Carlos Cruz, CEO of Clicktool, is an online marketing expert and ad tech veteran with over 16 years of experience. With a passion for understanding how brands connect with consumers, Carlos led the marketing efforts for Vertical Marketing LLC and has since followed an entrepreneurial path with marketing always at his core.
Let’s start with an intro to who you are and your company.
My name is Carlos Cruz, and I am the CEO of Clicktool, which is a digital marketing toolkit designed to support marketers in tracking campaigns and maximizing ROI. I’ve always been passionate about understanding how brands connect with consumers, so marketing is at the core of everything I do.
What problem does Clicktool seek to solve?
I created Clicktool because I wanted to offer better online data tracking and marketing solutions. The effectiveness of marketing campaigns relies on how well marketers can target ads to their audience. Clicktool supports digital marketers in improving the effectiveness of their campaigns by offering an easy-to-navigate campaign management platform with in-depth data insights, tracking that does not flag traffic sources like Google and Facebook by avoiding redirects, tools to conduct marketing experiments, and one-of-a-kind phone campaign data tracking.
How is Clicktool distinct from other data tracking tools?
One key aspect that differentiates Clicktool from other data tracking tools out there is that Clicktool tracks ad traffic for digital and phone campaigns without redirects, empowering digital marketers to test the effectiveness of different landing pages without risk of being flagged by publishers.
What are the least understood aspects of affiliate marketing?
I would say that affiliate marketing is sometimes seen as a “get rich quick” scheme, when it actually entails a lot of strategic planning and intentional work. Successful affiliate marketers are constantly optimizing their ads, and analyzing data to see how they can increase conversions via different social media strategies, content creation, and communication channels.
How would you breakdown the affiliate marketing process for someone who’s just looking to get started?
- Find a niche
- Find an affiliate network
- Create great content
- Produce convincing marketing
- Test and optimize your ads and landing pages
What are some best practices for each of these steps in the affiliate marketing process?
When it comes to finding a niche, make sure your chosen market is in an area you are passionate about and it’s not already oversaturated with affiliate marketers. Find an affiliate network that offers favorable returns but also support (the relationship should feel collaborative as opposed to hierarchical). Focus on creating content that is educational, informative, and offers solutions to the problems facing your audience. Be sure to communicate clearly and concisely. In order to funnel visitors to your site, your marketing and ads should be precisely targeted with both copy and visuals directed to your audience. For the best results use A/B testing to discover which ad targeting methodologies are most effective in generating returns. Being able to adapt your strategy based on insights gleaned from experimentation is what separates the most successful affiliate marketers from the rest.
Any particular advise on how to engage young people?
Using social media is one of the best ways to target Millenials and Gen Z. One of the most efficient ways to gain more followers or even increase clicks on a certain piece of content, is to run paid search to your Instagram page through Google Adwords. The best way to do this is to continuously analyze your conversion rate and budget, and then execute your keyword research properly. The benefit to this strategy is that it’s a form of native advertising, so this paid search link will appear as an organic search result, thus earning you clicks from searchers.
Facebook Ads, one of the most targeted ads to exist currently, is affordable for beginner affiliates and effective for even the most experienced. The display of text and image ads appear on Facebook newsfeeds and sidebars of your most targeted demographics. Because these ads are able to be targeted by demographics like age, location, gender, even profession, they provide significantly strong results at minimal cost.
A study conducted by Envision Creative found that around 90% of 18 to 29 year-olds interact with social media in some way, shape, or form. It follows that success with millenials equals a continued need for staying up to date with new social media marketing trends. When targeting younger demographics as an affiliate, think about launching incentive programs for those customers who refer others to your business or product. These pseudo “loyalty programs” serve as extremely effective digital, word-of-mouth campaigns. Also consider offering discounted services or products for promotion on social media.
What are common mistakes made by affiliate marketers?
In my opinion, the top three mistakes often made by affiliate marketers all have one thing in common and it is not thinking about the customers. The first common mistake is to not do enough testing of campaign strategy. Successful affiliates don’t just blindly trust that their ads and landing pages are effectively sending visitors to their sites and resulting in product purchases. It’s important to double and triple check using data analytics platforms (like Clicktool) to experiment with the effectiveness of different ads and landing pages.
The next common mistake is not picking a specific niche and sticking to it. It’s common for affiliates to get distracted by a new and shiny trend or product. But it is essential to pick a niche that is not already oversaturated, zoom in on the trends there, and create consistent content of great quality on the subject. Ignore everything else zooming by that will only be a distraction from your primary product. Affiliate marketing takes a lot of time, patience and focus on reaching your goal. Letting what other people are doing distract you from your goal will not help you achieve success as an affiliate.
Lastly, failing to monetize your site from the get-go is a novice mistake. The investment of time and energy is too great not to set yourself up to garner a return on investment right away. Focus on creating stellar campaigns that generate interest, and, ultimately, affiliate sales.