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Breaking In On A Budget – How to get started in the world of Affiliate Marketing


If you’ve just got some extra cash that you’re looking to put to work, or planning to make a career change, the world of Affiliate Marketing can offer a wealth of possibilities for those who know how to work it.  It’s not an easy field to be successful in by any means, but if you’re a hard worker and are able to quickly adapt to changing trends, the sky is truly the limit.  The different traffic sources through which you can partake in affiliate marketing are email, search, media buying, contextual / ppv, and on-site.  The first step toward getting started is identifying which source will work best for you, and then maximizing it.


Email Marketing: Do you run a website where users input their email addresses to subscribe to a newsletter, or run a business where you’ve accumulated a large number of email addresses?  If so, email marketing is a great way to get started.  When monetizing your list, it’s important to start out slow and keep it relevant.  The last thing you want is for your lists to obtain a poor reputation for sending out offers completely out of their demographic.  If you run a home gardening tips website and newsletter, you probably wouldn’t want to promote “male enhancement” pills, no matter how high their payout is… unless, maybe, it’s a “gardening tips for unsatisfied wives” newsletter.

Looking to purchase a list of email addresses?  While this is a great way to quickly break into email marketing, the buyer truly needs to beware.  Ask the right questions from the seller to be sure it’s a quality list.  Is it single or double opt-in?  Double opt-in will yield a higher return rate.  What ISPs does it consist of, and how is it segmented?  Certain offers perform better on certain ISPs, and the more demographic information you know about your list, the better you’ll be able to monetize it.  How many buyers will have access to the list, and can you run a test before purchasing?  Ideally you want to be the only person with your respective list, and if the list is high quality, the seller shouldn’t have an issue with you running a small scale test drop to verify.

When choosing an email platform, be sure it has all the functionality you’ll need to maximize your list.  An “over the counter” system is fine to start, but as you grow your list and business, most of the biggest email publishers will design and program their own platform tailored specifically to their needs.  From here, you need to calculate your cost to perform a drop, and figure out a revenue goal for each drop to determine its success.


Search Marketing: If your budget is tight, search marketing is a great way to start out.  You can set a daily spend cap, and closely monitor your bids to ensure you’re getting a good return.  You can also run long-tail keywords to more directly target users and keep your bids down.  It’s never a bad idea to pick a vertical that you’re familiar with to start out.  Work in the auto industry?  Try car insurance campaigns.  Fitness fanatic?  Consider promoting diet or muscle-strengthening products.  Running something familiar to you will help give you insight about what keywords and ad copy to start out with, but you need to be constantly testing and optimizing.  Focus on Earnings Per Click, or EPCs.  You can calculate this by taking the total amount you’ve earned divided by how many clicks you paid for.  If your EPCs are higher than your bids, then you’re in good shape. Now you can start cutting out the keywords and ads that aren’t working, while scaling up and expanding upon the ones that are.

Media Buying: Very similar to search marketing, the statistics for media buyers are almost identical.  You can bid on placements on certain websites that your ad will appear, either on a CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) or CPC (cost per click) basis.  Always gather as much information as possible about what demographic your offer is targeted to, and buy space on websites frequented by the same group.  If you do media buying on social networks, such as Facebook or Plenty of Fish, you can get very specific on targeting to ensure your ad is only shown to people in the product’s key demographic.     While media buying does generally take a larger budget to be competitive (with the exception of most social networks), it also offers almost limitless volume potential.

If you have experience in web design, building out a quality landing page to provide more information about the offer you’re promoting before linking to the offer is a great way to improve conversions, but keep an eye on your statistics.  If you’re getting a ton of clicks to your landing page but nobody is clicking through to the offer, you need to optimize your page.  If a ton of people purchase the product after your landing page but you’re getting very few clicks, you need to improve your ad-copy or increase your bids.  A great way to see what’s working is to look at what the top results are on major search engines, or popular top tier websites.  If you see an ad in a premium placement for a long time, you can be sure it’s working.

Contextual / PPV Traffic: Contextual traffic, or PPV (Pay per view) traffic, is essentially pop-ups served through adware software on a person’s computer. Not to be confused with malware, which is malicious software, adware usually comes in the form of a web browser tool bar or other user-installed software which will allow an ad to pop up when the user inputs a certain search, or visits a website which you have bid on.  Again, the statistics are very similar to search or media buying, but you’re simply paying for your ad to appear, regardless if a user clicks it or immediately closes it.  Demographic information is, again, very important to make sure you’re only bidding on sites frequented by the proper groups.

Onsite Traffic: If you already run a website which gets a significant amount of traffic, adding CPA ads is a great way to begin monetizing that traffic.  Just like media buys, you need to ensure the ads you’re promoting are related to the content on your site, or appeal to the target demographic which frequents your site.  Keep it relevant.


Choosing Offers: When deciding which offers to run, it’s of course important to select ones aimed at appropriate demographic for your traffic, but you should also consider the payouts.  If your budget is extremely tight (under $250 per day) you probably want to stick to offers with lower payouts, as these generally convert much higher, and will allow you to better and more quickly optimize your campaigns.  While it would be great to jump straight into the $90 payout offers right off the bat, if you’re only spending $50 per day on search or media buys, realistically you may only see one conversion every day and a half, and you’ll have very little data to analyze and improve upon.

Try starting out with offers that pay out around 10% of your daily spend.  This should get you approximately 10 or more leads per day (expect a few less before you begin optimizing), to provide you with data on what’s working best.  Cut out what isn’t working, and scale up what is.  If you’re looking to grow your traffic over time, be sure to re-invest in yourself and increase your future daily budget.

 Affiliate Marketing is a fast-paced world, which is constantly evolving. Always be ready to change your strategy since what works one day may not work the next.  The entire industry is based on fickle consumer tastes, so be sure to stay up to date with emerging trends and jump on them quick!  Be sure to hit up your Affiliate Manager as they have a birds-eye-view of what’s working and can help recommend offers appropriate for your traffic.  Put in the time, don’t get discouraged if a test doesn’t pan out every once in a while, and you’ll eventually see your conversions climb and your bank account balance along with it!


This Article Brought to you by: Mike Story, Affiliate Strategist –Cickbooth

Mike Storey graduated from the University of Florida.  He has worked in Media Buying, PPC Advertising, and Email Marketing.  As an Affiliate Strategist, Mike specializes in Media Buying, Contextual Traffic and Emailing.  In his spare time, Mike is a NAUI Scuba instructor, an avid runner and craft beer connoisseur.

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