The Free Traffic MYTH: NOT What You Think!

Did you know that one of the most popular types of “free traffic” can cost you WAY MORE than ANY type of paid traffic?

We’ve spoken before about the difference between free and paid traffic.

Usually, you pay for free traffic with your time.

Blog and forum posting, content creation, social media posting and the list goes on. For a list of a few of these sources, check our previous post on the subject…

Obviously, your paid traffic takes dollars. And there are plenty of options available there as well.

But the whole idea of “free traffic” isn’t quite this simple.

Take affiliate traffic. The source many top coaches, gurus and authorities claim is the ultimate source of warm and targeted traffic. And it doesn’t cost a dime…

Or does it?

Affiliate traffic only comes when you have some sort of product to launch. You offer a commission, and the affiliates get paid from the revenues your product sales generate. Technically you’re not out of pocket. Completely free traffic, right?

NOT when you big picture this scenario and look at the long game.

Why do people create and launch products? Mainly, to build a list of buyers. That most treasured of assets online.

And of course with this list, product creators can then go out and make affiliate commissions by promoting other launches. It’s the way of the IM world.

So let’s break this down into an easy to follow hypothetical scenario:

Sally creates an awesome product and launches. Bob signs up as an affiliate and sends all kinds of traffic, and makes 100 sales. Great stuff, right?

Sure! Sally’s made sales and added 100 buyers to her list. Bob’s made a bunch of commissions. But what else just happened?

100 subscribers of Bob’s have now been added to Sally’s list. And sure as the sun rises in the east, they’re now going to be subjected to MORE promotions and offers from another marketer. In this case, Sally.

These 100 subscribers that were originally Bob’s have now been diluted and added to a completely new list. There is NO WAY that these subscribers any longer have the same monetary value to Bob as they did before he promoted Sally’s product.


Think about it. Bob and Sally will now BOTH be promoting to these 100 people. Of those that act on a recommendation, some will buy from Bob, others from Sally. Bob has in effect lost a chunk of long term profitability simply by promoting 1 product!

This scenario gets better. Bob’s just promoted for Sally and made 100 sales for her. Bob’s a smart guy and also launches products. Guess who he’s going to lean on to promote for him on his next launch?

Exactly. So now Sally is somewhat obliged to promote for Bob on his next launch. She’s not forced to in any way, but this is the way online business works. Kind of an expectation. You promote my stuff, I promote yours. Obviously if it’s a fit for the subscribers and if the value is there, but these are blurry lines.

So in the above scenario, 9 times out of 10 Sally’s going to promote for Bob when he next launches.

And without going into the step by step, the subscribers of both lists just get FURTHER diluted.

This is all with a simple exchange of 2 people.

Imagine if Sally got 30 affiliates to promote for her most recent launch. And then over time “reciprocated” by promoting for even just half of them.

See what’s happening here? With each promotion and subsequent reciprocation of a product launch, subscriber lists are getting diluted further and further. Customer value is decreasing at an EXPONENTIAL rate for everyone in the party.

Moral of this story? Affiliate traffic sure as hell ain’t free. In fact, if you look at the long term value of a highly engaged subscriber on your list …

It just might be one of the most expensive forms of traffic you’ll ever pay for. Most people just don’t see the reality of this because they focus on the short term commissions that come from promoting every product under the sun.

The savvy and smart marketers guard their lists like the precious treasures that they are. Of course they promote to them: but they’re choosy as hell in terms of what and when they will promote.

But Mark, you and The Rebels are strong advocates of both product creation AND affiliate marketing! Aren’t you?

We sure are! Darned tootin’. BUT, we also HIGHLY recommend you protect your most precious asset (yes, that’s your list) by sticking to the following simple guidelines:

=> When you create a product, give INSANE quality and value

=> Be choosy when asking affiliates to promote for you – you don’t need masses of people to have a successful launch. 10% of affiliates will always account for 90% of your sales. Choose affiliates with integrity that treat their lists like gold.

=> Be ESPECIALLY choosy when you promote to your list. Consider the long term costs. If you stick with promoting quality products that offer real solutions to your audience, you’ll maintain a lasting relationship with your subscribers, minimizing the very real dilution that happens whenever anyone promotes.

Remember this: there ain’t no such thing as free traffic.  But hopefully this post has opened your eyes to the potentially HUGE long term cost of supposedly “free” affiliate traffic.

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10 thoughts on “The Free Traffic MYTH: NOT What You Think!

  • June 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Damn, Mark! You nailed it.

    I would like to add that boss-ass email marketing skills will also help to compensate for any dilution that may occur via affiliate back-scratching.

    For example, if you’re Bob, you can still capture more overall interest than all the Sallies of the world by simply crafting better subject lines, email copy, and as you already stated, beneficial (aka quality) promotions.

    You ain’t lying though, mister. This “traffic generation strategy” is NOT the free ride that many will have you believing it is. 🙂

  • June 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you for the honesty, which is rare in this business. I haven’t really done anything with selling affiliates’ products.

    However, I have bought many of the products offered in emails. I’m pleased when I receive the product and all the bonuses make me feel like I got an even better deal. Yeah, that technique works well with me. But here are a few results and consequences of these purchases.

    On a few occasions I reply so that I can ask a question about the product. I feel it saves us both because if it looks good, I’ll buy, but then need to request a refund. But 99 percent of the time, I don’t get a response. It’s. As if these guys send the email out and just checks how many sales they’ve made but don’t check their emails.

    The next thing that happens is my emails suddenly explodes and all these people are selling the same thing, and some don’t even bother to modify the text of the original offer. So then I have to go through and unsubscribe to a few dozen emails! Time consuming and annoying. Some are definitely on my “bad” list, and some I trust. But so many I have never heard of!

    And so it is with sincerely that I say Thank You, Mark!

    • June 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Hey Teri, glad you appreciate the honesty.
      I’m often surprised when marketers or product vendors don’t reply back to emails.
      In fairness, often their ‘reply to’ address is not a primary account and they may not check it regularly, but that’s really not an excuse.
      If you’re in the business of sending emails, you should also be in the business of responding to them!

  • June 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Great post! I find it helps to have Facebook groups for the product as well and especially a blog. This is so the list can better communicate with the seller generate more trust and build more authority. Also offer ‘exclusive bonuses’ for big launches as well

    • June 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post Jason.
      And great share as well – FB groups and blogs relevant to products add a lot of value. Thanks!

  • June 19, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I have had the penny drop for me recently. Also the 100% commissions and cars as prizes for the largest affiliates are now making affiliates team together – so you get 3 top affiliates all working together to get as much commission as possible. I know of quite a few good products where the writer has been unable to get one agreed JV affiliate send out a mailing for his product – and that is after paying $3.5K for coaching from a “Guru” and a huge amount of good testimonials. He contacted each partner who promised to mail out and they replied that they don’t do it just for the commission or the email list. They do it for the chance of at least getting an Apple Watch or an extra $200 on top of their commission. It has gone totally insane and it is time the whole system came down to earth again. Now the “Guru” is releasing a new product each 4 to 5 weeks his own students don’t get a look in. He of course will not promote for your product. This whole system is about to implode as all the other systems have over the past 15 years I have been in the game. Sitting this one out. PS – this was the only mail I read in my box apart from private ones. The rest now just get deleted or unsubscribed.

    • June 19, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Diane – that’s a pretty awful story of your colleague that couldn’t get anyone to actually promote.
      While I agree many big affiliates prefer to only compete for big money and prizes, there are still many that consider a quality product more important than commissions.
      May not seem like it when all you hear about are the massive launches and huge contests, but they’re out there.
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • June 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Great post Mark! What you have said here in a organized way (almost like a flow chart), was circleing in my mind in a hazy way! And I was not sure of any solution. I was affected more because my list size is small and subscribers are coming from a small number of affiliates over and over!

    The 2 solutions you pointed out, e.g. making quality product and promoting quality product might help! But I want to ask you this: Are they enough? Is there any method that could be the complete solution of the problem?

  • June 21, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Thanks for sticking around Alan and reading up! Awesome to hear!


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