Best Practices for earning Affiliate Revenue

Jackson Wyoming SEO Forums Affiliate Networks Best Practices for earning Affiliate Revenue

This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  dzemens 8 months ago.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
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  • #404

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    This forums intention is to pick up where – ABestWeb’s affiliate marketing forum left off. Hopefully the DMS Forum becomes a place we can all work together to increase user engagement, revenue and our share of voice online.

    Which revenue stream does the best on your site and which would you like to increase? on the Mountain Weekly News we have a healthy mix of commissions from affiliate marketing sales and paid placement direct advertiser buy ins. Personally I think it’s important to see both channels increase revenue year after year.

    At first earning affiliate commissions may or may not be enough for you to live on, however paid placements earnings can change things literally overnight. So why aren’t brands buying placements? Well it comes down to a mix of ROI vs ROR.

    Focus on amazing, incredible, unique content. The rest will fall into place as it should especially if you are persistent. Think of affiliate marketing and making a buck from AvantLink as a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself, don’t cut too many corners and train, as in a lot..

    #417

    dzemens
    Participant

    I had some success with paid placement a few years ago, but that well seems to have dried up. Interestingly enough, many of them seemed to be from UK/Euro agencies, and I suspect they were mostly interested in generating backlinks to their client sites.

    Affiliate marketing has been mostly a bust for me. Recently, I have been generating some revenue from links posted elsewhere (social media, forums, etc.) but I would obviously like to see this increase on my own domain. I struggle with the ability to report on most of the link types (any custom shortlink, anything served by javascript, etc.). My only real “success” in this arena was when GoPro initially launched the HD Hero (first generation), their affiliate program was on Commission Junction at the time and they were offering an insane 20% commission. They eventually cut down to a normal 4 or 6 % rate, and then scrapped their affiliate program entirely.

    Adsense, while earnings are not much, is at least somewhat consistent month to month, with occasional spikes (I had one rather mundane article that generated almost $1000).

    I’ve recently (Dec 1, 2016) added Amazon Native Advertising in post footers. I’m not enamored with Amazon, but it’s outperforming Adsense and Avantlink (excepting the external links on Avantlink).

    #437

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    dzemens,

    What’s your site again? Or better yet what’s the niche?

    I noticed in the past that some AvantLink merchant partners were actually buying ads via AdSense. Most likely not the same department but when that happens and someone clicks on the link you make pennies or maybe a couple bucks depending on your AdSense CPC vs getting a cut of the sales commission.

    That being said if you are doing a ton of traffic maybe AdSense performs better?

    Have you tried running AvantLink banners ads vs AdSense? Maybe through DFP and let them compete against each other?

    As you mentioned social channels and some *forums can be great for generating leads, track and commissions.

    Would love to know more about Amazon Native Advertising.. I started a new thread here – http://digitalmarketingsnow.com/forums/forum/amazon-native-advertising

    If we all work together, there’s plenty of traffic and revenue to go around!!

    #446

    dzemens
    Participant

    Hey Mike — my site is http://agnarchy.com, niche is snowboarding and essentially only snowboarding, so it’s pretty narrow.

    I’ve noticed competition between Adsense and affiliate retailers, but haven’t given a lot of thought to it.

    someone clicks on the link you make pennies or maybe a couple bucks depending on your AdSense CPC vs getting a cut of the sales commission.

    Right, but with Adsense you make pennies per click, with affiliate programs you make $$ but ONLY IF that click results in a sale. I’m literally working with annual “sales” in the low single digits. Pennies per click X thousands of clicks > $$ per sale X zero sales 🙂

    I wouldn’t say we’re doing a ton of traffic, but from my perspective it’s a respectable amount of traffic for what is basically a one man operation, and that man has no particular inside connections or privileges apart from what he’s been able to grind on his own over the last 6 years 🙂

    I ran some Avantlink banners previously from various partners: Liftopia, Evo, REI, Backcountry, etc. and none of them converted for anything. I think I mentioned on the other forum, just for a snapshot, imagine doing 100,000 ad impressions and only getting six sales out of it. That’s how well Avantlink performed for me last year. (FWIW, the several links I have elsewhere have generated 6 sales *this month*).

    As paltry as the Adsense revenue is, it was still double what Avantlink returned (similar # of impressions).

    I’m just getting started with Amazon Native, but for comparison in December & January, earnings on Amazon have exceeded the entire 2016 calendar year from Avantlink.

    #448

    Kimball
    Participant

    Adsense, while earnings are not much, is at least somewhat consistent month to month

    For the last 6 months I have run 300×250 images ads from both AvantLink and Adsence on the same page, one above the other in the right side bar. The AvantLink image ad on top in a ad rotator. AdSence ad below, but like the ad rotator the image changed each time you visit. CTR on Adsence ranged from 0.24% to 0.25% over the 6 month period. And for AvantLink in the same period got as high as 0.83% on “deal” or sale ads, and as low as 0.36% any image ad (mixed sale and non-sale). Payout was small, but better with Adsense.

    These pages were not product related. Just under 48,000 page views. The content was about hiking current conditions for peaks in the northeast. The ads are an add-on in the top right corner, one above the other.

    The AvantLink image ads I hand picked and served with an ad rotator, from my hand picked merchants. I ran 5000 to 6600 impressions a month. Sale/Deal ads I did not use the deal=yes flag in the AvantLink data, because it was often set wrong. Free shipping was not considered a deal. The ads had to show a “sale” or a % off deal.

    My take away on this is:
    1) For general content pages (not product related) the return is better with an Adsence ads.
    2) AvantLink Sale/Deal ads have a much higher CTR over AvantLink Merchant brand identity ads.

    - Kimball
    TrailsNH.com

    #449

    dzemens
    Participant

    1) For general content pages (not product related) the return is better with an Adsence ads.

    This makes perfect sense to me, actually. The audience on these general interest pages probably isn’t doing active research on a product, but reading about the topic. They’ve come from a variety of channels, etc., and in that sort of scenario the cookie-based ads served by Adsense seem more likely to generate clicks to any random thing they might’ve been browsing for previously, than a product- or niche-specific affiliate link.

    #450

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    Hey Mike — my site is http://agnarchy.com, niche is snowboarding and essentially only snowboarding, so it’s pretty narrow.

    Love it, keep it up and know that you already have a large share of voice!!

    My take away on this is:
    1) For general content pages (not product related) the return is better with an Adsence ads.
    2) AvantLink Sale/Deal ads have a much higher CTR over AvantLink Merchant brand identity ads.

    AdSense performing better on content pages makes total sense (no pun) when compared to reviews especially if we put ourselves in the online advertisers shoes. Much easier to show ads on a broader topic then say a snowboard review.

    Some very valid points here, thanks for sharing these numbers. I used to rely heavily on AdSense however over the years that changed as that vertical stayed pretty consistent regardless of what my site was doing in terms of traffic. (see below)

    2012 – 39% revenue was AdSense
    2013 – .07% revenue was AdSense
    2014 – .03% revenue was AdSense
    2015 – .01% revenue was AdSense
    2016 – .008% revenue was AdSense

    Keep in mind were talking about 2 different scenarios here.

    #1. Paid placement vs Adsense
    #2. Standard AvantLink Banners vs Adsense

    I like #1 for the ability to “double dip” AvantLink Merchants buy an ad on my site and then pay me commission too on any sale. Win win

    In the past when it came to using #2 I would actually defualt to AdSense more so like you guys mentioned as it was a guaranteed revenue stream, regardless of how much $$$ as the majority of the time it beat out AvantLink.

    #459

    dzemens
    Participant

    2012 – 39% revenue was AdSense
    2013 – .07% revenue was AdSense

    Woah! What on earth happened between 2012 and 2013 on your end???

    #461

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    Woah! What on earth happened between 2012 and 2013 on your end???

    My Avantlink revenue increased by 400% 🙂

    #462

    dzemens
    Participant

    My Avantlink revenue increased by 400%

    Hahaha of course! But I suspect that just didn’t “happen” all by itself. So on this topic of “Best Practices”, you took some actions that obviously worked, and very well.

    So looking at my past 2 months of data, this a revenue source breakdown:

    Amazon: 39%
    Adsense: 13%
    AvantLink: 48% (31% external, 18% self)

    But that 48% is a bit misleading, because 2/3 of that is from external link, not hosted on my domain. I have no way of tracking the impressions, but I assume it to be pretty large, because the lion’s share (90%) of AvantLink “clicks” are coming through that custom tracking code.

    In any case, looking just at this sort of snapshot data, Adsense may be on the way out (or at the least, I should use it more selectively). Amazon had 4x as many clicks and 3x as much revenue on 1/2 the ad impressions. That seems to be a channel that’s “working” for me, at least over the past 60 days for which I have data on all three of these channels.

    But I’m looking to improve that share from AvantLink…

    #464

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    So on this topic of “Best Practices”, you took some actions that obviously worked, and very well.

    Good point, looking back to 2012 to 2013 what changed. In 2013 I got invited to the AvantExpo it was shawnky and at Deer Valley. I sat down with UJ the former REI account manager told her what I was doing, the vision I had and the plan to get there. I also had the opportunity to get one-on-one meetings with different merchants and even meet some really cool also motivated publishers.

    Few hours later they rolled out the Paid Placement program to everyone.

    In 2012 we published 138 articles to the site
    In 2013 we published 203 articles to the site

    So content clearly played a role here. I spent 3 months living in Bali that year and had time to write and think a lot without worrying about much overhead while living on the cheap. It got me really motivated to know I could potentially live anywhere in the world and be blogging / doing affiliate marketing ~ some powerful stuff.

    I think its easy to get carried away in the revenue and commissions. I know I have said no to reviewing some rad gear in the past couple years that I couldn’t figure out a way to monetize. When I first started out I would review everything and anything people were willing to send me. I like free stuff as do most bloggers too.

    Finding the balance is tricky.

    Perhaps when you look at your revenue model reviewing gear that can not be monetized but instead will bring a bunch of traffic to your site is actually a good thing. Especially if you get some of the first press on a new company. Food for thought. Its dumping I’m heading out for a lap!

    #614

    dzemens
    Participant

    So I’ve been playing with this for a bit, gradually winding down Adsense. I’ve added some custom tracking codes to help proxy measure exposure of the ad units and I’ve removed two affiliates because of bad data feeds.

    I’ve reconfigured some of the slots used by Adsense previously, to use Avantlink banners, primarily “above the fold” placement. I rotate two of them. I’ve also implemented the Product Content Widget (although still a work in progress to better integrate it using the Advanced options) and done some format customization on that as well.

    CTR isn’t really measurable, because they don’t track impressions for some of the tools that I use, but I can proxy with “clicks per pageview impression”, and looking at this tool only on the “review” articles, just for the month of March to-date, I’m at ~3000 pageviews and ~30 clicks. February was 38 clicks for 10,500 pageviews, no sales.

    In the meantime, my external links (two links, on a single page) had almost 1000 clicks, 26 sales for $4700 and generated ~$800 in commissions in February alone. Again, not shabby, but also not scalable, and nothing I can do to improve it or leverage that to help convert on my domain, either.

    So these two data points make me wonder whether I can’t reasonably expect commissions/sales unless I can drive enough traffic to generate 30-50 clicks per day, or more. I can’t even begin to fathom that, even if it’s not a 1:1 scale, it would require a tremendous increase in traffic, say a 5x or 10x increase in traffic on my end.

    I’d be curious to know, if anyone willing to share (offline, even) similar metrics. What I’m trying to get a feel for is whether my problem is a matter of scale (i.e., I need to increase pageviews by an order of magnitude) or if there is something stupidly obvious that I’m overlooking that is reducing the efficacy of the ads I serve.

    In other words: am I doing something wrong (best practices) or am I just not doing enough?

    This is why I’ve wavered on the affiliate stuff in the past — while Adsense pays me next to nothing, Avantlink pays me literally nothing ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    #615

    Mike Hardaker
    Keymaster

    for the month of March to-date, I’m at ~3000 pageviews and ~30 clicks. February was 38 clicks for 10,500 pageviews, no sales.

    In the meantime, my external links (two links, on a single page) had almost 1000 clicks, 26 sales for $4700 and generated ~$800 in commissions in February alone. Again, not shabby, but also not scalable, and nothing I can do to improve it or leverage that to help convert on my domain, either.

    For March your CTR is 1%, internet average is was below that. So you’re doing really well there. When you mention external links are you talking about placing affiliate links on outside websites? Or using the ALE tool to link out to merchant partners from your website.

    If you made $800 in Feb by posting affiliate links on other sites and forums, you may want to continue to run with that and possibly change your foretasted budget to reflect that revenue stream.

    your sites throwing a 404 error currently FYI.

    Whats the focus? Do you want to make money on affiliate commissions via your website when someone makes a sale or sell advertising or maybe a mix of both. Or do you just want to stoke people out on getting sideways?

    #616

    dzemens
    Participant

    Hey Mike thanks for the reply. Yes the 404/403 ongoing, I’ve been working through a breach with my hosting provider over the past ~24 hours, trying to solve it on my own but this one is particularly nasty and I may have to enlist some professional (paid) assistance 🙁

    CTR is 1%, internet average is was below that. So you’re doing really well there.

    That’s great to know, because it at least helps me focus on specific areas of improvement (content, growth, etc.) and not so much on “why aren’t my affiliate links effective?”

    When you mention external links are you talking about placing affiliate links on outside websites

    This is specifically 2 or maybe 3 links which are posted on another outside website. This is a nice subsidy, of course, and there are probably some additional opportunities in this silo that I can explore, but it’s an area where I think I need to tread very lightly and I don’t think I can budget it that way just yet — at best, I think it will be seasonally successful.

    Whats the focus? Do you want to make money on affiliate commissions via your website when someone makes a sale or sell advertising or maybe a mix of both. Or do you just want to stoke people out on getting sideways?

    Firstly, just getting people stoked & spreading what knowledge (or opinion) we can offer. While a bit cliche, I do believe the adage: “content is king”.

    Beyond that of course, would be monetizing it more effectively through affiliate advertisements (initially). I’m not opposed to direct ad sales but my traffic/volume may not be particularly attractive in that sphere yet.

    Whether effectively monetizing means $50 a month, or $5000 a month (or somewhere in between) depends on a lot of factors, and a lot of effort obviously as well. I have some idea of how I’d re-invest at various thresholds, from the very basics of hosting & security, to covering expenses & compensating contributors, etc.

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