If you’ve ever read an exciting follow along that at some point just stopped getting updates you must have wondered what happened to the affiliate and their campaigns. Depending on how the thread was going there are two possible options.
One, the affiliate became so successful they decided to channel 100% of their energy towards scaling the campaigns and making the most of it.
Two, they decided to give up, stopped the campaign and changed their niche… or profession.
Either way, the forum is full of questions from beginners who are only just starting their journeys. Sooner or later a thread gets started: Why are my campaigns failing? Why did my campaign stop converting? I’ve spent $XX and got no conversions. Why?
Let me go over the top 5 reasons why your campaigns fail and how to fix it.
1. Not testing enough
Undoubtedly, the biggest mistake made by beginner affiliates is not testing enough. Getting discouraged within days after starting your first campaign is very common but it’s definitely not a good reason to quit affiliate marketing.
Here is the bad news for beginners with low budgets. Spending $10 and getting no conversions is more common than you think. Depending on what you are trying to promote your ‘test’ budget might vary.
If you’re promoting sweepstakes with a single opt in conversion process, then $10 should most of the time bring you at least a couple of conversions.
If you’re promoting a double opt-in offer with a higher payout and higher requirements, then $10 might hardly be enough to test a portion of the traffic.
Depending on the volumes available in the traffic source of your choice, the ‘testing phase’ might eat up a significant chunk of your budget. The higher the traffic volume the higher the earning potential but also the longer the testing phase.
If you’re not sure what a testing phase is then let me explain. Once you choose your offer, lander (or landers) and creatives, you need to choose and test a traffic source. Even when you already have an optimized funnel, the traffic will behave differently in each network, source, target and country.
While testing the traffic you should let your campaign run uninterrupted for 3-4 days before analyzing the data and making first optimization decisions. In Zeropark, the minimum daily budget for all types of traffic is $20 which totals $60-$80 for gathering data. The recommended daily budget, however, is $100.
After that period, well-performing sources and targets should be clearly identifiable but throughout that time it’s highly likely that your campaign would be running at a loss.
It’s hard to watch your budget go without seeing any green, but without gathering data and optimizing traffic based specifically on that data, your chances of success are slim. It’s best to focus on learning one particular skill (vertical/ad format/GEO) rather than move erratically between different ideas.
Do not jump from campaign to campaign if you don’t become profitable overnight. It doesn’t mean that you chose the wrong offer/ad format/GEO targeting – it means you just haven’t tested enough.
If your first campaign doesn’t get profitable (even if you did your best to properly test the data and optimize the traffic) that’s still not a good enough reason to quit. Some campaigns just won’t become profitable no matter what you do. Sometimes you won’t know why. What’s important is to learn from them anyway.
Were there any sources that showed potential? Save them in a spreadsheet and test with a different offer. Don’t let the valuable data go to waste. Don’t get discouraged. Test more offers, landers and GEOs.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The super affiliates that you know and admire, most likely didn’t make millions of off their first campaign. Not even the second or the third one. They kept on testing until they found a working combination and that’s exactly what you should do too.
Don’t forget that you can always ask your traffic source’s / ad network’s representatives for the latest top performers. They know exactly what sort of offers perform well in what GEOs and they might even give you some ideas for what angles and creatives work best.
2. Optimizing too quickly
The second biggest mistake is connected rather closely with the first one. Beginner affiliates tend to get very enthusiastic about making their first optimizations. When they see that their campaign hasn’t been converting well within 24 hours from its launch, they pull the optimization trigger too early.
Cutting sources or placements is a good optimization strategy but only when you have sufficient data to be able to judge their potential accurately.
One or two conversions in one source vs. zero conversions in another is not a significant amount of data. Wait until the difference in conversions is clearly visible. That’s why we recommend letting your campaign gather data for 3-4 days before you start narrowing things down.
How much should you spend before optimizing?
It’s also highly recommended to have a spend of minimum $100 before proceeding to optimization. The recommended amount of conversions is not as easy to determine. When it comes to sweepstakes offers, the tests budget might be lower but it’s best to wait until you have about 50 conversions. In case of higher payout offers, a budget of $300-$500 is recommended for the initial testing phase but the minimum number of conversions amounts to about 20.
Please remember that these numbers are general recommendations and shouldn’t strictly determine how you run your campaigns. If you are a complete beginner they should give you a good idea of what a campaign testing phase looks like. There are many different strategies out there but the one thing that they all have in common is that you need significant data in order to start optimizing.
Also, cutting sources and targets should not be the first optimization that you do. Initially, you should focus on observing the performance of mobile vs. desktop traffic. Sometimes the difference in performance between platforms should be easily visible and therefore the first logical optimization step.
Sometimes it might be a good idea to split the campaign into two separate ones for mobile and desktop traffic as the platforms usually have different average bids.
In what order you should optimize campaign variables?
In general, the recommended order of optimization is: platform, devices, browsers, OS, and OS versions.
Once you get to optimizing on source level you should make sure that your bid has been competitive enough to win high quality traffic. It’s recommended that you cut sources only after they are still not converting upon reaching 70-90% win ratio.
Always remember that cutting anything will lower the volume of traffic coming to your campaign. If you’re targeting a low volume GEO or a very specific region then it might be best to focus on adjusting bids of sources and targets before making cuts.
If you over-optimize your traffic you might accidentally limit your volume so much that even if you do become profitable these profits will never go above a single digit number.
3. Giving up too soon
If you are a beginner affiliate hoping to invest $100 and become profitable within a week then you might feel seriously discouraged once that week passes and you’ve barely made a couple of conversions.
You really can’t have high expectations while starting affiliate marketing. As much as studying or doing courses is advised, you can only truly learn by testing. And testing takes time and money.
What would be an estimated budget to try affiliate marketing in practice? About $500 in the case of PPV or PPC traffic. This, of course, doesn’t mean that if you have a lot less you will never become profitable. It just simply means that in the majority of cases the smaller the budget the harder it is to find find a working campaign
If you spend $20 on a campaign with one lander and one creative and decide to give up because of poor results then you will most likely never be successful.
Affiliate marketing is all about testing. What verticals work where and with what type of traffic. Do your research and stick to your choices. You shouldn’t switch a niche when your first or second campaign doesn’t work out. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for help.
Test the campaign for 3-4 days and then use another 3-4 days on optimization. If the ROI is still very low then you might consider killing the campaign.
When considering switching the vertical altogether make sure to ask your affiliate network and traffic source representatives what’s performing best at a given moment.
Most expert affiliates have their favourite verticals or GEOs. Sometimes they specialize in a particular combo. That’s usually because they took time and effort to test all kinds of traffic and finally, they found a set up and a strategy that worked.
You should not give up after a couple of failed campaigns. Sometimes campaigns, landers or creatives need to be killed or stopped but it’s crucial that you always learn something from each attempt.
Keep a notebook or a google doc with your thoughts. Campaigns are made of many components so it’s good to analyse each and every one of them in order to draw conclusions about why they might have failed.
Affiliate marketing is not a quick profit scheme. It requires learning and testing and sometimes it might take a long while to start making profits after investing in the learning phase.
4. Poor landers
Majority of the time campaigns perform significantly better when using a lander. So, the first mistake you can make when it comes to landers is not using them. If you feel like the offer landing page is well made and should be enough to make a user convert then what we’d recommend is A/B testing – pre-lander vs. direct. That way you can really check whether your offer is in the 10% that will perform better without a lander but you will test the other option too, just to be safe.
Don’t be the lazy affiliate that expects quick profits without putting in the effort. Cases in which the offer converts better without a pre-lander are rather rare so it’s quite unlikely that one of your first campaigns will be like that.
Why should you use your own landing page?
Landing pages are the pre-selling point. They help to warm up the user and introduce whatever you want to sell them. They are inarguably a crucial factor influencing the performance of your campaigns.
That’s why direct linking or using the wrong pre-landers might be the reason your campaigns are failing.
Not everyone can afford spy tools at the beginning and that’s okay. But there are other ways of finding out what landing pages are performing best. Once again, asking the reps of a traffic source or affiliate network will be your best shot at getting reliable information about the kind of landers that work.
Simple offers with simple flows don’t require much thinking when it comes to landers but you should always watch out for the traffic network guidelines. Usually it’s easy to check what sort of landers are allowed and how aggressive they can be.
If you’re creating landers by yourself then you should pay close attention to the style of your offer page. Nothing says professionalism more than perfectly matched pre-lander and offer landing page.
Complete beginners sometimes make the mistake of using landers so different from the offer page that they don’t even advertise the same product.
Make sure your lander clearly states the instructions for how to convert. Whether you need the users to share their credit card numbers or download an app, use precise directions and explain the benefits of your product. Be as convincing as possible and use a simple CTA.
Still, you can never truly predict user preferences. Also, they might vary for different GEOs. It’s always recommended to test more than one landing page at once. Sometimes it’s enough to make cosmetic changes but sometimes using an entirely different angle might turn the tables on the potential of your campaign.
The appearance as well as the text on the lander can make a huge difference. Always make sure that creatives, lander and offer pages have no significant discrepancies or contradictions. They should be similar in style, angles and content. Watch out for grammar mistakes and typos.
You should also remember that while running campaigns in non-english speaking GEOs it’s best to translate landers and creatives or at least split test them against their english versions.
5. Bad offers
Lastly, your campaigns might sometimes fail simply because of a bad offer. No amount of traffic filter optimization or creative pre-landers can make a user convert if the offer just isn’t interesting enough.
Sometimes it might be quite impossible to accurately judge which offer has potential. That’s why it’s always best to ask for recommendations. I can’t stress this enough – as a newbie, reaching out for help to network representatives and experts from the community is your best chance at making the right choices.
Also, you can’t get attached to the offers that you run. Even when you personally think they make sense it’s highly likely that if they don’t convert well it’s because the users aren’t interested in them.
Offers can be badly paired with GEOs, e.g. first time deposit (FTD) offers shouldn’t be run in Tier 3 countries where the population is much poorer than in, for example, Tier 1 countries.
Another mistake you might make is choosing the wrong offer for the wrong budget. Beginners should start with sweepstakes as it’s the easiest and the cheapest vertical to run. What they definitely shouldn’t start with are high payout offers which might seem enticing because of potential profits but they need a much more polished set up and higher testing budgets.
Make sure to research offers before you start running your campaigns. Again, you might use spy tools or ask around. Make sure you have a good combination of offers, landers, (optionally creatives) with GEOs and ad formats. Some offers might work significantly better with mobile traffic only so it would be a shame to mistakenly pair those up with desktop traffic.
Offer restrictions are crucial here as well. Your conversion will not be counted if it’s coming from the wrong GEO or platform so make sure you pay close attention to the offer description. You wouldn’t want to advertise a voucher to a shop that doesn’t exist in that particular location.
Are the products you advertise up to date? Sweepstakes with the newest iPhone model will surely perform much better than those with an outdated model.
Sometimes the offer might not convert because the market for it is just too saturated. Choosing the highest converting offer from the affiliate network can either work really well or really poorly. If everyone is running the same offer at the same time (using the same creatives) users will stop noticing it altogether. Sometimes a less popular offer might be a jackpot.
Overall, there is one thing that will help you determine why your campaigns are failing – it’s a tracker. Yes, it’s possible to start affiliate marketing without a tracking solution but it’s not possible to scale or truly know what works. Campaigns can fail on many levels and only using a tracker will allow you to know at which point of the funnel people are dropping out.
So, to summarize, what are the top 5 beginner mistakes?
Not putting enough time and effort to test the traffic before expecting results.
Not allowing your campaigns to gather enough significant data before beginning optimization.
Stopping campaigns or offers and changing the whole strategy too soon or too often.
Underestimating the power of good, quality pre-landers.
Choosing the wrong offer and sticking with it for too long.
Hopefully, if you’ve made any of the mistakes described above, you will know now how to avoid or fix them.