Starting out in affiliate marketing can seem like an easy proposition. After all, the internet is full of gurus telling you how easy it is to make money online. The bottom line is, making a very comfortable living online is a reality for a considerable number of people, but it does take effort and application.
One of the most common questions we get asked is, “why aren’t my campaigns making any money?” so here are the Top-3 mistakes affiliates make with their campaigns.
1. Not enough testing
This is by far the biggest mistake any affiliate can make. They are not testing their campaigns enough. This might be down to a tight budget or too high expectations to start with. There is a buyer out there for pretty much anything you’re selling. The testing process is finding out where that buyer hangs out, so you probably won’t find him if you don’t test enough.
Budget plays a big part here. Spending $?? and getting no conversions is quite common. It all boils down to what you’re promoting. That will define your test budget.
Say, for example, you’re promoting an affiliate offer with a single opt-in conversion. A lower test budget of around $20 will probably be enough to get some useful testing data and also earn you a few conversions. If you’re promoting a double opt-in offer, then that $20 budget won’t be enough to test even a fraction of your traffic.
The volume of traffic available on your traffic source will play a big part in determining your testing budget.
So what exactly do we mean by the “testing phase”. You have an offer, a landing page, and a set of creatives, and you now need to test your funnel on a traffic source. The greater the volume of traffic available for your selected geos, the more testing budget you have to allocate to that source to find out if your offer converts at all in the first place and then all the other parameters like time of day, converting site IDs, demographics, etc.
The length of time you need to run your tests for is also a fundamental consideration. While this is a matter of some debate, the most widely accepted answer is seven days. You need to run your testing phase for a full week to get the best data set. Anything less and you run the risk of missing out on important “day” data. Maybe your offer converts best at the weekend. If you don’t test Saturday and Sunday, then you’ll miss this. A full seven days of testing is advised.
Run your campaign for a full seven days, with no changes to bids or creatives. Then and only then can you make any kind of informed decision. The simple fact is that some campaigns will never make a profit. Accept that and don’t get too discouraged when it happens. Far too often, we see affiliates giving up just because their first campaign never made it into the green. Accept the fact that some campaigns will never make a profit, no matter how well you optimize them.
Your profit comes from the total of your campaigns. Lose $100 on one campaign and make $200 on another; you’re $100 in profit.
2. Optimizing too quickly
This is another of the widespread mistakes we see beginner affiliates making time and time again. An affiliate sees a campaign staying in the negative ground and starts to tweak it before the seven-day testing phase is over. Far too often, we see affiliates jumping into the optimization process way too early. The testing phase is to get the data you need to optimize your campaigns. It’s impossible to optimize without data, and optimizing too early is making assumptions based on insufficient data.
For most traffic sources, you won’t know the websites your ads are being shown on. You’ll get a site ID but not the actual site. Start to optimize too quickly, and you could well be cutting out site IDs that could become profitable. Remember, we mentioned a seven-day testing phase? A site might not convert Monday through Friday but get great conversions on Saturday and Sunday. Optimize your campaign too quickly, and you could end up missing out on the weekend conversions.
Most traffic sources operate on a bidding system. That is to say, they have a minimum bid setting, and placements are auctioned to the highest bidders. Set your bids too low, and you’ll miss the best traffic. Set your bids too high and you risk paying too much for your traffic. Set your bids somewhere in the middle between the minimum and maximum bids and leave them there for the full seven-day testing phase.
So what should your testing phase budget be? I like to run my tests with a minimum budget of 10 x payout. So for an offer with a $100 payout, my testing budget will be $1,000. That’s a big enough amount to get all the data I need and, with a bit of luck, result in a few conversions.
3. Giving up too soon
Making a recurring affiliate income is a marathon, not a sprint. Unless you get really, really lucky, it’s doubtful your first campaigns will be profitable. The process of running these campaigns is an education in itself, so don’t get too discouraged if your first attempts don’t make a profit or even break even.
Affiliate marketing is about testing. You are finding out what works where and when. If you run your testing phase effectively and get a good set of data, then you stand a good chance of making your campaigns profitable once you enter your optimization phase. It doesn’t take much to break even, and once you’re breaking even, getting the campaign into the green is just more optimization.
Even if you can’t make a campaign profitable, you’re still learning important lessons about your niche. Lessons that will stop you from repeating mistakes. Lessons that will help you make the next campaign a winner.
Track your results, keep a detailed record of your data, and the next campaign you run will have a much higher chance of success.
Always, and I really mean always keep in mind. You will have campaigns that never make a profit. That’s a fact of affiliate marketing.
Accept that and move onto the next campaign. One thing is guaranteed, though. If you don’t run campaigns, you can’t make a profit!
Need some assistance with setting up your campaigns? We’re here to help!