A large part of affiliate marketing is interpreting test results and making changes accordingly. Many affiliates see significant increases in performance when they learn how to interpret and apply test results. To get started, here are some general steps to follow:
1. Identify Weak Spots
Isolate specific PPC campaigns that are causing you problems. The ones that are performing well can be optimized later, but for now you want to fix your weaker campaigns because you will likely see a greater return for a lower amount of effort. This is because you will be fixing problems that are likely to result in significant performance increases, rather than slowly optimizing campaigns to perfection through copy and design changes.
2. Pick a High Volume Campaign
You’re going to want to optimize campaigns that will yield the highest reward for you. Look for campaigns with a high volume of sales and a low profit margin, ideally it will be a significant chunk of your total revenue. When you allocate your resources towards optimizing this campaign as opposed to a smaller one that might be performing worse, you gain the highest overall increase in profit margin.
3. Collect Data
It’s important to collect enough data to ensure statistical significance so that you don’t doubt your conclusion and have to redo the test. The right amount of data varies by campaign, but the general principle is that you have to get data that spans across multiple times, days, and even seasons.
The major search engines offer you trending reports to keep track of your overall trends. When you want to drill down, be sure and go back at least two weeks, but the extra effort of going back two or three months will yield more reliable data.
4. Find the Source of the Problem
Now that you’ve collected your data, it’s time to draw conclusions about where the issues lie so you can fix them. Look for sharp changes in trends, specifically in the areas of Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Finding the correct solution to the problem is probably the most difficult and most important part of this process. If you can correctly identify the problem in your campaign, there is an excellent chance that you will also be able to fix it and turn the campaign around.
5. Make Changes
With the source of the problem in mind, it’s time to solve the problem and save you money. Here are some examples to illustrate.
Say your CPC is out of control. When you drill down you find that you’re advertising on websites with high CPCs. It’s a simple fix – remove these sites from you general keyword-targeted distribution lists, and retarget them individually with reduced bids.
Perhaps your problem is in your CTR, but your ad position is higher than third. Increasing bids won’t fix anything because your search relevance is high enough as it is. The issue must lie somewhere in your ad creative, keyword choice, or segmentation. You will need to run further tests to identify how to fix the problem.
You will encounter all sorts of issues when you optimize your campaigns, most of which won’t have immediate or apparent answers. It’s ok – sit on the information, take your time, be creative.
6. Track Results
Now it’s time to return to step three. Collect more data, if your campaign starts performing better, you’ve done something right. If not, try again.
Of course, if your campaign does start performing better, you aren’t finished. Even successful PPC campaigns can use more work. Correct diagnosis and solutions to campaign problems are a great way to improve efficiency, and you don’t have to be in the top rungs of affiliate marketing to do it. In fact, you won’t make it there unless you start testing, analyzing, and optimizing correctly.