Optimization and Split Testing: A Step-By-Step Guide: Create Your Own Affiliate Marketing Optimization Process
You’ve just spent the last 5 hours reading CharlesNgo.com for some affiliate marketing tips.
You launch a campaign at 1AM then get some sleep.
You wake up at 7am and refresh your stats straight away.
$65 spent and no conversions?
It’s every affiliate marketer’s worst nightmare.
You’re having visions of being homeless forever. You think about what you could’ve bought with that $$$ instead.
Now you’re freaking out and asking yourself hundreds of questions…
- Should you throw more money at the campaign?
- Start maxing out every credit card you own?
- Abandon ship while you can?
- Stick it out?
This has been happening to me for 10 YEARS.
And it happens to EVERY other affiliate out there.
It’s normal for campaigns to start off in the red.
A lot of successful campaigns start out at -100% ROI in the beginning.
If you bail out on a campaign before you have enough data and optimize it, you’re missing the whole point of affiliate marketing.
It takes balls, but you need to be able to hang in there in the beginning.
This is why I refuse to let my emotions affect me. If you ride the emotional roller coaster, you’ll bail before you turn things around.
Think about how a normal business works.
You buy materials, rent some space, get a vehicle, hire staff etc. You’re losing money on every single transaction at the start.
But you don’t quit as soon as you buy a $25,000 food truck because you’ve “lost money”.
You know that the profits will come, it’s just a part of the journey.
A lot of guys think affiliate marketing is like diamond mining. They expect to find a big, fat, shiny diamond right off the bat. This is ridiculous. You have to mine around to find the riches.
What you need is an optimization process – a standard set of procedures that you follow for every campaign. If you have this in place, you can stop panicking and simply trust the process.
What should that look like?
Here a guide to creating your own, easy to follow optimization process. (No I’m not going to give you my exact process – I got bills to pay lol)
STEP #1: Determine and Evaluate Your Levers
In every campaign, there are a variety of levers that are used to maximize success. Each of these levers has a specific role in the campaign, and pressing on the levers creates different results.
Those levers include:
- Landing pages
- The offer
- And many more…
When a campaign isn’t profitable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole thing is bust and should be flushed down the toilet. It probably means that you simply have one or more of your levers in the wrong position.
Maybe your landing page sucks. Maybe you’re presenting the wrong ad to the wrong people. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time researching your targeting. Maybe you’re bidding too much or too little on your ads.
Before you can optimize your campaign, you need to make sure you have all your levers in front of you.
STEP #2: List The Variables In Each Lever
Within each lever there are a number of variables that determine its performance. If one variable is screwed up, it can throw your entire campaign off the rails.
You identified that a landing page is a lever. Well, what are the sub-components of a landing page?
- Button color
- Call to action
- And a bunch of others
With targeting you have:
Once you know all the variables in each lever, you can begin systematically working your way through them. How can you improve the copy on your landing page? How can you target even more specifically? How can you optimize your call to action?
So, for example, when I evaluate my offer, I think:
- What if I went direct with the advertiser?
- Can I get a higher payout that will boost my overall revenue?
- What if I split test the same offer on different affiliate networks?
- Am I using the right payout model? Should I be getting paid based on leads or would sales better?
Each of these variable can be tested and optimized, and changing any of them could turn the campaign around.
STEP #3: Rank the Variables In Order Of Importance
This image is of a software is called Hotjar – it lets you see where people click, and how they behave on your website.
Not all variables are created equal. Which do you think is more important, your angle or the color of your call to action button?
It’s the angle, by far.
(I swear there are more articles about the color of the CTA button than there are about angles of landing pages)
When it comes to optimizing your campaign, you need to optimize each variable by order of importance. Starting with the most important variable allows you to get bigger results faster.
So, for example, when it comes to affiliate landing pages, the order will go something like this:
- Angle. There are tons of different ways you can approach your landing page. Is it a review page? Is it the “3 questions” landing page? Is it an article/blog style?
- Headline. If your headline blows, no one will read the rest of your offer. Your headline is the attention grabber. Headline formulas will help.
- Images. Most people will have large images above the fold. People are visual so your image choice can make or break a landing page.
- Body copy. Your body copy needs to be clear, compelling, and irresistible. Learn copywriting here.
- Scarcity. Watch late night infomercials to see how they do scarcity. It’s everywhere.
- Call to action. Changing the wording on a CTA button or link can make a difference in your CTR, which then boosts your profits.
You should follow this process with every lever in your campaign. Determine the most important variables and then begin optimizing each one, from the top down.
STEP #4: Create Formulas (if applicable)
As you gain experience, you’ll start to see certain patterns emerge. You know that your CTR on a landing page should be around 10% or that your Facebook ads should have a CTR of 5%.
This understanding will allow you to more quickly diagnose problems and then begin optimizing.
This is called benchmarking.
You wanna know what your average is so you can aim to beat it.
You’ll also be able to create basic formulas for optimizing your campaigns. For example, you may know that your targeting tends to be off in the beginning, so you’ll start immediately changing that around.
Or you know that it usually takes you about 3 headlines to get it right, so you’ll start there.
Having these formulas in place allows you to shut down the panic that usually sets in when a campaign starts in the red.
But here’s the deal. You don’t want to stick to your formulas strictly. They’re helpful for moving quickly, but things don’t always work according to formulas. Sometimes something totally unexpected may be tanking your campaign.
That’s why you need to be able to know all the levers and variables in your campaign so that you can systematically work through each one. If you don’t, you may end up missing the one that’s screwing you over.
Additional Tips for Your Affiliate Marketing Optimization Process
#1 You have to realize that each traffic source is going to have a different optimization process. Facebook is going to look different from Bing, mobile popunders, and native ads.
#2 It can be helpful to create different formulas and processes for each source.
#3 Also, once you create your own processes, it becomes much easier to scale them. You can put them into a set of standard procedures and then train your team members how to make it happen.
Most Successful Campaigns Are Losers to Start With
Here’s the deal: you don’t find winning campaigns, you create them.
There’s a popular quote:
“If you build it, they will come.”
You guys already know, this is DEFINITELY not the case with affiliate campaigns.
Just because you start a campaign doesn’t mean that the profits will come. You build your campaign and then you optimize like crazy.
You test and retest and test some more until you’re sitting on a highly profitable campaign.
Here’s my thoughts on when you should abandon a campaign.
In the early stages of a campaign, you’re going to be tempted to shit yourself out of panic. Don’t freak out. Remember, you’re not losing money, you’re buying valuable data.
The Rock said, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
Be consistent and put in the hard work and you will have successful campaigns.
My “best of” optimization posts