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  1. #1
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    Success Secrets
    Hi. I consider myself an affiliate failure ... so far. It's not that I don't build good sites and get traffic and clicks. My best sites average 150 or more unique visitors per day, have good content and rank on Google. And yet, they hardly ever convert. For example, I sent 2453 clicks to one merchant this year so far, with 1 sale and a commission of 12 bucks. And so forth. I suspect I'm not alone in feeling a little frustrated.

    But since I'm not taking the "bad karma" excuse route, I'm assuming that I'm missing something in how to go about making those clicks count. Many of you, I hope, are making a nice living here on the www, and have got it right.

    So ... what do you do right? What's the best thing you have done to make your clicks happen and CONVERT? Please share, so in a few weeks the frustrated among us can come back and post our new success principles too! Thanks!

  2. #2
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha
    I sent 2453 clicks to one merchant this year so far, with 1 sale and a commission of 12 bucks.
    Actually a $12 commission isn't bad if those clicks were spread out over a period of time.

    When you do make a sale, try to figure out what sold [not every merchant/network makes that easy] and on what page -- try to see if you can spot a pattern and create more pages like that.

    The complaint of many clicks but no sales isn't new:
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...hlight=convert

    You'll find some tips within that thread plus you'll see that other affiliates share the same problem and are looking for solutions
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  3. #3
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    Rhia, that is bad, 1 sale for 2453 clicks. It's like half a penny a click and the conversion rate is bad. If there are other merchants, I would try them out. Or maybe Adsense or something.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Lanadili's Avatar
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    The turning point for me was when I learned about Pre-sell. When I first started out my sites converted around 1%, so I learned everything I could about pre-selling. After I tweaked my pages with pre-sell information, my sites now convert around 5% or higher.

    Just do a Google search on Pre-selling and I'm sure you'll find plenty of information about it.

  5. #5
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    Smile
    thanks for the input.

    I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to go through the pages of one of my less popular sites, that averages 20 or 30 visits a day. Every so often, I get a commission from a good merchant posted there. I'm going to ask myself what the visitor to this page is most probably looking for, and how can I help them.

    Next, I'm going to drastically cut back on the amount of affiliate links on each page, so that the visitor doesn't have more than, say, three options. (It's so tempting to put up links all over the place for things that are only slightly related to the topic.) I will attempt to rephrase things in a "pre-Sell" manner. And I will come back to this thread as time progresses and share what's been happening.

    Sound like one of these support groups! Well, I guess it is.

    Conversions, and the tracking of them, are largely a function of the merchant. And the network. For a few years, I promoted Musicians Friend when it was on Bfast. It did pretty well for me, usually a few hundred dollars a month. This was before my site was getting anywhere near the great levels of traffic it gets today.
    When that merchant switched over to CJ, conversions plummeted to the point of disappearing. Since then, no other musical instrument merchant has come close to what I used to have with Musicians Friend and Bfast.

    So I will make this experiment with these factors on a site that gets modest traffic, and see where it goes.

  6. #6
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    Red face
    Ten days later...

    I redid a smaller site I have, and focused more on the merchants that convert better. I took out lots of tangentially relevant links, and focused on two merchants. I'm going on the assumption that less options will better focus the visitors on the relevant stuff. A sort of "squeeze" strategy. Since traffic is low there, I'll only have an idea in a few weeks if there's a difference. Nothing yet.

    On the musical instruments site, I decide to jump into the Amazon, as another poster on the thread Rhia linked to claimed a much better experience. I created a detailed aStore for all possible instruments and put it in frames, so I keep my pages and still have the aStore with its own checkout. I also put some "deals" widgets in the content sections.

    The result? 242 clicks recorded, 2 items ordered, 1 shipped. Don't know yet what the unshipped item was. Ah, but the item that was shipped, from my detailed musical instruments site, full with instructions for home recording and computers and microphones, keyboards, etc.., was .......... A CAT LITTER BOX!!

    Go figure

    I'll keep you posted. Funny thing this affiliate marketing...

  7. #7
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    Since my last post, when I switched over to Amazon, the same site has sent:
    2721 Clicks.
    22 items shipped. A casual look at the list indicates around 11 of them musical instruments, the theme of the site.
    Commissions are around $70.

    While I'm not retiring on this, it says something to me. Contrast that with some of the C.J. merchants, where similar clicks yielded 1 or less sales.

    I can't help but feel it's either the 800 numbers, the tracking or parasite-ware. :-(. So I'll stay in the Amazon for a while, until I can be confident that the C.J.merchants will properly convert and track.

  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Amazon converts REALLY good compared to many other merchants. Most people already have an account and are familiar with Amazon, so that's one less barrier. Pricing is usually reasonable and shipping is usually free. Also, Amazon reports items shipped (rather than orders) and unique clicks (rather than all), both of which exaggerate conversion ratios.
    Michael Coley
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  9. #9
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    hazlcha, I just want to say that your process, and your willingness to post progress updates, are both impressive. They show a perseverance that I'm sure will do well for you!
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  10. #10
    Full Member Amy_S's Avatar
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    LOL @ your cat litter box sale. WooHoo! A sale is a sale.

    I don't know much about your niche, but I'm guessing you could do even better than that, if you spend some time tweaking.

    But then, I say that mostly because Amazon doesn't convert at all on my sites, so I don't put any effort into promoting them any more. Another well-branded corporate merchant I thought would be my biggest money-maker also doesn't convert well. The sites that do convert for me are ones that are higher-priced and not as well branded.

    At first I was puzzled by that, but I have given it some thought. Amazon has a super-short cookie. The other corporate site is parasite-infested.

    Have you tried looking around for merchants at Shareasale and Avantlink?

  11. #11
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    Yes I have, and they didn't work out either. Probably the 800 number, even though they claim they ask for the affiliate code on the web page.

    Amazon is doing better, but still less than 1%. Like I said, merchant X was excellent on BFast, and when Bfats was bought and swallowed by CJ, merchant X tanked too. Makes me suspicious...

    I'm sure the 1-day cookie is part of the weakness of Amazon. Any ideas how to get people to either: 1. Buy within the 24 hours or 2. Go through my link when they are ready to buy, so they get a new cookie?

  12. #12
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Congrats on the success. Its nice to see follow ups like this with some success!

  13. #13
    Hang in there and keep tweaking your sites. It sounds like you are on the right track so don't let the frustration get the better of you.

  14. #14
    Newbie TylerHamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcarson View Post
    Congrats on the success. Its nice to see follow ups like this with some success!
    AGREED!

    it gives myself determination to keep my "unsuccessful" campaigns flowing!

  15. #15
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Amazon is a good hook up for you I think - Amazon or Ebay. Both convert well but Amazon seems to be more strategic. For instance, they list X amount of items for your query but they usually will show you first where to get the lowest priced one if you want it. Where as ebay tends to default to auctions ending now. Ofcourse Amazon is not an auction platform so that makes sense but if I were ebay I would default to the lowest priced item first.

    It may help to really really focus on laser targeting your incoming traffic and the pages they are being sent to based on their search terms or referring url and optimizing your pages for clicks - maybe more text links in your content. Consider buying cycle keyword modifiers. Also check your target keywords for commercial intent values.

    To get them to buy within 24hrs you need to presell them on scarcity and limited time. Something like this wouldn't hurt: "Amazon has over X number of users everyday. At prices as low as X for this item they could be all gone tomorrow - get yours now!"
    "God moves imperturbably, slowly, and with perfect organization. The only wise rate at which to live is God's rate. God get things done and they are done right and He does them without hurry. He neither fumes nor frets. He is peaceful and therefore efficient." - Norman Vincent Peale

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager cmunns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post
    For a few years, I promoted Musicians Friend when it was on Bfast. It did pretty well for me, usually a few hundred dollars a month. This was before my site was getting anywhere near the great levels of traffic it gets today.
    When that merchant switched over to CJ, conversions plummeted to the point of disappearing. Since then, no other musical instrument merchant has come close to what I used to have with Musicians Friend and Bfast.
    Any idea why the merchant switching networks affected sales on this one? It doesn't seem like it would make a difference, especially going to something as big as CJ.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmunns View Post
    Any idea why the merchant switching networks affected sales on this one? It doesn't seem like it would make a difference, especially going to something as big as CJ.
    I noticed the same problem several times.
    Merchants switching from indies to networks. And merchants switching from one network to another or starting a second program on a different network.
    Each time I kept the same level of traffic but my sales went from daily to close to nothing.
    The only difference I can explain is competition. Tracking is not really an issue. Some networks like LinkShare or CJ have very aggressive affiliates. If you add the parasites, cookie stuffers and all the bad players... there's not much left for you.
    Also, each time merchants switch to different networks, your cookies dissapear.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the feedback. I guess the notions of pre-selling are still a little murky in my brain. Yes, my visitors may be more for information than purchasing, but the content sections are what keeps people coming. I am tempted to always add more product links and buy now links, but realize that too much of that can be annoying. It's easy enough to navigate to the catalog section as it is now, without overselling with endless links.

    Not sure what "buying cycle keyword modifiers" means. :-(

    Now, I'm actually considering a change in direction, since the affiliate model has been so unsatisfactory, even with Amazon's improvements. I'm planning to experiment with drop-shipping. It gives me more control over products, prices, and avoids the whole tracking-parasite-800 number mess.

    First stop, to take a free trial, is shopster. I'll mix in some of the products I can dig up on there with the current affiliate links. And, of course, keep you posted.

    Anyone go this route, and have some experiences to share?

  19. #19
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoColts View Post
    Consider buying cycle keyword modifiers. Also check your target keywords for commercial intent values.
    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post
    Not sure what "buying cycle keyword modifiers" means. :-(
    Missed that phrase the first time around, but it's a great suggestion!

    Think about the types of searches you might do at different points during the buying cycle. If you're searching for how to use a feature on your camera, you're not even in the buying cycle (for a camera anyway). If you're searching for something general, you're likely very early in the buying cycle. If you're searching for a specific camera model, you might be very close to buying (but it's unclear). If you're searching for "buy [camera model] now" or "best price on [camera model]" or "fastest shipping on [camera model]" you're RIGHT AT THE END of the buying cycle. These phrases (and many more) are "buying cycle keyword modifiers", which typically convert far higher than more general phrases.
    Michael Coley
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  20. #20
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    Ahhh, the light goes on. Optimize for "buy the Blah Blah".

    Interestingly, I once built a whole website around a specific product, with reviews, pictures, instructions and the works. Didn't sell a single one. Probably because of this exact point, it wasn't a buying cycle optimized site.

  21. #21
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Michael did an excellent job describing the buying cycle.

    Modifiers can also include: onsale, limited time discount, cheap, cheapest, etc.

    When you said "Yes, my visitors may be more for information than purchasing, but the content sections are what keeps people coming."

    Amen to the great content and your right - it keeps traffic comming back. That said do you have a mailing list of subscribers?? If not you should definitely consider this. They'll sign up if you offer them somthing free - a free report, free video, whatever - something that gives them more of the info they feed on at your site. Once you have that set up you can market relevant affiliate products to your list over and over again and even start them on new list/campaigns (e.g. your next free report or whatever). I would recommend Aweber to set up email auto-responders and to manage your mailing list - think it's only $20/month. There are free ones out there - Feedburner I think has a email/subscription system but without the automated auto-responders.

    Don't know how many times a light bulb has come on for me wondering through these forums. Keep comming back and keep moving forward!
    "God moves imperturbably, slowly, and with perfect organization. The only wise rate at which to live is God's rate. God get things done and they are done right and He does them without hurry. He neither fumes nor frets. He is peaceful and therefore efficient." - Norman Vincent Peale

  22. #22
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    Alright, started on it with three pages so far. Will start going through the content, and finding where to put appropriate links with better words, like "Get the Blah Blah now" and such.

    Any thoughts on the Shopster idea? I know this is an affiliate forum, but if it ain't working, what's the better alternative?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post
    Yes I have, and they didn't work out either. Probably the 800 number, even though they claim they ask for the affiliate code on the web page.
    I have tried calling multiple merchants to verify that they ask for a code during phone orders. Sadly, I have never once been asked for that information. A couple of times, I've tried to volunteer it and I've been brushed off with either, "I don't know what that means" or "I don't need that". As a general rule, I just go into things assuming that phone tracking won't happen. I'm sure I miss some good opportunities, but it's not like there aren't enough merchants to promote who don't behave like that.

  24. #24
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    Yeah, they post the code up top the page, but don't tell the operators about it. Good for you for checking, we have to know. This is our business.

  25. #25
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    Updates since May 26: It's like a scoreboard for comparative affiliate programs!

    Amazon - 2674 clicks, 31 items shipped. That's 1.16%, earning $84.
    CJ merchants specializing in musical gear combined - 2790 clicks, 1 item, earning $36.00.

    Well that speaks for itself, doesn't it!

    The Shopster, actually, sold one item out of who-knows how many clicks, and they hit you with hidden charges, making the earnings negligible. I think it is a waste of time.

    Now I'm going to look at Buy. Anyone have experience there to share and guide me with?

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