Data-Driven Marketing: Getting Started As An Affiliate
One of the best choices I made was to stop blogging.
I took a break to begin digging into data-driven marketing.
I was tired and facing burnout when I made the shift.
I was looking for a way that would truly inform my decision-making process.
It was a combination of using the right tools, along with knowing which ones to use early on.
Thrive Themes handled A/B testing (this was one of the best uses of my time as an affiliate.)
Pretty Links handled my link management and gave me insight into tracking and while it's not only desirable, but also necessary.
Take the time to learn the basics of analytics.
I truly believe there is no easy way to begin affiliate marketing and guarantee success.
However, there is an approach that focuses on skills rather than outcomes.
This is the truth I stumbled upon early in my journey. My first stab at selling online was through Facebook Ads. With that experience, I first encountered the common issue of high traffic and low sales.
I knew I had a traffic quality issue, but I was stuck because I didn't quite understand my options.
The biggest sin we commit is one of not having more options. We stagnate, we're dead in our tracks. The next thing you know, we've quit on our journey as affiliate marketers. I know, I was just there months ago when I let this very blog sit because I was stumped.
We've got to find skills that we can sharpen and use to find angles.
The core skills I've learned are:
- Affiliate Analytics
- SEO for Affiliate Marketing
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Ads (Search & Display)
The first skill was SEO though.
Introduced through SEO AD, I was completely green and hadn't even installed WordPress before.
I speak about the experience of going through the course here and believe it's valuable to point out that I didn't know much about affiliate marketing and also wasn't aware that SEO would become a tool of choice moving forward.
I've taken a course on paid traffic as well, Colin Dijs' Dijs University. Fun fact, he's a graduate of SEO AD but went the paid traffic route instead. I expand on paid traffic and how to use Google Ads in previous posts.
Next to my original skill of SEO for affiliate marketing, I've learned what I like to call affiliate analytics. Essentially relying on the basics in link management and tracking in order to apply a few concepts. The tools themselves are just a means to an end. I know it's so easy to glamorize software, but it's the user's ability to realize how to use that software that ultimately creates value aka you get paid.
"You want a magic bullet but don't realize it's useless without a gun." – Me
The course I initially took SEO Affiliate Domination has been updated to reflect the changing times. The truth is, this world seems to change every 3 months or so. In order to really move the needle, you're likely going to need to employ different strategies depending on the results of different "tests" you perform.
Data-Driven Marketing: In the Lab
This whole thing is a big experiment.
That said, the best way to truly pinpoint a useful strategy is through having the discipline to track and therefore understand the tests we perform.
Our natural inclination is to
1) Find a strategy that someone else has used,
2) Use the strategy (with skepticism and disdain, especially if it costs more than $0),
3) Complain if results aren't typical, even though most programs tell you so in the fine print.
There is a secret door (notice I didn't say shortcut) that exists from the very beginning for those that dare to approach it. It's mastering a skill and coupling that with understanding data-driven marketing techniques that slowly engrain themselves into your process over time.
For instance, I use Google Search Console daily. I'm always looking for keywords that are ranking well and also recently started paying closer attention to site extensions that seem to be getting the most love.
I would never have gotten to this point without the initial skill of on-page SEO.
Taking it Further & Winning Because You Did
People know that sacrifice and specialization is a formula for breakthrough yet they dismiss it sometimes when they see it.
In this case, tracking and understanding your traffic leads to you diagnosing the next step in your journey as an affiliate. One of the best decisions I made was taking the time to checkout Julius Fedorovicius' Analytics Mania course after searching online and finding him more insightful in his free content than most other's paid content.
I recommend you buy the bundle rather than take the free course if you have the money to spare. My experience has been that introducing this type of information back-to-back makes it much easier to build on if you never stop after learning the basics. On second thought, take the free course then continue on your path with the bundle.
I'm not new to GTM or GA, so I'll be going directly for the bundle and offer a review post on it soon.
Take your tracking and analytics game to the next level by visiting Analytics Mania and taking Julius Fedorovicius' courses.
The reason no one seems to value this part of the game is because it's not the money maker. It's the set-up for a money maker though. At first glance it seems to be a luxury rather than a necessity.
Analytics, Tracking, and Traffic Sources can and will get you much closer to your goals to become a profitable affiliate. The lack of focused effort and the desire to just (work/hustle/grind) is the mark of an amateur.
Data/Analytics are foundational even though they seem more advanced and intimidating. This is the very beginning of building a strategy, akin to a boxer's jab this is what opens up much larger possibilities.
Google's free tools
Google Tag Manager
This was a life changing tool for me and how I look at online marketing.
I found out quickly that if I took the time to understand and implement each feature as I came across it, I would succeed by default. This is a very technical advantage, and therefore it will likely be overlooked by most. This is idea for me at this point in my career, because I will be able to truly track each interaction on my site and also populate Facebook Pixel and Google Remarketing campaigns with visitor data through cookies.
That alone has me excited to dive in and truly understand the tool and it's more advanced uses. As of now I've set up the basics and look forward to understanding more and more through trial and error during the implementation process. It's coding heavy, and I don't have that background formally but I have been known to tinker around.
Because I'm tapping into knowledge that others were either uninterested in or completely oblivious to. This definitely yelled out to me that it was an edge.
Edge /ej/ : a quality or factor that gives superiority over close rivals or competitors.
Yall know I'm all about it, finding the advantage is truly an art and when you do you've got to exploit. This is the pros, in any industry where the competition is developed you find small instances that make a major difference. This is that.
GA is where GTM sends data to be stored. Yes you can set-up GA without GTM, but you forfeit the depth at which you'll be able to track your site's activity. I can't really explain it in full, but you've got to trust me when I say that GTM is worth the extra effort.
Getting more information can lead to analysis paralysis, but in finding the perfect balance is the art. There's an edge to knowing more and using that knowledge to find an edge.
Less is more initially (because you need traction). But eventually, you graduate into more and can then get more from your expanded knowledge of what data is available to you.
I used Pretty Links plugin to track links initially.
Later I graduated to GA but still lean on Pretty Links for click data.
As a baseline, GA alone will open your eyes to the data/analytics that are tracked and why it's important to optimize around what visitors are doing, when they are doing it, and more importantly what they aren't interested in.
I think we all can easily get pretty misled into thinking certain offers/products/services are going to be as interesting to others as they are to us. Don't fall for this trap!! There is no shortcut to success as an affiliate marketer. You will need to build skills and find an edge in order to prosper.
Although I haven't personally used paid ads in any of my efforts thus far, I am very much excited and interested in using Remarketing ads and I'll lay out why.
I've managed Google Ads for a few clients as a byproduct of starting this journey. I essentially got paid to learn and I did all I could to approach Google Ads with respect and an open mind.
The best part about it is the fact that I will be able to get back in front of the same audience that has already found me organically. So although this blog and the course I took to get me my first $600 (and counting) promotes SEO traffic. I'm finding my own unique edge to maximize that in the long run.
I love free traffic, but I want to do more with that free traffic so that means I'll be running Ads to remarket to them and finding ways to get them onto my email list.
I admit I haven't used Google Optimize just yet, but I'm understanding that it's crucial for A/B Testing pages. This could come in really handy in instances where your offer has multiple sales pages.
(Potential) Customer's Always Right
Case and Point: Spire.io had a brief moment last year where they were in the Apple store. They had an affiliate program I signed up to through Share-A-Sale and I proceeded to make several blog posts featuring the Spire Stone and Spire health tags. I was dumbfounded when the sales didn't start rolling in. Luckily I had a handful of sites covering different products in the health/wellness industry. Anyways, it didn't dawn on me to stop making content and redirect all the associated links until I came across one of their adds on IG.
The overall sentiment was negative.
No one wanted one, let alone understood why they would pay $100+ for this particular line of products. So even with all those signs that pointed toward success (they still have shelf space on Apple.com not sure about in store). The people ultimately gave me an insight that I was missing completely.
Thank God I took the time to scan the comments.
Pivot and Find What Works
If I wouldn't have discovered that I was the only person interested in Spire.io, I would have likely wasted my time building content and positioning the offer.
From what I'm understanding, serving the right audience the right offer is the whole point of this affiliate thing.
And unless you want to serve up software or courses like most beginner affiliates, you'll probably want to listen to what consumers are saying.
One way to do this is through tracking their interactions.
This is also why I prefer SEO traffic over paid. I can get an unbias opinion much easier if the initial interaction isn't all about the interruption.
Similar to approaching women, it should be natural and somewhat smooth. (But, we all know the best is a favorable introduction is a shoe in).
Essentially when you interrupt you run the risk of unfavorable results strictly because of "wrong time and place".
Think I'm wrong, try to spit game to a women while she's out jogging, on the cellphone, with her parents touring the city. Maybe it's just me, but I got shot down plenty times.