Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning. I’m going to step you through the process of how you put one foot before the other. How did you get the business off the ground? Who was the first client? How did you win this client? How did the business start to unfold?
Stephan Goss: I had gotten decently good at buying ads. I started buying ads for a company. Basically, it was just affiliate marketing. I was getting the deals through a network. I wasn’t doing any of the sales directly myself. I was just finding the people who had the offers that I could piggyback on top of. I would buy ads. I would spend $1000 and hopefully make $1,200 back. It was an arbitrage play. The nice thing is if you’re good at doing that, you can be profitable. We had the opportunity to be profitable from day one.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of a client did you have? What kind of affiliate segment was this company trying to reach?
Stephan Goss: It wasn’t just one. There were dozens. Generally speaking, they lasted for a month and then I’d switch because things stopped working or something else started working better. It was everything from car insurance, education, to free samples. It was a very broad spectrum. It was a matter of trying a lot of different things. Some of them would work. Some of them would work and then stop working. There was just a lot of testing and trial and error. There was a multitude of clients.
Sramana Mitra: Can you elaborate on what would stop working?
Stephan Goss: When you buys ads online, generally, you try to find angles that work really well. It clicks very highly. It engages very highly. Generally speaking, the way to do that is by finding a niche traffic source or niche way of getting the traffic. Once everybody else realizes what you’re doing, they start copying. It stops working. It’s this continuous battle against market horses and you just have to innovate every time. 90% of the things will not work but the 10% that do will work for a while. Then they get swept away by competitive pressures.
Sramana Mitra: I find it a bit intriguing that you were switching clients and not trying to find different angles for the same client. Customer acquisition is expensive. How did you acquire customers?
Stephan Goss: I was buying ads. That was the part that I was really good at. It’s much easier to switch clients because signing the client is very easy if you work through networks. Testing new strategy is also quite easy but the problem is a lot of the clients will not have all that great landing pages. The acquisition is expensive for them because they’re not very good at it. Switching around a lot to find the ones that were good and build on top of that was much more efficient.