Over 90% of affiliate programs convert below their industry average, according to my research and experience. If we take coupon affiliates, as well as various violators, out of the mix, I have also found that very few B2C affiliate programs will show conversion of 1.5% or higher.
The best place for merchants to start improving is to stop blaming affiliates, and see what they themself, as advertisers or affiliate managers, are doing to facilitate conversions. Not only are affiliates responsible for referring targeted visitors, but we, as advertisers, are also equally responsible for ensuring maximum possible performance of that traffic.
Here are just a few ways in which you can optimize the conversion of affiliate-referred traffic:
1. Go Leak Free
Ensure that nothing on your website (or landing page) may lead the affiliate-referred visitor to an action for which the affiliate will not get credit. Remove AdSense units; links to other merchants; links to your stores on platforms where you cannot pay commission; track phone calls and live chat transactions; and stay away from linking to affiliate sites.
2. Deep-Link to Dedicated Pages
While fewer than 30% of merchants do this, in my experience, targeted campaign-specific landing pages are a commonsense technique for increasing conversions. Do not drive all of the affiliate-referred traffic on your homepage. With visitors who respond to specific campaigns, serve them pages that reinforce the offer, providing any necessary explanations and embodying strong calls to action.
3. Experiment with Co-Branding
Per Affiliate Window, co-branded landing pages result in a three- to four-fold increase in conversions. Rakuten LinkShare, on the other hand, quotes a 66.45% conversion increase, nearly 44% revenue boost, and 132% difference in new customers acquired. Create these to (i) connect aligning your brand with the publisher’s brand, (ii) convince via compelling offers, exclusive promos, and a sense of urgency, and (iii) convert by auto-applying a discount, and making it easy for the transaction to complete.
4. Optimize Creative Inventory
Tweak your creatives based on your own successes, as well as competitive intelligence. Provide affiliates not only with banners (that cover the common sizes), but also with text links to important products and categories, data feeds, and video ads too. Did you know that when a video is incorporated into an ad, the dwell rate increases 29%, while the conversion rate increases 45%? Also offer dynamic creatives, which change on the affiliate sites as soon as you update them on your end.
5. Provide Marketing Calendar
For your affiliates to align their marketing plans with yours, put together a marketing calendar which will inform them of the important dates (e.g. when to expect specific creatives, sample copy, promos, etc). Make sure you stick to it, streamlining the marketing process for everyone.
Conversion optimization of affiliate traffic is one of the most frequently overlooked, but altogether one of the most powerful ways to improve performance of an affiliate program. So what are you waiting for?
Prussakov runs AM Navigator OPM agency, chairs Affiliate Management Days conference, speaks, writes, blogs, consults.
This article appeared in issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in August 2013. Read issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine.