Affiliate Web Site Leaking? Call the Plumber!

My wife and I went grocery shopping last Saturday. I love shopping on Saturdays. That’s the day they pull out all the free samples! If you plan correctly, you can have quite the snacking experience.

First stop, breakfast sausage bites in Aisle 3. Then, Aisle 7 for chips and dip. Top it off with a refreshing drink of diet cola in Aisle 9. Burp. Straight to Aisle 12 for antacids.

What does grocery shopping have to do with affiliate marketing? In essence, both business models revolve around selling other people’s products. Manufacturers (e.g., Lipton, Coke, Ajax…) are merchants, and grocery stores are affiliates.

It’s the same online, for the most part. We have merchants and affiliates just like they do. The big differences are:

  • Grocery stores don’t generally have to directly compete with retail manufacturer stores as we do online (e.g., www.gap.com versus www.myreallycoolgapstore.com).

  • Grocery stores have a captive audience and therefore have no leaks. We don’t.

What Are Leaks?

Leaks are when visitors prematurely leave (click off) your Web site before you’re ready for them to go, which can mean they didn’t have time to sign up for your newsletter, bookmark your page, absorb your brand, or, heck, even buy something.

The most common soakers are home pages with far too many outward links, allowing the visitor to click away too quickly.

Let’s say a surfer finds you via a search engine. He comes to your home page, finds what he came for, clicks, and boom! he’s gone. Think how valuable it would have been to have that customer bookmark your page first or subscribe to your newsletter.

You should never bury information just to keep a visitor on your site longer. What you need to do is find ways to make sure that visitor doesn’t use your Web site as an roadside truck stop in Nowhere, TX — never to be visited again.

Build your site specifically to guide a visitor to what you want her to look at first and to what you want her to buy. Imagine you’re writing a story. Your goal is for the visitor to peruse the pages of your book in the sequence you want her to.

How Do I Stop the Leaking?

  • “Plunge” your home page data. What’s the percentage of links to internal pages versus links to outside Web sites? Do a high percentage of those links direct people away from your site?

  • “Flush” your log files. What’s the average time a person spends on individual pages? On your entire site? Is the number low because you don’t have relevant, well-written copy to support your products? Could be your visitors feel underserved.
  • Instead of allowing visitors to click off, build single-content pages for each product or category. Not only will this get visitors deeper into your site, it will seriously help your search engine rankings.
  • Once they’re inside, load your content pages with email signup links or other relevant call-to-action capture forms. Capture the customer at all costs. You will always sell more to existing customers with whom you’ve built relationships.
  • Display your brand proudly! Your logo should be prominent on every page of your site as a reminder to visitors. They’re not only buying your products, they’re also buying your brand. Never let your products’ brands overtake your own. If you do, chances are visitors won’t remember your site.
  • Make it easy to bookmark your site. Provide a “bookmark this page” button or an “add this site to your favorites” link. Do this on every page.

These guidelines ensure you’ll never again have to “jiggle the handle.” If you have any additional tips for avoiding Web site leaks, please let me know.

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