To help set our affiliates up for success, we recently rolled out brand new banner assets. Designed with our sleek new look in a variety of eye-grabbing color palettes and sizes, the banners include category-specific calls to action to help you drive eBay sales.
Great creative is the starting point; the next step in optimizing the performance of affiliate banners is strategic placement on your website.
Topping the list of what you should take into consideration when integrating banners into your site layout is user experience. Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes, and really think about how they experience your website. Why do they come to your site in the first place? What are they looking for? And how can you use creative to help direct their attention to your affiliate links?
They key to an effectively monetized site is that it must be chock full of helpful, valuable content. As blogging expert and owner of several seven-figure online businesses Syed Balhki advises, don’t write for search engines, write for people… with the caveat that while writing for people, you still should keep search engines in mind.
For affiliates, an important part of your content mix is the eBay products you endorse and recommend. Loading up your site with too many banners, however, can have negative consequences -- which was made abundantly clear with Google’s recent “Fred” algorithm update. Overuse or misuse of even the best creative – where ads are perceived by search engines (and people, too!) as obtrusive and disruptive, not complementary and helpful – can result in low search rankings and therefore less earning potential for you.
Here are six strategies to keep in mind when placing your eBay banners on your site so that they’re optimally positioned to grab user attention and increase click-through rates.
1. Know how to “read” your visitors: left is the right placement.
People who read (in English) scan a page from left to right, top to bottom. Their attention is most focused when they start reading a sentence, and it dwindles as their eyes move across the page. This makes the upper left-hand position a key spot to place a graphic affiliate link.
2. The old newspaper adage holds true online: “above the fold” placement works. (With ONE crucial note.)
The less work people have to do, the better: place important content towards the top of your web pages, so users don’t have to scroll down to see it. However, there is one very important consideration to keep in mind – as mentioned, Google’s algorithm updates are meant to penalize sites that load “above the fold” with ads in the top spots and push more valuable content lower on the page. So use discretion and keep banners used in this space to a minimum.
3. Banners can be used to help the flow of content.
A thin, horizontal banner can be used to break up thoughts and provide an integrated, natural punctuation to the story you’re telling – and works especially well when it’s relevant to your reader. The goal is to enhance - not replace - content.
A long, thin horizontal banner is relatively unobtrusive, and it doesn’t push content far down below the fold. And if you place it near the fold, it acts almost like a footer – catching the reader’s attention, and encouraging him or her to click on it.
4. Fill your site with color & help beat “banner blindness.”
We provide our affiliates with a variety of creative options in a range of color palettes. Use this to your advantage – colors different from those of your site stand out and capture users’ attention. Ace online marketer Neil Patel advises, for example, “When host sites are light-colored, it’s better to use dark colors for your ads and vice-versa.” Techniques like this ensure users see and pay attention to your banners, and don’t just ignore them.
5. Use varied looks/sizes for your creative.
There’s a good reason why we provide several iterations of sizes, shapes, and even designs of the same banner: we want you to not only have plenty to choose from, but we also want you to be able to vary the look of your page layouts with creative that complements your site aesthetics. All of the creatives in a series are connected by color, fonts, and general designs.
6. Test, refine, repeat.
While you can follow all layout best practices and do all you can to avoid “banner blindness,” every site’s audience is different, and what works for others might not work for you. You can analyze how your eBay Creatives are performing by using the By Tool/Creative or By Campaign reports in the EPN portal. The By Tool/Creative report tells you which types of Creatives are providing the best results on your site, and the By Campaign report will tell you how each placement on your page is performing (if you choose to use a different Campaign ID for each placement). Then you can use this data to continue to optimize graphics and placements on your site.
The layout and structure of your site pages is critical to how well (or not) your affiliate banners perform. Make it a point to study the psychology of online consumption, and combine that knowledge with what you know (because of reports, analytics and testing - not just your own instincts) about your users. Then select the best creative and placements to maximize the user experience on your site. Remember that the more value you provide to your audience, the more likely it is that your affiliate banners will get the click throughs you desire -- and deserve.