5 Mistakes I’ve Learned from in PPC Affiliate Marketing

August 11, 2008 Posted by Tyler Cruz

“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.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: August 11th, 2008 under Affiliate Marketing  

26 Responses to “5 Mistakes I’ve Learned from in PPC Affiliate Marketing”

  1. BlogSavvy says:

    Tyler, Great in depth post! Most of the time you get a 50,000 foot version of what to do and what not to do when it comes to affiliate marketing, but you gave a 500 foot level overview. For those of us who haven’t done much affiliate marketing, it is a great post with tons of thing to read! Keep more like this coming.

  2. Andrei Buiu says:

    Good post Tyler. I like Lesson No. 1 especially and I truly believe that you can accomplish anything if you never give up.

  3. Richard says:

    I actually found that your lesson 2 is 100% correct, the problem is with my project (lpcreations.com) people are slagging them off saying they look basic and unprofessional.

    You hit the nail on the head saying that “As much as I hate it, I’m learning that really basic, ugly, and in-your-face landing pages perform well”.

    You don’t need an over the top landing page that can distract them in 100 ways, a basic to the point landing page wins hands down as you found out 🙂

    Looking forward to your next update.

  4. Cooper says:

    Great post. I am about to dip my toe in the waters of affiliate so I will take this on board.

  5. Great post Tyler the big one for me is bidding to high lol been there done that

  6. paul says:

    Tyler, how do you host your landing pages ? Do you have a specific domain for them ? Or are you directly redirecting people to the landing pages of your affiliates ?


  7. Great insights Tyler.

    How will the lessons learned from the past affect your future dealings with the affiliate marketing world?

  8. Jerry says:

    Awesome post Tyler!

    I like that you are honest and are willing to admit that you are still learning the game. A lot of other “GURUS” will just fake the funk but I appreciate your honesty.

  9. The honesty is why his blog is successful.

    I have learned a lot in AM too, but I’m kinda stuck where to go from here. I am sorta resigned to having to design landing pages, but its so counterintuitive to me how a landing page can be better than direct linking as its an extra click. I am going to try a review landing page I think cause they are easiest to make.

    • Richard says:

      I believe that a landing page is designed to increase your quality score so that you get cheaper bids (making more profit) and to presell the offer to the person.

  10. Those are definitely some good tips Tyler.

  11. The giving up point is a HUGE one. Likely you will fail at first. Don’t give up!

  12. Are there any PPC gurus or ebooks you’d recommend learning from, Tyler? Who’s taught you the most?

  13. Georgia says:

    Mistake #1 is the most danger. Anyway, some people do not want anyone else know their mistakes in the past. But you give us opportunity to learn from your mistake. Thanks!

  14. #3 – I learned the hard way as well.

    #2 – Yeah, it sad, but those websites you go to that you know are selling some eBook or whatever, they are designed that way because that way sells the best. I hate them, but Joe Public LOVES them.

  15. […] Tyler Cruz who has recently inserted himself back into affiliate marketing has noticed ugly landing pages convert better. Now, all of these examples that I mention are towards actual websites rather than blogs. But […]

  16. DigitalWebTalk says:

    Thanks for the lessons tyler! you have proved the saying Try Try until u succeed! Wonderful Tips out there! No wonder why your blog is so successful!

    Thanks a lot!

    Liked the Lesson #1

  17. Dr Altaf says:

    I tried all methods as I could. I read almost 20 hours a day and work very hard. But I never got the actual clue how PPC or even online money is made enormously. If I experiment with adsense, they find me too small to punish while big cats are out their reach. Should I remove AD code so Google will lose more than me. My landing pages are ugly with no good conversion. What to do ? please.

    • If you are getting the traffic you need to work on your landing page, if not then your keywords.

      Try split testing landing pages to increase the appeal and conversion rate. Don’t expect to be able to throw a quick campaign up and retire 🙂

      Keep at it

  18. The point about overestimating the intelligence of the average web surfer could be one to keep in mind as assuming that people are at a certain level can have negative results if the assumption is quite different from the actual values.

  19. […] 5 Mistakes I’ve Learned from in PPC Affiliate Marketing- This guy is famous for the amount of contests that he has on his blog and the success from each and everyone of these contest.  Tyler Cruz is one of Market Leverage’s top level sponsors, running contest almost on a monthly basis. […]

  20. […] 5 Mistakes I’ve Learned from in PPC Affiliate Marketing- This guy is famous for the amount of contests that he has on his blog and the success from each and every one of those contests.  Tyler Cruz is one of Market Leverage’s top-level sponsors, running contest almost on a monthly basis. […]

  21. I’ve had my personal battles with Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. I quit YSM after they continued to charge my card daily when I wasn’t setup to have automatic withdrawls to fund my account. Lost $120 doing that and they refused to refund. Last time I’ll use them.

    Ran into a similar problem with Adwords. I could just never catch on to it or pay enough attention to make it worth something, so I lost money there as well (although Google always has good coupons here and there to get some free advertising, which works when you need some initial traffic to test out a new website).

    Right now, I’m dabbling in 2nd tier PPC networks. Clicks are low – Around $0.05, but I’m still questioning the quality of the traffic. The good news is I’m not out near as much as with Adwords and YSM, so that’s good, and that’s what will give me that extra push to test it out some more.


Leave a Reply