The line between profitability and hopelessness has become so thin that you are royally shooting yourself in the balls if you are not fighting for every last conversion.
A common problem I see with affiliate sales funnels is a lack of understanding for what constitutes a conversion. Sounds pretty obvious, right? “Duh Finch, I get money when another sucker joins True.” Well, that’s almost correct. Unfortunately, the ‘almost’ cripples many campaigns.
Before promoting any offer, you must take the time to research exactly when the conversion pixel fires. There’s no room for vague assumptions. “Joining True” paints a picture in my mind of the conversion pixel being fired as soon as the user selects a username and hits Next. Most of the time, this is not the case.
We have zip submits, single opt-ins (SOI), double opt-ins (DOI), questionnaires to answer, profile pictures to upload, applications to download, first orders to place… every offer comes with its own criteria for when the conversion should be fired.
The definition of “joining a site” is black and white. But your conversion isn’t. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they are one and the same.
Here are some general guidelines for how your landing pages can be adapted to suit each conversion type.
Generally seen as the easiest affiliate offers to promote, zip submits do exactly what they say on the tin. As soon as the user submits his zip-code, you get your conversion. The payouts on these offers are predictably low to offset the unpredictability of the traffic quality.
The golden rule of promoting zip submits is to hold the advertiser’s hand and give them exactly what they want. There’s no point in delivering poor quality traffic. You’ll be scrubbed to Timbuktu in no time.
A single opt-in requires the user to submit his email address. However, the conversion is triggered after the submission rather than at the point of confirmation. You’ll find a lot of single opt-in offers paying around $2-$3.50. It’s not big bucks, but it’s better than a zip submit.
In my opinion, the large majority of affiliates use landing pages that are aimed at achieving a single opt-in. It’s the standard entry point. But think about it logically. If the advertiser is paying out on a single opt-in, you can probably increase your traffic quality substantially simply by treating the offer like a double opt-in. Encourage and incentivize the user to confirm his email address. This may have to come at the price of one of our favourite affiliate tactics: completely bullshitting the real nature of the offer. “Hey, where all the single soldiers at?”
A confirmed double opt-in is worth infinitely more than a single opt-in. Your payouts will traditionally reflect this by offering double for the confirmed email.
Something to keep in mind with double opt-in campaigns, particularly in the dating vertical, is that it makes no sense to calculate ROI on an ongoing ‘live’ basis. A small but significant percentage of users will not confirm their double opt-in straight away. They will get busy, distracted, or otherwise torn away from their Gmail. This can lead to a small trickle of conversions being fired the next morning. Ever had 0 clicks and 3 conversions? Well, there you go.
However, if you’re monitoring your stats like a hawk, what are you going to think when you finish the evening taking a loss? You’ve probably already deleted the campaign by then.
Always let your conversions filter through before making any snap judgments.
Some offers require the completion of an entire questionnaire before the conversion is recorded. Now imagine you’re the stereotypical battering-ram of a publisher who cares not for such details. You design a landing page with a teasing call-to-action like this:
“Register in 45 Seconds or Less!”
Sounds nice and coaxing, right? In some cases this works as a great hook. But it’s a terrible call-to-action when the conversion pixel is only fired after a 15 minute questionnaire.
I see it happening time and time again. Affiliates go for quick dealmakers. They sell every offer with the brevity of a single opt-in, when they should actually be shooting for a solid incentive to complete Steps A, B and C.
In instances where the user is required to navigate his way through a complex 15 minute interrogation, your landing page has a duty to sell this process and make it seem worthwhile. How could you get a user to answer a questionnaire?
To give you an example, on dating sites, I use it to filter out the ‘bad dates’ that the user will be avoiding when she joins the new service. It’s quality protection, because she only deserves the best.
Profile photo upload
This is another common requirement on high-payout dating offers.
Offers that convert only after a profile photo upload would have worried the crap out of me 5 years ago. But now thanks to Facebook, even technophobic 75 year old grandmas have photos at their disposal.
The secret to nailing these conversions is to make a direct reference to the benefits of uploading a photo. If you’re branding the site as an unusual paradise where men actually receive messages from hot girls, you should make it clear that communications increase X% when the user adds his photo. Or say that members without a photo are being culled and will not qualify for the free trial offer. Whatever puts the thought in his head and safeguards your conversion.
Converts on download
There are many toolbar and gaming offers out there where the user is expected not only to sign up, but to download and sometimes even play the game for the first time.
For single opt-in minded folk, I like to call this the ‘minefield offer’.
It’s littered with so many what-ifs that the challenge is as much about hitting the right carefree demographic as it is selling the product. A golden rule that I’ve adopted is to avoid targeting users who are likely to be on their work computers. This crowd does not want to download and leave a trace. So you will need to day-part and keep a tight hold over your demographics.
There’s no point in trying to con the user here. Your best step forward is to sell the offer as a legitimate must-have and hope that the user’s interest is perked enough to follow the necessary steps.
For gaming offers, “Can you beat this ridiculous score?” is a winning hook.
So, how are your conversions today?
Take a look at your own sales funnels. Be honest.
Has it all gone slightly tits-up?
Your landing page must not only sell the offer. It must sell the required steps necessary to secure the conversion.
As I said on StackThatMoney this week, your sales funnel has to be designed to shove the user to the conversion pixel, NOT purely to get them to choose a username and press Next. Be clear with your objectives!
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