If affiliates have 99 problems, something about their offer is almost always one. Hugh discussed how to limit, avoid, or magic away offer problems, from speed to reliability to dodgy design. And he tackled the ultimate question, should you create your own offers, and if so, when and how?
Speech by Hugh Hancock | Affiliate Expert & Founder, Machinima
Hugh Hancock Speech Transcript
But this is cool. This is okay, because this means that I can have a quick chat with you.
Now, there was a question I’ve been meaning to ask all of you.
Guys, is it just me or as an affiliate, a lot of the time, do offers kind of, how to put this? Kind of suck. I mean don’t get me wrong. Affiliate marketing is amazing.
When I first got into this and I was told, I didn’t have to build a product. I didn’t have to set up an e-commerce store.
Some other guys have done that. They’ve optimized everything and all I have to do is drive traffic. And then, I would make money.
This was phenomenal.
But nowadays, I kinda feel like, if I got 99 problems then, my offer is around 45 of them.
Like, when the offer goes down unexpectedly or when you’ve just optimized your campaign and then, you get kicked straight off for quality reasons.
Anyone else have a problem with that? Yeah, I thought so.
Okay, or loading times really slow. You can’t control the landers, all these kind of thing.
As an affiliate, we got into this mostly for freedom but it feels like we’re out of control. Like we don’t have our hands on the wheel.
Stackman And Bbrock
What I’m gonna do today is I’m gonna tell you a few stories about a couple of man of distinction and taste who one or two of you may know.
Jordan, otherwise known as Stackman and Besmir, otherwise known as BBrock.
And how they were able to be proactive in dealing with their offers. In doing so, really take back control of their affiliate lifestyles.
And they did this by unlocking a hidden advantage that they have as affiliates that they did not know they had.
In the process, they also made an obscene amount of money. Okay, now I’m seeing some people looking up.
Who Is Hugh Hancock (Caurmen)
So, who the hell am I? Why should you listen to me?
Okay, this is literally the douchiest thing I’ve ever done on stage.
You know those pictures of the internet marketer with the wads of cash and the sunglasses and the rented Lamborghini sitting behind him.
This is my equivalent. This is me standing, wearing an Xsens MVN motion capture suit.
It’s the same technology that was used on the Avengers movies. And it’s a pretty good comparison because it cost me about the same as a Lamborghini Murcielago.
Now, why the hell did I do this?
Well, I have a personal thing I’d like to share with all of you today. It’s not something I normally confess in a public forum.
But, I think it’s important to get it out in the open so the people know about the problem that many of us face.
My name is Hugh and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to filmmaking.
Filmmaking is a phenomenally expensive addiction. Seriously, choose cocaine, it’s cheaper.
And for many years, I did what most independent filmmakers do. I scrounged around. And I tried to make a living out of film which doesn’t work very well.
And then, in 2010, I re-read 4-Hour Workweek. I had a brain wave. And I discovered affiliate marketing.
It turns out, I’m quite good at it.
And nowadays, I’m able to use my affiliate marketing income to afford toys like this which most independent filmmakers never get to play with.
And give me a huge advantage. So, I am a pretty good affiliate. But you shouldn’t just listen to me because of that.
Many of you here, can I get a show of hands, who is an STM Forum member? That is a lot of hands. Hello, guys.
Okay, many of you will know me as Caurmen, my username on the forums. Well, I teach people and help people to get start at internet marketing.
And I share the moderation responsibilities there with some affiliates who are way, way more successful than me.
I mean, I don’t wanna say private island territory but the other day, I did hear Lorenzo complaining how unfair it was that “Green Land” is already taken as a name.
So, this talk is a combination of all our experiences with taming our offers, with being proactive and taking back control.
If you can imagine Lorenzo, Jordan and Besmir kind of hanging above me as spectral figures, occasionally getting into Muay Thai fights, that’ll give you a good idea from where these all comes from.
So, offers, right?
I imagine we have quite a few poker players in the audience.
Now, the way I often think of an offer is like a hand in poker, like a hand in hold them.
Sometimes you get a pair of aces, push that for what it’s worth. And sometimes you get offsuits, two and seven. And you go, “Nnnn”
There’s not a lot you can do to change your offer. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it, right?
No, absolutely wrong.
As affiliates, we can do things to improve our offers. But if you did them in poker, would get you taken down to the “special room” in the basement of the casino to have a friendly chat.
Loading Times On Offers Are Important
So, first thing, loading times.
For anyone who doesn’t know why loading times on offers are important, here’s a little bit of research done by some people who know a thing or two about commerce on the internet.
Offers have a terrible reputation for loading incredibly slowly.
But, that’s out of our control, right? It’s not our technology. It’s the offer owner’s technology.
Well, a little while ago I was doing a test for a consulting client of mine. And, I set up two identical funnels. Standard thing, traffic source, landing page, offer.
They were utterly identical. Same offer, except that on one of them, the offer loaded in 5 seconds. And in one of them, the offer loaded effectively, instantaneously.
Here is the conversion rate I got for the offer that loaded in 5 seconds.
Spoiler, this was not enough to make me profitable.
Here is the conversion rate I got from the identical funnel with the instant loading offer.
16%, literally double.
This is how much difference it makes.
Here’s The Twist
But here is the twist. The offer was completely identical. It was the same 5-second loading offer page in both funnels.
The way I changed the loading time was by changing code in the lander.
Now, this is madness, right? You can’t change the loading time of the next page you’re going to.
Well, it turns out that a number of other people have been getting concerned about loading times. And these people are people who work at Mozilla and Google and Internet Explorer if anyone cares.
They have developed a technology that allows you to hint the browser where the user is likely to go next. And then, the browser will then preload the page.
So, while they’re reading your 4 rules and saying that they absolutely will not tell anyone that they found their doctor on your dating site, you can be loading up the offer page.
Here is the code to do this. It is not particularly complicated.
Before you write this down, I will be giving you a URL for note at the end where all of these codes and stuff will be available.
So, you can use this and you can transition your loading times from enormous to instant.
And that means that you can enable a whole bunch of offers you wouldn’t have touched and it means you can boost your ROI on almost any offer.
The 404 Page
So, that’s great but what happens when the offer unexpectedly goes down in the middle of the night. You’ve spent $2,000 on traffic before you realize that you were going to a 404 page?
Anyone else have that? I know I have.
Well, the normal approach would be to use a service like Pingdom. Now, that’s more or less what I did. There were much better ones.
Uptime Robot is essentially Pingdom, but better.
For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a software as a service. Free site that will monitor 50 pages for you. And let you know if they go down or if a keyword on there, changes.
So, if your offer owner decides to replace the landing page with a rubbish one. It will also send you SMS.
Now, that will only work if your offer is accessible in the US or if it’s accessible from basically, other Amazon sites. So, Singapore, Dublin, etc.
PHP Server Monitor
If you have a geo-locked offer that you can’t do that way then, you need to set up a VPS in the same geo as the offer.
And then, I use, my preferred tool is PHP server monitor. It’s a script. You can install it with one line in the shell. Has no coding or anything like that.
It basically, gives you your own Uptime Robot which you can do with as you will. All the way useful.
But we still got a problem with the content of the page.
If you’ve got an amazing angle but you’re running it to a generic offer, you’re losing a load of ROI. And there’s nothing you can do about that, right?
Besmir Aka Bbrock
Well, this is where we come to my first man of distinction and taste, Besmir.
Now, as many of you will know, Besmir is a very technical guy and he had this problem.
On a casual dating campaign that he was running, he had it all optimized. He’d figured out there were a couple of pictures that converted particularly well.
But his offer was really generic.
So, Bes is a real techy. He solved this with a very technical tool which I understand is called a telephone.
He phoned the offer owner. And the conversation went a bit like this. I say like this, I was going to do an imitation of Besmir’s accent but Besmir’s accent is this amazing combination of Albanian and Italian.
And I just cannot do it for the life of me. So, for the purposes of this, please assume that Besmir is a cheeky cockney chappie.
Calling The Offer Owner
He phones up the offer owner and he says, “Alright, me old mucker.”
And the offer owner says, “Hey man, how is it going?”
Besmir goes, “Yeah man, it’s doing great. Yeah, yeah, great man, yeah. How about you?”
And the offer owner goes, “Yeah man, its going great. Yeah, fantastic man. Yeah, great.”
Because we are affiliates and this is how every conversation we ever have starts.
And then, he said, “So, me old mucker, I understand you like a bit of the old douche.”
The offer owner says, “Ah, what?”
“You know, scratch, clean, squeeze, pour honey.”
And it turns out, the offer owner did like money. So, Besmir explained his problem.
The offer owner heard this. And, the offer owner set up a couple of new pages just for Besmir with the pictures that he discovered converted well.
So he had a nice, smooth funnel all the way through to the offer.
Result: Extra 25% ROI
And, the result on a 4-figure campaign was an extra 25% ROI. That’s pretty significant for one phone call.
Now, you don’t have to be running enormous volume to do this for yourselves.
The most important thing is to have a relationship with your offer owner, with your network.
This is why events like AWA is so important.
You can go out there, you can meet people, and you can develop relationships.
And you need to be running enough volume that it’s worth their while to set up something new. But how much money is it actually take to set up a new landing page? Not very much.
Okay, but at the end of the day, we are still building someone else’s business. And if they cut us off tomorrow, we have no value capture.
Adding Email Capture Before A Regular Offer
So, I was talking to Lorenzo about this problem a little while ago. And he suggested adding an email capture before a regular offer, so just making the conventional funnel longer.
Traffic source, lander, email capture, offer. And, I thought this was madness because obviously, it’s going to reduce your ROI.
So, I tested it.
Here, after significant amount of traffic, is my conversion rate on a campaign which I modified to have email capture.
So, I was capturing email addresses and then, sending them onto the offer. And this is the conversion rate from the offer.
Now, the original campaign without the email capture had this ROI.
There is no statistically significant, no mathematical difference between these two conversion rates.
As far as I could tell, I was getting these emails for free. This is absolutely something worth testing.
But what if you want to go further? What if you want to free yourself from the shackles of the offer all together and actually build your own product?
Well, this sounds like madness, right? Or possibly spotter, not sure.
Yeah, setting up a business is really hard. We have a lot of business, business series, businessman in the audience.
And they will tell you, this is not something to undertake lightly.
But there is something you may not have considered. And this is where I have to tell you that I omitted something in my description of why you should listen to me earlier.
In addition to being a filmmaker and an affiliate and a weber of tasteful of a niche. I am also a serial entrepreneur.
I’ve launched around two dozen companies of various sizes from tiny little info products to significantly larger things.
My largest company ever was machinima.com which at one point became the third largest channel on YouTube. And sometime a couple of years ago was being looked up for acquisitions a value of $600 million.
Now, I can tell the startup guys in the audience here because the other one’s looking at me skeptically and going, “Well, evaluation’s lovely but did it sell?”
They did not sell for that amount.
But, entrepreneurs will be aware of a cliché that we hear time and time again which is this, “The biggest advantage that a businessman can have is a hungry crowd.”
If you have an audience that is ready and willing to buy a thing and you have worked out the way to get them to your store, marketplace, app, whatever, you have around 70% of a working business.
And okay, raise me a hand if you have a working affiliate campaign or one of your employees has a working affiliate campaign that is in profit right now.
And, all the rest, we don’t wanna reveal it. It’s okay. I’ll be spying on you guys later.
Your Hungry Crowd
If you have a profitable affiliate campaign, by definition, you have found your hungry crowd.
So, to illustrate this point, I’m gonna go back to the gruesome twosome. And tell two stories of how they use this unique advantage to go into competition with their own offers.
Firstly, Besmir. Besmir, as I mentioned, had a lot of optimized casual dating campaigns. And he was getting sick of building someone else’s business.
Besmir: White Label
So, he decided to go into white label. Now, for those of you who don’t know what white label is, it’s where you rent access to an existing database for a dating company.
But you skin the site that sends leads to it entirely as you like. And you get paid on revenue share from people who sign up.
So, he set this all up. He set up, it took one of his campaigns. Setup a white label site that perfectly reflected that angle. And started pouring in traffic.
And initially, things didn’t look too good. He spent about 60K on this in 3 months. He looked to this and he did what most of us would do, he went, “Huh, screwed that!”
And went and did something else.
But because he had built his own asset, that wasn’t the end of the story.
After 8 months, the white label dating site’s recurring revenues combined have made him more money than he would have done if we pulled that 60K into the original campaign.
Now, can I get a guess from the audience as to how many months it was before these numbers tailed off? Before it wasn’t making any more revenue.
Shout out a number. Pi, planck’s constant, anything.
Ten, I heard ten. That is a good guess. Actually I cannot tell you what the right answer is.
And the reason I cannot tell you is that three and a half years after Besmir started this white label campaign, the revenues have still not stopped flowing.
He cash over $2,000 as a monthly check from this thing, last month three and a half years after he started.
That’s a nice ROI.
Next story, Jordan. Way back in the early days, he was running a campaign to a clickbank e-book product. And it was alright but there wasn’t a huge volume.
The landing page was, God awful.
So, he was proactive. He grabbed the driving seat and he took action, he hired a writer.
Now, before you say, “I couldn’t possibly make my own product.”
Know this, writers are really cheap by and large. I can get a novel professionally written for a thousand dollars. And I can get a novel written by multiply published author for several thousand dollars.
Artists are by and large not that expensive. Experts in non-internet marketing fields are often not that expensive.
So, he hired a writer. And the writer wrote him an e-book on the same topic.
Then, he made a landing page. The landing page was way better than the original. We all know Jordan is a marketing genius. We don’t need to go into this any further.
And he directed his traffic to it.
This tiny campaign made him, after these changes, over $300,000.
This was his biggest early campaign.
Now, the really interesting bit. I was talking to him just before I came on. He said that if he knew then, what he knows now about affiliate marketing, he would have made more like $6,000,000 from this thing.
Again, that’s a very nice ROI.
So, how do you do this for yourself?
Well, I don’t have enough time to go into how to replicate things for the individual verticals right now, sadly.
If you go to the URL at the end of this speech, I have a guide in there as a special bonus. As to how to replicate offers and how hard it is for all the common affiliate verticals.
Affiliates Turn To Burnout
Okay, so if you’ve been in affiliate marketing for a while like I have, you will notice that affiliates tend to burn out.
We burn out because we don’t have the driving seat in terms of controlling the offer. And so at any second, our revenues can go from 4-figures a day to no-figures a day.
We burn out because we have to grind continuously because it’s so uncertain because we’re not in the driving seat.
And so it turns out to be way harder to sit on a beach sipping Mai Thai’s than the infomercials would have you believe.
We burn out often because we just get tired of not being proactive and building something ourselves.
As affiliates, we often feel powerless. We feel like all we can do is react.
But we are absolutely not powerless.
Compare to the offer owner, sure they have a product and it’s a good product. But we are the engine of growth.
We are the people driving everyone to that.
If they do not have us, what they basically have is a bunch of web pages and a database.
They do not have a huge business.
And so, for anyone who’s feeling powerless, this is the key message and I will quote once again upon my three spectral friends for this one.
My key message for you today is, “You have the power!”
Use it wisely, young Skywalker.
Thank you very much.