case study

It’s pretty typical for people in the “Internet marketing world” to basically just try to out market each other, and we have to work so incredibly hard to try and stay ahead of the game.

To make matters worse every time we find something that works, it has an expiration date on it before other marketers take noticed and copy you. Which seems fine until you realize that people desensitize to ANYTHING when they see it over and over so everyone’s effectiveness goes down in the long run.

But what happens when you take those skills and put it to work for people who have been sticking to the old rules of engagement?

I recently did just that for one of my favorite car blogs, who had recently just been banned from AdSense for the POTENTIAL of invalid clicks, even though no bad traffic had been reported.

Jay, the guy who runs the blog had put out a call for sponsors but I knew I’d be able to help him build a real asset through his LIST instead of living and dying off of ad revenue.

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While most of my experience has been in dealing with affiliates and partner programs, it should be painfully obvious to anyone who has ever been a part of managing that kind of program that it’s a ton of work and babysitting.

While there is absolutely some awesome profits and relationship building to be had in this arena, you can’t let your business live or die off of that kind of traffic.

The dark secret about affiliate programs is that the rush of traffic can stop just as suddenly as it appears, and often only offers a momentary rush and leaves you with an unsustainable business. Anyone who tells you otherwise is completely lying to you. Are affiliate programs an important part of running a large operation? Absolutely, but so is SEO, a good social & content strategy etc.

Essentially what I’m saying is that there is more to the puzzle than simple referral traffic, and the most scientific part of that is paid traffic through Pay Per Click (PPC) on sites that have a congruent audience to what you are offering. If you can make the math work with paid advertising then you have something that will make you smile day in and day out.

Since I have many friends who live and breath by PPC traffic I figured I would try my hand at it without their help and make this an awesome learning experience, and I thought I would pick a network that people almost never talk about (although, after this experience it’s likely because it’s their best kept secret).

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I have always been intrigued with the mechanics behind what makes certain content “go viral”. The terminology viral is often overused as a description for anything popular, but in reality the core idea of viral content is something that fulfills these descriptors:

1. Becomes popular seemingly overnight (o views to 2 million in a week)

2. Creates a culture or “meme” around the content. Covers for songs, spoofs etc

Interestingly enough I came across a piece of content that fulfills both of the above “viral” components; but I think it would be even more interesting to break down the why for this particular piece of content. WARNING: Profuse cursing

Viral Breakdown

So let’s dig into 5 main reasons this video was able to collect several million views within only 4 days (nearly 1.5 million for this exact video at the time of writing, but several duplicates are cropping up on YouTube), why people started to do covers for this video and the heck do people even care about it in general?

1. Shock value

One of the first things you will notice about this video is how “in your face” it feels. It doesn’t ease into its purpose so much as it jumps in head first, making a big splash and getting every ones attention. From the color scheme, the washed video effect to the giant red “FUCK YOU” that shows up a few seconds in; this video smacks you over the head in a way that most videos fail to capture (for better or for worse).

2. Polarization

The other thing about this video is that it will completely polarize the people who watch it. You either love this video because you think it is absolutely hilarious, or you hate it because it is.. well vulgar, demeaning and gives a “we don’t care about ANYONE” kind of attitude. There isn’t a lot of in-between, and polarization drives discussion, pageviews and awareness.

3. Taboo

We aren’t supposed to like things such as this video, and for that reason many of us do. Like it or not, there is still a lot of money in the adult entertainment industry with part of the allure for many shoppers being the very fact that they aren’t supposed to have/like/watch/participate in whatever the content etc is. Again, this type of behavior just drives more traffic and therefore more awareness.

4. Emotion

This is one of the intangibles for marketers to calculate, which basically is my way of saying I am guessing; but it is not a far stretch to think that a certain percentage of people watching and sharing this video have some kind of emotional motivation to do so because they feel an emotional connection to the story. Did the event portrayed in the story happen to you? You might be tempted to shoot it in an e-mail to your ex. What about one of your friends? You may want to share it on their Facebook wall to make them feel a little more satisfied with the less than stellar situation they just went through. Either way, there are plenty of emotionally driven reasons why someone would share this video.. it is just a lot harder to measure.

5. Scarcity

This one is interesting because the video appears to be part of a pre-launch for a very real song and album and was posted by the “artist” themselves. The lack in ability for customers to buy now does kill  the opportunity to buy the song immediately, but what if they just can’t get the song out of their head? What if YouTube might take it down do to the shock value and polarization of its audience? These things force a video to move sideways into new social graphs through duplicate content (reposting of the same video which is common on YouTube), or the fact that it forces people playing it on repeat to have YouTube open which could then expose their friends to the video version of the song which is almost always the “richest” form of online experiences.


Ultimately there have already been covers done for this song by various artist (some actually pretty decent replications) because those artists want to be associated with the meme and cash in on the fringe brand associations. So the question is here, how can you deliver shock, polarization, taboo, emotional and scarcity components to your next promotional push in order to hit mainstream awareness?

By now if you read this blog with any regularity, you are by no doubt familiar with who Shoemoney is. If not, you should Google him and read his blog.. it is a pretty interesting story. Recently Shoemoney has been in the process of relaunching the “Shoemoney System” that details ways that Joe Sixpack can take a swing at making money online with the odds in his favor as much as humanly possibly given the average lack of background and experience..

The Good Stuff

What I was amazingly interested in however, was the contrast between the conversions of clicks to leads that stem from a very warm (and large) e-mail distribution list that has a) heard of Shoemoney before and b) has been communicated to by the list owner. Luckily enough, non other than Mr. Jonathan Volk of decided to openly use a link with his e-mail push which meant we were able to peak into the results. is a great way (mostly because of accessibility and free cost structure) to track the number of times your link is clicked, when that is, where its from (application) and what country. However, when doing a very public e-mail push, you are going to get called out on it from time to time.

Quick Background

So first things first, how did Jonathan Volk build up this e-mail list.. and how big exactly is that list? Jonathan Volk, Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker, Frank Kern, Andy Jenkins and a laundry list of others all operate in the affiliate marketing space to a certain degree. Because of that, they have a large audience that overlaps with each other and at the very least has a very similar set of actual needs. When Jonathan Volk wrote an eBook about effectively advertising with Facebook and other affiliate marketing promotional methods, he was able to leverage his existing relationship with people such as John Chow, Shoemoney to pump his eBook to a ready, willing and eager audience while providing value in exchange for a nifty e-mail address.

Jonathan decided to chime in on my Twitter conversation with John Chow to make sure it was stated that he pulled off this e-mail list for JUST the cost of 3 iPads as Chow has stated…

But there were certainly more promotional methods than just this for Volk, but tapping into lists such as Shoemoney, Kern, Chow and Jenkins was a good way to capture the low hanging fruit. I know for a fact that he also used some Sponsored Tweets to promote his book to the affiliate marketing space. (side note: I plan on covering Sponsored Tweets pretty in-depth very soon).

The 150x ROI

The rule of thumb in the list building business is that a targeted e-mail list provides about $10 of profit per year for each subscriber depending on how effectively they are marketed to. So to figure out the total value return of this list for Volk, lets do some simple math that rounds up on the cost of promotion and down on the number of subscribers.

Subscriber Value: $10

Subscribers: 10,000

Average Subscriber Validity: 3 years

Lifetime Value of Subscriber: $300,000

Cost of acquisition: (3 ipads at $500 ea. ) = $1,500 + (sponsored tweets0 = ~$500 : $2,000

With these quick and dirty numbers, Volk can expect to get up to a 150x return on his $2,000. Not a bad return at all if I may say so myself!! So what about this particular launch that we have click and conversion numbers from?

Warm & Communicative vs. Cold & Direct

Volks list produced 1,629 clicks over a roughly 1 week period and two mailings out of list that is known to be at least 10k.

Click through ratio? (clicks/emails) = 16.29% or lower for an “active” list

Number of leads generated? 824.

Conversion Ratio? (leads/clicks) = 50.58% HOLY SHIT THIS IS GOOD

Cost per conversion (cost per lead/conversions) = $2.43 per lead, but has a much longer lifetime value

What were my results with my leads generated through advertisements?

I generated 588 clicks over roughly the same period of time as Volk, relying primarily on SponsoredTweets for Traffic with a total cost of $25.86

Click through ratio? This is hard to tell because I just used and we don’t know view/click data

Number of leads generated? 23

Conversion Ratio? (leads/clicks) = 3.9% MASSIVE DIFFERENCE

Cost per conversion (cost per lead/conversions) = $1.12


What is amazing about the difference in lists compared advertising for lead generation is the conversion of leads into your relevant product, service or affiliate offer. If you have a list that you have build of good will with in the community you are going to see a MASSIVELY better response rate from your audience and a much larger return.

In regards to me having a much lower cost per conversion for this particular push, it is important to note that while Volks cost if confined to this case study alone would be more than double what I paid, he will have the opportunity to repeatedly market to this audience for a return that is many, many times larger than what I may generate through this study.

Building a List

How can you build a list and start cashing in the huge return that people like Volk are reaping the benefits of? Here is a check list of things to remember when pursuing this opportunity.

1. You absolutely MUST provide value to your market (doesn’t matter if it is Dog tricks or Car Cleaning) in exchange for their opt-in e-mail.

2. You need to establish connections with as many people related to your targeted industry as possible. This is going to give you a much wider audience and essentially allow you to cherry pick the most active and highest paying users from your competitors list for years of marketing success.

3. GET YOUR LIST STARTED TODAY. Getting it started as soon as you possibly can allows you to compound your results and start seeing the power of list building, lifetime returns and a “list ATM” that so many affiliate marketers are used to at this stage in the game. If you are looking for a high quality service provider to use, Aweber comes highly recommended and gives you the first 30 days for ONLY ONE DOLLAR.

Click here to get the massive Aweber deal and start building your client base today.