Category Archives: Becoming a Jedi Affiliate

What is Cloaking? and a Product Warning.

Cloaking is one of the “dark arts” in affiliate marketing. It’s quite powerful if a little dangerous.

Tonight I was talking to my friend Nick tonight who is successful on Facebook and hadn’t heard of it, and realized others probably aren’t that familiar and wanted to know.

Nick wondered if Cloaking was a superpower :).  For affiliates it actually is!, and can be very lucrative if used strategically and you’re willing to brave the risks associated with it.

Cloaking

I wonder what she is covering up?

What is Cloaking?

Cloaking is covering yourself to play both sides:   angel or devil depending on who’s watching.  If you drive a car you know the drill.  If a cop is following right behind you drive squeaky clean obeying all rules, if no one is paying attention, you probably talk on the phone while driving, roll through stop signs, or speeding to get where you want to go faster, at least that’s how it works in California.

Just like most driving regulation, most traffic sources (e.g. Facebook, Google PPC/SEO) have rules of the road, to create what they believe is the highest quality end user experience.      Rules like no lying, no adult/porn related, no promoting offers that lie, cheat or steal.  Just like police, these communities have various moderator teams to enforce these rules and police content and users.

Well sometimes these rules and moderators get in the way of what people actually want.  Sex/dating, drugs, biz ops, and alcohol , weight loss, are big money makers but not something you want in the community mall, nevertheless people selling them make good money and there is demand for them, when they can actually connect.

This creates a constant tension between marketers and moderators, and escalation of arms of sorts of the war of each trying to get  what they want.  Cloaking is a weapon used primarily by marketers  to sidestep the rules to get a competitive advantage.

Like undercover agents vs street cops. Cloaking can be used by moderators to infiltrate, but this is less common.

Page Cloaking

Cloaking means a script that sits between that shows moderator/reviewers what they page content want to see to get approved or ranked for a particular phrase, and end users a different page that is likely to convert to a sale. It actieves this magic this typically by looking at where the person came from. eg. if the user comes from an address known to be from inside facebooks review staff, it uses the safe url. If it comes from a random page inside facebook it’s likely to be a user so show them the sales page.

When setting up an advertisement you point the ad to the tracking/cloaking script eg.

yoursite.com/track.php?campaignID=123

that track.php scirpt internally has multiple urls, one for the safe page the other for the page you are interested in promoting, and some wizardry to sniff who is reviewer from consumer.

A key concern is if the the admin can find the hidden page.  Part of the solution is the cloaking is setup to store the ID or IP of the user , every time anybody goes through your tracking/cloaking script they always sure they always see the same page.

Another way is just not cloaking at all in the first setup of a campaign. Then switching on cloaking once approved. Safer as once approved you don’t have as many audits if your still complying, but still a period at the front you’re not making money.

Now it is possible that when they do come back or the reviewers change their footprint and the cloaking script is not kept up to date, that you could get caught.  Penalties might be just having your ads stopped (which could mean loss of revenue), or having your account banned. It depends on the network. Some don’t care, some are restrictive some are militant.

Cloaking for SEO

A variation on this deals with making Pages rank well in Google.  When Google bots drive by to inspect your page, The cloaking script shows them a wholesome complete page with all the right keywords the Google bots so love to see.  When it sees a normal user it will show them something else, like the NewYork times might require user to subscribe to see the whole article, or even a completely different page optimized on making sales.

Link Rotation

A variation on cloaking  is the ability to also redirect to multiple offer pages, like rotating competing product 1, product2, product 3 for the most clicks, that is very useful for Affiliate marketers.

This sidesteps the problem setting up a campaign you are limited to the original url you submit the ad to, and it’s against the rules to switch that later, even though they don’t always check.

Say you decide to enter the guitar chord training market, you know of 3 guitar training courses on clickbank, they each have very different feel.  You want to know which one is best, but don’t know initiallly.

You set up a campaign on Facebook for people who like guitars, plus a a headline of “Learn Guitar”, with a pic of a guitar  and a link that goes over to your site learnchords.com/getlink.php?id=123 instead of the real product pages, or 3 different ads.

getlink.php is a rotation and cloak script. that contains urls for the 3 offers we are promoting that get equal amounts of traffic.

  • first user gets sent to clickbank product 1,
  • second user gets sent  to clickbank product2
  • 3rd gets sent to clickbank product3

say you run it for 600 clicks, so that each offer gets about 200 clicks. So we have some certainty on what is actually working.  Given many good campains will only get 2 to 5 clicks out of 100 impressions, You need at least 100 clicks in most cases to know if it’s good or not. 200 clicks is better.

At the end you see that breakdown

  • product1 got  40%
  • product2 got 55%
  • product 3 got 5%,

So now you know which to pursue. Typically stopping product 3 which is getting much lower clickthrough.

If you were super advanced, you’d try to create a hybrid of all the most successful elements with a tool like visualwebsiteoptimizer

e.g. take all the sales bullets, pictures from each rotate them too, see what produces the most sales
create a frankenstein get et a page that outperforms both
.

The Product Warning: Auto Traffic Avalanche == Bait and Switch

Part of what spawned this was an Clickbank product that was being promoted in my email box by Frank Kern and others, I ran across this morning that is centered around cloaking.

It’s called “Auto Traffic Avalanche”  Frank usually promotes good stuff so that got me to click over.

The marketing page was a good study, it had many of the hot buttons for the get rich quick niche:

  • use of video and text, down to earth.
  • hometown boy makes good,rags to riches story line
  • newbie with no prior experience and hates computers makes millions
  • discovers  exploitable glitch makes millions with a 13 clicks in just a few hours.
  • this is only available to next ~23 people (if you see this on clickbank you should know this is most often a lie)
  • do it for you script makes this all easy and does the work for you
  • risk reversal double your money back if it doesn’t work
  • big screen shots of proof (I guess they are in the UK so don’t have to be compliant to FTC)

The front door price was an impulse buy price for curiosity alone  $39 and supposedly amazingly included this magic do it for you software.

Given the front door price was low, and Frank was promoting it, I expected to see some major upsells. I was right and got one of the longest upsell grids I’ve experienced on clickbank.  Guessing 3 deep x2 wide.  Claiming one time offers (not true actually) and really vague on what exactly some of them did.

From it claiming to have “copy and paste” profits with an enhanced program with 10x the power I got the second upsell, despite it being very vague as to what it was, partly trusting clickbank knowing I could return it.

From all the hype, I was like most pretty excited to see what was in the inside.    Then I felt like I had hit a different world the friendly face man was gone and there was a geeky looking guy with a occasionally hard to understand british accent and slightly fuzzy screencapture movies.

The course was about 2hr long and after getting through it I felt like a bait and switch. I was so pissed I asked for a refund immediately.

It wasn’t that course was crap.  But it had almost NO resemblance to the pitch.  There is nothing Auto about it, it’s straight up affiliate marketing cloaked as a auto traffic machine when it’s not.

The secret glitch is actually a basic script for cloaking, not a do it for you as was implied.   I don’t even know how good it is as I didn’t test it, and of the cloaking it doesn’t directly do rotation.  If you are okay with the risks, it might be better than nothing.

The traffic education part was ok, core education: setting up ads, demographics ( this did have a gem ), tweaking them a few tips to scale them.

For traffic sources it used Facebook and PlentyOfFish.

  • Facebook should need no introduction, it’s a highly targeteable traffic source and the largest social network with more people than many countries using it, often hours a day.  However it’s finicky.
  • PlentyOfFish claims to be the worlds largest dating website, very high traffic according to Alexa with very deep demographic targeting and relatively not much affiliate competition on it relative to other sources.

With right offers, combined they do have enough potential traffic to compete with saturated or complicated Google PPC/SEO.

If you are curious about  Facebook, or PlentyOfFish and/or need a Facebook cloaking script, it’s ok value for $39 guide I’d just ignore the hype, and skip the upsells. Here is my link if you are so inclined.  if you are not interested in Facebook or PlentyOfFish primer please skip it completely on principal alone.

Do you use cloaking?   also If you know of a good cloaking script for other non-facebook purposes, sound out!

eSlumdog eMillionaire Review and Unboxing Video

Looking at hot sellers on clickbank, out of curiosity, I shelled out some play money for the latest one rising up the ranks.  It positions itself with a tasty offer.

How To Get Unlimited Targeted Free Traffic Without Adwords, SEO, PPC, Blogging, Social Bookmarking, And Web 2.0.

Given PPC spending can be like buying a new car every month, I find it useful to continually research what small gem they might offer. It comes from www.eslumdog.com, a product from Latif, apparently an Internet Marketer who’s been around awhile.

Product Overview and Unboxing Video:

In the scheme of internet marketing products, it’s a relatively inexpensive course overall FE $97, 3 possible up sells bringing the FE+BE up to $97+$97+$67+$47 = $308.  No membership or continuity.

[flash http://d27dsc3xn28g7n.cloudfront.net/unboxing/eSlumDog_eMillionaire_unboxing.swf w=400]

This is the product structure:

  • Main Course: 61 PDF’s – all but 15 are 1 pagers, with many useful flow charts $97
  • Up sell #1: Videos 15 Screen casts of the material in the PDF’s plus some walkthroughs. $97
  • Up sell #2:  “The eBanker” 13 page PDF $67
  • – Promoting affiliate deals with your list, note: must have a list first.

  • Up sell #3:  “The eMillionaire” 17 page PDF  $47
  • – Building and scaling your success, making friends with the gurus and entering new niches, even those you’re not an expert with.

I’m guessing the primary reason for most people to buy it is the free traffic secrets; It’s certainly the same reason why I got interested.  This is actually only a very small portion of the course… just 1 of the 15 modules; this seems to be a bit misleading as to how it’s positioned in the sales letter.

Depending on where you are coming from some of the secrets might not be so secret at all. I’d be surprised if there’s any intermediate marketer not familiar with most of the methods mentioned.

That said, it is still a good reminder that PPC + SEO are just tools… very useful tools…but there are many ways to get traffic, the traffic module goes into 9 non-social media methods all should already be known to mid-level marketers.

Just like you may need a portfolio of video games to keep you entertained, and an investment portfolio to keep you fed when you retire. You’ll need a ”traffic portfolio” to ensure stable growth and avoid the ever changing whims of Google, as well as help stave off competition…who WILL use these approaches.

“Free” is a bit of a stretch. Free as in it doesn’t cost you like PPC and CPA per action, but in the rather indirect and opportunity costs.  Like what’s an hour a day of your time worth to you when you’re already overloaded with everything else?

Here’s what the product says you DON’T need, but seems to partly use anyway:

  • SEO– I would say this is semantics, many of the approaches mentioned are what I classify as SEO backlink love
  • PPC– not covered
  • Blogging– but is covered as one of the free approaches
  • Social Bookmarking– depends on how you define this.
  • Web 2.0.– I don’t know what is quite meant by that.

Using a blog is one of the several methods recommended; if you run a good blog, you know it takes significant amount of time to build up good content, and a ramp up period before you actually get traffic— If you are paying for premium content to be written.

JV’s are another ‘free’ approach mentioned and here you need to be very careful to make sure that you have a solid product before spreading the good word, and for this PPC is one of the quickest, disposable methods. In short, if you’re starting out you still are in my opinion, best served with PPC.  There are other approaches to getting the costs of those down, especially if you use the FEBECC model.

Product Breakdown:

The product has 15 modules, which is mirrored in the PDFs and in the screen casts. As you can see it’s nicely structured, logically organized and I feel is easily replicatable for a new user knowing little to nothing, as well as organized enough that an advanced user can easily get to the holes they might be missing.  Kudos for that! Many (maybe even most) info products…kindda suck in this area.

  1. The Plan
  2. The Groundwork
  3. The Merchandise
  4. The Perks
  5. The Cash
  6. The Realm
  7. The Pitch
  8. The Handshake
  9. The Logistics
  10. The Showroom
  11. The Guardian
  12. The Traffic
  13. The Home Run
  14. The Network
  15. The Aftermath

I found the text on the light side.  Wide spaced, despite being big there actually isn’t massive amount of information in any of the modules.

The up sells I found less value on than the core product. In fact I’m planning on returning them; they didn’t really deliver on the sales hype.   But then I’ve already heard this information before, for somebody not familiar with the ways of Super Affiliates it might be a revelation. As always with Clickbank if you’re not happy you can get a refund.

Production Value:

Production value was good to average for internet marketing products.   Again coming from the area of high end multimedia development, and getting whipped for small pixel level details, I always am disappointed by simple things like typos in products I’m paying reasonable dollars for… though I know it’s easy to let slip, still.

PDFs:

Cons

  • Several typos, misspellings.  Not horrific.
  • Many files to track (I personally would have preferred more consolidation of the one pages), but this might help you go through them and find them easier

Pros

  • solid organization
  • decent font and layout
  • good one page quick start guides
  • schematics and flow charts

Screencasts:

If you opt for the video up sell, The ‘videos’ are self contained swfs (assumes you can know how to play swfs standalone), screen captures of basic PowerPoint, minimal animation, almost no graphics, and the audio done by an tends to clip and click like it’s a cheap headset…Which I found grating, but still beats reading.

If you want to learn the information, I think you should get the videos. Watch the videos first and then get into the PDFs which have the body of information.  It will make more sense. The videos also have the benefit of having a seek function so it’s possible to skim through the presentations visuals.

Cons

  • Audio clipping from the presenter on mine… Grating.
  • Seek stopped functioning once but restarted okay

Pros

  • cute accent for the speaker
  • integrated seek (great for skimming)
  • Easy to put on in the background
  • No schematics in the PDFs, at least in the ones that I’ve come across so far

The Website Sales Flow Review:

Just a reminder that if you’re interested in marketing you should always be studying how YOU are being marketed to, like what works to get you grab your Amex Platinum credit card and what doesn’t. So you can use it yourself…odds are others like you will respond the same way.

Unlike the plethora of Launches lately, eSlumdog’s eMillionaire follows a more conventional multi-page sales flow.   They offer 4 free videos to opt a presale-opt-in.  They demonstrate proof by showing orders coming in at times like 5 in a minute, and borrow proof from unnamed gurus. Who- yes do use the strategies 😉

[flash http://d3ixa05v9hysfh.cloudfront.net/unboxing/eSlumDog_eMillionaire_sales_flow.swf w=533 h=834]

I found the pages sales copy triggered my hype-o-meter. Would have preferred it tone down a notch or two.  As in my opinion like the the up sells, it leads to buyer remorse, and this leads to untrusting of the person selling, and worse case ranting online.  Like the first person on Google under ‘eSlumdog review’ was a person who gave the program 1 star.  Surrounding that were a billion scammy affiliate style reviews.

Reverse engineering the sales campaign revealed some clever use of clickbank, hat off!   I’ve never encountered anybody use clickbank in ways approximating one-click up sells before.  The sales channel takes the user across 3 up sells, and 1 post sale opt-in (with a phone field?…what’s up with that?). Each up sell is actually a different clickbank product, woven together relatively seamlessly.

A true one-click has less friction -I found having to fill out the clickbank form several times annoying, but the sales copy does a good job of building interest,  So from a marketing perspective the experience and I bet results are similar to using a true One-Click up sell.

Conclusion:

If you are just interested in traffic you will likely be disappointed or confused as its only fraction of the content.

If you have decided on product creation (vs. affiliate marketing vs. licensing vs. etc.) but haven’t yet gotten a product on the market, or gotten a list. eSlumdog core product is one of the better get started quickly ones I’ve come across recently with enough depth to last awhile and give you clues to where to go.

It’s really aimed at entry-level to intermediate level.  Solid fundamentals presented in relatively small easy to digest chunks on info product development and marketing.    If you know the importance of Your Identity, Rabid Lists, what JV’s are, Articles and E-zines are then this product is probably not for you and I’d ignore the last 2 up sells.

As always you’re mileage might vary and clickbank makes the process risk free.

If you’re interested, check it out via my link or go directly there via www.eslumdog.com
and let me know what you think here.

P.S. If you are interested in a higher res reverse-engineered sales flow let me know or a particular campaign you want me to review, contact me at troy @ troynotes dot com
P.P.S. Found some other people reviewed the product on twitter..
[1] not a fan
[2] wahms (found it hard to read and thinly disguised affiliate flavored)