The Traffic Source Doesn’t Suck, You Suck
Where Next For Facebook’s Refugee Affiliates?
The Super Affiliate Secret To Success

The Traffic Source Doesn’t Suck, You Suck

What do successful affiliates have in common?

Is it fast cars, heavy wallets and eyes shaped like dual-screens?

Maybe, but there’s something else. I don’t think you’ll find a single successful affiliate who hasn’t shown a good knack for understanding his traffic sources. It may be one traffic source, it may be many. But without that working knowledge, you’ll find it painstakingly difficult to generate profit.

Self-serve advertising platforms like Facebook, Plentyoffish and AdWords are enduringly popular with affiliates. I mark this down to two reasons. The ease of launching a campaign, and the abundance of case studies readily available for digestion.

However, these platforms are only a small segment of the online advertising space. A few affiliates have commented on my Facebook related posts saying that, actually, it’s not even worth bothering with Facebook these days. The big money is in advertising on display networks and nailing down media buys.

While I would disagree that Facebook is no longer worth the bother, there’s definitely truth to the argument that display advertising is a lucrative and sustainable replacement.

The problem with display advertising – and by twisted logic, the incentive – is that affiliates find it much harder to launch profitable campaigns off the bat. They become disheartened when the inventory shrinks at closer inspection, many of the featured sites refusing to run ads in popular affiliate verticals. They see CPMs of $3.50 that set the alarm bells ringing.

In many cases, the control panel itself is a sprawling mass of more options than a “no bells and whistles” Facebook advertiser could shake a stick at.

So the affiliate does what could be expected of him. He runs back to Facebook’s loving arms, willing to sacrifice the great unknown for super tight margins and bitching interns. Whatever makes you feel at home, right?

There are hundreds of traffic sources that can be called upon. Why do so many affiliates choose the same two or three? In fact, let’s elaborate on that. Why do so many affiliates settle for being mediocre on the same two or three?

I’ve linked to this article countless times, but it’s value never diminishes. So once again, here is a list of traffic sources that could keep you busy for the rest of the week.

Now, back to the question of what do successful affiliates have in common?

The answer is patience, determination and perseverance to cancel out distractions, take one of those ad platforms, and sponge up every last piece of information about it.

You can do this by signing up and hacking together a campaign to test the waters. I don’t recommend it though.

Have you seen what happens when you try to port a Facebook campaign to Plentyoffish? It doesn’t work. No two traffic sources are the same, so porting a campaign to another in the hope that it will become profitable straight away is very optimistic thinking.

Before advertising on a new traffic source, I like to contact my account manager and interrogate him for some perspective on what other affiliates are doing. This shows that I need direct results and that I don’t have budget to piss my message in to the wind on a branded hope and prayer.

Once I have a good idea of how suitable the platform is for direct response marketing, I’ll make a decision on whether I want to go ahead and inject whatever holding balance is required. This is a small step, but it saves me the bother of 2009 revisited.

2009 revisited? Yeah, having a leftover balance of $982.94 in seven different traffic sources after losing my Google account and depositing a grand in to every alternative I could find. Binge depositing is bad, kids.

If you’re going to try a new traffic source, it’s only logical that you extend it the same level of patience as you would with Facebook. If the first campaign bombs, you probably had a shitty campaign. Don’t blame the foreign traffic source for your own ineptitude or one size fits all marketing.

Gather some test data and then drop your account manager another email. Ask for some advice on how you’ve configured the campaign. Does it look right? Are you missing any obvious tricks that other affiliates are cashing in on?

As always, it’s necessary to measure campaign variables in a strategic manner. You can only do this with a clean slate. I’ve been working with an adult traffic source lately, and even though I’m dealing in the same vertical (dating offers), I’ve had to assume the identity of somebody who knows nothing. I split test variables that I needn’t even worry about on Plentyoffish because I’ve had time to key in those campaigns already.

Small details cause massive ripples of change. Imagine if you’d never played with the browser targeting on Plentyoffish, or the geographic filtering on Facebook. Christ, just imagine the carnage if you showed Facebook the same disdain that these new traffic sources receive when you can’t get your first campaign profitable.

Successful affiliates know this, whether they’re advertising on Facebook, AdWords or some shitty display network based out of the Angolan jungle. The money is in the detail, the planning and the execution. Learn the traffic source and you’re halfway there.

Recommended This Week

  • Above All Offers has been gaining some serious traction lately and if you’re not already registered, now would be a good time to get in the door. It’s run by some of the smartest guys in the biz, with a good selection offers, weeklies and laser fast support. If you were ever a fan of Blue Hat SEO (check it out, it’s semi-alive again!), you should know that Eli most definitely knows his shit. One of the early inspirations that attracted me to the industry, it seems that his network is going to end up just as well respected. Sign up, homes!

  • If you’re not already registered on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine! Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny

  • New reader? Add Finch to your RSS.

Where Next For Facebook’s Refugee Affiliates?

Have you been noticing a drop in impressions delivered to your Facebook campaigns? It seems many advertisers have, myself included, and these changes are reflected in a brand new report that illustrates just how quickly the cost of a click is rising.

Facebook’s cost-per-click rose by 22% in the second quarter, having already jumped 40% in the first, according to Efficient Frontier’s findings.

To put that in perspective, you’re spending $8.54 for the same number of clicks as you received while paying only $5 seven months ago. For affiliates like yours truly who thrive in the dating vertical, these numbers are now entering dangerous territory.

Either the payout on a lead rises, our marketing efforts improve considerably, or we flock elsewhere for cheaper traffic of a similar quality. In a dream world, all of those scenarios playing out would be very welcome indeed. But let’s be realistic.

The report, biased as it may be, suggests click prices are set to rise by a colossal 80% in 2011 alone. That’s good enough reason to foresee a mass arrival of Facebook affiliate refugees on other traffic sources.

If you’re already twitching at the lower margins, now would be a good time to broaden your horizons.

I’ve stressed this before, and I’ll stress it again. International markets represent the best opportunities for affiliates on Facebook. The reason click prices are spiraling can be attributed to a crowded marketplace. In America, every small business is rushing to get a presence on Facebook Ads. I blame those arsehole ‘social media consultants’, quite frankly.

However, by straying away from America and the UK, you can find markets that are less crowded and still viable for the majority of affiliate campaigns.

Social Bakers has a useful chart listing the average Facebook click prices per country. Norway tops the list with a average CPC of $1.60 (ouch), while the Central African Republic boasts an average of just $0.07 (about 1000% of the maximum I’d be willing to pay!)

Let’s assume that you’ve explored all international options. The click prices are still too expensive and you need to find new inventory fast. What’s your next move?

If you’re feeling brave, you can use the AdBrite Site Directory to target Facebook apps traffic. The platform lets you advertise not just on Facebook, but on a whole bunch of other mainstream websites. I’ve had some profitable campaigns running through AdBrite, but be prepared to work for them if you choose this route.

There’s also Cubics – now known as Adknowledge Super Rewards. I know, right? What a shitty name for an ads platform. Somebody’s branding brainfart clearly got taken too seriously. Cubics lets you advertise to apps users on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster.

Speaking of Friendster, did you know that it used to have it’s own self-serve ads platform?

Did anybody try it?

I can visualise seven raised hands, the happy owners of about 42 combined impressions during the entire fucking lifecycle of that particular ads platform.

RIP Friendster Ads. My balls mourn your demise.

Cubics has a pretty clunky interface and the reporting leaves much to be desired, but it holds potential for the right type of offers. In any case, I appreciate poor aesthetics. They cast an aura of shiteness that helps keep heavy competition at bay.

If you’ve ever tried to monetize apps traffic, you don’t need me telling you that it’s a damn sight harder than the self-serve inventory on Facebook. Expect to be kept busy with plenty of rounds of testing before you find the magic formula where both volume and profitability thrive in tandem.

Of course, you may find it easier to simply abandon Facebook completely.

The ‘Book is just one of many social networking hubs. And while I’m sure a large number of affiliates will be waiting with bated breath for a Google+ ads platform (and to find out if they’re already banned from it), you can keep yourself busy by browsing this list of popular social networks.

If you’re sick and tired of spiraling click costs, do yourself a favour and browse through the alternatives. They’re certainly in no short supply.

Visit the sites that match your target market, scroll to the bottom of the page and nine times out of ten, you will find a link titled “Advertise”. It sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but it never ceases to amaze me how many affiliates have link-blindness to this sitting duck of an opportunity.

You can undercut 95% of affiliates by simply getting off your arse and making the effort to venture beyond self-serve ad platforms. Negotiation, a budget and being proactive can restore your margins in no time at all.

Recommended This Week

  • Lots of Ads is the latest service to offer spying capabilities over Facebook’s most profitable ads. The great appeal for me is the ability to spy on International markets including France, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and many more. Save time on translations and tap in to the most lucrative markets on Facebook. Definitely a worthy addition to your toolkit. First 20 customers only who use code FINCH11 will receive 10% off their lifetime subscription. Enjoy!

  • Published today on Direct Response was a piece I wrote titled “It’s Time To Cull Some Internet Marketers“. I think I was in a shitty mood when I splurged it, but I stand by the points raised. Direct Response is a fantastic blog, by the way, one of my favourites in the biz and a must-subscribe-to if you’re not already reading it.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. You can also follow me on Twatter if that’s your kinda thing.

The Super Affiliate Secret To Success

I know. What a trashy linkbait title, right?

Your bullshit-o-meter is probably looking for one good reason to close the page so I’ll cut to the chase. Scaling a successful campaign is the secret to success. And it’s not even a secret. But you’re here now, so allow me to continue.

One of the questions I get asked a lot, normally by non-affiliate friends, is “How much do you spend on advertising in a day?”. If you haven’t trained yourself to fire back with “As much as I can”, then there’s something fatally flawed in your mindset.

A key reason why some affiliates fail to take their earnings to the next level is simply a lack of ambition. A willingness to settle for X/day and not re-evaluate targets when they’ve reached them.

I have to admit, I was guilty of this same flaw when I first started marketing. Back when rebills were as common as the sun rising in the east, I was milking a cash cow for more money than I knew what to do with. But not everybody has the instinctive “super affiliate” trait of chasing the maximum profit. You have to think big to win big.

I was trapped in the salary mindset. I saw that if I continued to earn X/day, I’d have made X/month. And that figure, being a mind-blowing leap from my work wages at the time, was enough to kill my ambition. I didn’t look to scale my campaigns any further than I was already happy with. You can probably see where I’m going with this.

A lot of marketers end up frustrated or beating themselves up over their failures to match the success of higher earners and bigger ballers. Maybe this is you. But I can guarantee one difference in their attitude to yours. They never stopped redefining their goals. They never stopped looking to scale their campaigns.

Great ideas do not run on tap. A winning concept isn’t going to slap you in the face over morning coffee every day of the week. So when you find something that works, you have to make it work big. One successfully scaled campaign will pay for months of failed concepts. And this is how many super affiliates operate. I’m elbowing myself in the balls at every mention of the term “super affiliate” here, because it’s a fucking joke and a definition invented to keep the Warrior Forum ecosystem alive.

How many times have you had a successful campaign producing profit that you’re happy with, looked at your options for scaling, and dismissed an idea because it’s too much work for too little return? You’re happy with what you’re currently earning, right? That satisfaction can kill ambition. And it will kill your ability to grow your business.

There are several steps to scaling a campaign, and I’m going to outline my usual thought process when I’ve found an idea that’s making me money. Note that these points are catered more towards social traffic. If you’re a PPC player and you can’t think of a way to scale your campaign, you’re a retard.

1 – What other age demographics can I incorporate?

I have one dating campaign which is producing 200-300% ROI. It all started with one ad targeting American 30-40 year olds. One week on and I’ve now adjusted the copy and images to target Americans of all ages from 21-65. I could have lived quite comfortably off the original campaign. It required research in to different offers but the concept was a winner.

2 – Can I develop the same concept for the other gender?

Many of you running dating ads are guilty of this. The majority of affiliate marketers are male. We have this nasty habit of targeting males as an instinctive step towards what we know we can relate to. Are you settling for 50% of what you could be earning if you opened your mind to targeting the fairer sex?

3 – What happens if I raise my bid prices?

Are you one of the many marketers who starts bidding low and slowly raises the price until you’ve reached a level of volume you’re happy with? If you’re producing 100% ROI, you have absolutely no excuse not to raise those bids a little higher and test the results. Don’t settle for the lowest bid that hits your magic profit number. If you have the luxury of bidding higher and staying profitable, DO IT. Basement bidding will only work until somebody comes along with an equally good concept and the balls to pay more for the traffic.

4 – Can I take the campaign in to English-speaking international markets?

Do I even need to stress this one? CPA offers don’t have to be restricted to the United States. I know affiliates who earn crazy money and haven’t generated so much as a single lead in North America. If you have a winning concept, it should be common sense that scaling in to other English speaking countries is likely to raise your profits. Look for similar offers and bring your campaigns to Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. With the right offer, you may even be able to hit Asian markets with large numbers of English speakers.

5 – Can I be bothered to get my creatives translated for non-English-speaking markets?

Now this is where you’re going to start shaking a lot of your competition. Only a small percentage of affiliates make the effort to translate their campaigns in to foreign languages. It just so happens that the small percentage usually consists of some of the smartest and most profitable marketers out there. With cheaper traffic and much less competition, I think you already know that you COULD scale internationally if you wanted to. It’s whether you can be bothered to take those extra steps.

6 – Can I take my successful campaigns to other similar traffic sources?

This is the final step to successful scaling as far as I’m concerned. You’ve maxed out the age demographics. You’ve adjusted your offers and creatives for different international markets. What next? It’s at this point where I take a moment to glance over the test data that I’ve accumulated in the time that it’s taken me to expand a campaign as far as I already have. I’ll take the best performing creatives – those with the highest ROI – and I’ll use them as my test barometer for new traffic sources.

To take a classic example, let’s say you’ve got a PPV campaign producing the kind of profit margins that keep your bed wet at night. You’ve optimized and developed a list of URL targets that produce consistent results. Where can you go from here? I’ve been in situations like this before where I’ve explored the URL target a little further and noticed that it actually has Content Network placements on the same page.

Easy money!

Even without content network placements, if you’ve found a really obscure URL that drives converting PPV traffic to an offer – can you get in touch with the webmaster? How about paying for a single banner placement on that page? When you consider that a large number of the visitors don’t actually have Vomba installed to spring your pop-ups, a banner placement is likely to catch the rest of the traffic. I’ve said it over and over again but there are many ways to skin the cat.

Once you learn how to successfully port your campaigns across various traffic sources and advertising platforms, you’ll begin to realize that it doesn’t take a million great ideas to be a super affiliate. One good idea, developed and scaled as far as it can go, will usually put you ahead of your peers.

I’d recommend you check out this extensive list of traffic sources for ideas of where to scale your campaigns. Scaling isn’t just the secret to earning more money. It’s the secret to a stable and well diversified affiliate business. If you’re working in this industry without ambition, it won’t be long until somebody jacks your good ideas and buys a new yacht with them. Make every winning concept count.

Like this post?

Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

Copyright © 2009-.