The key to building a successful and sustainable affiliate program is to build and continuously improve your website as a destination that is useful to your visitors. Think of your website as your front door and your welcoming party. What should you think about when making improvements to provide the best possible first impression and overall user experience? We’ve collected a few top tips and refreshers that we hope provide value for new and established sites alike.
1. Get Found
You might have the best content in the world, but that will do little good if you aren’t bringing in new visitors. Most publishers know that search engine optimization (SEO) is key to attract new visitors who are searching for something specific, but the industry changes so quickly that it can be tough to keep up.
Make sure you’re covering the basics, like using a relevant domain name and including targeted keywords in your copy and page titles. Use meta data, or HTML text for things like videos and images, which search engines can have trouble indexing. Consider hiring an SEO firm or dedicated specialist to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest search engine updates that can affect the way websites are found. It might also be a good idea to check out a few episodes of ePN TV featuring eBay’s own resident SEO expert, Jordan Koene.
2. Build Trust
Imagine that you’re coming upon your website as a visitor for the first time – perhaps a visitor who has no knowledge of affiliate marketing. You think the content is relevant to you, but you don’t know the person behind the website, anything about the organization or why there are links to eBay or other affiliate sites. What is the purpose of this site? Is it trustworthy? Why are they linking to products on ecommerce websites? What’s the relationship there and how is your information used or shared?
By answering these questions up front, you can build trust with your visitors. Make sure the words you use on your site are accurate and descriptive. In addition, identifying your company as an eBay affiliate can help put visitors at ease. By being straightforward and offering up information, your visitors can be assured that your site is reputable and trustworthy.
3. Know Your Trends
Keep an eye on industry trends to see what is driving eyeballs on the internet. If you’re constantly scanning to learn what is making news, what people are talking about around the water cooler and on social media, you may be able to integrate some of these trends into your content to attract new visitors.
To take this a step further, know what’s hot on eBay. Not only do we regularly publish trend-based information on this blog to help guide consideration, but you can also explore eBay Collections and eBay Today to get up-to-the minute information on what’s trending. Another option is to check out a research platform like Terapeak for more robust and historical trend data across all eBay categories.
4. Remove Distractions
What’s the goal of your site? If one of your primary goals is to generate revenue through affiliate links, make sure your visitors aren’t getting distracted on the way there. In today’s multitasking society, you need to streamline the steps and the path people take to get to your desired end goal.
Examine all possible distractions from a user’s viewpoint including navigation, sidebars, links, images, videos, text layout and otherwise cluttered or too sparse pages. When you look at your website statistics, do you know where people are going, how long they’re staying on pages and what they’re clicking on? If you have high bounce rates or low conversions, distraction may be a factor worth looking into.
5. Be User-Friendly
Taking that a step further, check your site’s overall usability. Confusing navigation, an unbalanced mix of copy and media, outdated site design, slow page load times and an incongruent mobile experience can all contribute to user frustrations.
The best way to fix this is through user testing. Know the flow of your site, and any potential roadblocks. You can integrate best practices such as using plenty of white space, integrating value-added rich media, breaking up copy into bite-sized sections and using prominent calls to action, but make sure to test your experiments. There are a number of services that can help you assess this, from self-serve A/B testing tools to online focus group solutions.
Small changes can make a big difference. Removing a few graphics, adding trust cues or streamlining your navigation can go a long way toward building a loyal and satisfied user base, ultimately increasing click-through and conversion rates.
What site improvements have you made? Let us know what you’ve been up to in the comments.