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Are other programs doing this and I just don’t know about them?
If you are an affiliate or publisher, dealing with the plethora of CPA networks can seem like a daunting task. However, there is a lot of money flowing in the networks, and there is a lot of money available to publishers or affiliates with the right amount and right kind of traffic. You may have that and not even know it.
Every veteran has an opinion or a piece of advice on how to deal with these networks, and every experienced affiliate marketer will point you to their favorite two or three networks as “the best to work with.”
The truth is, if you know what you are doing, working with various networks can give you a good insight into what the current trends and highest performing CPA offers are at the moment. Working with more than one network, and with networks that are not necessarily the most talked about can also open doors to better relationships, higher payouts, quicker payouts and better offers.
The trick is to know how to get your foot in the door with these networks, and how to deal with the publisher specialist, or publisher manager, you’ll be working with.
These are networks like Hydra, AdDrive, Market Leverage, Rextopia, RocketProfits, FiliNet, NeverBlue, or eMarketMakers. Azoogle, Adteractive, Websponsors, Advertising.com etc are also out there, but there is already a tier system developing in the network space, so trying out just one of those is not representative of the CPA network genre as a whole.
So, here at five quick tips for newbie’s (and perhaps a few veterans out there) contemplating the idea of trying out a CPA network that have come from my years of experience in the network space…
1. Call and talk to a person. Don’t just send in an email. Publisher directors (comparable to affiliate managers in an affiliate network) absolutely love to get phone calls from affiliates or publishers. I promise. Ask them questions about the types of offers, payouts, or whatever is on your mind. They know all about their program and most of them love to talk about how their program is different, or better, than the competitors. Let them know the level of your interest at the beginning of the phone call and how long you have to spare in the conversation. Then just make sure you have a notebook to write down all the info they will surely give you.
2. Be upfront. If you decide to join a specific network, go through the application process and then call the network or company and speak to a publisher manager. Let them know about your application and tell them that you have a few more things you’d like to add to your application. Tell them what type of offers you are looking for, give them reasonable expectations about your traffic levels and ask them how they can help you. The networks are more than willing to give you two or three points on how their specific program can work with you as an individual. Plus, that phone call sticks you in the head of the publisher director who can later tip you off to high converting offers or bump your payout.
3. Immediately find out about payouts. You can do this before you join a network. But make sure you ask about when you will get paid. This varies from net10 to net45 based on the network. Don’t ever assume the net payout number!
4. Ask about incentivized traffic. The publisher director you speak to will surely throw out some of the network offers that have been doing well as a selling point. Whether or not you yourself have incentivized (you give your readers/users incentive to fill out a lead form with a special offer or service) traffic, you will be competing with other affiliates or publishers who do in some cases. Once you’ve joined, look for the offers that are marked as “Can Be Incentivized” or “Cannot Be Incentivized” and think about what kind of competition you may be up against. Incentivizing an offer results in lower lead quality, but higher lead counts… so keep that in mind.
5. Get to know your publisher manager or director. Affiliate marketing is all about relationship, but so are the CPA networks. Getting to know the person you are working with in a network can be a make-or-break proposition. In my experience as a publisher director, I would often give insider tips about which offers are (in reality) performing the best or which offers are going to be pulled in the upcoming weeks, or they can even bump your payout. It’s not always showbusiness… sometimes it’s showfriends.
The key to working with CPA networks is to understand the difference between how they are set up and what they can offer you as compared to affiliate networks. As a gross generalization, affiliate networks have rev-share type offers with recognizable brand names. CPA networks have performance type offers that stress lead generation and quick turnaround. So, it’s a much more efficient and upfront marketplace than the affiliate networks in that issues such as chargebacks and payout rates can be settled up front rather than after the fact.
So, do your homework, ask around and, most importantly, talk to people at the CPA networks.
I’ll be posting a “How to Deal with Publishers” later this afternoon from the CPA network side of things. Hopefully, shedding some light on the networks and how they operate will increase affiliates willing to work with them and cause some much-needed conversation in our industry/
Every network needs more publishers and affiliates.
It is wonderful to have a niche network, but in order to cover production and overhead costs, there is a statistical point on the revenue curve that you have to achieve in order to stay afloat. Since angel investors and venture capitalists still haven’t discovered affiliate marketing (yet), companies in this space have to find that statistical sweet spot quickly and efficiently in order to survive the first four months.
There is a beyond interesting conversation going on in the comments about the nature of affiliate marketers and those who need help and education and those who are educating the affiliate managers they work with. Brian Littleton of ShareASale and Jim Kukral of BlogKits have pointed out the need to help bloggers overcome the learning curve normally associated with affiliate marketing and steps they are using to do so. Jeff Molander is arguing for the need of more intelligent affiliate managers that don’t need the constant schooling from saavy affiliates.
Where is the combination for your network or merchant program? Do you rely on affiliate managers to be good salespeople and hope they know what they are talking about? Do you actively recruit people to work for your network who have industry experience on both sides of the fence?
And where do bloggers fit into all of this? Are bloggers truly the next long tailed collection of eager and willing affiliates waiting to be discovered so that they can begin to make some money from the time and effort they put into the craft? Blogging is an art, and when done well can be a beautiful thing. Is your network actively seeking out these artists to help diversify your affiliate base?
I’d go so far as to say that within three years, affiliates as we once knew them will be gone. Static sites with html banners will always have a place, but that place is constantly being eroded by the vast ocean of content. If you’re not making content or at least updating your site, you may face a daunting task as search continues to evolve and social media continues to be adopted.
The ramifications are huge for Europe and potentially for working with international affiliates via Advertising.com. I still can’t believe AOL/Time Warner is the buyer, but it makes sense with their strong push towards moving from a subscription revenue model to an advertising revenue model. I wonder how many investors will dump their shares after the buyout?
I’m definitely going to be asking Zanox about their thoughts on this at the Summit.
I’ve been experimenting with blogs and static websites for a few of the affiliate sites I run and manage.
Within the last 3 moths, the blogs have finally over taken the static web pages in terms of profit. This is utterly crazy to me because I’ve been updating the content on the blogs while the niche sites have been relatively stagnant in terms of content. Plus,it’s much easier/cheaper to build a blog affiliate site rather than a static site because the content should come easy!
Does that mean that content isn’t that important for an affiliate site?
I would argue no, because I’ve seen an increase in repeat IP’s processing repeat purchases. For instance, one of the affiliate sites I manage is a NASCAR themed site (I don’t miss a race), and the repeat buyers are about 79% higher on the blog/content site rather than the static content site.
So, if you’re going to do affiliate marketing, make sure you consider the type of content you are providing to keep the visitors coming. Repeat visitors/customers are invaluable!
I honestly enjoy the WordTracker service. Google Analytics is great for analyzing what sort of traffic is coming to your site as well.
Realizing what sort of traffic is coming to your site based on the keyword is definitely helpful. Here’s a little of my secret sauce… you must make a differentiation between what is considered a “money keyword” and a “traffic keyword.” That’s common knowledge among most of the established affiliates, but if you’re just starting out, that wisdom will save you lots of time.
I like to convert my keywords at a certain percentage, depending on which niche site I’m using. So, you have to decide which keywords are most valuable to you depending on the traffic or “money” keywords.
Keep in mind that the type of offer and the profit margin has a great deal to do with how effective your keyword might/shoudl be.
Play with keywords, check out WordTracker and Google Trends and see what you can do. This is still a relatively new market in the general world of marketing. It’s a lot of fun to experience and try to predict, but you can really break down your keywords into what is profitable and what is not.
Here’s my final tip for figuring out what keywords to include in your efforts:
1. 2,104 Visitors have added Cost Per News to their Favorites within their browser since the beginning of December. Aww. Thanks! I like you too.
2. It’s easier than a SEO company’s booth babe in Vegas (too harsh?) to advertise here on Cost Per News. Check check check it out at http://ads.costpernews.com or click on the dollar sign to your left <~~~
3. I need your input on a question that has been bugging the hell out of me because I can't get good data on it… Do you prefer to have a new window open when you click on a pic/link here? Or would you rather the window you’re currently viewing CPN in go to the link you click? It doesn’t hurt my feelings either way, so be honest. Just please help me make that decision once and for all.
4. For the 45% of you still viewing this site on Internet Explorer… ugh… you disgust me. Change your ways and repent!
5. Girlshapedlovedrug by Gomez is a fantastic song. Go download it at your favorite non-drm vendor. I suggest emusic.com, but Rhapsody is good for hearing everything and is quickly becoming a favorite for me since I’m always chained to this laptop.
6. ReveNews is picking up the content again. If you haven’t been there in the last few days, go read the interesting debates going on about the nature of business blogging (for free) in the comments. Good stuff.
7. Thanks to Jangro, I’ve been fixing some back end bugs this weekend that I had been avoiding. You won’t notice it (hopefully), but the site will be a little sharper, prettier and load even quicker.
8. I’m thinking about taking down the MyBlogLog widget. I love widgets and I’ve had a good time with MBL, but I’m not getting much out if besides seeing Molander’s pretty face every day. I’ve even been asked by other bloggers why I don’t visit their sites. The truth is, I read about 450 blogs through feeds. I promise that I visit your site, but my avatar doesn’t show up on your MBL widget because I’m reading your feed. I’d prefer people start using RSS, so I feel like I’m encouraging the dis-use of RSS by having the widget up. Eric, get your Yahooligans to help you write a script to allow people reading the feed to count as a “visitor.” You guys have done an incredible job at responding to the community concerns so far, and that’s my biggest concern about using MBL going forward.
9. I’ve grown a beard for Affiliate Summit so that I can look like my hero Dave Winer. Beards look good on me, I think. So, if you’re looking for me at the Summit, I’ll be the bearded dude without a shower. My wife hates the beard, btw.
10. I’m doing a few interviews with networks, affiliates and merchats at the Summit for CPN. I’m particularly excited about meeting the executives at Zanox and picking their brains on and off the record about the industry and international issues. If you’d like to setup a meeting, interview, presentation, steak/lobster dinner or just buy me a beer or three, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m flying in on Friday and flying out on Monday night on the red eye.
11. Blogging is hard.
12. Affiliate Marketing is hard. If you think you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t.
Constructing a site and finding affiliate programs to promote for your site is becoming easier and easier. However, one entry level barrier for new affiliates is how to transfer certain data files to their affiliate managers or merchants. I think we need to lower the entry threshold for new affiliates, so I was excited to discover something new this week.
On Wednesday a merchant that I work with on one of my affiliate sites recently asked me if I’d like to use a new service called BoxClouds to transfer some non-crucial files that normally would be shared via FTP.
I’ve since played with the BoxClouds service for a few days and am happily surprised with the ease of use.
From the BoxClouds site:
BoxCloud’s “drag and share” functionality makes sharing files a snap through a small application you install on your desktop. You decide what to share simply by dragging files from your desktop over your buddy list. Your files and folders are hosted directly and instantly from your computer without any uploading. Once shared, your contacts can then access your files over a regular browser — they don’t need to download or configure anything.
While I wouldn’t suggest using this for sensitive documents or data files, I do think applications such as this or box.net are making file transfers so easy that eventually how we work together in the affiliate marketing world could figure out a way to innovate secure and safe file transfer system.
FTP is nice but not every affiliate or affiliate manager knows how to use it. Email is certainly not safe, and not always certain to land in the inbox of the recepient. IM transfer is difficult-to-sketchy at best due to different platforms and security settings.
What do you use to transfer files with your partnering merchants, affiliates or affiliate managers? Could a service such as BoxClouds (with more security) further the entry barrier to affiliate marketing?
This is the greatest thing I’ve read in a long while (and not just because I’m trying to figure out a way to make a living out of blogging… ok… maybe it is just because of that)…
3. Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some people are better at it than others.
6. Blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly. I say that all the time, and will KEEP saying it till people finally get it [I’m not holding my breath].
20. Blogging will never be a mainstream activity so long as being able to write well and often remains the main barrier to entry.
30. Yes, the blogosphere is a great place to get laid. No, I’m not telling you how I found this out.
37. Z-Listers are every bit as selfish, self-important and psychologically flawed as A-Listers. Except the former don’t have large armies of people with real and/or imagined economic & social incentives for tripping them up. (Amen… Wayne, are you reading this??)
Whether you’re a blogger or not, pay attention. This applies to your program as well.
I’m committing the ultimate immortal (yet most unoriginal) sin.
I’m starting a tag virus. Apologies.
But unlike the “5 things you didn’t know about me and won’t ever really remember” meme, this one is valuable… it’s about business cards.
Here is my business card…
Well, that’s not really true. I don’t have business cards. I think they are somewhat silly.
I carry around about 250 blank cards at shows and make the cards up on the spot depending on how well I like the person or how goofy they are to me (taken from one of my online heroes, Hugh McLeod). So, if you receive a flattering card from me at Affiliate Summit or in the mail, that’s good. If you receive some ironic poetry with a caustic tale, that’s probably a reflection of how I feel about your strategy or program.