How I Placed 1st and 2nd in Tyler’s Affiliate Marketing Challenge

October 3, 2008 Posted by Paul Piotrowski
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This is a guest post written by Paul Piotrowski over at InspiredMoneyMaker.com and InspiredAffiliate.com who runs two Blogs that focus on teaching people how to make money doing what they love and beginner affiliate marketing techniques.

Note by Tyler: Paul is brand new to PPC affiliate marketing and only had a couple weeks or so experience before entering my affiliate marketing challenge. Even so, he managed to place 2nd in the main category and 1st in the new signup’s category by bringing in over $1,500 in commissions in his first full month.

I asked him to write a guest post explaining how he did this, as often the best way for beginners to learn is by learning from somebody who is closer to their skill level, not by a super affiliate. Enjoy!

Before I dive into this article, I want to go on record and say that I am not a PPC Affiliate Marketing expert or guru.  In fact, it’s pretty much safe to say I’m a complete beginner to this game.   So if you already know how to do Pay-Per Click Affiliate Marketing, you probably won’t find anything new here.

However, if you’re one of the many readers on here still trying to figure out how to make you first $1,000 or even your first $100 in PPC Affiliate Marketing, I’m going to spill the beans. I’ll reveal some of the basics I used to make about $1,500 this month with Affiliate Marketing which was enough to land me in the top 3 spots in the challenge.

There are many different ways to play this game so this is by no means a comprehensive guide.  I can’t tell you all the different ways to do PPC Affiliate Marketing, but what I can share with you is how I did it this month and how I managed to generate about $1,500 in sales this month which was enough to be in the top 3 spots of the competition.

Account Basics

To start, I setup a Google AdWords account which was my primary source of traffic for my campaigns and a Market Leverage account for my affiliate offers since that is the only way to participate in this competition.

Let’s assume you’ve got those two accounts setup.

Picking a Campaign

Once you’ve got your Market Leverage account setup, the first step is to pick an offer that you’re going to promote. This is by no means an easy task. For my criteria, I chose to pick something that already had a pretty decent landing page. What I mean by that is that there are some offers on Market Leverage which you will have to create a landing page for, while other offers already have a pretty decent landing page setup.  I wanted to keep things simple, so I picked offers that already had decent landing pages.

By pretty decent I simply mean that there is some content on the page relating to the product or service they are selling, so that Google doesn’t hit you too hard with a poor quality score if you just have a simple page with no content on it.

This is not the offer I promoted, but here’s an example of an offer like that:

Verseo Hollywood Body Wrap! (In Canada try this link instead)

It’s an offer for a “Verseo Hollywood Body Wrap!”. You’ll notice that there is a bit of text written up on this page talking about this product, what it does, how it does it, the benefits of it etc. There’s enough content here for Google to probably consider this page as pretty decent quality.

I also tried picking offers that have a payout of somewhere above $15/sale.

Remember, I’m not saying this is the best way to pick offers. All I’m saying is that this is how I picked my offer because I wanted to start out with direct linking from Google to my offer to begin with. I didn’t want to create landing pages or mini-sites to start with. I wanted to keep things really simple to begin with.

Picking My Keywords

The next step for me was to sit down and write out a whole bunch of keywords related to the product I was going to promote. The way I did this was to actually turn off my computer, grab my journal, go upstairs and sit on my couch with a pen and my journal and to start thinking.

Let’s use the “Verseo Hollywood Body Wrap!” offer as an example. Firstly, I read the sales page itself to learn about the product. What is it and what does it do? How does it do it? What benefits does it provide? What other competition is there for the same benefits?

I would ask myself these kinds of questions. So in this case we’ve got a “body detox” product that removes toxins from your body and helps to re-tone and tighten loose skin. The product uses something called Natural Sea Clay to literally suck the toxins out of you.

So once I understand the product a bit I would start thinking about the types of customers that would be interested in this product and what kind of things they might search for.

Here are some keywords I might start doing research on just off the top of my head:

- Gentle body detox
- Detoxify body
- Safe body detox
- Smooth skin detox
- Toxins in fat cells
- Fat cell toxins
- Body toxins
- Etc.

Once you have some basic ideas for keywords you’d like to research, you can use the keyword research tool inside Google AdWords to see which keywords get traffic, or you can use a tool like WordTracker. WordTracker has a free trial of their software you can find here: https://www.wordtracker.com/trial/

Writing My Ads

Writing ads is an art form. Don’t expect to become an expert in it overnight. I knew since I was a beginner at this I would suck at it to begin with so here’s what I did. Once I found my keywords, I searched for those keywords on Google and I actually looked for other people who were promoting the exact same product and used their ads for ideas.

Then, what I did is I copied and pasted all the top ads for my keywords into an Excel spreadsheet and then I moved onto the next keyword and repeated the process. What I found is that I started to see repeating ads for multiple keywords. Once I got through like 15-20 ads, I started to see a pattern of how they are promoting that type of product.

Next, I kind of pulled a few ideas from one ad, a few ideas from another ad and created my own as a starting point.  Remember, we’re just talking about getting started here, not being perfect.

Putting it All Together

The biggest mistake you can make in PPC Affiliate Marketing is not starting.  Too many people try to first be perfect at everything before they start anything.  So, instead of trying to be perfect, I just started.  Knowing I wouldn’t be successful from the get-go, I focused on just getting something up there and then tweaking it instead of trying to be perfect.

So I took the offer which had a pretty solid landing page already created by the seller, and I took the list of keywords I came up with, and I created an Ad Group in AdWords.

You could simply start with 1 offer, 10 keywords, and 1 ad. Just to get started.

What would the Display URL be on AdWords?

In this example, it would be http://www.verseo.com because that’s the website that the client ends up when clicking the ad.

What is the Destination URL?

In this case the URL would be “http://leaddevelop.com/a.php?a=CDxxxxxx&b=25202&d=0&l=0&o=&p=0&c=4612&s1=&s2=&s3=&s4=&s5={keyword}“ This is taken directly out of Market Leverage’s offer page and I simply appended the word “{keyword}” at the end of the URL which will allow Google to dynamically insert the keyword that was searched for when the person clicked on the ad. This will allow you to run reports later on to see which of your keywords convert best. Ask your Market Leverage affiliate manager to help you find this link if you can’t find it for the offer you’re promoting.

How much do I bid on my keywords?

It all depends on how competitive the niche is that you’re in and how competitive the keywords are. In my case, I started out bidding between $0.35 – $0.75/click depending on competition.

What do I set my daily budget for?

I set my daily budget to $25/day to start with and I slowly moved it up as I learned more and more about how AdWords works. Keep in mind that I keep an eye on my AdWords account every single day (including weekends), so if you set your account to $25/day and then go on vacation for 3 weeks, don’t be surprised if you get a bill from Google for $500.  Pay attention to your account while you do this.  Google AdWords doesn’t offer any refund for neglecting to turn off a campaign or for setting it up wrong.  If the clicks happened, you will pay for them.

What else do I need to know?

Make sure you check where the campaign is limited to geographically. For example, the detox campaign is only for US clients, so in your AdWords campaign, make sure you set it up to only display ads in the US otherwise you’ll be sending traffic from other countries and wasting your money.

What else do I need to know?

In “Edit Campaign Settings” in AdWords I used the following settings:

Delivery Method: Accelerated
Show my ads on: Google Search (Everything else I turned off for now)
Ad Serving: Rotate: Show ads more evenly.
Languages: English
Currently Targeting: United States

Now What Happens?

Well, once you setup your AdWords Campaign, create an Ad Group, add keywords and write an ad which points to the offer link provided by Market Leverage, and launch the whole thing, the next step is to wait and monitor your results.

I kept an eye on my campaigns several times a day. The first exciting step is getting your first few clicks from AdWords showing up. If you’re getting ad impressions and you’re getting some clicks, this means your ad doesn’t suck so bad. It means someone actually clicked on it. This is good news. Keep in mind this may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to happen, all depending on how popular the keywords you picked and how many impressions they get.  Also keep in mind that AdWords doesn’t update their stats in real time.  Sometimes it takes hours before things start showing up in there.

Once you get some clicks, run over to your Market Leverage account and go to “Your Stats” and run some reports. Play with the reports in there so that you know how to run a report showing you the clicks from Google.

If you have Google showing 5 clicks going out, and Market Leverage shows 5 clicks coming in, you’re in good shape. That means that the people are getting from Google, to the Market Leverage offer page. Next it’s just a matter of waiting for that landing page to convert.

If you’re impatient, you can ask your account rep for some general stats on the conversion rates for that offer. Keep in mind that anything they tell you is just a guideline. Your rates might be totally different from the averages they report. But lets say they tell you that the offer converts at 2% and you’ve only had 3 clicks to the offer with 0 conversion, don’t freak out. You technically need at least 50 clicks to get your first conversion (on average).

It may even take you 100 or 150 clicks before you see your first conversion, all just depending on the conversion rate. Generally speaking though, if you’ve got a campaign that generally converts at 2% you should be getting 2 sales for every 100 clicks you send there so monitor your numbers.

What Next?

Well, there is a tonne of stuff to learn here and there is no way I can explain everything in one single post, but I just wanted to cover the very basics of what I did to sell about $1,500 this month and put myself in the top 3 in the competition.

Once you get to this point, you’ve still got a long way to go, but you’ll actually be way ahead of 99% of the other people out there that always talk about affiliate marketing and badmouth everyone else for not knowing what they’re doing, while they themselves haven’t even had the balls to setup an AdWords account, let alone launch an actual PPC campaign.

I know this isn’t a super detailed guide that will answer all your questions, and I haven’t even gone into advanced keywords tracking or split testing your ads etc. but I hope it lays out some of the groundwork for people to participate in the competitions. If you want more Affiliate Marketing content from a beginners point of view, and not someone who’s already making a gazillion per month, stop by my Blog over at InspiredAffiliate.com.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: October 3rd, 2008 under Guest Posts  

42 Responses to “How I Placed 1st and 2nd in Tyler’s Affiliate Marketing Challenge”

  1. shafi says:

    Hi,

    So you need to 35$ for 100clicks, and you only get 2 sales. Each sale is 15$. 2×15 = 30$. So that means 5$ lost. How do you improve this?

    -shafi

  2. No, the numbers in the post are just examples. I didn’t pay $0.35/click and I didn’t promote an item with a $15 payout, but if I did you are right it would be a losing campaign.

    To answer your question though, there are many ways to improve a campaign once you have some stats. For example you could work on improving your ad in AdWords. If you write an ad that more people are clicking on, your click thru rate will increase (CTR) which means that eventually Google will lower your bid amount on that keyword.

    So, using the numbers in the example, all of a sudden you may be able to lower your keyword cost from $0.35 down to $0.32 per click.

    Now that might not be enough to make it profitable either. So, maybe you work on changing your Ad Copy to increase your conversion rate.

    What does this mean? Well, lets say your ad currently says:

    “Gentle Body Detox”
    “Flush the Toxins Out”
    “Guaranteed.”

    You might change it to say:

    “Gentle Body Detox”
    “Flush the Toxins Out”
    “Only $15″

    Now what happens is that LESS people will click on the ad (probably), which is actually bad for your CTR, so Google jacks up your cost to $0.37/click, BUT because the price is listed in the Ad, only serious people who are willing to spend $15 actually click on the Ad, so instead of making 2 sales out of 100, you are now making 5 sales out of 100.

    The point is this… there are a lot of different little things you can tweak once you have some base stats to work with. The important thing is to just get started and have something up there. You can’t tweak things in your mind… you have to tweak them on a live campaign.

  3. Hi,very informative post but i don’t understand something..

    1) Do google allow in destination URL to put direct landing page ? of the offer you promote i quote your post.
    “What would the Display URL be on AdWords?

    In this example, it would be http://www.verseo.com because that’s the website that the client ends up when clicking the ad.

    What is the Destination URL?

    In this case the URL would be “http://leaddevelop.com/a.php?a=CDxxxxxx&b=25202&d=0&l=0&o=&p=0&c=4612&s1=&s2=&s3=&s4=&s5={keyword}“”

    2)do you put http://www.verseo.com in your Display url? and destination url http://leaddevelop.com/a.php?a=CD…….?

    3) or you put http://www.yoursite.com and then destination url of your lead code?

    didnt understood this. :)

    Thanks

    • The destination URL and display URL end up pointing to the same place. Meaning, the destination URL is just a Market Leverage tracking URL which re-directs the person to the same domain as the display URL which I believe to be within the guidelines of Google.

      Meaning, as long as the person ends up on the same domain as the Display URL after clicking on the Ad I don’t think Google cares.

      However, I am not an AdWords guru so if Google ends up slapping you for doing that, don’t blame me. All I know is that I’ve always done this and it works fine.

  4. Dan says:

    Very interesting post and to the point
    Thanks Paul and Tyler

  5. Mike Huang says:

    Dang, you guys are all pro when it comes to making money online :( I sure hope one day I would do the same!

    -Mike

  6. Andrei Buiu says:

    This was a very “straight in your face” post, very useful information. You should think about writing a book!

  7. Thanks, however writing a book would be fairly inefficient for Affiliate Marketing. By they time it got published it would be obsolete.

    The only real way to offer information that’s up to the minute in Affiliate Marketing is via a live updated system like a Blog or Forum, which is why I started InspiredAffiliate.com.

    The best way to learn though is to try your own stuff while learning from others and constantly testing and tweaking.

    Paul

  8. split testing. Write two different ad copys, test, take the one with the higher ctr, write another, and repeat.

  9. Muneeb says:

    This is one of the very interesting and the best post i’ve read, i’m already subscribed with Paul Piotrowski and its worth reading your blog bro. Thnks

    let me ask you a question : What was your netprofit at the end of the competition ? out of $1500 you made in sales..

    • Actually I ended the month with a net loss, not a profit. However, this was done on purpose. Meaning, if I wanted to make it a profitable month I could have by pausing non-performing campaigns and just focusing on profitable keywords.

      However, as I’m still very much in the beginning learning stages there are a lot of things that I have to test and testing costs money in the short term.

      For example, in the last few days of the month I launched a new keyword bidding strategy test that cost me about $500 in testing. This was done on purpose and now I’m going through the data to determine what I can learn from it.

      My primary goal right now is not to try to be profitable, but rather to grow my revenues and to learn as much as I can in the shortest period of time… that means I have to take risks like losing money in the short term.

  10. This is some GREAT advice!
    Its so aspiring to see a newbie having so much success.

    Thanks for this post.

  11. Clog Money says:

    Very interesting post. I’m surprised you carried the campaign on at a net loss. Especially due to the amount of money you then must have spent to get the commission you made. You must have a larger wallet than I ;) Can I ask what type of offer you were promoting, was it a pay per lead or a pay per sale item?

    • I was promoting a few offers, not just one using the method above. I think the majority of the money I made were from Pay Per Sale offers, and I think Pay Per Sale offers typically have better sales pages for direct linking.

      I’m not saying direct linking is the best way to go, in fact a lot of “guru’s” advocate at least making a mini-site or even bigger, but a lot of “guru’s” are already making enough money to be able to spend 4 months working on a campaign before launching it live.

      I was looking for the quick and dirty approach so that I could start generating SOME revenue right off the bat.

  12. EntreBlast says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I’m definitely a beginner at this so I found this post extremely helpful in starting my first campaign. Thanks a lot for this!

    • Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I didn’t know how well it would be received, but I figured if I share what I did, it would provide value for beginners.

      I have found it super hard and frustrating to find ANYTHING out there for beginners. A lot of the strategies taught on the “guru” blogs are light years ahead of where people begin.

      I’m just beginning so I figured I’d share.

      Just keep in mind I’m just learning so don’t take what I did as gospel. Test your own stuff and make your own discoveries, but at least you get started with what I did.

  13. Web Freak says:

    You win always, you rule!!!

  14. Jay says:

    Paul – You officially got yourself a new subscriber! This was a great post and you’re right, most people wouldn’t go into such details as you did.

    Though, it does suck that you ended up with a net loss rather than a gain.

    If you had switched your non-performing campaigns off, how much net profit would you have ended up with?

    Jay

    • If I didn’t have some heavy testing near the end of my month, and if I paused non-profitable campaigns and keywords as soon as I found them to be non-profitable, I probably would have made about $250-$500 in net profit.

      Some of the people I’m reading say that one should launch anywhere from 5-8 campaigns a month when first starting out to find the good ones.

      So for example if you launch campaign #1 and it takes you 2 weeks to make it profitable, a few days later you have to be launching campaign #2 and then a few days later #3 etc. etc.

      So now a few weeks later you might campaigns #1 and #2 profitable, but now #4,#5,#6 were just launched, haven’t had enough time to gather enough data to make tweaks to make them profitable and then the month ends.

      Do you see how it works?

      Now, you COULD launch #1, make it profitable and then do nothing until the end of the month so that you see yourself in the GREEN overall, and celebrate being in the green with a whopping $56.72, WOO HOO, but then you realize BIG DEAL!

      See, what most people don’t calculate into the equation when doing AM is their own salaries. Lets say you make $3,000/m at your job and you want to do this full time. In my spreadsheets then I would put a $100 COST for each day for (Salary) for myself, so even if you have a campaign that made a profit of $56.72 at the end of the month, you still had a cost of $3,000 so in my books that’s a loss.

      However, if you can get your revenues to lets say $30,000/month and all you’re doing is BREAKING EVEN at that…meaning NO loss/NO profit… now all you gotta do next month is tweak that by 10% and you’ll now make $3,000 in profit and now you’ve covered your salary.

      That’s why I’m focusing on REVENUE and not profit so much.

      I can easily launch a campaign, make $1.50 in profit, then turn everything off and parade around saying I’m a profitable affiliate marketer. BUT…big deal… what the hell do you do with $1.50?

      :)

      • Melvin says:

        Damn I like your point here… Before I was like always almost over $10 on expenses on PPC and I was like very happy for that.. Now I have realized these things and stop being bullcrap!

      • Jay says:

        Yeah, it’s basically like gambling. For instance, I bet Tyler in poker all the time (if we ever played lol) and if I lose some, I also win some but I never just settle for that because there is a point in gambling.

        But don’t worry man, you got me convinced to revisit AM… of course, I’m in the middle of a few online projects so hopefully I don’t forget.

        Jay

  15. This is the best post i ever read on this blog.
    and its not from Tyler Cruz.

    Good job done Paul

  16. Danny Cooper says:

    I think creating your own landing pages can increase conversions substantially, but I suppose that is beyond the scope of this post.

    • Yup, landing pages can get you a better quality score from Google if done right.

      However, they *can* also lower your conversion rates if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially for offers that already have a pretty good landing page.

      For example, I had an offer that was converting at about 1% with a direct link. Then, I put up a landing page in between, and because it was my first attempt at a LP, only about 10-15% of the people clicked through to the sales page.

      Now all of a sudden, instead of making 1 sale out of 100, I would have to send 1,000 clicks to it to make 1 sale. Not good. :(

      I’ve been reading also that Google is cracking down on landing pages, and the “guru’s” are saying that one needs to create whole sites now.

      Of course, everything you read out there is only half-truth. I was told not to do direct linking as it wouldn’t generate any sales. Yet it did for me, so I only half listen to “guru’s”. They are right within the context of their business plans which is to make $10,000,000 this year, and I’m just trying to make $1,500 in sales, so those are two totally different paths for now.

  17. So let me ask a follow up question.

    What else would you guys like to know?

    What’s still stopping you?

  18. Melvin says:

    Paul, I’ve been in affiliate marketing for about 8 months now but still my main problem is that I have to pay adwords bill first before I can get my cheques. I live in asia (philippines) specifically. So since Im not a super affiliate Im never eligible for wire transfers so I always have to dig deep into my pockets which is a bad thing because Im just a college student…

  19. melvin I have the same issue! It is too big a risk for me and I can’t afford to loose $500 to google if I don’t make any sales

    • Melvin says:

      actually luckily for me I have some $500 on my paypal and some $100 on my credit card so I can take the risk.. But sometimes, I feel uneasy because you always need to pay first which makes me think I lost money even I gained a profit

  20. paul, great post and very informative. as shafi mentioned, u will probably loose money before u actually become profitable thru tweaking ur ad copy, and i think this is wat’s stopping most beginners from even starting. i’ve subscribed to ur feed, look forward to learning more, thank!

  21. Problogineer says:

    great guide..
    should the display url = landing page url ?

    you said you used landing page for the campaign.

  22. [...] Paul really knows his stuff. A great place for beginner affiliate marketers. I first heard about Paul, on Tyler blog. [...]

  23. I trust CPA affiliate marketing most.

  24. Congratz Paul on the success, I think you’re on the right track and have the right mindset to make it work :P I’ll hold off having a nother competition with you until I pull my finger out and get working on it again :D

  25. There sure is a lengthy process that was in place in order to get the result that was obtained here. The right keywords tend to be one of the main aspects of the procedure, and that was evident here.

  26. Melvin says:

    This is a great post. I cannot believe it took me this long to find it. I launched my first PPC campaign earlier this week with Facebook and I am already waiting to jump onto the search networks.

    My goal is also the same as Paul’s, which is to break even but generate high revenue. I have allocated the first month to experimentation and refinement. They key to a successful PPC campaign is keywords, keywords, keywords. Everything Paul posted here anybody can imitate. But nobody can come up with the same keywords that Paul can.

  27. nonameman says:

    like this, thx

  28. gurtey says:

    great sucess paul..and i am also eagerly waiting to start my own PPC campign to cash on…

PeerFly

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