Now that you’ve conducted your research into your niche, narrowed down some offers, the next stage is deciding whether to direct link to the offer or drive the traffic to your own page. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each approach.
Note: This is a continuing series of affiliate marketing educational posts, if you haven’t yet, you can start at the beginning of the series.
Direct Linking: Involves linking to the merchant/advertisers page.
I’ve known some new affiliates who literally link to the merchant’s signup page (without going through their affiliate URL). Think about this for a moment, if you’re sending traffic to the offer signup page, and it’s not being tracked to your affiliate account, how’re you going to get paid?
The one key you need to figure out is make sure your affiliate ID is embedded in the URL you’re sending traffic to.
Having said that, some experienced marketers frown on direct linking. The reason being that you:
- Aren’t fully utilising the traffic you’re generating
- Not building an asset (an email database/list)
Here’s the arguments:
- Not fully utilising traffic: If you’re getting a 1% conversion on leads sent to the list with the one-time exposure to the offer, would a second exposure generate another 1% conversion? Or even a 0.5% conversion? In which case your net profit has gone up by another 50% or 100% (1.5% conversion or 2% conversion compared to the 1% baseline conversion sending them direct).
- You’re not building an asset: One of the reasons why the heavy hitters are able to reduce their cost of business is because they’ve built up lists of 100,000 or 200,000 prospects in some niches. Think of the list as your leads or prospects who haven’t found the right affiliate offer yet. There are a couple of additional ingredients you need to make the emailing strategy work (this can be highly profitable and will be covered in more detail in a later session), you need “bait” (an incentive to get them to sign up – a report, a book, a video, a consult session, etc), and you need to keep the list “warm” (you need to keep the list alive by engaging the members, continuing to send them more information, incentives, etc). Sending an occasional alert to the list, telling them to sign up for an affiliate offer is a good way to irritate them, and get them to quit the list, or even worse, hit the “Report as Spam” button on their email provider, and drive your email deliverability rates into the dumps.
With those negative points, why bother direct linking. Here’re some possible reasons:
Rapidly test a new offer: If you want to check out the conversion of a new offer, sending traffic direct to the offer will give you an idea if the page converts. If you’re doing this, the leads need to be pretty up the buying cycle and should be ready to buy. Leads that are looking for “cheap George Foreman mark 3 grill” will be better leads than the more generic “bbq grill”. If you can’t get a single sale/conversion from direct linking, it might mean that there’s quite a bit of pre-selling needed on your part (via a landing page), or the offer is…a dud.
As complex as it might seem to new affiliates, a landing page is where a lead lands on after they’re clicking on your PPC ad, your article, your press release, a link on a blog, etc.
The landing page can be used to educate, pre-sell the prospect on the importance of a product/service.
An example might be a “Facing bad debt? Here are your solutions” landing page, where you can talk about credit reports, bad credit scores, solutions to getting it fixed, and link out to a lead gen offer for a free credit report, debt repair, etc.
That’s the educational/review style landing page.
For affiliates using an emailing strategy, a short opt-in form with a headline, 3-5 bullets (blocks of text/points) highlighting the benefits of enrolling for the list, including a report or book they’ll receive. If you follow through on the emailing strategy correctly, you’ll build up a list of highly targeted prospects who you can market to for a long time to come.
The issue new affiliates face with landing pages is knowing which type to use – review style, a top 10 listing, a blog post style landing page, a series of videos – the solution is to test them all with a landing page rotater which serves up the different variations (typically via an A/B split test). You ultimately want the market to decide on the “best” landing page for your campaign.
The bottomline: If you’re new to this, you might go with the direct linking route. To build a long term business, however, you should build you own landing pages (which also gives you the ability to redirect to alternative offers when needed).