Once you’ve joined an affiliate network or two, you will no doubt find some offers that you’re interested in running. Whether you decide to promote a weight loss product, a dating website or an auto insurance quote – it doesn’t matter. You still need to buy traffic or find traffic. You need to be able to send people to the offer to have any hope of making money.
No eyeballs = better luck next time.
Buying traffic will affect the thickness of your wallet, but it’s the sophisticated cousin of the many free traffic generating methods out there. I don’t mean to knock the potential of SEO (which is enormous), but optimizing a website to rank well in the search engines can feel like moving at a snail’s pace while you wonder whether you’re actually going anywhere at all. You want to see results fast, right? The easiest way to see quick results is to put your money where your mouth is and buy some guaranteed traffic to your website.
Yep, you risk losing money. But if you’re worried about losing money, give up reading this blog right now and save yourself some time. There are too many marketers willing to invest in making this career work for Johnny No Pockets to cruise in with his budget of zero and expect to be a success.
I’m going to give you two examples of three different kinds of traffic sources where you can buy advertising.
Two are search based – the user types a keyword in to a search engine and your ad displays as one of the results.
Two are social based – the user qualifies to view your ad as a result of your demographic and profile targeting (for example, show my ad to women on Facebook aged 35-40 in Canada…)
Two are contextual based – the user receives a pop-up or pop-under when he accesses certain pages on the web. The advertisements are served by third party software (also known as those shitty screensavers you used to download as a kid).
Whether you choose to become a search, social or contextual marketer is entirely up to you. Many successful affiliates choose to be all three. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to become an expert on one traffic source rather than a fledgling amateur who juggles his time and knowledge between all three.
Search Based Traffic Sources
For many years, the most obvious place for an affiliate to buy his traffic. Adwords lets you advertise to users searching on Google, by choosing which keywords and phrases you’d like your ad to display for. Nothing says prime target for your weight loss product quite like a user searching “help me lose weight fast i look like i ate a small child”.
If you’re a newbie marketer, Adwords is a great place to start. It gives you the opportunity to hunt down customers who have illustrated a likeliness to buy your crap by the virtue that they’re actively searching for it. Unfortunately, Google can make life very difficult for affiliates, so make sure you brush up with the editorial guidelines.
Very similar to Adwords, and getting just as strict. Microsoft Adcenter lets you bid on keywords with the aim of attracting customers from the Bing and Yahoo search engines. Many would say that Adcenter is more forgiving towards affiliates, and you’re less likely to have your account penalized for trivial infringements, but that’s open to debate. Personally, I think the last twelve months have seen a major change. Adcenter is no longer easy pickings for the bait and switch tactics that affiliates have become so notorious for.
While you won’t find the same volume of traffic as Adwords, this is hardly an issue while you’re getting started. It can be a little expensive depending on your niche, but the traffic is usually high quality.
Social Based Traffic Sources
By advertising on the world’s largest social network, you can drive a LOT of traffic to an affiliate offer. Those rectangle adverts you see on the right hand side of your profile are all making use of the Facebook Ads platform. As an advertiser, you can choose to target by demographic (show my ads to 30-35 year old Americans), or by keyword (show my ads to users who mention “football” in their profile).
Facebook offers a rich palette of targeting options and it’s possible to create some extremely effective campaigns. You can tap in to an almost unlimited supply of traffic, much of which converts very well and is suitable for your affiliate campaigns. Be prepared to have your patience tested, however, and take a thorough read over the editorial guidelines. Facebook interns are trigger happy little bitches when it comes to declining adverts they deem to be inappropriate. Show the slightest glimpse of a breast in your dating ads and you’ll be banished forevermore.
Some affiliates have even had their actual Facebook profiles deleted as a result of advertising campaigns that breached the T&Cs. It sounds horrific, I know. All that work they’ll be able to get done now…
While Facebook Ads are no longer cheap, there are several untapped markets where you can exploit low costs. Advertising in Mexico, for example, is going to cost you a lot less than targeting middle-class America. So think wisely, target accordingly. There’s a lot of money to be made from Zuckerberg’s brainfart yet.
Plentyoffish is a dating site. Since opening up it’s advertising inventory, affiliates have been loving the flexible targeting options that you could expect from a site that is designed to capture user attributes.
Why advertise on a dating site? The great appeal is hidden in those targeting options. What do people do when they sign up to dating sites? They post crap about themselves.
“Hi, I’m Finch. I watch TV, play with my balls and like to collect stamps. Oh and I love blondes. Message me plz.”
Huzzah! What’s this? “Blonde Loves Stamp Collecting Freaks” …Jeez, this dating site looks like it was made with my meaningless criteria in mind. I better join today, right?
And there’s the appeal of POF in a nutshell.
You can write copy that targets individuals. The potential to create advertisements that capture their specific attention is all the more greater.
I recommend POF as the best place to get started in social marketing. It’s like Facebook Ads, except cheaper and with editorial guidelines that will keep your hairline in tact. They’re not complete and utter tits, essentially.
Contextual Based Traffic Sources
Media Traffic is a contextual advertising network (often referred to as a PPV network). Let me explain quickly how this kind of network functions.
1. A user downloads a toolbar – usually with the incentive of something really crappy in return, like an animated goldfish wallpaper. It doesn’t take much.
2. The toolbar sits on the browser and tracks the URLs that the user is visiting.
3. Advertisers (that’s you) tell the PPV network which URLs they’d like their pop-ups to appear on.
4. The user visits one of these selected URLs and receives your pop-up.
There is no way of blocking the pop-up, the system is perfectly legal and the advertising is dirt cheap. A pop-up will set you back as little as $0.01. So it’s a great way of marketing on a budget.
You can put together some very targeted campaigns with PPV. I’m sure you can imagine the benefits of triggering which exact pages you want your adverts to appear on. And the beautiful catch is that you can advertise on websites you wouldn’t otherwise be seen dead on. Front page of Fox News? Yeah, throw my ad there. Checkout page on Amazon? Yeah, sure, put a pop-up there offering the user a cheaper purchase elsewhere. The possibilities are both endless and staggering.
Anyway, Media Traffic requires an initial $200 deposit to open an account. Once you’re registered, you can get campaigns approved and running usually within 24 hours. The quality of the traffic is decent by PPV network standards, not great, but there is still good money to be made. If you can’t get campaigns approved on Facebook or Google, consider hitting them here where the approval guidelines are much more lax.
Trafficvance is a very popular PPV network, admired by many marketers for it’s high quality traffic. But it’s also quite elusive to join. Trafficvance requires a $1000 deposit and a direct referral in to the system. So unless an existing member of Trafficvance puts in a good word for you, that’s all she wrote.
You’ll be hard pushed to find a PPV network that outperforms Trafficvance. But as a beginner, you don’t want to be diving in at the deep end before you’ve learnt how to swim. I know that because I’ve tried. Literally. I almost drowned when I was 6.
Anyway, get started with PPV traffic using Media Traffic and then if you manage to get profitable, scale across to Trafficvance.
These six traffic sources should give you more than enough food for thought as you consider how to attack the affiliate marketing landscape. Of course, I’m merely scratching a huge iceberg with the websites I’ve listed. There are hundreds, no THOUSANDS, of traffic sources that can be leveraged in to great ways of promoting an affiliate offer. Intrigued? Be sure to check out this excellent list of the many different places to buy traffic.
A trait of a good affiliate marketer is being able to work with multiple traffic sources, understanding how each of them can be beneficial in their own ways. If I’m going to give one piece of advice to a beginner, it would be to stick with just one traffic source. Master it. Forget about moving on until you know that traffic source inside out.
Too many marketers fall in to the trap of throwing shit at the wall and hoping something sticks. They try to cover too many traffic sources, too many offers, too many landing pages. Inevitably, they end up with too many variables. So not only do they fail, but they fail in such a way that they never truly understand what they did wrong.
These are the kind of people who walk away from affiliate marketing, tails between legs, claiming the concept of “making money online” is simply one giant scam. That’s great. The rest of us are busy doing what they couldn’t manage because they were approaching it all wrong.
Want to know what tools the “super affiliates” are using? Show me some excellent tools for affiliates