Traffic sources in affiliate networks
In the article «Come to the light side we have cookies. Shadow traffic in affiliate networks» we have dealt with the traffic sources which are frowned upon in the affiliate network. Now we are going to define which traffic sources exist, how to work with them, which advantages and drawbacks they have and list which business models work better for which source.
This article contains only general information about each traffic source, all details will be revealed in forthcoming articles.
Email marketing can be used either as an ad space where publishers place links to an advertiser’s website or it can drive traffic to your other ad space from where users will proceed to advertiser’s website to make purchases. Some marketing managers consider email marketing to be the major channel to communicate with the audience — they collect email addresses (of course, legally) and start sending emails about their goods.
On the one hand, it’s partly right as most likely that the subscriber is already the company’s customer or planning to become one, meaning that he/she is loyal and potentially interested in what the company offers.
But on the other hand, some companies don’t segment the audience and send mass identical emails to everybody what arouses only negative emotions among their subscribers. Such untargeted and mass email letters (also called “spam”) harm email marketing reputation. Warning: there are cases when subscribers get so annoyed and tired of such letters that they sue companies and win the processes claiming that they didn’t agree to receive emails or that the agreement was received in a kind of misleading form.
Keep in mind that email marketing is an effective traffic source when it is properly and carefully used — the audience should receive information relevant to their interests and the subscription button should be placed at the place where users will definitely see it.
Advantages. The audience knows you and probably likes what you do as they have subscribed to receive the emails, so it will be far easier to turn them into buyers. It is an effective way to retain customers and to motivate them to make more purchases and strengthen their loyalty. Emails can be designed in any way, you can add images, texts, buttons, links and so on — everything that can attract audience’s attention. Moreover, you can precisely target the needed audience. This traffic channel is also effective in B2B segment, but as we mentioned several times, it’s hard to work with B2B products in CPA.
Disadvantage. Each subscriber has different attitude towards email. It’s not good to use it often (daily, for example), well, you can but it is likely to end up badly. We wouldn’t recommend using one contact base for sending offers/products of all categories as it may lead to conflict situations with subscribers.
The most suitable business models and categories. Email marketing is pretty universal and it provides many opportunities — attract sales and leads. Coupons, cashbacks, deals work really well with this traffic type. Moreover, product categories can be uploaded to the email like an affiliate shop or you can choose some certain selections (new products, top products, some deals and sales). But be careful with such types of emails as some users set the rule that external images shouldn’t be displayed, so they won’t see such emails. Thus you need to think over content for such users as well.
Where should I drive traffic to? You can drive traffic to the advertiser’s website, or if you have an affiliate shop or coupon service, you can drive traffic to them in order to increase attendance on your source.
There are different types of contextual ads, it can be in search engines or on websites. The choice between graphic, text or video format of advertisement will depend on where it will be placed.
The advertisements are shown to users in accordance with their internet activity (search queries, or which websites they have visited). Generally speaking, if a user searches “coffee shop in Toronto”, first several advertisements shown on the page will be with the headlines “Canterbury Coffee” or “Best coffee shop in Toronto” (it’s advertisement in search engines). If you visit the website of the coffee shop, later its advertising will follow you to any resources, for example, cinema website or any else, (it’s advertisement on the website based on your interests). If you visit a website about varieties of coffee, you may see an advertisement of different coffee shops in your city as the topics are pretty similar to each other.
Publishers buy advertisements on ad networks like Google Adwords, and they pay for clicks. When users click on the advertisements, they are transferred to advertisers’ websites, and if they buy anything there, the publisher, whose link they clicked, will get the reward — that is how the advertisement is resold. This process is called arbitrage and it let publishers expand their business model. The main advantage of contextual ad — almost instant action and possibility to promptly change content. Unlike SEO which can take months or even years, the contextual ad shows up immediately but you need to set good cost (as the higher cost is, the better ad place you will get). Therefore you can use contextual ad to drive traffic either to the advertiser’s website or to yours.
Advantages. Possibility to instantly test your ads at once; ads are the most relevant to the users. Possibility to “follow” the user on all resources of the affiliate network. Broadened coverage. It isn’t hard to calculate the potential cost, plus you see detailed essential statistics and analytics of promotional campaigns. You don’t need a website with loyal audience, nor you need to create content to use contextual ads. It’s possible to get profit from uncommon search queries which advertiser didn’t think of.
Disadvantages. Short-term effect. As soon as you run out of budget, the announcement will disappear. It is hard to compete in terms of frequent queries for those categories where companies are ready to set high costs. Don’t forget about the brand mentioning (brand bidding). It’s hardly possible that you will be allowed to mention the brand in contextual ads.
The most suitable business models and categories. If you drive traffic directly to the advertiser’s website, then it’s better to work with arbitrage: to buy traffic (in Google, for example) for a lower price and then to sell it (to advertisers) for a higher price. Contextual ad works well with any category of products and services. Its purpose is to drive more traffic to your source (any type of website: affiliate shop, cashback service, coupon service or a content project). It is possible to create a contextual ad for your own brand, and it will actually work well with uncommon queries and products of rare categories where you don’t need to set high cost per click.
Where should I drive traffic to? One of the best things about contextual ads is that you don’t need to create any ad space to drive traffic. You can drive it through the affiliate link directly to the advertiser’s website. But if you want to have a long-lasting ad space, it is better to drive traffic to it.
Search Engine Optimization — it’s website optimization in order to get it on top of search list on certain inquiries. Usually, it takes several months as search engines need time to estimate if a website is worth it, the engines analyze visitors’ reaction and demand for the website. There are many parameters based on which websites are estimated: if the content on the website is relevant to its subject and queries, how the keywords are used (if the text, headlines, images descriptions include them, how often they are used and if the text is readable), how much time users spend on the website, how many pages they visit, from which sources users proceed to the website and if these sources are authoritative. They vary depending on a searching engine and they are annually updated, therefore it should be clear that many efforts should be made to create a well optimized website.
The main reason to optimize a website for search engines is to make it convenient and easy to use for visitors so that they could find all needed information and make any target actions without any efforts, as well as understand how to use the website. It’s hard to tell exactly how much it will cost to get your website in top of search. It’s possible to make it look good and fill with useful content on your own, but it’s necessary to stimulate promotion along with using other tools. SEO is a tool for the sites created to operate in the long term.
Advantages. If you keep bringing your website to the first place in search for a long time, it will be hard for the competitors to replace you. With proper work on the functionality and content of the website, you can avoid investing big sums (SEO is known to be one of the most economical ways to collect traffic). The content on your site will work for a long time after being uploaded. It is possible to place several offers at once.
Disadvantages. It takes much time — you will need several months to bring your site to the top, and the thing is that the wider the topic is, the harder and more expensive it will be to achieve it. Thus, the results and effectiveness of promotion should be estimated only after several months. Non-transparent work of search engines. Tests take much time. Usually, it works effectively only along with other tools of traffic attraction.
The most suitable business models and categories. Content projects, landing pages, affiliate shops, review websites, product recommendation services, cash back/coupon/deals services, price comparison websites.
Where should I drive traffic to? Traffic must be driven only to your own ad space, which is your website. And then through the website you drive traffic to advertiser’s website.
Social Media Marketing involves promotion in different networks or/and with their help. Among all SM features we can distinguish the following ones: possibility to create profiles and communities on needed topics, communication, possibility to leave comments to anyone’s posts and to share content. Basically, social networks allow publishers to create interactive promotional campaigns. Social networks are known to have high loyalty as their users choose themselves the content which they consume.
One more advantage of social networks is that users voluntarily share their demographic and social data what facilitates the individual targeting of the needed audience (although, in general, this traffic type is less targeted than contextual ads, for instance). When choosing social networks for promotions, you need to base on which networks are the most popular with the target audience. Talking about international experience, the most popular global social networks are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google Plus+. We can also mention YouTube, Pinterest, Flikr, Reddit, Tumblr, Quora as they are similar to social networks due to the possibility to post content there, and other users can add reactions to the posts. Each social networks should be promoted in accordance with its features, content formats and audience. Therefore special tools and advertising types have been created for each network: some social networks have designed interfaces where publishers can manage the promotional campaign, but in other cases, it is necessary to use the services of third parties. Admitad Academy will release articles on how to promote products through the most popular networks.
Advantages. You can see real active users, not just impersonal data with social and demographic characteristics. Checking their profiles can provide you with clear understanding who your target audience is and what they like. Users of social networks like to demonstrate their reactions — they repost, like and comment posts. One more advantage is that users visit social networks to “kill their time” and to take their mind off work, therefore publishers can “catch” them there almost at any time. Moreover, some social networks allow attaching photos, videos, audios or links to the posts what increases conversion and the number of leads.
Disadvantages. Ad spaces on social networks (communities, groups, accounts) require much time for development and it is necessary to constantly update content and promotional materials on them. Content plan will be of much help while working with social networks. Keep in mind that users can also leave negative comments and everybody will be able to see them, so you should communicate carefully with followers. In addition, if comments are not answered and the same mistakes are made, users will unfollow such pages. Apart from the above-mentioned disadvantages, users can manage the advertising they see — they can click on “complain/spam” what will have the negative impact on the account up to its ban.
The most suitable business models and categories. The following business models work well with social networks: products promotion (clothes, shoes, accessories), deals and cashback, arbitrage (by means of integrated ad exchanges), it is also possible to generate leads to some informational or news sources.
Where should I drive traffic to? Promotion on social networks works the best on sources integrated into these social networks. It is also possible to drive traffic directly to the advertiser’s website or to your own content project (website, affiliate shop). However, keep in mind that the more steps to purchase the users need to make, the less conversion can be.
Channels and bots in messengers were a trend in 2017. And it isn’t a big surprise as they allow to create unilateral or mutual communication with users. In the first case you can use a channel as an informational resource for providing content to subscribers, in the second one you can make an interactive bot which will be able to manage content based on user requests in the certain category. Currently, the most popular messengers are WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook messenger, WeChat, Skype, and Telegram. Telegram is considered to be one of the best content platforms for monetization.
Here is the list of advantages of messengers — almost around-the-clock accessibility (desktop and mobile versions), interface designed for mobile usage (modern people spend several hours per day in their phone), navigation is user-friendly. Famous bloggers are only get acquainted with different content types in messengers, so you have a chance to win the audience. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention that this model works mostly in entertaining and news topics.
When a user subscribes to some channel, he expects to receive exclusive information which he has chosen, and you can use this desire — provide temporary exclusive deals and coupons for some category of goods. The subscriber will be afraid to miss some profitable deals and will keep checking the channel daily. On the contrary, when a user receives an unbearable amount of “exclusive deals” without his permission, it will arouse only negative reaction and all these messages will be considered as spam and treated accordingly.
Advantages. Positive attitude as users subscribe voluntarily accepting the fact that they will receive information. While using messengers, users don’t mind reading both long and short messages. The types of content can vary from just texts or texts with audio, images, links to different polls, chats and so on. This traffic type is kind of a newcomer so not all channels creators understand how to work with it, and all what they do is exchanging advertisements with other channels. Thus, competition isn’t so intense yet, and there is chance to make good money with affiliate marketing.
Disadvantages. It is not that easy to earn by promoting low margin goods: for example, unlike on other sources, you can’t just upload the whole catalog of goods in messengers.
The most suitable business models and categories. Messages with deals, cashback, coupons, and new goods. Content projects like blogs, news or review channels. For example, last minute deals, cheap flights, real estate bargains, various consumer goods (cosmetics, garments, books, food delivery).
Where should I drive traffic to? Directly to the advertiser’s website or to your own source by showing only small preview — it will work well for content projects like review websites, bogs and so on.
It is a small pop-up box which appears when you open a website. Push-notifications help to collect contact information about users and get feedback from interested users. An example of using it is a pop-up on many informational sources encouraging users to allow to send notifications with news. A person who has agreed to see notifications will see pop-ups in the right bottom corner of the screen (like notifications that you have received a new email) with the link which you can click an open the message.
The cool thing about push-notifications is that it is hard to ignore them (unlike emails). As a result, Open Rate is usually up to 90%, Click Rate is around 30%. One of the drawbacks of push-notifications is that the message should be short and there are few business models which are possible to monetize with CPA through push-notification (websites with promo codes, deals and cashback as well as content projects). Keep in mind that users are ready to see around 1—2 notifications a day, and continuous pop-ups will annoy them and will be blocked. On the other hand, you can also attach small images and direct links or buttons to the messages what makes them more attractive. Moreover, you can set targeting to show push-notifications.
Advantages. It’s cheap, though reach and subscription conversion are high. Users don’t need to proceed to any source to read the message as the notifications with offers appear right on the screen in front of their eyes. That is why subscription rate to push-notifications is higher than to emails.
Disadvantages. You need to have a website to set up push-notifications. There are few content types. If a person unsubscribed and blocked notifications, it will be hard to make him subscribe again as it’s technically sophisticated process.
The most suitable business models and categories. Deals, coupons, cashback. Leads generation, especially subscription to news portals.
Where should I drive traffic to? Directly to advertiser’s or your own website: content projects, coupon sites, review and comparison services. It’s important to remember that you need interesting news to notify your subscribers (new discounts, products, offers, breaking news).
This traffic type is considered to be one of the least expensive in terms of cost of reach. Teaser is usually an advertisement consisting of an image, a provocative headline and a small announcement. The message is usually so curious that users start wanting to click on it.
Many advertisers consider this traffic type untrustworthy and they don’t work with publishers who indicate teaser networks as their main traffic source. The main reason for that is teaser ads usually look like a lie and it can harm brand reputation. Moreover, such ads can have high Click Rate but very low conversion. One more drawback is limited targeting parameters. Talking about positive sides, teaser ads are rather cheap and they have mass reach. That’s the right type for using creativity as much as you want, but don’t go too far, otherwise only offers like “take this pill and you’ll lose 5 kg” or “this drink will make you look 7 years younger” will work with you. But it’s necessary to mention that a publisher should create provocative but not misleading information.
Advantages. It provokes to click on it. Compact size (it is easy to place it on almost any source). Cheap channel which ensures waste coverage due to the fact that many websites are members of teaser networks.
Disadvantages. Poor reputation and in the many of cases negative reaction from the majority of users.
The most suitable business models and categories. Gaming, Adult 18+, leads to news portals, deals and discounts, women’s traffic, new product releases (cosmetics, health, household chemicals, clothes), arbitrage.
Where should I drive traffic to? Directly to advertiser’s or your own source.
They are pretty similar to teaser networks. The cost is set per shows and clicks. How it works: you upload your banner to the network, and right after it is sent to all websites-members of the banner network.
This channel has wide opportunities in terms of targeting and placement of graphic materials. In this case, it is necessary to pay attention to design and content — think about typography, include short text, select images only of high quality, choose nice fonts and colours. Don’t forget to elaborate an effective call to action and make it attractive (for example, «Click and get 15% discount»).
Advantages. Wide coverage, relatively low cost. Possibility to test graphic designs of various formats and sizes (horizontal, vertical, square, rectangular, dynamic, static, interactive).
Disadvantages. Banner blindness — users got used to ignoring banners. AdBlock — those users who have installed AdBlock won’t see your banners. As a result, the conversion rate isn’t that high. As banner networks have thousands of websites-members with around 3-5 places for banners, you cannot be sure that your banner won’t be next to the banner of a competitor or even worse — will appear on the website of an inappropriate subject.
The most suitable business models and categories. Theoretically it is suitable for any product category. You can both work with arbitrage (lead users to advertiser’s website) and drive traffic to your ad space where users will click affiliate links and make purchases.
Where should I drive traffic to? Directly to your own website, affiliate shop or advertiser’s website.
This is the list of main traffic sources. Of course, it isn’t a full list as you can attract customers from offline (like API traffic for financial services), exchange links with resources of the similar subject for free or for some cost, leave comments with affiliate links under some posts on forums and blogs or use any other way to drive traffic. Don’t forget to follow the rules — legal collection of leads, compliance with ratio of quality and quantity of advertising, aim at the maximum target audience and, of course, honest work with affiliate networks avoiding forbidden traffic and cookiestuffing. The rest of traffic attraction is limited only by your imagination.