The dream goes like this …
You find a high paying quality affiliate product, create a killer ad with perfect copywriting, find the perfect keywords at a competitive CPC.
Shazam! The money comes in on autopilot.
Unfortunately, it rarely, if ever works out that way. The problem is you are selling to a cold audience. These are not prospects, they have shown no buying intent or familiarity with the product. The other problem is you have no trust. You have not earned the right to ask for an order.
It is like dating. Sure, every once in a while, with the right environment … 2 people will hook-up on the first date. It rarely leads to a long-lasting relationship. It often creates disappointment.
So like day traders, I am sure there are some successful cpc as well as cpv/ppv driven affiliates. Most will lose money.
But even niche marketers looking for traffic from SEO, advertising can be a valuable tool.
I focus on using paid advertising to enhance my SEO and content marketing strategy while moving buyers through the sales cycle.
Lets first get advertising terms straight.
Cookies – Small files a site put on your browser to hold data about you and your visit to that site.
CPC – Cost per click. You pay something for each customer click.
CPM – Cost per Mille (mille is Latin for 1000). You pay a price for every 1000 impressions. Every time the ad is viewed by someone.
CPV/PPV – Cost per View / Pay per View. Usually associated with pop-up, pop-under, push and similar ad delivery methods.
CTR – Click Through Rate. The percent of people who saw your ad and clicked on it.
Impressions – Views of your ad. Each time an ad is viewed it is an impression – used in CPM marketing.
Pixel – Software put on a publishers website to tag visitors for remarketing. Facebook, Google, Ad networks have unique pixels.
Remarketing — Sending ads to prospects that have visited your website, YouTube channel or other supported sites.
Now that we have a common set of terms, how can an affiliate marketer or blogger use advertising effectively?
Advertising Techniques for Affiliates
Many affiliates work mainly with Facebook and Google search ads. There are also ad networks for many social media channels and YouTube.
With Facebook, you are advertising to an audience — with Google search to keywords. A FaceBook audience is a group of people that you can define in a very granular way. One of the best opportunities for any marketers is to use the FaceBook pixel and retarget your visitors. When they visit Facebook you can present your ads. Facebook has an approval process for all ads. Direct affiliate links, squeeze pages and aggressive landing pages and funnels will likely not be approved.
You can buy ads on a CPC or CPM basis for both Facebook and Google. I use CPC for remarketing – I want conversions. I use CPM for cold audience ads. The warmer the audience the more likely I am to use CPC.
Facebook Pixel and Remarketing Ads
You can add a small amount of code to your website that will allow you to pixel your website visitors. You can even have different events set to track like; they got to checkout page but not order confirmation page (abandoned cart), or they got to sales pitch page but not checkout page (warmer lead).
You will then be able to purchase ads that target these visitors to your site. Different ads can be sent for the different places the visitor is in the buying cycle — coupon ad for an abandoned cart, a giveaway magnet for email list building to cooler leads etc.
Facebook Remarketing ads are a no-brainer. These visitors should be cultivated. They are not expensive and you can even use the less expensive right sidebar ads on Facebook for this. These ads can result in sales and you may want the CTA to be more sales-focused and close the deal. Remarketing ads can even work well in Facebook’s low-cost right sidebar location. Of course, you need a landing page that gets approved by Facebook.
Facebook audience ads
You can also create an audience that does not include your visitors. These are now a cool audience. You can choose a geographic area, age, gender, income level, some interests etc. Facebook will also let you use your retarget list and create a lookalike audience.
I like to make a finetune personas. So I have “Jack trapped in a cubicle”, or “Over-educated Mary at home with kids”, etc. Then create and tune a Facebook audience for Jack, Mary, and other personas.
The ads you create for these cold audiences should be helpful. Since you have no relationship with the customer, you don’t want the call to action to go to a sales funnel or “closing landing page”. Since there is no trust yet, best to use the main wall area for these ads, not the right sidebar. You want to bring them to an introductory page, product review or video. You need to warm them up with something of value. They are your guest be a generous host.
Another good use for Facebook ads to a custom audience is to use some of your personas or create a new one for people who might be interested in your Facebook Group/Page for the affiliate site. Run ads to get likes and sign-ups for your Facebook Pages and Group. In your Facebook content, you should have links to your website content. The user visits the content and gets pixeled. You have moved them up in the sales cycle – they are warmer.
Key Points for Affiliate Advertising
- Don’t direct a cold audience to “money pages”
- Exhaust all of your remarketing opportunities first
- Use CPM first than try CPC
- Be very specific in your calls to action
- Turn a cold audience to warm with giveaways
- Set a budget so no financial surprises
- Create a suite of ads for each campaign
- Hyperfocus on detailed personas
- Optimize constantly
- Test, Test, Test
With Google Ads, you are buying keyword searches. You bid on a CPC or CPM determine placement and location. CPM is less risky and a better place to test and start. You can bid by ad location within the search results.
First page bid estimate: the bid you likely need to set for your ad to be shown anywhere on the first page of search results.
Top of page bid estimate: the bid you likely need to set for your ad to be shown among the ads at the top of the first page of search results.
First position bid estimate: The bid you likely need to set for your ad to be shown in the first position relative to other ads
Long Tail Keywords will work best for this. Buying and transactional intent keywords will be more expensive but they will have much better performance.
The CTA of buying intent keywords can go to a review or other “money page”.
You need to be careful with costs. particularly CPC. Many buying intent keywords will have advertising costs that exceed their affiliate commission value. Always set a budget with any ad network.
Another strategy is to focus on very low-cost, longer tail keywords. These will typically be information keyword searches. Again these are cold prospects that you are just trying to get to the website, Pixel them and see if you can warm them up a bit. You can buy really cheap ad space to drive traffic for long tail niche relevant visitors. Best to send them to free information or other things of benefit to them. You are trying to build trust.
Marketing – not selling at this point.
Google also offers a full range of remarketing services in both their display and search results ad markets including:
- Standard remarketing: Display ads to past visitors.
- Remarketing lists for search ads: Ads to your past visitors as they search Google.
- Customer list remarketing: Customer match, you can upload lists of contact information shows ads when logged into Google.
- Video remarketing: Ads to people who have seen your YouTube videos or channel.
Just like Facebook, there is a retargeting pixel code added to your website to tag people as they visit your site.
Display Ads and Social Ad Networks
There are lots of display networks. These networks bridge higher volume website owners and advertisers. Google’s retargeting pixel will work with the Google display network. Companies like Perfect Audience will remarket to Facebook and other publishers. You can also buy ads on Video Sites like YouTube where you can even do video remarketing with your Google Pixel. Most social media sites like Reddit, Pinterest, and Linked In have advertising networks. If these networks are a key part of your content marketing strategy it makes sense to consider advertising with them as well.
Here are some things you can do right away to get started with ads for your affiliate site or blog.
- Join the Facebook ad system and ad the FaceBook Pixel to your site
- Join Google Ads and add the Google Pixel to your site
- Create personas for your target user demographic
- Start to do keyword research to find searches to purchase ads for
- Review succesful ads that have worked to get ideas
- Have e-books or other lead magnets ready to go.