Why Irish Offers Are Better Than American Offers
Productive Desktops: Red, Blue or Whimsical Dolphins?
Statistical Significance vs. Affiliate Gut Instinct

Why Irish Offers Are Better Than American Offers

One of the landing page variables I’ve been looking at recently is the role of national pride, and how it can be used to boost conversions.

For example, which headline would you expect to perform the best on it’s respective target market?

Ireland LP

America LP


Most sensible thinking affiliates would probably assume that the Irish headline would perform the best, simply because there aren’t many specialised Irish dating sites.

And to their credit, they’d be proven correct. But what I find really interesting is the comparison against landing pages which used a generic headline where no nationality was specified.

For the UK and USA, the landing page CTR stayed roughly the same (35-38%). But in Ireland, simply adding the two words ‘in Ireland’ hoisted the CTR from 44% to 51%.

By experimenting further, I found that including an Irish flag and changing the headline text to green forced the CTR up even further beyond 60%.

Would more Americans click through if I dangled the stars and stripes under their whiskers? Apparently not, the CTR stayed stable.

In the UK, there was a very slight 2% increase when I included the Union Jack flag alongside the headline. Not enough to wet the bed over.

What does this say about national pride? Are Irish singles really that much more compelled to join sites that have been clearly marked as Irish?

Perhaps, but surely Americans have the capacity to be just as patriotic?

The reality is that banner blindness has a huge say. I don’t believe national pride is a major factor that encourages Americans to sign up on dating sites. I think most Americans simply assume that the majority of dating sites are aimed at Americans, and/or are American by default. Not many Americans see the world through foreign eyes, and thus ‘American dating site‘ is pretty much interchangeable with ‘just another dating site‘.

In the UK, we have such a multicultural society that the British identity is – in my opinion – nowhere near as effective in the sweeping patriotism stakes as it would have been 25 years ago. For this reason, you would be well advised to word your ads carefully (‘Singles in Britain’ will regularly outperform ‘British singles’)

Ireland clearly responds well to Irish themed landing pages. But what other countries can be placed in the same group? From my experience, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavian countries, and pretty much every country I’ve ever marketed to in Asia has shown that time spent researching the culture and national pride is time spent lucratively.

It’s like steroids for landing pages. You will get better results.

Does this mean we should bow down at the feet of geo-targeting and allow the masses to be blindly lead towards their flags and national nuances?

I believe geo-targeting is effective in America primarily because it creates location based relevance as opposed to the ‘in America‘ line which most Americans take for granted. An offer will feel relevant when it’s calling out ‘singles in Illinois‘, in the same way that an Irish offer will feel specialised as long as there aren’t hundreds of other Irish dating sites.

Geo-targeting loses much of it’s accuracy when you take it away from North America, and I’m not sure people fully realise the implications of using it when the results are so unreliable.

For example, if you are going to geo-target users in the UK, you should definitely consider removing London from your target market.

The reason is simple. In the UK, we are squeezed in to such tightly packed cities and towns that for a geo-detection mechanism to be 5 miles out, it would be locating us in towns that are a complete misrepresentation of the places we call home.

In my case, geo-targeting would suggest that I live in Hounslow. While Hounslow is a mere 9.6 miles from my true location (Ruislip, if you were wondering), it’s actually a very foreign town to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been there in my life.

Certainly, if a porn site were to throw up an annoying pop-up saying “Get laid in Hounslow tonight“, I’d be inclined to wince, check the time and ultimately shake my head. Well it’s a bit of a trek, mate.

Of course, in America, the population is much more sparsely distributed and so geo-targeting has less margin for error. Tracking down a large city in Texas is less of a technological demand than pinpointing my musk-filled residence in the London suburbs.

There are times where nationality can be used to push a user towards an offer with great effect. It’s a technique I swear by in Ireland and Australia. But you should understand that in some cases, it’s better to ignore the exact location than to get it half-right.

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  • If you need a helping hand making this affiliate thing work, Premium Posts Volume 2 splurges over 70 pages of my tips, techniques and strategies for conquering Facebook. Reviews so far have generally been that the Posts are better than sex, so please do check them out.

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Productive Desktops: Red, Blue or Whimsical Dolphins?

So cometh the confession hour…

Who has a desktop that looks like this?

Cluttered Desktop

Given my rich celebrated history in front end web design (*snortle*), I am all too familiar with the sight. It screams to me… Friday afternoon.

You can forget the blue screen of death, it’s this rainbow of crackling static that poses a much greater risk to our hairlines.

While I do agree that productivity can be improved by culling the desktop clutter, you will also find a great deal of research which goes much further, suggesting that even our choice of wallpaper can affect working habits.

Is there such a thing as a productive desktop? Have I been shooting myself in the balls all this time with those whimsical dolphins, or the lovely sweeping Apple landscapes on my iMac? According to this University of British Columbia study, there is.

The study looks at how colour can affect our brain performance, using red and blue desktops to measure any cognitive boosts. It was established that test subjects with a red desktop performed better in tasks that required attention to detail and memory retrieval. However, the blue desktop was noticeably more effective for tasks that required brainstorming and creative thinking.

Juliet Zhu, author of the study, sums it up best: “Thanks to stop signs, emergency vehicles and teachers’ red pens, we associate red with danger, mistakes and caution. The avoidance motivation, or heightened state, that red activates makes us vigilant and thus helps us perform tasks where careful attention is required to produce a right or wrong answer.

Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquillity. The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory. Not surprisingly it is people’s favourite colour.

In the light of this information, maybe I should change my desktop to vivid red whenever I’m feeling brave enough to bust open the accounting software? It would probably reduce the arse-numbing pain I associate with monthly reconciliation. Perhaps, if I’m short on inspiration for my affiliate campaigns, a swish of the ocean on my wallpaper would help.

Further studies have shown that solid colour desktops tend to work better than background images, which can steal attention away from the task at hand. Even if you don’t notice the distractions, your brain is latching on to every last glimpse of the image. So as tempting as it can be to place an affectionate image of your newborn son on the desktop, or your beloved pets, it’s probably not a smart idea.

It’s the same principle as listening to music on the job. You may think it boosts your comfort, helps you focus, and makes working a more pleasurable experience – I’m sure it does, on the pleasure scale – but the jarring influence of subconsciously following the lyrics (or furiously out loud, if you’re my girlfriend) shouldn’t be underestimated. And that’s why I am a huge white noise junkie, with some binaural beats thrown in for good measure.

Some people will go to crazy lengths to give themselves the best possible chance of staying productive. If you’re super cautious about your work, or perhaps enjoy indulging in the odd bit of freelance proofreading, you could go one step further.

Don’t just use a red desktop…

Paint the walls red. Buy red curtains. Force any visitors to enter your office lair in stark red overalls. Hell, you could become the devil’s child if you’re committed to the cause.

Likewise, if you’re missing the inspiration gene, you should probably just decorate your workspace in glorious royal blue Chelsea colours. Not only will you be boosting your creative thinking, but you’ll be supporting a real team in the process.

I’m shortly going to be running a case study on my affiliate marketing blog showing the effects of red and blue on consumer decisions. It should reveal some tasty tips for marketers, so for all my good fellow scumbags out there, keep an eye out!

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Statistical Significance vs. Affiliate Gut Instinct

How much money are you willing to lose before striking profitability?

This seems to be the question that pops up on IM forums at least once per week, presumably because there is no set in stone answer.

Should I spend $50? $100? Two times the payout? Or should I just sling balls to the wind and let the campaign run for 24 hours?

Most of the advice given in response to these questions touches on the importance of statistical significance. Now, while in the real marketing world, budgets tend to permit the wisdom of waiting for statistical significance, I have to question the validity of the advice when you’re feeding it to a newbie affiliate with $100 in his bank account.

I had to look twice at a comment from one particular forum member stating that “it’s impossible to draw any reasonable conclusion from a campaign without 1000 clicks in the can“. Seriously, 1000 clicks? If I go 1000 clicks without a conversion, I have a fucking stroke and murder six kittens.

I admire the resilience, but I’m not going to lie, there have been many occasions where I’ve pulled the plug on campaigns after as little as 15 clicks. However, in these cases, it wasn’t a lack of respect for statistics that was pulling the trigger. It was a gut instinct.

Sometimes, no matter what the lab rats say, it’s possible to get a feel for an offer’s potential from a very limited set of data. There are several external factors that play in to this gut instinct.

The offer may have bombed in the past, or it may have been sitting on the network for months and yet never received a mention in the regular newsletters. Maybe – like myself – you’re simply not used to going 15 clicks without a conversion on a dating offer, and don’t like it.

You could also have many subconscious reservations about the campaign (“Hmm, well I’ve heard bad things about using Google Translate but I do want to get it live today…“), or simply the underlying feeling that the maths aren’t going to add up in your favour.

I will be the first to admit that adopting such a shotgun approach to managing campaigns has probably cost me money in the past. But it’s also saved me a lot of money that would have otherwise been splurged waiting for statistical significance to confirm what I already knew.

If you are new to affiliate marketing, yes, it’s true, you really do need to be serious about testing and tracking your campaigns. But you also have to develop a personal kind of AI – Affiliate Intelligence – which is an unfathomable knack for anticipating how a campaign will pan out before you’ve wasted the hundreds of dollars necessary to scientifically prove it so.

You also have to apply some good old fashioned common sense in how you’re actually spending your test budget.

While many of the biggest media buyers will be quite happy to spunk a few thousand dollars on display campaigns, I find the idea of testing and losing that much money on self-serve platforms like Plentyoffish or Facebook to be a major no-no.

I just don’t understand how it can happen.

Fair enough, if you invest $2000 and fail to break even, that’s an unfortunate but somewhat predictable plight. But if you invest $2000 and make practically zero in return, your problem isn’t a question of stumbling across the wrong campaign. Your problem is a monumental failure in finding the pause button. It’s inexcusable.

Nobody, and I repeat nobody, should be losing $2000 on traffic sources like Facebook or Plentyoffish. Investing $2000? Yes, perhaps, but losing it all? You’re doing it wrong. I can’t say what exactly, but you clearly took the advice of “not refreshing stats all day” too literally.

Recommended This Week

  • If you don’t have tracking software, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of CPV Lab. We’ve been waiting on updates to the Lab for a while now, but it’s still a fine hunk of software that can only improve your chances of affiliate success. Just remember to heed your gut instincts too.

  • For those of you who advertise on Facebook, Premium Posts Volume 2 splurges over 70 pages of my tips, techniques and strategies for conquering Zuckerberg’s monster. Reviews so far have generally been that the Posts are better than sex, so please do check them out.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. Also follow me on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

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