Affiliate Marketing: How to Create a Campaign Launch Checklist (It’ll Prevent Mistakes)
Humans inherently hate to use checklists.
It reminds me of those TV shows where men would take road trips and refuse to use maps or ask for directions. They’d get lost of course, and end up getting into a pointless adventure.
Why would they be so stubborn? I think it’s because of how simple some tools are, that using them feels like they’re insulting our memory.
I’ve flown on hundreds of flights in the past decade. But occasionally I’d go to the airport and find out I forgot my laptop, laptop charger, or even my passport. Forgetting these items could cost me hours and thousands of dollars if I have to go back home, and end up missing the flight.
I realized my time is more important than my ego. I sucked it up and created a checklist in my Evernote. Now whenever I travel, I force myself to spend the 5 minutes it takes to make sure I have everything.
Trust me, checklists work. We have 100 things going on in our heads at any given time. Instead of focusing 100% on packing, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat later, over-analyzing relationship problems, and wondering about how Game of Thrones is going to end.
No wonder we forget the little details!
I had a major problem a few years ago with some campaigns. Some media buyers would keep screwing up the initial campaign launches.
We’d launch at midnight, and then the next morning…hundreds or even thousands of dollars were lost.
It was because of simple things like links not tracking properly, or the landing page was messed up. It just boggled my mind how they kept repeating simple mistakes over and over again.
And that’s when I realized we needed to start implementing checklists. There are a LOT of moving parts to a campaign launch. The more complex the process is, the more you have to simplify everything.
I’m going to show you how to create your own campaign launch checklist so you can stop preventing common mistakes.
Create Your Campaign Launch Checklist
We’ve all sent traffic to a 404 at some stage
This is the 80/20 of a checklist, and is meant for you to add more to overtime.
Keep it simple.
You don’t need some fancy software to create one. Just write it in a Google Documents, Evernote, or a notepad. Print it out and put it above your computer or keep it somewhere easy to access on your computer so you don’t have to hunt for it every time you launch.
1. Do a complete walkthrough of your campaign
Pretend to be a visitor and go through your entire campaign.
- Click the traffic source link if you have it.
- Click the link from your tracker (if you haven’t set up a custom tracking domain, do it now).
- Is your landing page loading properly?
- Does it comply with traffic source/affiliate network?
- What’s the page load time? (Clear your cache and test on your mobile by clicking your tracker link, then through to offer)
- If you are testing multiple landers, are they all showing up on the traffic source link?
- Are your landers, offers and campaigns named conventionally? It’s easy to name things “test GEO 1” and before you know it you’ve got 100 campaigns and 500 landers and you don’t know what’s what.
- Are your landers in the right language?
Your goal is to make sure every part of your funnel is live and working properly.
You don’t want to bog your team down in “box ticking”, so experiment with a simple checklist first, then expand if people are still making mistakes.
Tip: Some offers that are GEO-specific will only load to viewers from that GEO. You’ll need to use a VPN to double check your offer is still live before you launch. If you don’t use a VPN, you’ll get redirected to another offer.
2. Are the clicks being logged everywhere?
The name of the game is data. You need to make sure your clicks and conversions are being registered everywhere.
After the campaign launches, you wanna make sure any relevant pixels are firing.
You can test that conversions are being recorded through your affiliate network’s software. Ask your AM if it’s okay if you fire a test conversion to test everything is set up properly before you launch.
3. Check what your landing page looks like on multiple browsers and mobile.
Your landing page may look awesome on FireFox, but it might be broken on Chrome / Internet Explorer. Or it might not be responsive on mobile.
You need to check what the page looks like on different browsers. The easier way to do that is to use a service.
The most common reason mobile landers don’t load right is because they are missing the viewport tag in the HTML header.
I like BrowserStack.com but you can also use the free Google Developer Tools emulator. Right click on your live lander to get to Step 1, then follow the screenshot below to see how your lander looks on different devices.
Google Inspector is free, but it does have limitations.
4. Are you targeting correctly?
What if your offer only accepts traffic from Germany, but you set the country to ALL by mistake.
Hint: Make sure you and your team know which country code corresponds to which country.
If the offer says it takes “CH”…that doesn’t mean China or Chile. CH stands for Switzerland. DE stands for Germany, not Denmark.
Here is a list of country codes for reference.
What to watch out for:
a. Countries – only those your offer accepts
b. Devices – starting broad (if your offer allows multiple device types)
c. Placements – include/exclude blacklists depending on your strategy
d. Targeting – especially important to check when you’re duplicating campaigns
Make sure you watch out for the offer terms. I’ve seen some mobile offers accept Android traffic, but only certain versions of Android. If you end up sending traffic that the offer’s not accepting then you’re flushing money away. They won’t pay you if you send the wrong traffic.
Some traffic sources will allow you to target down to:
Carrier/Wifi > Device > Operating System > Brand > Model > Browser.
Other traffic sources might not even let you target Wifi / Carrier traffic. You can set up funnels in your tracker for this, but taking care of it on the traffic source side is a lot simpler.
With your placements, make sure you’ve got a blacklist set up to automatically get rid of terrible placements.
5. Check your bids / budget.
Everyone’s going to make this mistake sooner or later. The bid’s meant to be $.15 per click but you end up typing $15.00 per click. Ouch!
You wake up and see the campaign completely ate up your budget (You think they’re going to warn you of the high bids?)
Here’s one great tip:
If you or your team keep making launching errors, then consider launching with a small initial budget of say $25. Let it go live for a few hours and make sure everything is tracking properly. Another bonus of doing this is that you see how fast your test budget gets spent.
Once it’s verified that everything is working, then raise the budget. This prevents disasters.
Mistakes Happen, We’re Humans
It’s easy for us to be overconfident when we’ve repeated tasks over and over.
Reaching the top isn’t always about the latest and greatest ninja hack. Another way of looking at things is to think, “How can I make less mistakes?”
A simple checklist can help you do that.