There’s a lot of advice in the affiliate marketing world about how to build profitable campaigns.
Some good, some bad, some as healthy as a fist in the balls.
Much of this advice shields affiliates from the elephant in the room:
That no matter what we do, only a small percentage of our campaigns will end up profitable.
Probably something like 10% for most affiliates.
20% if you are well prepared, or exceptionally lucky.
From those winning campaigns, an even smaller percentage of the traffic turns in to leads and sales.
Let’s say you have a 10% success rate in campaigns launched.
And for a successful campaign, you have a conversion rate of 2%.
90% of your campaigns end up in the bin.
Of the remaining few, 98% of the paid traffic is left to rot.
Users that you paid for but will never see again.
What can we discern from this colossal wastage?
There isn’t an affiliate marketer in the world that converts more traffic than he loses.
And what else?
We seem to be okay with that.
Affiliates tend not to worry about the traffic that got away.
Especially when they are winning.
When they are making money.
This attitude is embedded in a testing philosophy that goes like this:
- Launch campaign
- Ask: “Is it profitable?”
- If yes, carry on.
- If no, ask: “Will it ever be profitable?”
- Continue in loop until answer is “Absolutely fucking no.”
- Proceed to forget about campaign.
There’s a famous myth that the average human uses only 10% of his brain.
In affiliate marketing, the data is your brain.
And I’m afraid the myth is all too true.
We have a natural bias to focus on the bright spots of campaigns; the 2% of conversions in the 10% of campaigns that whisper, “Money not wasted.”
And forget quickly about the failures.
Pretend they never happened.
For our sanity, it’s better to focus on turning 2 conversions in to 3, lifting a CVR from 4% to 5%; bumping a CTR from 20% to 25%.
This work occupies the brunt of our day.
We call it ‘optimisation’.
But the numbers suggest that a quantum leap in performance is only possible by asking questions of our zeroes column.
Which is precisely the column that most affiliates ignore.
The traffic that doesn’t convert, has never converted, and still wouldn’t convert if you took names, addresses and helicoptered each user in to personal submission.
What can we do with unconvertible traffic?
I’ve spoken a lot over the years about what I call ‘dual-purpose campaigns’.
My belief is that one of the greatest competitive advantages an affiliate can obtain is the ability to filter traffic intelligently.
We don’t always have control of the traffic that we buy.
But we do control where it ends up.
By filtering it well.
Affiliates seeking profitable campaigns by monetising 2% of their paid traffic are at a massive disadvantage.
When a rival learns how to monetise 3% of the same traffic.
The problem is, you will never obtain this quantum advantage if your business is 100% guided by creative optimisation.
The hard labour.
- Changing landing pages.
- Testing new banners.
- Doodling new calls-to-action.
These actions are only effective within the parameters of traffic that might have converted in the first place.
And that is the minority of your traffic.
So tackle a different problem:
How do I increase the overall percentage of traffic that is convertible?
And the answer?
Use your imagination.
Like every successful affiliate.
A shameless sales pitch, that’s what.
I released A Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing two weeks ago. I didn’t know how much interest to expect, but it has smashed my expectations out of the proverbial nutpark. The feedback has been immense.
Thanks to all who snapped up copies.
And those of you who didn’t?
Grab one now, sit back, and put your eyes out with 370 pages of enough filth to drown a medium-sized kitten.