Optimization and Split Testing: What Goes Through My Mind When I Optimize a Campaign
“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” – Will Smith
I’ve always believed that profitable campaigns are built, not discovered.
Some guys will teach a strategy of basically throw shit against the wall until something sticks, but there are a few issues with this approach.
- You’re not learning anything. Even if you make money then it was due to luck. What are your moats that’ll keep competitors from taking over your campaign?
- You’re not mastering any niche. I believe in the 95/5 rule. 5% of affiliates make 95% of the revenue in any niche. If you’re always jumping around chasing campaigns, you’ll never be in the 5% club.
- You’re overlooking potential goldmines. If I campaign bleeds money the first few days, does that mean it can’t ever make money?
Let me give you an example.
A few weeks ago I launched a campaign in a vertical I’d never tried before. One of my trusted affiliate managers vouched for the campaign’s potential, and I saw more and more competitors promoting it.
It took me a few hours to get everything ready to launch. I was excited at the potential of the niche and kept refreshing my stats.
By the time the day was over, I was -100% ROI in the hole. No conversions.
50% of affiliates at this point would consider the campaign a failure and move on to the next one. I know from years of experience that this is normal. Now that I had some initial data to work with, I mindmapped out my game plan for the next few days.
The first day I focused on testing the offer. It’s simple, if the offer sucks then everything else in the funnel can’t work. Just by consistently testing offers over the next few days I’d get a nice EPC boost.
Next, I noticed everyone was using the exact same landing page. I ripped it in order to use it as a benchmark. From my experience though I knew that this landing page sucked and I could easily improve it.
But if the page sucks, why is everyone using it?
- Affiliate A is the innovator. He created the landing page from scratch and it’s profitable for him. He sticks with it because it’s good enough, and he rather spend his time scaling the campaign.
- Affiliate B, C , & D see affiliate’s A landing page and decide to use it. Because most affiliates are lazy.
- The rest of the affiliates copy this landing page and just assume it’s the best because everyone else is using it.
I launched the next day with 3 landing pages.
a – the page everyone is using
b – the page everyone is using, but I added different elements to increase the conversion rate.
c – I came up with a new landing page from scratch.
The winner turned out to be b.
The page outperformed the original one by 50%. By the way, I don’t judge the value of a landing page with silly metrics like “landing page CTR.” All that matters is you track the landing page revenues, and see which one makes more money.
I don’t want to get into too much of how I optimize a campaign for obvious reasons, but here’s what the ROI roughly looked like.
Day 1: -100% ROI
Day 2: -75% ROI
Day 3: -50% ROI
Day 4: -50% ROI
Day 5: -50% ROI
Day 6: 0% ROI
Day 7: 25% ROI
Day 8: 100% ROI
Day 9: 50% ROI
Day 10: 50% ROI
Day 11: 200% ROI
What if I gave up at day 5?
Campaigns never go as smooth or as linear because there are outside factors involved that people don’t account for.
One example is the campaign could actually be better because of your tests, but it performed worse money wise because the vertical sucks on Tuesday. That’s why you need to be patient and think about your campaign changes.
Here’s what’s going through my mind when I’m losing money.
The first one is I don’t let my emotions affect me. Call me Iceman – I never get pissed off if bad things happen to my campaigns. Lets say someone loses a $5k Facebook account. What’s the point of feeling sad or being upset? It’s wasted energy.
I’m not losing money, I’m collecting data. You know what’s funny? Some people will go $50k+ into debt for college and they have no guarantee of getting a job afterwards. Yet you’re going to quit affiliate marketing because you’re down $1k? I’m not hating on a degree since I did graduate from Ga Tech, but I’m re-framing that losing money on a campaign isn’t that bad.
College: $50k in debt for a chance at a $40k a year job vs Affiliate Marketing: Losing $4k testing campaigns to potentially become a millionaire.
I’m not sure what you guys think about Super Affiliates, but we don’t bat 100%. Not every campaign will be profitable. I’ll have a bad campaign here, and a bad campaign there. But the campaign that does hit, will more than make up for the ones that don’t.
Experience has changed my mentality when I run campaigns.
- I can sustain the losses while testing a campaign. I have money coming in from other traffic sources and money in the bank. Losing money on a campaign won’t hurt me as much as someone that’s working a dayjob.
- I know what works before I launch. I use spy tools to research and my affiliate managers don’t bullshit me. This is might not make sense but other super affiliates will sometimes share information with me. Why? Because I do the same. We give each other advice all the time because we know there’s too much money out there. Helping others is helping yourself. The other day someone skyped me a HUGE mobile k-bomb, and I pointed him towards a traffic source I don’t have time to run. He’s going to make more money, and I’m going to make more money as a results of it. That one secretive affiliate is sitting by himself at the corner.
- I know what variables to test. I have a set optimization strategy for any campaign I run because it’s been proven and constantly tweaked over the years. One advice I can give is to think of the optimization variables as a hierarchy. What’s more important, the offer or the color of the button on the landing page? Obviously the offer, but you’ll see guys spending their time optimizing the baby stuff.
- Experience can help you blow campaigns up. Suppose a newbie and a super affiliate both were to have the exact same $500 profit a day campaign. The newbie might be stuck at that mark due to either cash flow, or lack of experience in scaling. The super affiliate knows where to get higher payouts, knows what other traffic sources work well, and he has the cash / unlimited credit cards to turn this campaign into a 5-figure a day campaign.
How do I know whether to continue a campaign or quit? Much of it has to do with the potential of the campaign and whether or not other guys can get it to work. That’s a big one. If 100 other guys are making money in this and you can’t, then that means you’re the weak link. Don’t make excuses, just focus on getting better.
People don’t realize the amount of variables that affect a campaign. I talked briefly about testing offers and landing pages, but what about ads, angles, day parting, bidding strategies, countries, different traffic sources, etc? Continual testing can only improve a campaign.
How to Learn Optimizing as a Newbie?
Here are two thoughts about how to learn this. The main issue you have is budget. I started with $500 a month and you need money to buy data.
My first suggestion is to focus on low paying offers, but high converting offers like app installs or dating. I was talking to this newbie and he wanted to run this one offer with a $100 CPA. You’re barely going to get any conversion data with your $500 budget. If you have 5 leads for this month and broken even, you didn’t learn anything. But if you focused on a $2 offer and broke even, you have 250 conversions. That means you could’ve tested several ads and landing pages at least.
My second advice is to simplify the number of variables you test and don’t overwhelmed yourself. Read about my first campaign years ago.
Too many guys are impatient. I see some forum posts where the guy will declare he has to make $1,000 a day within 6 months. Rarely have I ever seen those guys succeed. I was patient with success in affiliate marketing. I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life getting this to work so I didn’t get frustrated that much.
Enjoy the learning process and focus on your efforts. Make progress every single day and persist.
Anyways I hope you enjoy the article. It’s rare for affiliates to write about this topic so show me some love by commenting and sharing.
– Ngo Knows