Affiliate Marketing: Lead Gen 101: An Evergreen Way to Promote Campaigns
There are two types of affiliate marketers out there in terms of their “style” of picking what to promote.
The first are what I call “waveriders.”
They identify hot trends, get in on them early, and then bank as hard as they can. Eventually, it’ll become saturated or too competitive, then they’re off looking for the next “wave.”
These “waves” (trends) can include new traffic sources, verticals, angles, and even business models.
This can be lucrative if you’re in the right place at the right time. If you catch a really “big” wave (aka a hot trend), you can make a lot of cash in a short amount of time.
The problem with this model is that it’s dependent on…
- There being a wave in the first place. You can’t force something to be hot.
- You have the skillsets and resources to take advantage of the opportunity.
The second type of affiliate is what I call the “evergreen affiliate.”
These are the guys who specialize in a particular vertical, and they stick with it…for years.
I know some guys who were in the adult dating space before I started, are STILL in it, and will probably still be in it a decade from now.)
You can understand the appeal of this right?.
You can imagine what kind of relationships, data, and advantages you can build up by focusing on one thing and one thing only.
If you’re interested in becoming an “evergreen” affiliate, I recommend you explore lead generation campaigns.
See, here’s the thing. Some strategies that have worked in the past, aren’t working as well anymore.
E-commerce dropshipping was really hot for the past few years, but a lot of people are struggling with it now. And doing “Blackhat” affiliate marketing has become notoriously difficult as well. (Facebook is really cracking down.)
So, a lot of people are scrambling to find the “next wave.” Remember what I said earlier, you can’t really force trends.
Instead, I think it’s a great time to look at opportunities that have been in front of your face this whole time.
As the industry becomes stricter and more regulated, I think the lead generation model will only become more popular. This post will serve as an introduction to people who aren’t familiar with the concept.
What Is Lead Generation?
A lead is someone who has indicated some type of interest in your product.
Instead of calling 10,000 random people and seeing if they’re interested in donating to your charity, what if you only had to call 100 people, but these people have already donated to charity before. Make life easier doesn’t it?
Then Lead generation is the act of collecting information about new potential customers (leads) for a company.
For example, let’s say that a car insurance company, Iguana Insurance, wants more customers. They’re already advertising on TV and online, but they want to expand.
So, they decide to outsource some of their marketing to affiliates like us.
There are two models they can use to pay the affiliates.
1. The first is Cost Per Sale.
If an affiliate signs a customer up for a 6-month car insurance package, Iguana Insurance pays the affiliate a whopping $250.
Sounds great right? But it’s tough to convert a 6-month package, especially for guys with a lower budget.
2. The other option is Lead Generation
A lead is simply the information of a potential customer. Instead of making a sale, you’re simply collecting information.
The affiliate sends a potential customer to an Iguana Insurance offer page where they can get a free insurance quote.
The potential customer fills in their information (typically it’s their name, email address, and phone number). The affiliate has just given Iguana Insurance a lead.
Boom, Iguana Insurance pays the affiliate $9 (or whatever the payment per lead actually is)
The affiliate is done at this point.
You need to understand how the business model works for long-term success. Iguana Insurance paid the affiliate ahead of time for this lead.
Now Iguana insurance has to make their money back. They’re going to contact the potential customer based on the lead information such as their email address and phone number.
Their goal is to convert this lead into an actual paying customer.
What happens if Iguana Insurance pays the affiliate for $1,000 worth of leads, and none of them signed up? They lost money.
The insurance company is going to be pissed and not want to keep working with that affiliate.
If you want to have long-term success in lead generation, you need to be able to consistently send high-quality leads to the company.
Why would leads be low quality? There numerous reasons, including:
- You used a low-quality traffic source
- You didn’t target the right audience (maybe the traffic source doesn’t even offer much targeting outside of SITEID’s)
- Your landing page didn’t actually reflect the offer
For example, maybe Iguana Insurance costs a little bit more than standard insurance, but also offers superior benefits. This implies that it would be the preferred insurance of people who make more money and are willing to pay more.
If you don’t target a higher income audience, you’ll end up delivering a bunch of leads who can’t afford the insurance.
What Kind of Offers Work With Lead Generation?
Every business needs a constant flow of customers in order to be successful.
This means that there are virtually UNLIMITED niches that can work well with lead generation.
Yeah, there are some big ones, like solar energy, car loans, insurance, higher education, and dating.
But because every business needs more customers, you can also find some really under-the-radar niches with Lead Gen.
I’m talking things like pornography addiction, drug rehab, and plumbing.
You can think of it kind of like gold mining back in the 1800s. There were some “hot” spots that attracted a ton of attention because gold had been found there. But there were also lots of out-of-the way places where gold was found.
The overlooked verticals are like those out-of-the way places where you can still find a lot of gold without worrying about competition from other prospectors.
Lead Gen’s NOT 100% Whitehat
There’s a common misconception that a lead gen offer is automatically white hat.
Let me ask you this…is an adult dating offer lead gen? Yes, it is.
What if you were to promote an ad on Facebook talking about how a housewife next door wants friends with benefits? That wouldn’t fly.
There are levels to the “whitehatness” of an offer. Other examples of naughty lead gen offers include payday loans and credit card applications.
One more important point…how you promote an offer matters.
Promoting an online nursing degree? If you talk about the benefits such as financial aid, and how the degree is accredited then that’s great.
If you’re being misleading by saying you can get a degree in 4 weeks, and you’re guaranteed to make $100,000 when you graduate, then you might get in trouble.
So, don’t make the mistake of thinking all types of lead gen = white hat. WHAT you promote and HOW you promote it matters.
Lead Quality Really Matters
Let me say it again: if you send poor quality leads to a business, they simply won’t want to work with you.
I remember when I first started promoting lead gen a decade ago. It was frustrating.
I’d send some traffic and I’m at $500 a day profit. I’m dreaming big deals. Then I’ll get a message from my affiliate manager asking me to pause the traffic so the advertiser can evaluate quality.
Quality…what the fuck is that? I didn’t understand the concept and just cared about making money as an affiliate.
But then I realized over time that the best way for me to make money is for everyone to make money. If they make money from their leads, then they’ll offer to pay you more and even beg you for more traffic.
Bottom line: don’t send crappy leads.
So how can you be sure your leads are the highest quality?
1. Use The Right Traffic Source
When it comes to lead gen offers, I usually recommend that people use Facebook advertising as their traffic source.
It’s all about that targeting.
Facebook literally has thousands of data points on every user – far more than any other traffic source. It’s creepy how much information Facebook has for every person.
Facebook allows you to use these data points when you target. This means you can be super precise with your targeting, ensuring you’re only sending the right traffic to the offer.
If traffic sources are weapons, then Facebook is the only one that has a scope.
2. Don’t Mislead People
If your landing page promises something different than the actual offer, you’re going to deliver really low-quality leads. For example, if your landing page promises that Iguana Insurance is cheapest insurance in the country, the leads won’t convert when they find out it’s actually more expensive.
Yes, you should use standard copywriting and persuasion techniques on your pages, but don’t mislead people. Make sure that people understand what they’re actually getting.
3. Target The Right Audience
Let’s say you’re running a lead gen campaign for a university education. Are women in their mid-50s likely to be interested? Probably not. Or maybe you’re running a campaign for a dating service. Targeting older, married people is going to result in a lot of really low-quality leads.
Your offer and your targeting need to line up. Again, this is why Facebook is so powerful. You can get extremely narrow in targeting your audience to ensure that your offer and your target audience fit well together.
Adapt or Die
If there was a motto of the affiliate space, I think it’d be “Adapt or Die.”
It means that things are always changing and evolving. What works a few years ago, won’t work today.
But when I think about who are the most rock solid affiliates I’ve known, it’s always been the lead gen guys.
There’s not going to be a world in the near future where businesses won’t want leads. Makes sense to figure out a vertical and master it.