Whitelist and Blacklist. How to work with it.20.2.2017Reading Time: 4 minutes
An abundance of tools are at your disposal as an affiliate marketing professional. There are tools you can use to improve the search engine optimization of your landing pages. These tools help you zero in on the most profitable keywords within your niche. There are tools to help you optimize landing pages to further boost your conversion rates. One of these tools is whitelist and blacklist. One of the more common mistakes made by many publishers is taking a shotgun approach to traffic and simply hoping that something sticks. That might work as an initial strategy to test the market. But you really need to hone in if you want to maximize your profits. And to that end, it pays to work on your whitelist and blacklist.
What Are Whitelists and Blacklists?
Before we can discuss how whitelists and blacklists can be implemented and how they can improve your performance as an affiliate marketer, we must first define the terms.
A whitelist consists of a list of traffic sources where you want to actively seek out traffic for your affiliate marketing campaigns. It can be as general as a particular traffic network or it can be as specific as a particular placement on a specific website for users coming from a particular geographic region.
By contrast, a blacklist consists of a list of traffic sources where you do not want to actively market your affiliate marketing campaign or to promote your offer. It is the exact opposite of a whitelist.
One way to think about this is to consider a bouncer at the city’s most exclusive nightclub. On his whitelist, he’ll have all of the VIPs who should be given unrestricted access and be allowed to enter the club immediately. On his blacklist, he’ll have all the known troublemakers who should not be allowed into the club under any circumstances. And the people who are on neither list will need to be evaluated on an individual basis. That’s how whitelists and blacklists work in affiliate marketing too.
Why Are They Important?
A critical metric that all affiliate marketers should always keep the front of mind is a return on investment, or ROI for short. While there is certainly something to be said about developing traffic organically and using that to promote affiliate offers. The truth is that paid traffic sources can offer much more immediate, and possibly much more lucrative results if you invest intelligently.
To maximize your ROI, it is then critically important to keep track of all the important stats and analytics as related to all of your affiliate marketing campaigns. You will likely find that certain keywords may convert better on certain offers compared to others. You will likely find that certain websites result in higher conversions too.
The Pareto principle (80/20) applies here. It is absolutely in your best interest to invest most heavily in the traffic sources that are generating the best results. These are the traffic sources you want to include in your whitelist.
By contrast, you might find that certain traffic sources result in a near-zero conversion rate. You might even find that certain traffic sources are leaking your leads! These are precisely the reason why maintaining a good blacklist is so crucial.
What Advantages Can You Gain using Whitelist and Blacklist?
The main advantage to using whitelisting and blacklisting as part of your affiliate marketing repertoire is that you can much more efficiently narrow down the traffic sources that are delivering the best results.
A great example of this might be a mobile offer. Let’s say that the offer converts when the user downloads and installs a certain application. Let’s say that this application is available for both iOS and Android and it is offered only in English.
Given these hypothetical parameters, it might be in your best interest to add certain devices to your blacklist, like those that are running BlackBerry OS or Windows Phone. You might also find that targeting your traffic in countries where English is not the primary language is a serious waste of funds so you may add some of those countries to your blacklist too.
Further testing and data analysis might reveal that iPhone users convert better than Android users. But Android phone users convert better than iPad users. You might put the iPhone on your whitelist then. This will further narrow down where your advertising budget is being spent and thus improve your ROI.
How Do You Use Them?
If whitelists and blacklists serve equal but opposite purposes, why would you even think about using both? Can’t you just use one or the other to serve the same purpose? It really depends on the context.
For instance, if you have a very good idea about who your target user is, where he is located, what device he is using, and what site he is browsing, then a whitelist makes sense. You enter these characteristics and your campaign will only target this specific type of user with these very specific characteristics.
But what if the picture isn’t quite so clear and it only starts to reveal itself after you start running your campaign? In that case, a blacklist could be a more suitable solution. As the data starts coming in, you notice that a certain traffic source is generating zero leads and zero revenue. That’s something you’ll want to put on your blacklist, assuming that you’ve accumulated enough data to come to that conclusion.
In the meantime, you have the opportunity to discover audiences and potential markets that you may not have otherwise considered. A whitelist is much more restrictive, targeting an established source, whereas a blacklist is more exploratory and open overall.
When Should You Update Your Lists?
In an ideal situation, you really should be updating your whitelists and blacklists on an ongoing, continuous basis. Traffic can be a fickle mistress and it’s important that you stay on top of the latest trends and shifts in the market. What may have been a waste of time and money yesterday could be a traffic gold mine today.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to be working on your lists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A more conservative schedule is to review your whitelists and blacklists at least once a month. Use the monthly reports from your traffic sources and affiliate dashboards, analyze the data, and draw your appropriate conclusions.
A Powerful Affiliate Marketing Tool
Whitelists and blacklists serve slightly different purposes under slightly different circumstances. But they both arrive at the same overall objective of minimizing wasteful spending and maximizing your success. If you’re not already using these lists to narrow down your traffic sources. You really should consider adding them to your day-to-day practice.