Ask an Optimizer: Establishing and optimizing affiliate campaigns


During our August 26 web clinic on optimizing affiliate marketing, several participants wanted to know more about setting up and measuring their programs. We’ve distilled those questions for the latest edition of our Ask an Optimizer column.

Q: What kinds of businesses are suited to using affiliates?

I think businesses that are devoted to ecommerce or lead collection are going to be exposed to the greatest number of affiliates — especially those that are somewhat familiar for your marketplace.

Q: How do you identify & recruit the best affiliates?

Form a good relationship with affiliate networks/managers. Also, watch forums for affiliates that seem like they are worth approaching. A word of caution: some of the “top contributors” to these forums are not always the most successful. Approach with caution some of the “loud mouths” out there.

Having competitive payouts and reasonable offer terms are a must, and will also be attractive for recruitment.

Q: Are there any options for regionalizing affiliate marketing?

Yes, but traffic is going to be much smaller. Also, some of the bigger affiliates are not going to fool with these restrictions. I would team up with other companies in the same space, and just sell the leads that are not pertinent to your area of service.

Q: Which affiliate marketing tool is most effective? Banner ads, text ads, email campaigns, or mini web sites?

It depends on the offer and the audience the affiliate is trying to reach.  If you are promoting a good offer, you should develop most of these elements. Don’t handcuff the effectiveness of your affiliates and your business with a lack of materials. Make sure that you are tracking the effectiveness for each of these communication methods, as you might find some interesting data.

Q: How do I find niches I can be confident will yield sales? Or how do I test rapidly?

Testing rapidly is a good way to jump to conclusions, and fail. Obviously if the disparity is huge that is one thing, but do not rush to conclusions because we have all seen how internet traffic changes.  Do not ditch your confidence levels and testing best practices.

Q: How do I mix the “best techniques” for landing pages with “Google rules” for quality score?

Part of Google’s rules with quality score are items that you should have anyway. For example, a big part of quality score is how relevant the page is to the target keyword/phrase etc. I often see people suffer by trying to communicate too much within the images on a page. Make sure that good and relevant information isn’t contained in unreadable (to Google) images.

We also talk about having continuity between your ads and landing page. So make sure you have headlines that match keyword/phrases and will reassure the user they are in the right place, plus score relevance points with Google.

Q: What’s the simplest way to track keywords that are converting or predict them?

Talking to your offer company and discussing tracking options can open up true conversion tracking for you.

For prediction, if you are already running traffic, look at your CTR rates and try to estimate with this new traffic (keywords) — is it more relevant or general?  With that, try to look at what you are going to spend with this new traffic, and the conversion rates you are already observing.

Then factor the quality/relevance of the new traffic, and ask yourself: will the spend this traffic requires still allow me to be positive? Prediction really just comes with time and seeing what works. There is no guaranteed formula.

For more info, check out last week’s list of additional research and resources on affiliate marketing.

Have additional questions? Other things you’d like to Ask an Optimizer? Use the comments section below or tweet me at: @ctrentmarketing

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