By far the most common question I get from affiliate marketers of all skill levels is what traffic source is working the best? Those that are just getting started want to know where they should spend their time and money to invest in campaigns and those that are already making money want to know where they can take their winning campaigns and scale. Some beginners think there is a “hidden treasure” out there that only a few people know about. It’s possible there is a traffic source out there that’s going to yield a really good ROI for a particular campaign but there is really only a handful of very large ones. The most successful affiliates don’t rely on a particular source for their campaigns. They focus on hooks and angles, unique landing pages, and leveraging tracking data.
Inside the Private Community Ruck has posted many times about how creative hooks and angles make campaigns profitable. Everyone and their brother wants to take a campaign and run it the same way. For example, a new affiliate may want to take a campaign for a credit report offer, use the default creatives and try to go bid on search engines for the same keywords. Several things are wrong with this approach. Most of the large credit report advertisers have been running on these keywords for years and have established their position. Even with a very large budget and bidding aggressive, it’s going to be very difficult to work. A better approach would be to seek keywords and phrases with little competition and then designing a landing page to filter the traffic down to the offer. The search term is the hook then the landing page is the angle into the offer.
Over the last five years things have changed a lot in the affiliate marketing industry. The majority of my campaigns are now mobile and I primarily buy most of my ads on mobile devices and tablets. Just as I was with desktop advertising, I continue to creative high volume campaigns, with rewarding ROI. Why? Because of hooks and angles. This is what separates successful marketers from the non-successful ones. Those that cannot create their own hooks and angles never stay in this industry for a long time.
In 2008 promoting ringtone offers was very popular on search engines such as Google. You could search “Artist Name Ringtones” and there would be 10 ads all using similar landing pages. The competitive advantage was who could bid the highest, the longest, to take over the position. Some affiliate marketers jumped in and made a lot of money. Others took this process but instead of “copying” or creating a similar landing page they made their own using an angle and then sent the traffic to the offer. One that comes to mind is the “survey style” where visitors are asked questions that interest them and are then filtered down to the offer. This method didn’t only make affiliates a lot of money it produced some very high ROI campaigns because the same people weren’t fighting over the same terms, using the same landing pages, all for the same offers.
Remember the days of the Acai berry ads all over the Internet? The same landing pages were copied over and over again and many marketers with very little experience made a lot of money. It’s alarming at the number of these affiliates that had to return to their “9-5 job” once new regulations took these campaigns out. Using the “save feature” on Firefox or other web browsers and then swapping out your affiliate link isn’t marketing. When your competitive advantage is capital there is always going to be someone out there that’s going to be able to take you out especially if there is money to be made.
Tracking any campaign that pays on performance is a must. With desktop advertising it’s important to note which landing page responds the best with which creative and which site/placement is working the best. With mobile advertising it’s important to note which device responds the best with a campaign and other important factors such as carrier, network speed etc. Successful affiliates will analyze this data with their creative hooks and angles and dominate a particular traffic source.
When conducting a high volume media buy I like to take my budget and then let things run for one week untouched to collect important data about what’s working the best. The next week, I’ll alter my insertion order to include optimizations and increase ROI. With mobile I can take data collected for the first week and create a new campaign where I have the flexibility to bid higher and not only leverage my capital but also my unique angle. The traffic source becomes irrelevant. I’m just looking for one with a lot of volume and then I use my marketing skills to make it work and to scale.
Being a successful affiliate means becoming successful at coming up with creative hooks and angles. The more you come up with and run the better you become. Practice makes perfect and this is no different. Don’t be scared to test an angle that’s unique. Just because you see something that is working for someone else doesn’t mean you can’t do it better. Around the office we say, “dare to be different!” Make your own unique landing page and analyze your tracking data. Make your competitive advantage your hook and angle, landing page, and intelligent data. By doing this you’ll not only become a successful affiliate for years to come you’ll also be successful on other mediums such as mobile. The traffic source is not the final piece of the puzzle, you should be able to make any source work, it’s about your marketing skills!
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.