CPA Marketers: Read This And Improve Your Conversion Rates
You Master Nothing By Committing 25%

CPA Marketers: Read This And Improve Your Conversion Rates

The line between profitability and hopelessness has become so thin that you are royally shooting yourself in the balls if you are not fighting for every last conversion.

A common problem I see with affiliate sales funnels is a lack of understanding for what constitutes a conversion. Sounds pretty obvious, right? “Duh Finch, I get money when another sucker joins True.” Well, that’s almost correct. Unfortunately, the ‘almost’ cripples many campaigns.

Before promoting any offer, you must take the time to research exactly when the conversion pixel fires. There’s no room for vague assumptions. “Joining True” paints a picture in my mind of the conversion pixel being fired as soon as the user selects a username and hits Next. Most of the time, this is not the case.

We have zip submits, single opt-ins (SOI), double opt-ins (DOI), questionnaires to answer, profile pictures to upload, applications to download, first orders to place… every offer comes with its own criteria for when the conversion should be fired.

The definition of “joining a site” is black and white. But your conversion isn’t. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they are one and the same.

Here are some general guidelines for how your landing pages can be adapted to suit each conversion type.

Zip submits

Generally seen as the easiest affiliate offers to promote, zip submits do exactly what they say on the tin. As soon as the user submits his zip-code, you get your conversion. The payouts on these offers are predictably low to offset the unpredictability of the traffic quality.

The golden rule of promoting zip submits is to hold the advertiser’s hand and give them exactly what they want. There’s no point in delivering poor quality traffic. You’ll be scrubbed to Timbuktu in no time.

Single opt-ins

A single opt-in requires the user to submit his email address. However, the conversion is triggered after the submission rather than at the point of confirmation. You’ll find a lot of single opt-in offers paying around $2-$3.50. It’s not big bucks, but it’s better than a zip submit.

In my opinion, the large majority of affiliates use landing pages that are aimed at achieving a single opt-in. It’s the standard entry point. But think about it logically. If the advertiser is paying out on a single opt-in, you can probably increase your traffic quality substantially simply by treating the offer like a double opt-in. Encourage and incentivize the user to confirm his email address. This may have to come at the price of one of our favourite affiliate tactics: completely bullshitting the real nature of the offer. “Hey, where all the single soldiers at?

Double opt-ins

A confirmed double opt-in is worth infinitely more than a single opt-in. Your payouts will traditionally reflect this by offering double for the confirmed email.

Something to keep in mind with double opt-in campaigns, particularly in the dating vertical, is that it makes no sense to calculate ROI on an ongoing ‘live’ basis. A small but significant percentage of users will not confirm their double opt-in straight away. They will get busy, distracted, or otherwise torn away from their Gmail. This can lead to a small trickle of conversions being fired the next morning. Ever had 0 clicks and 3 conversions? Well, there you go.

However, if you’re monitoring your stats like a hawk, what are you going to think when you finish the evening taking a loss? You’ve probably already deleted the campaign by then.

Always let your conversions filter through before making any snap judgments.

Survey/questionnaire completion

Some offers require the completion of an entire questionnaire before the conversion is recorded. Now imagine you’re the stereotypical battering-ram of a publisher who cares not for such details. You design a landing page with a teasing call-to-action like this:

Register in 45 Seconds or Less!

Sounds nice and coaxing, right? In some cases this works as a great hook. But it’s a terrible call-to-action when the conversion pixel is only fired after a 15 minute questionnaire.

I see it happening time and time again. Affiliates go for quick dealmakers. They sell every offer with the brevity of a single opt-in, when they should actually be shooting for a solid incentive to complete Steps A, B and C.

In instances where the user is required to navigate his way through a complex 15 minute interrogation, your landing page has a duty to sell this process and make it seem worthwhile. How could you get a user to answer a questionnaire?

To give you an example, on dating sites, I use it to filter out the ‘bad dates’ that the user will be avoiding when she joins the new service. It’s quality protection, because she only deserves the best.

Profile photo upload

This is another common requirement on high-payout dating offers.

Offers that convert only after a profile photo upload would have worried the crap out of me 5 years ago. But now thanks to Facebook, even technophobic 75 year old grandmas have photos at their disposal.

The secret to nailing these conversions is to make a direct reference to the benefits of uploading a photo. If you’re branding the site as an unusual paradise where men actually receive messages from hot girls, you should make it clear that communications increase X% when the user adds his photo. Or say that members without a photo are being culled and will not qualify for the free trial offer. Whatever puts the thought in his head and safeguards your conversion.

Converts on download

There are many toolbar and gaming offers out there where the user is expected not only to sign up, but to download and sometimes even play the game for the first time.

For single opt-in minded folk, I like to call this the ‘minefield offer’.

It’s littered with so many what-ifs that the challenge is as much about hitting the right carefree demographic as it is selling the product. A golden rule that I’ve adopted is to avoid targeting users who are likely to be on their work computers. This crowd does not want to download and leave a trace. So you will need to day-part and keep a tight hold over your demographics.

There’s no point in trying to con the user here. Your best step forward is to sell the offer as a legitimate must-have and hope that the user’s interest is perked enough to follow the necessary steps.

For gaming offers, “Can you beat this ridiculous score?” is a winning hook.

So, how are your conversions today?

Take a look at your own sales funnels. Be honest.

Has it all gone slightly tits-up?

Your landing page must not only sell the offer. It must sell the required steps necessary to secure the conversion.

As I said on StackThatMoney this week, your sales funnel has to be designed to shove the user to the conversion pixel, NOT purely to get them to choose a username and press Next. Be clear with your objectives!

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You Master Nothing By Committing 25%

You master nothing by committing 25%

This is a law of affiliate marketing that will remain true as long as the industry exists. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, or how ambitious, or even how lucky; if you fail to appreciate the importance of concentrated effort, you will forever be surrounded by mediocre results.

The law applies to monetizing traffic sources, succeeding in new verticals, building websites, running ad campaigns, as well as to learning just about any part of our craft.

If you don’t focus your efforts, you’re destined for mediocrity.

Ping Pong Marketing

Ping pong marketer is my friendly term for the many, many affiliates who are reactive rather than proactive. They get bounced around the online marketing table by two highly skilled players: the traffic source, and the merchant.

In the space of just 24 hours, the ping pong marketer may find himself smashed in to a corner by Facebook, only to be crashed back by a merchant that didn’t like his traffic. Then Google has a hissy fit, whooping him over the net (and banning his account), before Mate1 gets pissed with his leads, unloads a mountain of chargebacks and sends him scuttling once again.

The ping pong marketer is forever getting his business scattered across the table by other real players who know exactly how to use and abuse him. Eventually, the ping pong marketer is left battered, broken, and disregarded.

Ping pong marketing

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The ping pong marketer is often responsible for his own demise. He commits an act of affiliate marketing suicide, tightening his own noose while remaining blissfully unaware. Do the scenarios below sound familiar?

First degree suicide – Where you bounce from niche to niche, offer to offer, and traffic source to traffic source. Your guideline for launching a campaign is hearsay, or what a rogue affiliate manager from a network you don’t even recognise told you. Your attention span is so fleeting, your commitment so flimsy, that you rarely get out of the red before deciding to call it quits with your (many) campaigns.

Second degree suicide – If you swing too far to the opposite end of the OCD scale, you can ruin your chances of success by becoming a micro-management extremist. These individuals can’t go 10 minutes without checking their ad spend, or their clickthrough rates. They don’t focus on the end game. They focus on the emotional highs and lows of losing or making money, and they react accordingly. If you are not focused enough to reject short term decision-making that is not backed up by data, you will once again become the ping pong marketer.

The cure to ping pong marketing is to react less and plan more intensively. To bring value to a sales funnel – the primary job of every affiliate marketer, let us not forget – you must increase your level of knowledge and expertise. It’s all about mastering the craft of relating back to what people want.

How to ‘Master’ Any Part of Affiliate Marketing

Unless you are blessed with incredible fortune, the fastest road to success in our industry is to commit to a concept 100% and execute it better than your peers. The web is littered with half finished affiliate websites, and badly executed CPA campaigns. You can always tell the guys who attempt to master their craft from those who attempt to go live on every project within 15 minutes. The latter are rarely seen again.

So, how do we commit to a project 100%?

Besides the golden rule of taking immediate action, here are some important considerations.

Immerse yourself in the trenches.

If you advertise to 50 year old women on Plentyoffish, sign up on Plentyoffish as a 50 year old woman and take notes on the experience. What ads do you see? What messages do you receive? What is the typical user experience of a sweet middle-aged lady searching for love on the Internet? Until you know what it looks like on the other side of the fence, you can’t possibly hope to create masterful ad campaigns.

One of my favourite resources is Scam.com.

I know many affiliate marketers will shit bricks at the thought of visiting their own personal Ground Zero, but the information to be gleaned from what customers like and what customers hate is absolutely priceless. It helps that so many consumers are bordering on the retarded, happy to report companies as scams when it’s their own sense of judgement that should be brought in to question. Lemmings will be lemmings, right?

Use forums like Scam to search for similar sites in your niche, and particularly any undercurrent concerns that might be present when you bombard those same users with your ads. Dig under the fingernails of your target market.

Do you research your competition? Really?

We overestimate what we can achieve in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a year. This saying rings loud and true when it comes to weighing up our competition.

I sense that many affiliates commit the mistake of over-simplifying how easy they can replicate the success of their peers (see the number of ripped ads and landing pages?), while underestimating their own ability to create powerful engaging campaigns when they snap out of the short-term mindset.

When was the last time you spent more than 24 hours researching a campaign? Or more than 24 hours analysing the exact blueprints of the competitors you hope to brush aside in one swish of your mouse? Respect your competition but avoid an ugly case of ‘small man’ syndrome.

Elabourate sales funnels and sophisticated affiliate campaigns might not be executable by 5pm, but they won’t take the rest of 2012. Take your time to do the job properly, especially the pre-execution phase. Many affiliates end up with failed campaigns not because their execution was wrong, or because affiliate marketing is dead, but because their maths didn’t add up.

Leverage people wisely

When I say leverage people wisely, I don’t mean sign up to the first thousand dollar consulting gig that comes your way. You’d be broke before the summer. But rather you should be using your affiliate managers and traffic source reps as your eyes and ears.

If you want to master a traffic source, you should put the people who work for that traffic source on your weekly email hit list.

If you want to run bizopp offers, you should be making it clear to all your affiliate managers that this is your line of expertise. Make sure they know that you are their man (or girl) when a hot bizopp comes through the gates. It sounds like a mute point, but simply establishing yourself as a specialist at X gives you a much greater chance of monetizing the hottest offers before they become saturated.

Don’t brand yourself as a ‘bits and pieces’ marketer. You’ll find your inbox full of more bits and pieces than you could ever shake a stick at. Make your speciality clear. Tell everybody you work with that you are focused on X, and you don’t want to be tapped up with a thousand distractions per minute unless they are directly applicable.

Even if you are running zero traffic through a network, it will instantly elevate your credibility to have these clear expectations in place. Good business minds know exactly what they want, and they leverage their people wisely.

Are you committing your resources and efforts wisely? If not, how can you fix it today? The heartening flip-side to this post is that you can – and will – master a hell of a lot by committing 100%.

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