I have a spreadsheet of mobile traffic sources that I’ve been working on over the past year.
I was going through it last night and thought to myself, why not hook my readers up? Some of these networks are familiar to anyone who’s doing mobile. But there are quite a few hidden gems in here that I gathered from walking around conferences, networking, and searching online.
I left my notes off the file, but you should start adding yours once you get some experience.
What kind of notes? You can categorize some of these sources according to their specialities: push traffic, adult traffic, etc. You could also write down what operating systems and geos they have more volume in.
Do you promote a “shady” offer? Write down the traffic sources that you’re allowed to run in and which ones have it banned.
The links from other websites are a very important signal for Google's ranking algorithms. The links on your own website also influence the position of your web pages in Google's search results. This article explains how to optimize the internal linking structure of your website to make sure that search engines index your pages correctly.
When affiliate marketers launch a campaign, they only care about the bottom line – the profit. Although profit is always the goal, I also work on improving my operational efficiency. One way of doing that is focusing on the speed of implementation, i.e., how fast I can turn an idea into reality.
How many times have you had a great idea, but you never actually did anything about it? Maybe you were excited at first, but after a few days, the enthusiasm died down, and the idea never got launched. Or how about that time you had an amazing idea, but someone else beat you to the market?
The world doesn’t reward the dreamers. Your reputation is based on what you’ve actually accomplished.
Improving my ability to execute ideas has given me a huge competitive advantage in affiliate marketing, and it is a skill you should improve on as well.
Speed of Implementation in Action
Here are some examples of how I made tons of money using this concept.
A few years ago, I came across a new campaign that had potential. I asked my affiliate manager if anyone was running it yet.
“No, no one’s running it,” he replied.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because affiliates are lazy! No one’s running it because there are no landing pages or ads to steal.”
I realized I had a great opportunity and rushed to launch within six hours. My team groaned but hustled. After a few hours of the launch, they got addicted to refreshing the stats page. The campaign ended up doing $10,000 in revenue on the first day.
The company running the offer had some limitations and wanted to take things slowly. They closed the offer down and made it exclusive to me. Not a bad advantage. What if I took a week to launch the offer? It might’ve gone to a competitor.
Here’s an example of when the slow speed of implementation cost me.
I was excited to launch an offer. But for whatever reason, I was slow. I suppose we are more passionate about some niches than others, and this niche definitely didn’t excite me.
It took me over a month to launch this campaign. Once I did, however, I saw that this was one of the biggest campaigns of my career. That’s when I proceeded to face-palm. I realized how much money I could’ve earned had I launched this campaign on the first day. I missed out on a whole month of potential earnings.
How many potentially huge campaigns did you miss out on because you were too lazy?
I use the speed of implementation on my blog all the time. I reported that Facebook banned dating affiliates before anyone else, and it ended up being my most shared post.
A few weeks ago, I woke up to an email from Voluum.com saying its affiliate program got launched. I knew I had to be the first one to announce it so I could have an advantage getting referrals. I rushed to write my guide on Voluum, and I ended up getting hundreds of referrals. If I waited a week, I would have gotten significantly fewer referrals.
Another benefit of fast action is the speed with which I learn.
The faster you take action, the faster you learn. It’s how people become world-class experts.
This feedback loop is always churning. The faster we spin the wheels, the faster we learn. If I add a strong team and optimized systems, I can learn ten times faster than the average affiliate. I don’t want to be slightly better than the competition. I want to crush it.
That’s why I always preach innovation and creativity. If you’re always copying what others do, then you’re always five steps behind them.
I hope by now you can see the benefits of improving the speed with which you take action. Most people will think, “If I want to move faster, I need to work harder.” That’s not how Super Affiliates think.
We examine, analyze, and focus on our leverage points.
Find the Bottlenecks in Your Campaigns
I visualize my campaign process like an assembly line in a factory. Each step of building a profitable campaign is a different department. What I’m looking for are the limiting steps that are slowing me down.
The next time you launch a campaign, I want you to write down your process and the time it took to implement each step. Once you see what is taking you the most time, think about how you can do things faster.
We can’t figure everything out by ourselves, and that’s where the power of networking comes in. I don’t like asking other affiliates what traffic sources or campaigns they’re running since it’s sensitive information. However, I love looking at other people’s processes to see if I can use them to improve mine.
A few years ago I was advertising heavily on Facebook, and submitting ads was my limiting step. I asked a few guys to see if they had any solutions, and someone shared with me his technique. As a result, I improved my speed by 3x. How valuable is that?
Here are some freebies to help you improve the speed of your campaign launches.
Ways I have improved my campaign launching abilities:
Getting a custom landing page built could take two days. Instead of building landing pages from scratch, I have landing page templates. All we need to change are the pictures and the landing page copy, and we’re ready to launch. I can launch a new vertical in a few hours to get some initial data.
I have employees and virtual assistants. Imagine telling an employee “launch x campaign in y country in z traffic source” and having it done in a few hours. While other affiliates spend 5 hours launching a campaign by themselves, I delegate and use those 5 hours on bigger stuff.
I use software, tools, macros, and automation. Instead of spying on ads manually, I can use tools such as SocialAdsNinja (Discount Code: “CharlesNgo” for 15% off) and WhatRunsWhere to speed up the process. My friend is a programmer, and he dominated certain traffic sources because he designed his own bidding software.
I always ask myself, “How can I do this better? How can I do this faster?” I’m always in the state of mind of kaizen. My brain is wired to seek improvements.
Remember that there is always a better way.
Minimum Viable Campaigns
This is a concept I got from the Lean Startup movement (I highly recommend you read it).
It means not to waste your time and energy launching campaigns that no one cares about. Because time and money are limited, we want the biggest “bang for our buck.”
I have seen newbies spend days creating landing pages, angles, and ads and then launching the campaign. Their enthusiasm dies out once they see how horrible the campaign is.
“Okay, the theory sounds great, Dr. Ngo, but how do I actually put this into action?”
Here’s an example of what I did a few months ago.
A new campaign accepted 10 countries, but I didn’t know which countries were the most profitable. I could just ask which one’s making the most revenue, but that doesn’t really tell me which one would work best for me. Maybe the best country is not in the top revenue bracket because no one’s tested it yet.
What does the typical affiliate do? He spends hours setting up the campaign for a random country like Belgium. Why did the affiliate pick that country? Who knows. He will spend days thinking of angles and designing a landing page before finally launching. It does horribly. He gets demoralized and moves on to the next “hot” niche.
I tested the 10 countries and found two that broke even. Once I added landing pages and optimized the components, I had another winning campaign.
Do you see the difference in my approach? I make data-driven decisions like a scientist.
Anyone can come up with a great idea, but ideas alone don’t make you rich.
Being a great affiliate is about a speedy execution of ideas. Instead of focusing on how much money you make with each campaign, start analyzing your processes and improving them.
Being able to execute ideas faster than your competition is a huge advantage.
Google's recent algorithm updates have shown that your website can get in major trouble if your website has the wrong type of backlinks. How do you judge the quality of a website? What is a good website and from which web pages should you get links?
Nathan Williams is a professional poker player who specializes in “microstakes”. This means he is very good at winning when the amount required to bet is small (we called him the featherweight champion of poker during this interview, an apt description). [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud...
I logged 25 out of 30 days. The days I missed were when I was traveling for Affiliate Summit East, and the other two days were during “rest days” from the gym.
I’m extremely routine driven it’s harder for me to keep up with habits during traveling. I also use “traveling” as an excuse to relax so I’m not as disciplined. This is the wrong approach because professional athletes make sure they get their workouts and dieting in even when they’re traveling. That 1% edge adds up over-time. In the future I’ll make completing my habits a priority even during travel.
The 25 days where I did stretch were easy because of “habit stacking.” I never miss a workout day, so I just added a stretching routine at the end of it. Doing the routine wasn’t difficult because I had workout partners who held me accountable. When you have a goal, I find it helpful to have an “accountability” partner so you guys can encourage each other.
How was the stretching?
I was blown away at the results after only 30 days. My flexibility has increased quite a bit. I can sit in the squat position longer now. Another benefit is increased patience. The first few times I did it I kept look at the timer waiting for it be over. These days I’m very “zen” when doing the routine. I do the routine without resistance, and I’m just in the moment.
I hope you guys enjoyed the stretching challenge. I’m going to make it a permanent part of my daily routine now. Remember the amount of damage we do to our bodies by sitting at the desk all day – this is a way to counteract it.
Now it’s time for September’s challenge which is no caffeine.
30 Days of No Caffeine
I love caffeine.
Every morning I have a small coffee ritual. My beans are usually imported from Rwanda, I’ll grind the beans myself with a burr grinder, and I calculate the exact weight of the beans / water for my Aeropress. By the way, I always drink it black and I’ve always limited myself to one cup a day.
When I take that first sip of coffee in the morning, I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world
If I am feeling sluggish after 2pm I’ll have some green tea. Every-time before a gym session I’ll take a pre-workout to get that extra energy boost.
As you can see, caffeine’s is integrated into my daily life.
If I love caffeine so much, then why do a 30 day challenge? Why quit?
I’ve been on caffeine for so many years that I forgot what life is like without it. This is an experiment to see how it affects me.
Caffeine can be addictive and you do build a tolerance to it over time. That’s why there are people out there who can’t go through the workday without 8 cups of coffee.
Here’s what I’ll be looking at:
The first one is my energy levels. I have a noticeable pattern in my day to day. I’ll be energetic 9am-1pm, and from 1-3pm is when I have considerable energy dips. I want to see how my energy levels are without caffeine.
Sleep patterns. I do have troubles falling asleep a few times a week.
I want to decrease caffeine tolerance.
If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, then you could save a lot of time and money by getting off of it (especially if you’re the kind that only drinks Starbucks)
I always take pre-workout supplements before going to the gym. I wonder how my lifts and energy levels will be like without it.
At the end of the day, I don’t like the thought of being “addicted” to anything. I want to see what my natural energy levels are.
How to Quit
There are two ways to quit: you can either stop taking caffeine period, or you can slowly decrease your consumption.
I will be quitting cold-turkey.
I’ve read about the effects of caffeine withdrawal and I’m mentally prepared. The two main effects are possible headaches, and you’re going to feel even more tired than ever.
I’ve ran out of coffee beans and pre-workout. It’s important not to have easy access to what you’re trying to avoid.
If you’re a bigger caffeine addict than me and want to try the challenge, I would suggest slowly decreasing your consumption. Instead of coffee try green tea. Instead of 4 cups a day, try drinking just 3 cups a day your first week. Then decrease it to 2 cups a day.
Soda addiction can be hard to break. I remember in college when I was drinking 3 cans of Vanilla coke a day.
You need strong willpower at the grocery store to make sure you don’t buy the sodas in the first place.
Replace sodas with other drinks.
Think about the benefits. I don’t drink soda because it’s horrible for your body. Instead I drink water only for the benefits.
Watch out for the type of foods you eat. I notice certain situations “trigger” wanting a soda. If I’m at the movie theaters I want a coke. If I eat Korean BBQ then I want a coke. You can either avoid the situations that trigger it, or you want exert stronger willpower during those periods.
Analyze where your sources of caffeine are coming from, and decide if you want to quit cold turkey or to decrease your consumption (I suggest decrease consumption).
Write down your reasons WHY you want to quit. I know why I’m doing the challenge, but you need your own reasons.
Focus on progress, not perfection. Lets say last month you drank 3 cans of soda a day on average. You take on this challenge and average 2 cans of soda a day this month. That mean you’re successful because you’re closer to the goal.
Some days ago, Igor Rondel, Principal Development Manager, Bing Index Quality, published a blog post about the way Bing treats web spam. His post explains how Bing detects, processes and filters out search spam from their index.
The top affiliates aren’t single individuals working by themselves. They’re full-fledged companies – either with a team of virtual assistants or in-house media buyers.
One of the problems with growing a team is handling the complexity of the organizational structure and function. You have to assign tasks, stay on top of the employees, and manage your own duties. In order to tame the chaos, I’ve turned to the power of systems and tools.
These systems and tools allow me to cut down on the time required to deal with business operations. I’m not in the trenches anymore, and I have more time to think about strategies to grow my businesses.
How important are the proper tools? It’s like a hammer and a nail. Is it easier to push the nail in with your hands or to hit it with a hammer?
Here are my 5 favorite tools for managing a remote team.
Kanban is a scheduling system designed by the guys at Toyota back in the 1940s. They were influenced by the process grocery stores used to stock inventory. This decade has seen a resurgence of this process to improve productivity.
I started using it 2 years ago, and it’s a game-changer.
I use this as a supplement to Teamwork.com. First, all the tasks go into Teamwork. Every Sunday night, I bring the weekly tasks into my Kanbanery.
Limits work in progress. Multitasking is bad. I have a rule of only doing one task at a time, and this tool helps me achieve it.
Allows visualization. I don’t have to ask John what he’s working on. I can look at our Kanban to see what he’s working on and when he’s done with the task.
Prevents analysis paralysis. When I have too many tasks to do, I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. For example, seeing the number of projects I have to do in Teamwork overwhelms me. By limiting myself to a kanban board of the day, I make it easier for myself to accomplish my tasks.
I’ve probably tested over 15 different kanban tools. My favorite is Kanbanery. It’s fast and simple, and I think I’m paying around $8 a month for it.
The 4 Principles of Kanban
Limit Work in Progress
Focus on Flow
Here’s a simplified example of my personal kanban. I have a separate one that my team uses.
Pro tip: The traditional kanban system has 3 columns: To Do, Doing, and Done. I’ve expanded mine to 5: Weekly, Today, Doing, Delegated/Waiting, and Done. Pro tip: Notice I have MIT in front of some tasks. That means MOST IMPORTANT TASKS. When I look at my list of items, I do my MIT tasks first. Pro tip: Do you have an office? Get a big-screen TV with Chromecast. Put the kanban board on the big screen so everyone can see what’s going on.
My team and I started communicating through Skype. We set up various groups and would message each other throughout the day. I found that Skype kept distracting me. A quick hi from a Skype friend could easily turn into a 30-minute conversation.
I needed to search for a communication program that was dedicated to my team only. By far, the most recommended app was HipChat. After using it for half a year, I don’t see a single reason why any team should be using Skype to chat.
Here are a few reasons why I like HipChat:
I can paste a link to a picture, and it’ll automatically show the picture.
All links and files are automatically saved and easy to access.
You can create multiple chat rooms and control who has access to what. We have a general chat room. I have another room just for my team members who are working on mobile campaigns. I also have another room for one-on-one chats with virtual assistants (they don’t get access to the main room).
Notifications. I’m not checking my HipChat every second. But if someone sends me a message @Charles, I get an email and phone notification.
Dropbox doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s how I and the rest of the team share our files. Since there’s some sensitive information in this folder, I suggest you turn on 2-step verification to keep your files more secure.
Two-step verification is a way of providing extra security. If someone has your password, that person can access your Dropbox. But with 2-step verification turned on, the other party will need a text code. If an unknown device tries to access your Dropbox, your phone gets a text message with a unique code. I use this for Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, and Bitcoin.
Here’s how I organize my Dropbox. Keep in mind these are made-up examples and not screenshots from my actual Dropbox.
Level 1: Main Folder (call it the Name of your company)
Level 2: Company folder (the generic business information), Traffic Source Type
Level 3: Verticals
Level 4: Countries
Level 5: Competitor ads, competitor landing pages, the ads I’m using, and the landing pages we’re using.
You don’t need as many levels as shown here if you’re running fewer campaigns.
I find the more organized I am, the more I get things done.
Alternatives: Box (more business-oriented, but I’ve never used it); Google Drive.
Zapier is a way to integrate different apps together. You set some “rules”, and when the conditions are met, an action is triggered.
Here are some examples to help you understand it better:
If you have a blog, you can set Zapiers between the blog’s RSS and the blog’s social media page. Every time you finish a blog post, Zapier will automatically tweet it and post it on your Facebook page.
I have a few Zaps set up between my Facebook and Dropbox. If someone tags me in a photo, Zapier will automatically download that photo into a folder on my Dropbox.
I have Zaps set up between my Gmail and my Evernote.
I started using Zapier because I wanted to simplify the workflow of assigning tasks. Before Zapier, I would create a task in Kanban and notify my employees using HipChat.
Here is what happens now, with Kanbanery and Zapier integrated. When I set a task for employee A, it automatically notifies her via HipChat. When she moves the task to “done” in Kanbanery, I get a notification telling me that it’s complete.
The best part is you don’t need to be a programmer to utilize the program. Just pick two apps you want to integrate, and Zapier will show you the most popular pre-made Zaps.
Here’s what my typical project workflow looks like:
I start by using mindmaps to visualize my campaigns and tasks.
I then turn these campaigns into tasks in Teamwork.
Every Sunday night, I’ll take the weekly tasks and load them into my Kanban tool.
The daily campaigns and tasks are managed through Kanban.
Managing a Remote Team vs Managing a Local Team
The tools above are for managing a remote team that has employees working in different locations.
How would I manage things differently if I had a team working in the same office? Even if the team was local, I would still design the system as if it were remote.
I travel a lot, and my system still works even if I’m across the world, in a different time zone. I can assign the task whenever I want, and my team members will complete it when they want to. I don’t have to wait until they’re online to Skype them.
What if you have a high quality employee who has to move to a different city? You already have systems in place so that person can work remotely without missing a beat.
Having everything written down helps with the execution. If you swing by someone’s desk and tell them what to do, they might forget.
Have you ever assigned someone a task, which was misinterpreted? You remember the instructions one way, but your employee says your instructions were different. With my system, we have a record of all communications so we can see what went wrong. If instructions weren’t clear, then I work on phrasing them better in the future.
Don’t let this article intimidate you if you’re new. Consider this a gift because I’ve wasted a lot of time and money before I figured it out.
Start small and simple, and you’ll naturally grow overtime.
Everyone has to start somewhere. When I started a few years ago, I communicated only through Skype and emails. Since then, I’ve been working on my systems, continually evolving them. I’m sure in a year, I’ll have a much better system that’ll make my current one look outdated. The point is to develop something good enough and to improve it over time.
One final note: don’t be obsessed with finding the perfect tool. You’re not going to magically become a better golfer because you’re using Tiger Wood’s clubs. Don’t waste your time trying to find the perfect tool at the expense of practicing your golf swings. I find many people distract themselves by chasing such tools instead of doing real work.
Google announced that your exact match and phrase match keywords in Google AdWords will be matched with ‘variation’ or ‘near match’ starting in September. What does this mean and how will it affect your Google AdWords campaigns?