Affiliate marketing can be lucrative, but it’s an industry where only the strong survive. My guest for this episode number 193 is Ian Fernando. Ian is a digital marketer who cut his teeth in the affiliate marketing space for over 15 years, building a highly profitable business, and developing innovative monetization strategies. Ian has also appeared as a speaker at conferences around the world, developed affiliate marketing tools, and even built and sold a successful company in the early years of his affiliate marketing career.
As influencers, podcasters and other content creators look to affiliate marketing for ways to generate a steady stream of revenue, Ian’s wealth of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t is only becoming more valuable. From monetization to mobile advertising, to cutting-edge strategies in affiliate marketing, this episode is going to provide amazing value for anyone who has ever wanted to monetize a website.
Ian, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Thanks for having me.
I’ve seen you at conferences for years now. I would love to get your background for our listeners of how you ended up in the internet marketing world, into affiliate marketing, the conference circuit, and all those kinds of stuff. Can you give us a quick background?
Sure. I got into this internet marketing space pretty much by accident because I wanted something to supplement my current income from working three jobs. My mom basically kicked me out of the house and was like, “If you don’t want to finish school, and I’m paying for it, you need to leave the house.” And then I’m like, “Okay, fine.” I left the house and I’m working three jobs. I was a night call center agent, a waiter on the weekends, and a human resource manager during the day, so pretty much working seven days a week. I was thinking to myself, “Man, there’s got to be a way to make money.” My goal was to remove two out of the three jobs and have this supplement income help me do that.
I found out online that you can sell information products – eBooks. I was able to do that as a start. I was doing it through Myspace using Myspace code. I created a landing page through their Myspace code app, I guess. That’s basically how I made my first $7 online. I was like, “Oh, crap. People are actually buying information products. This stuff actually works.” I took and pursued it more and it came to the point where I was like, “Oh, man. I can’t deal with customer service while I’m still working my job.”
I pretty much Googled another way how to make money online without customer service, and then affiliate marketing came up. It basically tells you, “You cannot have a product, not have a list, just send traffic.” I’m like, “Oh, this should be easy,” and I did. It didn’t work out too well in the beginning until I got with a specific affiliate network, AzoogleAds. They are not existent today, but they basically helped me become the affiliate I am today. I credit most of my learning from them because they got me at Google AdWords. They told me where to run and what keywords to target, and that basically, sparked up my affiliate through the ad into space. They got me from a $100 a day to $1000 a week to $1000 a day and that’s where I got my run.
Then a year later, Shawn Collins from Affiliate Summit reached out because I was basically talking all about my affiliate career, my mistakes, my case studies, and my blog. He asked me to speak about affiliate marketing, that is another credit I want to give too because he gave me that footstep into the speaking sphere. My first speaking engagement was definitely nervous but it’s pretty easy nowadays. It’s kind of a high level of overview.
Very cool and Shawn Collins is a great guy. I’ve had him on the show as well. He talked about affiliate marketing and how he built up his empire. He actually sold Affiliate Summit, many listeners will not be aware of that, but it’s a brand now run by, I forgot the name of the company, but this company also bought Traffic & Conversion Summit from DigitalMarketer recently. They have both the Affiliate Summit and T&C brands now.
Nice. I did not know that. I didn’t know they bought Traffic & Conversion, I think it was like Clarion.
Yeah, Clarion Events. There we go. Thank you.
Because I think they do international. I think that’s what Affiliate Summit wanted. They needed to be international to beat the most popular one, Affiliate World Conference.You have to lose before you win. That's what makes a super affiliate. Click To Tweet
Cool. What are the conferences you have spoken at besides Affiliate Summit?
I’ll be speaking in July, there’s one coming up at Affiliate World. I’ve spoken in Affiliate World Europe, Affiliate World Thailand. I spoke at ADdays in Vietnam. I spoke at an event in the Philippines. Several small ones, meetups and networking events in the US. I usually speak two to four times a year, but I’ve turned down a lot of speaking event because I have so much stuff going on as well.
Yeah. Did they pay for your travel and accommodation?
Yeah, the accommodation. I also ask for pricing as well, especially for certain bigger ones but smaller ones are more of just the accommodation stuff.
Yeah. But if you are flying all the way to, let’s say Vietnam or something, it’s got to be worth your time. You’re not going to get necessarily a lot of business out of that. You need to have them fund it, make it more of a fun junket, right?
Yeah, I agree. I just got approached to speak at iGame Affiliate in Zurich. I just basically told them, “Hey, just give me a media kit, accommodations, and pricing, and then we’ll go from there.” Because usually what everybody wants to talk about is speaking engagement and this and that. They drag you into this world. And when you give them a price, they are like, “Nope. Sorry.” I’m like, God you wasted three days of my time talking for an hour.
Yeah. I have spoken at India Affiliate Summit (IAS) and they flew me and my wife out. We got a five-star treatment and everything. Then, we went off to Dharamshala, afterward went to the Dalai Lama’s temple. We saw the Dalai Lama, not super close up. It’s not like we got…
Of course. You can’t touch his feet.
Yeah, we got to see him though. That was pretty awesome. We went to Jaipur and got to hang out with elephants and stuff. It was a great trip, but from a business standpoint, it’s not the right kind of conference for me to generate a lot of great consulting leads or anything like that. It was more of a junket and it was fun. I had a great time, but you got to be judicious about which ones you say yes to and so forth. You got to be more strategic about that.
Exactly. Sometimes you just got to say no.
Yeah. You talked about how AzoogleAds helped put you on the map in terms of getting to $1000 a day and then upwards from there. Would you say that you’re a super affiliate—I think you are—but you tell me, by your definition, if you are and what a super affiliate means. What that term means to you.
Tough question. I think a super affiliate is somebody that if you replace the salary of your job, whether before you’re $60,000 and you’re making yourself rich by not spending that money, reinvesting it, then I think you are a super affiliate. There are also times where a super affiliate like myself, can go up and then at once I’ll just be down. I’ll be just somewhat and sometimes in depression because I’m spending too much and my ROI is not. By definition, I think a super affiliate is somebody that can go through the hard times, be super successful, and understand the industry enough that you know that you are going to lose before you are going to have that major win. Understanding that mindset-wise makes you a super affiliate, money-wise, I don’t think so.
I think it’s more of the mindset because if you get into affiliate space, especially right now, you are going to lose. 9 out of 10 you are going to lose your first $100, your first $5000, or whatever because there’s so much traffic source out there to test, so many angles to think about, so much creative to really push through that you have to mathematically understand that strategically. You have to lose before you win. That’s what I think makes a super affiliate. I’m saying this now, it might be different five years later because, ten years ago, I would say, “Yeah it’s all about at least having $100,000 in your bank account or spending $10,000 a day.” That would be making a super affiliate, but now being 15 years in the space, I think it’s definitely more of a mindset game than actual cash value.
Yeah. When you say spending $15,000 a day, that’s in paid media cost?
Correct. Yeah, paid media cost. It’s all PPC, CPM, CPC. It’s all that.
Are you spending quite a lot of money with Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Instagram Ads, that sort of thing or is it all one network? Is it a healthy six figures a month in ad spend?
I would tell you this, 2013-2015 were my heaviest years where I was closely spending five-six figures a day on ad spend. We came to a point where I had to prepay Amex $200,000 every day just so I can spend six figures without them locking my card.
It came to that point but nowadays, especially with the privacy issue with Facebook, changes with Google Ads, and all this, I’m not even spending that much anymore, but most of my traffic right now is coming from Facebook and Push Ads.
Push Ads, tell us more about that.
Push Ads are push notifications that are on your phone and computer. When you get an alert to an app, through your phone, that’s basically push notification. Or if you subscribe to a newsletter and you want to get an alert when a new post comes up, and you chose through your Chrome browser or your Mozilla browser then go there to the notification that you get. Basically, these are just alerts. What happens is that a certain website that grows their own opt-in list, they sell their push inventory for advertising and I’ll buy those and I’ll bid those push notifications. If an app tells you, “Hey, your battery is low.” They might sell those opt-ins or install opt-in to a network, and I’ll bid on those spots and send you a notification ad, basically.
Right. I always say no to the request for being on the notification list when a website asks for that. I’m like, “No. I don’t need any further distractions,” but a lot of people will say…
Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of people like, on my blog alone it’s almost 65% opt-in for my push notifications. I use it only for my newsletter and for a new blog post on the blog. It grows much faster than my actual email list, which is very interesting to me.
Wow. Interesting. Are you using any kind of special software to manage your push notification list on your blog?
No, I’m just currently using OneSignal which is the most popular one. It’s pretty much an easy integration of WordPress, that’s the only reason why I use it. Once I get to a point where I think I’m overpaying on OneSignal, I’ll probably code or download a source code to manage all my email servers because technically, the only problem with push notifications is that you cannot move these opt ins to another list like your emails. Once you have one service they stay on there, you can’t move them over. That’s the only downside because push notifications are all pure opt-ins which are technically good lead. They’re almost as good as email, but the response right now on these push notifications are almost a 100%.
Wow. So, if you move away from OneSignal, you have to start over with a brand new list?
Correct. Because the thing about push notifications, they’re all encrypted. You don’t even know where the person is. It’s only the server knows that, “This is the ID of this person, the ID of this Chrome browser, let me send it to this person.” It’s all encrypted. I’m assuming for privacy or security reasons, but it’s not like an email list where you can take ianfernando.com and move it to Aweber or GetResponse. Once you grow on OneSignal, you have to manage OneSignal and then maybe manage your own software or go to PushCrew or whatever, so you’ll have to manage multiple platforms.
Got you. Now, the push ads side of it, so you’re not taking any ads from others and blasting that out to your push notification list, but there are plenty of other bloggers who do, and then there are networks where you can just buy these opportunities.
Correct. There are two case studies I’ve done on my blog with two popular push networks, one is MegaPush and the other is DatsPush by LeadBit. I’ve tested both of them, they’re pretty good. The best part about push traffic is that it’s very early in its traffic days, almost as if Google was brand-new in advertising space back in 2000 or if you started POP Traffic back in 2007. It’s pretty much brand-new that there’s no regulatory, no restrictions pretty much on it. I think it’s the best way for a new affiliate to start off with because it’s so easy and the lead quality is pretty damn good. I’ll take that back; it depends on the network you advertise on.
Got you. Which makes this case studies that you publish so powerful because you share the pluses and minuses of each these different push networks with the reader.
Yeah, exactly. I’ll put up a $100 test, show my campaign, I’ll show what I’m targeting, what my ad looks like, my creatives, and then I just let the bidding start and go from there and share the stats on a usually, one-week basis.
Cool. Now, you mentioned POP Traffic, does that still exist?
It’s still a very popular traffic source that a lot of people use. I don’t do anymore. It’s just very cheap in volume, but it’s also a lot of garbage pops out there. You have to understand that most pops are probably targeting the older generation, people with old Windows computer that are always still popping, downloading Torrent. I specifically don’t do it, but a lot of people still use their traffics.
Got it and that’s pop-ups.
Yeas, pop-up and they’re mostly pop-unders.
Pop-unders, I hate those. As a user, I hate those.
Back in the day, I would install these browser extensions I think like in Windows Explorer and I’ll be like, “Oh my god, this is too much but you got to make a traffic there somewhere.”
Are you spending a lot of money with these push networks? How does it compare to what you’re spending with Facebook?
It’s definitely cheaper. I’ll tell you that if I’m spending 25-14 cents on Facebook on a CPC basis, I’m paying close to 0.004-0.005 cents depending on where I’m targeting. In the US, it’s definitely much more expensive. Overseas, it’s definitely cheaper.
That’s cool. Where did you learn the most ninja tricks and techniques? I can’t imagine just sitting in the audience at Affiliate Summit or something, you would learn which networks are the best ones and how to negotiate special deals and all the tools that are not public information that is more specialized and more kind of the secret sauce that an affiliate marketer might utilize. Where did you learn the bulk of the stuff?
Oh, man. Basically, trial and error. Like I was saying, just falling flat face and getting back up and thinking to myself, “Why did I fall?” My head game when I go into advertising, online advertising is, “100 people click on my ad. Why did 100 people click through? Why did 100 people convert?” It’s almost like a game to me. Finding tools and asking questions in Google led me to other articles and videos that will showcase other tools and resources that I might need. There are so many tools out there that you can use and then find what’s good for you. Like spy tools, there’s so many out there, but you have to test several of them to get the information that you need.Affiliate marketing is really about how creative your angles can be and how consistent you are to be successful. Click To Tweet
My thing is, as long as you know what you’re trying to do in your ad, the tools are after, right? It’s like building a house. You know how to build a house by laying the foundation, getting the blueprints, engineering approvals prior to even getting the first tool to nail or pour cement in the ground. That’s how you should look at advertising. What is the angle? What can I do? Put it out there and let the ad tell you to the story, and then you critique after that. When people want to start, they want to be successful right away. Yes, you can be successful in affiliate marketing. I mean, I’ve been doing this for so long, and I’ve survived the humps of this industry.
It’s really about how creative can your angles be and how consistent you are with failure to be successful. Because later on, you’ll meet the people that you want to talk to that will share with you the secret that they’re doing, that can up boost your ad angles or ad campaigns that you’re currently running. Or they might tell you a tool that they are currently using that isn’t even public. Like this past Sunday, I was talking to a buddy of mine and he just opened up a new traffic source that he’s working on, super premium traffic, I’m about to test it this week and I wouldn’t have known if I just never said hi to him, right?
Keeping up with the industry is almost a day’s work in itself because a lot of the affiliates, they like to keep things open about their campaigns, but not give you the main strategy why they’re making money. They’ll give you everything else, but they won’t give you that secret sauce because you have to figure it out because it probably took that person six months to figure out the aha moment, right? They’re not going to give that to you. In order for you to have your own aha moment is that consistency that will allow you to push through and find, “Okay. This is what I should have done,” and you’ll eventually be talking back to the same person, you’re probably like, “Oh, would you do this?” Eventually, he’ll say yes and then you’re like, “Ah, that’s how it is.” It’s definitely more of consistency in trying to get the tools and resources right. Again, I look at it like building a house with just the blueprint and then taking the tools out.
It’s kind of similar to Amazon sellers and how secretive they are when they’re doing Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). They’ve stumbled upon this killer product that they sourced from China and they send in bulk to Amazon’s warehouses, and they’re just making bank off that product. They won’t let anybody even close friends know what that product is.
That’s crazy. I actually just started getting into Amazon FBA just the beginning of this year to experiment since this whole industry is shifting to the e-com side of things.
Tell us a bit more about that. You don’t have to share your secrets, but are you sourcing multiple products from China? There are so many different ways of doing this.
Yeah. I started at the beginning of this year because when I went to Affiliate World in Thailand, the main topic of the conference was Amazon. People were telling Amazon, some are like, “Yeah, I’m curious. I wonder if I can do this.” I YouTube things for one week, signed up, and then started getting inventory.
The first thing I did is doing what they call Retail Arbitrage. Basically, buying things from Walmart, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls that are already on discounted pricing or clearance, and then putting them back on Amazon to sell for the normal retail price. Usually, Marshalls will have their clothing item already discounted and then you can sell that on Amazon for the actual retail price. You make your margins that way. The fees are definitely higher on Amazon than on eBay, but the volume on Amazon is crazy. Once you put a product on there, that product is literally gone in a weeks’ time. I don’t mind doing Amazon with a higher fee because all I have to do is do it in volume. With Retail Arbitrage, it’s basically just going out, doing the footwork, finding things that are discounted, send them to Amazon, and sell them at a regular retail price.
Cool. How is this experiment going? Is this something where you are going to double down and spend a lot more of your time and energy on Amazon or is it just the regular affiliate marketing where all the money is out for you?
We’re talking a shift in the affiliate space. The best part about affiliate marketing is that it taught me how to do marketing online. I will be taking that skill set and moving it to my own lead gen offer and then using it to open up a Shopify store from the product that I find is doing well on Amazon. The goal in my head is finding products out there that is in clearance. Can I take this product with a different angle, put it on the Shopify store, and then buy traffic to it? It’s almost like a full circle effect, right? If I’m selling branded towels that have certain imagery on it that Walmart is selling, can I take this product and say, “Hey, I wonder if China has something similar with a different angle attached to it on a vertical level that I can resell or sell, buy in bulk, put it on Shopify, and then sell it?” Those are the strategies that I have in my head. Taking all these learned experiences from Amazon and my online marketing to make it into one brand or one product or one microbrand.
How many Shopify sites do you envision having in your portfolio, let’s say, by the end of this year?
That I don’t know. Currently, I tell you, I probably have seven stores right now. Just testing different angels that we found to be working. Some of them are okay, some of them seem to be more seasonal, some of them just seem to be more trendy. We’re just trying to find that sweet spot and finding that sweet part is just the hardest part.
Okay. You’ve got seven now and you’re not relying on SEO for any traffic to this Shopify sites?
No. That’s my weakest point, the organic stuff is out of my league. I’d rather buy traffic, get my data, and go from there than work on the SEO later knowing that this product might be a winner instead of not be a winner.
Right. It gives you immediate feedback to just rely on paid media. It means that you’re able to get short-term returns and you don’t have to be in it for the long haul with SEO. There’s a lot of nuance to SEO, the technical side of it, the link building, and keyword research. Everything that goes into SEO. It’s a commitment.
Yes. It’s literally like a full-time job in itself just to write articles and link build to those articles. I’ve seen some strategies and like, “Man, that sounds so time-consuming.” It doesn’t seem exciting at all where when you’re buying media, numbers are changing, you want to say, “Hey, maybe if I only target Apple iPhone 4 versus Apple iPhone 6, will my conversions grow?” There are so many variables with SEO that you that can’t control; where with paid, you can. That’s why I love paid much better.
Okay. I’m particular towards SEO. It’s my bailiwick, but there must be some easy wins for you from an SEO perspective. Like for example, you’re on this podcast you might as well mention one of your stores so that our listeners can take a look at it.
Oh, man. Are you trying to find my niche right now?
You’re right. SEO does work. For example, my blog, there’s a certain post that has affiliate links and the blog makes money through that but I never did any link building. I don’t even know how to even start on why my blog ranks for certain keywords, for certain reviews or products and it makes money, right? That’s just writing content and just sharing through simple things like Facebook or Tumblr, putting up on videos. I mean, doing the in-depth stuff, maybe my blog would rank much better for certain keyword and get more volume, but it’s too much effort for me to even do it. I can’t even weigh the pros and cons for it because I don’t like SEO.
Okay. Alright. I won’t go too deep down that rabbit hole. I’m curious, what are you doing from a video perspective. You mentioned Tumblr, I’d love to hear what you’re doing with Tumblr. I do nothing with Tumblr. What are you doing there and what are you doing with video? I’m guessing it’s YouTube primarily?
Yeah, it’s more YouTube. I’ve actually started to utilize IGTV and Facebook video, which gets way more interactions than my YouTube content. I’ve taken old content from a YouTube channel, uploaded it to Facebook video. The amount of views I get in one day chunked what I’ve got all time on YouTube. I’ve just started doing things on IGTV, experimenting if people will watch a long video in IGTV or not. I still don’t understand how people watch videos in a 9 by 16 instead of a 16 by 9 ratio. That’s something I still got to figure out and learn. Stuff I do with video is just content interviews, tied to teach some stuff, but it comes to having time to do so. Doing stuff with Tumblr is just basically, be posting content and that’s pretty much it, that’s nothing special. It’s just linking my blog post on Tumblr and repost the first 100 words and then same what YouTube, just posting it then re-post to Tumblr. No secret sauce there.It's the consistency that will allow you to push through and find your true aha moment. Click To Tweet
Got it. Are you spending any ad budget on driving traffic directly to your blog or it’s all to the Shopify stores and affiliate offers?
Yeah. There are some ads that are going to, not directly to my blog, there’s this strategy that I use that I send to an offsite content prior to my blog, that’s why I can measure engagement. The engagements are the most important part for them to take action, so I don’t buy directly to the blog. It goes to a different piece of content, I won’t say the site, but it’s almost like a FAQ style site or Yahoo directory or reddit. From there, I measure the engagement then they go to the blog. Yes, I do spend most of my time on Shopify and do my affiliate stuff. Most of my affiliate stuff is simple lead gen and dating offers, which I have been doing lately.
What is a lead gen opportunity? What does that mean? Are you generating leads for real estate and passing those on to some sort of network or you sell those leads directly? How does that whole lead gen side of things work?
Lead gen is an opt-in form. It can be a pay-per-call, it can be an email full of address, it can be pretty much anything. Most of the stuff I do is name and email to two-form or four-form; first name, last name, email, and phone number. What I’m currently running is basically a debt consolidation where I would collect the email leads, but I have to get the user to pick up the phone call. That lead gen is on a pay-per-call payout up to 90 seconds or on a deposit. On a deposit, you will get anywhere from $90-$250 for debt consolidation. On a 90 second call, I believe it’s like $7-$10, depending if you’re direct with the advertiser or if you go into the affiliate network. Obviously, there’s more control when you’re with the advertiser, but there’s more security when you work with the affiliate network. Those are the types of lead gen that I am currently doing.
Dating offer, what does that look like?
It’s simple. Just set them to a dating signup page. Most of my campaigns are targeted in a more local radius. My ads are more locally targeted into creative, not on the campaign. Meaning, my ad copy is saying, “Hey, want to meet somebody tonight?” They click on the ad and then they sign up but doing dating, you have to be more creative just because there’s so much more dating offers out there. They’re probably being bombarded with so many dating ads anyway. What I do, I try to create the engagement in my audience after I click an ad. I’ll never send them to the offer directly. I have to see their activity first. I want to measure that activity before I send them off to an offer. This way, I can almost guarantee that they’ll at least put in their name and email and then I can get paid on that signup.
You say, measure their activity. What do you mean? Measure their engagement in some way? Their click-throughs? Bounce Rate? Or you make them fill out forms, play games, take quizzes? What do you do in there?
Exactly what you’re saying. You mentioned survey, quizzes, those are the common things I do. What I look for are the interactions. The quizzes, surveys, a minigame, or something that allows them to interact with a page. If they finish the engagement or interaction, they want to get their reward by signing up or just finish the funnel by just signing up. I want a continuous flow of action. By the time they get to the offer, they will continue that engagement from the prior page onto the next. The flow becomes almost seamless.
With a quiz, it’ll be, “Here’s a quick quiz on if we can find you your next partner.” Some questions will be, “Are you looking to get married? Are you looking for a fling? What is your age limitation? Do you want old women? Younger women? Do you like sports?” Once they fill out these quizzes or surveys, hopefully, the result is signing up because, in the end, I try to tell them, “Hey, we found you X amount of people in a five-mile radius from where you’re living. Just signup to see their profile.” That’s my call to action before they actually get redirected. Since I have no control of the call to action on advertisers page, I try to put that call to action prior, and I let that engagement try to continue on by letting them sign up on their own.
Got you. You’re sending them to somewhere like match.com or in some dating site. Now, these quizzes and surveys are using traditional survey tools like SurveyMonkey?
No. I really don’t care what happens, I actually care only about the engagement. These quizzes and surveys are all fake. As long as they’re clicking, it’s just fake information being sent to users saying that they’ve actually done something. There’s no data being transferred in the background at all since I’m not going to use that data anyway. All I care about is them signing up and taking action because my campaign is already targeted based on age, gender, or interest. People that want to date in the gaming industry, I already have a dating offer that’s meant for the gaming industry. My campaigns and ads are already meant for the gaming industry. The survey plays no interest for me at all. It’s all just BS data on the background and the user just sees, “Congratulations! Thank you!” Or whatnot.
Oh, that’s funny. If somebody wants to take a personality test or quiz on your site then it’s not based on any kind of logic. You’re just giving them some nonsense answer?
Yeah, I’ll be like, “Oh my god! You’ve reached 80% of the people. You are compatible with these sets of three women.” Or, “Wow, your debt is too high. We were only able to find you one finance loan that will give you a loan today. You have to react in the next five minutes.” It adds a copy in interaction and controlling the engagement. That’s the best part of performance marketing. Controlling the user based on the engagement, or ad, or whatnot. That’s what I love about this affiliate marketing, performance marketing space.
Interesting. I was going to ask you about any kind of special quiz software you that you use because I’m familiar with LeadQuizzes and DilogR for driving traffic from Facebook to a quiz to get them to engage and give them some useful, interesting insights from taking the quiz. There’s also TryInteract, that’s another quiz platform hosted. There’s a bunch of them out there. It sounds like you’re not using any of them, you’re just making up some result that has nothing to do with the form they filled out.
Yeah. If you’re collecting data, then, yes, collect that data and that’s going to be useful. If you just want to throw out an affiliate offer and you want to make sure it converts, you want to have that engagement. There are two models in the affiliate marketing space. There’s one where you want to have a data, grow your own asset, grow your own traffic source, or you just buy traffic and that’s all you kind of want to do—just make it convert.
There are ups and downs to both models. I personally choose to just buy traffic and not worry about the data, but I’m more leaning towards growing my assets just because I do see what it does to my blog where I’m actually collecting real data, and I’m sending users to things they want to read. They actually fill out a real survey. That’s the thing. If you want to grow the assets in affiliate marketing, keep the data. If you don’t, you just want to see a conversion, you just want to see revenues come in, then you should not worry about the data. Just make sure you engage the user so they can engage further.
This whole lead generation business, there are whole conferences on that topic like LeadsCon which I’ve never been to. Have you ever been to LeadsCon?
Yeah. I’ve been to LeadsCon. LeadsCon, it’s not your typical just like what we spoke. LeadsCon is more like, “Hey, I have more leads. Do you want to buy these leads from me? Do you want to revshare for me?” Or, “There will be a financial list that leads traffic from affiliates, can you generate me 100 leads between 9 AM and 4 PM, only in New York state?” LeadsCon is more so of buying and selling data. For the affiliate marketer, it works well because you can work directly with an advertiser, get paid on a per lead or do a revshare for a lead directly with an advertiser. Instead of working with a middleman like in an affiliate network, you’re working directly with the actual advertiser. You can have your own payout term, etc. or you can revshare on that data that you’ve actually grown—that you’ve given them. LeadsCon is like a marketplace for data, technically. It’s not similar to an affiliate or performance marketing conferences.
It’s more of a networking event where you’re matchmaking. It’s like matchmaking opportunity.
Correct. If you’re already buying leads for a financial firm and you’re doing pretty well, might as well expand that by working directly with advertisers and having a better CPA deal or a CPM deal down the line. This way, you kind of have an asset and you can get paid more so on an LTV versus a CPA.
Got it. When you get paid on an LTV, lifetime value, what does that look like?
It depends. Let’s say for casino offers, you can get paid on CPA just on a lead or deposit or you can get paid on a revshare like an LTV where they do a deposit, and as long as they keep the deposited money, you got a percentage of that deposit. In the casino space, I believe that for every deposit, you’re getting almost 25% depending on who you’re working with. I think it’s definitely more when you’re overseas or international, but it really depends on the network.
If that lead, out of the 100 lead that you send, and you probably spend, let’s say, $100, but you have one person that’s depositing $100 at a time after four deposits over four months, you’ve already made your money back. It’s a long term game. If that person is going to keep depositing for the next four months, you’ve made two times of your money right there already. It’s really is more of a thought process if you want to make money now or make money later, but that’s up to you, as a person, to figure out what your business strategy is.There are so many variables in marketing that step by step processes never work. Click To Tweet
What about the info marketing space? You had mentioned at the beginning of the interview that you started in info products, ebooks, and then you moved into affiliate marketing. Are you doing affiliate marketing with info marketers where they have an info product, online course, or ebook and you’re getting 50% of the sales, your affiliate fee, for driving leads to buy that online course?
Yes. The only one to promote is the one with a backend that has a recurring like STM, I don’t know if you’ve heard of STM Forum, they have courses and they have their active forum which is part of their Facebook mastery live, and e-commerce mastery events. I’ll promote something like that, but I wouldn’t promote a Clickbank offer with a 75% or 80% commission rate because I know how much money that they’re going to make at a backend anyway. If anything, I would make my own product which I kind of was in the process, but obviously, time got the best of me.
You’re working on creating your own info product, but you’re too focused right now in the affiliate marketing and Shopify stuff to finish it?
Cool. Earlier in our conversation, you were mentioning that you test your traffic, so you’re relying heavily on paid media. I would imagine if you’re new to this space—like our listeners might want to experiment with affiliate marketing and paid traffic—they need to be very careful with how they run their tests so that they don’t blow their money too quickly, they don’t do invalid tests that don’t actually give them any insights or actionable data. Walk us through how you test your traffic. What’s a valid test? What’s an invalid test? That sort of stuff.
Okay. The way I do my traffic is I go broad. I go broad and then I break it down after. For a beginner, I would tell them to go micro as possible. Pretending you went broad, but since you don’t have to ad spend, you should start with a micro-campaign. Like, “I only want to target mobile on wifi. I only want to do the upper east coast.” Whereas I will always go broad first then I let the data tell me where to go step by step. Then I start segmenting a lot of my stuff with Facebook based on engagement from 75%, 50%, 25% engagements. Then I grow my audience pixel based on that. Then again, based on female, based on income level. Then I shift my creatives based on those data points. I adjust copy especially if the income level is a little bit low or if it’s male or female, copy gets adjusted. There’s a lot of things that I do, that a beginner would never think of.
I always tell a beginner, especially if you’ve been doing on major networks like Google or Facebook, to always start at the most micro level because you want to see the data come in, understand the data what it’s telling you, and then, can you micro from there? Or can you set up your broad atmosphere by going to mobile wifi and 3G LTE, and then see what that tells you? If that tells you, “Okay. You’re doing pretty good. Maybe you want to expand to an Android and iPhone or just stick to Android version X.”
It’s very different from how a lot of performance marketers do because we would rather waste the money right away and figure out what to make profitable later. Where a beginner that has $100 to spend, I want them to start at the most micro level, see some clicks-in. “Do you understand what these clicks mean? Can you reference them to one of your campaigns or ads? Can you reference them to the actual advertiser?” It’s a whole thinking process and creative process to really go through when you create a campaign.
There’s really no blueprint, I want to say, but there is a blueprint from a broad standpoint. From a micro standpoint, I don’t think there’s a true blueprint for it. When a beginner is just trying to grow from micro to macro then that becomes difficult because you can lose a lot of money right away if you go from micro to macro. I don’t want to scare anybody about affiliate marketing, but it’s the reality of it. It’s either you’re losing money in the beginning from a broad campaign or you’re going to lose money by going up to your broad campaign just to understand traffic. You have to understand that you have to segment a lot of your traffic specifically if you’re in the tier one traffic sources like Facebook and Google.
Interesting. Are you doing lookalike audiences on Facebook?
Yup. We do lookalike audiences based on tags. On Facebook, the best part about Facebook, you get to tag a page view, review content, add to cart, a pre-checkout, a lead, etc. Based on those tags, you can create a lookalike audience and grow it. I usually grow it by 2% each time. That’s about it. Once you go past 2%, the traffic seems totally off, it doesn’t really match what you’ve added or the function of that audience doesn’t match pass 2% for some reason so I always stay at 2%.
What exactly do you mean there, 2%?
When you do a lookalike audience, you can actually scale the audience from 1%-2% to 10% to grow your audience. When you create a lookalike audience on Facebook, when you tag somebody that is a lead, I think the data point for Facebook is 100. Once you get 100 data points for that call to action or that tag, you can grow that audience and expand that audience outside of that tag by 1% or 2%. You can go up to 100%, but that’s the differential. It will look for people that might be a lead outside of a 2% level.
I’m trying to think of a good example. If you go to a restaurant, you like that restaurant—your lead—and then, you tell somebody, that person you just told has the potential to go to that restaurant. That 1%-2% differential is that potential of that person coming into your restaurant or not. I think that’s the best way I could explain it.
Okay, cool. If somebody wanted to learn the ropes from you about how to do these testing of traffic and growing from micro to macro, do you take on apprentices, are you mentoring, do you run masterminds?
I don’t do it as much anymore. I only take people that are very serious. It really depends. I do have an affiliate guide which breaks down the full structure on how to look at an affiliate campaign from the viewpoint of a blueprint engineer because I try to teach people basic foundation, and then the creative process should be up to you. It’s like, “I can show you how to build the foundation of the house, but it’s up to you to build the rooms and how high you want it to be.” That’s how I teach. A lot of people will teach step by step and a lot of people hate the way I teach because they want that step 1, step 1.a, step 1.b. Marketing does not work that way. There are so many variables in marketing that step by step processes never work.
This is the reason why there’s a lot of affiliates that did not survive several apocalypses. We’ve probably had four apocalypses in our industry where tremendous change happened. I feel like there’s another one coming out because of the Facebook privacy and issues and all these. There’s going to be another apocalypse once Facebook removes string data away from us, campaigns are probably going to tank for six months, and nobody will be making money, some people will. I bet you, for six to nine months, a lot of previous affiliates that are our affiliates probably won’t survive. I’ve seen it happen so many times.
That happens with Google, with SEO as well. Some big update and a site that was reliant on something that was not, most above-board sort of tactic, they get the rug pulled out from under them.
It goes back to one of your first questions, what is a super affiliate? I think, again, the super affiliate is that mindset instead of money.
That can weather the storm.
Exactly. Can you adapt? Can you consistently fall for that one win?
Last question here, I know we’re running short on time. You mentioned a few different tools through our conversion, you also alluded to spy tools, are there any particular spy tools or just general tools that are must-haves for an affiliate marketer?
I think spy tools are definitely something you want to use when you first start. I use Anstrex, I actually just posted a video about it, of their newest tool, Anstrex Push on my YouTube channel. I’ve been using their native tool for quite a while, it has a lot of the information that a person can use. There are a lot of spy tools that will give you the information on what campaign will work right away. The reason why I like Anstrex is because it gives you a lot of information, which allows me to decide on what to use and what not to use and to test multiple iterations of it. There’s one script that I think you should use is jQuizzy. You can probably find that on CodeCanyon, that’s where I bought it. Most of my stuff was pretty much custom made to my liking based on my traffic, but the spy tool for sure, Anstrex, I think is a solid one. There are so many other ones like for Facebook is AdSector which I don’t use, but I know a lot of people use it. I just go through Facebook fan pages and see what they’re really advertising, that’s how I spy. Again, I always let my data tell me.Mindset over money when it comes to affiliate marketing. Click To Tweet
How about finding good niches and Amazon products that you can source?
I use Helium 10 currently. It’s a really good platform to look at the data and see what’s working. You can just log on to amazon.com and it basically takes over the page, gives you graphs, what’s popular, how many sales and how many reviews. You just enter a certain amount of criteria like, “I want this product to be under $20. Have at least 10 reviews and had been on the market place for x amount of weeks or months,” and then you can do a comparison. The best part is you can compare that to Google Trend analysis that they do have in their platform. You can see if it’s still trending and if you should take advantage of this trend or not. Helium 10, I think is solid. Again, I’ve only done it for just a little over three months.
Last question, it’d be really quick. Any particular super affiliates who you follow and learn from, get mentoring from? I know that you know many of the big folks, and you’re pretty big too, I guess Zac Johnson, John Chow, Jeremy Schoemaker, many of these folks, I think all of them that I rattled off I’ve had on the show. Anyone in particular that you follow, read all their stuff, listen to all their things?
There’s a newsletter that’s pretty much awesome, it’s called wtaff.co, his name is Manu Cinca. He has been an affiliate and I follow his newsletter a lot just because it gives an in-depth analysis on a day to day on what’s going on in the industry. Another person I probably follow and which is a really good friend is Attila, iAmAttila.com is his blog. He has a lot of very in-depth case studies at a high spent level whereas my case studies are more so, trying to figure out if it’s gonna work or not. My case studies are often between $500-$100, his case studies are from like $5,000 to $10,000. You can get value from both, he definitely goes way into detail of why he did this based on the thought process. Lorenzo Green, co-creator of Affiliate World Conference and STM Forum. He’s a huge guy that makes a lot of money in the advertising space well. Charles Ngo is another guy that I follow. His stuff I follow more so on the self-awareness, self-discipline, more so on mindset style than the affiliate marketing side, but definitely those guys for sure to follow.
That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Very generous of you for opening your kimono and showing our listeners some of the tools and thought leaders that you get value from and different strategies and tactics that you employ, different kinds of offers and types of affiliate marketing that you’re doing that is paying off for you. Thank you so, so much, Ian.
No problem. Thanks for having me for sure.
If somebody wanted to learn from you further, where should we send them, website, your social channels?
I think the best way is to hit up ianfernando.com. I also have a free affiliate marketing guide which is about 85 pages of basic understanding of the foundation of affiliate marketing, you can find that at ianfernando.com/incomplete. It’s basically an incomplete guide in affiliate marketing because, at the end of the day, it’s all about you. I try to teach people that foundation and to adjust your mindset to make sure you can be successful with affiliate marketing or online marketing in general.
Thank you so much, Ian. Thank you, listeners. Now it’s time to take some action and apply what you’ve learned. Make some extra money and try some things and get outside of your comfort zone. This is Stephan Spencer, your host. Have a great week. We’ll catch you in the next episode of Marketing Speak.
- Ian Fernando
- Anstrex Push Ad Spy Tool Review by Ian Fernando
- DatsPush Case Study Results After One Week – 1 Campaign, 2 Countries – Case Study
- My 24 Hour Setup and Results with LeadBit’s Push Network, DatsPush – Case Study
- 10 Day Push Traffic Results on MegaPush Utilizing SmartLink Dating Offers – Case Study
- Mega Push Affiliate Traffic: the Setup and 24 Hour Results – Case Study
- Shawn Collins – Previous episode
- Zac Johnson – Previous episode
- John Chow – Previous episode
- Jeremy Schoemaker – Previous episode
- Affiliate Summit
- Traffic & Conversion Summit
- Clarion Events
- Affiliate World Conference
- iGame Affiliate
- India Affiliate Summit (IAS)
- Google AdWords
- Facebook Ads
- Instagram Ads
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Aim to sell info products that people can utilize and learn from. eBooks, courses, and online masterminds are good business ventures for those interested in teaching or helping people.
Be more judicious in choosing speaking events. Know why I’m speaking and learn how to say no to events that aren’t beneficial.
Understand what it takes to become a super affiliate. There are more struggles than rewards, but it will be worthwhile once I develop a healthy mindset around it.
Take a look into push notification ads. It can be another avenue aside from Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads.
Be patient and use trial and error for online ads and affiliate marketing. Always analyze the results and data so that I can improve my campaigns.
Find a good advertising angle to capture my audience’s attention and connect with them better. Strategize first before implementation.
Always measure my engagement. Utilize analytics tools on my website and campaigns so that I can track my customers’ behaviors.
Use my ad spend to target a specific demographic rather than spending more and pursuing a broader audience. Learn the ropes from a micro scale and grow from there.
Utilize spy tools like Anstrex for affiliate marketing to find out what works in push advertising.
Check out Ian Fernando’s free affiliate marketing guide and get started with affiliate marketing today.
About Ian Fernando
Ian Fernando has been in the digital marketing space for 15 years. He has also been featured speaker all around the world and traveled on the free time affiliate marketing has created for him. Ian created marketing tools and even sold a software company in the first years of his affiliate career.
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