Affiliate Marketing: SmartLinks 101: How to Monetize More of Your Mobile Traffic
If you want to make money in mobile traffic, you can’t have the same mindset you would a desktop campaign.
They’re two completely different worlds.
Let me share an example.
Your affiliate manager pings you with a HOT mobile offer. It’s getting insane EPC’s.
The catch? It only accepts traffic from one carrier (pretty common for the top pin submit offers).
What are your options?
Option A: Launch a campaign that only targets Verizon carrier traffic.
This makes sense…on paper.
If a campaign only accepts French traffic then you’d launch a campaign only targeting people in France.
The same should work for carrier only, right?
You can try it but you’re barely going to get any traffic.
There’s too much competition for carrier specific traffic. You won’t get any volume unless you’re overbidding.
Option B: Launch a Run of Network campaign. Use Voluum rules to segment and redirect the Verizon users.
Now we’re getting closer.
One problem though.
You’re making money from the Verizon users, but what about all the WiFi traffic and non-Verizon users?
You need a way to monetize that traffic.
here’s the problem: It’s hard to find and setup offers to cover EVERY segment of your traffic.
Imagine trying to manage the offers, links, and payments for every bit of your traffic.
What if we could leverage automation and algorithms to help us?
That’s where SMARTLINKS come in.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people still want to launch with MOBILE traffic in 2018. The biggest problem is most people launch these campaigns as if they were doing desktop campaigns.
They don’t understand all the little changes you need to make to get a mobile campaign profitable.
In this article, I’m going to talk about SmartLinks and how you can utilize them in your campaigns.
Table Of Contents:
- SmartLinks 101
- Why Do Affiliates Use Smartlinks?
- How Do Affiliates Use Smartlinks?
- The Benefits Of Smart Links
- Downsides Of Using Smart Links
- SmartLink Network Recommendations
In short, a SmartLink is a SINGLE URL that an affiliate can send visitors to.
Yup, just one.
Wait a minute, isn’t that just an offer link?
A Typical Affiliate Offer URL:
- ALL the visitors go to the same offer page
- Depending on the affiliate network, they might re-route to different offers based on someone’s IP address
A Mobile SmartLink URL:
- A visitor clicks on the URL
- The visitor is sent to the SmartLinks server. The technology detects information about the visitor and SENDS THEM to the best converting landing page and offer combination.
What determines where the SmartLink sends them?
Here’s a quick list:
- Which GEO (country) is the visitor from?
- What device is the visitor using?
- What operating system is running on the device?
- What’s the current connection type? WiFi? 3G? 4G?
Based on this information, it’ll send the visitor to the best converting (Landing Page + Offer) for that segment.
For example, you’re running a campaign in the United States.
- User A is on an Android device and connected to the T-Mobile network.
- User A clicks on your SmartLink
- The SmartLink’s Networks Algorithm automatically determines the best (Lander + Offer) combination to show your user. It determines where to send them based on past data.
- In this case, it’s Lander A + Offer A (e.g. a Sweepstakes lander promoting a Sweepstakes offer)
User B is connected to the Verizon network. Based on past data, User B will best convert if they’re shown the Lander A + Offer B combo (e.g. an App Install offer).
Think of it like this.
A GREAT SmartLink network will have an optimized algorithm to automatically redirect segments of traffic to the most profitable Landing Page + Offer combos.
The best part is that you don’t really need to know how it does its analysis. You know it’s constantly learning and getting smarter over time as it gets more data.
This is the power of the network effect. It’s learning from thousands of other affiliates also sending traffic.
It kills the non-converting offers and keeps the best ones in the rotation.
If you do it right, it can be a consistent revenue stream for you.
Why Do Affiliates Use SmartLinks?
Usually for one main reason:
EFFECTIVELY MONETIZING EVERY SEGMENT OF TRAFFIC
What do I mean?
Sometimes, you might find a segment in your funnel that isn’t profitable.
For example, maybe T-Mobile on Android devices is doing horribly.
So you can hit up your AM to get the best T-Mobile offer.
You put the best offer and you set up rules in your Voluum.
That can work.
But imagine that you have to segment up to 10 different rules on Voluum with different landing pages and offers.
And you have to keep up with all the split tests for those segments.
It’s doable and can be profitable.
But it might drive you crazy over time.
Especially if you’re working across multiple geos stacked with tons of rules.
Sometimes, the time can be better spent launching on high volume geos rather than on these little optimizations.
How do Affiliates Use SmartLinks?
There are many ways.
Method #1: Redirecting Remnant Traffic to Maximize Profits
It’s basically unintended traffic sold to you which you can’t monetize with your current offer.
Let’s say you only want to purchase US traffic from a traffic source.
But due to many unforeseen reasons (e.g. glitch in their system), 20% of the traffic is coming from the UK.
What do most affiliates do in this case?
- Mark it as a loss and seek a refund from the traffic source
- The better ones would try to get their AM to recommend a converting offer from the UK, and then redirect on Voluum
#2 sounds great, but it’s time-consuming to create (and eventually optimize) another Landing Page + Offer for this segment of traffic.
With SmartLinks, you can simply create Voluum Rules to redirect remnant (e.g. “UK” Traffic) traffic to it.
The SmartLink algorithm would automatically determine the best Landing Page + Offer to show these people.
That way you’re still making some money on the traffic instead of wasting on an offer that will never convert.
Tip: Whenever you get LOTS of remnant traffic, it’s good to message the traffic source to get a refund. Remember to attach some form of tracker stats to prove it.
Method #2: As a Safety Net for Capped Offers
You might be running offers that have limited caps (e.g. 300 conversions/day).
When you hit the cap you can either:
- Get your AM to increase the cap (if your lead quality is good)
- Use Conversion Cap rules and redirect the traffic to a SmartLink until the cap is reset the next day
That way you can still make money on your campaigns without turning off the campaign.
Be careful though. Make sure you evaluate if it’s worth the cost.
Sometimes it’s better to just turn off the campaign and wait for the cap reset.
Method #3: Maximizing Profits With A Back Button + SmartLink
The back button? What?!
It’s a script most affiliates are using.
Here’s how it works.
Your visitor sees your landing page.
If they decide to leave, they press the back button on their browser.
A script triggers and redirects them to another URL of your choice.
That’s a second chance to convert the user.
Using a SmartLink can maximize your profits.
Why does this work?
Here’s an 80-20 example.
You’re promoting a sweepstakes offer and the visitor is NOT interested.
They press the back button.
Your SmartLink then determines the best landing page + offer to redirect them to.
What they see next is a different offer that has a better chance of converting.
Maybe it’s a voucher-related offer or an app install.
They might be more interested in those offers compared to the sweepstakes. Your chances of converting them are much higher.
In the future, I’ll be releasing a post on how you can maximize your profits with a back button redirect.
For now, just know that this can be a profitable way to use SmartLinks.
Method #4: Running Direct to a SmartLink
Instead of creating landing pages and finding the best offers, some affiliates are running traffic straight to SmartLinks.
They let the algorithm do all the heavy lifting.
The only problem is that sometimes these offers and landing pages die out quickly. You also don’t have much control over them.
It’s hard to maintain a consistent revenue stream.
I don’t recommend doing this. Even if you do become profitable, what’s your edge?
The Benefits of SmartLinks
There are plenty benefits, but here are the main ones.
#1: One URL
That’s all you need.
- Get the URL from the SmartLink Network
- Setup Postback to your Tracker
- Plug into Voluum
- Get Traffic
#2: SMART Auto-Optimization
You don’t have to spend the extra effort to test, test, test.
You rely on the SmartLinks algorithm to do the optimization for you.
#3: It saves you TIME
Again, you don’t have to do the optimization.
You don’t need to create additional landing pages.
You don’t have to constantly search for GOOD offers.
SmartLinks can save a lot of time.
#4: You Can Target BROADLY Across Traffic Sources
Some traffic sources just don’t have the option to target specific devices/carriers.
Instead of moving on to the next traffic source, you can target broadly.
Then you redirect traffic that your primary offer doesn’t accept to your SmartLink.
A good SmartLink network should have offers for pretty much EVERY Geo/OS/Device/Connection Type/Etc.
Tip: Some traffic sources also reward you with cheaper costs for bidding broadly. Why? It’s doesn’t over complicate their system and you get less competition.
#5: It’s A Great Fallback for Remnant Traffic
I touched upon this.
Sometimes traffic sources just don’t function the way they’re supposed to.
Setting up a rule for this situation is a great fallback to ensure you still make money.
Downsides of Using SmartLinks
No, I don’t want you to start redirecting all your offers to your SmartLink.
These are some downsides that you need to pay attention to.
#1: Offer Payouts Are NOT Fixed
When you’re running a standard offer from your affiliate network, the payout is fixed.
10 Conversions on a $2 payout = $20. You know that.
If you’re using a SmartLink?
10 Conversions can be $5.52. 10 Conversions can be $54.12.
Because a SmartLink will show different offers to different segments of your traffic.
Your payouts can be vastly different, especially in bigger geos.
You might get conversions from $0.10 to $40 in various verticals like App Installs, Mobile Content, PIN Submits, Etc.
That’s a huge variance to be aware of.
#2: Banned Traffic Sources from Non-Compliant Offers
Shocked? This happens.
A good SmartLink network gives you the option to customize how aggressive a landing page can be.
However, non-compliant offers do slip through.
What happens next?
The traffic source rejects your campaign.
In worst cases, they ban you for something you don’t have much control over.
#3: Dependent on the SmartLink Network
There are many factors that determine if a SmartLink Network is good.
In my opinion, it boils down to two main factors.
A: How BIG Is Their Database For OPTIMIZED Landers + Offers in EVERY Possible Segment
A SmartLinkrtlink network has converting Landers + Offers for pretty much EVERY possible targeting.
For every GEO, OS, Device, Connection Type, etc.
If they don’t have an optimized funnel for the segment of traffic you’re trying to monetize, you won’t be able to make money.
B: How GOOD Is Their Auto-Optimization Algorithm?
If it’s bad, your visitors might not see the best Landing Page + Offer combo.
This means less money. Money you could potentially make with another SmartLink network.
Some affiliates go the extra mile to try and understand how their algorithm works.
For me? It’s not worth the time.
Here’s what I do.
Guideline: Always do an even split-test to see which SmartLink network makes you the most money. Let the data guide your decisions, NOT your theory/emotions.
SmartLink Network Recommendations
Want to start testing out SmartLinks? I recommend these two networks:
It’s hard to find and setup offers for EVERY segment of your traffic.
If you encounter an unprofitable traffic segment, you can redirect it to a SmartLink Network. With its complex algorithm, it should be able to monetize that traffic.
But if there’s a lot of volume for a segment of traffic, you should ask your AM for an offer to split test against your SmartLink.
There are no right or wrong answers.
Conduct your own split test and see which ones makes you the most $.
What are your experiences with SmartLink networks?
Let me know below ↓ 🙂
Featured Image by Sergey Nivens