The Content Network: Sure, Why Not?

I started affiliate marketing at the beginning of 2007 but it didn't really take off until I started pushing, as you might guess, ring tones. It took me from a few sales a day totaling about $50-60 on Clickbank to a couple hundred per day on Azoogle.

Starting ring tones wasn't my idea. It was my friend Paul's idea and one of the things he told me he'd done to be successful with ring tones was to stay away from the content network as the conversion rates were extremely low. At the time, I had very little experience so I wasn't about to test the waters against the good advice of an established marketer. Well, needless to say, I started to do very well and here I am.

But, what I've learned lately is that I should have taken the affiliate marketer philosophy a little more seriously. When we say split test everything, we mean split test everything. Everything you can, anyway. The content network (Google, Yahoo or otherwise) is definitely one of those things you should split test on every offer.

The stigma with content matching fall along the lines of:

  • Publishers trick users into clicking, which wastes your money
  • People aren't technically searching for something when they click, so they're theoretically less interested
  • It's difficult to track which keywords or sites convert using the content network

So it's not difficult to see why people would steer their campaigns away from content-based ads, but along with the bad, you should always consider the good:

  • The content network is cheaper to place ads on
  • You can use site-targeted ads right down to a specific ad placement, which also makes conversion tracking easier
  • You can use text, banners and more to advertise to people
  • Sometimes you'll receive a larger volume of traffic on the content network

Aside from the good and the bad, there's the reality of the situation. Until recently, I honestly hadn't even touched the content network. Crazy, I know. That was until I found out that the mega affiliates are doing tons of business there and preaching about how it's a terrible place to convert. A-ha! It was a classic "IIIIII'm dumb" moment but a welcomed one.

My advice to you is that you should take nothing for granted when it comes to your business. Split test the search network and the content network. Learn how to track specific sites/ads and you'll be fine. Also, check out Google Lady's post "Adwords Content Network Tip."

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Yahoo Sucks Less – No Longer With Fixed Minimum Bids

If you're an affiliate marketer, then you know Yahoo! has had its minimum bid set at $0.10 for the longest time. Well, now they've decided to change this, but not across the board.

The change will go into effect for sponsored search keywords only and doesn't apply to all keywords. Yahoo's intention here is, as far as I can tell, to reward those sites that are more relevant and get higher clicks.

They sent this e-mail out today, titled Pricing Update: Minimum Bids will no Longer be Fixed at $.10:

Starting in the next several weeks, the minimum bids for a number of Sponsored Search keywords will no longer be fixed at $.10. Your new minimum bids can be lower or higher than $.10. Content Match minimum bids currently will remain at $.10.

This update is intended to align your minimum bids with the value and quality of your keywords. It also is designed to help improve the overall search user experience by rewarding advertisers for better quality with lower entry points into keyword markets.

The amount set as your minimum bid on a keyword in Sponsored Search can vary depending on multiple factors, such as:

? The relevance of your keywords (as measured by the quality of the ads associated with them)
? The number of bidders and bid amounts in the particular keyword market.

A keyword term becomes "active" -- switched "on" in the system and eligible for display -- when your bid is equal to or greater than your minimum bid. If your bid falls below your minimum, your keyword will not be displayed. You'll be notified of such changes and will have some time to adjust your bid.

What You Should Do to Prepare
? Get to know your keywords and their value.
Since minimum bids can vary by keyword, it is important to know which keywords work best for your business. Remember, you can check and set your bids at the keyword level. Learn more.

? Improve ad quality to potentially receive lower minimum bids.
Your minimum bids generally take your quality into account. In some instances, higher quality means that you could have a lower minimum bid. Learn more.

? Learn about updates to the account interface.
Become familiar with new tools that can make managing your keywords simpler. Learn more.

For more information on this change, please read our FAQs.

So there you have it. You can all rejoice now kind of.

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Free Money! No, But Seriously..

Although I'm sure you've seen links out there just like these, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't try to inform every new affiliate about these bad-ass offers. If you're just getting started with affiliate marketing, you'll probably want to get your feet wet with some play money, so take advantage.

First off, we have the free $50 in clicks for Google Adwords (courtesy of the Volkswagen). This only works for new accounts, so make the most of it.

Second, we have the free $25 for Yahoo! Search Marketing. Again, this is only for new customers, so use it wisely.

Third, we've got the free $50 Microsoft Adcenter coupon for new customers only.

I just saved you $125 in ad spending. The least you can do is give affiliate marketing a try, now that it's free.

Don't worry, it won't bite. Not that hard.

But seriously, if you do use it, tell me how it goes. That would make an interesting follow-up post.

Scott

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Negative Keywords – Use Them

When you're first starting out with affiliate marketing, you probably glean over blogs like mine and think "OK, noted. I'll get back to that." Well, it's time to get back to that. As the theme of this blog is generally to save you money and increase your overall profit margin, it's my job to make sure you're informed about the best techniques for saving every last penny. One huge way that will improve the over all ROI of all of your campaigns is to use negative keywords.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are the same as regular keywords, except they tell the search engine when NOT to show your ads. For example, if you have a campaign that is focused on (for example) jobs, you'll want to get rid of a lot of obvious keywords: blow, hand, steve, rim, etc. You get the idea. That way, people searching for things like "gay blow jobs" (not that there's anything wrong with that) or "rim jobs' or even "steve jobs" won't pull your ads up and you won't get disinterested clicks.

What Are Disinterested Clicks?

Disinterested clicks are clicks you don't want. They're from people looking for something you aren't offering. In short, they are clicks that drive up your ad spend without increasing your revenue at all.

On the flip side, interested clicks are the ones you want. Even if someone is not looking specifically for your product, an interested click is from someone who is interested in your topic in general.

So How Do I Implement Them?

Different search engines allow you to implement them different ways. For Adwords, it's as simple as putting a dash in front of each keyword, like so:

-rim
-blow
-steve

With YSM (Yahoo Search Marketing), it's a bit different. When you create an ad group, there's a specific box you put the negative keywords into. As far as other search engines go, it's pretty straight forward and similar to what I just described.

Conclusion

Any time you can make your ad group more focused and relevant to the ad text and your landing page text, do it! It will decrease the amount you have to spend each time someone clicks your ads as well as increase interested clicks. That means less money spent and more money made. Hence, profit.

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Beginners Luck? Affiliate Marketing… Not Hard, Just Confusing.

Hi Everyone,

The name is William. I've known Scott for awhile now and I love his blog, so I thought I'd ask him to let me do a guest post because I used to own a blog long ago but sold it for quick cash. I've been trying to get my new blog set up but every coder I've tried to hire ran off and I've never heard from them again, so I miss writing to the masses.

Anyway, here's what I want to talk about today: with my recent success at Affiliate Marketing (which you can read about on the forums here "Killafawks Journey"), everyone was interested in how I did it and really how I started killing it over night.

Well, I'm going to tell you how I set up my campaigns and how I went about turning profits over night.

But first we've got to clear some things up...

Affiliate marketing is a tricky business and can be rough to break into but it's not impossible. If you're going to tell yourself that you can't do it then you probably shouldn't be in the field. I used to tell myself that affiliate marketing was too "big" for me and that it was already saturated. I blew it off for years and spent most of my time trying to make that next big hit website. While I read stories of people making $100, $500, $1000 a day doing affiliate marketing, in most cases within months, this amazed me. So of course I wanted to know how to do it.

I finally gave it a go and failed at it and lost a good $100 or so. I left affiliate marketing never giving it a second thought. I went back to Adsense and was fighting just to reach $10 a day. Still, people where showing up every day on forums like Digital Point and writing out their success stories all over the forum, and it wasn't long before I saw Scott's success story on there. Scott and I used to share website ideas and whatnot months before and to see Scott now take a huge step up the ladder with affiliate marketing really intrigued me. Scott was in a similar boat as me not to long ago trying to make money through Adsense and to sustain a suitable income online and now he's posting about making $1,000 a day with affiliate marketing. That just told me that this stuff is real and possible. I gave it a second chance and with the help of Scott starting me off on the right path I was on my way to where I am right now.

Anyway, I am carrying on way too long. The point is - we live in the technology age and since the internet is still young in terms of the possibilities it holds, RIGHT NOW is your only shot to make it big unless you plan on going to college for 4-6 years and trying to secure a high paying job cutting people open. Even then, some 17-18 year olds make more money than some of the best doctors in the world.

Let me repeat again - most likely, never again will you get an opportunity like the present to take a chance and make money from the internet. They may say the markets are saturated and from an online marketers view, some markets are. But not in terms of how many people are actually in them. Right now I would guess the number of online individual marketers is insanely low in terms of how much money can be made from it. The rest of the offline world thinks making money off the internet is a ridiculous idea; most still think it's either from porn or you've gotta own something like YouTube to make money. We are fine with that because there is more money than anyone could imagine and we don't need any more people trying to mine from the money pit. This is a once in a life time chance to make it big, GO FOR IT.

You can't do this half-assed. Dedicate yourself to it. Once you have gotten yourself motivated and dedicated to do this, hold to it. The money is real and the possibility of living in that dream house could be a couple days or months down the road. Not 4-6 years.

Let the Journey Begin

Once you are ready to start this exciting adventure, there are some things we are going to need to make you successful.

1. Website (in this post we will be using ringtones).
2. Affiliate Network (I suggest AzoogleAds or NeverblueAds).
3. Advertising Network (Google or Yahoo; I suggest Yahoo because of its ease of use and it's not as strict as Google).
4. Advertising Budget (I know everyone wants free free free. Sorry, no free lunches. You either fork up money to spend or you can sit at your computer desk for 5 hours a day writing articles to drive traffic to your website. Either way, time is money. Is your time justified by writing 10 articles a day to only get 1-2 sales a day or would you rather fork up $50 and make $100-150 back in 1-2 hours of setting up and testing?).

Now I am going to run through the steps one by one on how to get you up and running for Ringtones (which we will be covering in this topic, you can use the method for any niche just make sure you test).

1. Website / Domain - You're gonna want to register a domain at your favorite domain registry. We all know how to do this I hope but make sure when you register a domain to make it related to your niche. Since we're doing ring tones, do something with ringtones in the domain.

2. Affiliate Network - Azoogle has the best offers for ring tones and Neverblue has its own strong points. I suggest you sign up with both just so you can switch whenever you feel like it and test offers from both networks.

3./4. Advertising Networks / Advertising Budget - I suggest you set up a Yahoo Search Marketing account for this experiment. Go search online for the free $100 Yahoo voucher. There are higher ones I think but you might have to pay to buy those off of someone. I wouldn't suggest it because of the amount of scamming that goes around from this kind of thing. Just pay the 30$ sign up and get $130 in your account and move on to the next step.

Get Your Campaign Going

1. The first thing is to get your website content. What you're gonna want for this test is a Ringtone Carrier Page. You can either get one professionally designed for about $80 or make your own... or if you're feeling bastardly you can look at other landing pages and copy their templates from their own site and change it up enough to not seem obvious.

Once you've got your template set up, make sure you have buttons for all major carriers. Just look at other landing pages to get an idea of what the top carriers are and model it off that. Get everything set up and when your template is complete with buttons and everything is looking good, head over to your affiliate network (in this case, Azoogle).

2. Once you're in Azoogle, look up ring tones in the offers page. Now you will notice there are all kinds of offers for ringtones. Personally, I've had good success with Thumbplay and Dada Mobile. So go ahead and look up those offers and click "promote these offers by search," the little blue button on the bottom of the offer page.

*Important* This is one thing I overlooked when I first started: For most offers you will notice that they have more than just one landing page. I never noticed this since the landing page changer was a drop down menu and it's on the very bottom!

Also Remember that not every offer accepts all carriers. The top paying offers only accept the top tier carriers like Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc. So pick a high paying offer like Thumbplay for your top tier sites and Dada Mobile or another offer for your low tier offers.

Once you have looked through both offers' landing pages and you've got the two landing pages you want to use for your top tier and bottom tier, save the affiliate links and put them in their corresponding places in your landing page (Example: For the Sprint button, put the top tier offer jump link so when they click, they get sent to the top tier offer).

Once you have sorted out all the links to each button you can go ahead and close up your template and you're finished with it, unless you want to add some things to it like click tracking software (I'll cover this later on down the line).

(Optional) iFraming. Personally, I just started using this method not too long ago and it's shown some great results. iFraming will basically make it look as if the affiliate landing page is part of your site, which is great way to improve trust and conversions among visitors and it hides your affiliate link at the same time. I highly recommend it but iFraming doesn't work too well with a lot of offers, so test test test.

Here's some example code for iFrames:

<html><head>

<title>Sprint Ringtones - Step 1</title>

<script>window.status = ' ';</script></head>

<frameset rows="100%,*" frameborder="0" border="0">

<frame src="affiliate link" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="auto" noresize>

<frame src="UntitledFrame-2">

</frameset>

<noframes><p>Sorry, but it appears you are using a Web browser that does not support frames.<br></p></noframes>

</html>

Let's say your site is coolringtonesdude.com. Make a carrier for each sub page, like "Sprint, Verizon etc." so it will look like this: coolringtonesdude.com/sprint.html. In your button links, point your jump link to that page so when they land there you can put something like "Sprint Ringtones" as your title and if they see the address bar, it looks legit.

Do this for each carrier and watch your conversions increase!

3. Next let's get your Yahoo campaign going. First thing you're going to want to do is get some keywords for your campaign. Since we are doing ringtones, you want something related to ringtones.

Now for keywords. If you have a Wordze subscription that would be great but I actually like to use Google Keyword Tool more; it displays search volume along with advertiser volume.

For this experiment, we want ringtone-related keywords, but don't aim for the high volume ringtone keywords. They are way too saturated with other advertisers and it's very easy to lose money with them. Let's try getting keywords for popular artists and songs. Start typing artist names in and download the 150-keyword-return list and save the keywords. Get about 15-20 of these going. Now once you have 15-20 groups of different keyword groups for different artists or songs, we can set up the campaigns.

Go back to Yahoo and set up a campaign and ad groups within for each artist. Input the keywords and bid anywhere from 10-30 cents (whatever you feel safe with). For me, it's about 15-25 cents depending on the volume of the searches Yahoo predicts. If it's low, I'll bid higher to secure top position, so when ever it does get searched I can get top 3 spots. If it's a lot of clicks I can lower it and get a good amount of clicks still.

Once you have set up all your campaigns, talk to your affiliate manager over at Azoogle and go into your Yahoo account and get your tracking code. This is where my click tracking comes in handy. They can place the tracking code in the actual landing page you are sending people to so you can find out exactly what keyword was it that converted for you! This is all I use to track keywords.

Now that you got all your campaigns up and your landing page perfect, go pass some time, watch a movie or if it's late go to bed early and pray for good stats in the morning to look over.

4. The big day! When you wake up, it's always exciting to see where you are in your daily earnings. Here are things to look out for:

a. Total spending vs Earnings - If you're in the red, don't worry it's normal. Don't get mad and quit. Getting profit the very first day is pretty damn rare. If you're converting, that's the best thing you can hope for at this point. If you had your tracking code installed, check which keywords converted and write them down. Typically I will only let a keyword rack up to around the amount of a payout before I trash it. So if there are high volume keywords that haven't converted for one payout yet trash it and repeat step 3 (keyword part) again. The point here is to eliminate needless spending and get converting keywords.

b. Your Bounce Rate and eCPC - Look back at Scott's bidding calculator and find out what you should be bidding and go back and tune your campaigns to match it. Not exactly but roughly.

c. Delete the 100 or so keywords you know didn't convert well and add more keywords and repeat the process. You might be thinking: how am I going to get rich over night doing this? This is gonna take forever! Well, you aren't going to get rich over night and you won't get rich at all unless you do this, so no excuses. This is how people generate keyword lists that convert at 1:10 and they've got hundreds and thousands of them so do the math.

5. If you're a total control freak, you can even make sub pages for each keyword group with detailed content for each ad group. This is recommended to improve conversions. It can be tedious work but it could pay off in the end. It's worked so-so for me but I no longer do it. You should test it though as it's highly recommended but honestly I hate dealing with anything website-related so I tend to stay away from it.

6. Remember, try testing out new ads. Higher CTR is good because it means you get more clicks and if those clicks are converting keywords it's just more money every day. Never stop testing and this goes for your landing pages, too. Add some nice little tricks to your landing page, like putting high trusting logos with text related to your site on there, like a Forbes logo that says something like "ring tones are a new way to express yourself." People who will notice the logo will think your site is trustworthy and will feel safer putting in their cell numbers.

That's it.

Just test new keywords every day and delete ones that don't work and next thing you know, you've got 20-50 keywords in a week that convert and you're making 2-3X the money you put into it. It's really that simple. The same method can be applied to any niche. It's really all about a decent landing page and good converting keywords. Once you reach a certain point like $100 a day pure profit from ringtones, you can go into the dating market with the same approach and work till you get it right. Next thing you know, you've got ten offers that bring in $100 a day each and you're earning $1,000 a day profit.

What are you waiting for? Go test!

Hope you enjoyed the long article and I hope it helps everyone who's new and wants to get into the field.

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Microsoft Wants To Own Yahoo

Bill Gates Wants To Own Yahoo

And in more ways than one. If you've been hiding under a rock this morning, you might not be aware of the fact that Microsoft is throwing a $44.6 BILLION dollar offer at Yahoo in hopes to acquire their search engine and all the benefits that go along with it, such as YSM (Yahoo! Search Marketing). Not to mention, with Yahoo in their pocket, Microsoft would now be an even more looming threat to the Google gods.

Besides the blow to the ego this must be for Yahoo, it's just another blow they've sustained since the recent downturn of the economy. Yahoo is reported to have said that they're going to lay off 7% of their work force (1,000 people). That spells trouble.

So why am I posting about this, you might wonder. Well, this will have a great impact on our beautiful little affiliate marketing industry. Now, instead of three big competitors and lots of little fish, there will be a big two.

While this might normally be good, I honestly doubt the battle will be between customer service departments (meaning, their customer service on both sides will still suck the big one). It will probably be some place on either platform that will annoy us all.

Of course, who knows, perhaps some good will come of this. Both services (Adwords and YSM) have no where to go but up in terms of interface, so maybe we'll see an improvement there. Still, I can't help but wonder where this will lead. Perhaps this will end up where everyone says it's going -- an all out war between Microsoft and Google. The rumored Google OS is a pending threat to the clunky Microsoft OS line and could strike a deadly blow to Gates's empire.

Maybe that's just what we need.

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The Perfect Keyword Tracker

As an affiliate marketer, it's an insane game of catch-up when you have to go back and forth between your sales stats and your spend stats. When you want to do reporting, if you aren't using any kind of keyword tracking software, it's a bitch to generate your own. Well, these are just a couple most of the many gripes that inspired this post. This is basically a wish list I'm creating in hopes that someone out there will answer my prayers and make something resembling this dream system.

Free

It's a long shot, but hey, it's the perfect price. I believe that any software worth having should, at the very least, have a free package amongst its paid packages that doesn't limit you too much to use on a small-time basis but limits you just enough so that you eventually do have to upgrade if you become a more intense user. Oh and also, I don't mean a timed trial. When I say free, I mean free for the long-haul baby. Any perfect keyword tracking software would have to start out FREE.

Live Statistics

And I mean LIVE baby, like right now! This goes several ways, from spend sources to revenue stats to visitor stats. When I want to know what my spend stats are for a particular PPC source, like Adwords, I have to log in and run a report to get my most up-to-date spend stats for the day. When I want to see how much I've earned, I have to log in to my statistics application that I developed myself and when I want to see live visitor data--well--I can't ... yet. Having live statistics from all my sites would, in turn, allow me to have a central location for all my information and that's a beautiful thing. Any keyword tracking software worth its salt would need live statistics polled, say, every ten minutes or so. That way all my graphs would be up to date.

Graphs, Charts & Reports (Oh My)

What good are stats if I can't see them graphically? What if I'm a visual learner? I need graphs, baby! Pretty ones, too. If you're going to build that perfect keyword tracking system, it had better have graphs ("wow" looking ones). Then, what if, at the beginning of a new year, I need to print out all my data for tax purposes? I need exportable reports. Yeah, I'm talking about CSV, Excel and the like.

Easy-To-Implement Code For Landing Pages And Such

My biggest peeve with every keyword tracking system I've used so far, mainly affiliate radar, has been its implementation. Although it's not impossible to figure out, it lacks that ease of use that would take it to a godly status. Face it, most affiliate marketers aren't developers or even HTML jockeys to say the least, so the best bet would be to make something really easy to implement -- something like Google Adsense code. And the site would have to SHOW us how to place the code, preferably with videos!

Video Tutorials

How awesome are video tutorials? They make learning fun and easy. Hell, I love to make them in my spare time and post them up on Youtube (check them out here), so it can't be that difficult to make tutorials on the keyword tracking website and all the bullet point features. Also, it makes the site look less enormous and daunting if you see someone else actually using the site the way it's intended to be used.

Security

The last thing I need as an affiliate marketer is to worry about people stealing my keywords, looking at my landing pages and basically stealing my business model for the campaigns I run. Additionally, I don't want to have to worry about the people who run my site looking through my financial data or about the site being hacked and random people gaining access to my data. This means strong security measures have to be in place for data storage and the site owners would need some kind of absolute accountability to its public. How that would happen, I do not know.

One more note on security. At the landing page level, keywords would have to be encrypted as well so that random affiliates and affiliate managers will keep their grubby fingers away.

Customer Service

This kind of goes without saying, but I felt I should include it anyway. Customer service is always a must to at least provide some kind of sense of "I care"-edness to the service, even if they don't. It gives the customer the sense that they are actually helping to turn the gears of action to get them what they want, even if the customer service rep is merely a middle man between the person and a FAQ list and eventually, a trouble ticket form. Sometimes you just need a live person.

Web 2.0 Hotness

Is it too much to ask for the site to be strikingly handsome? That's right, if I'm going to be married to this site for the long haul, I want it to be pretty for as long as possible--just like my wife (thanks Sarah). That means, it has to not only look great but also carry web 2.0 functionality with it. Just enough, but don't get carried the *!#% away (Yahoo! Search Marketing, you know who I'm talking about). AJAX is a feature not the main show, baby. Just keep it fresh.

Auto Stop Losses

This is a feature I've been scheming up in my head since I started. I figure, since this dream keyword tracking software can already tap into the back-ends of my PPC sites (like Adwords, YSM and Adcenter), it should be able to turn my campaigns on and off based on my current profit standing. As affiliate marketers, we all have those days where a campaign that is normally doing great decides to put on its ugly face and turn on us. Not to mention when we were first starting out and didn't really know what the hell we were doing and lost $5,000 within the first month (sorry Sarah).

Just imagine-- if you could put in a "stop loss" amount of, for example, $50.00 and the system would constantly monitor your stats and automagically shut the proper campaign(s) down as soon as it noticed you were $50.00 into the negative. How cool would that be?

Of course, you wouldn't want to set some small number as your "stop loss" as there are times when campaigns that are breaking even temporarily dip into the negatives and then shoot into profit; however, you wouldn't want to set it to a number that is too high either as it can take search engines a while to stop showing ads even after you've turned them off. Overall, I think you get the point.

Auto Suggestions

With the right statistical data, this hypothetical system could make suggestions about whether or not to look for new keywords for the campaign, remove non-converting keywords, ditch the campaign, adjust spending on the campaign, try different ads on the campaign, etc. Not only would this be an insanely awesome tool for n00bs, it would help seasoned affiliates maximize their profits and learn new tricks here and there to apply to new campaigns.

Centralized Advertising System (CAS?)

Going back to the idea of a central location for live data, why stop there? While we're at it, we might as well allow affiliates to stop using the clunky interfaces of Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft Adcenter and start using the ONE interface for the keyword tracking software. For what, you ask? Well, for creating/managing ads and keywords of course! How many times have you been inside your YSM Panel and thought "Dear god, what monkey built this thing?" You aren't alone.

Once and for all, there should be an intuitive system for adding keywords and distributing them across ad groups in such a way that maximizes efficiency. Also, as affiliate marketers, we use individual ads across multiple ad groups. Why not use one ad and apply it to multiple ad groups instead of creating the same ad over and over and over?

This would be the mother of all features but if done right, would revolutionize this business.

Email Collection (Aweber Style)

While it's in the business of hanging out on our landing pages, the software might as well have an option for collecting e-mails in an Aweber-like fashion. That is, it would pop up with a box or hang out somewhere on the landing page and ask people to sign up on the mailing list. Then it would have follow up messages and the ability to broadcast without being spammy. Don't get me wrong, I love Aweber but if some software could centralize all my affiliate tools, I'd be there in a heart beat.

Click Tracking (CrazyEgg Style)

Although CrazyEgg does an incredible job, live click tracking is just a cool feature to have. Google Analytics is also a great tool for this kind of thing, I know but wouldn't it be cool (once again) to be able to manage all of your affiliate-related tools in one place? On top of that, the software could suggest strategic placement based on clicking hotspots to maximize revenue. Just a thought.

Conclusion

I know there are POS's (pieces of software) out there that already do some of the things I mentioned but I have yet to find one that does all of them or even most of them. Someone out there has to be willing to build such a monster and when they do -- game over. I will be MAD RICH. Until then, I am just making a decent living.

But I can dream.

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Understanding The Adwords Formula

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Google Adwords Quality Score or Adwords QS system. Especially when considering very short tail keywords as discussed in my last post, it's important to educate yourself on what Google actually considers as quality when it comes to not just your landing page but also your very ad text and keywords.

In my search for the answer to such puzzling questions, I've come across a few sites that help put the QS into perspective. Back in August of last year, GrayWolf put it best when he titled a post "New Google Adwords Formula = Just Pay Us More." And from what I've been reading, more or less he's right.

From Google's perspective (I hate thinking this way more than anyone because it utterly debilitates me and makes me feel helpless), they want to do three key things:

  1. Maintain their position as internet god
  2. Provide an easy and useful experience to users
  3. Profit, profit, profit

This makes complete sense. Who doesn't want to profit? I know I do. The problem is that they are telling us "as long as your ad generates enough clicks and/or pays us enough, we'll keep it running and in good positions." Yes, some people might pay less as a reward for really good CTR (Click-through ratio) and still end up in a similar ad position, but it doesn't cushion the fact that someone in the ad right above or below them is simply just paying more to be there. For those of us who can't afford such a luxury, it's completely daunting. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that you could be removed from first or second page results due to this fact or even Google Slapped.

So the next logical step, of course, would be to pony up and pay the piper, right? Instead of cursing at Google for being so unfair, I like to look at this as an opportunity to take advantage of a beautiful system.

As an unnamed Google Expert put it back in May of 2007 in an exclusive interview:

Start overbidding! I am serious! You hit the nail on the head when you shared your shocking results that new Google AdWords advertisers are screwed. They have no history, no good quality score, so they have to bid high to get into the door and stand a fighting chance. You have to start out aggressive and then scale back. Otherwise your campaigns will never get off the ground.

By overbidding, of course, the expert meant bidding significantly more than your minimum bid in order to get over the 24-hour window where Google decides whether you are worthy of maintaining your good standing with a particular keyword. You do this in hopes for a high CTR (counterintuitive, I know) so you can start slowly decreasing your bid down to something manageable and hopefully, profitable.

So this is where we're at as the new marketing generation. It's come down to a price war between advertisers. The great Google has spoken and that's pretty much all there is to it. Don't worry about high-quality ads anymore. Focus more intently on keyword-stuffing your landing pages and overbidding just to slowly adjust your bids back to profit.

On a more personal note, if there's one thing I hate most about Google, it's their customer service. Am I alone when I say I feel helpless when I talk to them? It's not because they scare me. It's just that they're so robotic, as if they're the human form of a help wizard. They have no real authority, either. Essentially, they tell me to view the tips on improving my quality score. Honestly, if the solution to my issues were just that simple, don't you think I'd be calling them with something more important? I thought so. Oh, and if there were one more thing I'd say I hate most, it's that they act as if they have no regard for people who spend $5 to $10k every day. Yahoo, on the other hand, has assigned someone specifically to me and they call ME if anything goes wrong.

Now that is what I call customer service. But in the end, Google is king and we all know it. That shouldn't stop you from dominating your niche, so go out there and kill!

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Keyword Tracking The Right Way

To build on three previous posts Why Use Tracking Code, How To Put Tracking Code On Your Landing Page and How To Cloak Your Affiliate Links, the intention of this post is to inform you on how to track the keyword someone used to get to your site from a PPC (Pay Per Click) Ad, no matter which page they come in from.

The problem that people have that made this post necessary is losing the keyword when someone comes in either from a different page or visits the page, leaves and then comes back. Without knowing which keyword got the person there in the first place, marketers like you and me are lost on how to properly spend our money and on which keywords are terrible at converting. We definitely need that information, so we must make sure to do our best to track it.

Now going into this post, I have to assume three things: you can follow instructions, you are using one of the major search engines for your CPC ads and you are using PHP for your web pages. With that out of the way, let's proceed..

In the header of your PHP files, you'll want to include the following code-

keyword_tracking_php.txt

Once you've placed your keyword tracking code in your header(s), you'll need code in place to pass the captured keyword to your hop-link. If you aren't familiar with hop links and passing information using them, please read How To Put Tracking Code On Your Landing Page.

Additionally, if you'd like to learn about cloaking your hop links, please read How To Cloak Your Affiliate Links.

Now to extend the post on cloaking, you can modify your jump.php file with the following code-

jump_php2.txt

It's really as simple as that. The first page captures the keywords and feeds them into the jump.php for Azoogle (or whichever network you're using) to track. What's more is that you can track additional information just by doing the same thing with other information you pass (such as the name of the ad group, specific ad, etc.) in other cookies. Then, you can just append that to the actual jump link's 'sub' tracking variable using a pipe (|) to separate the different variables, respectively.

So there you have it, proper keyword/ad tracking with cloaked links.

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AdCenter: Sucking Harder Than A Dyson

You might enjoy using Microsoft AdCenter and at one point, I was as well. If you'd used Microsoft's AdCenter about two months ago, you would've been somewhat content with their turnaround time on approving ads and keywords.

Well fast forward to now where it takes about 12-24 hours to get your keywords and junk approved, I must say I am thoroughly disappointed.

It's not that I'm surprised about this being a Microsoft product, but more-so that the third runner in the PPC Search Engine battle would be so careless about (more…)

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