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Lasso – We Discuss Affiliate Marketing Tools Aimed At Bloggers.
Affiliate marketing is easy to start but hard to master. Finding the right software to manage all of your essential links was challenging because it didn’t exist.
We get it. And it’s the reason we built Lasso.
Andrew and Laura Fiebert, co-founders of Lasso, have large affiliate sites. In 2020 their sites reached over 11 million people. They struggled to manage all of the affiliate links on their sites with existing plugins.
After trying every affiliate marketing tool under the sun, they found there was no single tool that would fully control their affiliate link inventory end to end. They wanted something that could do everything. Something that even the big players would dream of having. Something that didn’t only work with Amazon.
Their two main sites are very different. Laura’s site relies mainly on Amazon affiliate links, while Andrew’s has a mix of all types of affiliate programs. This was a unique challenge trying to build a plugin that would work for both. But in the process, they invented Lasso, which would solve all their needs. Plus a few more they didn’t even anticipate.
Lasso is an affiliate marketer’s dream plugin. That was the goal, and that’s what they built. But it required a team.
Listen Money Matters Podcast – https://www.listenmoneymatters.com/
Main Questions For Interview
#1 – Andrew, can you tell us how you got into affiliate marketing and this particular niche of affiliate marketing aimed at bloggers that Lasso aims to serve?
#2 – Can you give us some insights on what was a couple of the most significant early challenges you faced initially with Lasso?
#3 – Can you give us, based on your experience, a couple of the biggest misconceptions that a lot of people have connected to Lasso?
#4 – What are your plans for Lasso in the next 12 to 18 months, and are there any trends building up in affiliate marketing that the audience needs to know about?
#5 – If you go back to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?
#6 – Are there any books, websites, or online recourses that have helped you in your own business development that you like to share with the audience?
Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS podcast, where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts in WordPress, eLearning, and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.
Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back, folks, to the WP-Tonic Show this in WordPress and SaaS. We have a great special guest, we have Andrew Fiebert. I, probably, butchered his surname. But, as you know, my listeners and viewers, my ability to do that is endless. He’s the CEO of Lasso. He also runs a, really, popular podcast, which he might go back to, he has his days, Listen to Where the Money Matters. I used to listen to it. It’s going to be a great conversation.
It’s all going to be about his product, Lasso, that helps with affiliates marketing, his own thoughts around affiliate marketing, he’s an, extremely, experienced online marketer, podcaster, just has fantastic knowledge; it should be a great show. But before we go into the interview, I have a couple of messages from our major sponsors that pay the bills. So, we’ll be back in a second.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. I just want to point out that I also do a great weekly newsletter about WordPress and tech in general. You can get this great newsletter in your inbox every Sunday or Monday by going over to wp-tonic/newsletter. And on that page, there’s a great selection of WordPress plugins, offers, things that I, personally, recommend. There are affiliate links; it helps the show as well. And you can also sign up for the newsletter. So, let’s go straight into this great interview. So, Andrew, would you like to give an introduction about yourself and about how you got into Lasso and building this platform? Over to you, Andrew.
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, so a long time ago I was a data engineer, a developer, and while I love my job, I, kind of, wanted to be my own boss and I found Pat Flynn, creating your own online thing. And so I created a website, Listen Money Matters. We were a podcast blog. Did, really, well. I grew quickly in audience, but I had no idea how to monetize it, and so it took me about three years until I even made a meaningful amount of money. And it turned out the thing that, really, worked for us was affiliate marketing.
And as we grew and we had more writers on the website, it became, really, difficult to, kind of, manage at scale. Being a developer, I, kind of, built my own tooling to help run things. I saw it as my competitive advantage and, eventually, my friends convinced me to sell this. And that’s what Lasso is. It’s, really, just a pro toolkit for affiliate marketers.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. So, what do you, because we had a pre-recording chat. I am one of those that’s on both sides. I have affiliate links, product services, and I also have my own affiliate plan because that’s the other side of my business, so I’m a content producer, podcasting YouTube channel, but I also have my own business, Andrew. So, I was, really, looking forward to this interview because of your vast experience and also what Lasso does.
So, what do you see as a couple of the real challenges that affiliate people that either want income through affiliate marketing or want to get good quality affiliates for their own product? What are some of the major problems that they need to know about and how does Lasso help them with those problems?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, so when I started blogging 10 years ago text link was enough. Mobile was barely a thing, and as time has gone on people arriving at your site, they’re not looking to spend 10 minutes and hang out and they, really, want the answer. And so, one of the early lessons was, essentially, call-out boxes, and so the level one was the product, price, a button and, eventually, as we ab tested this over time, something that answered all the objections of the visitor gave them the answer they were looking for, really, worked.
And so, it’s that and then you build your site, you’re trying to rank for things or things you think that are important for your audience to know. And years later you may build a relationship with another company or build your own tool as a way to monetize these things, but you have that catalog that isn’t monetized. And so, one of the things where Lasso, really, shines is identifying those opportunities and things you’ve already created. And so, let’s say for an example, you have a personal finance site and you link to a bank and you wrote this article years ago and you build this relationship now, Lasso will identify those links, tell you that an affiliate program exists for it and help you, essentially, make those connections and then automate it into the future.
Jonathan Denwood: Oh, well, that’s fabulous. So, on the other side, as I was telling you WP-Tonic has an affiliate plan, I have it all set up, but I, really, haven’t done much with it. It’s one of my main marketing objectives in 2023, which I’m planning out now to, really, do something with that. For Lasso, have you utilized affiliate marketing with Lasso? And if not, I’m still sure you have some great insights because you’re such an experienced and effective digital marketer. So, where do you think people go wrong on the other side in trying to utilize affiliate marketing to market their product service?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, so we definitely have an affiliate program with Lasso, it’s one of the biggest drivers of revenue for us. The hardest part with the product is the education piece and, obviously, affiliates, really, handle that for you, so they’re bringing you warm traffic instead of cold traffic, like someone, kind of, off of a Google search. And one of the people that we work with, we work with a lot of big brands, and I was talking to the woman who runs Chewy’s affiliate program. And their biggest problem is not getting people to sign up for their affiliate program.
Their biggest problem is getting them to activate, actually add a single link to Chewy on their website. And that’s one of the ways that Lasso shines and where we’ve collaborated with people like Chewy and Fanatics is, essentially, identifying these links that could be monetized with Chewy or competitor links to Chewy and, basically, showing that you can earn more with Chewy. And so, a lot of these people who run affiliate programs promote Lasso, because one, their affiliates convert better and two, they’ll, actually, activate; they’ll get links on their site.
Jonathan Denwood: Right. So, to recap that. So, you’re saying that the biggest problem on the person that has an affiliate plan and wants to get good affiliates is identifying content that ranks and can drive traffic to their product service. But the main problem after they’ve approached this individual and they’ve agreed is them to, actually, take action, is that correct?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah. I don’t know the numbers of your program, but I imagine yo.u have hundreds of people who have signed up to promote
Jonathan Denwood: Oh, no, no, that’s no. No, unfortunately, a lot less than that. That’s one of the reasons why I’m going to have a real go at it, Andrew.
Andrew Fiebert: But the point is that the ratio of people who have signed up to people who even send a single click is, generally, really, low. So, even if you’ve signed up 20 people but you’re getting no clicks or they haven’t added your links to your site, you, essentially, have an activation problem. You found 20 people who were like, Yeah, this is interesting. I think I could promote this; I’d like to promote it. But they’ve done nothing.
And so, that’s why people who run affiliate programs promote Lasso is because we’re a tool for the publishers, so the publishers see the value, we will help drive conversions. And then, if you’re running an affiliate program, that’s, essentially, what you want, right? You want them to succeed because their success is your success.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. That sounds like it. Do you have any other insights about what have been some of the more effective ways to work with your affiliate partners in, actually, getting a result for yourself and a result for them; do you have any additional insights?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah. You have to make it ridiculously easy. So, show them where the opportunities and their existing content are or give them swipe copies so they could, literally, just copy what I’ve written about Lasso and just put it into their newsletter, so it takes, literally, zero effort for them to do, that’s one piece. And the other is, what you, probably, don’t realize is you are competing with every other affiliate program out there for your promoter’s attentions, and so you need to have a rate paired with your conversion rate.
So, you’re paying X dollars per conversion paired with your conversion rate. That’s competitive. And so, if your conversion rate’s low, you need to pay more, because at the end of the day, they may see your product as an opportunity, but if WP Engine’s going to pay them a hundred dollars per conversion, they’re going to get pulled over there. And so, you need to make sure it’s priced competitively and, really, easy for them to see initial results. If they send that newsletter with the exact text you wrote and get conversions, they may believe where there’s smoke, there’s fire and invest more of their own time into promoting your product.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you have any insights about how you should approach the, in your own company or based on your experience, how do you identify good possible affiliate partners and how do you do that initial outreach to them, Andrew?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, so we’ve tried a lot of the tools out there like Publisher Discovery or all these other things, they, basically, just crawl the web and they’re like, this website has affiliate links, you should try them. And the cold emails and everything; it, generally, does not work well. What does work well is, for example, Lasso is an affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress. So, we go to Ahrefs or just even Google search, things like affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress. These are all lists and I believe Lasso is on it.
And I also know that my competitors don’t pay. They convert low and we have a, really, high payout, so I contact them like, Hey, guys, you want to make an extra thousand bucks a month just by jamming our link in here? Don’t even write anything, I’ve written it for you. Here, just put it in. That tends to work, really, well. So, just identifying the opportunities and being straight up honest with them. Don’t be like, I listen to your podcast, I’m a big fan. Just be real short and talk about the money.
Jonathan Denwood: Oh, I did. Yeah, I understand that. So, to recap what you’re saying is you’re going to have to do a bit of research, find out articles that are about your, particular, sector where your product service is competing. Find articles, people that are written, that are ranking, and then do honest outreach, and then provide them with content that makes it, really, easy for them to become your affiliate partner and to, actually, put it on their website. I think that’s what you were saying.
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah. And research, maybe, sounds like a huge nebulous thing, but I’d go for, really, high-intense stuff. For example, if someone’s looking for alternatives to a competitor’s product, you belong in that article. Alternatives convert, exceptionally, well. There’s this, really, high intent to buy. Versus a very fluffy educational article. But, yeah.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. I was listening, as I mentioned to you, I was listening to one of your most recent interviews and it was a, really, good interview. And you seemed very focused and one of the key things you were trying to get across in the interview, my perception was, was intent. You seemed to utilize that word quite a lot in the interview that I listened to today. Where you were talking, I think one of the phrases you utilize in the interview is, you could have a website that gets thousands and thousands and hit, but if it’s low intent, it’s not going to convert.
Where a site that has an article and the people hitting it and the article generates people that have a much higher intent, the conversion’s going to be much better. What I’m saying to this, you seem to suggest a lot of people don’t, really, understand it, it’s something I didn’t grasp until about 18 months ago, that there are different type of articles and there are different places on the funnel and that there are certain articles that people go to.
Andrew Fiebert: I like to look at it like this. The best article that you’ve published or written is, probably, the one that you didn’t create and didn’t publish. More is not better. You’re wasting effort. There’s this saying, it’s more wood behind fewer arrows. And so, when you’re looking for things to create, I think you need to put yourself in the shoes of the visitor and ask selfishly what are they trying to get out of the article. If, for example, you’re trying to sell dog leashes and the query is, are dogs allergic to poison ivy?
They’re not, really, going to sell many dog leashes because people are not arriving to the article with the goal of buying a dog leash. However, if you created an article that was best gifts for dog lovers or 13 best dog collars for pit bulls, those are people arriving are looking to buy. And so, you can’t only create those things, but you need to, really, focus in on what the goal of the visitor is because if you try and shoehorn something in it’s not going to work. And to give you an example of something I learned building, Listen Money Matters.
For a few years, we ranked number one for the term passive income, which if you look in any keyword tool, gets something like 50 to 70,000 searches a month. And it received an incredible volume of what was, essentially, very low-quality traffic. People aren’t focused in their search, they don’t know what they’re trying to get, and so as many products as I tried to, kind of, include in there, nothing, really, worked against tens of thousands of visitors. And what would’ve been better is to go for the term that gets 40 searches a month, but is exactly speaking to the problem my product solves, so all 40 visitors are buyers.
So, instead of, maybe, getting 5 buyers out of 50,000 visitors, I can get 40 buyers out of something that 40 people search, and there’s going to be almost no competition, because no one is looking to get an additional 40 visitors to their site. A lot of these content sites are earning their revenue based on display ads, which is measured in thousands. And so, where you need to go is where the competition is not, and where you can speak directly to the people who are, literally, looking for you. And you can’t get thrown off by these numbers that are, essentially, meaningless, you have to, kind of, niche down, to not be cliche, but.
Jonathan Denwood: Well, you just put a word out, that was the next question, but I think we need to go for our middle break and when we come back, I’ll put what my follow-through question was. So, we’re going to go for our break, folks. We’ll be back in a few moments.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. Just want to point out, I have a great Facebook group WP Masterminds for WordPress experts and professionals. Do a search under WP-Tonic in Facebook and join the group. I’m posting almost every week new stuff and you can be part of the conversation. I thought it was a great conversation, the first part, Andrew. So, just my quick follow-through question. You mentioned, you took the word right out of my mouth. I was going to say niche, nechify, I’m not sure nichify, I have a habit of creating words, so if I think a word should exist, I create it, James.
And I’m not sure if this word exists, nechify. It should do, should it, Andrew? And I, really, think in a world of ever increasing competition, and it does help with the content and the focus is, don’t be worried, obviously, you can always take anything too far, but, normally, you can’t nichify enough, really. What do you think about that, James? Andrew, sorry.
Andrew Fiebert: So, I definitely agree. We have a large gift website, and so all of our articles are for Christmas gifts, whatever and we’d ranked for Christmas gifts, not many purchases, but gifts for dolphin lovers, gifts for 13 year old boys that like Legos, really, specific things convert exceptionally well. And the added side effect is there is, literally, no one in there competing for the volume. And so, it’s one of these things where we don’t even focus on backlinks, we just create hyper specific things for the people we’re looking for and we’re, usually, one of the only results.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, that sounds great. One thing you didn’t talk about in the interview that I watched, was you didn’t talk about the power of influencer marketing. It’s linked to affiliate, you talking about your project is great, but what’s, really, powerful is other people talking about your product and recommending it highly. So, what are your thoughts in 2022 about the importance of influencer marketing and how it’s linked to affiliate marketing? That’s pretty good.
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah. I’m going to give the unpopular answer of if you’re selling a product; you’re going to win by just having an awesome product. And so, everyone talks about Ahrefs, they don’t have an affiliate program, they just created an awesome tool, so you, literally, can’t help but talk about it and share it. The biggest driver of customers to Lasso is word of mouth; we, literally, don’t know where they’re coming from. Facebook groups, sometimes they tell us.
And so, it’s, incredibly, powerful and while you can focus it to a degree with an affiliate program, where you’re, really, going to win is creating these wonderful aha moments in your product. Things where people get it and it solves the problem they’re looking for. It’s not about adding features and being complex, it’s about scratching that one very specific itch.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. And you never, really, know until you, actually, have a product, you make educated guesses based on your experience and your own needs. I’m sure you did that, I think you said that in your past interviews about Lasso, and it’s the same with my service. So, it offers a lot of value, WP Tonic and we also used to, well, we still are, but we changed it; we offered a very considerable hosted video part of the hosting package, we would host your videos and it would be part the hosting package. And if you go to Vimeo Pro or one of the others, that’s quite a bit of money, so I thought that our target customers would love it.
They’ve not been interested at all, really. Have you had those experiences with Lasso, where you built something that you thought they would, really, rave about and they’ve showed total indifference about it?
Andrew Fiebert: So, one of the things that I learned building Listen Money Matters was I think it was the third email in our autoresponder series. The title was What are You Struggling with? And it was a one or two sentence email, basically asking them to tell me what their problem is. And then it was about personal finance and they would tell me these things and then I, kind of, treated them like votes. And then the things that got the most votes, we would create a podcast episode about, or an article and we’d do a very similar thing with Lasso.
We used this thing called Rapidr, which is, basically, we track votes and we ask everyone that talks to us what they like, what they don’t like, what they want. It’s slow going in the beginning, but add a couple of years behind asking that question and it becomes crystal clear exactly what you need to do and what you don’t. You have an idea when you start, but the truth is you’re, usually, pretty wrong. You’re broadly correct but wrong in focus and talking to your customers I found solves that
Jonathan Denwood: Because I think that it’s a bit cliche, but, really, fundamentally, this is so important. And I say this to people that utilize our platform and it’s aimed at people building courses. And I say to them, I say, I always tell them to get their first course out as quickly as possible. Get it out there; get your first students through it. Because I say to the people that I consult, you, really don’t know until your first batch of students, you’ll learn so much from them.
You’ll learn the bits of the lessons, the course, if you modify, it’s going to be seen as much more valuable to your target students. And I think you have to try and reduce the guessing as much as possible and you have to understand the people your product is aimed at or your course.
Andrew Fiebert: I think there’s a misconception when people create courses. We created courses with Listen Money Matters and I’m in the online space working with other creators and people, kind of, think that they create this course, and then they need to sell it, which is correct. But I think people need to view their course more like software, in that it is a continually evolving thing, where the work of building the course, actually, never stops and you’re always working on it.
And I think when you do things like that, and Authority Hacker does an incredible job of this and they put an enormous amount of work in every year into, essentially, recreating their two main courses and that’s where you get people to sing praise by your course. Because your first try, your second try your eighth revision, it’s not the thing that everyone will tell their friends about, but if you work on it, incrementally, for a year, it’s going to be incredible; it’s a year’s worth of effort slowly. And so, you have to get your first course out, but, maybe, your first course is your only course and you just, ridiculously, improve it.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, that’s a great point, isn’t it? I forgot what it’s called in Japan; it’s a name for their marketing production attitude. It has a name to it, where they’re continuous.
Andrew Fiebert: Kaizen?
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I think that’s correct. Where they’re continuously improving it, Andrew, aren’t they? So, I think that’s the same. So, if you could go back, let’s say five, six years and you could consult yourself? What one or two things would you like to be able to tell yourself that would’ve helped you get the results that you have achieved, but do it a lot less painfully and quicker?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, everyone wants to diversify or they find something that’s working and now they want to turn on their next promotion engine or add their additional product, and that’s just a distraction. The founder of Airbnb writes these investor updates and he, basically, talked about how they almost killed the company doing things like experiences and whatever. If you are lucky enough to create a thing that people want and it’s working, you need to double down on that. Most businesses, SaaS or otherwise, only have one or two marketing channels that even work.
So, if you’re trying five different things, it’s like trying to toast bread with a flashlight. Your problem is not, maybe, your product or the way you’re promoting your problem is a lack of focus, and so big companies, they have hundreds, thousands of people and they can do many things. You are, probably, a small company with one, two, a few people behind it and you just need to do the few things that work over and over and make those better.
Jonathan Denwood: In your interview, though, you have your websites, you have projects that are not your main earners, that you’re developing, how do you get that balance yourself? Because I’m the same. I have my main business, but I have one other business, but it’s not my main focus and I’ll be criticized for saying that, but I have a partner, but we’re slowly building it up. But how you dealt with that, about having other properties, other things you’re looking at, but also your main businesses.
Andrew Fiebert: So, my time goes a hundred percent toward Lasso. My wife puts her time into Giftlab and right now nobody puts their time into Listen Money Matters, because the opportunity cost, the time that goes into that versus something else. It’s a distraction of focus and you will not be able to move as fast trying to do a bunch of different things, and so as an entrepreneur, you have these ideas and you want to create these things that are bursting out of you, it’s like you have to do it.
And maintenance work is not sexy work, everyone wants to create, but, probably, 80% of the work that is meaningful to your business is maintenance work and things that are not as fun as creating a new domain and starting from zero. Those are detracting from the thing that’s, actually, making money and working from being successful. So, it’s something I always struggle with and you, kind of, you go down the rabbit hole but you have to catch yourself.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. We’re going to wrap up the podcast. Are you okay to stay on for another 10 minutes?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, for sure.
Jonathan Denwood: We call it bonus content. I try and keep the podcast to about 30 minutes, and then the whole interview can be watched on LinkedIn, YouTube, the Facebook. I’ve been a bit nervous during it, because you’re an experienced podcasterand I was a bit nervous what you’re going to make of mine? Pathetic efforts, Andrew, but I’ve not done too bad, it’s been a bit rough, but not too bad.
Andrew Fiebert: Humble beginnings, we all podcast on one leg at a time.
Jonathan Denwood: I’ve only been podcasting for seven years, but there we go. How can people find out more about you and Lasso?
Andrew Fiebert: Yeah, so you could find Lasso at getlasso.co. You could find me on any of the places, I like Twitter the best. I’m at Andy Fieb, A N D Y F I E B. But if you email anything to Lasso or our Twitter handle or listen, it all, kind of, funnels back to me or my team will let me know. You could jump onto our website and hit the intercom chat bubble and be like, Andrew, I loved or hated your interview. I’ll still want to chat with you.
Jonathan Denwood: Oh, be generous, Andrew, it’s not been that bad. So, we’re going to wrap up.
Andrew Fiebert: I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about me.
Jonathan Denwood: You’re an expert; I’m just trying to improve. So, we’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show; I’ve, really, enjoyed the interview, I think we provided some insights. As I say, please join us next week. I, actually, have some, I’m booked out until the new year, basically, and I have some fantastic guests like Andrew, so I’m, really, pleased; that’s unusual that I get booked out so far. As I said, you’d be able to watch the whole interview plus the bonus content by going mainly over to the WP-Tonic YouTube channel.
We have loads of resources on there, please subscribe to the channel, it, really, encourages me to continue with the podcasting and the YouTube stuff that I produce. We’ll be back next week. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.
Outro: Hey, thanks for listening. We, really, do appreciate it. Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group and also to keep up with the latest news, click wp-tonic.com/newsletter. We’ll see you next time.
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