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Tips to Improve Affiliate Program Conversion Rates

Posted on 9.24.2013

Written By: Matt Swan, Client Strategist – Affiliate Window

With competition in the affiliate marketplace intensifying, it is important advertisers are optimizing their campaigns to ensure they stand out from competitors. The click to sale conversion rate is an obvious, yet often overlooked place to start.

Publishers are extremely effective at driving traffic to an advertiser’s site but if their traffic is not converting, they will consider sending it to a competitor that is better placed to turn this traffic into sales, and ultimately commission.

While it is easy for affiliate managers to recommend an increase in commission to boost activity, a more cost effective and sustainable tactic for the long term is to improve onsite conversion rates. 

In sectors where there is minimal differentiation between the products offered, affiliates are likely to base their coverage of a program on the earnings per click (EPC) they generate. An improvement in conversion rate can have a significant impact on a publishers EPC.

In this article we look at the top tips for improving conversion rates...

Knowledge Sharing with Publishers

Publishers are essentially an extension of the advertiser’s sales team. In order to assist them with converting traffic into sales they need to be armed with the correct tools. By providing them with information on products that are converting well for example, publishers can focus their efforts on these. 

Look at Publishers on an Individual Basis

It is important to look at publishers as individuals. Categorizing them by their promotional methods is difficult as no two publishers are the same and there can be a vast amount of crossover in terms of how they drive traffic to their sites. By working closely with key publishers it is possible to gain a clearer understanding of how they drive their traffic and the value of customers they are converting. This enables promotions to be tweaked on an individual basis to appeal to the sites audience and improve conversion rates.

This requires long term investment from the advertiser to really understand their key partners but it is a logical step for brands with mature programs.

Affiliate specific landing page

The primary aim of an advertiser’s landing page is to convert the traffic they receive. Whether this is online or over the phone they gain the sale regardless. More often than not a phone number will be included on their site providing customers with another means of contact to place their order if they need more information before purchasing.

While this is all well and good for direct traffic, publishers will see a telephone number as leakage as they require the customer to convert online. Advertiser’s can help affiliates convert their traffic by removing the phone number for any traffic referred from a publisher’s site, or integrate call tracking to ensure publisher sales generated through the call centre are awarded a commission. 

An additional step would be for an advertiser to engage with individual brand partners to develop customized, co-branded landing pages. This develops trust for visitors clicking through from the publisher site, confident in the knowledge the site they have clicked through from has a relationship with the advertiser they are purchasing from.

Encourage users to convert (online discount)

By providing an incentive to convert online, consumers are more likely to do so. Online specific discounts can certainly drive conversion rates. For example, insurance providers have seen conversion rates boosted when offering twelve months for the price of ten online. 

Additionally, one of the greatest obstructions to online conversion rates is hidden delivery charges. By making a coupon code available for free delivery, conversion rates can improve further.

Smooth transaction process

Having spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money in acquiring traffic and sending it through to an advertiser’s site, publishers need them to transact. Advertisers need to ensure a smooth transaction process, minimizing the number of clicks required to check out. By providing a product feed to deep link to relevant product pages, publishers are able to send their visitors directly to the product page they are interested in.  Similarly dynamic searchable banners, often seen in the travel sector, allow a visitor to conduct their search on the affiliate site prior to clicking through to the advertiser. All that remains is to complete the transaction – the purchasing decision has been made on the affiliate site, resulting in further qualified traffic for the advertiser and an increase in conversions.

Capitalize on the growth of m-commerce

With m-commerce growing at an exceptional rate, advertisers need to adapt to the consumer shift towards mobile devices. It is important for advertisers to cater for mobile visitors by providing a version of the site fully optimized for the mobile consumer. Mobile conversion rates are enhanced significantly when the visitor lands on a version of the site that has been optimized for mobile. For publishers to be rewarded for the sales they generate, it is essential affiliate tracking is in place on the mobile version of the site.

A/B Testing

Advertisers can test various layouts of their site to see which has the greatest impact on conversion rates. By changing elements such as text, layout, colours and calls to action, advertisers can tweak their site to improve their conversion rate.

Competitiveness of Offer

It is important your offer is competitive within the market. Telecoms is a sector where this is a key factor on conversion rates. With the rise of mobile phone resellers offering free gifts when taking out a contract, it is vital for mobile networks to provide competitive offers to be able to convert visitors coming directly to their sites.

A strong conversion rate is an important aspect of an affiliate program, hopefully this list has provided an overview of how this can be improved.

Matt Swan is a Client Strategist at global performance marketing network, Affiliate Window. He works with advertisers to offer strategic advice to optimize campaigns. He also contributes to new business pitches and is an active member of the IAB AMC.

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