Tips for Sending Engaged Buyer Traffic to eBay Sites

Our philosophical approach at eBay Partner Network is to pay generous commissions for quality traffic that drives incremental buying activity on eBay, i.e., purchases that occurred due to the affiliate’s actions.  Thus, we’ve looked closely at how engaged the traffic is from our affiliates and in the interest of eBay’s sellers and the overall health of the program, we made the decision to expire a small number of affiliates who were driving the least engaged traffic.  Moving forward, should we notice that any affiliate is driving low quality traffic according to our metrics, our goal is to provide help in improving the affiliate’s site(s) before taking any action such as expiration. In the interest of helping you maximize the impact of the traffic you drive to eBay, and enjoying in the financial benefits, we also wanted to re-post some of the tips from our board posts which some folks found to be very helpful.

What does “engagement” mean?

“Engagement” is how we look at a user’s experience on eBay once directed via an affiliate link.  Among other metrics, we look at the time that users spend on eBay, the number of pages that they view, and their bidding and buying activity after coming through an affiliate link.  For example, a user who visits eBay and then leaves the site immediately is not “engaged”, whereas a user who comes and browses the site and places a bid or makes a purchase is highly “engaged.”

Can affiliates affect engagement and conversion?

Definitely and there can be a big difference in performance on these metrics between affiliates. To illustrate the point with an extreme example, a site that helps potential buyers find and research stereo receivers and then points them to great deals on eBay will drive more engaged buyers with better conversion rates than an eBay banner on a ringtone site.  Also, a user is far more likely to be engaged if they knew prior to the click that they were going to be driven to eBay.

How can affiliates improve engagement from their sites?

Many of you are already using these techniques and others, but for those who may not be, here are some tips to improve engagement.

  • Maximize the amount of unique content to your site. Create commerce-oriented content for your site that engages the user in the shopping experience. Conversely, avoid putting eBay affiliate ads on pages that have little to do with shopping – e.g. ringtone sites, non-commerce oriented social network sites, e-mail services, etc.  Also, sites that do little other than offer links to redirect to eBay generally don’t perform well and remember to always make it clear on the affiliate links that they will be redirected to eBay to shop
  • Use more targeted creatives and tools. If all you have is a simple text link to eBay or a static eBay banner ad on your site, consider using one of our flash creatives. Use what you know about your users and your content, so consider using our banners targeted to specific demographics (e.g. male vs. female) or categories.  Also, consider using our Editor Kit and eBay To Go (US only) widgets, which can be customized to show specific eBay listings for a given category or keyword right on your page.
  • Integrate eBay links within your content. Sites that find a way to work eBay advertising into the content, rather than just as a simple ad at a top, side, or bottom of a page, tend to perform better.
  • Optimize your landing pages. Use what you know about your users to help them find what they want on eBay. If your site is about tennis rackets, avoid landing your users on the eBay homepage, and instead send them to a search results page on eBay for targeted tennis queries.
  • Use our geotargeting functionality. Sending a visitor on your site who is from the UK to ebay.co.uk (our British site) rather than ebay.com (our US site), will significantly improve conversion rates and engagement. You can select this option when you’re generating eBay links in the “tools” tab.
  • Avoid simply incentivizing visits to eBay or registration with eBay –If you are going to give your users cash back or points, tie those rewards to actual valid purchases on eBay.  If you incentivize visits or sign up, a user’s primary motivation is typically not browsing or purchasing from eBay, so their value to us is low.

How can affiliates test & improve their performance?

  • Set up specific campaigns to test out any new sites, links, content, etc., and ideally, test these new approaches in smaller volumes than your overall traffic. This way you will be able to evaluate the performance of each new campaign separately, ramp up the ones that perform the best, and prune the ones that don’t perform.
  • Leverage the custom ID reports to further segment your testing. In an upcoming release, additional category reporting will be made available that will help you identify at campaign, tool, and program levels the categories whose traffic is most likely to convert into sales, which will help you further optimize your content and affiliate links.

Lastly, as we have set high standards for the program, we are also taking this into account as we screen new registrations.  We are committed to growing the number of quality affiliates in the program, and we want to make sure our newest partners can meet those expectations.  As a result going forward we are paying close attention to all aspects of applications – especially the descriptions of affiliates’ business models and URLs that affiliates are planning on sending traffic from.  If you are interested in applying, please keep this in mind as you fill out your application.

We hope you find this communication helpful and wanted to thank you for your work in driving great traffic to eBay.  We remain committed to working with you to continue to build and strengthen eBay Partner Network.

The eBay Partner Network Team