CPA marketers like to divide the affiliate world in to six continents: dating, health, careers, gaming, mobile and zip submits.
These are the verticals that get talked about almost constantly. If you log in to an affiliate network’s control panel, it’s likely that the hottest offers – those pushed above the fold – will fall in to these categories.
If you’re launching CPA campaigns, it makes sense to stick to the tried and tested, because you’re likely to get better support from your networks – most of whom are very familiar with the six continents of markets above.
Networks are better at providing support for offers they know, the offers they see a million other publishers promoting. Naturally, there’s a downside. Saturated offers are also seen as ‘past their peak’. By the time Average Joe is throwing his money at Offer X, the initial conversion rates are likely to have tapered to compensate for the demand. The best time to promote an offer is nearly always before everybody else.
There are many reasons why you might look at the state of the CPA world and draw the conclusion that it’s a shrinking pond with an overflow of hungry fish. That’s my view, and it’s why I’m spending most of my time diversifying away from CPA. Product creation is my number one focus right now, shortly followed by the development of websites that cash in on trends ahead of time.
Stop asking “What’s Hot?”
In the last round of Premium Posts, I included a section on tax season offers. Tax offers are the perfect example of a money machine that materialises as surely as the sun rises. It solves a real-world demand… every single year.
Everybody hates taxes, nobody likes filing them, and many will shit bricks at the thought of making a mistake and somehow ending up in the slammer on fraud charges. A resource that takes the pain out of filing taxes is a nailed down success, year in year out, for as long as taxes remain a pain in the arse.
But for many affiliates – the short term thinkers – this is a real-world demand that passes them by. They’re far too slow to react. And what they’re doing wrong is precisely that: reacting.
The affiliates who pocket the most are those who are planning ahead. While the rest of the world is busy scrummaging for festive tinsel borders to drape on its dating creatives, the long-term planner is already working on tax season creatives. And not just creatives, but entire websites.
I’m not normally the greatest advocate of search engine traffic, but what would you give to have a site at the top of Google for a tax-related keyword right now? Unfortunately, ranking on Google takes time, patience and a painful self-awareness of your small man syndrome.
Most high volume tax keywords have been swept up already by publishers on far greater budgets than your own. It’s one thing to spot and prepare for a future trend, it’s another to launch a website that gets the traction necessary to capitalise on it.
Target the trends within seasonal booms.
When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, my first reaction was to register a domain that welded his name with Halloween. I knew right away that Jacko themed Halloween costumes were going to be all the rage in 4 months time, so I acted as fast as I could to lay the groundwork before most other affiliates even turned their attention to the season.
It sounds like a slightly disturbed mindset to adopt. The greatest pop icon of all time dies, and I’m already pillaging his legacy for commission. But if you don’t look forward, you will constantly find yourself reacting to ‘What’s Hot’. And when you react to what’s hot, it’s too late.
Sure enough, I was able to pocket a lot of money from my Jacko costume groundwork. By the time Halloween rolled around, I was in ‘sucking up traffic‘ mode, while anybody reacting to the trend would have been dawdling in the planning and execution phase.
Even when planning in advance, you have to be realistic. Had I focused my efforts on targeting Halloween 2009 as a whole, I’d have been swept aside by many other companies with bigger budgets and the same foresight. So I focused all my efforts on one angle instead – a dead Michael Jackson.
Competition decreases as your focus increases.
The same concept applies to tax season, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and virtually any seasonal trend. If you don’t have a planning cycle that runs several months ahead of the average consumer, good luck reacting fast enough to make money from him.
You will make life a lot easier by specialising on a trend within the trend. It’s unrealistic to think that even 4 months of preparation is going to be enough to dominate tax-related search engine traffic, which is why you need to segregate keywords and target the low hanging fruit.
Get a whiteboard and list every conceivable concern related to tax season, from every possible angle. You need only target one angle effectively to make a lot of money, and you will reduce the competition by doing so.
Use the AdWords Keyword Tool to find the highest trafficked keywords with the least competition. These are your low hanging fruit.
Once you have your trend within a trend, it’s time to make a commitment to work that isn’t going to produce an immediate return, but hopefully will produce a steady passive income in the future.
Register a domain closely tied to your chosen angle (exact match if possible), and get your sales funnel in place – either by building your own product, or promoting a stable offer that isn’t going to cap out when the season arrives. Then inundate the site with fresh quality content and a constant barrage of quality backlinks.
If this sounds like donkey work, it’s because that’s precisely what it is.
I hire small armies of Filipinos to do the SEO labour for me.
Your goal should be to have a legitimate presence on the web, somewhere close to the top of Google, for a high volume keyword that brings in money on autopilot. With this animal of free traffic at your disposal, you can be much more flexible than the average CPA affiliate when it comes to payouts and margins.
Clearly, it’s too late to build a money-machine for 2012’s tax season. But you can certainly build one for 2013. In fact, there’s no harm in reacting to seasonal trends in 2012, so long as you’re expecting to make a profit next year – rather than next week.
Seasonal trends are sometimes a turn-off for affiliates. Not everybody likes the idea of making their money in one small boom period. So… cover more than one trend. Build a website for a trend in each quarter. With good execution, you’ll never be more than 2 months away from your next money tap, and the cruel satisfaction that comes from watching everybody else rush to build what you have in a fraction of the time.
Most importantly of all, learn to stop reacting to ‘What’s Hot’. Focus on getting to market before the crowd reacts.
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