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Author : My Dirty Little Bitcoin Secrets PDF EBook by Ofir Beigel
Chapter 3.5. Rules For Affiliate Marketing You Should Live By. I’d like to take a short trip down memory lane and tell you a story about one of my first experiences with affiliate marketing. It wasn’t a good one, and I’ve learned a lot from it. Hopefully you will too. On August 24th 2009 I got an email from Amazon, here are its highlights. “We have found your Associate links are appearing as sponsored links on search engines under the term “kindle” and variations of this term. This activity is prohibited by the terms of the Operating Agreement. We may withhold any referral fees. We also ask that you take preventative measures, such as adding Amazon’s Proprietary Terms to your negative keywords. In addition, you will not receive payment for referral fees earned through the use of these keywords.” At this point I was almost one year into online marketing and it was my first big success in affiliate marketing. This was my first payment to be received from Amazon and I invested heavily in PPC marketing (Pay per click, will be discussed later) in order to get there, here are my expenses for the three months I was actively promoting my website. Adwords search network campaign. Adwords display network campaign (back then it was called the “content network”). Add another $2K from Yahoo and Bing and you get around $12K in PPC expenses. My payout was to be just a little over $21K, so I felt I was on a roll.
All the time there was a voice in the back of my head that was worried that I am spending money and still not getting paid (remember that Amazon pays 60+ days after you’ve made a sale). I had no idea what the email was referring to. I have thoroughly read the TOS of the associate program and had known that I cannot bid on propriety terms, so I didn’t. My only guess was the Keywords in broad match might have triggered ads with these terms. So if, for example, I bid on “eBook reader review” the keyword “amazon eBook reader review” would also bring up my ads. To make a long story short, I tried everything possible to sort this out (emails, Skype calls, sending keyword reports to show what I was bidding on) but in the end I received the following answer: “I have reviewed your account history again and confirmed that your ads did appear on Yahoo.com for searches using the keywords “kindle reading device,” “kindle review,” “kindle book reader,” “kindle reviews,” and “kindle eBook” between June 19 and July 21, 2009. While I understand that you do not agree with this decision, it is final based on multiple reviews of your account history. Any further messages regarding this issue will not receive a response.” I was petrified. I spent almost all of my savings at the time on this, and now, not only would I not get paid, I also owed money to people that I borrowed from in order to invest in my different marketing campaigns. In the end around 2/3 of the amount was paid to me, so I made maybe just a little over $1k on those 3 months.
This incident was just one out of many I’ve had in the seven years that I’ve been an affiliate marketer. Each incident teaches me a valuable lesson about how to diversify the risk involved with this occupation and that is what I wish to share with you today. Rule #1 – Test each affiliate program before investing efforts in promoting it. Today, whenever I choose an affiliate program to work with, I always test it out first. This means that I invest as little amount as possible to test the following things. 1. Reports are coming in accurately (basically that clicks are showing). 2. Conversions are registered and there’s a reasonable conversion rate. 3. Payments are met on time. Before I start really getting down to business with promoting a certain product, I will have at least 2-4 weeks of testing this out. And since my Amazon incident I NEVER invest my own money before getting paid for the first time. It’s always a painful time for a company (even Amazon) to take money out of its own pocket, so I want to see they’re good for it. Rule #2 – Never rely too heavily on one vendor. When I was promoting eBook readers about 92% of my profits were coming from Amazon. That is why I was completely crushed when this happened. Today, as soon as I test out an affiliate program and I see it’s working, I immediately start looking for another one with a similar product so I can diversify my risk. For example, today I promote several Forex companies. So although I can probably make more profit by promoting just one company, I actively choose to promote two, even though one of them is less profitable.
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