Affiliate Marketing: The Ingredients Needed for $10k+ a Day Campaigns
I was jumping on the couch when I hit my first $500 revenue a day back in March 2008. I’m a competitive guy, so I asked my affiliate manager what kind of numbers the top guys were doing.
He said, “The top guys generate $20,000+ a day in revenue.”
My newbie brain couldn’t comprehend how it was possible to hit those kinds of numbers when I was struggling to hit $500 a day. I thought, “Well, I just need 39 more of these campaigns to get there.”
I’ve gone past that $20,000 a day barrier many times in different verticals, and I’ve seen other guys hit some ridiculous numbers even in 2014.
I want to break down some of the ingredients needed to create high volume campaigns so you can get there too. No, it’s not “too late.”
The Ingredients of Ultra High Revenue Campaigns
1. Cash Flow
You can’t have high volume campaigns unless you have the cash flow to fund them. Nothing hurts more than having a great campaign and pausing it because you can’t fund it.
Imagine this scenario. You have a $10,000 a day campaign, and the affiliate network allocates you the cap. Unfortunately, you have to wait a few days or weeks because you don’t have the cash flow to fund the campaign.
Do you think your affiliate network is going to wait for you? Nope. Another affiliate gets the cap, and you’re out of luck by the time you’re ready to run the campaign again.
Fortunately, cash flow is one of the easiest problems to solve once you’re an established affiliate.
To help yourself with potential cash flow problems, get a credit card with high credit limits. I recommend going with American Express, specifically their charge cards such as Plum (1.5% cashback) and Gold (2x points on some advertising spend). Charge cards have high limits, but you have to pay them off each month.
The second way to improve your cash flow is to get paid faster. In general, getting by on weeklies should be enough. If an affiliate network won’t help you out, then send your traffic elsewhere. Call your affiliate manager, and tell them that you’re having cash flow issues and that you can increase the traffic if they send you the wire early.
I didn’t have the cashflow to keep funding my first big campaign. (You can read about it in The Rise of Ngo). I didn’t have a credit card with high limits, and the wire wouldn’t hit for another two weeks.
What do you do when you need the cash now? You get creative. I sold everything I didn’t need and my roommate gave me a $5,000 loan.
2. Verticals with Broad Appeal
Not all offers are meant to be high volume.
You can’t hit big numbers if your niche is too narrow. There just aren’t that many people out there interested in learning about basketweaving.
The biggest campaigns in affiliate marketing history all had a broad appeal: biz opps, health and beauty, penny auctions, gaming, mobile, etc.
Reach is about how many people want what you’re offering, and how big of a pain point you’re trying to solve.
Instead of being a big fish in a small pond, I like to aim for the biggest ponds possible. Being in small verticals means there’s a ceiling to what you can achieve. The biggest verticals and traffic sources are more competitive, but they make you a better marketer.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Don’t forget about targeting. If you limit your targeting options too much, the traffic source won’t be able to send you enough volume.
Cutting SiteID’s and day-parting can increase your ROI, but it will decrease your volume significantly. It’s all about finding the right balance. The biggest campaigns have broad targeting, but the affiliates are able to make it work with a higher converting funnel.
3. Scalable Offers
Can the advertiser handle the high volume?
CAPS are the enemy of high volume. If you’re doing a lead generation offer, the advertiser needs time to evaluate the quality of your leads, or they could end up losing money.
Does the advertiser have the inventory? If it’s an app install, obviously that’s not an issue. But if it is a physical product, they could have issues fulfilling the orders.
Finally, you might encounter money issues like merchant accounts issues. Or maybe the advertisers themselves don’t have the cash flow to handle the traffic.
I have had situations when the advertiser couldn’t handle the volume I was sending. I ended up sending some traffic to inferior offers because I still wanted to maintain the dominant position on the traffic source.
4. Competitive Moats
The problem with “high volume” campaigns is that your competitors will find out about your campaigns sooner or later.
The more your ads are shown, the more likely other affiliates will see them and rip them off.
Another issue may arise from affiliate managers sharing your campaign information. Your affiliate manager may be loyal and keep the secret, but what about the other 10 affiliate managers on the network? They can see what’s “hot” on the network and could share your information with THEIR affiliates.
That’s why it’s important to build moats. Moats are competitive advantages that are not easily copied by others.
Here are some examples of moats:
- Relationships. I have some networks, affiliate managers, and advertisers that I’ve been working with for over five years. If there is an issue, they will give me a little more service than anybody else.
- Exclusives. These are traffic sources, offers, etc. Direct competition leads to a race to the bottom.
- Systems. That’s what turns a single affiliate into a machine.
- Optimization processes and formulas. Other affiliates can see the finished product (the ads, landing pages, etc.). What they can’t see are the processes behind them. That’s where the money is.
- Operational effectiveness. How fast can you launch and make changes to campaigns? I covered the speed of implementation topic in this post.
- Your network. Other affiliate marketers are a great source of information.
- Knowledge. Having knowledge your competitors don’t possess allows you to make money. That’s why I love trying mastering traffic sources. You have a HUGE advantage if you know things about the traffic source that no one else does.
Doing $10,000+ a day for a few days is great, but having moats is what lets you do those numbers for a month straight.
Read Defend Your Campaigns with a Moat for more insights.
Two Types of Dominance
I’ve seen two types of styles of affiliate marketing for high volume campaigns.
1. Mastering a High Volume Traffic Source
Not all traffic sources are able to generate volume. I don’t see affiliates hitting $10,000+ a day from places like PlentyofFish (but it is a great traffic source to get you started).
I’ve seen guys hit over $100,000+ a day in revenue. In the majority of cases, it was from mastering a high volume traffic source such as Facebook, Google AdWords, Mobile, media buys, etc.
The downside of this strategy is perhaps putting all your eggs in one basket. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals.
2. Massive Scale
Instead of doing $10,000 a day on a single traffic source, you’re everywhere.
Here’s an example using Mobile:
$1,000 a day Traffic Source A, Spain
$500 a day Traffic Source A, Mexico
$1,000 a day Traffic Source B, South Africa
$750 a day Traffic Source C, Germany
This marketer is focused on a particular vertical, but he’s in multiple countries, using multiple traffic sources. He probably has the right angle, ads, and landing pages figured out, and now it’s a matter of scaling as far as possible.
You can see these campaigns can be difficult to manage. Banners are always dying, offers go down, etc. Anyone that has done Adult knows it can be a headache.
To help you overcome your obstacles, I give you three words: employees, systems, organization.
Time is NOT Equal to Money
Here’s what I love about affiliate marketing: the amount of money you make is not directly proportional to the amount of time you spend on the business.
When I was a newbie, I thought guys who were doing $20,000 were spending 16+ hours a day on their campaigns.
I remember I had a campaign that was hitting $1k a day profit, but I was spending several hours a day on it. The traffic source was too competitive and I had to watch the bids like a hawk. I forced myself to find a better way. I tested different traffic sources and found a CPA deal (the traffic source managed everything). That campaign ended up doing 10x more profit, while working 10x less.
But to hit the big numbers, I had to have the right ingredients in place: cash flow, the right traffic sources, the right offers, and the right moats to keep the campaign going.
First, remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. In order to hit your first $10,000+ a day campaign, create your first $10 a day campaign.
Second, profit is more important than revenue. It’s easy to get caught up in numbers and make decisions to please your ego, but remember that it’s your profits that matter.
Finally, believe that these kinds of numbers are possible and that you’re capable of generating them.