“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” – Orlando A. Battista
Before I begin, I’d like to let readers know that I am not a super affiliate. In fact, I’m still struggling to learn the game. However, I have learned many important lessons from the plethora of mistakes I’ve made in the past. In some instances, noticing and addressing a simple mistake would result in taking a campaign from the red to the green.
I’d like to share some of the mistakes I’ve experienced first hand with you so that you can learn from them as well. Here they are, in reverse order of importance.
Mistake #5 – Not carefully selecting and researching my niche.
When I first started PPC affiliate marketing for the first time, I decided to jump in head-first and take on some of the highest paying niches available. Unfortunately, these also turned out to be some of the most expensive and saturated markets out there. I actually knew this at the time, but wanted to try them regardless as I thought it would be a good learning experience.
So, I blindly set up websites and campaigns for the credit card, dating, and jewelry industries, and waited to see what happened. While there was certainly no shortage of volume, there was absolutely no way I could compete with the huge bids it required to be in any type of contention.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to make money in saturated and heavily contested niches, but it was certainly stupid of me to try them as a complete newcomer to the game.
Lesson learned: Make sure you research your niche before jumping head first into it.
Mistake #4 – Bidding too high.
While many successful PPC affiliate marketers may tell you that bidding high at the beginning of a campaign is often beneficial, this should not be mistaken with simply just bidding high period.
When I first started, I would always be disappointed and frustrated with the low volume I was producing. So, an easy solution I thought, was to just simply increase my bids. This worked, of course, and traffic volume increased. But then, I saw that I was still not generating any (or many) conversions, and I blamed it on the low volume. So again, I would raise my bid to get more volume and traffic.
This is the wrong way to go, I later learned. I was always bidding on the same keywords, so why would raising my bid change my conversion rates? Changing the keywords, landing page, or even ad text could change my conversion rates, but not how much I bid.
I learned that, as long as I’m getting half-decent traffic in order to get enough data to do some optimizing, I shouldn’t raise my bids until I’m actually converting!
I must admit that I still have to fight the urge to raise the bids in order to grab more traffic, as waiting can be a difficult thing to do. I plan to help relieve my anxiousness by creating more campaigns while waiting.
Lesson learned: Only bid high at the beginning to improve your CTR or grab volume to optimize data quicker if you have a high budget. Increasing your bids should usually only be done when you are already profiting and want to scale your campaign, or are currently bidding too low where your ad isn’t being shown.
Mistake #3 – Running both the Content and Search networks on the same campaign.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the content and search networks are completely different. They behave differently, have different algorithms in relation to your keywords, cost differently, and bring in different types of traffic.
I’m still learning the differences between the two, but I know enough to separate them into their own campaigns. For one thing, AdWords only takes the first 50 keywords from each AdGroup into consideration on the content network. For this reason alone it makes sense to separate your campaign into two, one for the content network and one for the search network.
As an example, I was running a campaign with both network types enabled. I then turned off the content network and my ROI increased by 300% overnight. My AdGroups were optimized for the search network, not the content network.
Lesson learned: Create separate campaigns for the content and search network.
Mistake #2 – Overestimating the intelligence of the average web surfer.
I’m a newbie to the world of PPC affiliate marketing. My roots lie in creating high-quality websites that assume the visitor is a sophisticated, web-savvy, experienced surfer. Thus, I use more integrated and interesting design, navigation, the font is at a size that allows for more text to be displayed at once, and any promotion of an ad or service is gently offered to the visitor as a possible solution.
I’ve only recently that I’ve began to understand that the average web surfer is pretty… well… dumb. I’ve of course known this fact, but forgot how prevalent it was since most of my websites cater to more experienced web surfers (TylerCruz.com, PublisherSpot.com, PokerForums.org, etc.).
So, my mistake was that I didn’t adjust to the world of the average web surfer, and had made my landing pages too… pretty for them. I gave them too much credibility for intelligence.
As much as I hate it, I’m learning that really basic, ugly, and in-your-face landing pages perform well. Landing pages that look like the web-equivalent to infomercials are goldmines.
It’s hard for me to accept this fact, since it goes against every decent designing belief I have. But the fact is that it works.
Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to create blatant “infomercial” landing pages that “oversell” the product or service. More people actually respond more to these types of landing pages than to ones that respect their intelligence!
Mistake #1 – Giving Up.
Last but not least, the #1 mistake I’ve made in PPC affiliate marketing is giving up! I first tried my hand at PPC affiliate marketing a year ago, and after 2 weeks in I decided to stop.
While I had good reasons to stop (I had a lot of other projects that were making me good money), the fact is that you can’t succeed in anything if you give up! It’s a ridiculously obvious statement, but perhaps the most important one. If you want to succeed in PPC affiliate marketing, don’t give up. If you’re losing too much money, then lower your max spend per day. Simple.
You can’t succeed if you quit.
Lesson learned: Don’t quit! Everybody loses money in the beginning. Stay strong, and you will eventually succeed.