So two months ago Lifehacker detailed some steps to max out bonus referral space on Dropbox with Google AdWords and free ad credits. I ran this as a short experiment with SugarSync, a service similar to Dropbox, which I’ll talk about my experience with. But first a quick overview, The idea is to take free advertising credits offered for Google AdWords and use that to run text ads pointing at your referral link to get people to sign up and get the bonus space offered for the referrals.
The Lifehacker article didn’t have quite the same success as the article they originally based the idea from. It looks like they spent $60 of their $100 credit to get 8 GB of free space, the original article maxed out 16 GB using just under $10. Both of them used Dropbox while I went a similar route with SugarSync. There are some advantages of SugarSync over Dropbox. The two that stand out the most are they currently offer a larger amount of free storage over Dropbox (5 GB vs. 2 GB), and they don’t cap the maximum amount you can get from their referral bonus (which is also larger than Dropbox, 500 MB vs 250 MB).
While running the ads for about 3 days I spent a total of $43 in credits; this netted me 304 click-throughs, 33 sign-ups, with 13 currently completed that have awarded me bonus space. Of course if those other sign-ups can download the SugarSync software in the future, and I’ll get the bonus space when they do. Read more after the break for some ideas I have regarding this method along with some other ideas for using my free AdWord Credits.
While this works pretty well, I think there are some various tips that I have that might improve on the steps given by Lifehacker.
- Set the ads Cost-Per-Click (CPC) really low. The original article set the default CPC at $0.05 (five cents) and Lifehacker left theirs at an “Auto” setting which set the CPC at $0.94. This is part of the reason that Lifehacker spent so much on the campaign and the source article only spent $10. I set my default CPC in between at $0.50 and I would recommend setting it lower than that. If I was doing this again, I would set the default at $0.10 and then move some keywords up if I needed to.
- Be sure to target the ads in all countries and for all languages. Most of my sign-ups came from GMail addresses but I did get a few from non-English speaking countries (.vn, .th and .pl). If you’re feeling up to it you could target just the countries that the service is offered in which will save you any clicks from someone who probably can’t sign up anyway. But be aware that the lower you set your CPC, the more important foreign sign-ups will become (cheaper advertising costs).
- You need to be aware of the AdWords “Delay.” As much as Google loves to bring real-time information to everyone, the AdWords team hasn’t caught up yet. Any stats that you get from AdWords dashboard are going to be about a day old. But if your campaign is still active, your ads will still be running and you’ll be paying for any clicks. Keep that in mind if you want to stop your campaign before your credit runs out.
- Dropbox space. This has been the bulk of this post, you can get a max of 8 GB extra for free accounts and 16 GB for their pro accounts.
- SugarSync space. I talked about this here and it is also mentioned in the Lifehacker article comments. SugarSync offers unlimited bonus space for referrals. You get 500 MB if your referral signs up for a free account and 10 GB (bonus space) if they sign up for a paid account.
- SpiderOak: This is a service that is similar to Dropbox and SugarSync. This is one that I found after running my SugarSync ads, it appears they have a couple of different options. One looks like a referral link that grants an additional GB to you and your referral up to a maximum of 50 GB extra. It also looks like they offer an affiliate program that “compensates” (money?) when people sign up for free or paid accounts. I haven’t looked into this yet but getting paid when someone signs up for a free service sounds pretty sweet.
- Other Various Affiliate programs. There are to many of these to list. You can Google anything about making money online and run across plenty. The bulk will usually involves the end user buying something and lets face it, it’s WAY easier to get someone to sign up for a free service than to buy something. But, it might be worth it since the credits are “Free Money” to try your hand at it.