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once I find a merchant in that 1%, I generally keep my mouth shut since I don't want a zillion other affiliates to sweep in and potentially bump out some of my sales.
Not so long ago I made a similar statement, suggesting that my examination of available affiliate programs lead me to believe that few programs offered anything of unique value and that perhaps 1% of what I evaluated looked "marketable". (That 1% does not include "a sucker is born every day" marketing, such as enlargement pills, etc.)
The popular belief, or fact, that only 1% of affiliate programs really work compels the question: If only ~1+% of affiliate programs hold out a meaningful promise of success then why on earth aren't those 1% of available programs trumpeting that fact to the world?
I can accept the affliate marketer's defensive position: "Don't tell anyone about the 1%! Why invite competition?" However, what about the affiliate manager? Why wouldn't the Affiliate Program Manager "get the word out"? Presumably "more sales" would be a good thing for a business so why wouldn't an affliate manager of a "1% program" light up the global billboard with the announcement: "We're part of the 1% and we've got the data to prove it!"
Do you believe, or is it a fact, that the invisibility of the 1% "success ready" affiliate programs is attributable to incestuous behavior of affiliate managers who, by design, don't get the word out - except to an inner circle of friends?
Perhaps this is the truth: The (secret) 1% of "success ready" programs is an urban legend. The truth is some programs may have a more compelling offer and value proposition but ultimately the success of any person or offer is a function of individual skills, techniques, technology, timing, etc.
Or maybe the great truth of affliate marketing is that 99% of people involved with affliate marketing are wannabes, that there are enough good programs to go around, but only 1% of affliate marketers have a clue about how to come out on top?
In your experience, which is the great truth of affliate marketing:
Were you ever in the right place, at the right time, and had a 1% experience?
Have you ever had a 1% experience? Was you 1% experience due to a lot of groundwork and preparation to meet the 1% opportunity? Was it the offer, the timing, the groundwork, or just being at the right place at the right time and seeing the opportunity?
There is a top 1% but it's no secret: True or false?
The secret of the top 1% is no secret, it's simply proprietary information, accumulated through the investment of time, money and effort, and therefore not dished out "for the asking". True or false?
The most popular forum question that doesn't get answered is "What are the best affiliate programs for quickly and easily making money?" True. ;0)
[edited by: Webwork at 2:39 pm (utc) on April 22, 2007]
Yes, there are tons of great programs but there is generally a ton of affiliate sites that are already ranked for it. Another problem may be that a site is well branded and ranked but the affiliates are restricted from competing in organic and paid search. So if you have a niche that can flow traffic to the affiliate program without touching on the brand then you can stand a chance to convert and not directly compete.
I have spoke to many successful afiliates who are not interested in testing programs even highly branded one. They are looking to partner with AM's who will give them useful information. They have confessed to spending dozens of hours and $1000's to find a program not convert or shutdown.
Affiliates need not be afraid to ask direct questions of AM's and if they don't get a reply or a straight answer then move on to another opportunity.
Thing is, most people simply do not have the resources, the talent or the know how to succeed in traditionally lucrative areas so to them, there is no alternative but to find niches.
That one even needs to search far and wide is the real myth. I try to look for the most competetive areas as a starting point. There is a reason everyone wants that traffic....may as well be me that gets it. :)
I am all for going after tons of areas, but this fascination with these "secret" niches is kind of funny. My advice would be to stop worrying about reinventing the wheel and take a piece of the pie. Plenty to go around for all, even in the hypercompetetive spaces.
What are the best affiliate programs for quickly and easily making money
There aren't any for most people, unless you know what you are looking for and have some assets (ideas, sites, knowhow) to throw at them. It takes a unique blend of skills to make it in AM and there arent' to many folks with all it takes.
Consider it only takes $10,000 per month in payouts to be a CJ "Performer" which probably means that is the top 1% or less of affiliates in the biggest mainstream affiliate network.
Just look thorugh CJ to see where the cash is flowing in mainstream inustries.
There are lots of companies with AMs that did (or still do) something that is not AM and don't know how to answer even the most basic questions or provide basic support needed for an affiliate to promote their products. Some who don't even bother to answer email when the program first launches.
The 1% should apply to quantify the number of decent
publishers in the field. Only 1% to 10% seem to be successful. The rest, newbies, wannabees and the plain incompetent will always make up the other 90%.
Those with the know how and marketing ability will always
rise to the top.
If the 1% existed either way (publisher or advertiser}
this business would not exist. It would simply dry up and
The 1% should apply to quantify the number of decent
publishers in the field. Only 1% to 10% seem to be successful. The rest, newbies, wannabees and the plain incompetent will always make up the other 90%.
A very succinct principle on which is based the whole affiliate marketing world, I can't agree more with that.
By the way, Webwork, great thread - congrats,
buckworks - It was a bit of a mind-rattle when I looked at the 1% issue from both sides. I'm inclined to agree that "the 1%" more likely reflects the percentage of effective affiliate marketers, not saleable affiliate offers, like mfishy confirms. The bulk of affliate offers/programs are more alike than one might appreciate - as are the bulk of affiliate marketers, as judged by the posts I've been reading across multiple forums and blogs - and yet I know a few affiliate marketers who manage to make a living whilst others keep searching or asking revealing questions, questions that suggest that the problem - a large scale absence of success - is more in the marketers than the products/programs.
skibum - That's my rough read early in the process - that there are affiliate programs that lack affiliate marketing and general online marketing expertise, and that "lack of merchant/offerer expertise" is a significant contributing factor to affiliate marketing un-success. I suspect many more programs would work if everyone involved knew a bit more about what works, how it works, how to execute, etc.
King_Fisher, John Blake - Thanks for the kind words. Any insights or perspectives I have to share come in large measure from schooling efforts, sharing and contributions of many here and elsewhere. There's so much to digest related to affiliate marketing, yet so little that actually triggers a "That's it!" response in my aging noggin. I'm just trying, in this thread, to remove some of the industry mystique that has heretofore been a fog on my brain. ;0)
Now, if we could just get a few more of the lions of the industry to weigh in on discussions of actionable issues of affiliate marketing . . . I've met so many savvy AMs through WebmasterWorld and PubCon. I'm still hoping to draw them out with assurances that, ultimately, there are skills and abilities they possess that simply cannot be gained or gotten just by reading what they have to share or say about any specific issue. ;o)
[edited by: Webwork at 4:07 pm (utc) on April 23, 2007]
Anyone can be successful at affiliat marketing. And I mean, anyone. However, it's not a case of mysterious knowledge that some possess and others don't (Sure, some have more knowledge of affiliate marketing than others, but given time that too can even out for anyone). It's all about persistence, effort, risk tolerance, and pure desire....and putting in the effort until you see dividends. This is where I think 95% of affiliate "wannabes", or newbies fail. They either give up too soon, expecting an instant windfall of money, or they just can't/won't take the big enough risk that will ensure success (whether it be capital necessary, or the large amount of time to learn the necessary skills).
I would venture to say that a good 50% of affilate programs out there are legitimate, in that you can make money from them given you have enough skills and time to make it work. However, very few affiliate programs offer attractive profit margins. The effort put into some affiliate programs, and the resultant monetary gain is just not enough to make it worth the time, or viable. Does this come down to merchant greed? Perhaps. But it could be ignorance as well in that the affiliate manager, or company just doesn't know what a good payout is for affilates to be attracted to their programs.
So....The really good affiliate programs. The ones where folks make a killing. Are they hiding somewhere? No, but it does take some hunting, and some luck in finding them. Why don't affiliate managers make them known? I think in most cases they genuinely try and make their successful programs known. But they are competing with the hundreds of other affiliate managers who are trying to get the big affiliates too (or any affiliate, for that matter!). In other words, their words get lost in an ocean of promotion of thousands of affiliate programs. So, even if the successful affiliate programs are being promoted by their affiliate managers, it's still like trying to find the needle in the haystack.
In conclusion, I'll say that anyone can be very successful at affiliate marketing, but that few will be because of the points I bring up above.
Some of my friends have noticed the copious amounts of time I'm spending on my campaigns and have wondered what I'm doing. I have no hesitations about telling them (if they ask) and I've been working with at least three of them to help get them set up with campaigns. Out of the three, I predict that one of them will actually make money. Why? This one is methodical and emotionally detached from his success or failure; he is almost robot-like in his ability to critically analyze what is working and not working and then make adjustments as needed. Additionally, he will keep trying until he succeeds. The others have tasted failure and been discouraged.
The point is that it takes unfaltering effort to be in the upper tier of any industry. I feel like I've put a ton of work in during the past eight months. Still, I'm going to need to redouble that to get anywhere near the level of my mentors.
Most folks have probably read this, but I just did recently and it hit home:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
If it can solve the problems of the human race, surely it can propogate success in affiliate marketing :)
And to the point of why don't they announce this to the world... they do.... but so does the other 90%... so folks don't know who to believe. And we end up playing the trial and error game to weed out the programs that don't pay.
Reading the typical affiliate program's sales pitch leaves you gasping for air as you drown in superlatives.
I have a wry smile reserved for the folks who trumpet what should, from the 1% affiliate group's vantage point, best remain buried, like... "We even have 7 affiliates earning over $2,000 a month!" (almost the exact words I saw on an affiliate program page for a fairly prominent ecommerce site just the other day). If your best affiliates are performing that badly, why are you shouting about it?
And then there's the many, many affiliate programs that seem to parrot the same basic script that has been around almost as long as affiliate programs have, to the effect that adding their affiliate links to my page will somehow boost my own traffic and make my visitors ecstatically happy...
So I guess most of the 1% folks go "fishing" from time to time, choosing their lure (keywords) and fishing location (niche) carefully and checking up to see if there are any new/prominent companies in that niche that have started offering affiliate programs, or have expanded/improved their offerings.
Basically, if your affiliate program is attractive enough then the best affiliates are almost certainly going to be able to find it of their own accord...
Let's say Tom uses SEO to earn $10,000 from one affiliate program but $1,000 from 10 others. When Dick (PPC guru) and Harry (email marketing guru) pick up the same affiliate program, they manage to earn only $500 to $1000 respectively.
But Dick and Harry each have their favorite affiliate programs that earn them big bucks. Our friend Tom would have tried Dick/Harry's affiliate programs - but wouldn't have been as successful as these two - because of different marketing techniques.
>>> what about the affiliate manager? Why wouldn't the Affiliate Program Manager "get the word out"?
Continuing the same logic, no affiliate program is really great. It's the affiliate who makes the program 'great'. The affiliate manager wouldn't know that their affiliate program is that good anyway because only Tom earns $10,000 per month while others are struggling to reach $500.
It's all about persistence, effort, risk tolerance, and pure desire....and putting in the effort until you see dividends. This is where I think 95% of affiliate "wannabes", or newbies fail. They either give up too soon, expecting an instant windfall of money, or they just can't/won't take the big enough risk that will ensure success (whether it be capital necessary, or the large amount of time to learn the necessary skills).
Truer words have never been spoken. For those of you who want to know what the "secret" information super affiliates possess just read the statement above.
It's a can of worms, isn't it? However, in order to draw out the value of the dialogue I'd like to keep the focus a bit on the original proposition: How to find the signal amidst the noise, as it well stated above by
And to the point of why don't they announce this to the world... they do.... but so does the other 90%... so folks don't know who to believe.
I guess part of the problem is . . the constant "background noise" of boosterism coming from just about every affiliate program, attractive or not, successful or not.
So, yes, there is noise. Yes, there are programs that likely are better run. Which prompts me to ask, again:
IF there are better programs than why on earth aren't the affiliate managers better able to make their message heard above the noise, the din of the crowd?
WHAT IS the signal that a) affiliate managers should be putting out; and, b) folks should be listening for?
Noise is noise. Anyone can make noise. Unless someone or some company is going to be fabricating facts there SHOULD BE a signal that any affiliate program or affiliate manager should be able to present or publish to the world. A signal - supportable by reference to verfifiable fact - which signal says "Come hither. The water is fine so dive in."
Maybe it's that the market is so saturated with marketing and marketing types that raw, objective, vertifiable data is anathema? Affiliate candidate: "Show me the numbers!" Company/Affiliate Manager: "It's a great and wonderful program! Everyone loves it. Numbers? LIKE HELL! They're a secret!"
Let's assume that, contrary to my thread title, success-ready affiliate programs are not "invisible" - they're just a bit hard to target with all the background noise. Setting aside other variables - such as anyone's ability to target traffic to a specific industry or interest
What's the signal to look for? On the other hand, what's the signal to cause even the bold to run away?
Here's my short list of a success-ready affiliate program:
Still, I'm left groping a bit. For all the reading and research I've done, I don't find that even the best affiliate managers (by reputation) doing a particularly convincing or effective job of getting out or presenting the proof of the success-readiness of any program OR the proof that an existing program IS top shelf. I find that a bit troubling given that the business IS marketing, don't you?
Maybe there's a need for attention to the creation and persistent insistence on a 'gold standard' of - a sort of affiliate marketer as a beneficiary of 'consumer of affiliate program protection' - standard of disclosure? It's too convenient, isn't it, that affliate program managers get to say "It's a great program . .but . . we can't disclose any of the data to support the value statement because the data is proprietary?
"Just trust us" isn't quite a consumer protection standard of business practice, is it? But that appears to be the standard that is applied to decisions made by individuals choosing to devote their time and money to promoting a product or service.
"Hey I trusted you!" Too bad for you?
Alrighty, I don't want to write as if I'm railing against the industry. I'm not. I'm just looking for a bit better signal (and I guess transparency would go a long way towards improving the signal quality.) ;0)
So what's the best available signal?
[edited by: Webwork at 3:19 pm (utc) on April 24, 2007]
And, no, it's my belief that no one shoots himelf or herself in the foot by the sharing of insights or personal experience, as there are sooooo many factors that enter into the success or failure of any one individual's business efforts - such as the lack of skill at managing cash flow or the ability to analyze data in real time, make projections or predictions, raw intelligence, language skills, tweaking copy, etc.
Besides, heaven takes care of those who take care of others. :0)
1. Affiliate managers are largely meaningless to me as an affiliate. Their purpose is to recruit and maintain affiliates for the merhcant. However, there is nothing they can say or do if the conversions suck. Support is nice to have, though rarely needed.
2. If you can rank on Se's for competetive terms, you dont need to know anything. Jut get a nice "click here" link and you will get rich.
3. The "secret" or 1% niches IME are ones where there is no affiliate programs, but private deals are struck.
4. For the beginners, even the most competetive areas may have a lot of "fringe" traffic where you can pick around the edges. before you start selling shower curtain rings, think hard about whether you can bulld enough traffic in the niches you are looking at or whether you could get the 2 leads a day in say, finance that pay $130 total....
good luck to all.
What's the best available signal?
In the affiliate game it's often easier to spot "signals of cluelessness" than "signals of quality."
If the merchant gets ordinary things right, avoids obvious mistakes and seems like they'd be a good fit for your traffic, they're worth testing.
"Just trust us" ... Forget trusting, stick with testing. There are many things on the merchant end that the affiliate has to take on faith, and I don't see any way around that. You either trust or you don't. If you trust, then you test. The results are what matter. The most reliable metric is to promote the merchant for a while and decide whether you like the paychecks you're receiving from the merchant.
Another thought comes to mind:
if someone asked you how to identify a good pair of shoes, what would you tell them?
You'd probably mention things like quality workmanship, good materials, attractive design and so on ...
... but an elegant designer shoe that is superior by every measure is not as much use to you as a pair of second-rate el cheapos that FIT.
Affiliate marketing is kind of the same. The FIT (targeting) is what matters most. You try things out and decide, what works for YOU?
We all have our things we look for beforehand.
Ummm . . TrustNo1 . . if you don't mind . . for you those "things" (presumably signals of quality or success-readiness) would include what?
If you strip away the hype and sales talk of affliate marketing TO affiliate marketers what is it that you look for in judging "Do we have a winner, a member of the true 1% club"?
Same question for anyone and everyone. Signals of quality or candidacy in the 1% club, please.
Bucky, I confess. I'm happiest in research and analysis mode. I'd be perfectly happy to meet Aristotle for beers and small talk. I guess, by contemporary standards, I'll have to settle for Bill Moyers, eh? P.S. You can have my domain names if there aren't websites associated associated with a goodly number of them whence next we meet in LV NV. ;0)
[edited by: Webwork at 5:07 pm (utc) on April 24, 2007]
For me, because of my model, there's really not too much that would keep a merchant off my site. If I see things like big affiliate leaks or Adsense, I won't put them up. If they're a merchant at SAS and not on Auto Deposit, they don't exist to me. In the end, I constantly put up merchants and let my site visitors decide who the good ones are via their actual purchases.
"The worst affiliate programs are still offering you "Christmas 2006 Special Offer" banners."
That is a pet peeve of mine, affiliate managers that don't do their jobs and can't keep the creative up to date and that's a sign of a poorly run affiliate program. But that doesn't mean you can't make good money with that merchant. There are programs where I hear constantly from an affiliate manager and they might not work for me. There are others where I might never hear from them but I could do great with them. For me, I just need a text link to the home page and I'm fine. Depending on what you do and how you do it, you might need more.
I think sometimes people look for some set of rules or they might want to know what merchants work for other people, thinking that's going to apply to them. It might, it might not. Affiliate marketing is wide open, there are many different ways to make money, you have to find out what works for you.
You're not going to find the ultimate advice from affiliate managers. Affiliate managers usually don't know how their best publishers operate and they're not going to investigate in depth. It's much easier to scale a merchant program by bringing in new affiliates, preferably by poaching big ones, rather than give pointers to someone doing affiliate marketing as a part time job. If I'm going to hold someones hand as an affiliate manager, I would rather it be a small company that's more capable of delivering volume than an individual affiliate.
Lastly, the top 10-20% of a merchants affiliates will account for 80-90% of their revenue. It's a myth that 1% of the pubs are all that matters and secrets of success are not being shared. All the 'secrets' are right here on these forums & others like it.
You're not going to find the ultimate advice from affiliate managers. Affiliate managers usually don't know how their best publishers operate
High-achieving affiliates don't take kindly to having a blabby affiliate manager pointing out their techniques to competing affiliates.
An affiliate manager who does not respect business confidentiality and tells other affiliates how the top producers are achieving their results will lose those top producers.
You can have my domain names if there aren't websites associated associated with a goodly number of them whence next we meet in LV NV. ;0)
Hmmph. That's a weaselly promise if there ever was one! For one thing, "a goodly number" could mean whatever you wanted it to, and for another, you could simply dodge me in Vegas and make sure we don't meet.
Let's hear you make a commitment that we could actually hold you accountable for! ;)