Four days ago I published a blog post titled Affiliate Marketing: Try Every Offer in which I recommend trying (testing) every single available offer in your niche. It’s a great post, if I do say so myself, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already yet.
I am continuing my unnamed series on affiliate marketing tips and techniques that I have personally observed from my own campaigns. I am by no means a super affiliate (not even close, hah), but I seem to have had a little bit of better luck with affiliate marketing lately, and so I want to share the techniques and strategies I’ve personally been implementing lately with you.
In this post, I’m going to recommend a similar tip to my last one, which is to try every traffic source.
When I say "traffic source", I am referring to individual sources of traffic as opposed to more generic types or forms of traffic such as "PPC search", "display networks", "media buys", etc.
Instead, a "traffic source" is a unique source of traffic, so it could be Google AdWords, Facebook, a small PPV network, a private ad buy on a small forum, or a paid ad in a mailing list/newsletter.
In general though, I am usually referring to networks where you can register as an advertiser and purchase traffic.
The most obvious answer as to why you should try every traffic source is so that you can find a new source with one or more of the following:
- Better quality traffic
- More volume
…and of course:
- Cheaper traffic
But the truth is you’ll never find some magical hidden network that will suddenly be the answer to your prayers and turn you into a super affiliate overnight.
There will always be some give and take. You might find a new source with really cheap traffic, and lots of it, but the quality is quite poor. Or you might find a new source with fantastic quality and even a lot of volume, but is really expensive.
Even the "best" networks have their pros and cons, which leads me to my next point…
Strengths and Weaknesses
Every traffic source has its own strength and weakness.
Your new source will always be flawed on some way, but that doesn’t make it useless. Think of it like finding a new tool to put in your shed. You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, but that doesn’t mean the screwdriver is useless. It is awesome when you want to screw something – you just need the right tool for the job.
For example, I think it is near impossible to run a successful zip/e-mail submit campaign on AdWords search, but that doesn’t mean AdWords sucks. AdWords is awesome for selling products, as you can target people who are already in the buying mode and are actively searching to purchase specific things.
By trying every traffic source, you will discover new sources that may help you immediately, or further down the road.
As another example, you may try a new source for your dating offers, only to discover that they mainly only have traffic from Western Europe, which your dating offers don’t accept traffic from. But then 3 months later you come across a new dating offer that accepts Western European traffic, and boom – you know exactly where to go.
It’s Always Good to Have a Back-Up
A few months back, I was banned (for absolutely no good reason) from a major traffic source (more on that in a future blog post).
Thankfully, I was only testing some stuff on it and never actually had any successful campaigns run on it. But if I did, well damn, that would suck. I could try signing up again, but that won’t always be an option.
Being banned from a network isn’t really that uncommon, either. AdWords and Facebook are both notorious for banning affiliate marketers, almost seemingly by random, and with no good reason.
Paul Piotrowski was banned from AdWords (years ago now), which cut him off of a $10,000+/month campaign. It was his only traffic source, and he never tried signing up again or running it anywhere else, and he just gave up on affiliate marketing as a result.
It just goes to show how it is important to have multiple traffic sources.
The possibility of being banned is just one example of why it’s good to have a back up traffic source.
Traffic sources can die – I’ve seen smaller sources go out of business and just disappear.
They may also change their terms of service and suddenly stop allowing affiliate-based offers.
Or their rates could skyrocket, their traffic quality plummet, etc. etc. etc.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you don’t want to have to depend on only one traffic source.
Open Yourself Up to New Offers
By trying new traffic sources, you will constantly open yourself up to new offers.
When I first started affiliate marketing, there were only so many offers that I could really try to run, as I only used Google AdWords (search).
As I started trying more and more sources, the types of offers I can run quickly grew.
For example, consider the accepted promotional methods that affiliate networks attach to all of their offers. I’m sure you’ve run into an offer that you wanted to run before, but couldn’t because it didn’t allow a particular promotional method such as search traffic of any kind, and so you just left it as you only use AdWords search (like I used to).
But if you have other sources under your belt, such as some pop-up ad networks (PPV) or banner display networks, then you’d be fine to run that offer.
Going further, some offers actually don’t allow specific traffic sources (as opposed to promotional methods) such as Facebook, Google, and Bing. If those are the only sources you use, then you are tough out of luck.
Offer restrictions are just one example of how new offers can open up to you by trying new traffic sources. Remember that "Western Europe" situation I mentioned earlier? That’s another (new country traffic).
Don’t limit yourself to a certain range of offers by only using the same traffic sources – try new ones and open up the possibilities of what you can run.
The Little Things
Don’t forget all of the little things that go along with trying new traffic sources.
Below are three examples:
While the vast majority of traffic sources accepts (and prefers) credit cards as the funding source, some traffic sources accept alternative methods of payment such as PayPal, Bank Wire, Moneybookers, and even cold hard cash!
Who knows – maybe you don’t have a credit card for whatever reason and can’t use the majority of traffic sources, or your credit card is maxed out for the month and you need to find an alternative traffic source that will let you deposit through another means.
Or, perhaps you have a lot of cash in your PayPal account but don’t want to withdraw it because of the foreign exchange rate, and would rather use it as a funding source. Whatever the reason, it’s always helpful to have traffic sources that accept other forms of payment.
Reporting, Tracking, and Targeting
Reporting and tracking are always important, especially if you’re not using your own tracking system such as Tracking202.
There are also times when you need pinpoint targeting. If you’ve tried out even a small amount of traffic sources, then you’ll know that PlentyOfFish is excellent when it comes to insanely targeted options.
Better Customer Support
We’re getting slightly off track here, but even customer support is important.
In fact, it’s more important to know when customer support is bad.
There are some small networks that I have not continued to try running on simply because their customer support is horrible. Unless a network is outstanding in certain areas (dirt cheap, for example), if it takes 2 weeks to get a campaign approved or an answer to a support ticket (or no answer at all), it is not worth it to me.
On the flip side, sometimes you will find traffic sources who will bend over backwards to help you. You will even get the traffic source equivalent to an affiliate manager from an affiliate network – someone who will directly help you with your campaigns. Some places will even handle your campaigns for you – optimizing things on their end!
Terms of Service
Here’s another biggie.
Every traffic source has its own rules and policies. Some will allow dating ads while others won’t. Some will allow gambling ads while others won’t. Some won’t allow affiliate-based ads altogether.
Some will allow video or sound to be automatically played on the destination URL while others will not. Some will allow you to capture e-mail leads and personal information while others will not.
You get the idea.
The point is that it is always good to have alternative traffic sources available so that you always have options when it comes to promoting something. You should always be able to run an offer somewhere, and not be restricted from running it simply because you only have access to 3-4 different sources.
Weed the Good from the Bad
Some of you may not like this point, but I do think there is value in finding out if something is good or not.
I have tried my fair share of networks only to discover that they’re complete crap. It may have cost me $10-$200 to find that out (sometimes you can find that out without spending anything), but at least I know that they’re crap and can avoid them in the future.
Then I can try other traffic sources which may be crap, or may be great.
Eventually you’ll find a fantastic new source to add to your main arsenal, and will be glad you searched for it. Just like with trying affiliate offers, finding one good source of traffic will usually more than make up for all the bad ones you’ve tried.
Lastly, trying new traffic sources gives you access to future scaling possibilities.
While it may seem impossible to some of you right now that you’ll ever need multiple traffic sources simply for volume purposes, you may be surprised how one day you’ll need to do exactly this.
At least, this has held true for me.
This isn’t to say that I’ve purchased all the traffic from one network and needed to find another, but rather that I bid as high as I was able to go while still making a profit on one network, and need another traffic source to get more.
So far, the most I have spent on my campaigns in a single day has been around $1,200, but that was only limited due to the fact that the two main traffic sources I was using were already close to the profit balance point to where scaling meant more net profit. If I bid any higher, my ROI would be too low where I would actually be making less by scaling up.
This is where scaling laterally comes into play. By trying new traffic sources, you are opening yourself up to potential new assets on where you can scale your successful campaigns in the future. They may not be the best traffic sources out there, but if you know you can transfer your successful campaigns over there when you do have them, they are still beneficial.
I used to do this with AdWords and Bing. Both are similar traffic sources (paid search ads), and so if I had a winning campaign on AdWords, then I’d transfer it over to Bing and vice versa. Sure, I could simply spend more on AdWords, but my ROI would suffer, whereas scaling laterally to Bing would actually increase my ROI (since it is generally a fair bit cheaper) while also driving in more volume.
Go Start Signing Up Now!
Now that you know that "trying every traffic source" is invaluable, go start applying to multiple traffic sources right now!
There is really an unlimited supply out there, as you can always approach individual sites for direct buys and do out-of-the-box stuff, but at least take a look at the largest and most common traffic sources out there (mainly the "networks").
How many PPV sources have you tried? How many PPC search sources? What about banner display? If the answer is under a dozen, then you have a long way to go.
I know that I still need to try more, a lot more.