Affiliate Marketing: 4 Reasons Why Campaigns Die Over Time (and What to Do About it)
Everyone loves the idea of “passive income.”
You put the work into building an asset, and then you start earning paychecks doing pretty much nothing.
Will Smith gets passive income from the show Fresh Prince even though it ended 20 years ago. Some musicians get royalties everytime their song is used in a commercial.
Unfortunately, campaigns aren’t exactly a source of passive income – they’re like a baby you have to take care of every day.
Once you get a campaign profitable, they’re going to slowly die if you’re not maintaining it.
In fact, I remember being too scared to take vacations when I first started. I was worried about coming back from the beach to dead campaigns.
Every affiliate deals with it, INCLUDING the super affiliates.
But here’s the thing…
Super affiliates know WHY their campaigns decline and HOW to make them last longer.
This is the difference between a campaign lasting five days and lasting five weeks. Extending that campaign by a few weeks could be new car money.
I’m going to share with you the four main reasons campaigns why decline AND how you can fix the problems.
Decline Reason #1: New Competitors in Your Traffic Source
When you hit on a winning campaign, competitors are going to start circling around you like vultures around a fresh carcass.
It’s part of the game.
Why does this happen?
A. Your Offer Tops The Offer List
If your main offer starts generating serious revenue, it will appear in the Affiliate Networks’ Top Offer list.
Affiliate managers will start peddling your offer to everyone they know on Skype.
Affiliates are constantly on the lookout for good offers, and what’s stopping them from promoting that same offer?
A. You’ll Be Popular On Spy Tools
Spy tools like AdPlexity, are going to start picking up on your entire funnel and showing everyone the consistency of your campaign.
If you’ve used AdPlexity, you know what I mean.
Your competitors will know exactly:
- What Ads you’re running
- What Landing Pages you’re sending traffic to
- Which Offers are converting
- Which Traffic Sources are working best for you
They’ll take all this information and start bidding higher for the same traffic sources.
Suddenly, you’re in a bidding war and you’re probably going to lose a large share of your audience to them.
And for some traffic sources, you might lose access to premium placements simply because your competitors bid higher.
When this happens, here are the steps you need to take.
Step #1: Create Competitive Advantages
Think about this.
If someone can easily copy your entire funnel, what’s your competitive advantage?
Super affiliates don’t play fair. They seize every competitive advantage they can get.
One of the best advantages you can have is getting exclusive offers.
Someone can copy your entire funnel, but they can’t get the same results if they’re running an inferior offer.
Here are some other examples:
- Get exclusive landing pages
- Get exclusive traffic sources
- Look for untapped traffic sources that spy tools are not picking up
- Work out a relationship to go direct with the advertiser
- Buy out placements
If you want a more in-depth explanation of this, read my article on creating competitive advantages/moats here.
Here’s something interesting I’ve observed over the years. Campaigns tend to last longer when you go direct with an advertiser.
If you’re using an affiliate network, then it’s in their best interest to get as many other affiliates to promote the hot offers.
If you’re working directly with an advertiser, they don’t have as many affiliates who can run the offer. They can keep a secret better.
Solution #2: Play the Bidding War Smartly
Be careful of bidding wars.
I have battle scars from bidding wars in the past, and I lost a lot of money due to ego.
Play it smart.
You’ve got two options:
a. Negotiate with your traffic source rep on exclusive placements
b. Outbid them by fully understanding your CPM and eCPM. In other words, what is the maximum amount you can bid to still profit on your campaigns?
You have an advantage here since you’ve run it first and have all the data.
Always keep track of your bids to make better decisions.
Solution #3: Don’t Show Up On Spy Tools
I’m not going to get into this too much, but it is possible to hide your landing pages from spy tools.
However, I’m not sure if it’s the best use of your time since it’ll just turn into a cat and mouse game.
Another thing you can do is accept that your ads are probably going to show up on spy tools, but cloak affiliates from seeing your real landing page.
Decline Reason #2: Your Angle Is Burning Out
If you see the same ads over and over again, your brain’s going to start ignoring them.
This is called banner blindness.
If people see the same banner every day for the next 7 days, your CTR is going to drop. your CPC will go up, and your ROI will fall.
It’s the same for angles and landing pages.
And this accelerates the number of people who copycat your creatives.
If you use the same popup and lander for three straight weeks, all the important metrics will drop.
You get my point.
So what should you do?
Solution #1: Find New Audiences
If your angle is burning out on a traffic source, you need to get creative.
You’re probably not going to be successful opening a frozen yogurt shop in Manhattan. It’s played out. Everyone’s already seen it.
But if you go to a small country in Latin America, it could be fuego.
Find a new audience.
This may mean expanding to a new traffic source.
However, a much easier solution is to find a new audience segment within your traffic source.
This could mean expanding to a new country, or some new placements. If you’re on Facebook, then maybe the audience on Instagram hasn’t seen your ads yet.
Solution #2: Always Refresh Ads/Banners/Landing Pages
It’s a simple concept.
Is your CTR for an ad dropping? Refresh your ads/angles.
Is your conversion rate dropping? Refresh your landing pages.
Brainstorm and refresh your campaigns with new landers, ads, angles, etc. A/B test new copy, images, etc.
Protip: Use teams and systems to do this. For example, create a system for your employees to refresh ads. Putting in new ads Monday, Wednesday, and Friday regardless of metrics is a simple system.
This also gives you the opportunity to find more effective creatives.
Decline Reason #3: Bad Lead Quality
Here’s the ideal scenario you want to shoot for:
- Affiliate earns $3 for the lead you generated
- Affiliate Networks take a percentage of it
- Advertiser takes the lead information and attempts to monetize it on their backend
The problem happens when the advertiser can’t make money from the leads you’ve generated.
They lose money because of the poor lead quality that you sent.
So how do they make up for it?
Usually by scrubbing/shaving.
That’s why you’ll see a drop in your conversion even though you have good CTR for your offer.
Affiliates must understand the importance of driving quality leads to the advertiser.
If your leads are really bad, you may even get kicked from the offer.
What’s the solution for bad lead quality?
Solution #1: Focus On Improving Your Lead Quality
Always try to create a win-win situation for all three parties.
The better your lead quality, the more money advertiser makes on the backend, the better your relationship with your affiliate networks, the more power you have to negotiate for a higher payout.
Here’s a quick 80-20 on how you can increase your lead quality:
- Don’t mislead your audience: If it’s not free, don’t say it is.
- Improve your targeting: Understand the offer you’re promoting and then really focus in on targeting the RIGHT audience. For example: If you’re promoting a dating offer, aim for an audience above 30 years old. 18 years old kids probably won’t pay for any membership upgrades.
- Track your traffic source quality: Pass your traffic source into your tracking SubID, and then let the advertiser tell you which traffic sources generated higher quality leads. Then focus on those sources.
Note: Use a code name for your traffic source. Some advertiser/affiliate networks have an internal buying team, and you don’t want to invite competition. For example, if you’re sending mobile traffic from PopAds, use “s1=r0me0”.
Solution #2: Always Be Testing Offers
Sometimes, you’re not the problem.
Someone else in the network may have sent bad leads, and the advertiser has to scrub on a network-level.
Yea, they f*cked everyone up.
This means that even if you’re sending high-quality traffic, you may be scrubbed too.
Now you know why I like getting exclusive offers.
That’s why you always should be focusing on testing new offers.
If your main offer isn’t performing well anymore, switch to the next best offer that you’ve been testing.
Remember, always be thinking long-term.
Offers come and go.
Are you flexible enough to pivot?
And while we’re on the topic of testing offers, don’t forget to split test the same offer across different affiliate networks.
You’ll be amazed by the results.
Decline Reason #4: Your Target Audience is Too Small
The U.S. has the third largest population in the world.
If you’re targeting the U.S., you can reach new audiences every day for months.
You can’t do that with smaller countries like Iceland, the Bahamas, or the Maldives.
Don’t get me wrong: you can be profitable in these geos.
But, it’s only a matter of time until you’re putting your ad in front of the same audiences.
Eventually, your campaigns will decline.
Solution #1: Pause and Relaunch
Once you’ve reached that tipping point, pause the campaign for a few months.
Then, relaunch it.
I’ve had so many campaigns that became unprofitable, I paused for a few months, I restarted them, and I’m instantly profitable.
It could be that the traffic source has a new audience. Maybe the old audience forgot about my ads and it’s like they’re seeing them for the first time again.
Solution #2: Expand To Other Traffic Sources
This is pretty straightforward.
If you want to go in-depth on this, read my guide to scaling on other networks.
Solution #3: Expand To Other Geos
I call this, “Geo-Arbitraging.”
Here’s what you do:
- Duplicate the entire funnel that’s working on one geo into another geo
- Get your creatives translated by a native speaker (Hyperlocalize whenever you can)
- Optimize and profit.
You won’t be profitable right off the bat, but there’s a high likelihood of it happening.
When you’re scaling your campaigns, you have to understand that they’ll decline over time.
There are a lot of reasons: new competition, depleted angles, bad lead quality, etc.
But knowing the reason isn’t enough.
You need to know how to deal with it (even before it happens).
Super affiliates know this.
They have competitive advantages so no one can easily jack their campaigns.
They’ve developed systems and have employees to focus on tasks that move the needle.
They’re always ready even before the storm hits.
Now that you know the WHY and the HOW, are you going to act upon it?
Let me know in the comments below ↓