Let The Machines Do The Work Part 2: Visual Evidence

In my last two posts I’ve talked about how to relieve the anxiety that comes with new affiliate marketing campaigns. First I diagnosed the problem and then I showed you how to Let The Machines Do The Work.

Today I’m going to show you visual evidence that proves the point that I’m trying to make.

The image you’re going to see below is a screenshot of a real campaign from about a week ago. I think it sums up what I’m talking about perfectly.

This is the traffic from a single day – a day that I was out of the house doing other things. And from what I can see, being gone played a big part in the campaign’s success.

stat-changes

A screenshot of a live campaign in Voluum.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 3:00am: the campaign started to take off.
  • 4:00am: it was profiting
  • 7:00am: it started breaking even
  • 9:00am: I’m losing money… PANIC!
  • 10:00am: I’m profitable again
  • 11:00am: Disaster strikes and it’s losing big time
  • 12:00pm: Losses continue. I’m losing hundreds per hour now
  • 1:00pm: Still losing… I’m totally screwed right?
  • 2:00pm: Woah, made a few bucks again
  • 3:00pm: Epic explosion into profits
  • 4:00pm: Continued profits

I took the screenshot at around 4pm to use for this blog post, but it continued growing into the night. Now, it is a very large, very profitable campaign.

But What If I’d Been Watching Over It?

Let’s say I decided to stay home that day and hit refresh on the campaign every 60 seconds.

There is a pretty good chance I would have had a lot of fun watching profits come in for the first few hours and then something like this would have happened:

  • At 11:00am I probably would have freaked out.
  • At 12:00pm after two solid hours of losing money I would have paused the campaign.
  • At 1:00pm I’d be back at the network, looking for something else to try

I would have totally missed the surge that came at 2:00pm and continued on through the night and into the next day and week.

But because I set the budget at an amount I was comfortable losing and then I walked away and “Let The Machines Do The Work” the campaign was able to run uninterrupted and work itself out.

  • Me at the controls = Losing campaign and bad day.
  • Me out looking at trees = Profitable campaign and good day.

Don’t Hate The Player

Look, I understand that there are times when you can’t walk away from a live campaign like in this example. There are certain types of campaigns that need to be monitored, tweaked and improved quickly.

So don’t freak out and say “I can’t do this with my campaign Malan! Because my campaign is so special and different from yours!!

There are plenty of cases where this style of working might not be optimal.

For example, this campaign was advertising a product that pays $35+ per sale. So to get statistically significant data you have to spend a lot of money. It makes sense to walk away and give it a few days to accumulate clicks and conversion data.

But, let’s say the campaign was for a product that paid $1 per sale. You may only need to spend $10 to get the data you need. If you’re on a large traffic source you can spend $10 in 10 seconds. So you may be able to do 50 small tests in a single day. In that case it makes a bit more sense to sit there and tweak things on the fly.

But even in the case of the $1/sale campaign. I think there is still time for you to hit play, and then go into the kitchen and make something eat while it runs. Win or lose, you really don’t need to be sitting there hitting refresh.

Also, I get that hitting refresh can be a lot of fun. If you’re new it’s probably the most fun part of the whole thing. But down the line, if several years have gone by and you’re still sitting there hitting that refresh button – maybe it’s time to consider a change?

There are a million different scenarios. This is just one that works for me.

5 Takeaways That May Help:

If you’re interested in reducing stress in your campaigns, here are a few pieces of advice that have worked wonders for me.

  1. Set smart daily budgets. I used to do things like launch a $5000/day spend campaign on the same day that I had to go to a 3 hour doctor appointment. By the time I got home, I’d have lost my money and my mind. Don’t do that.
  2. Don’t confuse the system. Some ad networks respond badly to constant tweaks. If you change the daily budget and the cpc bid several times a day, every day for a week the machine will get confused and stop sending you traffic. An ad network rep once told me “check your results every 4 days and upload new ads every 2 weeks.” I thought he was out of his mind, but turned out… he was right. His system did best when it was left alone.
  3. Experiment. If you’re scared to leave the house while your campaign is running. Try just going for a 15 minute power walk. When you get home, see if you made money or lost money and then continue based on those results. If you did fine, try spending a little more time away.
  4. Setup a website monitor. You can eliminate a lot of worry by setting up a free website monitor at Pingdom or another site monitoring service. They will monitor your website and send you a string of emails and texts if it goes down. Services like this have saved me thousands of dollars over time. If you don’t use one, you should probably do it today.
  5. Understand that losses are part of the game. Most people think all my campaigns are profitable every day. That’s not the case, campaigns go up and down. Some days you win, some days you lose. Don’t overreact and pause a campaign if it loses money for a day, or even two. Every campaign has highs and lows.

All of these things will help you reduce the amount of the stress that comes with the game.

Conclusion

Launching and maintaining online ad campaigns can be stressful. You’ve got money on the line so it can be hard to walk away.

But sometimes, walking away is exactly what the campaign needs. Some campaigns need time to flow without you there monkeying with the controls.

The next time you find yourself stressed out and trying to get something to work, ask yourself: “Could I be getting in the way?”.

If the answer is yes (and there’s a good chance it is) then congratulations. You’ve just earned some time outside, doing whatever it is you like to do.

Enjoy it.

  • Andy Fizzybubbly A

    “An ad network rep once told me “check your results every 4 days or so and upload new ads once every 2 weeks.” I thought he was out of his mind, but turned out… he was right. His system did best when it was left alone.”

    I love that part, it feels so counter intuitive for a performance marketer but there is great value hidden in those words.

    • Petre Veluda

      Same here, wanted to mention the same paragraph!

  • Will Oviedo

    Solid posts and great advice!!! I’ve found letting the campaign breath leads to more profit in the ends and you don’t end up with an over optimized campaign.

    I’ve been seeing the same thing on my camps they will be profitable for a few hours then negitive and then back up http://oi64.tinypic.com/34opimg.jpg

  • Will Oviedo

    Solid posts and great advice!!! I’ve found letting the campaign breath leads to more profit in the ends and you don’t end up with an over optimized campaign.

    I’ve been seeing the same thing on my camps they will be profitable for a few hours then negitive and then back up

    http://oi65.tinypic.com/t7xqtl.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/TuhinGates Tuhin Parvez

    Awesome informative article as always! Thank you man… 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      you bet brotha. thanks for reading

  • Sonja Snoeyink

    Wow! Great article, I just launched my first Facebook campaign a couple days ago and the anxiety is rough. reading this article was perfect timing. Thanks!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      welcome to the game – good luck 🙂

      • Sonja Snoeyink

        Thanks you!

  • pauleyh

    Thanks Malan – really useful tips. Over-checking can be hazardous for your mind not just your pocket! Great post!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks, glad you liked it.

  • Love Raj Singh

    Great article Malan. I have noticed that setting up campaign with a budget and walking away does the best for me and not watching campaign. As long the campaign is profiting watching it is fun but once you start losing some $$$ can end up making some irrational decisions.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      One thing I do is set a rule that I can check stats all I want, but I can’t change bids or budgets. That way you get to have fun watching, but you can’t break anything.

      • Love Raj Singh

        not a bad idea. will do that

  • Derrick

    Great Aha moment again., please continue to update us on this particular campaign (part 3,4,5…). If possible make it a case study for your die hard readers. Thanks Malan ( the Howard Stern of affiliate)..

  • http://www.forjatv.com/ faisal

    WoW great post, i was just stressed out by a campaign that profitable one day and losing money the other, i was playing with it for a month now, i will let the machine do the work this week. Thanks MALAN

  • Gene Morris

    Brother Malan. I always think about that story of you leaving for OK and coming back to notice your campaigns did better because you didn’t have your hands in it, constantly tweaking. It’s such a good lesson. OCD is dangerous for a traffic source. I’m realizing that now as I sit here like an idiot refreshing my stats, reacting to the numbers in real time, like an idiot. lol..Keep up the good work.