AFFILIATE SECRETS FOR AFFILIATE OUTSOURCING EXPOSED: The journey upward in the affiliate industry can be much quicker than you think. Two fellas from little ol’ New Zealand just stepped it up in an explosive fashion, and one of them is about to pull back the covers exposing key pieces of their success. Actionable, practical, and delivered by a guy with a funny accent. Hold on tight – you won’t believe what’s coming.
Speech by Kelly Ballard | Strategist, Precision Media Services
Kelly Ballard Speech Transcript
Last year, Mr. Ruby Tunes and I, set our sights on a new opportunity.
We just moved traffic sources, we just moved verticals. Everything was new. So, we had a few things to figure out.
With the right mindset, the right approach, we were very fortunate and we were, within a very short period of time, able to scale from losing money testing, through to consistent 4-figure, and eventually into 5-figure days.
This resulted in a lot of rapid learning, a lot of mistakes. And I’ve distilled them down for you today into 4 categories. So let’s get started.
The first is the mindset. And, we’ll cover off 3 things here: Limiting beliefs, profit ceilings, and self-sabotage.
I believe nobody is exempt from any of these. And being aware of them, being aware of how they affect you is crucial to your success as an affiliate.
Mindset – Limiting Beliefs
So, we’ll start with a limiting belief. Probably the most common one for the beginners in the room.
Is affiliate marketing really possible?
Seems kind of foreign, making all this money online in your underwear.
And there are a few things that seem to come up over and over again. The first is that you’ve got some kind of baggage of sorts.
Perhaps you were burned in the past by some guru stuff, by failed Amazon, failed eBooks, whatever it may be, Warrior Forum, who knows?
You may have spent a bunch of money, whether that’s several hundred dollars, several thousand dollars.
You may have seen no results yet. It’s particularly challenging when you don’t have that much of a budget.
Maybe you have actually gotten profitable but your campaign was in some way noncompliant, perhaps you didn’t get paid out.
So, it’s still not quite real yet.
And another huge one that took me a little while to work out was when you’re in a mastermind, a great mastermind can really accelerate your progress.
But particularly in the beginning, if you were just surrounded by those at your level who haven’t quite broken through to the other side yet, it can result in a negative spiral where nobody’s having that success yet.
So, it’s not quite real to anybody. So everybody’s stuck in the same rut.
There are a few ways that you can deal with it.
Stack That Money Success Story
First of all, what was really helpful for me was reading. Absorbing, I think is more accurate, the whole Stack That Money success story section.
In there, I think this is something that everybody can relate to, whether it’s someone your age from your country.
For me, it was reading about Mr. Green, the Kiwi, who obviously, started this whole joint. For me, that really resonated with me.
That really helped me. And I know for a couple of others that I’ve gotten involved in this industry that found stories there that they could really relate to.
The second way to help get through this initial hurdle is by networking.
One of the best ways to get through is by making good contact with someone who has already been there, who’s already made it, who’s made a bunch of money.
It’s fully real to them and the more time you spend with them, the more real this whole thing becomes.
And, to finally prove it to yourself, you will eventually have your first profitable campaign. And at that stage, I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s possible That Affiliate marketing is real.
Let’s move on to profit ceilings. Once you are successful, you start having campaigns running.
And you start to see, at least I did, kind of a plateau on your traffic source. So whether that’s at 3-figures, 4-figures, 5-figures, whatever it is, you begin to get comfortable.
That amount of money is coming in every day for a couple of weeks. Perhaps you start to extrapolate and multiply by 30 or multiply by 365.
You get really, really comfortable.
And it’s really important to remind yourself that this is not a 9-to-5 job, this is not a stable industry. Your campaign will die. The offer will go down. Your traffic source will tell you to go away.
, it’s important to maximise the opportunity while you have it. Basically, comfort is the enemy here.
And, in a way, I found we were sitting squarely in the 4-figure range. And I was quite happy with that. To me, that’s a bunch of money, that’s food.
And I found that I was working, working, working all day but no kind of progress was being made in terms of raising the numbers for a little while.
And then I met a guy. He’d seen amazing success on Facebook. They’d been doing 6-figure days for a while. Just insane.
I became good friends with this guy and we ended up talking a lot. Through just hearing him talk about his experiences and me sharing my experience with him.
And, hearing how he viewed it through his eyes, I realised that what I was doing was really nothing compared to what was possible.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that roughly 2 weeks after meeting this guy and spending all this time with him, our campaigns started doing 5-10 times more profit.
We broke into 5-figure days. And I was still hungry for more. I just kept wanting to keep chasing more.
Shiny Object Syndrom Vs The Titanic
The next quick thing we’re going to cover here is shiny object syndrome versus when to jump off the Titanic. This is huge.
Knowing when to pivot, when to move into a new area, probably one of the most pivotal decisions you’ll make.
The common phrase is don’t chase shiny objects.
However, that’s repeated with love by all the gurus and all the advice you read on the forums. But at the same time, if you know the ship’s going down, you do need to move.
So for us we’d been running Pop traffic for about a year. We’d done pretty well, made a bunch of money.
But the competition was starting to ramp up. And spy tools started coming. We were having a harder time getting things profitable.
So, we kept our ear to the ground for a new opportunity and we soon realised that native looked like a good place to jump into.
Checklist For Decision-making
After talking to some people, I kind of put together a little checklist that basically encompasses the decision-making process we went through when we hopped verticals.
So, I would revise the “don’t chase shiny object” statement to “Choose a shiny object as best you can, learn it thoroughly, keep an ear out for new trends, reevaluate when it makes logical sense”.
So, let’s just run through that real quick.
When you’re looking for a new opportunity when you’re looking to move, does the new opportunity have a proven model?
Do I know anybody else making it work? Does it often increase scale? Is there more potential for profit? Is there decreased competition?
Closely linking on to that, is there more barriers or more hoops to entry that will keep others out? Whether that’s cash flow, whether that’s testing budget, whether that’s some logistical challenge.
And finally, can I exploit my strengths here? Clearly, I’m not a designer. I’m a tech guy. I do critical thinking. Those are my strengths.
And though, there was kind of the process that I ran through in my head. Of course, at a higher level, when you’re looking for the new opportunity on the cutting edge, this is not so necessary.
Let’s move on to the second area, relationship management. Online marketing does not mean you can ignore people.
I know, I went through it myself. I’m quite a quiet guy, sometimes. I’m not gonna lie that sounded kind of appealing to me just to be able to make money behind the computer.
But the reality is a Skype contact, someone that you’ve never actually spoken to in person, it’s very, very, very different to personal contact.
So in terms of relationship management, I’m just gonna cover off networking, affiliate and traffic networks, and a little look into scrubbing.
Networking, the single best way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in affiliate marketing today. Pick up new trends, new sources, what’s hot, what’s not.
And the best way, in my opinion, is in person. And to be at places like this, where it’s just an insane collection of people from all over the world, all doing different stuff.
Meeting someone here, sharing a drink with them, hanging out, just talking about life, that creates a very different bond compared to the guy that you’ve just met on STM or Skype.
And you’ve only ever sent text messages to each other.
Following on from that, I would note, don’t be that guy who’s always just sucking value and never giving anything back.
In my Skype, I have a list of several people who I don’t hear from for months. And all of a sudden it’s “Hey what are you running here? Are you running on this traffic source? How is this vertical working for you?”
Not even so much as a “How are you?”
You could at least pretend to care. So don’t be that guy. That’s not going to harbour any good feelings amongst anyone.
The other great thing about conferences like this is that you can meet your offer owners. You can meet your network contacts, the owners, the affiliate managers.
That really benefits you further down the track if there’s ever any issue with payment or offer. They’re more likely to stick their neck out for you and really try to get it resolved if they actually have met you in the flesh.
Affiliate And Traffic Networks
Dealing with affiliate and traffic networks. So, there’s undoubtedly the overly cautious affiliate stereotype.
This is a person that doesn’t trust their affiliate network or their traffic network. They’re really uneasy about scrubbing about basically, the Wild West that is affiliate marketing.
When you really think about it, you look at networks, traffic and affiliate usually have an internal team. They have all of this free data at their disposal.
You’d kind of be silly not to try and use it in some way. So, the way I look at it, you have very little to lose trying to protect yourself in some way.
I’m not going to go too far into that at this stage but that leads on nicely to scrubbing, which is real and it’s just part of the game.
The way I look at it, I don’t get mad about it. It’s cool. It’s part of it but I’m gonna try to minimise the way that it affects me as much as possible.
Before I run through this list, I will just quickly leave a little disclaimer that this really only applies when you’re running serious volume.
There’s very little incentive for someone to start messing with you when you’re only running a couple hundred bucks a day, which is great but it’s not going to be a game-changer on the other side.
Maintain a Professional Relationship
So first of all, if you suspect anything, I believe it’s important to maintain a professional relationship.
Be civil and diplomatic.
You can be annoyed without being rude.
Another common thing that comes up is we don’t scrub, we can’t scrub, our software doesn’t do that, our developers don’t know how to do that. It’s all bullshit. I promise.
I do a little bit of development myself. It’s not hard at all.
There’s no reason to be giving anyone campaign information. They should not know what your ROI is. Then you’re just a sitting duck, right?
Yeah, there’s no reason for anyone to have that sort of information. How much you’re spending in relation to the leads that are coming in.
When you have scaled, a couple of things that I found when we were starting to kind of ratchet our numbers up is that we had a few interesting little situations happen, where our traffic source was stable, completely stable.
Great traffic. Rebills were perfect.
But we found that over time, over 2, 3, 4 weeks, mysteriously our offer EPC’s would drop very, very, very, very gently over if you’re looking at data from the past 48 hours to 3 or 4 days, it’s not so noticeable. You could just kind of pass it off as regular variance.
However, over a longer time period, it became clear that there was some funny business going on.
If you’re running upsells, the same thing can happen with take-rate where, again, we’d start out with near-perfect take rate.
After a time, that would magically drop to 80%, 75%. And when opening a dialogue about this, what would commonly come up was, “Oh, we’ll get the tech team to look into it”
And, magically the next day things are back to normal. It’s kind of strange.
Run Enough Volume
Again, I’ll note that with all of this you need to be running enough volume, that you have the data to make a reasonable claim on this.
If your payout is $50 and you’ve only had 3 leads that day, then you’re not really in a position to be hassling anyone.
Also, never run just a single offer.
Always, always, always run at least 2 split test networks if you can and make sure that they know it.
If they know you’re split testing that same offer on 3 other networks, they’re not going to mess with you because they know you’ll just cut them.
Makes sense right?
Payouts can also be an illusion.
Networks know the psychological effect of a higher payout and what it does to you guys.
Something about the dollar figure, I guess.
We’re intrinsically greedy but we see a $50 payout and we want to test that over the $40 payout even though it’s the same offer.
Yet, if you really think about it, sometimes what happens is the network might even have the same payout from the advertiser.
Sometimes, the payout that they’re giving to you, is higher than what they’re getting paid. And so, in order to normalise this, they turn the scrub up. But because it has the higher payout, lots of guys run it.
They think great. Sometimes, they don’t even bother to test the other offer at a lower payout somewhere else.
Credits can also be an illusion. If there are issues with the offer or something strange happen with the traffic and it’s kind of like a goodwill gesture.
I’ve also had, where we get credits and then mysteriously, EPC drops for the next couple of days.
I guess they make some of that money back.
So another, aside from the relationship management side, we started running a lot of campaigns, like a lot of campaigns.
When you have a formula that works, you really need some processes in place. No one to be able to deal with this.
I’m a tech guy. I use technology to eliminate my human error, scale faster, do less work, and make more money, and get more sleep and also to hack.
Not technically, but hack the back end of certain traffic sources in order to gain an advantage over the competition.
Eliminate Human Error
Automation is absolutely key.
Campaigns pile up like crazy. It’s insane how quickly it happens.
The management can get absolutely ridiculous. So, what I ended up doing was creating several Cronjobs. Just scheduled jobs running every hour, every day.
Hooking between traffic source APIs and my tracking API. We would check each site ID for click loss.
We check for a minimum, maximum click-through rate.
Check the spin versus the average payout of the offer.
We’re running custom, so I also track time on page and scroll position, which are very, very useful if you do have this ability to track. And, we were also using a Cronjob on tracking to handle the cutting of landers and offers.
Another quick little thing that I did to help the management of this. When you’re running a bunch of angles, running a bunch of offers, new offers coming in, getting paused every day. New offers need to be added, you end up with hundreds of lander files that are basically identical.
So what I did was, I think it’s just my personal preference that you should always be able to change your offer name, the price, the image, if applicable, and, in one place at the very top of the lander.
So it saves you scrolling through all the HTML, perhaps missing a bunch.
I took it one step further. I build it into my tracking system.
One Funnel Per Offer
So, the way it is set up is we have campaigns, each campaign has funnels. It’s basically one funnel per offer.
In here there’s presets, you can see Great White Hat Offer 1, $4.95.
Instead of having separate lander files with all this, I just have one lander template. And the system auto-populates all of this data into the lander when the visitor hits the page.
If you’re only running 2 campaigns, sure this is manageable doing it manually. But at scale, running 20, 30 or 40, 50 ad campaigns, hugely, hugely convenient.
I was also doing the same with call-to-action tags and headlines.
So basically, it’s one lander to test unlimited variations or combinations of call-to-actions, headlines, offers.
When you think about for one campaign, maybe you’re testing 3 headlines and 3 offers, that’s 9 landers.
Sure, maybe possible if you’re running 1 campaign. But when you’re doing this times 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, it’s just ridiculous.
It’s not feasible at all. Mistakes will be made, you’ll be tired at night, and your campaigns will be incongruent with the offer.
Gaining Advantage In Your Traffic Source
Gaining an advantage in your traffic source.
Now you can ask almost any developer, the back end usually has more functionality than the front end.
Whether it’s exposed or not is another thing, but this is something you can absolutely take advantage of particularly on a traffic source where the interface is not fully built out yet. But then maybe they have some interesting API doc’s in there.
On one of our sources, we were able to blacklist sites at will, also programmatically if we wanted to.
Nobody else had the ability to do this. This was hidden deep in some API doc’s stacked somewhere on a random site that was not really documented anywhere.
Nobody else knew how to do this. They had to have a rip or they were limited to blocking a certain amount. And they really didn’t have the detail that we had when breaking down our stats.
Also ties into where we gained more insight, thanks to again, this API.
Everyone else just saw a random source ID. As I figured out, the way to actually find the site on the internet where ad was placed.
Not only that but the section of the site and the position on the page, which is absolutely insane.
When you’re competing against other affiliates that are effectively running blind, and you’ve figured this out that’s a huge, huge advantage.
The final section, I thought I would mention itself, I’m not Eckhart Tolle but we’ll give it a go.
So when the money flows, everything else stops, basically. When you know there’s money being left on the table, when you know scaling needs to happen.
At least for me, I have an obsessive personality. Health, sleep and exercise just win.
This can only hurt you. And I found out in a pretty painful way.
Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep
So again, opportunity plus scale is a neglected personal life. Nutrition, exercise, and sleep, some of the most important things you can have as a human being.
They go out the window first ’cause you’re spending so much time on campaigns but these 3 things also make you more effective.
They make you get the work done quicker.
So it’s a vicious cycle where, as soon as you stop eating properly, as soon as you’re running on 4 hours sleep, as soon as you haven’t even gone for a run or a walk in days, your attention to detail starts to slip.
Caution goes to the wind.
I actually saw, it was hilarious actually, I was on AdPlexity one day, looking at a lander.
And there was this lovely older lady named Brenda. Some might say that she was a grandma. She had just found this wonderful skin cream that seemed to give amazing results within only 14 days.
And I was skeptical but there was a picture of Oprah there. So I thought whatever.
Start Missing Things
And I was reading through this lander and it was talking about Brenda this, Brenda that, Brenda Brenda, Brenda, all of a sudden this lady Kim came out of nowhere.
From, “Brenda really really loves this” to Kim and so Kim, living in blah.
So, just completely changed names. Someone had obviously been copy and pasting and not even thought to check that the name is congruent with the rest of the lander.
I imagine that was probably done by someone in a similar state, where you’re just trying to scale, scale, scale. You start missing things.
Now, before I finish, to emphasise the importance of keeping your personal life together.
We were running, we were spending probably it was between $20,000 and $25,000 a day. And, I was administering the servers database, software, everything and it was late.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong
It was late one night. It was probably one in the morning. I’ve been sleeping 4 to 5 hours for the last month and a half, two months.
I wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape. And I saw there was a software update for one of the pieces of software on my servers.
So I thought well, “what could possibly go wrong?”
I’ve got uptime checks on my database, on my PHP dome, on my web servers. I’ll just do this update, it doesn’t look like it’s major. It doesn’t look like it’ll break anything.
I’ll check the uptime checks and I’ll go to bed.
So I did this update.
I checked the uptime checks were fine, everything looked great. Reloaded the site, it still worked.
So off I went to bed. And just by chance, this night happened to be one of those nights where you just kind of crash and I slept through my alarm.
I woke up about 9 hours later and I checked tracking. I thought, “Oh, that’s kind of weird.” There’s been no traffic come through since roughly about the time I did that update last night.
So I thought maybe the traffic sources cut traffic for whatever reason. Maybe there’s an issue on that end and I’m still a little bit of denial at that stage.
Went to the traffic source, no, that’s been fine. So it really dawned on me. I did the numbers. I got the calculator out and I realised that while I’d been sleeping, I’d lost $11,000.00.
There’s only a couple of appropriate words in the English language that was suited to that moment. Most of them for later. I also invented some new ones.
Don’t’ Let Your Personal Life Slip
I called up Reuben, I said, “Ah man, I really fucked up”
And his reaction, Reuben, if he’s here, I love you. He said, “Well it’s just the cost of doing business isn’t.”
That was about how I looked. Got over it, eventually.
But if anything, I think that’s a great example of why you should really not let your personal life slip.
Keep eating, keep that on point. It can only help you in the long-run.
Thank you very much for coming.
Thank you to the conference’s team. Thank you to the 3 musketeers that started this whole shebang, changing lives.