Congrats to Aorson for coming in 3rd place. All these articles are awesome and I’m going to continue to post all the entries because we can all learn from them.
These five mistakes, once remedied, had the most immediate and/or dramatic affect on my bottom line.
1. Being too money conscious.
Whoever said ‘it takes money to make money’ hit the nail on the head. I am over conscious about debt and getting out of it < grumble, student loans, grumble > so for a long time I was really averse to spending more than a pittance on testing my adwords.
The stats I was getting back for testing in the low-end of the bidding spectrum (roughly 1/3 of whatever the high bid currently is on Google) were unreliable and in the process I lost as much as a few thousand before turning any profit. Or, worse, I was completely off the mark about which ad was best suited for what time frame, which demographic, etc.
Investing heavily and slowly decreasing my bids (a tip I picked up Uberaffiliate, actually), tracking tracking tracking everything religiously, and tweaking on a daily basis has produced results, on average, 3 x faster (e.g. if it took me 3 weeks to decide before, it only takes about 1 now) and at half the cost I would have spent using my old risk-averse method.
There are no more surprises about ad performance anymore, to boot.
2. Being over-diversified.
In the ‘more is better’ theory of marketing, we assume that if we know Uberaffiliate has made most of his money in 4 or 5 service or product genres, then, by God, we’ll be able to get at least as far by doing 10. Or 15. 20, even! You get the point.
Having too many irons in the fire is a classic mistake, and one I fell face-forward into.
At first I spent far too much time attempting to monotenize landing pages in product genres I really had no knowledge of but saw a high commission on (which means you can expect it to be oversaturated). As soon as I trimmed the fat from marketing 11 different campaigns down to the 4 producing the greatest ROI, I reinvested the funds allocated for the 7 axed campaigns and saw a boost in profit within 48 hours.
It also upped my quality-of-life factor significantly. Trying to stay abreast of 11 campaigns and tracking them all is time-consumptive and exhausting. I was able to start getting six or more hours of sleep again!
3. Not preselling hard enough and/ or not referring to deep links.
As a n00b, I creating landing pages that referred either to the homepage for the entity I was marketing or to a sub page (like the “Rods” section of Orvis.com, for example). I did not do enough to refer to a specific product, or advertise the features of a specific service.
Internet users are also becoming savvier and avoid paid ads or anything that appears to be an affiliate or third party link. I was shooting my legitimacy in the foot with these referrals.
My network manager was the first to point out this error. When I changed things up by preselling the product on my landing page and connecting to deep links, it accomplished three things:
a)With persuasive content you convince someone of the ease and necessity of inputting their information or why they need of the product. Priming boosted my CTR.
b) The user is expecting to arrive at the page you direct them to- either a fill-in form or a product purchase page (this locked in both my page’s and the product/ service’s legitimacy); and
c) If they have gotten this far, they are ready to provide the info or whip out a credit card.
4. Having too many distractions outside of affiliate marketing.
When I first learned about affiliate marketing, I had just read The Four Hour Workweek and was inspired to get something going as soon as possible. It was also the beginning of the semester, and I was going to school 3 nights a week and Saturday mornings on top of working full-time.
Needless to say, I couldn’t juggle a full-time job, school, and a web venture. Guess which one lost?
I lost almost all of the money I invested when I was trying to squeeze affiliate marketing in during my 2-4 hours of free time a week. Though I could make more money (day job) to cover my losses, the resulting discouragement was a different beast entirely.
Fortunately, when you hate your day job as much as I do, you get 40 hours a week of motivational reinforcement.
After my too-many-irons-in-the-fire semester, I took the next one off and started affiliate marketing after work. I set some ground rules: after dinner until around 10:30- I’m at my computer testing a new campaign, creating new pages, tweaking old ones, or catching up on AM-related correspondence. There’s no TV, no radio, I’m not trolling WickedFire/ DigitalPoint/ Google Reader and I don’t take personal calls. This might seem a little much, but it works for me and my bottom line. Your mileage may vary.
5. Not doing something soon enough.
Affiliate marketing is a gyroscopic event.
Like learning how to ride a bike, the hardest part is just getting on. But once you get going- progress- like pedaling, gets easier and faster.
I spent far too much time trying to “learn” affiliate marketing by any other means than doing it. The hardest sale I ever made was my first, but by the process of getting to it, it’s also the one I learned the most from. Blogs, forums and even eBooks were all important to my familiarity in the beginning with the terms, process and basics about PPC and Affiliate Marketing, but I can’t credit any with ensuring my success.
If you want to learn this business, do yourself a favor and start now.
Go out and buy Adobe Creative Suite CS3 or download a “how to” .pdf on WordPress/ Joomla et al. Research the products, services, and networks you want to work with- but understand that the majority of the things that will make you money are not things you will read about in a forum. Spending $29.95 on an eBook is not going to miracle any money into your Paypal account. You have to do it and learn it for yourself.
Every day I work I learn about another plug-in, another code, another corner to cut, another keyword or negative or space to add, another thing to tweak above the fold… the list goes on. All of it enhances my bottom line.
Anyone can do this, but no one will hand you the keys to the castle. You buy them with time and effort.