Right Steps To Start Affiliate Marketing

Right Steps To Start Affiliate Marketing

1. Choosing an affiliate offer


The first step you need to take to fully embark on your affiliate marketing journey is to find an affiliate network. Such networks connect people or companies who have products/services they would like to promote with people who actually do the promoting (affiliates – that’s you!). We will use ClickDealer as an example in this guide, if you’d like to follow along – you can register here.


Once you’ve registered and are ready to choose your first offer you can head to the offer tab and take a look at the search filters.


There are a couple of things that we need to explain first. Countries and platforms might be easy to understand as they simply specify in what location and on what devices your ads will be displayed. Vertical is a category that your offer falls into. Price format is what you get paid for:


CPA (Cost Per Action) is the most common and it means that you get paid for every conversion.


CPC (Cost Per Click) means you get paid every time someone clicks on your ad.


RevShare is a model in which you would receive a percentage of each payment done by the converted user – but that’s definitely for more experienced affiliates and we won’t go into details about it here.


The most important thing to remember is that the success of your campaign depends on many variables starting with the offer itself. Sometimes, even if you do everything right and follow whichever guide you’re using to the letter, your campaign might still not become profitable. Let’s take a moment to remember that on the other end of affiliate marketing there are real people clicking on your ads. So if you feel annoyed by fluctuating results just think about how unpredictable and spontaneous people tend to be.


What GEOs and verticals should you start with?


When it comes to choosing countries to run your first offer a general advice would be to go for Europe, Southeast Asia (SEA) and Latin America (LATAM) regions. These are the easiest regions to begin with as they are relatively cheap and easier to optimize.


Tier 3 countries are your second best choice. They convert easily and are less saturated but there is a much smaller traffic volume and sometimes you will need to find a translator to properly create suitable landers.


Tier 1 countries, on the other hand, are more expensive and have more competition but they also have greater potential for bigger earnings.


As for verticals, go for surveys & sweeps kind of offers. They might be called differently depending on the network (sweepstakes, lead generation, surveys, etc). They convert well and have a low cost of entry. The payouts aren’t high but that also means you won’t spend a lot of money for testing as low payout offers tend to convert easily.


Additionally, the offers quite often have pre-landers already built in which means you’ll have even less things to worry about before starting your first campaign.


Even though crypto, sports betting, binary and online gambling offers might seem enticing due to higher payouts you should definitely stay away from them as a beginner. They are more expensive to run and the conversion process consists of many steps. In case of FTD (First Time Deposit) offers, a person needs to actually deposit money to a website in order for it to count as a conversion. You can see why the conversion rates might not be that high here… Even if you think you’ve got enough budget for these types of offers you might be surprised to find they can have many limitations. Starting from daily conversion caps to traffic type or compliance restrictions these offers are definitely only suitable for more experienced affiliates.


What if you’re reading this guide but feel like you’d call yourself a bit more advanced than a complete newbie? Well, to be honest, surveys and sweeps can be recommended to anyone but other suitable verticals for intermediate affiliates would be downloads, finance and e-commerce.


Low payout vs. high payout offers (SOI vs. DOI)


If you were a little confused about the previous section or if you simply require more information to satisfy your need for knowledge, I will go a bit more into detail about type of offers.


Low payout offers are usually single opt-in (SOI) offers. What that means is that in order for a user to convert all they need to do is to complete only one step, for example, enter their email address. That’s why conversions for SOI offers come rather easily and that’s also why the payouts are rather low.


High payout offers, on the other hand, are usually double opt-in (DOI) offers. Besides submitting their emails, users also have to check their mailboxes and confirm it. Sometimes such messages will go straight to the spam folder, sometimes the email gets misspelled and the message will never reach the user… the point is, a large portion of those users will never confirm the email and will never complete the conversion. That’s why high payout offers are harder to convert.


It’s also worth remembering that users’ willingness to convert depends on their economic status. The simplest offers with single click flow (clicking ‘allow’ on a notification scores a conversion) are best suited for less developed (tier 3) countries. Keep in mind that the payout for these offers are in cents rather than dollars which means that even if you get a decent number of conversions it might still be difficult to become profitable if your traffic isn’t properly optimized.


On the other side of the spectrum we’ve got offers that require purchases or deposits. These are best suited for more developed/richer (tier 1) countries where people tend to have more money.


As a beginner it’s best if you stick to low (but not too low) payout offers. A general rule of thumb would be to consider offers up to $25 low payout, $25-$50 medium payout and above $50 high payout.


Push Subscription Collection


If you managed to do any reading on current trends in affiliate marketing you must have heard about push subscription collection. What you need to know about collecting subs is that once you get a little more experienced you might want to add a piece of code or a fallback landing page to collect subscriptions which you can then use for your own purposes (or sell). You can also find offers designed solely for the purpose of collecting subs but they either have very low payouts or work on the basis of the RevShare cost model.


How does that work exactly? Users are displayed a page with some content and a pop up usually saying something along the lines of “Would you like to receive push notifications from this website?” and two buttons: allow and disable. If the user clicks allow they’re added to a subscription base and from that moment on they consent to receiving offers through push notifications.


Smartlink Offers


A smartlink offer is actually many offers under one link. It usually has a built-in optimization algorithm that will send the user to whichever offer converts best. You’re probably wondering right now how you’re supposed to know how to optimize traffic for an offer that keeps changing? Well… exactly! Smartlink offers are quite impossible to optimize on your side and therefore definitely not recommended to beginner affiliates. They usually do have built in pre-landers but still, they convert very randomly and work best with standard traffic.


Smartlinks might be fun but as a newbie you should concentrate on the learning experience and it can be quite hard to learn traffic optimization when there are so many variables at play.


Test Run


Let’s do a little test run of an affiliate network. First, select Europe in the search field for the country. Leave the ‘Platform’ field empty – you can either run the offer on all available platforms or on those to which the offer is restricted. For vertical, choose Vouchers/Leadgen and set the maximum payout to 5. Your results should look something like this:


Now click on a chosen offer and read the description. Check what are the allowed ad formats, platforms and countries, and whether there are any restrictions. Is the offer capped? If not – you’ve got nothing to worry about, if yes – that means you will only get paid for a limited number of conversions per day so you should pause the campaign if that number is reached.

Hopefully by the time you’re done reading this section you’ll have enough knowledge about choosing offers to confidently click that ‘Apply for offer’ button. That’s the first step to running your first successful campaign, but once your offer is ready it’s time to pick one of the accepted ad formats.

No matter what offer you choose, our Onboarding Manager will offer you a custom starting pack to kickstart your campaign.


2. Ad formats




Before you set up your first campaign you need to choose a traffic source. Since you’re reading this guide I’d assume you decided to try your luck with Zeropark. Let me tell you about what we’ve got to offer and what you need to know before running your campaign.


Which ad format to choose? – Push vs. Pop


Zeropark currently offers four types of traffic: push, pop, domain redirect, and in-app native. Here’s how each ad format works:


Push ads are delivered directly to users’ desktop or mobile devices in the form of push notifications. When clicked the notifications take the user to your landing page or straight to the offer. Also available here are In-page push ads, which are displayed directly on a website and resemble standard push ads. They can be viewed on all devices and OSs, including iOS.


Pop ads are a full-screen ad format triggered by websites. They appear as a new window (desktop) or tab (mobile) on top of the currently viewed tab or in the background.


Domain traffic comes from users typing in unused, “parked” domain names in the address bar of a browser (often because of misspellings). Such users are redirected to your full-screen ad: either a landing page or an offer.


In-app native ads are display placements in an e-commerce app called Letgo.


Which ad format works best for your offer depends entirely on the offer itself. It’s really quite impossible to say that one ad format is superior to another. Ultimately, the choice is always yours. As you gain experience you will notice favourable connections between the verticals, GEOs, and ad formats that you will want to exploit. As you are only a beginner I can tell you everything you need to know before you choose to start with a particular ad format.


To begin with I want to get something out of the way. Native ads, as you might have heard, are quite expensive and require a big budget to get profitable. In-app native ads might not be as costful but still, they should not be your very first ad format. They work best for e-commerce and unless you’re hell-bent on promoting the e-commerce vertical it’s best to stick to surveys and sweeps kind of offers.


The domain traffic works perfectly for crypto/binary offers. In general, domain traffic is a little more on the expensive side (compared to pop) and it works for a narrower scope of offers. As we were planning to stick to surveys and sweeps we will not be choosing the domain redirect ad format.


What we have left is pop and push (we will be treating in-page push as a part of regular push as it’s not considered to be a separate ad format but a subformat of push traffic in our campaign creator). As you might hear a lot of conflicting opinions about whether to start with pops or push, I will list advantages and disadvantages of both and let you decide which you want to go with.


Let me remind you once again that choosing the right ad format as well as other components of your campaign should depend on what is currently trending. Ask your Affiliate Network manager, or a Traffic Source representative and they will tell you what might work best at a given moment. Trends tend to change so as much as it’s important to know what combinations work well together, the best solution is always to ask. Our AMs are managing thousands of campaigns per day so chances are that someone is already running a campaign like yours and they managed to get it profitable. By asking for advice you are increasing your chances of success by getting expert tips and guidance from someone who knows exactly what they’re doing.


Cost Models


You already know what pricing models are used by affiliate networks so now it’s time to learn about the two common pricing models


CPV – Cost Per View (also known as PPV – Pay Per View) means that you pay for every impression. It’s applicable to pop, domain redirect, and in-app native.


CPC – Cost Per Click (also known as PPC – Pay Per Click) means that you pay for every time someone clicks on your ad (i.e. a browser or mobile notification). This is only applicable for push traffic.


Types of campaigns


They are available after selecting the ad format during the campaign creation process. These options are as follows:


RON (Run of Network): This option targets all traffic coming from a selected GEO. If a new source appears in this GEO, your campaign will start buying traffic from this new source as well. In order to identify the best performing sources it’s best to start with a RON campaign. It will require a lot of optimization but it’s the most advisable if you’re testing an offer. Starting with a whitelist (source campaign) technically saves you a lot of optimization, but might mean you will miss a chunk of traffic that would perform really well for you.


Source: This option targets traffic coming from selected publishers. Therefore one source consists of multiple targets. With a source campaign, you need to provide a list of sources to start receiving traffic. It’s best to gather that list yourself – by running a RON campaign and whitelisting the most profitable sources. Other than that, you can get it from our whitelist posts on the forum or straight from our support team by messaging support@zeropark.com. Just make sure to provide as much information as possible about the campaign you need a whitelist for – it will help us find the most suitable sources for you.


Target: This option targets a single website or websites. You need to provide a list of targets for this campaign to start receiving traffic. The only way to obtain such a list is through running a RON or source campaign. There might be a lot of targets under each source so if there’s anything worth singling out it’s gonna be rather easy to spot.


Keyword: This option targets traffic that contains a certain keyword or keywords. This option is available for pop and domain redirect traffic only. You need to provide a list of keywords for this campaign to start receiving traffic. You can find the most popular ones in our traffic calculator. That method works particularly well for very specific offers, e.g.: if you’re running an offer with a voucher to a sports shop you could try targeting the name or url of that and other similar stores.


Multi-geo: It’s a RON campaign but for multiple countries. This option is best for offers with specified or limited geo targeting.


3. Setting up a campaign


Once you’ve chosen the ad format and the type of campaign it’s time to go through the campaign creation process. Choosing the campaign name is pretty straightforward and GEO is something we’ve already discussed so I hope there won’t be any problems in setting this up. This guide is meant to help you make informed decisions but sometimes the choice belongs entirely to you. Hopefully by the end of this section you will be able to confidently click the ‘save’ button after setting up your new campaign.


Testing landers


In case of testing landers it’s actually best to have an offer that you know is working. Sometimes it might be hard to determine whether the conversions are not coming in because of a poor offer or because of the lander.


Let’s assume your campaign does get some clicks in the first few days of running it. Now you can add more landing pages. The changes you make might be cosmetic, such as a different call to action or placement of an image but they can also involve changing the lander completely. Just remember not to change everything at once, because you won’t be able to determine which of the changes made an impact.


If you’re running a surveys and sweeps campaign and the prize is a brand new smartphone, the look of the landers might vary from spin wheels to a quiz or even a simple promise of putting the user’s email address in the sweepstakes. The ideas are simply not limited. You can never quite predict what will work best with a particular combination of a traffic type, GEOs and sources. That’s why when you have a campaign that converts you should duplicate it, change the landing page and leave the rest of the variables as they were. Just remember not to split the budget.


When testing multiple landers you need to prepare a bigger budget just to allow each of the campaigns to receive enough traffic to be able to judge the success rate of each lander.


Testing offers


Let’s say that one of the landers performed significantly better than the rest. You should take that lander and find more similar offers. If you already know that the lander brings conversions you can now check whether the offer you’ve initially chosen is the best for the rest of the variables. You can find more similar offers on Clickdealer or you can sign up to more affiliate networks. Apply to offers with similar conversion flow, GEOs and prizes. Even though the differences between the offers might seem insignificant to you, a potential user/customer might still prefer one over the other due to small but important differences in the overall look or description of the offer.


Once again, remember to increase your budget accordingly – if you’re testing four offers you will need to run four separate campaigns with the same recommended minimum budgets.


Once you’ve gone through the steps described in this section the probability of you having a working, profitable campaign is very high. We do realize that the prospect of spending a lot of money before breaking even can seem a bit daunting, but trust us, your success in affiliate marketing depends on how much you test.


A lot of people run their first campaign, get -40% ROI and decide to quit. They don’t realize that if they continued testing and persevered they would soon see their first single digit profit. The hardest part is to find a working funnel. Once that happens your overall profit can only grow in digits. Alright now, let’s get back to your campaign.


CTR – Click Through Rate


It shows what percentage of users are clicking on your notification compared to how many times it was shown. You can find this metric in the creative section or the source/target section of a campaign. It’s a tool for push campaigns that helps to assess the level of engagement for your offer based on the creative, Source or Target. There is no defined CTR percentage that you should strive for as it depends on the overall performance of your campaign.


In general, low payout offers need higher CTR percentage to become profitable but high payout offers can perform very well with a CTR as low as a fraction of a percent.


The performance of a creative is usually what affects click through rate the most.


Win Ratio


This is a percentage of how many times you have bid on a placement compared to how many times you’ve won. Win ratio helps you to determine how competitive the bid is on our platform. When you’re testing a new offer ideally you want to aim for a win ratio between 70% to 90%. If the number is anything below that we’d recommend that you increase the bid to let in more, higher quality traffic.




This is your average cost per conversion. In order to make sure that your campaign is profitable you want to aim to have an eCPA lower than your payout. Looking at the eCPA number helps you assess whether the changes you make are beneficial to your campaigns. If that number drops it means you are definitely doing something right.


Why are my campaigns failing?


This is probably the most frequently asked question amongst beginning affiliates. Each campaign being different, it’s hard to find a universal answer. The best we can offer without seeing such a campaign, is to explain what are the most common mistakes made by newbies.


Also, what you consider ‘a failure’ might simply be an early state of learning. Affiliates who spend $20 on their first campaign and decide to change their entire set up (including the traffic source, offer and affiliate network) will most likely only hinder their progress.


Affiliate marketing is not easy to master. It takes a lot of testing and you will spend a lot of time and money on campaigns that might not become profitable.


Sometimes it is the fault of the offer. People might just not find it interesting enough to convert or they’ve seen it too many times to even bother to look at it.


Sometimes it might be the landing page. It might not sound convincing enough for people to want to know more, or it might be misleading so they will drop out of the funnel when they feel confused. The ad copy or picture might be dull and then it won’t catch anyone’s attention.


Another massive mistake that’s made way too often is optimizing too quickly. We highly recommend waiting 3-4 days before beginning the optimization process. The campaign needs to gather enough data and cutting sources too soon could really damage its potential.


To sum up, sometimes you might feel like your campaigns are failing but you haven’t done enough testing yet to be able to assess that properly. Sometimes the result might be unsatisfying because of bad creatives, landers or even offers. Optimizing campaigns too soon might worsen their performance because it’s hard to reach statistical significance with only a few conversions. Sometimes the campaign might fail even if you did everything correctly, but if you give up at that moment you will never find out whether your next campaign would be successful or not.




Once your campaigns are starting to show consistent profits it might be a good idea to think about scaling. It’s quite important to explain here what we mean by consistent profits. Traffic, from any source, can be quite volatile. It changes and fluctuates on a daily basis. The fact that you’ve seen 12 conversions in one hour and then 1 in the next doesn’t actually mean anything.


Such fluctuations shouldn’t make you panic. One day can be extremely profitable and then next you might barely break even. What’s important is to look at the bigger picture. If most days your campaigns are ‘green’ or your weekly ROI exceeds 20% you can start thinking about scaling.


Horizontal vs. vertical scaling


You can scale by creating more similar campaigns with the same traffic source or with different traffic sources. Horizontal scaling means duplicating the winning offer and running it within the same traffic source but with different optimizations for each campaign. You can split one campaign, for example, into mobile and desktop traffic campaigns (it makes sense as usually the bids for the two types of traffic differ for each GEOs).


Besides splitting campaigns, scaling also means increasing the bid. If you have a winning offer and want to make a bigger profit you need to find more quality sources/placements and the only way to unlock them is by gradually increasing the bid.


Vertical scaling means taking your winning offer and lander to a different traffic source but in that case you will have to optimize the traffic all over again.


Clickloss and bot traffic


A tracker, a traffic source and an affiliate network all show a number of reported clicks. You will most likely sometimes experience something called clickloss – that’s when you’ll find some discrepancies between the numbers in each of the platforms.


There are many reasons for clickloss. Depending on your location vs. the server location of the website you’re trying to access, the page might have a long loading time. Tier 3 countries generally have a significantly less developed infrastructure than Tier 1 countries. Sometimes the process will last so long that people will exit the website before it’s loaded hence the click will be counted by one platform but not by the other.


If you want to avoid that, we highly recommend using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). It’s a simple network of servers spread around the world that will find for you the quickest way between your ad, the landing page and the offer page. People tend to be lazy so it’s quite likely that if your set up is slow a lot of them will leave the funnel mid way.


Another reason for losing clicks is bot traffic. Some types of traffic, such as pop, are more prone to bots than others (e.g. push). In case you notice a large discrepancy between the number of reported clicks in the traffic source vs. the affiliate network or the tracker you should immediately contact compliance@zeropark.com.

Even though traffic sources perform all kinds of checks on their publishers, every once in a while fraudulent traffic will slip through no matter what. Contacting the compliance team helps us eliminate sketchy chunks of traffic so that we can continue improving the quality of our inventory. Situations like these are unavoidable but we want you to know that these reports are definitely valuable and you shouldn’t hesitate to tell us whenever you have some doubts.

Note: Before you message our compliance team please check if your ‘clickloss’ is not the result of setting different time ranges in the traffic source and the tracker. It’s a surprisingly common mistake.

When to kill a campaign?

Finally, even though patience and perseverance are extremely important in affiliate marketing it’s also good to know when it’s time to stop. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to optimize or revive it, your campaign is no longer able to bring any profits. Getting attached and running a campaign at a loss just because it was once profitable can be really bad for business.

Before you kill the campaign there are a number of things you need to check.


First of all, is your bid high enough? If you have a very low win ratio you should increase the bid and test more quality traffic before deciding to pull the plug.


Check your traffic filters, too. If you rushed with optimization and narrowed down your targeting (e.g. you only left iOS 12 because it brought 3 conversions while the rest options each brought 1 or 0 conversions) you might not be getting enough traffic to properly judge the potential of your campaign.


Check if the traffic filters are in agreement with offer requirements. Your campaign might be performing badly because the conversions are not counted by the affiliate network due to wrong targeting.


Another thing to watch out for is the landing page. Check with your affiliate network if the lander is bringing conversions for other advertisers in the same GEOs as yours. Check with your traffic source if the kind of lander you’re using is the right angle for that targeting. Maybe you need to be less aggressive? The account managers generally know what works best so if there’s anything off with your creatives they will let you know.


If you’ve eliminated all the possible reasons for the campaign’s poor performance and you’ve spent roughly 5 times the payout you can kill the campaign. Just remember that there is no set threshold at which a campaign is considered irredeemable. It all depends on several factors such as the offer payout, traffic type and GEOs. You might choose to kill campaigns sooner in the case of higher payout offers and later in case of lower payout offers.


You shouldn’t feel discouraged if your first campaign fails. That happens all the time even to the most experienced affiliates.


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