How to use affiliate marketing to drive low-cost conversions for your brand

  • Written by

More and more retailers are using the affiliate marketing model to drive low-cost conversions.

Share this

It’s a great way to tap into influencers and get your brand in front of a new audience, while consequently creating low-cost conversions. With commissions paid out only when sales are made, it is a cost-effective method advertisers are utilizing in greater numbers.

Conversions rates can be a major concern for marketing professionals as better conversion rates can lead to increased ROI. The definition of a conversion relates to the action a visitor takes when browsing your website or landing page; this could be downloading a report, filling out a subscribers form, or making a purchase.

When discussing affiliate marketing, conversion generally relates to sales made through affiliate links. Every time someone takes this desired action this counts as a conversion. The more sales that are made, the higher the conversion rate is and the more successful your model becomes.

Knowing your desired conversion and subsequent actions to take to improve the conversion rates is the key to producing a higher ROI. Let’s look at this in more detail.

How do you calculate conversion rate?

To calculate the conversion rate for your website, examine the number of visitors viewing the page against active conversions to give a percentage. If 1,000 people visit the page and 100 of these take the prescribed action (the conversion),  the conversion rate is 10%.

Adding analytics tools to your website and landing pages allows you to get more detailed conversion rate data. Google Analytics is often installed as the standard, basic tool. Google also allows you to add tags through Google Tag Manager to track particular events or goals, which can be useful if you want to delve deeper into the conversion process. Knowing the behavior of visitors can help to improve conversion rates in the future. You can also track the performance and conversion rate of each individual affiliate you are working with through your affiliate network.

If you require more detailed data, look at installing analytics tools like Mixpanel, Sumo, CrazyEgg, MozPro, and KissMetrics.

Conversion rate (CR) vs click-through rate (CTR)

According to Google, the click-through rate is “a ratio showing how often people who see your ad end up clicking it. Click-through rate (CTR) can be used to gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing.” Divide the number of times your ad is shown by the number of people clicking it to get your CTR. Higher click-through rates indicate your ad is targeted and relevant to the people who are viewing it.

As discussed above, the conversion rate is how many of your visitors to your affiliates’ landing pages click the call to action, which then directs to the product sales page.

An example of the process is:

  • 1,000 people see the ad, and 100 then click on it, giving a click-through rate of 10%
  • Of these 100 people who then land on your page, two people click on your call to action, giving you a conversion rate of 2%

What is the average affiliate CTR?

Quantifying a typical affiliate CTR is challenging, as it depends on how targeted the audience is and the details of the ad itself. However, CTR’s of 1.9% are considered average across all industries. There are also variations between industries, platforms, and types of advertising.

What's a typical conversion rate for affiliate marketing?

Like CTR, there’s no true average rate for affiliate marketing, as every affiliate program and vertical is different. That said, marketers like to know a benchmark to which they can base their own efforts. As a general guideline, conversion rates of 0.5% to 1% are considered average.

How you can improve your conversion rate

As mentioned earlier, in affiliate marketing the conversion rate increases as clicks on the affiliate links increase.

There are basically two ways to get more sales:

  1. Drive more traffic to the landing pages
  2. Increase the number of clicks on the links.

Many marketers concentrate more on driving traffic, but increasing the clicks on the links is just as important as increasing visitors to your landing pages. Let’s look at some ways to help achieve these factors.

Work with super-affiliates and influencers

Working with the right affiliates is one of the most important aspects of your affiliate marketing program. Choose partners who are influential in your niche, who know how to write compelling content that sells, and who have a readership that trusts them. Focus more on audience engagement and interaction than the size of the audience itself. Influencers have a big impact on their audience’s buying decisions, whether they are considered a micro- or macro-influencer. Their impact can help increase your conversion rates if they promote your product or service.

Use coupons and promotions

There is nothing more powerful than a ‘deal’ or a saving to potential buyers. With 97% of consumers searching for deals when they shop, it’s a technique used by affiliate marketing to good effect. Online, buyers will search on coupon and deals sites before going directly to the retailer. Working with coupon affiliate marketing sites is a great way to drive revenue for your brand, and many of the successful affiliate programs on Awin have a healthy mix of coupon and cashback publishers on their program.

Call to action

To a certain extent, your audience likes to be guided and told what to do next. They arrive on the website already primed to your offer, so the job of the landing page is to demonstrate why they need the product or service and then to direct them on the next stage. The landing page should provide clear signals on the process to follow.

As well as the examples of call-to-actions mentioned earlier, visitors to the landing page can also sign up for free trials, access a promotional deal, or start using the product or service. Call-to-action text can be as straightforward as ‘Download now’ or ‘Start your free trial’. These directions all tell the visitor what to do. Without this guidance, they may click off the page and visit another website to find what they’re looking for.

News pieces or blog content are often guilty of not including a call to action. Providing information to build relationships with your audience is an effective trust-building exercise, but never overlook the fact that your audience will be at different stages of the buying cycle. Give those who are ready to move up the sales funnel an opportunity to do so by including a call to action on every blog article or piece of content.

Vary the type of call-to-action you use as well. Include contextual linking and banners and buttons so you are appealing to all your audiences’ preferences.

Optimize your landing pages

Running different versions of the same landing page is crucial to measuring what works and what doesn’t. Simple changes can have a big effect on the conversion rate of a page, including changing the color of a button, moving the position of a call to action, tweaking the layout, focusing on an inbound call or sign-up form, adding images and much more.

When testing, make one small change at a time otherwise it is difficult to monitor which edit is making a difference. Keep your original landing page as the control, make a change and test the two pages side by side so that 50% of all the traffic goes to each in turn. You then keep the highest performing of the two pages as the new control, before making a different tweak to it to use as the new test. You may find that some of the edits convert better and some show lower conversions.

When building landing pages ensure they are quick to load, cover everything about the product in a compelling and benefits-driven fashion, and include eye-catching and relevant images. They should be easy to navigate and, when it comes to the call-to-action, should not give too many choices otherwise the consumer will not know what to do. Also, make sure to include social proof.

Social proof

More consumers are turning to ‘social proof’ before making a final decision to buy. Social proof is defined asa psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.” Examples include online reviews and testimonials. To tap into this trend, make sure you include these, as well as case studies and real-world results.

Testimonials act as powerful tools for building trust and are seen as a credible source of content that has a significant impact on the sales funnel process. Click-through rates on websites with excellent ratings have been shown to increase by 28%.

Quality of traffic

Although the quantity of traffic is important to generate data to measure results if your website is highly optimized for conversion and you are still not getting the conversions you are expecting, consider the quality of the traffic. For example, if you are promoting women’s fashions for 30’s-plus, your traffic needs to match this demographic to achieve the highest CTRs. This comes down to working with the right affiliates, as discussed above, who operate in your niche and have an audience that matches your demographic.

A final word

Improving the conversion rate does not necessitate spending more money. It is more important to review what your existing process is and make small tweaks to improve. Use testing frequently to calculate what is working so you can direct more of your budget to those areas and less to the ineffectual methods.

Spend time targeting traffic to your landing page, but when they arrive on the page make sure you give them clear direction on what to do next. Your product is designed to solve a problem they are experiencing, so give them the help they need to find that solution easily. By providing value and direction, you have the secret to driving conversions.

Strategy and best practices

Social media and Influencer Marketing might commonly be associated with eCommerce and retail brands, but these powerful tactics readily apply across all industries, from lifestyle to professional services. Maximizing the value of self-published content can be a challenge, particularly with limited resources, but the added value of influencers can help brands across all industries effectively reach consumers in a way that inspires genuine enthusiasm.