When you’re deciding what to promote, there’s often the dilemma of demand vs exclusivity. Do I sell something that’s been beaten to death already? Or do I hedge my bets on slinging a product I have faith in, even if it’s greeted by nothing but blank stares over the dinner table at ASW? If that’s the case, don’t worry. It’s tough to talk shop with an affiliate marketer when all he can think about is Ian Fernando’s Party Bus.
Just because the rest of the affiliasphere has yet to go bat shit crazy over your fantasy micro-niche, that doesn’t mean there’s no money to be made in pursuing the idea. By the same token, just because every dipshit and his cousin happen to be promoting a new dating site, there’s still an open buffet of good coin to be had by following the crowd. Your challenge is to simply do it better than the rest.
Dating has been my favourite niche for over a year now. It’s a market as timeless as the weed porn on Barman’s desktop. As long as sex, romance and loneliness remain words in the human vocabulary, I will still be in business – ready and waiting to exploit those who relate to them.
I would say that in 2011, the majority of dating affiliates use social platforms such as Facebook and Plentyoffish to drive traffic to their offers. I know many affiliates who enjoy success on just Facebook, and many who can only get profitable on POF. So where do the traffic sources differentiate? How can you scale your successful campaigns from one to the other?
Many networks make a big song and dance about porting your campaigns across for easy money. But most affiliates know this is only easy money for the networks who don’t have to worry about a little friend of ours called MARGIN. Dearest Margin can fade in to the realms of negativity if you simply copy and paste a campaign from Facebook to Plentyoffish, or vice versa, without having a fundamental understanding of the two traffic sources. So let’s take a look at those differences.
Through all the thousands of dollars I’ve spent advertising on POF, it becomes clearer with every penny that the most successful dating campaigns are those that add a unique selling point to the online dating experience.
You’re advertising to registered users of a free dating site. How successful can you expect to be by serving up the same shit with a different stock image and the message that paying elsewhere is better?
With POF, you have to root out the element of frustration that would drive a member to seek out pastures new in the online dating community. To do that, your best options are:
– Offer a service directly more applicable to their needs. Are they a beach blubber whale in a sea of anorexic Size Zeros? Well then a dating site where the guys fancy “a bit of meat on the bone” is likely to be more catered to their needs. I’m not going to get bogged down by preaching the merits of race-based niche targeting. Go figure.
– Sell a service with members that are better conversationalists, and less likely to waste their time. I’ve done my fair share of hands-on market research and one of the most common complaints I find from female dating site frequenters is that the average male has the personality and conversation skills of a damp fish. For the ladies, offer the bait of sophisticated chat and an inbox that isn’t going to be stacked to the sky with time wasters. For the guys, promise girls who actually respond to messages.
Finally, ask yourself one question. There’s a reason why these POF members are still using the service. What is it? If you can find that golden nugget answer, you have the single most powerful weapon for targeting your ads.
So how is marketing on Facebook different? The most glaring difference is the fact that, hurr durr, this is Facebook. Not everybody on Facebook is out to get shagged tonight…as Justin Dupre discovered to his dismay after adding 3000 Thai girls in one late night binge. To promote dating offers on Facebook, you have to rely on greater targeting skills, badger-like tracking tendencies and…for lack of a scientific explanation, the ability to track down images that just work. There’s no other way to put it. Some images just work.
In theory, porting a campaign from Plentyoffish to Facebook CAN be immediately successful if you have a means of filtering out the uninterested eyeballs that Facebook loads you with. I’m sorry, but just because you’ve selected “single” as a targeting option, that doesn’t mean your feeding bread to a waiting duck. Keyword targeting is the way to go here.
To give you an example of how keyword targeting can be effective, let’s imagine we want to target an early twenties female crowd to be sent to some slushy matchmaking site where the preference is on finding love rather than finding crabs. How can we reach them? I think you can tell a lot about a girl by the books that she reads, and this has proven an excellent way of narrowing down my targeted users to smaller groups that I think are going to be relevant to my offers.
If I wanted to target the slushy romantic type, I could probably get a good mix by keyword targeting popular books like “A Walk To Remember”, “The Notebook” and so on. You can then build out ad copies, and in some cases images, which appeal directly to your audience. Your CTR will skyrocket, and providing you add the two missing ingredients – a good landing page and a carefully matched offer – the rewards will be waiting in your wallet.
If you want to advertise dating offers to broad markets on Facebook, you simply have to bid CPC. There was a time where nearly all ads would be more profitable if you could adapt them for CPM campaigns, but that time – in my opinion – has well and truly passed. Unless you’re hitting an unsaturated Asian or European country, at least.
You can still enjoy success with broad markets on Facebook with the combination of three must-haves: An eyecatching image, the correct dayparting (maximize your CTR by bidding after 8pm), and small age demos. I don’t have an explanation why, but I nearly always find that my ads perform better when I reduce the age groups to a maximum of four years.
Once you’ve established successful campaigns on Plentyoffish and Facebook, there are still yet more differences in how you need to maintain them. POF is notorious for campaigns with clickthrough rates that start high and then tail off dramatically in days, and sometimes even hours. You will need lots of fresh images to keep your ads profitable. I tend to run them in batches of two or three, using them for a few days and then pausing and resuming another set. Another great asset with POF is the login count which I’m not going to talk too much about because I don’t want my time to become your knowledge. So get testing and you should see some interesting data.
With Facebook, once a campaign is keyed in over a broad demo, it really is just a question of persuading Facebook to keep sending you impressions. Campaigns tend to gradually receive less traffic over time as the CTR slips. You can remedy this by deleting and relaunching new campaigns with slightly tweaked creatives. The CTR is MUCH more steady than you will see on Plentyoffish, and combined with safe CPC bidding, Facebook is generally more rewarding once you find something that works.
So there you go, just a few tips for those of you who are looking to make money from the dating niche. Argue with them, protest against them, agree with them, deny them, whatever. I’m heading to the beach tomorrow so my balls will be dangling too far in to the ocean to give a damn either way. Have a good weekend visualizing what I just said.
Recommended This Week:
I’ve said it a few times now and I’ll keep saying it – If you’re working in the dating market, check out Adsimilis. Excellent range of dating offers covering markets on six different continents last time I checked. They seem to convert very well.