I’m wondering if you think I broke the very first rule of affiliate marketing? After you listen to this episode, let me know. We promoted something that was so different from our normal offers that I was genuinely afraid it would backfire. What ended up happening? Well, that’s what this episode is all about.

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Previous Episodes of The Affiliate Guy

How to Measure Affiliate Program Success: Key Metrics to Track

How to Get Your Affiliates to Promote on a Short Timeframe

How to Motivate Your Affiliates to Sell More

How to Double Your Affiliate Program in 90 Days

How to Start an Affiliate Program: The First 30 Days

Does This Break the First Rule of Affiliate Marketing?

I’m wondering if you think that I broke the very first rule of affiliate marketing. After you listened to this episode, let me know we promoted something that was so different from our normal offers that I was genuinely afraid it would backfire. So what ended up happening? Well, that’s what this episode is all about.

I’m often asked by people who are new to affiliate marketing, how do you promote something with confidence when you’re not 100% sure about the product. Well, that question is fundamentally flawed. You know, if you aren’t 100% sure about something, don’t promote it. That’s the first rule of affiliate marketing.

Actually, to put it more clearly, the first rule of affiliate marketing is this don’t promote crap. Don’t promote something that you don’t think is a good fit for your audience. I’m paraphrasing here. This is a rule I picked up from Tim Ferriss years ago and how we pick our clients. “If it’s not a heck yeah, it’s a no.” That’s how we pick our clients. That’s how we should pick our affiliate promotions. He may or may not have used some saltier language, by the way, but it’s an absolute truth and applies to all aspects of life. If the answer is not a heck yeah, the only answer is no.

So for your affiliate promotions, if it’s not a perfect fit for you and your audience, don’t get involved. If it is not an A-plus product, don’t promote it. In the long run, it is not worth the risk just to make a quick buck. So, a while back, we promoted something that might violate this first rule of affiliate marketing. And here I am. I’m teaching this stuff. I have talked about the first rule of affiliate marketing, and yet I promoted something where it’s possible you could think it might violate it. Now, I’m going to let you be the judge of that. But here’s the thing:

When you promote the right products, when you’re selective in what you promote, it allows you to sell with confidence. Once you know deep down that the product is a solid fit for your audience, you want to get it in their hands.

Once you know that they need the product and you know that it’s a quality product, then you feel obligated to sell to them. You feel guilty if you don’t. Selling shouldn’t be dirty, and shouldn’t be sleazy or scamming. Selling should be.

It becomes a matter of what is best for them, not what is best for you. And that’s the way it should be. When you are selective in what you promote, it allows you to sell with confidence. So you end up writing your email copy differently. When you promote something that’s top-notch, best in class. It is proven to work.

You’re going to promote more often. You’re going to mail more often. You don’t feel bad about sending the 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th email. You offer killer bonuses to go along with the product. You defend it. You become a champion for that product, a champion for a cause. You sell with confidence because you believe in the product, and selling with confidence always outperforms selling Timidly. And so, yeah, you want to make sure that the product you’re going to promote is a heck yeah. That’s the most important.

There are some other considerations, though. I’m approached all the time by people wanting me to promote their products, and the reality is I’m only able to promote a small fraction of those products in a given year. So that’s one of the reasons why my team and I created what we call the What to Promote Checklist.

It’s a simple checklist. There are ten questions that help determine whether a product or program is a good fit for me to promote, and it allows me to go through and score them. And by the time I’m done with that checklist, I know whether or not I should promote something. And I highly recommend getting the checklist. We’ll put the link in the show notes and use it each and every time you consider promoting an affiliate program or some sort of product. If you’re ever in doubt, just go to the checklist.

What to Promote Checklist

If you’re ever in doubt, just go to the checklist. And if it scores high enough, it’s probably a good promotion. The other quick test you can give is, would I recommend this to my best friend or to my mom? Assuming it’s a good fit for them. No, I would not recommend this Internet marketing product to my mom because my mom is a 69-year-old retired woman.

I would not recommend the Product Launch Formula. We just finished promoting that but I would not recommend that to my mom because she’s a 69-year-old retired woman who has no interest in starting a business. But if it was a good fit, would I promote it to him or to her? The answer is yes. It’s a pretty good sign. If the answer is no, it’s probably not the right fit for you.

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Affiliate Program mistakes to avoid

Do not, under any circumstances promote it, no matter what the commissions are, what prizes are being offered, or how well you know the person, you have to say no. This leads us to my conversation with one of the guys on our team, Robby Miles. In this episode, he and I discuss an affiliate promotion that might have broken that first rule.

We weren’t sure that this particular promo was a good fit for my audience, and it definitely was not a cultural fit, so to speak, but we still promoted it. So why did we do that? What actually happened?

Well, that’s what we talk about in this episode. We talk about the first rule of affiliate marketing. Talk about how to promote even when you don’t have perfect segmenting, and how to share a product that uses a completely different marketing style. That’s one of the big things in this episode; it’s a completely different style for me. How to stop unsubscribes before they even happen. From an affiliate perspective, this episode helps you to know what you can promote and what not to promote, no matter what. From an affiliate management standpoint, you learn how to get affiliates who might not be a perfect fit for you, but they can still drive some sales and this allows you to expand your affiliate base.

So with all that said, let’s dive right into my discussion with our operations manager Robby Miles on this particular affiliate promotion.


Matt: Robby, welcome. I know you’re a huge part of this promo and have some good stuff to add this month, so welcome.

Man, I’m excited about this.

Robby: Yeah, me too. It was just different enough for us. I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out.

Matt: Yeah, and we had reasons. So first, let’s back up. I said this violates the first rule of affiliate marketing. The first rule of affiliate marketing is this for those of you who’ve never been through No Product No Problem, and you totally should go through it. We have a new version coming out here soon!

You should totally go through that. But the first rule of affiliate marketing is basically it is the rule that I never break. Like, I hate rules, but this is the one rule that I never break in affiliate marketing is this – Don’t promote crap. Like if you aren’t 100% sure about a product, do not promote it. Do not promote it. That’s the first rule. Like, I get asked all the time, like, how do you promote with confidence, right? Maybe you’re not 100% sure about the product. How do you promote it with confidence?

Well, you don’t. Because….!

Robby: If you’re not confident, how the heck can you be confident promoting?

Matt: We say be picky. Be very picky. And so why did we break that rule maybe, actually we didn’t.

The question is the promotion we’re going to talk about today, did it violate the first rule of affiliate marketing? Because I’m going to read you real quick and then we’re going to share a couple of these emails, but I’m going to read you a specific part like the actual subject line, it’s not for everyone, but might be for you.

First sentence. Okay, full disclosure, what I’m about to share with you is not for everyone. And I go on to describe that. I say, my friend, we were talking about this, and I was like, I’m not going to say what promotion it was, but it’s kind of obvious and people can search in their email for phrases, so I’ll read it.

“My friend Davin Michaels and his business partner Chad nicely have a unique style of marketing that might not be your style, and that’s okay.” And so I’m acknowledging the issue upfront. What is the issue, just to be transparent here? Chad and Davin are a little flashier than I am. Like, they would never be wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt doing one of these. They’re more well, a little bit more in your face. I’m a little bit more laid back. They’re a little bit more like you know, we’re going to break the Internet. Internet millions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s just not my personal style.

So why did we promote it? Well, first of all, it was for a friend. Davin’s a friend of mine. It was for a friend. Second of all, I do believe in the product. Like, I know his style is different, but I know that Davin is a heck of a teacher, and I know that his course will get results. It’s already passed. We’re not trying to sell you on the already I think they already shut down registration on it. But we knew that LCS was a good product, and Davin has a track record of that stuff.

His style is different, but you can’t argue with the results. It’s kind of like in a way, it’s kind of like two trainers. You got the one trainer who’s like, if you think about, like, a physical trainer, and they’re like know, okay, you want to do, like, four reps of really heavy weight, and you want to eat this. And then you have another trainer who’s got a completely different philosophy. And then you look at their students, and they’re like, well, they’re clients, and both of them are fit. So who’s the better trainer?

Robby: Right.

Matt: But I bet if you took their clients and switched them both trainers would suddenly be terrible. Why?

Because we attract the type of people that we fit best with. The other thing is it’s a marketing product and so I can come at it from the angle of, “Hey, go watch this and study it. You may not like what they do, but can you pick up something from them.”

Is there an element of a landing page or a thank you page or something in their funnel or this or that that you do like, is there a sentence they use in their marketing that you go, oh, that’s a good sentence. Even though I don’t love their style, overall, that’s a good sentence. The other thing is, Robby and I’ll let you kind of touch on this or talk about this is I’ll touch on it and then you’ll talk about it.

We talk a lot about segmenting. I feel like every backstage…

Robby: Every single month.

Matt: Segmenting, segmenting. Here’s the deal. We didn’t have a segment for this. This course is not just for beginners. It’s not just for advanced, it’s not just for people who want to do this. It’s not just for brick and mortar. It’s not just for online. It’s not just for men or women. We don’t have a segment for this. So I said, tell you what, we’re not even going to bother with the segment. We’re going to send out some feelers. We’re going to do the Acknowledgment up front and we’re just going to basically see what happens and so talk about that just for a minute. Robby, in terms of, I wouldn’t say we messed anything up by not having segments. We just haven’t gotten there yet with this. What are your thoughts on that?

Robby: I think what this comes down to is if you don’t have the segments yet, you can use your copywriting like you did to have people kind of self-select. So what we did here is every time somebody clicked any of our emails, it kind of became like they said, “Oh, I’m interested in this.”

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And so that’s how we are getting our segmenting. So you can use that copywriting on the top end to get people to open, and if they open, they’re going to read, and if they click, then they’re telling you this is the information that they’re seeking. And so we have a segment now for people that this is a target market for. We can kind of tell who some of our more edgier Internet markety people on our list are our subscribers. So in the future, we’ll be able to segment better. But just really remember to focus on the copywriting. You can do so much with just the words you use that you can segment people that way. You don’t have to have the technology and everything in the background doing it for you.

Matt: Yeah. The cool thing I like you’re in the productivity niche, In your personal blog I’ve shared that a lot because the productivity niche, compared to so many other niches, has so many little segments and fingers. You’ve got time management, leadership, health, and fitness tools. All those things are part of the productivity niche. And there’s probably another seven that I’m not even thinking of. And so I know in your world you can segment that. Let’s just narrow it down to two that you write ten blog posts about the health and fitness side of productivity, and another ten about time management.

And you send those out to Person A. And Person A literally never clicks on one of the articles about health and fitness. It’s more like 20. We’ll go with 20, but he clicks on eight of the 20 about time management. What have you learned about that person that you probably don’t need to ever email him about health and fitness stuff? In fact, you definitely don’t want to promote a product to him about that.

He’s not clicking on those. That’s not his jam. What you’ve learned about him is he came to you allegedly for productivity, but really what he came to you for was time management. And then every time you email him about health and fitness, it’s actually just lowering your open rates and your click-through rates, which is penalizing you or penalizing you, depending upon where you’re from, but it’s penalizing you in terms of your deliverability long term, not only just to him but to everyone. So the more fine-tuned we can get, we hear about like, well, my open rate is only 14%, my click-through rate is 1. 7%.

Well, the easiest way to double both of those is to eliminate half of your stuff to half of your people.

Robby: Definitely, and I’ve done that. My average open rate on my personal stuff right now is about 40%, which is really unheard of, but it’s because it’s very targeted. I only send people what they want. But if you don’t have that kind of segmenting like I said, the copy you use can help people segment on their own because they’ll choose to click through, they’ll choose to open those emails, and that’s how you build your segmenting from the ground up.

Matt: Let’s park there for just a second. Actually, we’ll get back into the topic, but I think this is important.

One of the easiest ways to begin to do some basic segmenting is when you send we don’t do this a lot. We do this some I’m trying to think of some examples. It doesn’t matter. We do this on some of our stuff where when we send an email out, like, okay, we’ll send an email out about, we know we’re going to be sending a lot of emails out coming up. For example, we’ve got a series on how to run your affiliate program during the holidays on each of those emails that we send out, because we’ll be emailing a lot like three or four times a week about that specific topic. At the bottom, we’ll say something like PS, if you don’t want to hear any more about the Ultimate Guide, whatever, we haven’t even named the thing yet.

But basically, if we don’t want to hear any more about how to run your affiliate program during the holidays, just click here. We won’t send you any more about this. And the cool thing is that allows us to remove that person from that segment. Well, if you don’t want to know how to run your affiliate program during the holidays, there’s a better-than-average history. You don’t care about how to run your affiliate program at all. You’re not at that level yet.

Now, the cool thing is, over time we can take that person and say, hey, if you don’t want to hear any more about whatever, how to recruit affiliates, click here. Now, they’ve said that they don’t care. Okay, well, a few months later, if you don’t care anymore about how to motivate your affiliates, just click here and they click that.

Now, sunburned on my neck yesterday, and it’s itching like crazy. Now, I love getting sunburned in October in Indiana, by the way. But now they take that and we’ve established they’re not interested in this. Now, if they stay on our list for a couple of years, we’re hoping that we get them to that point. So we can’t never email them anything about running an affiliate program. We’re just going to email them a lot less and we’re going to make sure that they have that opt-out.

And it’s like if they click three months later, they click an opt-out, boom. They’re not getting any affiliate stuff about running an affiliate program for four months. Four months later, they come out and boom, they click it again. And they’re not getting anything for four months. And you can do that with your people because it’s great to know because I’m going to bombard you with that information. But if you stay and you don’t click that, I know that you want it. And so, of course, open rates and click-through rates go up, which is really cool. So enough about segmenting.

The lesson here is that we couldn’t segment. We didn’t have a friggin clue how to segment this. And so it wasn’t one of those things where we could be like, okay, only email these people. Only email these people. Now we do some basic segmenting. Just to be clear, I think we only sent it to people who’d been on our list for X. Number of days. Robby, I think X was probably about 45. More than 45, give or take.

Robby: It was, yeah, between two and two and three months, I think.

Matt: Okay, so at least two to three months. I knew you couldn’t keep a straight face, and neither could I. So inside joke, inside baseball there for you, Donna. One of my pet peeves is when people say at least, and then offer a range so it’s become a joke in the company. So at least two to three months? No, it’s at least two months. That would be the least. All right, so that’s your English lesson for the day.

So how do we mitigate all this? Well, I’m going to read through a couple of emails here. I’m going to share my screen, make sure I’m sharing the right one. All right, Robby, can you confirm that this is what we’re I can see it. Okay, cool. So let me move this over here. I know they can’t see this. They won’t see you. But I don’t want to see you right now. That’s mean.

All right, so like I said, subject line, we always split test subject lines anytime an email doesn’t have to go out at a specific time. You should split test subject lines. You should split-test content if you can. Split-test everything with ConvertKit. We love this because they make it super easy and basically 4 hours. So it sends to 30% of the list, which means only 15% of your list is getting the unoptimized subject line. 85% of your list will get the better subject line. And over time, you can begin to learn stuff. We can begin to learn certain patterns of what’s going to work a little bit better.

We’ll learn just all kinds of stuff about what’s going to work best to get more opens. But at the very least, if subject A gets a 16% open rate and subject B gets a 19%, we got 3% more on 85% of our audience, which is huge. So the two subject lines, this might break the Internet lol, not for everyone, but might be for you. And I’ve already read this beginning here. I say they have a unique style, which might not be your style, but if you’ve been struggling to get your online business started, I encourage you to check out what they’re doing and see if it might be for you.

Now, we’re actually going to include these emails. They’ll be below this video. I think Robby’s just going to literally take this doc here and export it as a PDF and give it to you guys. So you’ll have these just so you can see. I just want to walk through these, but now I go into actually what they’re offering. The key here is want you to check out what they’re doing and see if it might be for you.

So there’s actually an element there that’s really valuable. I don’t necessarily say this is a great thing. I don’t even say that I encourage you to register for it. I just encourage you to see if it might be for you. So there’s a curiosity factor. Curiosity did not kill the cat. Curiosity got people to click. Curiosity is huge. The Zeigarnik Effect. Z-E-I-G-A-R-N-I-K  I believe I spelled that right. Look it up. It’s amazing. Like this open loop site. So it’s like, wait, is this for me?

Then I talk about a little bit about what it’s for. You’re going to finally have your own online business. Seriously, they’re going to walk you, blah, blah, blah. You’re not just going to be learning, you’re going to be doing. They gave me a preview of the process, and it’s so easy. So again, a little bit of social proof there. You don’t need any tech skills or specialized knowledge, blah, blah, blah.

Now, again, I fully acknowledge their style might not be your thing, but register and watch with an open mind. What might not be my thing? Why might not be my thing? What is it? Like? There’s a curiosity factor, right? And that’s huge. That curiosity factor is huge.

So here’s another one. Starts tomorrow. Confirm your registration or reservation. The way we styled this, made it look like a calendar invite, kind of. And so step one, open this email. Check. Congratulations, funeral. Pause. Step two, we go through there. Now, again, here. Warning, Davin and Chad aren’t for everyone, but if you go into it with an open mind and look for opportunities to learn from this masterclass will be more than worth your time.

So again, I’m acknowledging the thing up front. Like, the last thing I want to do is send somebody to something like this and have them just go, wait, that’s not my style. I can’t believe Matt sent me to this. Doesn’t matter what style it is. Doesn’t have to be Internet flashy or anything. Like, just, I can’t believe that he sent me to this. What is he thinking?

Robby: This doesn’t match at all.

Matt: Yeah, it’s just really off-braided. I’m kind of offended. Or if they’re somewhat new, they’ve only been on it for three months. You’re like, Wait, I thought Matt was I didn’t think Matt was like this. Apparently, he’s just like all the rest. I’m out. I’m going to unsubscribe. And we don’t want that. So I acknowledge it on the front end. Now, if you scroll down here, I talk about what they’ll learn, blah, blah, blah. But here’s the part where I actually kind of soften it. I actually used to be in a private Mastermind with Davin. Spent hours learning from him. Just one tip that he mentioned one day has been worth tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to me.

So think, well, could three days with him be worth you? This is the part where I humanize him. I remind people when I say, my friend Davin, I’m not like, because it’s in the Swipe copy. That’s not it. No, literally, we’ve hung out in this group. I mean gosh. I can’t even tell you how many messages we’ve exchanged and things like that over the years, and I’ve learned a ton from him. That’s helped me. That’s what we did with those emails. Again, just pointing out again, we’ll give you the full email so you guys can add those to your swipe file, but if you ever have anything like that, that you’re promoting, that’s how you do it. Just acknowledging it on the front end is the most important thing. Robby, any last thoughts on that? Yes, you do.

Robby: Yeah, I was going to say acknowledging it that way is a really good way to stop people from unsubscribing from you before it happens. Right? Because they’re not going into this email thinking, you know what, I’m done with Matt. I’m so sick of, like, they’re going into it genuinely curious. You’re upfront with them, and we give them the option to opt-out. So the chance of somebody unsubscribing in those instances is much lower than other email campaigns.

Matt: It’s almost as though if they did decide it wasn’t for them, they went, well, he did say.

Robby: Yeah, exactly.

Matt: I’m not saying, See, I told you so. That’s not it. It’s just that, oh, yeah, he did say. And again, the whole point about going into it with an open mind, and so this applies in any niche.

If you’re in the parenting niche and there’s someone out there who maybe deals with a specific niche, I’m just going to make something up. You’re teaching general parenting, but somebody out there is teaching you how to deal with autistic children. And you may say, ‘Hey, listen, some of so and so’s methods are considered controversial, and they might not work in your specific situation,’ but if you go into it with an open mind, you’re nullifying.

You’re not saying, I endorse everything about them. And I fully acknowledge that her methods might not work for every single parent. I don’t know if you’re in the nutrition niche or, let’s say, the overall fitness niche, and you say, Listen, if you’re a man over 40, you might want to check out this guy.

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Now, some of what he teaches might not work for every man over 40, but it’s worked for a lot of like, I know a lot of our clients, it’s worked for them and blah, blah, blah. So go into it with an open mind. See what you can learn. Register for a free Master class and learn from them. And if you decide it’s not for you, that’s totally cool. So if you go into it with that angle, acknowledging up front. This is not for everyone, and in fact, it might not be for you. I think it really just nullifies any ill will that might get past you.

I will say this. We only heard good things about this. I will say one of the we were talking to a guy who’s actually now a client, and he said, Robby, you were on that call. Yeah, you were.

Robby: I was.

Matt: And he was like, I love that email you sent saying, this might not be for everyone. He was like, that was a really cool way of doing that. And so, yeah, you can totally do it. It comes across in a positive way. We heard good things from the master class. But here’s the thing. I think anybody that maybe didn’t get a lot out of it or couldn’t get past the style, they didn’t report back to us and say, I’m mad at you. They just were like, oh, guess I’ll move on.

Robby: Nope, not my style.

Matt: That’s how you do it, guys. It was a little different this month because we wanted to address this specific thing that we know comes up a lot.

So if there’s something out there where maybe it’s not the perfect fit, first of all, ask, does it violate the first rule of affiliate marketing? Is the product good? Do you believe in the product? Do you believe that it will work for a large percentage of your audience? If so, okay. Step two, how can you mitigate any potential I won’t say the word damage necessarily, but how can you mitigate any of those factors and do so on the front end? Make sure that you do so on the front end. That’s the important part.


All right, I hope you have come to the conclusion that it did not violate the first rule.

Different cultural fit, a little bit of a stretch, but we found ways to make it work. So I would love to hear from you what your biggest takeaway was from this, either from an affiliate perspective or an affiliate management perspective. Text me at 260-217-4619. I would love to hear from you on what you got out of this episode.

Lastly, as always, make sure you hit subscribe because, in the next episode, you do not want to miss it. I’m talking with my friend Jessica Turner from The Mom Creative, and we’re going to talk about how to leverage affiliate manager relationships.

So for those of you working with affiliates, you definitely want to listen up to how you can collaborate better with your affiliates, and the reverse is true. How can you get more from the affiliate managers you work with? So make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss that episode.

I’ll see you then.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

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