Affiliate Marketing: Ngo’s 10-Step Blueprint for a Profitable Campaign
Read this article to become the big black figure smashing everyone.
“What is split-testing?”
“Okay, I’m making $100 a day in profit…How do I get more traffic?”
“Holy crap! So many steps! What am I supposed to do exactly?”
This guide is for anyone who has ever been confused about what to do when launching a campaign. I’ve taken my process and broken it down into 10 easy steps for you to follow to get your first profitable campaigns.
That’s it for introductions. Let’s do this!
1. Deciding what to promote
The first step is figuring out what traffic sources you’ll use and what offers you’ll promote.
My personal style is to focus on mastering a single traffic source type and then figuring out which offers work well there.
For example, you’ve decided to be a mobile specialist. After deciding to go into mobile, you look for what’s performing well in mobile now, which might lead you to an anti-virus offer.
There are hundreds and hundreds of places to buy traffic from.
Yes, there are other places you can start with, but I feel these are the easiest to profit from.
I’ve given you four places for traffic, but I know half of you will over-analyze this information and try to figure out which one’s the “best.”
There is no best because they all have their pros and cons. Just do your research, and make a decision. Don’t be that fat guy who spends months trying to decide on the best workout plan while not moving off his couch that entire time.
“Taking action and failing with a campaign will get you ten times farther than sitting around worrying about making the wrong decision.”
When it comes to picking a traffic source, I prefer going after places that are proven to convert. It eliminates a variable.
If you can’t make Facebook work, then it’s because of you. Why? Because other guys have had profitable campaigns on there. However, if you decide to take a chance on an unknown source, you won’t be sure whether the traffic source sucks or your campaign does.
Choosing an offer for me is based on:
- competition research,
- talking to affiliate managers and my masterminds,
- seeing what the latest buzz is at conferences, and
- listening to my intuition.
For more advice on how to pick an offer, check out my classic article: How to Master & Dominate Traffic Sources, Part 2
2. Researching the offer
Newbie affiliates will just launch a campaign and hope for the best, but the top affiliates will have an advantage before they even launch.
Have you decided on your traffic source and offer yet? It’s time to do some research.
- Spying – Are other guys running this campaign? Don’t limit yourself to just researching other affiliate marketers. If you’re running Diet, look at what Jenny Craig and WeightWatchers are doing. Running Dating? What’s Match.com doing? My spy tool recommendation is WhatRunsWhere (Display, Mobile spying)
- Talking to affiliate managers – Stop treating your affiliate manager like the dude that just bumps payouts. They can be extremely knowledgeable because they have a bird’s-eye view of the industry and other affiliates. I definitely encountered a lot of bad affiliate managers when I started out, but I think they’ve been weeded out over the years.
- Researching the offer – Go through the funnel to see how the ads monetize. Research the audience. Learn more about the niche.
- Where to run the offers – If an offer is exclusive to one network, there’s not much to do beyond this. What if it’s on a few different networks? I highly recommend split-testing affiliate networks even if it’s the exact same offer. They can convert differently if different tracking software is used or if the advertiser’s scrubbing one place.
Don’t go to war without a game plan.
I’ll mind-map every detail of the campaign to help me visualize. Here’s a quick example:
I’ll also set some mini goals and deadlines for each step of the way. Don’t get too rigid with your gameplan because you’ll re-evaluate it after you get some hard data.
4. Creatives brainstorming & creation
What ads and landing pages are you planning to use? A lazy affiliate will skip this step entirely and just opt to use the creatives and landing pages from their competition. If you’re going this route, you’re always going to be five steps behind.
- Brainstorm angles, headlines, and ad text
- Find pictures to use in ads
- Design/create the landing pages
How exactly does one come up with winning creatives? It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try.
One thing I like to do is collect amazing ads that I see around the Internet. I’m so “blind” to ads that if there’s a creative that I notice, it must be good. I have a folder with over a thousand images that I use for inspiration. Once, I was inspired by this insurance ad that had a neat Photoshop trick that I’ve applied to one of my niches. Inspiration can be found anywhere.
The only way to get really good with ads is through practice and experience—a lot of practice and experience. Soon, you’ll develop this sixth sense that will let you know if an ad is good before you even launch.
5. Back end/Campaign setup
This is all the technical stuff you have to do.
- Tracking Server – Never launch campaigns without proper tracking. I use Voluum (check out my complete guide to setting up Voluum).
- Webhost – Remember that you need a VPS as a minimum.
- Domain – Get something at namecheap, and pay the extra $2 for WHOIS protection.
- Landing pages – I always keep my landing pages on a different server from my tracking server for speed purposes.
There’s also the “front end” part of a campaign.
- Uploading ads – Can be a time-consuming process if the traffic source is strict such as Google and Facebook
- Funding the account/signing invoices
- Tracker setup
Setting up a new campaign in Voluum
6. Launch and data collection
I always launch a new campaign with a really small test (<$50). I want to make sure all the tracking links and conversion pixels are working properly. It’s better to take the time to make sure everything works instead of losing a few thousand dollars because the links weren’t properly set up.
At this stage, my goal is to collect data. It’s important to have statistically significant data before you start making decisions.
More than likely, your campaign will be losing money at this point.
Optimization is the process of turning the campaign profitable by running tests. You will have to consistently run experiments in order to improve your campaigns.
Here’s a realistic scenario of a campaign:
- Launch – You’re at negative 100% ROI and losing money.
- Test #1 – Test out 3 offers. Run the best one. Now you’re at -50% ROI.
- Test #2 – Test 10 ads. Run the top 3. Now you’re at -10% ROI.
- Test #3 – Test 5 landing pages. Run the best one. Now you’re at +25% ROI.
The mistake that most people make is they don’t optimize at all. They launch campaigns and cross their fingers hoping they are profitable.
You don’t find winning campaigns. You create them.
I’m sure that the biggest sticking point for newbies is that they chicken out as soon as they start losing money. Re-frame your thinking, and realize that it’s part of the process in order to see what works.
I can’t reveal too much about my optimization process since it’s my secret sauce, but here are some of the variables I will optimize:
- Ads – Don’t focus on only the highest click-through rate. An ad could have an amazing CTR but still lose money because it doesn’t convert. Let’s say you’re selling car insurance, and the ad features a curvaceous blonde next to a Lambo. Sure, it’s going to get people to click, but not many will buy the insurance. That’s why it’s important to track.
- Landing pages – Different style of pages, the image, the headlines, etc.
- Bids – There’s no established protocol on what’s the best way to bid. Experiment. Low to high, high to low, bid a few places below the top spot, etc.
- Day & week parting – Day parting is running your ads during the best times of the day. If you’re only profitable from 5 PM-12 AM EST, try running your ads only during those times. Week parting is running your ads only on the profitable days of the week. If you’re making money on Weekends only, try running the ads only during those days.
- Offers – Test different offers. Once you have some volume, ask for a pay bump. Is going direct with the advertiser possible?
I recommend that you establish your own formula for optimizing each traffic source. The process on Facebook will be different from the process on Mobile.
Now that I have real data, I can start using my thinking skills to make the campaign better.
- Keep detailed records of your daily profits and stats. Looking at yourVoluum is not enough. I spend each morning logging data into my Excel sheet with exact spend, clicks, revenue, etc. I then turn the data into charts so I can analyze patterns.
- At this point, what is my 80/20? What variables can I change and actions can I take that will make the most impact?
- Do I keep the campaign or trash it? Just because a campaign is making money doesn’t mean I’m going to keep running it. What’s the potential of it? Hopefully, you have other campaigns, and you have to decide which ones are worth your time.
- How can I start systematizing this campaign? Are there parts of the process I can outsource to someone else?
“What you think I rap for, to push a fucking Rav4?” – Kanye
I don’t launch campaigns to make $100 a day. Scaling is the process of turning that $100 into $1,000, or even $10,000+.
That’s the difference between affiliate marketers that focus on paid traffic and the “passive income” types: we can blow shit up.
How do we do that?
You have to widen the audience. If your current audience is 1 million people, widening your audience to 10 million means more volume.
- More traffic sources – expand to similar traffic sources. If you’re making money on Airpush, it makes sense to expand to a similar source such as LeadBolt (they’re both “push notification” networks for Android). Making money on PPV with LeadImpact? Try TrafficVance.
- More countries -Does your offer accept multiple countries? Get your creatives and landing pages translated, and test them out. Keep in mind that just because your campaign is profitable in the US doesn’t mean it’ll automatically make money in the UK. What’s different? Offer conversion rates/payouts, cultures, bid prices, etc.
How do you get more traffic on your existing platform?
- More placements – Placements mean different websites.
- More ad sizes – Only advertising on the 300×250? Try out the 728×90 and 600×120.
- Increase your bidding – Higher bids mean more volume (in theory). That’s why it’s important to constantly improve your campaign—the higher your profit margins, the higher bids you can afford.
This is what separates the best from the rest.
Once someone starts making money from a campaign, they get distracted. They get lazy. One thing I’ve learned from working on thousands of campaigns is that shit happens.
Here’s a short story to illustrate:
Affiliate A and B are both making $1,000 in profit at 100% ROI on the same traffic source in the same niche.
Affiliate A starts getting distracted and lazy. He launches campaigns in different niches in order to diversify, but he loses his focus as a result. His 100% ROI goes to zero because banner blindness kicks in, his main offer goes down, and he has quality issues. Even his new niches don’t work out. Now he’s back to zero dollars a day.
Affiliate B keeps working hard to turn his campaign into a bigger winner. He’s STILL testing his ads and landing pages and always finds new offers. He turns his 100% ROI into 200% ROI. Banner blindness kicks in, and his main offer goes down. However, he’s still at 100% ROI because of his consistent testing and because his competitor dropped out.
Affiliate campaigns are not to set and forget. If you’re making money, there will be guys who will fight to take your winning campaigns.
Time for action
You have everything you need to launch a successful campaign now.
Quit over-analyzing. Quit waiting until the time’s perfect. Quit making your pathetic excuses why you can’t make money.
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