How to Do Market Research For Affiliate Marketing Campaigns

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” – Sun Tzu
I love watching movies about war.
Everyone loves the action and the fighting scenes, right?
I’m kinda weird because I love everything that happens way before that.

I love when they’re sending out spies to learn more about the enemy. It’s fascinating to watch the leaders look at a map and devise a battle strategy.
I remember watching a movie back in my teens.
An army needed to take over the enemy’s castle during the 1500’s. They could storm the castle with battering rams and ladders, but that would have cost them thousands of lives.
Instead, they did some research by bribing the local villagers for information about how the castle works.
They realized that the castle wasn’t prepared for a siege – they only had a few weeks left of food.
So, instead of storming the castle, they decided to surround the castle and wait it out. They’d run out of food and the morale would drop.
Eventually, the people within the castle caused a mutiny.
They won that battle without losing a single man. That happened because they were patient and did some research. 
Good strategy is about being efficient.
I think about this when it comes to making any kind of sale or conversion online. I’m going to war and I want every advantage possible.
You want to lose as few soldiers as possible in a battle – you want to lose as few dollars as possible in a campaign. 
When it comes to running an affiliate marketing campaign, this comes in the form of market research.
The more you know about your audience, the easier it’ll be to make that conversion. It’s an essential step that I see many affiliates skip.
I know some of you guys are on smaller budgets. You can’t use the “machine gun” or throwing shet at the wall until something sticks strategy.
You need to be precise, like a sniper.
I’m going to show you why market research is so important, and some tools that I use to research campaigns.

Why You Should Research Your Market

Market research takes time, and it’s not as exciting as some of the other parts of running a campaign.
I get it. You want to launch as fast as possible and start seeing some profit.
So let’s talk about how it can help you when it comes to campaigns.

1. It Helps With Your Targeting

Targeting means which segment of the audience you’re showing your ads to on your traffic source.
Sometimes the most obvious targeting isn’t the best.
If you’re promoting makeup products on YouTube, for example, it makes sense to target makeup / beauty channels.
But everyone else is thinking the exact same thing and the competition’s going to be rough.
You’re going to be directly competing against the big makeup brands, and they’re probably jacking up the bids.
Instead, you can research the audience to find out what other “affinity’s” they might have.
This means you have an audience of people who buy makeup – where else do they hang out? What else are they into? 
Well, maybe they like celebrity gossip and drama.
Targeting those channels could mean you’re targeting a similar audience, but with much less competition. 

2. It Helps With Your Copywriting

Copywriting is the art of using your words to sell. The more persuasive you can be then the more sales you’ll get.
One thing that I’m huge on when it comes to copy is overcoming people’s objections.
This means there are reasons holding someone back from buying what you’re offering.
It’s better to directly address it head on than to ignore it.
Let’s say you want to promote a solar energy lead generation offer. What are people concerned about?
I can google frequently asked questions about Solar Energy and see some objections:

  1. Will my home have power if the sun isn’t shining or if there’s bad weather?
  2. What kind of tax rebates and incentives are out there?

People aren’t going to sign up until they know the answers to these questions.
Doing the research lets me know WHAT their pain points are, WHY they buy, and WHY they wouldn’t buy. 

You can incorporate some of these objectives into your headlines, ads, angles, landing page copy, emails, and more.

3. Know What the Competition is Doing

Besides directly researching the audience, you need to research the competitors.
They might’ve already found some winning ads and landing pages. You can make variations of what’s already working instead of starting over from scratch.
Don’t be afraid of competition – It means that the offer converts and that there’s a hungry audience.
Trying to find a “hot offer” with zero competition is like trying to find a high traffic retail space in New York City with low rent.

5 Places to Do Market Research

So now you know how market research can benefit you – how can you put this to real-world use?
I’m all about the 80 / 20 – we’re not going to be doing focus groups or in-person interviews.
Don’t kill an ant with a sledgehammer.
There are plenty of places online that you can do market research for your campaigns.
Here are a few tools that I recommend.

1. Facebook Audience Insights

This is one of the most underrated market research tools out there.
You can find it in the Ads Manager.

There are multiple ways to use the tools including researching the overall Facebook audience, the audience of specific Facebook pages you own, analyzing custom audiences like an email list you uploaded, and more.
Some things to look for:

  • Demographic information, e.g. age, gender, etc.
  • What pages and influencers the audience follows. What interests they have. This can help you expand your targeting.  
  • Location. This is great if you want to focus on specific countries.

If you notice your audience has a split of 80% women, and 20% men, how does that affect your angles / colors / and ads?

Learn more about Facebook Audience insights here

2. Niche Subreddits

Reddit is a great place to learn what people are really saying. It’s like you’re eavesdropping into conversations about your topic.
Are you promoting makeup? Drop into
Promoting coffee gadgets?
Promoting a jiujitsu brand?

You get the point.
Here’s a pro tip: create an account and ask questions.
Promoting a dog leash offer? Go to /r/dogs and ask “What’s the #1 issue you have with your current dog leash?
Boom, now you get dozens of answers and marketing angles for free.
Pro tip: Reddit users are actually quite good at sniffing out marketers/researchers. I recommend creating an account, and actually building up some history and participating with the community first.

3. BuzzSumo

Buzzsumo is a tool that lets you see what the most viral and shared pieces of content are on a given topic.
I typed in “Acne”, let’s see what I found:

It looks like the most viral thing is a woman drinking her dog’s urine to clear her acne.
Now, I don’t know about using that directly as an angle for your offer. It’s kinda weird, but I’d also be concerned about the possible legal / health risks.
Instead, let’s strip the angle down. It’s about using an ingredient that people don’t expect.
A quick search shows several weird things such as banana peels.
You could do an angle of using the banana peels and your product as the secret ingredient to get rid of acne.

4. Spy Tools

Spy tools are an easy way to see the ads, angles, and landing pages that your competitors are running.
I’ve always advised using what you see as inspiration, and not directly copying others. The audience has already been exposed to the ads countless times and probably have banner blindness.

Some recommendations:
If you’re focused on Facebook, then use AdSpy.
Everything else (Native, Push, eCom, Mobile), use Adplexity.

5. Look for Reviews of Mainstream Products

There’s probably a “mainstream” version of the product that you’re promoting out there.
Promoting acne? There’s Proactiv.
Promoting an insurance offer? There’s Geico.
Promoting weight loss? There’s Jenny Craig.
I did a quick search for Proactiv on Amazon to see what people have to say about it:

I can see that people are mainly complaining about how many chemicals it has, and they advise you to go for a more “natural” solution instead.
I also see the term “harmful” and that this product could cause damage to your skin.
So some easy angles could be focused on your offer being natural and don’t use harmful chemicals like other acne treatments.

Go the Extra Inch

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “go the extra mile.
I prefer the term “going the extra inch.
This means that the small efforts add up over time. 

  • Doing those extra split tests
  • Ran out of angles? Brainstorm a few more.
  • Having a few more conversations with your affiliate manager to develop that relationship
  • Going that extra step to understand your audience more.

These only take a little bit more effort, but it adds up.
Featured Image by MinervaStock

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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