50% though.

  • To be honest dude, most people have a low ROI on dating ads. It’s a strange niche where you can go from losing money to finding the sweet spot and cashing in very quickly.

    Some offers just don’t convert. I only have a small number of dating offers that I’m profitable with, but you only need a couple to make a lot of money.

  • Great post finch. This has me thinking about my campaigns in a new light. I’m doing some split testing right now and just changing an image on the lander to something slightly more sympathetic to the user’s background/interests is showing me double the ROI. Your articles always remind me that I’m a freakin’ idiot.

  • Totally agree.

    …but this shit was badass when FB Ad Manager came out and you could just blanket all of Facebook singles – Totally lost its luster now.

    Nice insight on how you provide quality leads (ie not selling false dream). Kudos!

  • I’ve been creating dating campaigns on Facebook related to their like and each and every single time, Facebook always denies my dating ads, which sucks because I know that campaign could become profitable.

    Yeah, I thought so that dating was a low ROI because so many people do it. But the best thing to do would be to target it at an angle and be creative.

    I’ll continue creating dating campaigns and might find a good one soon 🙂

  • Also from what I keep seeing on regular POF & Dating Ads are all these simple headlines that have no value of anything. They’re really generic, and boring.

  • Love your articles Finch. Always provide good value. I tried dating on PPV with some success, but due to competition couldn’t keep up. Always had trouble with FB, but once you find a winner, it’s a great feeling

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