Basma on Affiliate Marketing Troubles with ClickBank and PPC

Hi, my name is Basma Yaghi. Jim is my son.

Over the past few months, Jim’s been showing me the ropes with PPC advertising to help me promote affiliate products from Clickbank. I was asked to share with you my journey here. And hopefully I can either inspire you or teach you what works and what doesn’t in affiliate marketing.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been teaching at the college of chemical engineering in one of the Arabian Gulf countries. Until my son came from Australia to visit me in April of 2008, I had never heard of affiliate marketing.

He used some jargon that with time I started to understand. At first, I took an interest in what he was doing only because I wanted to make sure my son is doing something that was worth having sacrificed his PhD education for.

During his visit I noticed he was busy all the time; writing articles, writing a book, taping videos, doing interviews etc. He was good at what he was doing and financially he was doing really well.  

Because I was working in a foreign country, I was not entitled to any retirement plans. So when my contract finished I would have to leave the job and the country and start fresh elsewhere. But as you grow older your opportunities of getting a job are reduced.  Jim and I were talking about this issue and he suggested that I leave my job and do internet marketing to have financial security at my old age. I laughed and said I can’t do what you are doing. He said of course you can, you were able to have a PhD. If you put your mind to it you will do it. I said why bother, I am 48 and too old to try and learn new things.

He asked, “Mum, what if I tell you, you can start doing affiliate marketing without having to do the amount of work I am doing?”

He got my attention. Late last year, I left my job. Jim passed onto me a link to listen to an interview with an affiliate marketer who was doing click bank and CPA offers without a website using PPC only. The guy was making a fortune with this. It sounded a lot easier than what Jim is doing. So I decided to give internet marketing a go.

Being an academic, I spent at least two months educating myself about mind set, internet marketing, PPC, SEO, web sites, key word research, copy writing, how to write effective ads, building a mailing list etc etc. Every time Jim called me to check how I was doing I tell him I am still reading. He must have gotten fed up with me. He told me this theoretical stuff is good but will not do you much good until you create a campaign and start advertising and leaning from your mistakes. 

Jim was writing PPC Domination at the time and he sent me the material as he wrote it. I studied his course and gave him feedback. Eventually, I thought I was ready to start promoting an offer.

My biggest problem was what to promote and how to choose the offer. I spent almost a month studying the criteria for selecting an offer. 

Why did it take me this long? 

Because I read a lot. Yet, the more I read the more confused I got and the more distracted I became. Different super affiliates teach you different criteria for selecting an offer and in most cases they are contradicting. I was so confused and extremely frustrated. I kept telling myself what have I got myself into? I better not waste more time, I should quit now this is not for me. 

Jim pushed me to keep at it. He said all marketers went through what you are going through and worse. I told him I can’t decide what to promote. He said it does not matter what you choose. I said what if it does not work? “Who cares?” he said. “I KNOW whatever you choose will not work straight anyway, you have to tweak your ads, test your keywords, there is a lot of work for you to do. I thought that was not very helpful neither comforting. Was it?

I finally chose an offer from click bank. What a relief! 

Then I had to do keyword research which I had no problem with, in theory. But then I had to decide how much to bid. Most marketers suggest to bid small amounts–like 20 cents and set $25 for your daily budget. But they do not tell you what to do next if you face a problem. They assume your campaign will be successful straight away. So I bid 20 cents and I waited a day but I only had a few impressions. I did not know what to do, so I went to the internet to find the answer to how to increase my impressions.

The material I found was about how to improve click through rate and how to increase conversion. Why no one is talking about impressions. How come they do not have a problem? I was so frustrated and honestly I spent days trying to find what to do to increase my impressions. Jim travels a lot, and at the time he was in the States. Because of the time zone difference, I did not see him online for many days at a time. In addition to that I did not want him to think that whenever I face a problem I ask him instead of finding the answer on my own.

Unfortunately, at the end I had to go back to him. The first thing he asked was, “What are you bidding and what is your daily budget?”

When I told him that I bid20 cents with a daily budget of $25, he was surprised.  He said no wonder why you are not getting impressions. Raise your bid to $1 and your budget to $500 and monitor your campaign closely.

I thought that is a lot to bid especially for an offer where you get paid $17 in commission per sale and the expected conversion rate is 1%. This means I will have to pay $100 to get $17. And I did NOT want to spend $500 a day. He said if you can get $500  dollars worth of clicks at this stage you will be lucky but do not worry you won’t use it all up. A high budget gets Google to display your ads more often. And if you establish a good click though rate your cost per click will drop and you won’t have to pay $1. 

Hesitantly, I increased my bid and daily budget. I did not sleep that night. I stayed by the computer.

Holy! My impressions started to soar. I paid $0.95 per click but I did not get many clicks. Jim said, “That’s GREAT NEWS. Focus on the positive. You now have impressions. After this you can start tweaking your ad to increase the number of times it gets clicked.” 

I spent around $20 dollars on the offer before I began having problems. As I found out, later, it was because I was direct linking. Straight to the merchant’s landing page.

Over the past few months I tried promoting 16 CPA and Click bank offers by direct linking. I made enough money to cover most of my advertising costs–which was nice. But I faced two problems with direct linking: expensive clicks, and the bidding war I had to get into because of sharing the same URL with much more experienced marketers. 

Eventually, my ads did not show often and conversions were very occasional.

I looked for a solution. Super affiliates suggest a “framing” or “masking” strategy for those who use direct linking. So, I bought a domain from GoDaddy for one offer and tried masking it. As a result my cost per click dropped, my quality score was good, and Google got off my case about the shared URL.  

According to a newly launched product on Clickbank marketing, if you are direct linking you can use domain masking.  Jim told me that Google does not allow masking and it will flag those who use it. 

So my easy options were gone.  

I still want to do direct linking especially if I want to test an offer. I do not want to waste my time creating a landing page for it before I am sure it is profitable. Direct linking is being promoted by big marketers and just last month I bought a product from Clickbank. I kept telling myself if they are able to do then it can be done. This time I tried direct linking on the content network. I had initial success, but my clicks cost around 71 cents when other people were paying 3 cents for similar offers.

Even with this high cost, I stopped having impressions.  I contacted Google support and was told to increase my bid, increase my budget and/or increase the number of countries in which my ads would show. None of this got me impressions. So I contacted Google support again, and explained to them that I did everything they asked me to do but my ads are still not running. They told me there is nothing technical to stop my ads from being syndicated on the content but they will check with their supervisors!

Finally, after 14 e-mails of communication between me and Google support the answer came; they said that they do not allow health and fitness offers on the content network.

The thing is, I was promoting other offers that had nothing to do with health and fitness and these were stopped too. Jim told me it looks like your account is flagged. Google did not tell me they flagged my account. I ran the same campaigns on the search engine and I got impressions but I still had the same problems related to direct linking.

I was puzzled because Google did not tell me my account is flagged and I see fitness ads on the content network, so why are mine not allowed?  Jim then ran one of my offers on content network using one of his own accounts…and guess what? He got impressions. So we concluded that Google is not happy with my account but we are not sure why. 

I tried advertising on Yahoo. I had no problem with direct linking but Yahoo traffic is very little. I would get 1 click a day per ad group and sometimes 1 click/ a day per campaign. I had so many ad groups per campaign, but although yahoo’s traffic is little, most of my conversions came from there. The new issue was that conversions were occasional conversions and I could not make any conclusions from the results.

At this point, I have had it with the whole marketing business. I told my son I am sick of this. I better stop and save my self the extra tension but deep within I did not want to fail. I never failed anything I attempted. I am not a quitter. I will not forgive myself if I stop now. I invested a lot of time and money in this I can’t leave it now. Others were able to make it work for them, I should be able to but I must find a way that works for me. 

 My son said mom stop looking for easy ways. What these guys taught you might have worked for them. You learnt a lot and you gained a lot of experience in what does not work. Now, you must focus on building your own business your way and learn what works. No more quick get rich schemes.

I was not looking for get rich quick schemes, I am not stupid to believe it. I was made to believe that it is possible to make a business without a web site, a mailing list, a product etc… This is promoted by gurus and super affiliates. 

I had to take another direction. 

I realized that if I want to have a proper internet business, I must build my own web site and start attracting people to it. To do that I should give away something of value first. So I came up with my own give away–a single page with my unique personal touch.

It outlined a scientific experiment (since I am a scientist by training) about what works and what doesn’t with weight-loss. I already had some experience with this because over the past few years I changed my diet and started a successful exercise routine that helped me lose 15kg over 3 months. Later, many of my female colleagues had asked how I did it and I showed them with excellent results.

This became my unique selling point that would help me sell not JUST one affiliate ebook on weight loss, but all kinds of related affiliate products.

Of course, this meant a new learning curve.

How would I build a web site? It all seemed so difficult. I never did that before.

It turned out it is not a big problem. Jim gave me the link to a capture page generator program he designed. I answered a few questions and had a page in minutes. 

In addition, I took a few HTML lessons to understand how to modify the page to look nicer. After a few tweaks in Frontpage, I was ready to go. 

Since I didn’t know the problem with my Google account, I started a new one. I started by only advertising my landing page on the Google search network. I used only ONE targeted keyword with its broad, phrase, and exact match. I started my bid with $2 but I got clicks for an average of 60 cents over several days.

My quality score is good finally. And I don’t share the same URL with other marketers. In fact, I don’t even share the same offer any more because of my own landing page and autoresponder series. Every day I add one extra keyword to increase my traffic gradually. I modify my landing page to suit each key word theme to maintain my quality score. 

I was under the impression that building your own web page requires a lot of work compared to direct linking. But the truth is once I created the landing page the amount of work I do is minimal and the results are much more promising.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you any other discoveries I have about being a “value-added affiliate” of Clickbank products.

To be trained by Jim in PPC advertising, check out PPC Domination.