January 25th, 2008 Add Your Comments Bookmark and Share

You can call me a chicken if you like but I’ve ended my experiment into affiliate marketing via PPC early this month. I initially set aside $500 in a slush fund to “give it a go” and see what happened but at around the $420 down mark I’ve decided to call it a day. I’ll admit that there are a few things I’ve learnt from it so it hasn’t been an all bad experience, in fact I’ve treated it very much as a gamble, don’t bet with more than you can afford to lose and you can’t get too upset!

First of all I’ve learnt that for the same ad spend Yahoo Search Marketing can deliver more clicks for your buck than Adwords. I was also using the Microsoft equivalent but in the end the traffic amounts were so low that I gave up early. I started of doing what I though was the right thing with Adwords, high bids, reducing as the quality score (and CTR) increased and I did get my bid amount down from $0.75 to $0.12 for the same position. The trouble was that for $0.07 I was getting a much larger number of clicks with YSM. The real problem I faced with this was going from clicks to conversions, obviously clicks cost money and conversions generate money. I figured before I started that because people were searching for something specific, dropping on a page with what they were searching for would have a higher conversion rate than just creating a link on a page and relying on organic traffic. It didn’t really, conversion rates from my PPC campaigns and “normal” website traffic was about the same. The end result was that as each conversion from one of my sites was profit, a conversion from the PPC sources was just a dent in my loses.

The next lesson was that no matter how much people tell me, I can’t get any joy out of squeeze pages. Rather than creating my own landing pages I was happy to dump the PPC traffic at a pre-existing squeeze page for each product. Personally I hate those bold on yellow excuses for web pages but I went with it anyway. In the past when I’ve used PPC marketing for clients I normally put them on a relevant page within the context of a professional looking website. Conversion rates have always been high using this approach. I just can’t get any decent conversion rates out of squeeze pages. This was where my whole plan fell apart, if you can’t get enough of your traffic to convert then no matter how low a price you are bidding you’re still going to lose money.

The final lesson I could take from this was the time involved. I so desperately wanted it to work that I was micro-managing everything. It ended up taking up so much more of my time than I’d initially planned to spend on it. This was as much a reason for calling it a day early as the money side of things.

So I guess the question is what next? Being a sucker for punishment I’m going to start over fresh next month. Same slush fund, but this time I’ll be creating my own landing pages and doing my best not to nit pick too much. I’m convinced that there is money to be made with this, it’s just going to require a little more experimentation and patience.