There was a time when EPC (Earnings-per-click) influenced every major decision I made in affiliate marketing. It’s easy to see why.
You sign up to a network, view the list of offers, and it makes sense to assume that the offer with the highest EPC is going to be the offer that brings home the greatest margin of profit. Hey, that’s pretty nice, I can earn $1.80 per-click when it only costs me 50 cents to buy that click. That’s $1.30 profit per-click. If I send 1000 clicks to that offer in a day, Holy shit, I’ve just made a thousand dollars on the fly.
There’s a reason so many newbies get bummed out of the affiliate market avec tail between legs; they believe in logic like this.
The reality is that EPC tends to be as accurate as the latest Google keyword tool. And that’s not very. EPC is rarely an illustrative statistic of the true earning potential in an offer.
EPC is essentially an average, designed to collect together the network performance data of each and every affiliate promoting that particular offer. Speaking from experience however, the only averages that any affiliate should give a damn about are his own. Why should I care about how the rest of the industry is performing? Evaluating trends is for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty tackling the market head-on.
Besides, you’ve got many different factors that can screw with the accuracy of a network’s EPC data.
Don’t forget that law of average. If a network lists the EPC of an offer as $1.20, it doesn’t tell you a thing about the performance of the affiliates who actually know what they’re promoting from what they’re smoking. You could have a high flyer raking in his Acai Berry profit at $3.50 EPC, but if the offer is hot and a few dozen dipshits decide to direct link the promotion on Google’s Content Network – you’re going to see a logical and obvious fall in network EPC. How drastic could that fall be? It depends on the offer. Probably pretty drastic.
I remember one of the crucial early mistakes I made in affiliate marketing was assuming that the network EPC acted as some truer than thou equation for how much money I’d make if I got X number of clicks. My first campaign was a Facebook offer that lost me more money in one night than I care to remember.
I made the false assumption that because the offer had an EPC of $1.70 or something, I’d make the same kind of return by sending any old crowd of un-targeted and ultimately cheap traffic at the landing page. The result? It was something along the lines of me sat at my desk two days later, wondering why the world didn’t want whiter teeth.
It took me a good few campaigns before I started to realize that consumers ain’t simply browsing away online with their credit cards at the ready. You’ve got to earn those purchases, and sending traffic alone is not gonna cut the mustard. God forbid, it’s definitely not gonna work when you’re advertising to half of Facebook in one hit.
So is EPC a complete waste of time? No, far from it actually. EPC can be one of the most valuable statistics in your inventory, but you have to filter the crap before you can cast an educated opinion. So here’s how you make that EPC actually mean something.
1. Ignore whatever widely available EPC data your network makes available to you. That includes the email newsletters, the hottest offers, the best new promotions. Forget about it.
2. Contact your Affiliate Manager directly. Ask them for the latest EPC data (last 2 weeks is latest in affiliate terms) for the top five publishers running that particular offer.
3. Ask for a separate spreadsheet showing the EPC data of the top five publishers in ONLY the method you’re promoting. That’s Web, Search, Email…you get the idea.
4. Compare the two spreadsheets.
Now you have an accurate picture of not only what the big cats are earning, but whether that offer is best promoted as part of a direct PPC campaign or an email send or whatever.
If your Affiliate Manager is worth the network pay cheque, he or she should have no problem in compiling the spreadsheets for you. It’s never “pushy” to ask. Affiliate Managers are there to help you make them money. Don’t ever lose sight of that.
Now that you have some meaningful statistics of what the top performers are earning from an offer, you can scrap those diluted and useless network EPCs. Run your campaign with the intention of matching and bettering the best performers.
That means watching your competitors, learning from them, and doing what they’re doing better then them. Repeat. If you follow those steps, you don’t have to worry about EPC.