AWA 2017 Interview Series: Charles Ngo
Affiliate World Asia was simply one of the hottest events of 2017.
The Mobidea Crew had a blast talking with affiliate marketers from all over the globe.
But the best thing about having the privilege of being Diamond Sponsors of Affiliate World Asia 2017?
The fact that we got to interview some of the brightest lights in the affiliate marketing universe!
One of them is Charles Ngo, a master that knows the game through and through.
Ready to check an amazing interview with Charles?
Check the video!
Are you a bookworm who prefers reading words?
Charles Ngo Interview at AWA 2017
1. Tell Us About Yourself
My name is Charles Ngo.
I’m a 33 year-old affiliate marketer from New York City.
A lot of people know who I am from my blog and I also do a lot of teaching for affiliate marketing.
Right now, I’m running a lot of campaigns and I also have my training courses.
I released a pretty big newbie guide called “The Ultimate Guide for Affiliate Marketing”.
That was one of my big projects this year.
It is designed like a course and I give it away for free to help beginners learn affiliate marketing.
2. What’s the Motivation to Help People?
My motivation for helping people…I wrote my blog for free for several years before I ever started offering training.
Making money is great.
But what else do you contribute to the world besides just making money?
I love sharing knowledge.
A lot of people would never do it.
That’s why there aren’t a lot of blogs out there.
But with me I find that – by giving away information and helping people – it keeps me sharp because, when you teach people, you understand affiliate marketing better.
By constantly teaching people, I feel this pressure to keep learning and keep growing.
There’s a lot of “make money online” guys that do workshops, courses and stuff.
There’s always been.
Even before me.
I think what separates me from the others is that a lot of my marketing is not “drive this really cool car” or “make all this money.”
I like to help people for free.
If they get a lot of value from that free information I want them to think “wow, if this free information is this good, how good will the paid information be!”
I do have my courses but I’m not like:
“Hey, if you do it you’re gonna be a millionaire!”
3. What is the Best Strategy for a Newbie?
If I were a newbie in 2018, what would I be doing?
I think that – honestly – a big part of it has to do with your budget.
If you have a really small budget, that limits the kind of campaigns you can run.
Because if I say something like:
“You should run skin.”
Well, you can run skin on mobile.
You can run skin on PPV.
You can run skin on Facebook.
You can run skin on Native Ads.
It’s more important to think about what are the traffic sources to focus on.
And I think that – in 2018 – I would definitely focus on either mobile or Facebook traffic.
4. Biggest Challenge for an Affiliate Marketer
There are so many challenges.
I started a long time ago, in 2009.
I remember that – back then – running campaigns wasn’t so complicated.
I wouldn’t even have trackers back then.
When I launched, there just wasn’t a lot of stuff I had to do to launch a campaign.
I just launched.
I didn’t have to worry about setting up a tracker.
I didn’t have to worry about load speeds.
I didn’t have to worry about optimizing for mobile.
I think the biggest challenge for affiliates right now is just to focus on activities that make money.
What I mean by that is that it’s very easy to get caught up in reading.
It’s very easy to get caught up in bright shiny object syndrome.
You wanna do mobile but then there’s E-Commerce but then you hear guys are making money in Nutra.
The biggest challenge is to stay focused.
Stay focused on just launching campaigns because it’s very easy to fall into the trap of “I’m just gonna keep reading. I’m gonna network. I’m gonna search all the Facebook groups.”
At the end of the day, you just have to learn by launching campaigns.
That’s the biggest challenge.
And also I think that it costs a little more money to be successful in affiliate marketing now.
Not only do you have to have the servers, but you’ve gotta spend money on a spy tool.
You’ve gotta spend money on testing.
You’ve gotta spend money on trackers.
I do think that the barrier to enter is getting a little bit higher.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible to make money.
It’s just different.
You need to adapt to the current environment.
I always consider myself an optimist.
Yeah, there’s different barriers to entry.
However, because there are spy tools, because the technology is better and because there are better tracking systems now, I like to focus on why it’s easier to make money in some ways.
There’s a lot more opportunity now.
Back then, I remember in certain time periods, people only did Adult.
Or people only did Nutra.
But now, you can make money on mobile.
You can make money in Native.
You can make money in E-Commerce.
There’s just so many opportunities.
Even though that’s an opportunity, that can also be a downfall, if you cannot focus.
5. What Skills are Needed to Become a Super Affiliate?
I think that the rule number one in marketing is that you have to have basic copywriting.
You have to have basic copywriting and understand how to brainstorm angles.
Number two is analysis:
You have all this data – can you look at the data and understand the story that it’s trying to tell?
If you’re making money every single day and all of a sudden your profits drop, can you analyze the data and see “Oh, is it because it’s Friday or is it because the CTR has dropped?”
You have to look at the data and understand.
You have to have good problem-solving skills.
A lot of people – when they have issues in affiliate marketing – they hope someone can give them the answer.
But the problem is:
How can someone give you the answer if they don’t know what’s going on with your campaign?
You can say like:
“Hey, I think I have a landing page problem but is it really a landing page problem?”
A lot of times you have a problem.
Let’s just say something like Facebook did something to your account.
No one knows the answer to that because 100 different things happened.
Can you sit down and do problem-solving?
Finally, I would probably say…just the ability to adapt.
Affiliate marketing is changing all the time and a lot of people are just not accustomed to a business that changes so fast because some people…maybe you’re coming from a restaurant business.
The restaurant business has been the same for the past thirty years.
But if you’re in an environment that’s constantly changing, that which was hot last month it’s not so hot this month.
Or all these competitors start coming in.
Can you start adapting?
Facebook made a big change.
Can you adapt?
6. How to Deal with Changes?
I never like to say…I never agreed with the whole “something is getting harder.”
I like to think that it’s changing.
And if people are promoting something and the market is inefficient, you’re promoting offers that don’t have Terms & Conditions or you’re promoting something that’s obviously a scam, you have to understand that it’s easy for a reason:
It’s not following the rules.
What happens over time is that now things are becoming more compliant and the industry matures.
I think that, as this industry matures, you have to start thinking:
“What are you doing that every other affiliate isn’t doing?”
You have to start to really think about what’s your competitive advantage or what’s your competitive edge.
A lot of people think that you can just go to a spy tool.
You can download a landing page, start running it and maybe you can make money.
But what’s stopping a thousand other people from doing the exact same thing?
You have to start thinking about what’s your competitive advantage.
Some of the top affiliates are building their own internal tools or maybe some of them are working with the advertiser to get more data on the handsets and start data converting.
As the industry is changing, you have to start thinking about what is your competitive advantage and you just can’t copy and paste campaigns or put in the bare effort.
Because if you’re putting in 10 hours a week of work and someone else is putting in 40 hours a week, how can you compete?
You can complain all you want that it’s changing or that it’s becoming more difficult but that’s not gonna do anything.
7. Traffic Strategies
There’s a lot of things you can do.
Number one is that you have to understand why traffic is becoming more expensive.
It’s because a lot of these advertisers before – let’s say Amazon or Netflix – these big corporate companies, they didn’t really know how to advertise.
Now they understand how to advertise.
They’re becoming better advertisers.
They’re working with better agencies.
They’re buying more efficiently.
Of course prices are gonna rise.
There are more affiliates entering the space.
It’s kind of natural that traffic prices rise.
A few things that they can do?
There’s a lot of different traffic sources out there.
Within the old traffic source, there are ways to find cheaper traffic.
Can you negotiate with the traffic source to get cheaper traffic?
Can you buy at a flat rate?
Or perhaps you’re only doing video ads.
There’s different types of traffic sources.
There’s the pop up.
There’s the banner.
You can do that.
Or maybe the traffic sources are rising because you’re really focused on a particular country or a particular GEO.
Maybe you can try a different country.
Maybe it has cheaper pricing.
But I think that in terms of levers, traffic price is only one lever that affects profitability.
Maybe you can start thinking:
“How can I make more money?”
What that means is yes, your prices may be increasing but maybe you can improve your landing page.
Maybe you can find a better offer.
Or maybe just rethink the whole affiliate business model.
Or maybe there are ways for you to keep the data and monetize the data somehow.
8. Tools & Resources
There are a lot of different tools out there.
Number one is obviously the spy tool.
AdPlexity is really good.
Another thing I like to do is I like to do audience and offer research.
Another tool I really like to use is Facebook Audience Insights.
Even if you’re not a Facebook Marketer, it doesn’t matter.
You can type in the vertical.
Let’s say you’re targeting iPhone users.
You’re trying to search the pages, search iPhone users in the Audience Tool and see what else do they like.
You can find sister angles or cousin angles.
Those tools are really good.
9. Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
The same mistakes people were making 10 years ago are the same mistakes people are making now.
The number one biggest mistake I’ve seen is bright shiny object syndrome.
I’ve seen people that are making 500$ a day in Native Ads and then instead of scaling up on Native Ads they hear that E-Commerce is hot and then they jump over to E-Commerce.
You already make money in something.
It’s 10 times easier to scale that which you’re already making money in.
I feel that it’s very interesting because I talk to a lot of affiliates.
A lot of affiliates are jealous of E-Commerce guys, a lot of E-Commerce guys are jealous of affiliates.
A lot of Amazon guys are jealous of SEO, a lot of SEO guys are jealous of affiliates.
It feels like everyone just thinks their own business model is the worst.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
One big mistake I notice a lot of affiliates make is that they don’t understand the concept of statistical significance.
And I’m not just talking in terms of data.
But just because you launch a campaign…you know you can do everything right and it may not make money.
It’s kind of like poker.
I may have pocket aces.
Someone else may have pocket deuce.
We go all in.
That person that has pocket deuce may win.
There’s a two percent chance they’re gonna win, but they may win.
I’ve seen some people that do everything right, they lose, and then they think they had a bad strategy when it was actually the right strategy.
My point is:
I’ve seen a lot of people that do Facebook and they did everything right but then the campaign didn’t make any money.
The way Facebook works is you can launch the ads but because the initial audience that they showed it to was really bad…and then they give up on the campaign when they should have just launched it a few more times.
There’s a lot of…there can be a lot of inconsistencies in affiliate marketing.
I notice that people are maybe doing the right thing.
It doesn’t make money and they think it’s the wrong strategy when it was actually the right strategy.
You just gotta do it a few more times.
It’s kind of like working out:
You can’t just go to the gym one time and gain muscle.
Sometimes, you just gotta be a little bit more consistent with it.
10. Favorite Traffic Sources
I think the biggest one is Facebook.
Focus on Facebook because that’s where all the traffic is.
And the amount of targeting, the data, the pixel, interest targeting, behavior targeting, etc.
I feel like they’re 5 or 10 years ahead of any other traffic source.
It’s not like Facebook is the only traffic source that makes money but, in my opinion, there are a lot of different traffic sources out there but I do feel that the problem is that now you want the scalability because you may work on one pop traffic source.
It’s very easy to maximize it.
And now you go into a situation where you have to run 5 or 10 different traffic sources and that becomes a nightmare versus something like Facebook that’s just one account, one traffic source.
You can just really focus on making money instead of just juggling all these different traffic sources.
11. Affiliate Fraud
Affiliates have always been aggressive.
I just think that’s just kind of the result of the business model.
Because affiliates are not working with a lot of margins.
Affiliates don’t get to keep the data.
Affiliates don’t get to upsell or cross-sell stuff.
What happens is that we have a small margin and then when there’s more competition and prices keep rising, they have to get…how do you make more money?
Sometimes a lot of affiliates just think:
“Okay, we gotta get more aggressive.”
You don’t necessarily have to get more aggressive.
You can get more creative.
You can get more creative with the angles.
Be careful with how aggressive you get because it doesn’t make sense to get aggressive.
What ends up happening is the advertiser of the affiliate network doesn’t pay you so you squeeze out an extra 5% Conversion Rate but you don’t end up getting paid the 20.000 dollars.
In essence, it would have been easier just to play a little bit safer.
I’m always telling people:
Try to get a little bit more aggressive but don’t get illegal.
And it’s always helpful just to talk with your affiliate manager and to know where the rule is.
Like I said:
You don’t want an issue where you get too aggressive, you don’t get paid, and worst of all, there’s been affiliate marketers that have been sued by people.
Sued by the FTC, or it can be that you were using a picture you shouldn’t be using when you could have just paid someone, get the model release, they’d sign the forms and stuff.
Just be very careful about the risks you take.
12. Affiliate Marketing Trends
I hate this question.
I get this question from everybody.
Part of me feels like if I reveal everything then I’ll make less money.
Two big trends, I think.
I do feel like, number one, in 2017, a big trend was to go towards E-Commerce.
And I do feel that in 2018, a lot of people that went towards E-Commerce are actually gonna go back to affiliate marketing.
My reasoning with that is that I do feel like E-Commerce…the margins are getting a little bit tighter, whether it’s because of more competition or rising Facebook prices but I do feel that the margins are getting a little bit tighter.
Whereas affiliate marketing it’s…you can do 5000% at least and it’s not out of the question, whereas in E-Commerce the profit margin is a little bit slimmer.
Typically like 15% to 40%.
I feel like the margins are getting a little slimmer and also a lot of people are realizing that they just like doing affiliate marketing.
They don’t like the actual customer service, managing a team, hiring people.
I do feel that a lot of people who switched over to E-Commerce are gonna go back to affiliate marketing, ironically.
Another trend I do see is that I see the rise of E-Commerce outside of Shopify.
What do I mean by that?
A lot of people – when they think about E-Commerce – they think about Shopify and drop shipping their own courses.
But I think that another option that I’m starting to see more is Straightsell products.
I think that the real benefit of that is that a lot of these advertisers really know how to cross-sell.
They really know how to upsell.
You can run something White Hat but you don’t have to take care of the customer service.
You don’t have to take care of all that stuff.
I think there’s gonna be a hybrid market of affiliate marketing and E-Commerce.
Those are two of my predictions.
There are a lot of other trends that are happening but I rather keep those to myself so I can keep making money from them.
13. Surprises in 2017
This didn’t happen to me but I remember that – earlier this year – a lot of people that were advertising on Facebook had a lot of difficulties.
Maybe they were running multiple accounts.
Facebook did a sweep, a ban, and then a lot of people had difficulty adjusting.
That was really surprising, just because some people I’ve seen who have always adapted weren’t able to adapt.
That’s why I mentioned earlier:
One of the top skill sets is to adapt.
You just can’t be doing these same techniques every single year and expect to make a lot of money.
This is a very dynamic industry.
When something changes, what are you gonna do about it?
You have to keep experimenting.
You can’t just complain like:
“Oh man, things are getting harder and prices are rising.”
That’s just part of the market.
If you have a restaurant and then a McDonald’s or a Chipotle opens next door, are you just gonna sit there and complain or are you gonna fight back?
Always focus on adapting.
I always tell people:
I’m very careful with my money.
I made a lot of money in affiliate marketing but I’m not blowing it on bottles at the club or something like that.
I keep my money.
I reinvest it in my business.
I reinvest it in other stuff.
Things can be up and down but you just have to work hard and adapt.
14. Opportunities & Threats
I think that – if there’s maybe one thing that I’m worried about – is possibly…a lot of these mobile cell phones, there are all these different rules and regulations that are coming out in regards to tracking.
That’s the one thing I’m concerned about.
Not too much.
But I do feel that there’s been a lot of advertising that’s a little bit intrusive.
A lot of people are creeped out by the amount of targeting ability that Facebook has.
Or perhaps a lot of ads are just very intrusive such as popups, PPV, and all that stuff.
I feel that a lot of devices and computers are gonna start pushing back.
I’m worried that there may not be this level of detailed, granular targeting available.
Just because it can be a little bit intrusive.
That’s just what I’m worried about.
If there are rules and regulations I come out for that.
At the end of the day, Facebook and Google are some of the top companies in the world.
I know Google has all these products out there but 99% of the money comes from AdWords.
I do feel that there’s gonna be a lot of pushback and a lot of lobbying against that stuff because that’s how those companies make money.
I’m not too worried.
Marketing is marketing – we always adapt.
15. Future Plans
I have a lot of stuff in the works.
I don’t wanna announce anything just yet, just because I don’t want to announce something and then change my mind.
We haven’t really created a plan for 2018.
What I’m really focused on in 2018 is just the same thing I’ve been working in the past.
I just wanna keep writing articles, keep giving more value, keep making money in campaigns.
I just really wanna focus on building my brand and just being known for excellence.
That was an awe-inspiring interview!
Thank you for this tremendous privilege!
As for you, our reader, keep on coming back for more because we’re cooking a whole lotta Affiliate World Asia 2017 Interviews for you guys to check!