traffic exchanges

The Frustrated Traffic Exchange Owner’s Guide For Attracting More Members

I was poking around some Skype rooms today and asked people in the Major League Advertising group the following question…

“What would help you the most in your business?”

And I got some awesome answers. Answers that I plan on writing blog posts about to help folks get the most from their time in the traffic exchanges. One question though, really made me think.

It was from my good friend Janelle Pineau. She simply said… “More members!”

She’s a new traffic exchange owner but still very experienced in the industry. Which told me that we all can use a tip or two to generate not only more members joining our sites but also more upgrades and sales.

I’ve put together a little ‘cheat sheet’ and checklist for any new owner that is looking for ways to generate more members…And I hope it helps!

1. The Traffic Exchange Owners Handbook – This is a free download that I wrote about 10 years ago that still holds a lot of truth. I recently re-wrote the report and put it inside our members training at ClickTrackProfit. It goes over everything I used to build I Love Hits, Sweeva, Thumbvu and StartXchange over the years. That’s a combined 550,000 members in all 4 programs. Let me be the first to say it….It takes TIME! Building a membership doesn’t happen overnight. Log into CTP and click on ‘Owners’ to find your 21 lesson training now…It’s free too 🙂

2. Use Surf Promos To ‘Build Yourself Up’ – One of the biggest problems I see with new traffic exchanges is they start doing promos with programs that have less members then they do. We’re thinking ‘down’ and not up. What I mean is…Network with traffic exchanges that have more members than you do. If the owner of the other program isn’t receptive to doing on, ask them how you could barter and make it worth their time. Trust me, ‘bigger’ owners love to hear from other owners that are looking for advice and such. Take what they say, learn from it but most importantly…Set up some promos WITH a bigger traffic exchange!

3. Make It An Event
– One of the lessons I talk about in a lot of my traffic exchange owner training is that you need to make your promos, launches and contests…A HUGE EVENT! Get excited about your events and do live streams, giveaways, heavy promotions….Because guess what, other surfers are watching! And if you are making things a spectacle, people will want to be around that. Nothing drives new members joining than activity. So be seen, and be active!

4. Think Bigger
– The standard reply when people ask ‘how do we get more members joining’ is something like this..Advertise! Usually though, that advice means advertise inside of other traffic exchanges. Thanks Captain Obvious! Now how about looking outside of the traffic exchange industry…Facebook ads, Instagram, forums, solo ads, viral mailers…Stop thinking so small and start ACTING like a real business. Don’t limit yourself to small fries when you can go after a Big Mac 🙂

5. A Contest…A Real Contest
– Something we did early on to build ClickTrackProfit was to host giveaways and contests with real prizes. One one instance the prize was to be the CEO of our company for the day, where the winner got to run all our promos and do deals with others…This was a huge success and the winner won a brand new laptop computer out of the deal. Yup, we purchased someone a computer. Along with dozens upon dozens of popular FlipCams over the years to. Sounds over the top? Maybe. Sounds expensive? That depends…Because we made our money back ten fold from those contests. When you are giving something away, please don’t say something like ‘This is $5000 worth of advertising’…Most programs that claim that don’t even make $5000 a year. Be legit! Give them something of real value!

Those are 5 tips that have helped lots of owners over the years and helped us as well. The big thing to remember is this…It doesn’t happen overnight, you truly need to stay the course more than you ever thought you would…This stuff takes time, effort and money to do.

Also, remember that traffic exchanges are going through a rough time right now as they try to re-discover their DNA and purpose in the online advertising world. That means….OPPORTUNITY…Innovation can always be the biggest way to generate new members. Look at Sweeva and ClickTrackProfit….When we launched those sites, no one was doing what we did. That helped us get attention. It drove new members to us more than anything else…

Don’t be afraid to try new things and innovate!

Jon Olson

I’m Jon Olson, I’ve been publishing Hit Exchange News since 2003 and been involved in the traffic exchange industry since…Well, the beginning :)

I’d love to network with you as you browse the pulse of the traffic exchange industry! I am also a HUGE fan of reading your comments. I will respond to every single one!

Poke around and enjoy the ‘News! And thanks for hanging out…

37 thoughts to “The Frustrated Traffic Exchange Owner’s Guide For Attracting More Members”

  1. I will add a few more points that aim not only at getting new members, but also keep the existing ones active and the exchange healthy.

    6. Stop selling your credits so cheap! If we can get 10,000 credits for 5 bucks, who will ever surf?
    7. Stop selling your upgrades so cheap! You will never be able to maintain your exchange and you will shut it after a while. We ‘ve seen this happening so many times.
    8. Stop launching more exchanges when you can not deal with the one you already have. As a matter of fact I will never understand why you have to open another exchange if you already have one.
    9. Do not open an exchange if you do not know how to market. If I can bring within a few days more referrals than you will ever be able to signup in your life, how are you supposed to provide me a proper marketing audience? (Hard to understand, right?)
    10.Stop promoting other exchanges out of your traffic exchange. It is like you are screaming “The other exchange is better than mine!”.
    11. Stop writing crappy comments in blogs trying to convince yourself first that this industry is thriving and nothing needs to change. Be creative in addressing the problems in the industry, not in covering them. This way you will be considered a honest business person and you will gain trust from other marketers.
    12. Maintain your exchange like you would maintain your house. Surf it regularly, see what pages are rotating, take care of framebreakers. Do not expect anything from your members. It is YOUR business after all.
    13. Before you make any decision, stand in front of your mirror and ask yourself: a) why do you want to open an exchange? b) what are you going to do different in term of quality? c) what do you understand under the term “quality traffic”?
    14. Educate your members. Teach them how to be marketers, not surfers. Everyone can be a surfer, but not everyone can be a marketer. Have you actually realized that?
    15. Eliminate penny surfing for the sake of all of us. There is not a bigger promoter and supporter of the cheap-ish mentality than penny surfing. How do you plan to make your members spend if you drive them to think pennies, not dollars??

    Oh, I could go on forever. And the sad thing is that I keep writing these things for years now. See the situation how it is, not how you would like it to be. Then put all your effort to change it to what you would like it to be.

    Let’s hope that this industry finds its pace again soon.

    1. Great points sir and very well said. I see companies acquiring more and more traffic exchanges and related services, yet still dont grow what they currently have. It’s a lesson for all. Focus focus focus.

    2. Great response George! I totally agree. It’s a great reminder for all. It never hurts to go over this material. I find it hard to remember every single thing in this world of distraction.

  2. After all the pretty graphics that one hangs onto the same old script and you get inside and start surfing you have a hard time figuring out what site your surfing. If the only clue is the icons your click that’s not saying much for a TE, I don’t think there is any new real innovation going on in the TE Industry right now.

    Every one has settled back into their nice easy comfort zones. Now that payza has saved most peoples bacon it’s like nothing has happened. I use Payza only for my must have subscriptions which is one subscription right now. Some sites allow me to use my credit card directly (Stripe I think). Others are still PayPal which is superior to Payza by a million miles. Those are the ones still I’m still buying from.

    If you want me surfing at your site, tell me what is really new an innovative. Tell me what you are dong for me as some one who is buying advertising either through surfing or buying credits. If your running through my credits like their water and giving me a less that 10% unique hit rate, don’t expect me to surf there.

    Tell me what you are doing to help me improve my conversion ratios. The difference between the signups to my list from safelist and mailers as apposed to TE’s is dramatic.

    What are you doing to make the referrals I get to your site more available to me. Some sites you can’t even set them an email.

    Customer service. I saw a TE owner swearing at a customer in chat recently. Very bad optics. I had one owner tell me to F off . The general chatter I hear when I go to show, which I rarely do anymore is very disrespectful to the customer. (Not your show Jon you genuinely work to help us everyday.)

    I can’t remember the last time I got a genuine thank you from a traffic owner for being a loyal purchaser of credits. Oh I get that canned thank you page but nothing much else.

    It’s not all about having your script running smoothly and answer tickets.

    I am a customer and don’t feel very appreciated right at this moment.

    So perhaps that’s why people aren’t surfing at your site right now.

    Sorry to go on a little bit of a rant….it’s not my style.

    You think owners are frustrated.

    What about your customers.

    Nick

    1. Valid points. You bring up problems that should be looked at, but seem to be ignored. Without paying customers, you won’t be in business long. Free people surfing doesn’t pay the server bills. More effort should be put in place to not only attract new people, but keep existing ones happy.

      1. Used to be a healthy medium.

        You need free members to help move credits but they were still trying to build a business by surfing.

        And you had the upgraded members to pay the bills and give affiliates commissions.

        We’ve forgotten that so much.

      2. Totally true Richard. My server bill is big and my commissions need to be paid. The free mentality is ridiculous. I had someone get really angry at me last summer for taking away the free squeeze pages. She was bullying me off an one for awhile. I got really fed up with her and threw her out of my Adkreator member’s room. You would think another owner would understand, but she didn’t. I even said I can’t give it all away for free. My free members can make a free splash page and free banner and make them over as many times as they want. But now I am thinking I might have to limit that 2 or 3 times. It’s been getting tough again.

    2. Rant very much appreciated, and I think it’s a very valid one at that.

      See this is my biggest problem with this industry….Here you are, a customer that a traffic exchange should be dying to cater to. You invest in your business and aren’t afraid to spend money on it.

      Yet because of your experiences, you are literally…Getting fed up and looking elsewhere.

      Why aren’t more owners speaking up and saying enough? We want and should be catering to customers like Nick….Yet, we fall silent.

    3. Hi Nick I agree with the swearing language. It’s a real turn off to anyone, even if they swear a lot, lol. It’s good to review these points. We all get distracted in this world and forget.

  3. When I said “YOU” I wasn’t talking about you specifically Jon . I was talking to TE owners in general. And of course we customers should shoulder a lot of blame for not being more vocal and demanding change. But then maybe the majority are happy with the current situation. Perhaps it’s because so many people surf without buying a thing.

    I think I need an aspirin. LOL

    Nick

    1. You and me both lol

      But yeah man…The owners and surfers should have a bigger dialogue. We should be communicating with each other but in reality…It’s very quiet on both ends of the spectrum.

  4. I think the issue runs deeper than the TE world. Many new affiliates and owners feel comfortable using proven, well-packaged solutions, but in the process they burn steps in their training and they keep their own creativity and originality deep hidden.

    I had an idea one of the other days: a traffic exchange (or part in an existing one), where personal creations are MORE than encouraged in rotation. No standard affiliate page or sales page, or squeeze pages, splash pages, banners offered by default. Sweeva can be a great platform for that, but as you noticed too Jon, what’s in rotation lately doesn’t really fit well with its initial purpose.

    1. Yeah, and that’s our fault. I should be much more vocal about what’s effective and what isn’t. Hopefully, people start to get it and start building more lead capture pages, etc….Hopefully.

  5. Sorry I’m late to the party here, I’ll be the only owner so far that is going to say anything. Jon, I’ve read your free ebook when I first looked at being an owner but I’m going to read it again – a refresher is always wise as we can sometimes get lost along the way and lose track of our goals. Though I usually always keep a check on hits delivered and new signups so as to keep my site running smoothly. I take pride in having plenty there from paid promos with big partners like CTP to promos with other owners (without too much overwhelm).

    I sometimes thing my prices may be a bit low, but I do that to be competitive and as I’m not a “big” site I worry that the value is not as high. Hey George – I rarely advertise in my own TE – stupid probably of me but I usually keep mine low so as to make sure my members are getting their pages delivered.

    As for advertising outside of TE’s – I do in mailers / safelists but I’m not as consistent as I could/should be. Funny that I love surfing for hours on end, but not clicking mails 🙂
    Promise to you too George – I’m not or never will be planning to open another TE, mailer or whatever.

    1. I’m so glad Leone, that you spoke up here. Because I’ve ben telling people privately for months now, that you are an owner that ‘gets it’. And I know how much you value your program and membership.

      If you need my help in any way, advice, whatever…Please know that I’ll always have an open door.

  6. All good points, thus far…
    so to add more fuel to this fire (just my opinions):

    – New and existing TE owners need to realize that theirs is an inventory business…
    A TE owner can’t sell (or give away) more credits than their TE can generate in a timely fashion.

    – Doing so, is simply “printing more money” (like the US government)… it’s trouble for sure!

    – Just because that “TE-in-in-a-box” script came with tons of toys, gadgets and mods…
    it DOES NOT mean you need to use them all… (please)

    – Promise only what you can deliver AND charge a price that allows for a reasonable profit.

    – Stick to that plan, and your membership will stabilize quicker, and they will be loyal, to boot.

    A couple years back, when I decided that I wanted to own a TE… I wrote my own custom-scripted TE (TrafficExchangeOnSteroids.com)… without all of the “distractions” that I deemed “counter-productive”.

    Now, it is a lean, mean TE that I can be proud of… (and it earns me some nice cash, too…lol)

    1. Hey Carl, great to hear from you man, hope you have been well.

      Yeah I agree with all your points, but the big one I’d love to highlight is….

      Just because you can buy every mod in the world, doesn’t mean you should.

      That’s big…Because it’s become a business of ‘keeping up with the jones’s’ when it comes to commercial scripts.

      1. Thanks, Jon…
        Well, I haven’t been on a gurney for 8 whole months now… lol

        To your point…
        Agreed! Struggling TE owners should emulate successful business modals, NOT copy, promo, or keep up with other struggling TEs.

  7. Oh well I better say something LOL!

    First ‘Thank Yous’. LOL! Let’s see folks don’t respond to Twitter, Facebook, emails, or Skype messages; I guess I could send them by carrier pigeon. 🙂

    An owner could write a novel on ‘how to do’ whatever and only 2% would read it and only 2% of those would take any action. It’s much easier to bitch about something not working. 🙂

    As an owner, I do my own thing and have done so for 8 years. Some like it and some do not not like it. It’s my business and I’ll do things my way. 🙂

    Real customer service does not exist in 90% of the TEs. And guess what if your only customers service is in a skype room with all of the aimless chat is not customer service. AND I am not pointing any fingers. Personally, I have submitted support tickets that are never answered! For some to get an answer, one must publicly embarrass the owner! And in some cases that does not even work. But guess what, there are some who will promote these owners’ programs.

    Yes, I have taken out all of the chase whatever out of my TE. It seemed pointless. The increased traffic was nothing more than people aimlessly chasing to get whatever. It’s just a fact!

    Almost Everyone has lost the basics of a traffic exchange. You view my ad and I will view your ad.

    How many times have I heard – ‘Well, I don’t want to build a list.’ How many times does one have to Scream “Build a list and you’ll make money.”

    What am I doing for you – I am offering you an opportunity to advertise YOU! Plain and Simple! It’s not my responsibility to sell you – That’s your responsibility. And if you you can’t create an ad that attracts attention – don’t blame me. LOL! Look in a mirror.

    Giving members a way to communicate with their referrals. My TE has had a pm system for folks to communicate with their referrals. Guess what! Less than one percent use it. And for that 0ne percent who use it, less than one percent ever respond. Why? Cause no one reads anything. LOL! Just easier to bitch that the system does not work.

    Pricing! I have always set my prices at a level that I thought the market could/would bare. – Never the lowest and probably not the most expensive.

    I have not missed a day in Eight years that I was not promoting my business – That’s right – not one day! It’s an everyday part of the biz – not when I feel like it but an EVERY Day part of doing biz.

    Well these ramblings ought to give good ammo for some explosions. LOL!

    Cheers!

    Tony

    1. Great points man. The most frustrating thing is what you said…

      Only 1% ever read anything that’s put out there.

      Even less take action on it.

    2. I agree with every word you have written. Especially the part with the lack of customer service. I have removed from my traffic course every program I am a member of that has customer service that sucks.

      1. I think I have come to the realization that we can lead them to water, but can’t make them drink. Some of these things have been talked about for 17 years. 🙂 I really think some folks are only here to be entertained with no thought about building a business. I mean there have been training webinars for years and look at the numbers, 35-50 folks show up out of Hundreds of thousands of members. lus, I personally can name people who have been attending webinars for years and years and still have not taken any action. LOL!

        1. You can’t make people listen. Cut those that don’t loose, focus on the people that do want to grow and find more of them. With 6 billion people on this rock, there are more than enough to keep everyone here VERY busy!

  8. Hi Jon. I’m glad you brought this up. Everyone needs a refresher course. Quickbooks Online Accountants need to take their tests every year! It’s a refresher as well. Everyone needs this. I am sure many TE owners forget these points with all of the shiny objects out there! And we all get lazy and comfortable at times. It’s human nature. I bet there are some good tips in your guide for me and Adkreator! I need to look it over. I am going to start making the post about the color wheel today. I need to read everyone’s comments in full. I just skimmed them over and they are great!

  9. This is a great discussion. As a new business owner, I’m constantly asking my members what I can do to improve their experience at Major League Advertising.

    Taking from Tony’s comment, customer support is HUGE. There are a million and one traffic exchanges for people to choose from. Don’t be so foolish as to think that because you decide to create a traffic exchange, members will flock to it. While support is important for the obvious reasons…to make your website/business work properly…it’s also a massive opportunity to engage one on one with your clientele. That’s how I view it. How often as an owner do you really take the opportunity to get inside the head of your customer and understand why they are at your site? Why do they come back? Why don’t they come back? What works for them? What doesn’t work for them? How can you improve? By tweaking and being active daily in customer support, these are all questions you can easily get answers to by simply asking.

    Also, from point number 5 in the post (and totally obvious plug!)..there are still 7 days left in our contest at Major League Advertising. The winner will win a tshirt with their favourite baseball team on it! 😀

    I LOVE that you brought this up, Jon, because when I first came online and got into Click Track Profit and started attending webinars and I remember winning a Legacy Hits tshirt and I thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread. No one ever sends out REAL prizes anymore. Credits are fun and upgrades are rewarding but they are literally what EVERY exchange is giving away. I want the winner of this contest to forever remember where they won that tshirt everytime they put it on! 🙂

    We are a tiny little niche on the internet but we have the potential to become so much more than we are and it really could simply start by shifting the mindset from simply calling yourself a ‘TE owner’ to realizing you are a BUSINESS owner. Be different. Be social. Be active.

    My thoughts 🙂

    1. One aspect to remember is that few people who use TEs have experience in business ownership/operations. Therefore, it would logically imply that only a small percentage of TE owners would. Expecting people who have no background to rely on to develop ‘business acumen’ by buying a script would be a reach at best. Also, remember that TE scripts are marketed as being a ‘simple solution’ to business ownership. Once purchased, they are usually left on their own to work out the logistics.

      It could be said that owners with experience helping out those that have none could improve the general atmosphere surrounding TEs. However, here again, that would require people that have no experience/contacts to make an effort to find help.

      There are no simple fixes that will magically change the situation(s) being discussed. Encouraging the discussion itself, though, may lead to more ideas to begin to move forward.

  10. I’m very happy to see this dialogue. For awhile there it seemed like deafening silence. Thanks to all the TE owners here who did take the time to respond. I don’t think for a minute that you can wave a magic wand and change things. But change begins with an awareness that change is needed.

    I’m making some suggestion for a blog post. Maybe none of my ideas are feasible. Perhaps I’ll get shot down in flames, but I don’t care.

    I love what Janelle said about the T Shirt. Or the coffee mugs. The personal touch. Show that you do care.

    Great to see this.

    Nick

    1. Agreed. I love it. Nothing tells me more that an owner is serious about their business when they do things like that…Giveaways and real contests. Pet peeve of mine is when they say ‘$1000 worth of advertising’….LOL How about $1000 cash!!!! lol

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