Emails from merchants often spark various reactions, but one last week left me more than a little bit baffled. Now we’re pretty much open when it comes to some of the affiliate marketing we do! Whilst every man and his dog are screaming finesse and niche, we’re pretty much in the “using a steam roller for your pastry” department for some aspects of AM. It’s not pretty but it can be effective.

It is targeted traffic – to a point! Our users want to win stuff, a retailer is giving stuff away, we send them traffic. If we can use an affiliate link at the same all the better. The downside is that we don’t get paid for doing that, but the chance of no commission is better than no chance for no commission and we just have to hope that the retailer is doing a grand job promoting products, offers, discounts etc at their end.

What this means, for retailers, is we end up (occasionally) sending high traffic with low conversions. They end up with people visiting their site, competition entrants, brand awareness, low conversion rate and occasionally an affiliate manager who thinks we’re up to no good.

And it’s the latter which has had me baffled over the last few days.

They said that “having such a high click through rate and low conversion rate isn’t great for the overall program”. I’m still trying to figure out how our CR has any bearing on the program at all. OK in stats it may skew things, but under “lines of best fit” we’d be an anomaly. We’re also an anomaly that can be accounted for!

Now it’s appreciated that some retailers look on people who want to win things disdainfully, but they do (well some do) buy online and they are very web savvy. They’re the kind of people who will search for and use discounts, look for cashback (grrrr) and do all those wonderful money saving type things. Our problem is that they tend not to buy right at the time we send them to find competitions to enter.

So how can you help improve our conversion rate?

Well firstly you could pay us for leads to your competitions. Now this will probably never ever happen, but if it did our CR would look a lot healthier, as would our commission levels on networks. Hooray!

Secondly, know your website. What we’re finding is that quite often the AM isn’t actually aware what is happening across the entire site that they’re managing. They may know that skirts are down and trousers are up but not if a prize draw has ever appeared. If they did then they’d probably realise why there’s a sudden spike of traffic from duckland.

Thirdly, make sure your competition mechanic is better!

Take Buyagift as an example. For Valentine’s Day you could win a trip on The Orient Express… cool! You enter and all you see is “Why not check out our great range of Valentine’s Day gifts”. It’s better than nothing, but it screams out for “you’ve got a discount code” or “today’s offer, buy now or miss out”.

There’s just nowt eye catching there for anyone! An improvement in these kind of areas may not have any influence on our CR, but for other entrants/visitors it may help more than just a “click here” link.

Finally, please don’t kick us off your program because we have a low conversion rate as it really doesn’t ruin your program (or at least we hope it doesn’t). We do promote retailers in more targeted shopping related ways including price comparison, content, blogging, vouchers etc and are constantly working on new ways to improve our conversions.