So you’re driving traffic to your affiliate website or landing page, and making sales. You’ve crafted the perfect product review article to help pre-sell your product ensuring that your visitors are ready to buy when they click your affiliate links. And you’ve used copywriting best practices to ensure you appeal to your visitors and showcase the benefits of making a purchase. But you still feel you could get more from your traffic, and improve your conversion rate and sales further. What next?
Let me take you through my powerful but simple-to-follow 5-step conversion process for gathering data-driven insights into how visitors use your site. By using just four free tools we’ll turn this data into actions, conversion improvements and increased earnings.
Let’s start with an introduction to each of the tools and get them set up correctly so you can start gathering data to drive your decisions.
The four free tools I regularly use to work through the conversion process with my affiliates are:
No doubt you use some of these already, but by combining them together we can maximise their effectiveness.
Your MoreNiche Affiliate Area Reports
The Traffic Report Builder within the MoreNiche affiliate area contains loads of useful data to dig into your conversions.
If your conversions are lower than expected for a particular merchant, these reports can really help you to discover why.
You can see visitors, sales, conversion rate, and EPC (Earnings Per Click) by referrer (the landing page or source you sent traffic from). You may find different landing pages on your site have significantly different conversion rates so this can be a useful place to start.
Note: If you have an SSL certificate on your site, make sure that your affiliate links use the format https://mixi.mn not http://mixi.mn otherwise your referral data can’t be passed through to us and won’t show in your Traffic Builder report.
You can also set up your affiliate links to pass additional information about your campaign into these traffic reports. If you use paid traffic or a third-party tracking solution, you can pass Click IDs here, but it can be super-useful for other affiliates too.
A standard CrazyBulk affiliate link will look like this:
where ‘a’ is your Affiliate ID and ‘c’ is the CrazyBulk ID.
In addition to linking to specific landing pages such as the CrazyBulk D-Bal page using the ckmrdr parameter, you can also add the parameters s2, s3, s4 and s5 into your affiliate link to pass additional information of your choice.
If you have an offer banner in your header or sidebar that links directly to the merchant site, this is likely to convert lower than your in-content affiliate links. Therefore, rather than using the same affiliate link for CrazyBulk D-Bal every single time, I’d recommend setting up custom links to use in different places. This way you can use the Traffic Builder Report to understand which of your links your visitor is clicking and make decisions based upon that.
So your affiliate links could end up looking like this:
You’ve got four parameters to play with so get creative and produce descriptive affiliate links for the different banners, buttons and text links on your review pages, sidebars, headers etc.
When your visitors click your affiliate link, the descriptions you have created will be passed through so that you can see this information in the Traffic Builder Report by selecting S2, S3, S4 or S5 from the Value drop-down and then compare the conversions and EPC for each.
Google Analytics doesn’t really need any introductions, but in my opinion it’s a must for gaining insight into what’s working with your website and what needs improving upon. The majority of MoreNiche’s top affiliates use Google Analytics on their sites.
The information available in Google Analytics is invaluable and I’m able to work much more effectively with affiliates who have this installed and are willing to share the data. That said, if you use another tool which provides equal or greater info, feel free to use it instead.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console used to be known as Webmaster Tools and you can get an overview of its features and how to set it up here.
I use it in the conversation rate optimisation process to understand what keywords your page is being shown for in Google’s search results, and definitely recommend linking Search Console to your Google Analytics account.
Although they all play their part, Hotjar is maybe my favourite of the four tools as it enables you to see visually what your visitors are doing while they are on your page. Here’s a quick intro video to give you an idea of what Hotjar does:
Hotjar’s Basic plan allows you to collect data from up to 2,000 pageviews per day, with three heatmaps and 300 video recordings as well as some other features. This free option is a great place to start if you have just a few key pages you’d like to analyse, or you can choose from a range of affordable plans if you want to analyse more pages at once or have larger volumes of traffic.
Heatmaps are my favourite Hotjar facility and I use them frequently with affiliates. They’re really simple to set up and understand, and you can gather a lot of useful visitor information from them in a short period of time.
To create a heatmap, click Heatmaps on the side menu and then the big green ‘+ New Heatmap’ button
Then choose how many pageviews the heatmap should record before it stops collecting data, add a description, e.g. Homepage or D-Bal Review Page and give the URL of the page you’re reviewing. In most cases ‘Simple URL Match’ is fine but there are other options if you need them. Click ‘Create Heatmap’ and Hotjar will take a screenshot of your page for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
As visitors land on this page, it will mark on the screenshot where they click and move, and how far down your page they scroll.
Here’s an example of a heatmap with desktop visitors’ clicks shown. You can see two elements of the page got more clicks than the others – the ‘Features’ menu option, with visitors wanting to find out more about what Hotjar does, and the ‘Get Started’ button on the free plan.
As well as the ‘Click Heatmaps’, I also find the ‘Scroll Heatmaps’ incredibly powerful and insightful. These show how far down the page your visitors scroll, so you can ascertain how much of your content they are viewing and whether there is important info they are missing out on.
To touch briefly on a couple of the other features of HotJar:
- Video recordings – these allow you to watch individual visitors as they browse your site. They can be brilliant for spotting elements of your page which are broken, or don’t work for visitors from different countries or don’t function on different devices. I’ve found them to be very beneficial for merchants’ sites and they can also be really effective on simple affiliate landing pages, e.g. for paid traffic. Although for more complex affiliate sites, I can watch hours of video and not come out with any actionable insights (but this could be my failing!).
- Polls and surveys – these can be useful for finding out exactly what your visitors think – why they came to your site, if they found what they were looking for, how you can improve your site etc. My most recent affiliate has 100 responses so far! You may find that you need to work on perfecting the questions to ensure visitors are giving you useful, actionable information.
Now I’ve introduced each of the tools, let me take you through the 5-step website optimisation process so you can start to boost your conversion rates.
Step 1: Identify exactly what you want to improve
It may be that you’ve seen within your MoreNiche affiliate stats that your conversion for a particular merchant offer, affiliate site or product review is lower than your others or lower than the average conversion rate. Perhaps your goal is to improve your MoreNiche conversion rate for CrazyBulk from 2 to 3.5 per cent?
Or you may take a step back and see from Google Analytics that you’re drawing 1,000 visitors to your D-Bal product review page each day. Currently you’re achieving one sale per day, but you want to improve your overall conversion to two sales per day, through a combination of more clicks on your affiliate links with a higher percentage of those clicks converting to sales.
Alternatively, it might not be a MoreNiche product review page you want to work on at all – it could be a page prior to this in your sales funnel, and you want to drive more traffic onto your product review page. This is where you could use Google Analytics to look for one of the following:
- A high traffic page
- A page with a high bounce rate
- A page with a high exit rate
You can find these stats in the Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages report, and also by using the other reports in that section: Content Drilldown, Landing Pages and Exit Pages.
Step 2: Analyse your data
Once you’ve set up all the tools and your affiliate links, you’ll start to collect data. You can then begin to make use of this data by analysing it and gaining some insights to help you understand more about the issues you identified in step 1.
If you’ve established that you want to improve your MoreNiche click to sale conversion rate, then you’ll need to dig further down into your affiliate area reports to determine the specific items, such as particular banners or CTAs which are producing the poor conversion.
If you’ve identified a landing page which has a high bounce/exit rate, do the search terms your page is being listed for match the content of the page? Does the title and opening paragraph instantly confirm to your visitor that they are in the correct place to get the answer to their search query, and encourage them to read on?
Maybe your page isn’t a landing page, but traffic has arrived there by clicking a link on another page on your site? In the Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages report, add a secondary dimension of ‘Previous Page Path’ to show which page on your site they came from. Once you know this, you can consider whether your visitor would expect the link they clicked on to go to this page and whether it would meet their expectations from the anchor text or CTA.
Also, use the insight from your heatmaps to see what your visitors are doing – what are they clicking on or hovering over, and how far down your page are they scrolling? In the next section, I’ll go into this in more detail, give you some examples I’ve encountered with affiliates, and provide some tests for you to do.
Step 3: Create a hypothesis, actions, and implement changes
Unless you’ve found something broken or received direct feedback from your visitors on why they aren’t taking the action you want them to, you won’t know exactly what will have the right effect on your conversions. But you have gained some valuable insight from which you can develop a hypothesis and a set of actions.
As this article from Unbounce explains:
This step isn’t based on random ideas (although there is often best practice that you can consider in the context of your site and other data) but is based on the visitor behaviour you’ve seen.
For example, “I think changing my headline to closer match the searcher’s intent will result in a decreased bounce rate”.
Or, “I think making my anchor text more specific to make it clear what will happen when the visitor clicks will ensure that only those visitors who are interested in visiting that page will click the link”.
You can then go further to define the exact changes to copy, visuals etc. that you need to make. Once you’ve decided on the action you want to test, you will of course, need to implement it on your page.
If you have a lot of traffic, then the best option is to A/B test your changes so that you can scientifically confirm that they’ve produced the outcome you desired. Click here to check out my colleague, Rui’s article, Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Split Testing.
However, if you don’t have large volumes of traffic coming to your site, it will take much longer to get a conclusive result even with micro-conversions. Therefore it can make sense simply to implement the change and use your Google Analytics to attempt to measure the results.
To record your changes:
Below the graph on your dashboard, you’ll see a drop-down arrow like this:
Click the arrow and you’ll get the option to ‘+ Create New Annotation’ where you can describe the change you made and add the date it was made. You’ll then get a little comment icon on the graph which you can click to see your annotation. This way you’ll never forget what changes you made and when.
Step 4: Review your results
This is fairly self-explanatory – once you’ve made a change, you need to monitor the response to see if it has the desired result.
If you’ve set up a split test, your software will confirm when it has a conclusive positive or negative result.
If you’ve gone ahead and made the change on your site for all traffic, check your affiliate area reports or Google Analytics stats after one to two weeks to see whether any changes to your bounce rate, exit rate, conversion rate, EPC or other measure that you defined in stage 1 coincided with the change you made to your page.
Remember to compare like-for-like periods as much as possible. Avoid making changes at a time when you know an external factor will have an influence, for example if the merchant is running a campaign. (Unless of course, you’re sure your change will be positive and will take advantage of the campaign, but then you won’t be able to measure the outcome.)
Step 5: Re-evaluate and repeat
If you didn’t get the outcome you wanted the first time, consider why. Evaluate any changes to your stats and set up some new heatmaps to see how visitors behave with the changed page content. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you achieve the desired results.
Real Affiliate Examples And Tests For Hotjar
Now that you’ve understood my website conversion rate optimisation, let me share some examples that I’ve seen while using this method with affiliates. Hopefully, they’ll give you some more insight into how useful this process can be, and highlight issues to look out for with your own site.
Awesome comparison tables but only seen by 20 per cent of visitors!
I’ve worked with a couple of affiliates who have created some excellent comparison tables: one that compared SizeGenetics against competitor extender products and the other to upsell their visitors to a CrazyBulk stack to increase average order value and commission.
However Hotjar’s scroll heatmaps showed that only around 20 per cent of their visitors saw these tables, as they were placed down in the cold dark blue section of the scroll map.
In these cases it was possible to place both the content and the comparison table higher up the page in order to increase their visibility to over 50 per cent of users without disturbing the flow of the page or introducing the content before the visitor was ready.
Moving this important content into the green section of the scroll map not only ensured that many more visitors saw it, but it also encouraged more of them to make the purchase decision we wanted.
Headline not matching visitor intent
In another case, Search Console data showed the affiliate’s page was being displayed for many terms with high buyer intent. For example, ‘buy clenbuterol’, ‘clenbuterol for sale’.
Using the six basic questions who, what, where, when, why and how, I’d define these searches as ‘where’ questions, i.e. “Where can I buy clenbuterol (safely/legally/at the best price)?”.
However the headline on the page was along the lines of ‘Why do men find clenbuterol to be the best cutting pill?’ – a much more informational question.
Based on the Search Console data, I suggested updating the headline and ‘above the fold’ content to match the intent and make it immediately clear that the page would provide a recommended source for purchasing a legal alternative to clenbuterol.
Clicks on text or images that aren’t links
I’ve seen a number of instances of visitors clicking on text and images even though they aren’t links. Reasons for this could be:
- Text that looks like a link, e.g. if you’ve used underlining to highlight a particular phrase, visitors may assume this is a link. Switching to bold or italics can remove the confusion.
- Unfamiliar terms, e.g. ‘LDL’ that the visitor wants more information about. You could address this by adding an explanation of the term within the content, e.g. ‘LDL (low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol)’ or provide a clear link if they want more detail about that term.
- Not finding information or not realising that it appears below, e.g. clicking on “there are still legal steroids” to get more information on these, which could be changed to “there are still legal steroids such as those listed below” which would make it clear to the visitor that if they continue to read, they will find out more.
In some cases such as bottle images or before/after images, it won’t be clear why your visitor is clicking these; it may be a deliberate click to buy or they may just want to see the image bigger. The only answer is to test it.
A search box being the most clicked element on the page
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?! The only way to tell is to find out what visitors are typing into the search box.
After all, it could be seen as a bad thing; the visitor isn’t finding what they want on the page or a suitable navigation option on the menu. If multiple visitors are searching for similar terms, this could be a useful sign that you need to make this content more visible.
But in a particular affiliate’s case, visitors were searching for a huge variety of different options which couldn’t possibly have been dealt with by the homepage or navigation. Therefore in this instance, the search box was providing a valuable function. The affiliate also used the search data to produce ideas for future content.
Banners and images with unexpected affiliate links
Affiliates often add their affiliate links to before/after images to drive visitors through to the advertiser’s testimonial page. Similarly, they might use sidebar or header banners and direct traffic from there to the advertiser’s site.
With MoreNiche paying on a ‘last click’ basis, you want to make sure your visitors are expecting to leave your site and go to the advertiser site, and that they are ready to buy. For this reason I recommend that you only use your affiliate link where you have set a clear expectation that the visitor will be leaving your site, for example through a call to action or the anchor text.
Just linking ‘CrazyBulk D-Bal’ or ‘legal steroids’, or a banner that seems more informational and isn’t clearly a sales banner, is likely to get visitors clicking through when they aren’t ready to visit the advertiser site and purchase. Potentially they may then visit another affiliate site to finish their research and make their purchase. It’s even worth testing offer banners, since linking to your review page rather than directly to the advertiser site can often result in better overall earnings.
Tests for Hotjar
As well as some of the examples I’ve mentioned above which you can look out for on your own sites, Hotjar has created a useful set of eight tests to use with their heatmaps to help you identify potential issues or improvements you could make. You can check these out here.
Rui also gives some ideas (and alternative heatmap tools) in his article here.
So now you have everything you need to start working on your own website conversion rate: four free tools and tips on how to use them, and a simple 5-step process to work through.
As a quick reminder, first identify exactly what you want to improve, then analyse the data using your four tools, create a hypothesis, action strategy and implement the changes. Review the results, apply your findings and repeat steps 2-4 until you achieve the results you want.
If you’d like to work with me or one of our other affiliate managers as you go through the process, please get in touch and let us know.