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Optimizing Your Campaigns

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Optimization is the secret sauce that makes campaigns profitable.

You can have the best landing pages and ads in the world, but your competitors can “borrow” them.

But your optimization strategy?

It’s yours and yours only.

Nobody can ever see it.

That’s why people rarely talk about optimization.

Have you ever launched a campaign and it’s losing money, and you have no idea what to do next?

Learning optimization means you can take a campaign that’s losing money, and you can turn it into a money making machine!

When you first launch a campaign, all you have are hypotheses and theories on what’s working.

You may THINK you know what the customer wants, but you don’t really know unless you have the data to back it up.

The majority of your campaigns will start off unprofitable.

1. You launch the campaign

2. Lose money while you collect data

3. You analyze the data

4. You run experiments (also known as split-tests) to get your campaign profitable.

Red = losing money, Green = making money in Voluum
Optimization is the process of testing different parts of your campaigns to become more profitable.

Imagine you’re a new car salesman and you’re getting terrible results when you’re first starting. Does that mean you’re doomed for the rest of your career? Nope.

  • It means you have to keep “testing” to see what works.
  • You can test different ways of “closing” the sale.
  • You can test what outfits you’re wearing.

You can test the aggressive sales approach vs. the “laid back, ask questions” approach.

The key to improving is to keep testing.

That’s the same with affiliate marketing campaigns.

Profitable campaigns are all about being able to optimize to profitability before you run out of money.

The biggest mistake newbies make is they launch campaigns and expect them to be immediately profitable.

Don’t think of it as losing money, think of it as collecting data. You’re buying clicks in order to see what the audience really wants.

Profitable campaigns are built, not discovered.

Some guys will 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’s going to stop your competitors from doing the same thing?
  • 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. Some of my biggest campaigns ever started off as huge losers. I’d test, test, test until they became profitable.

Optimization is where you test out different parts of your campaigns. With each test you’re finding out what the audience wants, and you slowly become more profitable.

Here’s an example of a split test framework:

The Top 3 Optimization Rules

1. As a beginner, test one variable at a time.

Think of it as a science experiment.

There are independent variables and dependent variables. If you test out too many things at once, you don’t really know what caused the change.

Literally test only the offer. Once you have the best offer, now test the landing pages while keeping everything else the same.

Once you’re more advanced you can do cool things like multivariate testing (something I cover in AFFcelerator workshops).


2. Make sure your data is statistically valid.

If you flip a coin and it lands on heads two times in a row, does that means it’ll land on heads every single time?

No.

If you flip it enough times, it’ll show that heads vs tails is 50 / 50.

That’s what statistical significance means. It means the data is accurate.

When you run different split-tests you need to make sure you make decisions based on accurate data.

Read More: Statistical Significance


3. Focus on what makes the biggest impact.

Do the landing page button colors matter? Probably.

Would it make more of a difference than the headline of the landing page?

Nope.

In that case it makes more sense to focus on testing the landing page headlines.

You want to create a hierarchy and understand what affects one thing from another.

The bigger the budget, the more tests you’re able to run.

Think about it. Let’s say your budget for affiliate marketing is only $300 a month. The tracker is $99 a month, and your hosting is $50 a month.

That only gives you $150 a month in testing budget. If you’re paying $1 for each click, that’s only 150 clicks. You can’t really do much with 150 clicks.

There are two options then: find cheaper traffic, lower your CPC, or increase your budget.

Here are Some Examples of Split-Tests in Affiliate Marketing

Example #1

What age groups should I advertise to?

I’m promoting a gaming offer on Facebook and I want to know what age groups are the most profitable.

A super basic age split test on Facebook – testing under 41 and over 41 males

Controlled variable
Elements that you keep the same. The offer, images, and ad text would be kept identical. I just picked an image that did well, used “Game of the Year 2017” as the headline, and featured one offer.
Independent variable
What am I changing or testing? I’m testing the age groups.
Dependent variable
The new value that changes. I’m looking at the click-through rates, CPCs, and the profit.

First thing I did was split-test the age groups.

  • 13-18
  • 19-21
  • 22-26
  • 27-32
  • 33-35
  • 36-40

The results were that the 13-18, 19-21, & 22-25 demographics did the best.

*Note: It’s ok if you’re not making money yet at this stage. You’re trying to find the MOST profitable segment. You can still test other variables such as offers, angles, landing pages, etc. later on to get the campaign profitable.

This means I can focus the rest of my testing only on the 13-25 year olds. The 26+ age groups just weren’t interested in the gaming offer.

Now I pause all traffic to the 26+ demographic.

See, it’s not that complicated.

Now I get on with testing angles, landing pages, offers etc.

Example #2

Testing the Operating System (for Mobile Campaigns)

I launched a campaign promoting an app install.

I targeted iPhone users and Android users.

I had more conversions from Android phones, than from iPhone users.

Here’s what the data might look like in Voluum.

If any of the devices were losing money (like Symbian OS in the example above) I would pause traffic to them.

In the example above, I split-tested operating system.

There are hundreds of optimization tests you can do. Look at all the variables you can filter by in Voluum and you’ll see you can test most of them.

Here are the 3 variables you should focus on as a beginner:

  • Spit-test the offers
  • Test out different landing pages
  • Test out your ads / angles

In general, I find that these are the 3 most important elements to test in any new campaign.

The secret is HOW MANY you’re able to test…which is entirely due to your budget.

You might be only able to test 3 offers before you run out of money. Me and my team can test 15+ offers because I have a lot more budget and manpower than you.

More offers tested means I have a higher chance of getting a campaign profitable.

Does that make sense?

That’s why when you have a limited budget, you have to be more strategic.

List of Optimization Variables

I’m hesitant to include this section because I don’t want to confuse or overwhelm you.

But I think it’s important that you get a glimpse of what the end goal is. If you’ve launched and you’re -50% ROI than that’s great.

Look at all the variables you can test. (Note there are tons more I haven’t mentioned)

  • Offers
  • Angles
  • Ads
  • Landing Pages
  • Site IDs / Site Placements
  • Countries
  • Dayparting
  • Week Parting
  • Bid prices
  • Mobile Elements

What you have to work on is to figure out which elements are the most important, and in what order to split-test.

Pro-tip: The way you optimize a campaign differs depending on the traffic source. For example, I might split-test the genders and ages in a Facebook Campaign.

But I wouldn’t do that in a Mobile campaign because they don’t have those parameters.

Here’s my Mindset when I Optimize Campaigns

A year 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.

Which is fair. But I knew that if other affiliates could make it work, I can make it work.

I kept going.

There were tons of split-tests I haven’t achieved yet.

The first day I focused on testing the offer.

If I were promoting a dating offer in France, then I’d find 5+ offers to split test. If none of those worked after they hit statistical significance, I’d test another 5.

It’s simple, if the offer sucks then everything else in the funnel can’t work.

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.

I launched the next day with 3 different landing pages.

  • Landing Page A – the page everyone is using. This was my “benchmark”
  • Landing Page B – the page everyone is using, but I added different elements to increase the conversion rate. I added in testimonials and better copy.
  • Landing Page C – I came up with a new landing page from scratch.

I did a split test where the traffic was split evenly among the three

  • Landing Page A 33% of traffic
  • Landing Page B 33% of traffic
  • Landing Page C 34% of traffic.

Result:

Landing page B outperformed the rest of them judging by landing page CTR and conversion rate.

Here’s how the campaign ROI went over the next couple of weeks:

  • Day 1: -100% ROI
  • Day 2: -78% ROI
  • Day 3: -67% ROI
  • Day 4: -68% ROI
  • Day 5: -52% ROI
  • Day 6: -29% ROI
  • Day 7: 14% ROI
  • Day 8: 30% ROI
  • Day 9: 81% ROI
  • Day 10: 64% ROI
  • Day 11: 183% ROI

What if I gave up at day 5?

Campaigns never go as smooth or as linear as we’d like because there are outside factors involved that people don’t account for.

Key Takeaways

Optimization is the secret sauce that makes everything happen.

There are TONS of variables to optimize. You should focus on what makes the bigger impact.

What makes the biggest impacts are your offer, landing pages, and your ads.

Next Actions

1. Come up with a game plan for split testing.

2. Apply for more offers, create variations of your ads and landing pages

3. Split-test your offer, landing pages, or your ads through Voluum.

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