Ever felt like this…
You’re running a campaign. You’re losing money. Traffic is rolling in and you don’t know what to do next. You panic, pause the campaign and walk away from the computer. Another failure.
Yesterday I was working on a campaign. It was on a traffic source I haven’t used in a long time. As I watched the traffic roll in I felt an anxiety come over my entire body.
It was stress.
Because I didn’t know what my next move should be. This is a feeling I used to feel all the time. But these days – I know what to do about it.
- I took a deep breath
- Opened up a document
- Started typing out a system
I documented all of the steps I’d been through so far and went all the way through the process until the campaign was in a profitable, low maintenance phase.
Now, let’s be clear about something. The system wasn’t perfect. I just made it up.
Some parts of campaigns, like research, design and launch are the same every time. But things like CPA, conversion rate and CTR goals, launch times, as formats and bidding strategies change almost every time. So other than the initial launch phase, I created a system from of scratch.
Somehow, just having that document there to reference put my mind at ease. It made the campaign flow smoothly and my anxiety slipped away.
This is what a system is for me.
A system is a documented set of rules, or a path that I can follow that eliminates the stress of not knowing what to do next.
The system can be based on previous experience or it can be made up out of thin air using my best guess. Either way it works.
- It doesn’t need to be perfect
- It just needs to be there
This is a skill I’m getting better at, documenting and following systems, and I am far from perfect. But that’s the key… it doesn’t have to be perfect to work.
I have found that just having something written down with steps to follow eliminates my anxiety because I know exactly what I’m going to do next.
If my next documented next step works, great. If it fails, I simply mark down that it failed and come up with a new next step and keep going. Doing this makes the system work better each time I use it.
There is no perfect system.
You’ve probably seen a lot of systems for sale online. They’re pitched as ‘Magic Bullets’. But if you’ve ever bought one, you now know that they don’t work.
Because, I believe there is no single perfect system that is going to work for every person on every traffic source and solve every problem, every time. Each campaign is different. Even if it’s the exact same campaign, things will be different for you than for someone else.
Thing that change:
- Traffic Sources
- Ad Creatives
- Time of the Year
- Backend Deals
- The Temperature Outside
All of these elements are different for everyone and they make your campaign a one-time experience that has never happened before and may never happen again.
So how can you create a system for a problem that is always changing?
This is why I think it is important to create your own system, for every traffic source and if necessary, adapt it for each campaign.
Creating Your System
I keep the process very simple. I map out the variables. I put them into a list. Then I glide through the system all the way to the end.
If it works perfectly, that’s great. If it breaks, I change it. I update the system and continue the smooth ride. What I end up with is a living, fluid system that is always improving over time.
Here are some of the common variables that I use:
– Asset Creation
– Campaign Budgets / Goals
– CPA Goals
– CTR Goals
– Conversion Rate Goals
– Offer Optimization
– Landing Page Optimization
– Ad rotation
– If after X days ROI = XX% raise budget XX%
– If after X days ROI = -XX% lower budget XX5
– If after 24 hours ad CTR = X% raise budget XX%
– If after 24 hours ad CTR = X% pause
– If LP CTR = X% and CVR = X% pause other LPs
As the campaign happens, I just follow my steps. Any time I feel anxious or confused as to what to do next I have a guide I can reference to show me the way.
The third section, covering the decisions I make may be the most important part of the whole thing.
We tend to get emotionally attached to ads, landing pages and designs. We want to keep them, even when they don’t work. Making decisions based on a pre-designed set of rules allows us to make fast, ruthless changes that are better for the bottom line.
In other words, We make more money.
Having a system in place means you’re no longer making decisions – you’re just following the rules.
Not knowing what to do next can be the most stressful part of a new campaign. Having a system eliminates that. And there is no perfect, pre-built system out there for sale that will solve all your problems. (they are for sale, but they don’t work)
Break out a word document today and create a system for what you’re doing now or what you plan to do next. Then. Just follow the rules.
Doing this will eliminate anxiety and the stress of trying to decide what to do next.
And the next time you find yourself looking for the Perfect System for your life, your campaign or whatever you’re trying to do – remember…
The Perfect System for your problem, is the one you create yourself. (tweet this)
Sometimes the magic is not in the math and more in the content you are putting out there…
Brian McKenzie says
I can’t believe I didn’t discover this blog sooner. Thanks, Malan! This truly simplified my journey in affiliate marketing. Respect.
Malan Darras says
welcome to the fold brotha 😉
Awesome post, thanks Malan! Out of curiosity what do you consider to be the point when something isn’t working and pause? Is there a number of clicks/impressions that a creative sees where you look for a new direction/angle?
Malan Darras says
Zach – Example. If I’m paying $1 cpc and my epc is only .75 cents (losing 25%) I’ll do everything I can to get the EPC above $1. I’ll try 50 different images and 50 different headlines if I have to. Then, If I can’t make it happen, I just drop my bid to .65 cents and I’m profitable. The questions is – can I get traffic at the lower bid?
Almost every campaign works, all you have to do is pay less per click than you earn per click. The only question is volume.
Thanks Malan, really appreciate your response! My background is I work for an ad agency and am looking to transition onto the affiliate side. We test creatives but not with anywhere near the diligence that you do — so I have both respect and curiosity on how to do it best.
When for example you test 50 headlines and 50 images — do you just follow one simple rule (e.g. .15% CTR or better)? If that’s the case, what’s a good starting point to use as to weather or not a creative is worthwhile? And what is a good rule of thumb for what determines if a headline/image has been properly tested (e.g. $5 or 1,000 impressions)?
I guess the same question I’m trying to ask is how do you make sure you give the best possible test for the least amount of money? I can’t seem to find any consensus on how to find out if a creative is “good” or “bad.”
Thanks again for your responses!
“When for example you test 50 headlines and 50 images — do you just follow one simple rule (e.g. .15% CTR or better)? And what is a good rule of thumb for what determines if a headline/image has been properly tested (e.g. $5 or 1,000 impressions)?”
Some say that 3 x offer payout is a proper test, but I don’t think there’s any set figures, as there are too many variables, and will depend on the offer and traffic platform, as to how much data you actually need to make a decision.
Malan Darras says
zach, like pete said, a lot of people will say 3x offer payout is the spend-point where you make decisions. But I’ve had plenty of ads turn around after the 3x spend-point as well.
The trick is to play around with the traffic source you’re on and create a set of rules that works *for YOU* and then, stick with it.
If you test ads for 3x the payout and you start making money. That is the rule.
If you test ads for 10x the payout and you start making money. That is the rule.
In this example, I’m thinking we are optimizing based on the macro level, (i.e. per ad) stats, or the campaign level stats.
So for example, if you have one ad that’s making a loss of 25 cents, to get a +ve ROI for that one ad, you’d
a) create 50 variations of the ad and test at the same time?
b) create and test 50 variations of the ad one after another?
Malan Darras says
I create multiple angles in the beginning. Then choose the best one and make multiple versions of it. (50 was just pulled out of the air, but the more the better). Then I would test them a few at a time, depending on budget and payout.
higher budget means i can test more ads/lps at once.
But again, you guys are asking me for the exact system. And there isn’t one.
Another piece of the campaign puzzle falls into place.
I remember Dr Ngo saying that after he’s got enough data, he used a formula to decide whether he should continue with a new campaign or not. So your post makes so much sense.
– If after X days ROI = XX% raise budget XX%”
Depending on offer and traffic source, could this be re-phrased as:
– If after X clicks, target ROI of XX% has been met, increase CPC (or CPM) by XX% ?
Malan Darras says
Yes – it can be anything. just make it make sense for your campaign, test it and if it works – stick with it.
Petre Veluda says
Nice post. Very helpful for newbies, as I am. I’m in that spot right now. Nothing seems to work so for that I’m trying to develop some kind of a system. If this, then that kind of thinking then move on and concentrate on creativity rather than numbers. Know your numbers from the begging so you don’t lose time.
I think I’m not far from the truth, I don’t know..
Thanks again for the insights.
Malan Darras says
yes – because if you don’t have a map, you’re gonna get lost.