25 tips for beginner affiliates

25 Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginner Affiliates

1079 752 Magdalena Kukułka

With tons of learning materials easily available on the Internet, you can learn how to run affiliate campaigns by yourself. However, as a beginner affiliate, you might end up drowning in an avalanche of knowledge. That’s why we’ve prepared a cheat sheet with 25 affiliate marketing tips for beginners. 

Regardless of your level of experience, read the article below, and learn both basic and advanced affiliate hacks to turn your campaigns green and help your affiliate marketing business flourish!

1. Learn about affiliate marketing before you start

That tip might seem a little obvious, however, it’s still number one. It happens quite often that budding affiliates read a recommendation or a success story somewhere on the Internet and get so excited about it, that they start acting immediately… Often without proper preparation. 

Before you make a choice to invest your money into something, you should always make absolutely sure you know everything about it. 

Don’t be too hasty in choosing a vertical, offer, traffic source, tracking solution, or anything else. Even though you can change your mind later on, you are bound to achieve much better results if you make the right decisions from the start. 

There really is a lot to learn about affiliate marketing before you make a successful career or side hustle out of it. Besides campaign optimization and market trends, you can read up on various tools and traffic sources to make sure you’re choosing the best options for you.

2. Join an affiliate marketing community

As a beginner, you will surely have a lot of questions. Googling things, however, might not always bring the desired results. 

You can join a course or watch video tutorials, but there’s an even better way. Wouldn’t it be easier to learn new skills by joining an expert community? There, you’d be able to read up on educational materials that suit your needs, plus ask all the follow up questions. 

You can always contact support teams of every service you’re using but let’s face it… sometimes you just need to hear some advice from people that have been in your exact situation. Affiliate marketing forums and communities offer plenty in terms of support, tutorials, and free resources. And most importantly, everything out there is up for grabs. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

So, if you want to learn more about the benefits of joining affiliate marketing communities, we’ve got an article just for you!

Forums and Communities Blog Header

3. Start with low payout offers

By the time you’ll get to the step of choosing your first offer, you will surely have read that the best choice for beginners is to start with low payout offers. Such offers usually tend to have a simple flow so it’s not that hard to score your first conversions. 

Additionally, campaigns with lower payout offer a quicker way to gather significant data. That’s why it’s easier to turn them profitable than high payout offers. Overall, they are simple, offer a fast flow, and the minimum required effort when it comes to preparation. Landers are often provided by affiliate networks and you’ll find a lot of ideas online for push creatives. All you need to worry about is finding an offer and testing the traffic.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Speaking of low payout offers… sweepstakes are the best vertical for learning affiliate marketing. Read our guide to running successful surveys and sweeps campaigns if you want to learn more about this beginner-friendly vertical!

Sweepstakes Header

4. Try Tier 2 and 3 GEOs at the beginning

Tier 2 and 3 GEOs are moderately competitive and work for most kinds of offers. The bids are reasonably priced and there is plenty of traffic to scale. Even though you might be tempted to go for Tier 1 GEOs because of huge earning potential, you should know that it’s not necessarily best for beginner affiliates. 

Affiliates with smaller budgets have lower chances of success while starting in GEOs with more expensive bids and higher competitiveness. Tier 1 countries have a good chance of converting even for advanced high payout offers because of their high economic status, but you should leave them for when you gain some more experience.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you need to know more about Tiers of traffic and what offers go best with what GEOs, you can read more about it in our article on why geo-targeting matters!

Tiers of Traffic GEOs

5. Research the market before you start targeting

Choosing the right Tier is not everything. There is a lot more to successfully choosing campaign targeting than settling for a lower Tier. You need to choose the right country, device, ad format as well as other granular options. 

It’s important to remember here that you can and should always ask traffic sources or network representatives for recommendations. It’s always best to make sure whether the vertical and GEO that you’ve chosen go well together. Sometimes there are only slight differences in performance, but sometimes a different device or GEO can perform significantly better for the offer you have. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

There are more ways to research targeting, too. Besides asking support, you can also ask the community, use spy tools, read affiliate marketing blogs, or sign up for a traffic source newsletter and receive whitelists straight to your inbox on a weekly basis!

6. Watch your win ratio

Once your campaigns are up and running (and in the process of gathering that precious data) you might start to consider your first optimization steps. 

There are a lot of metrics you should watch to make sure you are getting the most out of the traffic you receive, but the win ratio might just be the most important of them all. 

Win ratio tells you how much traffic you are winning with your current bid. So, in order to make sure that you are winning enough traffic to test the potential of all sources you should keep your win ratio between 70%-90%. If your win ratio is anything below that, you should slowly increase the bid to let more traffic flow to your campaigns. 

On the other hand, if your win ratio is 100%, you might want to try to slowly decrease the bid so that you don’t overpay for traffic. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to learn more about the affiliate marketing metrics, what they mean, and how to use them to your advantage, click here to read the article.  

Top Metrics How To Read Data Affiliate Marketing

7. Always test more than one offer

It’s good to have a strategy in place before you start your adventure with affiliate marketing. Strategies might be very hard to come up with for beginner affiliates, and that’s why we’ve described one of the possible approaches in our recent case study. 

The core of the strategy is to test more than one offer at once. 

You should sign up for a couple of affiliate networks and choose an easy offer. Then, find more similar offers in other affiliate networks, so you can launch a couple of campaigns just to see which offer is able to immediately score some conversions. That way, you can assume that the offer which was the closest to being profitable from the start is the best and most likely to bring longer-term profits. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to learn more about planning the right kind of strategy for your campaigns, you can read the case study here. 

Case Study Header - How to find profitable offers

8. Avoid creative fatigue

Sooner or later your campaign’s performance will suddenly drop and you might be confused as to why that happens. If you eliminate the possibility of natural traffic fluctuations on the side of your traffic source or offer changes coming straight from affiliate networks, all you’ve got left are creatives.

Creative fatigue is something that happens when people stop clicking on your ads simply because they’ve already seen them enough times before. Or, they might be experiencing banner blindness, and rather than avoid clicking on familiar ads, they no longer notice them at all. 

In order to prevent that from happening to you, you need to be prepared and switch creatives as soon as you see your CTR falling. You might try to be precautious and have spare copies ready or you might even change them every couple of days to avoid hindering your performance.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Read the article on creative fatigue during the holiday season or learn the DOs and DON’Ts of push ad creative optimization!

Get To Know The Hottest Trends in Push Notification Ad Creatives

9. Always use landing pages

Using landing pages might seem like a lot of unnecessary hassle to a beginner affiliate. Most of the time your affiliate network will provide a landing page together with the offer but if it doesn’t… it means you need to get one.

Landing pages are proven to significantly increase the performance of your campaigns in 90% of cases. Sure, sometimes the campaign will perform better without a landing page but these are rather rare cases and as a beginner, it’s important to remember that it’s better to at least split test rather than choose to be lazy.

Landing pages are a great way of warming users up and introducing them to your product. Depending on what your offer is you might need to put more or less effort into proving that whatever you’re offering has a long time value or is fun and worth engaging.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you’re unsure where to find good landers or how to make them yourself, read our blog on top landing page builders recommendations!

Landing Page Builders Header

10. Track your campaigns

How else are you supposed to fine-tune your campaigns if not by gathering as much data possible and making well-informed optimization decisions? 

Finding a tracking solution is necessary as soon as you become serious about this business.

Starting affiliate marketing without a tracker is possible but it won’t get you far. There are plenty of ad trackers available on the market and some of them offer free options. So, even when you are just starting and don’t expect to receive a million clicks and manage multiple campaigns any time soon, you still need those data insights to optimize your campaigns. It’s better to choose a basic and free tracking option than not to track at all!

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to read more about why campaign tracking is necessary, you can check out this article and learn about the benefits of tracking and why Google Analytics is not the right choice!

why paid campaign tracking makes sense

11. Make use of the bidding algorithm

In Zeropark, the bidding algorithm is rather flexible. When you set a certain campaign bid, the algorithm will average your granular bids to never exceed the number you’ve set. So, if there are sources within a campaign that are cheaper the algorithm will pay less for them but because of that, it will be able to pay more for sources that are more expensive.

So the important thing to remember here is that you have two levels of bidding. You can set a campaign bid that will do the thinking for you, so you’ll get as much high-quality traffic as possible, or you can choose to take control of your spending and use micro bidding.

If you decide to go granular you can set separate bids for every source and target and this time the bids won’t be flexible. While initially testing the traffic it might be best to modify only the campaign bid. Once you begin scaling and optimization, granular bidding is highly recommended.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Have you ever wondered how real-time bidding actually works? Read this article to find out what is RTB, how it works, and why it’s important for affiliate advertising!

blog header RTB

12. Bid up slowly

Another good advice for beginners when it comes to traffic optimization is to always bid up (or down) very slowly. If your bid was 0.004 and your win ratio suggests that you should bid up, the number you choose should be 0.0045. 

Bidding can be rather tricky if your campaign starts showing potential. Imagine your ROI seems to be turning breakeven and you can’t decide whether to leave your campaign alone so as not to make any wrong decisions or to bid up, let more traffic flow, and potentially gain a lot more conversions. 

By bidding up incrementally, you let in more traffic slowly while you monitor its behavior. If the changes turn out to be affecting your campaigns positively, you can continue bidding up.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you are a member of one of the biggest affiliate communities on affLIFT, you can check out Luke Kling’s Incremental Bidding Strategy!

13. Spy on your competition

How to best conduct proper research, choose the right offer, targeting, and creative angle? By spying on your competition and gaining insights into what actually works for others! 

Using spy tools gives you a ton of benefits in the form of ideas and data. Even though spy tools might seem like too much of an additional expense, they can increase your chances of success and will prove to be money well spent. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want some recommendations, read our blog on spy tools and their benefits so you can hopefully learn enough to comfortably choose something that suits your needs.

ranking of spy tools header

14. Start with broad targeting

This is a no brainer. Whitelists are very helpful in limiting your spend and achieving quicker profits but if you’re only just starting out… it’s best to gather as much information on your own as possible. 

By starting with broad targeting you make sure you’re not missing out on any profitable chunks of traffic just because it was not included in a whitelist you were given. Similarly, if you’re using your own whitelist for similar offers, it might also be good to launch two campaigns simultaneously – one with a whitelist and another with broad targeting. 

Traffic tends to be volatile so you never know what source will help you break the bank.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Keeping a broad targeting is only one of the 5 Tips to Improve the Longevity of Your Affiliate Campaigns. Read and learn!

calendar and campaign performance graph

15. Learn about budgeting

Before you get really into affiliate marketing you should learn about the cost and investments you’ll have to make first. Even though making a steady income in this business is definitely possible, affiliate marketing takes a lot of time and effort before you can count your profits. 

Additionally, there are quite a lot of additional tools and expenses that might be eating up your budget at first. You need to remember that tools such as ad tracker, spy tool, landing page builder or translation costs, additional fees, and hosting, are all adding up to your future success. 

Cash flow is equally important and all together buying traffic is only one of the expenses you’ll need to cover. That’s why it’s important to prepare a solid budget and a reserve for when your campaigns take off and need that extra kick.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to learn more about how much money you really need to become successful in affiliate marketing, you can check out our article here!

How much money do you need to be successful in AM

16. Use auto-optimization rules

Zeropark has a very useful feature called Rule-Based Optimization. The feature allows you to set a bunch of IF-THEN logical statements which will dictate the behavior of your campaign. 

For example: IF a target has more than $100 spend & ROI is lower than 10% within the last 7 days THEN pause.

The feature allows you to leave your campaigns unattended without having to worry about sudden drops in performance. Not only do you not have to worry about traffic fluctuations eating up your budget, but you can also stop worrying about accidentally keeping a source or target going for too long when it clearly doesn’t bring you any profits.

Overall, auto-optimization rules are great both for beginners and advanced affiliates because of how easily they can manage your campaigns for you while you do other AM-related tasks.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Read the article to find out how Rule-Based Optimization can help scaling your campaigns!

Rule-Based Optimization Case Study Zeropark

17. Don’t over-optimize

The most common mistake made by overeager beginners is over-optimizing campaigns into negative ROI. Optimization is necessary for getting the most of the available traffic while weeding out anything that has no potential but if you start narrowing down the targeting without proper data insights, you might cut out traffic segments that would have become profitable if you hadn’t cut them out too soon. 

Before you decide to get rid of something you need to test it to an extent when you know for sure that it won’t work for your campaign. 

Always let your campaign run for a couple of days uninterrupted and then begin optimizing based on data. Cut sources only when you’ve tested them at 70-90% win ratio and cut OSes, OS versions and devices only when you see a significant difference in conversions (1 conversion vs. 10 conversions – you can cut the less successful traffic portion BUT 2 conversions vs. 3 conversions – not enough of a difference to cut).

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Over-optimization is a common and dangerous mistake. Click here to learn what are other most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

18. Remember that high CTR isn’t always good

If you think high CTR means that people are more interested in your ads, then you’re probably right. A high click-through rate does mean that your ad is engaging, but that number alone cannot determine whether the creative (or lander in case of lander CTRs) is actually beneficial to your overall result.

A high click-through rate without conversions might mean your ad is too aggressive or too exaggerated compared to your actual offer. In cases, like that people will click on the ad because it seems engaging and then drops out of the funnel once they read the actual offer page which might not meet their expectations. 

High CTR will also lead to creative fatigue or banner blindness. If your ad gets clicked a lot it will also become boring a lot quicker and people will stop paying attention. You should aim for medium CTR – small means an uninteresting creative, high might mean too aggressive approach and medium click-through rate with a good conversion rate might just be the perfect combination.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to learn how to create push ads that have just the right CTR, read the article and write a copy that converts! 

an illustration representing the process of crafting a perfect push ad copy

19. Make whitelists and blacklists

The longer you run a similar offer and the deeper you dive into a particular niche the easier it will be for you to turn profit. That is, of course, if you know how to gather data and how to learn from your mistakes.

Creating whitelists and blacklists can be extremely beneficial as it can shorten the testing phase of new campaigns. If you’re running an offer similar to what you’ve run before, and you made a whitelist of the most profitable sources or targets you can go straight to creating a source/target campaign.

We still advise split tests, of course, as traffic tends to change with time. Traffic sources often clean and expand their inventory to keep the quality high and inventories large. That’s why whitelists might not be forever. If some time has passed since you’ve created a whitelist, it might really be worth it to go for broader targeting so you can make sure you’re not missing out on anything.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Watch the Zeropark’s whitelist tutorial and learn how to request, create, and use whitelists.

20. Daypart only once you have enough data!

Dayparting is very useful, but not for complete beginners. If you see you got two conversions on Monday and then zero on Tuesday, that doesn’t mean you should daypart and exclude Tuesdays from your campaign’s schedule.

You might make the common mistake of over-optimizing too soon. 

You should use dayparting to your advantage but only when you’re sure that some days or hours perform better than others. If you’ve been running your campaigns for two weeks to a month and you can see that they hardly ever seem to be converting in the morning then that’s your cue to daypart. 

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you want to find out how one affiliate used dayparting to save money while running a call on-demand offer, click here and read the case study. In-App Native Case-Study blog header

 

21. No money is wasted if you spend it on data

When you start affiliate marketing you might be overwhelmed by how much money you spend on testing traffic, some of which will not bring you any profits. 

You need to keep in mind that it’s all a bit of an investment. You choose an offer or a couple of offers, test some traffic, then test more traffic, and more landers and more creatives and perhaps different GEOs and ad formats… and once you’ve done everything you will have enough data to plan where and when and what to run to have the highest chance of profits.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Once you get that data you can move onto the running source and target campaigns. Click here to read about 10 affiliate marketing tips for optimizing campaigns using whitelists and blacklists. 

Whitelists Blog Header

22. Don’t be afraid to kill a campaign

The strategy for finding a profitable offer that we’ve previously mentioned is all about testing offers aggressively. Sometimes you might get a good recommendation from an affiliate network and the offer is on the brink of becoming profitable so you keep optimizing and keep burning money until you realize it was never meant to be…

Sometimes the best strategy is to give your offers a short chance to perform and if they don’t just find something else. The truth is, sometimes you might do everything right and text an offer to the full extent and it won’t become profitable because it’s just not that interesting,

It’s important not to get attached and make decisions exclusively on the basis of cold hard data.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Sometimes killing a campaign can be a very difficult decision. Even when it hasn’t been profitable for a while you just can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger because what if you were so close to becoming profitable and quit? If you need a second opinion don’t hesitate to contact your account manager or the traffic source support team. They are there for you so click here to find out how to make the most of that partnership!

23. Scale vertically and horizontally

Once you find that profitable combination of the offer, lander, creative, and targeting, you will need to think about what you can do to make the most of that setup. 

You basically have two options: 

  • you can scale it horizontally – meaning that you duplicate it on the same traffic source and test different optimization strategies (eg. make separate campaigns for mobile vs. desktop traffic); 
  • you can also scale it vertically – meaning that you take your winning offer and lander and test it on different traffic sources with similar targeting.

Both these options allow you to expand your business without the need to gather data and test from scratch.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

Read the case study and find out how one affiliate scaled his offers with Zeropark by focusing on profitable sources and targets! 

Push Desktop Case Study

24. Don’t get discouraged

Finding a good combination of an offer, creative and targeting is not that easy. Sometimes you will be able to start making profit after spending $300 but sometimes the learning and testing process will cost you $5000 before you have your first profitable day.

The learning curve is different for everyone and not getting immediate results is more common than you might think. This is a saturated market so you need to think about thousands of other affiliates beginning at the same time as you. Some of them will set unrealistic goals and quit after failing to achieve them.

You need to remember that quitting too soon will most likely mean you’ll get back the money you’ve spent for testing and learning which would definitely be possible had you stayed determined.

ZEROPARK RECOMMENDATION

If you feel like quitting because you’re burning through your budget too quickly, check out the article on How To Save Money In Affiliate Marketing – 5 Tips To Pay Less For Traffic!

How to pay less for traffic and get conversions?

25. Don’t be afraid to reach out

Reaching out to network and traffic source representatives or messaging experienced affiliates on community forums is something that can save you a lot of time and money. Even when you think you’ve gathered enough resources to be able to make the correct decisions by yourself, getting a second opinion can do no harm. 

Beginner affiliates tend to get emotionally invested in running their first campaigns, especially when the green numbers appear to be just around the corner. In situations like these, it’s easy to make careless mistakes. And without any external support and opinions, these mistakes might turn rather… ugly.

Remember that you have a support network that will do their best to help you achieve success. Support teams and communities are exactly where you should turn for help if in doubt.

Hopefully, these tips will help you understand affiliate marketing better. The road to success might be rocky but the results will definitely be worth it!

 

Are you ready to start your affiliate marketing journey?
Run campaigns with Zeropark now!