My Affiliate Marketing Experiment – Part 4

At this point in my little experiment I’ve made some money and learned a few pro’s and con’s about this affiliate marketing industry (at least the low-end type):

Pro’s of simple affiliate marketing:

  • It’s possible to start making money very quickly with relatively little work.
  • It’s possible to scale up successful campaigns to large levels.
  • It’s possible to “sell” a product without knowing anything about it.

It’s not hard to see why so many get-rich-quick books teach this very method of making money…because it SEEMS like it could work for anyone. Some people might even have some nominal success trying something like this, but very quickly the con’s start showing their head:

Con’s of simple affiliate marketing:

  • It’s possible to LOSE those quickly-gained profits very quickly also.
  • Most successful campaigns you create will start to garner much attention from other affiliate marketers who quickly start copying you.
  • You have to be hush about your work….you can’t openly talk about what you’re promoting or your methods. This is why many people I talked to about this were so secretive.

By and far the largest con I see with doing this simple type of affiliate marketing is there is no long term value being provided. With my business HouseOfRave for example, everything I do today pays off for months at a time, even years.

With these small affiliate promotions, there is very little value ultimately being imparted to the customer. Ultimately a beginner trying to simply “make money online” with these almost-scam-like promotions will probably end up disappointed.

But screw that, I was now up to $371 in profit with JUST BluCigs and I’d barely spent $70 to get there!

blucig-profit-370

….and this experiment called for finding out how to make a landing and optimize it with Google Website Optimizer, so that was the next step.

Basically what I’m trying to do in this step is have several versions of the same page and measure the effectiveness of each. After X-amount of people cycle through each version, a clear winner is usually identified. This is called an A/B Split Test…and if you do this enough, you can identify which pages convert the most people.

For this I had to do several things:

  • Make a separate landing page to send traffic (I chose ecigaretterecs.com).
  • Make three different versions of the page.
  • Enter all this stuff into Google Website Optimizer.
  • Drive traffic to the site, wait for results.

I didn’t say this experiment was going to be pretty, I just wanted to learn the underlying lessons in it, so here goes:

Step 1.) Buy the domain name.

I chose ecigaretterecs.com because all sorts of other combinations were taken. Ultimately it didn’t matter what the domain was. Even I kept forgetting what name I had purchased. I setup the site on my server and was up and running.

Step 2.) Make three versions of the page.

I wanted a basic page that looked sort of like a reviews site, a site where you go to get reviews of a particular genre of product. I actually first purchased a WordPress plugin that makes a fully-functional reviews site, but I wanted this experiment to be extremely quick and dirty so I did it the ghetto home-made way.

Since E-cigarettes are quite new, there are multiple brands people want to look through before choosing one. I would provide this review information for them on this (ghetto and poorly made) page (ecigaretterecs.com).

I decided I would make three very different versions: 1 stylish, 1 simple and plan, 1 supper-ghetto:

style1-stylish

(This was the “stylish” one…shut up, don’t make fun of my web design skilzz).

style2-simple

(This was “plain and simple”).

style3-ghetto

(This was the bare-bones and ugly one).

…the point of this is to simply test out different versions and see if there was any statistical difference in how each of them converted into sales. Sometimes the data is very surprising. I find from many friends who do this on a large scale that ugly and simply is often better.

NOTE: An A/B Split Test doesn’t need to have versions that are so dramatically different like this experiment, it can simply be a different picture or different headline text for each version.

Step 3.) Enter into Google Website Optimizer

I went through the Google Optimizer process and outfitted each version of the page with special snippets of code (keep in mind this is something almost ANYONE can do) and set all the links to go to the affiliate sites I earlier created with the custom headers.

Now when someone lands on the webpage ecigaretterecs.com, it randomly selects which version of that page to show the visitor. So if you look at that page from your computer and your friend views it from a different computer, there is a good chance you will see a completely different page.

Google Website Optimizer then collects information over time and tracks the conversion rates to see if there is a statistically “better” version. When I ended up pulling the plug on this experiment there were 190 page visits, but no statistical variance shown (you usually need around 50 conversions per variant before conclusions can be drawn).

I didn’t get the final results before I pulled the plug on this experiment, but I didn’t care. I had learned how to A/B Split Test which was the important thing….now I can use it to make already-profitable pages more profitable.

So far I’ve accomplished almost everything I set out to learn with this experiment, and I even made some money.

I was still making money, so why did I finally end up pulling the plug on this experiment? You’ll find out in the final part tomorrow.

Neville Medhora blogs at NevBlog.com and is the founder of House Of Rave.


32 thoughts on “My Affiliate Marketing Experiment – Part 4”

  1. I hope you didn’t get banned by a traffic source or the offer itself! I’m interested to hear why you stopped.

    1. I think it may have been because of adwords…they slapped the domain and quality score went down

      1. Neville says:

        AdWords was still cool with me (when I had my own domain). Saying my ad was going to BluCigs.com then making it go elsewhere (my affiliate link) was not cool with them.

    2. Neville says:

      I originally stopped just because the experiment was done.

      BluCigs stopped my account temporarily because my website BluCigsStore had the word “BluCigs” in it which is against their TOS.

      Had I chosen something different, it would’ve been fine!

  2. Chris S. says:

    This has been an interesting read and nice to hear from someone starting out in affiliate marketing. Thanks for the post John and Neville!

    1. Neville says:

      Thanks Chris, it taught me a lot!

      1. I think we should save your all part and read one by one.

  3. N.T.L says:

    Thanks for the post! Did you write any posts about earn money or Affiliate with travel blog? Thanks!

    1. Neville says:

      Thanks for the post Mr. Comment Spammer!

  4. Great Post Neville 😉
    I haven’t checked in since the start of this series, I’ll need to go back through it all.

    1. Neville says:

      Definitely read all parts, you can read them all in order here here:

      http://www.nevblog.com/category/affiliatemarketingexperiment/

      1. Thanks for a quick reply 🙂

  5. Nigel Chua says:

    Ya man, John and Neville, you guys have been keeping me in suspense for the last couple of days, and damn it, I keep coming back here minutes after minutes to see if there was any update on the next part by Neville! Neville, kudos and well done for this affiliate experiment. Not only are you learning, but I speak for myself too. Keep this coming! 🙂

    1. Neville says:

      ::flattered:: Thanks Nigel for the kind words, glad you are learning…so was I!

  6. Nice post Neville! Can’t wait for the final part! 🙂

    1. Neville says:

      Thanks for reading, it makes the effort worth it 🙂

  7. Your experience is interesting. I am inspired by your adventure so I am thinking of creating my own website that would earn from affilaite marketing.

    1. Neville says:

      Give it a shot…there seems to be little downside, but you’ll definitely learn something (plus hopefully make money)!

  8. You had the right is dea with testing…that’s the key with aff marketing…test, test, and test some more…

    1. Neville says:

      I know from experience elsewhere that testing is definitely key.

      You might be profitable, but a little testing can make you REALLY profitable!

  9. I just loved your post and it goes to show just how affiliate marketing is the best mode of online money making. I add to say that people need to be patient when it comes to making sales online and concentrate on building content and eventually online money making with affiliate programs will be a reality and FUN!

    1. Neville says:

      Glad you enjoyed! I too myself just learned about affiliate marketing, I am currently trying to apply it to my existing businesses.

  10. Moon Hussain says:

    Glad I just caught the series. I agree with the cons of why Google Adwords doesn’t tend to be effective in the long run.

    Now I’m curious to see why you stopped… Copycats?

    1. Neville says:

      No real reason why I stopped…..I guess I should’ve just kept going!

      I do run other businesses I’m focused on right now, that was probably the reason.

      My accounts are still active and still make money, so I suppose I never FULLY stopped.

  11. d3so says:

    Which page converted the best?
    Can’t wait til tomorrow!

  12. cool info, thanks for the share

  13. I read a similar post talking about affiliate too by you Neville from a day and i commented on it too.

  14. Free Picks says:

    i was waiting for the 4th part

    thanks Johan

  15. Amy says:

    I read a similar post talking about affiliate too by you Neville from a day and i commented on it too.

  16. Ganesh Iyer says:

    I read your blogs regularly and I admire your deep knowledge in this business. I have just started my career in this field and every post has some lessons to offer……..thanks for sharing

  17. Interesting to hear the experiment continue.

  18. I think “It’s possible to “sell” a product without knowing anything about it.” is the wrong approach, it will show that you know little about the product in the way you create your ads and the way you design your landing page, SY

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