What selling rubber willies taught me about conversion principles

Way back in the early 2000’s I had one of the best initiations into learning about online conversion that there is, running a 7 figure business that relied entirely on affiliate commissions.

I was building a 2 million-name email list, and profited from it only when I made a sale or a lead for one of my clients.

I ran deals in online retail, market research, gambling, travel, just about anything. We had a huge pool of data on each of the contacts on our lists and would be sending out multiple targeted emails campaigns each day across the list.

There’s no better way to learn what does and doesn’t turn traffic into sales.

But one of the biggest lessons I ever learned was from a side project I set up after a night out.

Much of the UK affiliate industry back then ran at “Get Togethers”. Basically an agency would put up a four figure bar tab, invite the advertisers and publishers along, and a lot of business would get done.

Near the end of one of these events, a slightly inebriated PR agent for Ann Summers let slip that they were releasing a new version of their famous Rampant Rabbit vibrator.

I managed to secure a suitable domain name, threw up a single page website with some images she gave me, and got it ranked #1 in Google for the product name, ahead of its launch. (don’t bother asking how I did that bit, this isn’t a lesson in SEO, and in any case it wouldn’t work today).

The product was released and I started making  consistent commissions from people who had visited my site and bought the product.

£5, £5, £5, the payments dropped in hour after hour and I was pretty pleased with my results.

After about a week I got a call from the head of marketing at one of Ann Summers competitors who told me they had the exact same product, from the same factory in China, price £5 less and with a free shipping offer. They couldn’t use the “Rampant Rabbit” brand but it was obvious this was the same product.

I tweaked my site and started sending half my traffic to them. What happened next was an absolute eye opener.

The commissions were all over the place.

£1.12, £9, £23, £3.22. The numbers were all over the place, but I was making way more money off the exact same traffic.

I called my contact at Lovehoney, and he wasn’t surprised.

“Yeah, we’re a bit cheaper to start with but we’re way better at selling other products, and getting people to come back again more often”.

That was it.

They’d just focussed on making each sale bigger and making the sakes more frequent, and they were killing it.

All the fluff that Ann Summers had given me about “the strength of their brand” wasn’t enough to compete with these guys.

The “MAPPED Method” contains a breakdown of exactly how Lovehoney had set themselves up for success against the only high street brand in their sector.

If you want to know more about how to build a rock solid marketing foundation for your business, get yourself on the VIP list when “The Mapped Method” opens up.

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