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How I'm NOT making money with HotelsCombined.com affiliate program

Discussion in 'General Marketing' started by 123Hotels, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. #1
    Hi


    I am not new to affiliate marketing. I used to make plenty of money on poker/casino affiliate programs using SEO. But now that doesnt work for me anymore and I decided to move on to the next thing, the travel industry.


    I bought the domain name 123Hotels.com for 6000 USD in November 2011 and registered as a HotelsCombined.com affiliate.


    For those of you that dont know, HotelsCombined.com offers an awesome affiliate program where you can get a private label solution and integrate it into your brand. Its basically a hotel price comparison search engine and they pay around $0.5-2 per click to merchant sites like Hotels.com, Booking.com, ect. In other words, a great affiliate program! So kudos to them ;)


    I am currently making about $200 CPM on the site which is freaking amazing if you ask me. The only problem is that I don't get any traffic!! I get around 100 uniques a day which results in approx. $20 daily.


    So my big question is, how the hell do I get targeted traffic to this site? I am trying to brand it via Facebook, but I don't really see any results of it after spending $100-200 daily on ads for the last 6 months.. The results of that is maybe 40-50 direct type-ins a day. My hope/vision is that eventually the brand will be strong enough to carry it self, but it is taking too long and I am looking for ways to get more traffic.
    SEMrush

    I also tried CPC in Google but the competition there in hotel booking keywords is insane! $2-3 dollars a click made me pay around $10 for every $1 I made back on my website.


    One thing that sucks with this white label affiliate program is that they don't allow SEO. They have blocked the Google bot with robots.txt or something because Google doesn't index my site. The reason, they say, is because they don't want to compete with their own content which is understandable. So that leaves SEO out of the strategy.


    I have also started a blog, only to find out that I have no idea how to write good blog posts. hehe


    So how can I get traffic in other ways? Any tips will be greatly appreciated!


    Thanks!


    Dan
     
    123Hotels, Jun 1, 2012 IP
    SEMrush
  2. matt_62

    matt_62 Notable Member

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    #2
    im surprised you paid $6000 for that domain name when there is soo many names that are still available. If it was me, i would have purchased 123findhotels.com and spent the remaining $5990 on advertising.
    Not to be overly harsh, but Im just wondering how many people make it past your landing page and actually use the site. It might be worth your while to have it professionally designed before you try advertising for more traffic. Just my thoughts.
     
    matt_62, Jun 2, 2012 IP
  3. pnkupnku

    pnkupnku Peon

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    #3
    You will need to buy some immpressions based advertising or you should self advertise you website by some way.... better is to buy cheaper advertising solutions than your earnings so that there could be a margin money..... main advertising for websites comes from google universally but in your case that is an exception...!!

    yep, another solution is to buy a domain that is already #1 on google but i won;t recommend that as that would be so much costly and bad for economic conditions of your project

    ----1 Personal recommendation is post replies to some Yahoo Answers and post the complete url as reference site in your replies... yahoo is indexed on hourly bases as i guess,(even in my case first link of my website came online on google by yahoo in just few minutes ater posting the replies, )

    check what happend in my case....
    search google for teachcode.co.cc you will see
     
    pnkupnku, Jun 2, 2012 IP
  4. tonymicheal

    tonymicheal Peon

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    #4
    When it comes to this type of business (hotel industry) you need to be on your "marketing toes".
    Were aren't talking just simple PPC ads or CPM here. Your talking about BRANDING, which in my
    opinion--is a whole other ball game.

    Your best bet is to brand yourself on facebook and twitter etc.
     
    tonymicheal, Jun 2, 2012 IP
  5. alexsgs

    alexsgs Peon Affiliate Manager

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    #5
    I guess you should switch to something that is more popular... for instance in Czech Republic people use booking.com and hrs.com, probably you should switch to their programs... we are using their affiliates at our travel web-site www.euroout.com
     
    alexsgs, Jun 2, 2012 IP
  6. 123Hotels

    123Hotels Peon

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    #6
    Wow, thanks for all the replies guys :) Appreciate it

    Well my logic is this: A domain like 123Hotels.com is ALOT more likely to be remembered by repeating customers. I want to build a brand around it and it just wouldnt be the same with 123findhotels.com. With my domain all the customers has to remember 123, right? Because they already know its hotel related. So 123Hotels.com make sense. It also has the sound of a brand. Hotels.com is better but of course, taken. If you ask me, 123Hotels.com is the best hotel domain out there that is not yet developed. Prove me wrong if you can find something better.

    About the design; I love it. But that doesnt mean everyone else loves it. The idea behind it is that it will be a simple and user friendly site to use and thats why I designed it the way I did. Maybe I got it wrong. Anyone else here who thinks the design sucks? I might improve the design later.

    Yes the key is of course to buy advertising that costs less then I earn off the ads. Which makes the advertising free. But thats hard to find. I tried a couple, but most of the ads costs more then I earn back. I will keep looking of course keep looking for great deals on advertising.

    I actually tried Yahoo Answers by replying to people asking for hotel deals in different locations. But after a few posts I got flagged by a user and short after I was banned. I tried to send an email to Yahoo but the email address they provided in the termination email didnt exist (nice work Yahoo). I dont understand why I was banned. I didnt just shout out my website, I actually went and found a great hotel that suited their need and posted a link to the hotel.

    Yes, branding is what I am trying to learn and understand. I am currently displaying ads on Facebook with a logo so people can get to know my brand. After 6 months I have only seen a little improvement in my income but nothing much. It definitely work, but its really a slow process.

    I dont think that really matter, because its a private label affiliate. This means that the end-user dont see HotelsCombined logo anywhere anyways. The page looks like its built from scratch and not a affiliate site.
     
    123Hotels, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  7. jimbo159

    jimbo159 Peon

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    #7
    Social media is huge these days. Focus on building a professional brand image on Facebook, Twitter etc etc. Build up likes, followers. Offer users something of value, therefore encouraging them to come to the site. Personally I like the domain name, I can see where you coming from in terms of customers remembering the name in the future. It has a strong brand image feel.

    How about creating some web 2.0 blogs and posting articles/content to these. Then driving the traffic towards your domain?

    You can outsource your content/blog posts for cheap. It may take a few tries to find a decent writer, but once you have found one it could become a constant stream of fresh, unique content that your users want to read.

    Have you thought of trying other 2nd tier PPC networks? Such as Bidvertiser, Adclickmedia etc etc? You can get really cheap 0.05c clicks and if you split test properly these can convert nicely.
     
    jimbo159, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  8. 123Hotels

    123Hotels Peon

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    #8
    Hi there

    I am currently using Facebook and Twitter (also signed up for G+ today) as a marketing tool trying to build brand awareness. It is taking some time but its probably worth it in the long run. I just can't decide whats more important, paying for Facebook likes or paying for Facebook advertising (just link directly to my site). What do you think will have the best impact? If I build likes then more people will be reminded of 123Hotels.com as I post updates on Facebook for as long as they like our brand there. If I send them directly to 123Hotels.com they will get an experience with my site directly. Although, the bounce rate from Facebook is over 80% compared to 60% overall. I think I just answered my own question hehe, but please let me know what you think as well.

    I have actually opened a blog at blog.123hotels.com and have the grand total of one (small) blog post. I am not a creative writer so the idea of outsourcing it might be a good idea. If I can find blog posts for $10-20 I might be able to post 3-5 new posts a day, making it a blog worth reading. Do you have any tips on where to find good blog writers?

    I havent tried 2nd tier PPC networks. Isn't the big names present there? How about the traffic? Any good? I will definitely check it out :)

    Thanks a lot for your feedback
     
    123Hotels, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  9. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #9
    It's not a bad website, but yes, it lacks professionalism. I think you're not making money because a) you have a huge bounce rate (I am just guessing). b) you should definitely push your site on craigslist, AdWords and some other free and paid sites/programs. But before you do it, redo the design. Check out some top travel website to get designing ideas from them.

    I am not trying to be harsh either, I just think you will benefit tremendously if you upgrade your design. I just typed "travel css templates" and this is the site it brought up. I think the templates there look good. But you can find even better designs if you do more search: http://www.beautifullife.info/web-design/15-best-free-travel-templates/
     
    qwikad.com, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  10. 123Hotels

    123Hotels Peon

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    #10

    You know what, I think you are right.. It does lack a little professionalism and I will consider it re-done. But on the other hand, do you think it matters alot to the user? What do you think is most valued, good user experience/easy to understand or great design?
     
    123Hotels, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  11. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #11
    Well, we are all spoiled by great website designs. I mean, most travel websites have this certain look to them (usually saturated with nice, bright images like a sunny beach or something) that anything other than that looks kind of blah. Check out http://www.orbitz.com/ and then quickly switch to http://123hotels.com and I think it will pretty much answer your question. Don't worry about people understanding or not understanding where the stuff is. If you place it in the right places they will figure it out.
     
    qwikad.com, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  12. Wildfire71

    Wildfire71 Greenhorn

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    #12
    Yup you need to consider that most ppl booking are going on holidays so they want that feeling when they book it, not a boring business site that doesn't excite them. I just started a similar site called tripvelocity.com and I know it needs work but is more inviting than what you presently haveand it cost me just the domain name. Geez I can't get over you paid 6 geez for it. I truly hope you make your money back mate.
     
    Wildfire71, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  13. JerrickYeoh

    JerrickYeoh Active Member

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    #13
    It too competitive in this field which you cannot base on organic traffic only.
    You may partner with those hotel , airline , tourism website of exchange link . The other option will be get traffic from tourism forum and blog, ofcourse do try social media to get traffic as well.
     
    JerrickYeoh, Jun 4, 2012 IP
  14. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #14
    He can get traffic by listing it in the biz section of craigslist. People are looking for cheap travel deals on it.
     
    qwikad.com, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  15. 123Hotels

    123Hotels Peon

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    #15
    Am I allowed to post hotel deals at CraigsList? What category should I post in? Can someone send a link?

    Anybody had any great experiences with promoting at CL?
     
    123Hotels, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  16. Affonte Therapy

    Affonte Therapy Peon

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    #16
    Think you could have quite a bit more call to buy on the initial page, what makes it different from any other holiday company? especially if your brand is new, some sort of offer? something eye catching ?
     
    Affonte Therapy, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  17. qwikad.com

    qwikad.com Illustrious Member Affiliate Manager

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    #17
    Try their SERVICES category. Post in small business and travel/vacation. You may need to verify your account via a cell phone to post there, I believe. Don't over post though. You can list your special deals for NY city, LA, Dallas, etc. providing links relevant to those cities. I think it should do well for you.
     
    qwikad.com, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  18. cfox498

    cfox498 Peon

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    #18
    I've got the same problem. This is an affiliate site for hotelscombined as well this is a great thread and it gave me some good ideas thank you all. Check out my design http://www.FindHotelcenter.com I like your domain better, but this one only cost me $80 USD
     
    cfox498, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  19. cfox498

    cfox498 Peon

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    #19
    Thanks for your info I just placed a featured ad for FindHotelCenter.com on your site qwikad.com, Can you look at it and give me any additional tips how to improve it.
     
    cfox498, Jun 5, 2012 IP
  20. readezarchive

    readezarchive Active Member

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    #20
    I like your domain and think it will make a HUGE difference down the road once you start earning a sufficient income from the site. It will make the difference between a million dollar site and a 100,000 dollar site so good job on that.

    It stinks you can't use SEO, but I would just put your link out on as many sites as possible and advertise the heck out of it. It converts well so get the traffic flowing.
     
    readezarchive, Jun 5, 2012 IP