CHAPTER 4: GENERATING TRAFFIC
Without an audience, the rest of this book (and your online business) is worthless. This is one of the biggest problems I ever struggled with when I was getting started. And it took me years to work it out. ‘The money’s in the list’, but you’ve got no list if nobody’s on it.
In this chapter you’re going to learn:
- Why too many affiliates are wasting their time chasing ‘free’ traffic (and find out how much it might really be costing you).
- Why it’s essential to pay for traffic if you want to build an audience quickly.
- Why social media ads, native advertising and search engine PPC are the three best paid traffic sources to start learning.
- How to dominate Facebook advertising by using pixels and custom audiences effectively.
- Why creating entire Facebook ad campaigns around different audiences is the key to the best CPCs and conversion rates.
- The reason native ads are so effective and the reason I love them so much (as well as reason native advertising is trickier than other forms of self-serve advertising).
- The complete anatomy of an effective advertorial.
- How learning to nail search engine PPC is a game changer (but not the easiest beast to tame).
- The essential difference between search traffic and social media traffic that very few people understand.
- How to easily use solo ads to generate traffic for MMO niches.
- Everything you need to know to confidently start a solo ad campaign, even if you’ve never done it before.
- Three strategies for building up a ‘war chest’ before you start paying for traffic.
Without traffic you won’t have an audience. Without an audience, the rest of this book (and your online business) is worthless.
If you want to build an audience quickly, you’ll need to pay for traffic. This is one of the biggest problems I ever struggled with when I was getting started. And it took me years to work it out. I mean, they say ‘the money’s in the list’, but seriously, you’ve got no list if you’ve got no traffic to your squeeze page.
This chapter is designed to start teaching you how to confidently generate paid traffic. But let me just assume that you’re like a lot of people who baulk at the idea of paying for it and constantly spend your time chasing ‘free’ traffic sources instead.
It all comes down to the question of what your time is worth.
What’s your time worth?
You might be surprised to find out how much it’s really costing you to chase ‘free’ traffic.
On the surface, the cost is your time, but your time is actually something you can value in dollar terms. This is something known as ‘opportunity cost’.
To make affiliate marketing worthwhile, you need a lot of traffic. I’m talking 10,000 uniques per month minimum, but really, I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t hitting 100,000 visitors per month if I wanted a 10K30 business.
If you’re SUPREMELY patient, persistent and determined, you might be able to work on an authority site and get that kind of traffic organically in 12 months. Maybe.
But I really don’t know many people who could say that’s within them.
I’ve written a post on LeadsMonger to illustrate some assumptions you might be able to ask yourself to get an idea of the cost of ‘free’ traffic:
This post goes into the assumptions in detail so I recommend you go an read it.
Here’s the assumptions and conclusions I’ve made in that post:
Assumption 1: You can spend 20 hours a week working on your online business.
Assumption 2: You can earn $20/hr if you sold your time.
This means you can earn $400/week if you had another j.o.b.
Assumption 3: Your EPC is $0.50/click for targeted traffic.
This means you need 800 clicks to earn $400.
Assumption 4: Your CTR is 50%.
Assumption 5: Your open rate is 50%.
This means you can earn $400 if you send 3,200 emails.
Assumption 6: Your confirmation rate is 85%.
Assumption 7: Your opt-in rate is 20%.
This means you can earn $400 if you get 18,825 visitors to your squeeze page.
Assumption 8: It takes you 50 hours and $50 to start from scratch.
Assumption 9: It takes 30 seconds of your time to generate one visit to your lander .
This means you can make $400 if you work for 10 weeks generating free traffic.
Conclusion: It costs you $4,000 to make $400.
The post on LeadsMonger explains these assumptions and conclusions in more detail. The gist of the illustration is that because you took 10 weeks to make $400, you’ve sacrificed the opportunity to work another 200 hours at $20/hr. That means you could have earned $4000 in the same time with another job. Instead, you earned $400.
So it really cost you $4000 to make $400.
Even if you’re not an MBA I’m sure you understand that spending $4000 to make $400 is a very bad investment.
The truth is that the assumptions I’ve made above are overly simplistic, particularly when it comes to email marketing (the assumptions are also all based on winning campaigns – which isn’t going to happen)
So I’ve made one final assumption to skip the complexity of building an algorithm that could predict the ups and downs and the compounding impact of daily emails and all the rest.
Assumption 10: It costs you $4000 to make $4000.
What this means is that after 10 weeks busting a gut on generating free traffic you’ve earned $4000 and broken even (when you consider your opportunity cost). From here on out, as long as you make more than $400 per week working on your online business you’re earning more online than you could in a j.o.b.
Which means you’ve set yourself free from the Man. WINNING!
But what if you could have arrived at this same position in days instead of weeks?
That’s what paying for traffic is all about.
Sometimes paid traffic costs more or less than the opportunity cost of your time, but it always saves you time!
You just have to realize that real money and lost opportunity money are the same, so if you’re willing to spend at least as much ‘real’ money as ‘opportunity cost’ money on generating traffic you’re always going to be on top because you’re ahead time wise.
Of course, you’ve got to have some cold hard cash lying around to spend on paid traffic, and if you don’t I’ll help you get solve this problem at the end of the chapter.
Is it really possible?
I understand if you’re skeptical or nervous or even outright afraid. I used to be. It took me years to get my head around the real cost of ‘free’ traffic generation and then it took me longer still to get confident about managing the risk of spending real money on traffic.
But it works and is the best way to build a successful online business in a short period of time (and the only way to do it in a long period of time either unless you build up a very high traffic authority website).
Think back to the example I used in my assumption – that you could earn an extra $400/week. To earn that you’d need almost 20,000 visitors per week. That’s a lot of traffic and definitely not something you can do for ‘free’ without search engine traffic.
Besides, $400/week is chump change.
It’s pocket money, not life changing quit-your-day-job money.
Using the same assumptions we used above, if you want to earn $10,000 per month then you could need 100,000s of visitors per month.
This isn’t possible if you’re exclusively chasing ‘free’ traffic. Not in anything less than months and months of hard slog.
There are so many paid traffic sources you can tap into it’s mind blowing and way beyond the scope of this book to cover them all. I’m going to recommend you start investigating just three sources for now – self-serve social media advertising (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest ads), native advertising and PPC.
I’ve also included some information about one of my favorite sources of paid traffic for internet marketing related niches: solo ads (these are awesome for IM niches, but pretty average for others I’m afraid).
In order of difficulty I’d rank these methods:
- Beginner = social media advertising and solo ads
- Intermediate = native advertising
- Advanced = search engine PPC
Let’s get started.
Social media advertising 101
Self-serve social media advertising is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – you go to a social media site (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc) and you open an advertising account. Then you create your own ads, campaigns and budgets.
About the only thing that you don’t control in the process is the manual approval process for your ads. This means that someone from the site checks your ads to make sure they meet the site’s terms (e.g. no nudity, text, violence etc). Everything else is fully within your own control.
I love this type of advertising because the big socials gather a LOT of data about their members and this enables you to target your ads very carefully.
I mean, if you want to build a list of hot rod aficionados and you know that your ideal subscriber is a 44 year old divorced man living in Alabama who earns over $70K a year as a mechanic, you can target these guys specifically with social advertising.
As I said earlier, I’ve just started an experiment to learn the ins and outs of Pinterest ads (AKA Promoted Pins) because I think this is a site where there’s a lot of potential to promote physical products as an affiliate. I don’t have any results to share yet and I’m still getting the hang of it so I don’t want to go into any kind of detail yet.
I’ve experimented a little bit with paid traffic from StumbleUpon and this wasn’t too bad, but I kind of got caught up in other things and never really pushed it very far.
Where I’ve spent a lot of money and seen results is Facebook.
I’m 100% certain you’ve seen Facebook ads before:
Facebooks ads have been great for me, but I’ve also had some issues with FB, not least of which is getting my ads account cancelled for some kind of Terms of Service violation I still don’t really understand (apparently someone complained my ad was click bait). This is actually what pushed me to start looking at native advertising and I’ve never really gone back from there.
On Facebook, you get a massive list of options to target your ideal audience.
You can also set up a conversion pixel on your landing page and thank you page, or your website pages if you’ve got a website.
You can also use a retargeting pixel, and this is where the magic really happens. Retargeting simply means you can advertise only to people who have already visited your landing page or website. By retargeting these visitors with Facebook ads you have an opportunity to make a ‘second first impression’. This is insanely powerful.
The amazing thing about taking advantage of a conversion pixels and retargeting pixels with Facebook ads, is that this gives you the ability to choose your audience based on people who have actually interacted with you online. You can use the data from these pixels to create custom audiences that really respond to your campaigns and result in lower costs and higher conversions.
You can even create look-a-like audiences – custom audiences of people who have not interacted with your online content, produced by Facebook’s algorithm as ‘clones’ of the people who have visited your site.
The key to Facebook advertising (and any form of paid advertising, really) is to be able to target your ideal audience with laser focus. I mean, if you could magically only target people who would click on your ads and become leads, you’d gladly pay for traffic all day long.
There are two ways to play with targeting with Facebook and other paid ads:
- Start as wide as possible and gradually eliminate losing placements/demographics
- Start as narrow as possible and gradually expand.
There are pros and cons to both.
The advantage of a scatter gun or run-of-network approach to getting started is that you generate high volumes lightning fast. Volume means data and data means analysis. If you have good tracking software this might be the way to go because you can quickly find out what’s working and what’s not. But it’s going to be expensive. This is the downside – essentially, in the beginning you’re simply paying for data. So don’t try this if you’re on a tight budget.
The benefit of starting small is that you don’t blow $100s or $1000s in the space of days or even hours. If you have a limited budget to start out with paid advertising target a very small audience of people you’re confident are going to respond. Then, when you’ve found some demographics that are responding to your ads, expand slowly from there. Of course, the disadvantage of this method is that it’s going to take you a while to build your volume and get the kind of data that can really help you analyse what’s going on and make decisions.
Using a conversion pixel, you can also track your cost-per-sale (CPS) or cost-per-lead (CPL). If you’re an affiliate and the program or network doesn’t give you the option to place a conversion pixel on the offer’s sale confirmation page, then CPL is probably going to be your most important metric to track. This is especially true if you know what a lead is worth in your funnel (and this is something you should definitely try to work out over time).
When your cost to generate a lead is less than the value of that lead, then scale up with everything you’ve got because you’ve found a gold mine.
At the end of the day, all paid advertising involves experimentation and testing. Social media advertising is no exception. When you run your first ads, you just don’t know how they’re going to go. Then you look at what you’ve done and split test some different options and look at how that changed the results. Then test some more and some more and even more. In the beginning you’ll almost always lose a bit of money as you pull that first set of data, but after that you’ll be able to refine until you’re breaking even and then before you know it, you’re in profit. So prepare from the start to try different angles, pictures, text and calls to action – basically anything that you think might give you a chance to experiment – until you find the winning formula.
Pro tip: if you really want to take your social media advertising (and all paid advertising) to the next level, you’ll want to create entire campaigns around different audiences. I’m talking tailoring your ads, landing pages and emails all to a specific audience. This is hard work because you have to duplicate and the tweak your campaigns to suit the nuances of different groups, but it’s the ultimate way to generate traffic with the lowest cost-per-click and the highest conversion rate. Facebook rewards your effort for this hard work with a better ‘Relevancy Score’, which is one key way to lower your CPC.
There are lots of really good free and paid resources to learn about social media advertising, especially Facebook ads. If you’re new to Facebook ads, I highly recommend the free training you can take on LeadPages.
Facebook even has some pretty good free resources of its own to help you get started.
Here are some more great free resources to help you understand social media advertising (the last two are quickly becoming go-to references for me as I work on my Pinterest experiment):
- 7-Step Social Media Advertising Strategy to Better Performing Ads (SproutSocial.com)
- Social Media Advertising: The Complete Guide (HootSuite.com)
- 10 Best Social Media Advertising Tips for Content Marketers (WordStream.com)
- Pinterest Ads: A Simple Guide to Set You Up For Success (HootSuite.com)
- 3 Reasons You Need to Try Pinterest Ads (WordStream.com)
Native advertising 101
Warning: Don’t jump straight into native advertising until you’ve got some experience with paid ads. Native advertising is hands down my favourite traffic source these days – the options are endless and the volumes are HUGE, but it took a big investment of time and money to get the hang of it initially.
What is native advertising?
‘Native advertising’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘advertorial content’, but I like to see them as two sides of the same coin for my campaigns.
I mean, any kind of sponsored content is technically native advertising.
It’s how BuzzFeed makes most of its money these days:
Everyone’s seen native ads. You can’t avoid them if you’re on the net. But the sponsored post type advertising isn’t the kind of native advertising you can just jump into. If you want to run a sponsored post like this on BuzzFeed you’ll need to contact their sales team and negotiate a campaign with a MASSIVE budget.
The kind of native advertising I’m using is a self-serve version where you can get your ad displayed in the ‘related post’ list at the end of a post and just pay per click.
These kind of self-serve ads are much easier to set up and much cheaper to run than full-blown sponsored posts on big properties.
The reason native ads are so effective and the reason I love them so much is because they look like content, not ads. I mean, if you’re advertising on Facebook then someone who clicks your ad knows they’ve clicked on an ad and so they’re expecting you to sell something to them. This type of advertising works, but for a lot of people who click an ad, they’re arriving on your lander primed for some kind of pitch.
People who click on native ads are not really thinking ‘I just clicked an ad’. They’re surfing and looking forward to checking out your content, so there’s already a big psychological difference in the mindset they’re bringing over to your lander.
Native ads have a pretty low cost per click (CPC), a high click-thru-rate (CTR) and high conversion rate. Part of the reason for this is because your ads can appear on highly trustworthy websites like Forbes, CNN, ESPN, BuzzFeed and other trusted top publishers. Therefore, people assume the content they are consuming (i.e. your landing page) can be trusted, because they trust the site where your ad appeared.
You can target people pretty well with native, though not with the kind of laser-like precision you can target with social. Also, your ads generally get approved without much drama (less than Facebook and LinkedIn, these days, that’s for sure).
The only thing that makes native advertising an advanced method is that you generally can’t link straight to an offer or a squeeze page – you have to link to some kind of content.
This is why native advertising is trickier than other forms of self-serve advertising. There’s an additional step you need to add to your lead capture process – write an advertorial.
Anatomy of an advertorial
An advertorial is simply an advertisement designed to look like an editorial post – that is, it’s an ad that looks like a legitimate news story, blog post or press release. The differences are usually pretty subtle and disclaimers are often used to differentiate from legitimate content.
An advertorial usually just refers to one particular piece of content – an article or story. If you were writing a blog, then you’d refer to it as a blog post, but an advertorial is a bit different.
‘Advertorial content’ refers to a whole section or whole publication designed to look like editorial content. You might see this as a special insert in your newspaper, but the best example I can think of is an in-flight magazine. While this may look like a travel magazine, you can bet that every article is only related to destinations the airline travels to and they’re often linked to special travel promotions for the particular month in which it’s published.
Ad advertorial is the page someone lands on when they click your native ad.
The example I’ve used above is really just a long squeeze page, but some native ad networks frown on this and you’ll have to disguise your advertorial a bit more than this – like a short blog post that has a bunch of links to the squeeze page.
Good advertorial content is about 70% editorial and 30% advertisement. Getting ad copy from the offer we’ve chosen is easy – you can just grab the punchiest headlines and bullet points and you’re about done. Getting the editorial content is something you’ll have to work out on your own.
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this awesome post from CopyBlogger:
Native advertising networks
There are a bunch of self-serve native advertising networks, including:
Within the population of native advertising networks, there are some big players, particularly Outbrain and Taboola, which are harder to get started with, particularly if you don’t have a good size deposit and quality web presence. But there are plenty of newbie friendly networks with low CPCs, low deposits and a low threshold on what you can link to.
The first network I joined was MGID and I’ve really had a good experience there, right from Day 1 (when I first started I made a deposit and had some kind of problem with my credit card, but they assigned an account manager to me straight away and he helped me resolve the issue quickly and then talked me through setting up my first campaign).
Native advertising is a bit of a beast to learn if you haven’t already got a firm foundation in paid advertising. My suggestion is that you start on Facebook or some other form of social media platform. Native is really an extension of this. Therefore, I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of native in any more detail, but if you want to get started or learn more about the details, this is the post by Charles Ngo that got me started on my journey:
Search engine PPC traffic 101
I was going to leave search engine PPC (SEM) alone because it’s an advanced method with the potential to cost you a lot of money and cause you a lot of frustration if you don’t do it right (my AdWords account was suspended years ago for promoting some dodgy product I should have known would get me banned, but I still use Bing ads). On the other hand, if you can nail it, you’ve got a LOT of targeted traffic at your disposal.
And don’t think that search engine PPC like Adwords is simply limited to the ads at the top of the search results. Those are probably the bread and butter, but not everything by a long shot.
Adwords is seriously branching out these days, appearing in all kinds of places in the Google content network and also experimenting with native ad formats.
Search engine traffic targeting is different to the type of traffic targeting available to you from social and native traffic. With social and native you can target your ideal audience down to a deep level of detail. This isn’t an option with SEM, but what you can do with SEM that you can’t with social and native traffic is target someone’s intention.
This is one of the major benefits of targeting search traffic (whether it’s organic or paid) and I seriously doubt a lot of people appreciate this.
Search traffic has ‘intention’, but what does that mean?
Well, let’s compare Google traffic to Facebook traffic.
There’s no doubt there’s a lot of traffic to syphon from Facebook, but social media ads are a ‘disruptive’ advertising method. This means if someone clicks out to your site from FB because they clicked on your mountain bike ad, you’re disrupting their intention (which is to keep scrolling through their newsfeed pointlessly).
Compare that with someone who comes to your site from Google after searching for ‘best mountain bike to buy in 2018’.
Q: What’s their intention?
A: To find out about the best mountain bike to buy in 2018.
Maybe they’re researching current types of mountain bikes. Maybe they’re just curious about the topic. But it’s more than likely they have a couple thousand dollars in their bank account and they’re looking to buy something super cool.
Search engine traffic is traffic with intention; whereas social and native traffic is usually someone distracted from their intention (i.e. before visiting your site someone was on FB to check out what some friend ate for lunch and happened to stumble onto your content almost by accident).
You can market to social and native traffic and influence them to buy (particularly if your targeting is right and especially if you retarget them), but it’s a lot harder, it’s slower and more haphazard.
With SEM traffic you can attract a lot of search engine traffic to capitalize on the market’s intention because they’re actively searching for something. They want something. And you can give them exactly what they want, when they want it.
Now this is all I’m going to say about SEM for now because it can be an incredibly complex game of cat-and-mouse with other bidders, quality scores and keywords. But if you want to start learning more, I highly recommend Wordstream’s free PPC training.
Bonus: Solo ads 101
A solo ad is an email that someone else sends to their list to advertise whatever you want to advertise. Normally you’ll purchase a solo ad to advertise your squeeze page – that is, you want to get a lead on someone else’s list to also join your list. You usually pay so much money for so many clicks on the link you put in your solo ad (e.g. you might buy 100 clicks for $100).
Solo ads seem to have gone out of vogue in the last five years, but I love them. I mean, sure – there are some crappy lists out there and you can get duped into buying worthless leads sometimes, but if you’re willing to pay a premium for leads from the best and most reputable solo ad sellers then you’ve got nothing to worry about and everything to gain (and if you’ve got a good SLO then you’ll usually break even on the advertising cost anyway).
The reason solo ads are so good for email marketers is because the type of subscribers you want are the ones that will open your emails, click the links in your emails and then respond to the offers they see. This is EXACTLY what solo ads deliver – I mean, this is exactly what someone did to get from someone else’s list onto yours.
The only thing you might find difficult with solo ads is finding a lot of volume and quality leads if you’re not in some kind of ‘make money online’ niche like internet marketing, or something similar like MLM or Bitcoin.
Note: If you want to experiment with the MMO niche you don’t need to have made enough money to be able to afford a Lamborghini before you can get started; you just need to be able to solve someone’s problem and create an effective marketing campaign. If you’d like to promote 10K30 as an affiliate I’ve included a chapter at the end of this book with everything you need to know.
A successful solo ad campaign consists of 7 matching elements:
- the subject line
- the email swipe
- the link
- the landing page
- the thank you page
- the email series
- the offers.
By ‘matching elements’ what I mean is that at every stage of the process someone is being led down a path that never deviates from the original promise. You don’t know what the lead was promised when they joined the solo ad seller’s list, but the rest is entirely up to you.
In short, when someone on the solo seller’s list sees a new email in their inbox they’ll be presented with a subject line > then they’ll read the email > then they’ll see the link > then they’ll visit your lander > then your thank you page > then your own email series > then your offers.
If you made a promise in the subject, then expanded on that promise in the email and the link, then you need to deliver on that promise on the lander, thank you and series of offers. Do this (and combine it with an awesome engaging email series) and you’ll convert leads into customers.
Pro tip: There are two huge secrets to success with solo ads (and virtually every other form of paid advertising). The first is the consistent journey as outlined above (this is the key to increasing your conversion rate), but the second is just as important – excluding non-qualified leads quickly (this is the key to reducing your cost per lead). Remember you’re paying for the number of clicks, not the number of emails that are sent with your ad. From the very beginning – your subject line, your swipe and your link – you want to warn off people you don’t want on your list. Make it obvious who you don’t want to open the emails and who you don’t want to click and you’ll only have to pay for the leads you really want on your list.
Let’s break a solo ad into a bit more detail.
The subject line
When someone opens their email inbox the first thing they see are the sender names and subject lines. Depending on how someone has their inbox set up, they might see a preview of the email itself, but your first chance to grab someone’s attention is the subject line you choose for your solo ad.
This is the first chance you get to attract the right people and repel the wrong ones. Therefore wherever possible you should try and craft your subject line carefully so it only appeals to your ideal lead.
Questions can be great ways to qualify your leads quickly:
Are you struggling with affiliate marketing? Do you know why you fail?
This immediately says that this email is for people who are already trying out affiliate marketing. It’s also for people who are struggling or failing. This should exclude people interested in FBA and could exclude affiliate marketers who are already succeeding.
A call to action can also work well if you don’t think a question is the way to go:
Struggling affiliate marketers, find out why you’re failing (and what to do about it)
Unlike your own list, where you know why people signed up for the offer, you don’t need to try and come up with subject lines that pique someone’s curiosity to get a good open rate. For solo ads YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT OPEN RATE, you care about qualifying leads so the clicks you pay for are the clicks you want.
If you can easily describe your squeeze page offer in just one short sentence then this is a good chance to do exactly that and start your lead on a very consistent journey:
Struggling affiliate marketers, find out about a free report that explains why you’re failing (and what you can do about it)
This one’s probably a little too long (different inbox set ups truncate subject lines at different points, but 7 – 10 words is about all you can expect to be displayed). It’s probably better as an opening sentence in the email. At the end of the day your subject line has to be short and to the point so there’s only so much you can do here. The main chance to influence the right people to click your link is your email swipe.
The email swipe
The email swipe is the email you’re going to send to the solo ad seller to send to the people on their list. Usually solo ad sellers let you write whatever you want in the email swipe. Sometimes they have a word limit or other restrictions and sometimes they’ll even write the swipe themselves, but this is rare. Therefore, you usually have complete control over what you write to the potential lead and you can use this as a golden opportunity to qualify them as much as possible before they get to your link.
In my experience, the ideal solo ad email is fundamentally different to the type of emails you send to your own list. When you’re writing to your own list you want to maximise your click through rate – that is, you want as many clicks as possible so you can get more traffic to the offer and more sales. THIS IS NOT THE GOAL OF A SOLO.
The goal of a solo ad email is to get only the RIGHT PEOPLE to click the link. With this in mind, you want to write a somewhat colder and more clinical email than you’d write to people who are on your own list, with only one link right at the end so that only those who are really interested will get all the way through the ad click it.
The content of the email will make it clear exactly who you’re targeting, exactly who you’re not targeting and exactly what a lead can expect when they get to your lander – including the fact that they have to give you their name and email (or whatever you’re asking for on the squeeze page). Telling people about the details of the form is the final hurdle to only get people who are willing to submit their details to click the link.
Do you want women aged between 35-45 from Florida? State this explicitly.
Want people who have never started their own website? Say this.
Don’t want people who have blonde hair? Tell them it’s not for them.
With this in mind, I’d suggest structuring your email this way:
- Restate the subject line with more detail
- Explain who this offer is definitely not right for
- Explain who the ideal person is for the offer
- Explicitly tell people they have to submit their name and email
- Include the link with as much description as possible
The last element of your solo ad is the link to your own landing page. Usually you can tell the solo ad seller the text you want to use for the link and the URL you want it to link to. Sometimes you can only use a naked URL (this is what I do 99% of the time because someone might even copy-paste this into their browser, saving you the cost of the click).
If you use anchor text for your link then this is your last opportunity to include/exclude the right/wrong leads before you have to pay for the click. It’s also the last opportunity in the ad to keep the journey consistent. With this in mind, I’ve always found the link should be very similar to the subject line that initially prompted the lead to open the email.
If you don’t use anchor text for the link, then I suggest creating a unique redirect URL that reflects the subject line.
Putting it all together
Here’s an example of a real swipe file I use for LeadsMonger.
Email subject line:
Are you struggling with affiliate marketing? Do you know why you fail?
Are you struggling to make money with affiliate marketing? Do you want to know why you fail?
STOP: If you’re not an affiliate marketer or if you’re making consistent money as an affiliate marketer this is probably not for you. If you’re succeeding – even moderately – you’re better off getting back to work on your campaigns. I don’t need to take up any more of your precious time if you’re killing it. This report is really aimed at people who are struggling and seeing no results. (However, if you’re struggling and want to succeed, read on because this could change everything for you – finally!)
Do you dream of making serious money as an affiliate marketer and believe you can make it happen, but just can’t seem to catch a break?
Maybe you’ve tried and failed and tried again and failed again.
Maybe you’re ready to give up.
Maybe you’re about to quit.
A new report from LeadsMonger explains why you’re not making any money as an affiliate marketer and what you can do about it.
The report is called ‘Affiliate Marketing: You’re Doing it Wrong’ and you can read the first chapter online at LeadsMonger.com. After reading the first chapter you can get the rest for free by submitting your email address to subscribe to the LeadsMonger affiliate marketing newsletter.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this controversial new report:
>> Why there are only two things you need to do to make money as an affiliate
>> How to be completely indifferent and still make bucket-loads of cash
>> How to escape the ‘black hole’ that sucks in so many newbies
>> How to apply the biggest psychological breakthrough of the last century
>> The seven words that determine whether you have a future in this game
If you’re trying to get started with affiliate marketing, but you’re failing to make any real money, this report might change everything for you – finally!
Check it out here: https://www.LeadsMonger.com/controversial-new-report/
Tracking your experience with solo ads
Once you’ve started buying solo ads it’s important that you track your results. I do this with an Excel spreadsheet, but it doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you do.
Remember how I said you can control pretty much everything in your solo ad except the list? Well, tracking is the way you can start to get some data that will help you send more ads to the lists that have the leads that best match your offer.
Tracking your results with different sellers helps you eliminate lists that don’t work and show you where to invest more money in the future.
These are the things I keep track of:
- Seller name and URL
- Payments made
- Clicks received
- Opt-in rate
- Initial lead cost
- SLO revenue *
- Adjusted lead cost
- 30 day revenue * & 30 day lead cost
* To be able to track conversions you’ll need to set up separate landers/funnels for different sellers unless you’re using tracking software.
By tracking this information I can rank the sellers I’ve tested and eliminate any that aren’t performing. If I’m buying from a new seller I haven’t tested before I’ll get the smallest package I can get (usually 100 clicks) and then run it once to check for fraudulent clicks. This is easy to spot because you either get no conversions or you get a bunch of subscribers who never get through the double confirmation opt-in or open any emails.
If the clicks are genuine I’ll then give a new seller at least 500 clicks before I think I can get a large enough sample to really start comparing. Then I’ll wait 30 days so I can track the initial conversions in the funnel.
You should expect your initial lead cost to be between $0.70 – $1.00 per click from premium solo ad sellers. You should be able to get your adjusted lead cost down to below $0.50 and then break even or get into profit on your 30 day lead cost if you’ve found a good seller with a list that’s a good fit for your own funnel.
Now all you have to do is drop the dud sellers and scale up the winners.
Where to start buying solo ads
There are lots of places to buy solo ads. I can’t stress this enough. This is big business and you can get a lot of volume, but you’ll also encounter some terrible leads.
There are networks where you can compare a whole bunch of sellers and their prices (and even get access to notifications for things like fire sales and special deals). This is where I recommend you start if you’ve never tested solo ads before. The benefit of joining a network (they’re free to join) is that you get a lot of stats and feedback about seller performance you can refer to before you buy. The networks will then shut down the dodgy sellers and give you some protection from fraudulent clicks.
If you want to get started with a network, then I’d recommend Udimi as the easiest and most newbie friendly network. Other networks where I’ve bought some good traffic are Solo Ads X and Solo Ad Marketplace.
There are also forums and Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling solo ads and lots of individual sellers who advertise on their own sites.
Check out these FB groups:
And these sites:
At the end of the day, I can’t tell you what every list and every seller is like because I simply haven’t tested them all. I’ve tried some networks and found some sellers on a few forums and private URLs and I’ve tested them until I’ve found something that works (so I didn’t need to keep checking everyone).
Besides, I can’t really tell you which sellers are going to work for you because I don’t know what your niche/lander/offer is. This is why it’s important that you start tracking your purchases as soon as you buy your first solo ad so you can work out what works for you and your offers.
What I can hope to do in this section is point you in the right direction for some places where I think you’ll find it easy to get started. Then I really encourage you to start doing your own research. Unless you come across a brand new seller it’ll be unusual that someone hasn’t posted about their experience on a network/forum/group. If a seller has a highly responsive list in a particular niche then buyers are going to recommend it. Alternatively, if a seller or a list is rubbish, they’ll rant about it like you wouldn’t believe.
But I don’t have any money!
To get a really good running start at building a successful affiliate marketing business with paid traffic you need a small ‘war chest’ to get started. I’d suggest a healthy sum is $1000, but $500 will be enough to give you a start if you’re careful.
The reason why you need some money upfront is because some of the initial spend on your ads is going to be an investment in experimentation and data gathering – spending money on ads so that you can start to work out whether you’re targeting the right audience, using the right pictures, headlines, calls to actions or whatever.
I’ll be honest with you – you’re very unlikely to hit a positive ROI in the first couple of months while you get the hang of it and watch as those first couple of hundred subscribers walk their way through your email series.
But what if you don’t have any money available?
(And by money I mean real money – not credit. You want money that you can afford to spend without being anxious and apprehensive about every $0.30 click.)
I guess this is the $64M question.
You might have spent the money to buy this book hoping it would be the answer to your money worries, not the beginning of new worries.
Of course the obvious answer is to get a job (or a second job) and save some of the money you earn until you’ve got your war chest set aside. But I know that both of these options aren’t always easy.
Maybe the reason you’re trying to get a successful affiliate marketing business up and running is because it’s so hard for you to get a job (or another one).
If this is a problem for you, then there’s two things I’d suggest doing:
- Having a yard sale or selling some stuff on eBay or to a pawn shop
- Doing some cheap mind-numbing crowdsourcing online tasks for cash.
Let’s just have a look at both of these options a little bit, and then I’ll leave it up to you to work out how you can get a little bit of cash saved up.
Selling stuff for quick cash
I used to buy a lot of stuff on eBay and early in my internet marketing days it was one of the first places I gravitated to try and make some money.
I understood a bit about how the online auction process worked and I was fascinated by things like ‘auction sniping’ and ‘dropshipping’. So, I dusted off my old ‘stuff’ and started listing it.
Then I hit pay dirt.
My wife and I were cleaning out her grandfather’s basement. He died a long time ago and the house had been in the family for a while, but it came time to sell it.
My father-in-law was throwing box after box of old books into the skip bin on the street and I got curious so I opened up a few to see what they were.
I was shocked.
I’m no bibliophile, but I could appreciate the value of some of the old books in there.
In the first box I looked in there was a first edition Hemmingway, signed exploration diaries and an old hardcover Lawrence of Arabia.
I leapt into the industrial bin and dragged out all the boxes of books that were buried under ancient golf clubs, old knick-knacks and retro clothing.
Sitting on the curb I sorted through it all and separated the books I recognised as having a value from the cheap novels.
There were 15-20 awesome titles.
My father-in-law had no problem letting me keep them. They were destined for the tip anyway. But I wasn’t going to put them on my bookshelf – I had no personal interest in reading them. They were destined for eBay.
Once the auctions were up and running it didn’t take long before the action started.
A couple of warm up bids. Testing the water. More and more people ‘watching’. Waiting for the end of the auction to approach so they could get busy.
The first book that sold was a travel diary from Africa.
It sold for over $600!
Bam! I was in business.
The Hemmingway? Over $1200.
Lawrence of Arabia went for $900.
In total, I made almost $4000 from the collection I saved.
Then my wife and I went on a holiday!
I kept on working the eBay business for 6 months or so and it was fun for a while but I before long I got bored of the packing and shipping.
Now I’m not suggesting you go and start an eBay business. This was something I did a long time ago and I have no idea what kind of process you should follow to make money there now. Just go and have a yard sale. Same thing.
I’m just trying to illustrate that people have a lot of stuff they really don’t want or need anymore and sometimes it can be pretty valuable.
Maybe you’ve got a few things packed away that you know you can live without, things like: tools, sporting goods, office equipment, computers, games and gaming consoles, health and beauty products, crafty stuff, kids books (and all kind of books), toys, old cell phones, chargers, headsets, furniture, gardening tools and machinery like mowers and trimmers, leftover building stuff like bricks, stonework and timber, light fixtures, lamps, pregnancy related items, wedding stuff, picture frames, old magazines, quality clothes, bicycles, jewelry, linen, glassware, dishes, appliances, skateboards, rollerblades, vinyl records, etc, etc, etc…
Pro tip: Ok. I’m no pro at yard sales, but I’d definitely suggest that if you want to take yours to the next level then offer people the chance to pay with their credit card or use PayPal. This is easy to do these days with smartphones. Check out SquareUp.com as an example of a simple way to make this happen at home.
Now this isn’t a sustainable online business idea, but if you’re desperate to earn some cash and want something guaranteed with no upfront investment of time or money tied to any kind of risk, then there are a few crowdsourcing sites where you can go online and do quick tasks for tiny sums of money.
I’m talking $0.05 for this or $0.20 for that. You can even hit paydirt with $1-$5 jobs.
I know. It definitely doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re willing to put your head down and just go at it then you really could make somewhere in the vicinity of $5-$10 per hour and slowly build up a bit of a bank roll.
Let me be frank here and say that I have no experience doing this. I’ve investigated it out of curiosity, but that’s about it. But people do it and they earn money. That’s what you want isn’t it?
From what I understand Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is probably the biggest source of opportunity, but without the benefit of any crowdsourcing experience, here’s a list of a few posts that seem to have some idea what they’re talking about that might be able to get you started:
- Top 10 Crowdsourcing Sites Like MTurk
- The Best Crowdsourcing Websites & Pay Per Task Sites
- 10 Best Legitimate Micro Jobs sites to Make Money Online
- 18 Short Task Sites for Making Money from Home
- Earn Extra Cash with Sites Like Mechanical Turk
Now I know that working and saving money isn’t glamorous and might not be where you thought you’d have to start in order to be able to build a 10K30 business, but if that’s what it takes, then the sooner you start the sooner you can get on with it.