October 15

Affiliate Leads VS Advertising Leads


Classic battle between affiliate leads and ad driven leads.

As a consultant I run a pretty clear ‘game plan’ for my clients…(sorry I won’t give that to you)

But suffice it to say that most of them come in and expect to get RIGHT to affiliate marketing.
They’ve seen the success that others have had and they instantly want it!
I can’t really blame any of them…affiliates are AWESOME!

But I’m a bit partial to affiliates and the leads they send…so let’s discuss leads.

There are really two sources of leads: Affiliate driven leads AND Advertising driven leads.

Ad leads come from many different sources, direct email buys, google ads, banner ads, etc etc.
There are many ad brokers out there (really only a few good ones, ask me if you want a contact). They use a variety of methods to drive leads to their clients.

Costs are usually up front, and range depending on amount of contact info needed. If you want phone numbers, home mailing addresses, and blood type you’re going to pay more…duh :). So carefully consider what YOU need from a lead in order to get them to buy. If you only need email, why pay for home mailing addy?

The quality depends on the source, the amount of info required, the ad broker you’re using, the marketing material, the demo of the list, and several other TESTABLE factors. If you find a good email ad source, stick to it but never let your marketing get tired or stale…(My Free Gift :)) Some get high quality ad leads from google…then a month later the quality drops…that’s google for you. Same thing is true with google (or any other ad lead source) is to not let it get stale in order to keep quality high.

Another HUGE quality factor is the amount of work YOU have to do on the backend in order to get them to buy. With an ad lead, you’re just getting the lead who’s just about as cold as you can get…so it’ll take more time/effort to convert them. Take that into account!

As far as the volume is concerned…it’s only limited by your budget, tracking, and conversion numbers. There are some ad brokers who can send 10k leads a month, but it’s going to cost you.

Affiliate leads come from…affiliates. Most affiliate leads (I’d say 90% or greater) are coming from email marketing. Some affiliate leads come via external ad buys, but the affiliate marketer really has to know his/her numbers in order for that to make sense.

The costs of affiliate leads really depends on how ‘you’ set up your affiliate program. Some companies pay per lead, but most pay per action (sale).  So if your program is PPL then you’ve got up front costs, but if you PPA then you don’t pay for non-buying leads.

Another cost to add to this would be your affiliate manager (if you have one). This is the person that’s representing you, your company, your products, and your CONVERSIONS to the world…make sure you have a good one. As far as an exact cost goes, it’ll depend on reputation, reach, and other factors they bring to the table to ensure your return on investment.

Now what about that seemingly puzzling aspect … quality of affiliate leads?
It varies almost as much as with ad leads…BUT…affiliate marketers are giving their leads more of a ‘push’ to buy because they have a vested interest in their leads buying.

Volume? …affiliates can drive tens of thousands of leads!
Headsup—EarsUP!! There are several factors that make that possible…and not just your ad budget.
Here are three.

  1. First, you’ve GOT to know the right Affiliates.
    It’s always about WHO you know.
  2. Second, the product or offer affiliates are promoting has to be good.
    Most of the top affiliates want to see the products/offers before promoting, WHY?
    Because they have REAL relationships with their lists…and they don’t want to and are not going to send them crap.
  3. Third, the offer has to, must convert! Why bother otherwise?!
    Remember— most affiliates are driving FREE leads with the hope that a percentage of those leads turn into buyers, a significant percentage!
    Current conversion numbers are KEY to landing those big affiliates.

The other quality aspect with affiliate leads you have to take into account is the fact that affiliate partners are sending multiple, mostly custom written, introductions to you/your offer. It’s not just one email and done. Usually it’s a few so the lead develops a higher level of trust therefore less time is needed on the ‘backend’ to warm them up.

What else?? Did I miss anything? Did I go overboard? Was this helpful? Are you really reading these questions?

Let me know what you think should be on the “lists”.


P.S. If you need/want affiliate leads…I’m the guy to talk to 🙂


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  • Hey Brad,

    I must say this is a very good comparison of the two lead sources. Although you say you’re biased towards the affiliate model, the post is not. It objectively compares the two.

    I’d add one issue with Affiliates, which can be cumbersome. It’s finding good affiliates. I know you mention that to contact you, you’re the man. And I have contacted you. I have great products ranging from $500 to $5000 and they’re selling very well for being a young company, but you can only take up so much work. And I’ve not been able to work with you yet.

    My point is – getting these affiliate relationships take a lot of time and effort. Whereas the ad network is instant gratification. I think this is an important plus point for Ad leads that you have not considered in your analysis. And at the end of the day, the amount you spend by way of Ad leads and the amount you pay your affiliates may be somewhat the same – I’m not sure if this is a fact, but perhaps your analysis can throw some light on this aspect as well.

    Great post 🙂

    Hari Swaminathan

  • Hi Brad, good article as usual. I’d add (and let me know your thoughts) that a key part of “quality of affiliate leads” is the history and trust (or absence of) that the affiliate has built with their list, the relationship over time. The total story, the history. Not just today’s launch.

    If an affiliate has regularly promoted overpriced bad stuff that doesn’t help traders really make winning trades, then the affiliate leads become “desensitized to the bs” and it’s hard to recoup/regain trust.

    Multi-step product launch models are of course a good way to build content value and trust with leads, along with content that works as a pre-sell activity. You make a good point about top affs wanting to see product before sending; that’s sensible so they can review and screen it for quality before promoting.

    – ken c

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