Affiliate Marketing: Newbies, these things don’t really matter in affiliate marketing
One of my friends is an amazing chef.
I think he’d kill it if he were on top of those top chef TV shows.
A few years ago he decided to take a huge leap in his career – he was going to build his first restaurant from scratch.
Most new restaurants fail within a few years, so I told him I’d be here if he needed any advice. I don’t know anything about the restaurant industry, but I’m sure I could give him some marketing advice at least.
A few weeks later he gives me a phone call:
“Charles, I need to figure out how to be on the front page of Google for my restaurant.”
You can imagine my confusion – aren’t there much more important things to worry about this early?
He spent the first few weeks designing business cards and he built out a website on his own. While those can be important…he didn’t even have a lease signed yet or suppliers lined up.
What do you think is more important at this stage?
He was focusing 80% of his time on the 20% of activities that don’t matter.
We’ve all been guilty of this before.
Instead of filling out the power point presentation, we’ll play around with the fonts, designs, slide transitions, etc.
Instead of working out, we’ll waste weeks trying to find the “perfect” workout program.
After seeing and answering thousands of newbie affiliate marketing emails over the years, I’ve seen some patterns emerge.
One big one I’ve noticed is newbies overthink everything. Seriously. They’re wasting brainpower on things that don’t matter in the bigger picture.
Why does this happen?
1. You don’t know.
You think that a task is important, but you don’t have the experience yet to know the difference.
2. You want to make progress without failure, hard work, or feeling uncomfortable.
This is a major one.
Talking to suppliers and negotiating with them is uncomfortable. They might decide they don’t want to work with you. Rejection sucks.
What about affiliate marketing? No one likes to lose money on campaigns.
So it’s easy to spend hours each day reading blogs, Facebook groups, and forums instead. It feels like you’re making progress, but several months later you’re in the exact spot you were before.
That’s not progress.
Nothing beats action and real-world experience.
3. It’s fun.
Training for a 10k run? Painful and sweaty. Shopping for running shoes? Yay!
You get the picture. Humans naturally move towards the path of least resistance and what’s fun.
So, let’s start tying this back into affiliate marketing.
I want to point out several tasks that I’ve seen newer affiliate marketers get stuck on – but it doesn’t really matter.
Focus less on these, and focus more on what does matter.
Let’s get into it.
Your Domain Name Doesn’t Really Matter
Your domain name matters when you’re building out a brand or a company.
But the domain name of your landing page doesn’t matter when you’re running campaigns. This is especially true if you’re still in the testing phases of your campaign.
Back in the day, I wasted time trying to figure out the perfect domain name.
“Ah man, all the great .coms are taken”
You can use .co, .us, or .biz and it doesn’t matter.
Don’t spend more than $10 on a domain name. I’ve seen guys waste hundreds of dollars trying to buy a cool domain, only to end up with an unprofitable campaign.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you can save money on hosting / domain names by keeping everything on a generic domain.
I remember one of the biggest campaigns I’ve ever seen in my life didn’t even have a domain name – the ads just linked to the IP addresses of the landing page.
Pick something and go!
Your Landing Page Doesn’t Have to Look Like the Offer Page
I’ve always heard the idea that you should look at things from the perspective of your customer.
Put yourself in their shoes.
One thing that I was adamant about was trying to create a “user flow” that made sense. Specifically, I’d spent hours getting my landing page to look like the offer’s page.
It had the same font, the same green color scheme, and overall the same design.
They’ll click the ad, go to the landing page, and then convert on the offer page. I figured conversion rates would be higher if the customer felt like everything was from one company.
I was so proud of myself.
Then my affiliate manager told me about an offer that was crushing it. He told me that I had to test it ASAP.
There’s no way this would work for my campaign – my landing page was bright green and the offer page was bright red. I didn’t have time to change the design of my landing page.
I started the split test in the morning and went to work. I checked the campaign during my lunch break – and the 2nd offer converted 30% higher.
That’s when I realized that a lot of affiliate marketing doesn’t “make sense.” What matters is conversion rates.
Looks Don’t Matter When it Comes to the Offer
How do you pick which offer to run? This is important if you’re on a smaller budget because you simply can’t test them all.
I’ll tell you one mistake newbies make all the time – they judge a book by its cover. This offer has a much more beautiful design, it must convert higher!
Anyone with experience knows how false that is.
Some of the best campaigns I ever ran were hideous.
Basically, the design is only one aspect of the conversion rate. What else is going on behind the scenes?
- How many types of payments does the advertiser accept?
- How fast does the offer page load?
- Does this offer shave or scrub?
- How fast are the affiliate network’s servers?
- What software are the networks and advertisers using?
- Does the person have to check a “terms and conditions” box?
You get my point.
I honestly don’t care about how an offer looks. Grab the link, make sure the link works, load it into the tracker, and let the numbers speak for themselves.
The Offer Has Too Much Competition
Newbies are scared of competition. I get it.
How can you possibly compete with a super affiliate with a big budget, a team, and years of experience?
So it’s easy to think – “hmm…if only I can try to find an offer that pays high, converts amazing, but has zero competition.”
Affiliate marketing doesn’t work that way.
First of all, even if you do manage to find this mythical unicorn, sooner or later, the competition will come. Either the big boys will find it with spy tools, or their affiliate managers will give them a heads up.
And new offers come with their own problems anyway. It might be a newer company and they’re limited on cap. You’re taking a risk because you don’t know how well the offer can convert.
Instead, realize that competition is good. It means that there’s a hungry market and that the offer is proven to convert.
How can you compete with fewer resources? Remember…you never want to compete with super affiliates with their own game.
- Brainstorm unique angles that no one else is using.
- Segment a part of the audience. Promoting a hair loss product? Everyone’s probably focusing on older men in their 40’s.
Why not focus on women instead, or target balding men in their 20’s?
- Target a different GEO. Is everyone focusing on the USA? Go international.
Picking the Right Software to Use
Tracking software didn’t exist when I first started. I had to use a combination of SUBID’s, excel sheets, and pivot tables to understand my data.
And then Prosper202 came out.
So, everyone switched over to that. And then CPVlabs was an upgrade over that. And then Voluum was an upgrade over that.
Sounds simple right?
Well, It’s not as easy for you guys who are newer to affiliate marketing. Seriously, I think there are 20+ different affiliate trackers out there last time I checked. It’s the paradox of choice!
How do you pick which one? Picking the wrong one could mean that you’re wasting money, and there might be “switching costs” later on.
This applies to any software across the board.
The decision to pick which software to use shouldn’t be a bottleneck.
Whenever I have analysis paralysis, I usually either go with the most popular software, or I find someone whose recommendation I trust.
A few years ago I needed to upgrade my blog’s email system from AWeber. I was overwhelmed with options: Infusionsoft, Active Campaign, ConvertKit, etc.
I did some research and found that InfusionSoft was the most popular. It was a five-minute decision.
I realized that the software I used is not a deal breaker. The real needle movers are writing engaging emails and great funnels.
What you have to realize is you need the experience to figure out what the best software for you is.
Pick something for now, get some experience, and you can always upgrade when the time’s right.
The Most Important Thing is to Keep the Most Important Thing, the Most Important Thing
Eventually, my friend started working on the more important things in the restaurant. I asked him why he spent so much time in the beginning on design, the website, etc.
It’s what I predicted.
He has been working in restaurants his entire life. He has a different side to him that loved design and technology.
This was an outlet for him to explore one of his passions.
Starting a business is hard.
Some of the most important things that you have to do aren’t going to be easy.
Want to be successful in affiliate marketing?
Browsing Facebook all day is easy.
Chatting up affiliate managers is easy.
Ripping campaigns off spy tools is easy.
The world doesn’t reward people who focus on easy.
Launching and testing campaigns is hard.
Finding and negotiating for the best offers is hard.
Hiring and training media buyers is hard.
Thinking of unique angles is hard.
Relentless focus, and having the discipline to focus on the hard stuff, is what’s going to separate you from everyone else.
Featured Image by Goir