Affiliate Networks and Offers: The 7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Affiliate Offers
The most important part of any affiliate campaign is the offer. If the offer doesn’t convert, then nothing else matters.
You guys know you should always test multiple offers, but how do you know which ones are good?
There are tens of thousands of affiliate offers out there to choose from. Some will work, most won’t. Also, some offers are best left for when you’re more advanced and have a bigger budget.
Affiliates work fast, so there’s not a lot of time for evaluation prior to actually launching, but there are some preliminary checks I like to do.
In this post I’m going to:
- Show you some of the preliminary checks I do on affiliate offers
- Give you some questions to ask your affiliate manager about offers
The process consists of narrowing your offer list, doing basic research on the best selection, and launching campaigns fast to launch and determine which are the best ones.
These are the 5 questions I ask before an offer makes it onto my “List of Offers To Test”.
#1 What Does My Affiliate Manager Think?
You need to build (and keep) strong relationships with all your affiliate managers.
Yes, there are times when your affiliate managers will disappoint you. And guess what? You may even feel disrespected every now and again.
While you have the right to take your business to another network, remember this: never burn bridges.
Affiliate managers can act as your eyes and ears IF you treat them well.
Your AM can tell you more about any offer, including the payout, possibility of pay bumps and top traffic sources the offer is running on. If you’re lucky they might share a few tips on how other affiliates are running the offer successfully.
It goes without saying that affiliate managers want you to run their offers. This is good for them and their business because every lead you send makes them money. But it may not be what’s good for you.
AMs you have good relationships with will help you tell which offers are best for you, right now.
#2 Is The Affiliate Offer Popular on the Traffic Source I’m Running?
It’s your responsibility to see what’s popular on the traffic sources you plan to run.
I get so many emails asking “What’s a good traffic source to run on?”.
Here’s the truth: All traffic sources are good for SOMETHING. Your job as an affiliate is to figure out what offers and verticals work well on the traffic source you have chosen to master.
Checking what runs on your traffic source gives you a clear idea of what your competition is doing. This allows you to answer questions such as:
- Do you like what your competitors are doing in regards to their strategy?
- Is there something you can do better than them on the same traffic source?
- Is there room for one more affiliate to make money?
- Do you have a competitive advantage you can use to beat those affiliates bidding the highest?
Examining what’s popular on your traffic source will pay big dividends and stop you wasting time promoting offers in the wrong verticals.
Protip: Ask your affiliate manager for help. They aren’t able to provide confidential information, but most are more than willing to share which approach has the best chance of generating positive results for you. The amount of info your AM divulges is directly correlated to your relationship with them.
#3 Is This Offer Available on Multiple Affiliate Networks?
The exact same offer may be available through several affiliate networks. While it’s easy to choose the first offer you come across – especially if you have a favorite network – don’t rush to a decision.
Instead, review multiple affiliate networks to see how many are offering access to the same offer.
If there are multiple networks involved, you’re in a position of power. Review each one, paying close attention to the benefits to you, the affiliate. Which network is offering the highest payout?
Protip: The highest payout offer might not be the best. The network might be paying you out more, but they might also be scrubbing the offer to make more money on their end.
With this information in mind, you can shop around. Take the best offer to the other networks, asking if they can match or beat it. You may be surprised at how quickly a little bit of competition works in your favor.
You might also be surprised when you find a lower payout offer makes you a higher profit – that’s just the way it is in affiliate marketing sometimes. You only find this out by ruthless testing.
Taking this one step further, dig around to see how the offer is performing for each network. This may help you decide where you spend your resources.
#4 Do I Have The Experience To Make It Work?
Over time, affiliates have a way of feeling invincible. You’ve achieved success in the past, so you assume that things will always go this way in the future.
You didn’t get to where you are by making stupid mistakes. You got to where you are by focusing on the details and making good decisions based on data.
Just because there are guys making $50k per day running on AdWords doesn’t mean you should try to compete with them. Some offers are best suited for newbies with a smaller budget (lower payout offers).
Same with traffic sources – some traffic sources are newbie friendly, others are not.
You have to evaluate offers based on your past experience.
If 90% of your success comes from promoting app installs on mobile traffic, you may not have the experience and knowledge to promote dating offers in the adult space.
I’m not saying you should put all your eggs in one basket. What I’m saying is that you should make future plans and decisions based on your past experiences and successes.
When you do this, you already have the infrastructure in place to hit the ground running. You already know which traffic source works well for which offers.
Your experience as an affiliate is your most valuable asset. Use it to your advantage when evaluating affiliate offers.
#5 Is It Best For Me RIGHT NOW?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can promote and make money with any affiliate offer. However, I want you to take a step back and ask yourself this question: what’s right for me at the present time?
Go back in time 10 years. Promoting ringtones was all the rage. Maybe you made big money in this space.
But what if you wanna promote ringtones in 2016?
You want to focus on what you’re good at.
I see too many guys learn one thing (like mobile), start to make money, then they wanna jump ship into something else (like native, or Facebook).
If you’ve been trying mobile for 2 months, you’ve now got 2 months of experience.
If you really want to make a switch, ask yourself why. If it’s because you’ve realized there is too much competition, or it’s going to cost too much, then it’s okay to switch.
If you don’t have a good reason, don’t switch.
Don’t let your AM pressure you into trying things that are too advanced for you. It can be hard to say no when they tell you the numbers guys are doing in something completely different, but sometimes saying no is good.
You know your affiliate business better than anyone else, so it’s up to you to decide which offers are best for you RIGHT NOW.
Protip: One of the BIGGEST mistakes new affiliates make is that they choose an offer that pays out $20 over one that pays out $2. This is an example of not knowing “What works for me now”.
Here’s my logic that explains why you should choose low payout offers.
#6 What’s The Vertical’s Future Potential Like?
If you were graduating university right now, would you have a better future getting into newspaper advertising, or mobile advertising?
Wayne Gretzky said, “I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it’s going.”
Think about what the future of this offer is looking like.
- Where is the offer in the product lifecycle?
- Is it going to be hot next year or has it already peaked?
- Is it evergreen, or is this a one-time trend?
- Is your offer becoming irrelevant due to free options?
This is something you can talk to your AM about, but also your network.
It’s hard to gauge this, but here are some ways I like to look at it:
- If everybody is talking about something (forums, conferences, courses etc.), it’s probably in the maturity stage
- When you look at the top offers, are there trends between the different networks?
- What are your network/masterminds talking about?
#7 Do I Know Anyone Who Has Made The Offer Work?
Networking and masterminding are essential.
I like to go after affiliate offers that I’ve had some friends make work.
There are two main reasons for this:
#1 I KNOW that the offer is good
When you’re trying to get an offer working, you are never sure until you actually run it. When you know someone else has got it profitable, it gives you the reassurance to spend money trying to get it profitable yourself.
#2 We can share inside information
If we’re both working with an offer, we can cover twice as much ground. Does it work best on Facebook, mobile or native? I’m not sure, but we can split up the testing. Once we figure out which source it works well on, we can test twice as many banners / landing pages to get the right combo.
This is just one example of how inside information can help you on your campaigns.
Questions for Your Affiliate Manager
Just as you need to ask yourself a variety of questions when evaluating an affiliate offer, you should have questions for your affiliate manager
I talked about this briefly above, noting that your affiliate managers can provide you with offer details and guidance on what is and isn’t working.
Taking this one step further, you can’t expect to get the most out of your affiliate manager relationship if you sit back and wait for things to happen. You need to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.
This means asking your affiliate managers all the right questions, including (but not limited to):
- Why should I promote your offer as opposed to one from a competing network? This is a great question if you’re just developing a relationship, as it gives you a clear idea of how the company positions itself with affiliates. Don’t come off like too much of a jerk, just ask them what extra they can offer.
- How are your relationships with advertisers? Just as you want to have a good relationship with your affiliate manager, he or she should have a strong bond with the advertiser. When the advertiser and affiliate manager trust one another, everyone – including affiliates – wins in the end.
- Are you available when I need you the most? This may come across as a STRONG question, but it’s nothing more than you being honest. You need affiliate managers who will work with you to make you successful. Those who are available via phone, text, and email, at almost any time, are pure gold. Also, consider the time zone differences – this can add an extra day to every offer you want to get approved to run if you’re in weird time zones.
- How do you go the extra mile for affiliates? We all know that the affiliate business is ultra competitive. Some affiliate managers will go the extra mile for every affiliate. Others only do this for “super affiliates.” By asking this question, you’ll soon see who values your relationship and who wants to keep you happy over the long run.
- Can you help me get a higher payout? This isn’t something you ask before you’re running decent volume. Once you prove to a network that you know your stuff and that you can drive serious conversions, it’s time to ask this question. Even a small bump in the amount of a payout can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Bear in mind these are just example questions.
Don’t copy & paste these into your Skype chat.
Think about how you can get the answers to these questions without it sounding like an interview, or like you’re grilling them.
Don’t Just Run The First Offer You Find
There are so many offers out there, but you need to be self-aware enough to know which ones are good for you right now. Then you need to ask your AM the right questions about ones that are a good fit for you.
When it comes to affiliate managers the best ones are available to answer all your questions, even if you’re 100% new to the game.
BUT realize this: When you’re new, and spending $10 per day, you don’t make the network any money. You might even be losing them money because they have to dedicate resources to helping you out.
The more you spend with a network, the more they can afford to spend time with you.
Keep building the relationship with your affiliate managers. These people can make or break your career as an affiliate marketer.
How do you choose what offers to run? Do you take a shotgun approach or the sniper approach? Let me know in the comments!