Conversion Optimisation for Affiliates – what works and what doesn’t?
SiGMA 2017 – Malta
22-25 November 2017
Conversion Optimisation for Affiliates – what works and what doesn’t?
Conversion optimisation for affiliates, what works and what doesn’t does S.R.O. really work for affiliate sites. Often you have no control over the offering, the registration funnel or the landing page. Dave will show you what you need to know about your visitors. Find out how one affiliate made over twenty thousand euros per week from S.R.O. Speaker Dave Gowans, managing director Browser to Buyer.
It’s great to be here. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Dave Gowans, and what I want to talk to you about today is about as an affiliate, what can you do with your site to increase its performance and its revenue through conversion optimisation? And I don’t want to look at is when we’re looking at a successful conversion optimisation programme for affiliates or in fact, if you’re an operator as well, a lot of this will will apply. What are the things that you can do and you should be doing to increase that conversion rate?
And equally, what are the things that you shouldn’t be? What are the things that you should be avoiding doing? Because they are a waste of your time and your money. So just to start off, I’ll give you a little bit of background about who I am and where, why I’m here. So for the last seven years, I’ve been working with big businesses such as those you can see here. And last year I found a Browser to Buyer.
We are an expert conversion optimisation agency. And what we do is we work with businesses around the world to significantly increase their conversion rates. And the way we do it is quite simple. Basically, the idea is that we will find out using research and data exactly what it is that stops someone on your visit, on your website from converting. And then we’ll make changes. We’ll run split tests to influence those visitors and to make them more likely to convert.
Now, having worked with all sorts of businesses around the world, one of the things that I found most interesting is the businesses that actually have the most potential from conversion optimisation are actually affiliates. But when we look at conversion optimisation and how it works, normally this is this is what you’d normally imagine when when you’re looking at a traditional conversion optimisation, you’ve got a funnel that starts with landing pages, sign up form if we get them through to registration and then and then hopefully to actually become, say, a depositing customer.
And for someone who runs a conversion funnel like this, it’s it’s really straightforward. It makes sense. If you can make a change, say, on your landing page, that gives you a 10 percent increase in the number of people who are going through looking. That applies all the way down the funnel. That is 10 percent more people coming down and you end down that you’ve got 10 percent more reaching the bottom of the funnel, a 10 percent higher conversion rate and effectively 10 percent more revenue from exactly the same amount of traffic.
And that’s brilliant. That’s great if you control the funnel. The challenge is that then the affiliate world things look a lot more like this. You’re bringing in traffic here at the site. That’s what you guys are really good at. You’re spending a lot of your time and your effort bringing in that traffic. Those people are coming onto your site and usually they’re not really interacting that much. You might be talking about one or two page views. And then what you’re trying to do is to get them out to one of these paddlings that then you can start earning revenue from them.
But the problem is that when you send someone out through a link, suddenly they go into this black box. Effectively, it’s it’s somewhere where you can’t observe what that person’s doing. You can’t see what they’re doing. You can’t influence them directly because that’s not your site and that’s not your funnel. And the problem is that it’s through that process that most of these people are going to drop out. There’s only a small proportion of them that turn into registered players and even, you know, even smaller amount that they actually turn into depositing customers and turn into that revenue.
So the question is, does conversion optimisation really work for affiliates? Well, absolutely, yes. I mean, I’ve worked with with affiliates and SpaceDev travel money, price comparison sites, iGaming and and in the area of Web hosting as well. And what we’ve seen is there are many, many tests that give them very significant results. Individual AB tests are giving them 10, 20, 30 percent increases in clicks and in revenue. And these sites are running two or more tests every single month.
As I said in the introduction, one affiliate I was working with attributed the value of the conversion optimisation work over twenty thousand dollars a week, and that was making a massive difference to his business. So what I want to talk to you a little bit about today is the things that don’t work, the things that you shouldn’t be doing. And then also a little bit more interesting, probably the things that you should be doing and the changes you should be making to your site.
But I start with the things that don’t work. And this is important because you have two very limited resources. The first one is obviously your money and time. It’s not an easy process to improve your website. It’s going to take time. You’ve got to build split tests. That’s an investment you need to make. And if you’re running tests that aren’t giving you a return, then you’re wasting that money. The other challenge is that you are very limited in traffic.
Every website has a set amount of traffic and to run split tests, you’re going to need to use some of that. And if you’re wasting that traffic on small tests that are returning one percent or something like that, then you’re really wasting that traffic and wasting that opportunity for for a better conversion rate. So let’s have a look at some of the things that people do a lot but actually don’t work. And the first one is what I call small tweaks.
So these are effectively the things that pretty much give conversion optimisation a bad name. It’s things like changing colours, moving columns around, changing the sides of things. There are some circumstances where this can help your business. If you’re a massive brand and you are doing millions of transactions, then making half a percent or one percent from making a small change can actually make a difference to you. But fundamentally, these are exactly the sort of changes that the waste that traffic and waste that time.
These aren’t going to really influence how a user is is interacting and they’re not going to change their behaviour. The second thing with a lot of people do when it comes to conversion optimisation and and is a dangerous thing to do, it’s just assuming that best practise is going to work. You know, you could go out there and search on Google for conversion optimisation tips and you’ll probably find hundreds and hundreds of pages of ideas of things you can change. There’s one article there, 544 conversion optimisation tips.
But there’s a lot of problems with these. First of all, a best practise tip isn’t going to work for every single website. The fact that this is work for a bird brand, a big e-commerce brand, for example, doesn’t mean that it works for you. And even worse, we’re in an industry where people don’t really don’t really deliver tips for our industry. And that’s both counts for affiliates and for gaming itself. You know, you’ve got to step up here and this comes from official website optimises know someone who should be a thought leader in this space and next thing you know, embrace new design trends and that that works very well.
If you’re running an exciting new mobile app or you’re running a big tech company or fashion brand. But in reality, when it comes to gaming affiliates, quite often some sort of slick design will actually mean that people think, hang on a minute, this isn’t an authentic site. This isn’t a site that’s going to really give me sound advice. And it’s the same for other things. Hey, you know, removing the clutter and things like that, they’re all pretty good advice when it comes to a usability point of view.
But at the end of the day, these aren’t tips for gaming sites. These aren’t tips for affiliate sites. And even if they were, they’re not tips for your audience and your visitors. So really be very careful if you want to try and rely on these. Now, this is related, but unfortunately, something that that a lot of people do is is to just copy the competition. And it’s it’s extremely tempting to look at the dominant players in your industry and say, well, they must be doing this right.
You know, they’re making a lot of money from this. They are they’re the people that I’m up against. These are the people that I should be copying. But the problem is that you’ve actually got no idea if they’re doing good conversion optimisation at all. They might be the leader in the industry because they have the biggest marketing budgets or because they’re brilliant with their CEO or any one of these reasons. Their website might actually be really, really bad.
And unfortunately, a lot of the big names do have really bad websites when it comes to conversion optimisations because they’re relying on that traffic. They’re relying on their brand to convert people. And even if they are good, again, this doesn’t necessarily work for your individual brand. You know, if you’re up against someone with a big brand, you know, if you are competing against someone like Aetate Toschi, but there people who have spent a lot of money on that brand, people trust them.
The same things that they can do. You’re going to need to do things differently. You know, you’re going to need to build trust, for example, where it already exists for them. So it’s important to look at this and say, you know, I can’t just copy other sites. I need to do what’s right for my site and for my visitors. So those are the things that don’t work, and that’s potentially a little less interesting now if we move on to what actually does work, what what what are the things that you as an affiliate or again, even as an operator should be doing to significantly improve your conversion rate?
Well, the first thing to do is to make sure that you are following a good process for conversion optimisation and as I said at the start, conversion optimisation comes down to actually quite a simple concept. What you want to be doing is, first of all, making sure that you can understand your visitors. And by that, I mean understand what their problems are or understand what their motivations are, understand what they want out of your website. And then it’s about influencing what can you do to change their behaviour?
What can you do to change the way that these users are behaving and interacting on your site? So if we start with the first part, what can we do to understand our visitors and understand them better? Well, I’d recommend for any website installing three simple research tools, and some of these might be familiar to you already. First of all, is Google Analytics now. By this, I don’t just mean stick the Google Analytics tail attack on your website and just assume the data is going to come in.
It’s not just about that. It’s about setting it up in the right way to get the right information, to understand the behaviour of your visitors. So what I mean by that, you know, you need to be tacking up, for example, exactly where people are clicking out, you know, which pages are they clicking from? Which particular links on that page are they clicking? Which offers are they clicking on? Because that’s the sort of information that will tell you.
Well, this is what works well for my customers and these are the things that don’t. So that gives you a sort of quantitatively a numbers. Then you can move on to a tool like Hotjar. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Hotjar is a tool that you can put on your website to gather qualitative data together, sort of more information about how users interact. And it’s cheap and easy. It’s about 90 euros a month. So there’s not many excuses for not putting it on your site and the sort of things you can do with Hotjar.
I get that really in depth information about how people are interacting. So some of the things you can do, for example, include heat maps so you can see where are people clicking, where are they moving their mouse, where are they scrolling on the page? And of course, that’s really important because what that’s going to help you understand is which parts of the page are interesting to people. You know, which part of I tell you a comparison table are they actually looking down?
Which column is most interesting to them? Which parts of your content are they reading and which parts are they sipping? Similarly, Hotjar will give you session recordings. And these are basically recordings of your users, the mouse movements, the clicks, the typing that they’ve done on your website. And again, that brilliant to watch back and understand how do those people actually interact and what are they looking for. And the great thing you can do with Hotjar is actually start running polls, asking your users questions.
You know, put a little pop up question on your website and say what’s important to you when you’re picking a new casino, for example? And that would give you really valuable information as that comes back to say, you know, this is the sort of thing that’s important to someone. Even if they say, I want this particular slot, for example, you know, that’s what’s important to them. And the third tool, or actually a service is called What Users Do.
Now, this is a usability testing service. So what they do is they have a panel of about 30000 real users. And for a small fee, you can set them a task. So you could say, you know, for example, I want people who currently play slots online and I’d like to give them the task of finding a new casino to play at. And then what you’ll get back from that is videos of these real users completing the tasks you’ve set, but also talking about what they do.
And the great thing about this is not only you’re getting that insight into what people think, but this is really, really useful as an affiliate because it gives you a real video of someone. So even once they’ve clicked off your site, you can see what happens when they go through the sign up form, what happens when they go through the deposit form, what happens when they want to start playing? And that’s really, really valuable information because that starts to give us that insight into what’s happening in that in that black box once someone’s clicked off the site.
So use these three tools and gather together as much data as you possibly can. And once you’ve done that, you need to decide what to do with it. And making that data actionable is probably the next big challenge now at Browser to Buyer. What we do is we have a model where we try to identify two things, the most of what we call barriers and motivators. So a barrier is something that will stop someone on your website from converting or someone something that will make them less likely to convert.
So that could be, for example, they don’t trust the casino that you’ve linked out to. Or perhaps it’s that when they do Linko, they can’t work out how to claim the bonus or something like that. And similarly, we want to look and find out what the motivators are. So what are these things that if someone knew that they would be more likely to convert through your site? So maybe like I mentioned earlier, it could be that there’s a specific slot that they want to play and that is available through this casino.
Or it could be that, you know, there’s an exclusive bonus or a particularly large bonus available at the current time that that is going to make them more likely to pick out whatever it is. What you need to be trying to identify for for your customers is what are those top sort of four or five barriers? What are the top things that are stopping them? And what are the top four or five motivators? What are the things that you should be promoting to make them more likely to convert?
And once you’ve identified those things, that’s when you can move on to the sort of slightly more exciting step of actually influencing those users. So when it comes down to influencing users, I can what I want to do is share with you some of the ways that have worked very well for me in the past with affiliate sites. But of course, as always, these things are tests you should be running yourself. And these are just ideas. These are the things that you can take and build the work for your own market.
But the key points in the first most important thing you can do to to increase your conversion rate is quite simply to give users what they want. It sounds simple, but actually in reality, a lot of conversion rate optimisation is just about doing what’s best for the customer, doing what’s best for the user. And this is where all those heat maps and session recordings come in. This is an example of a mass movement, hazmat heat maps of where people are scrolling around on the page.
But if you can use this to identify what the thing is that people are looking for on the site and you can start promoting that to people, then it makes them far more likely to click out. Here’s a example here from the Web posting affiliate that I used to work with. Now they we did a lot of work with them to understand what encouraged people to click out to a Web site. And what we found was that when somebody is looking for a Web post for their WordPress blog, for example, the single most important thing for them was that a host had been officially recognised by WordPress, was accredited as a WordPress host.
And once we found that information out, then we put that all over the site. You know, we had recommended by WordPress then the key features. We put banners, we have badges all over the house that had this and this change alone increased the click outs and revenue for that post by about 20 percent. So it’s quite straightforward. That’s what motivates people. We’ve identified it. And then what we’re doing is promoting that. Here’s an example, one that’s probably a bit more familiar to everyone in this room.
Here’s a site that’s recommending to us 888 Poca, and this isn’t a client of mine. So I don’t know how they came about this. But they what they seem to have identified is that the key most important thing to users is the withdrawal process and how easy that process is. So, as you can see, they’ve then tried to promote that on the page they’ve got here easy withdrawals and a quote from a real user support that they’ve got the information about how long that usually takes.
So it’s all that sort of supporting information and really important information that will convince people to click through because this is what their concern is. So it’s really a matter of identifying what that thing is that will most influence users and what they’re looking for and then just giving it to them. The next thing that I encourage you to look at is it’s looking at the way that you’re actually present offers and bonuses to users. I mean, we know that many users are out there looking for the latest bonus, their bonus chasing.
They’ll pick the biggest one they see. And what you need to start thinking about is sort of the psychology behind why they’re picking a particular offer, a bonus and start testing that. And what’s great is even if you’re working, say, with an operator who doesn’t give you any flexibility in the offers, you can still present the same offer in different ways. So we’ve got a 200 dollar welcome bonus. Well, that’s exactly the same thing as a 20 times welcome bonus.
And it could be the same thing as a 2000 percent match bonus. As you can see, we’ve got three very different ways here to present the same offer. And it’s really interesting to start testing this because for you, your users will react in different ways. You know, some people go for a really big number. That’s what they want to see, 2000 percent. Some people are just really motivated by specific monetary value. And, you know, they want to go for that 200 dollar bonus.
And this is going to depend on what other offers you have on your site at the moment and what else this is competing against. But it’s definitely something in your control to to show it in different ways. And it’s a very important thing to try and test. And what you might find is this is what your customers want. They just want free spreads. They’re not interested in the bonus and monetary value at all. So it’s why it’s so important to be testing all of these things.
And, you know, as you can see, what we’re doing here is we’re testing things that affect the business and affect the user’s mindset. It’s not just about sort of usability and changing the way the site looks. The next thing I’d recommend looking at is, is what you can do to prepare users for what comes next. So right back at the beginning, I was saying that when someone clicks out from your site, they end up in this position where you have no control over what happens next.
You know, you’re relying on Skype at or 888 or PokerStars or whoever to convert that customer from a click into a depositing customer. And the problem is that these processes are long and these processes are quite difficult. I mean, if we actually look through what happens when I click out from this site, there’s so many possibilities for this user to drop out. They go onto a landing page. There’s a lot of reasons they might drop out here. For example, I’ve been offered 20 pounds free here on the previous site.
It said it was eighty eight dollars. So already there’s an inconsistency there. Maybe I wanted to find out a bit more. You know, can I play this on a mobile device? What sorts of players have you got? Any of that sort of thing? And the landing page doesn’t give me that information. So potentially that person that’s come onto your site and you’ve passed over to to this customer, to this casino to to turn into a real customer, you know, they could be lost.
And I’m not just picking on Aetate here. A lot of sites have have similar processes. But if anyone is there from 888, feel free to come and have a chat. Once you’ve gone through the landing page, then into something like a download process, so many things can go wrong here. The user might not actually realise they’re doing it. Download. They might miss this little box at the side here where this installation failed. They might get the wrong version for their computer.
They might have a really slow Internet connexion. There’s so many reasons, again, that they’ll drop out. They’ve then got to install the software again. They’ll go off and get a drink, forget about it. Finally, they come to the registration page. Of course, registration forms are always places where a lot of people will drop out. You know, they’ve got to provide lots of personal information. They might suddenly decide they don’t want to give their mobile number to them.
And finally, if you’re really lucky, they get all the way through and they are a successful customer. And then they might be thinking, well, what happened to that bonus that you promised me? How do I get it? Was it 20? Was it 888? Was the matchable? I don’t know how to get it. So you might lose them or they might never play. And that’s the real challenge. As an affiliate, you know, what should you do?
D Do you stop sending customers to the sites like this? Well, no, because every funnel is going to drop people out. If if anyone can create a perfectly converting funnel, the Internet will be a very different place. But there are things you can do. And one of the ways you can do that is to to try to prepare users and give them a hint as to what’s coming up. And there’s there’s loads of ways to do this.
But if, for example, using your usability tests, you’ve seen these sorts of problems and you’ve seen users dropping out because of these reasons, you could do something like when they click something up so it pop up a little bit and interstitial. It’s up there for a few seconds. And what that does is that starts to prepare people for the sorts of problems that they might have up ahead. So the first thing we might want to do is encourage them actually to click the instant player link, not the download.
You know, that might be a less valuable customer in the long run, but if they convert and get playing much quicker than actually, that could be a better customer for us from a conversion optimisation perspective. Explain to them, you know, you’re going to need to complete your registration, by the way. You might need a UK mobile number. And then we explain to them, you know, to get this to get this bonus, you’re going to have to deposit £100 in your account.
You know, we explain to them you’re not going to need a bonus code. It will get there. And all these things are quite easy to do. And the user might read all of this. They might read some of it, they might read none of it. But it starts to prepare them for the process they’re going to go through. And that’s a great way to try and overcome some of those problems. You can’t change the conversion funnel, but you can prepare people for it.
The next important thing that I’d encourage you to be doing as an affiliate is, is make sure you’re actually testing the offers and the programmes that you’re offering on your site. Now, there’s hundreds of operators out there. You could go out there today and sign them all up and put them all on your site. And that may or may not be the right thing to do. And there’s huge benefits to showing hundreds of different offers on your site because people are probably going to find something they like on their you and you’re trying to maximise your income.
But the problem is that you get the paralysis of choice. You know which one of these is the right offer for me? Know, are you recommending me an offer or are you just putting everything you know on the site so you could take the other route? You could take this affiliate has and just promote one casino, you know, and there’s a lot of benefits to doing it. This way you can put lots of sort of sales information and really try and convert the user.
You know, you can see the operating systems, you can see the banking methods. These are the games you can play. It’s a really strong, compelling page. But if I’ve already signed up with that casino or I don’t like it, then I’ve got no alternatives. So what I’d really encourage you to be doing is work out what the best version is for your site. You know how many offers you should you have? Is it one? Isn’t a hundred, is it five?
And then test them against each other. You know, what is the best revenue that you can get from one of these programmes? You know, if you do a split test, you might find that loads more people look out for this casino. But actually this casino is far more valuable. So you really need to be testing all of this. And it’s a very, very important thing to do as an affiliate in a way that you can really maximise your revenue.
Another nice technique you can use is one that actually is thought of more as an e-commerce technique, and that’s that’s the idea of upselling. So when we think about upselling. You’ll typically think about someone like, say, go, daddy, you know, you go on to their website, you want to buy a domain name, you end up buying an SSL certificate and hosting an email and some sort of mailbox and all sorts of other things. But.
Upselling can work very well for affiliates as well. So, again, I’ll use an example of the Web hosting affiliate that I used to work with, with this site because they were a review site. They had a lot of traffic coming onto hosts that either had low paying affiliate programmes or actually had none at all. So they had all that traffic coming onto those pages, clicking out. They were making very little money from it. And of course, you’re always going to have programmes on your site that don’t pay as well as others.
So one of the things that you can start to do is look at can you sell your users from those lower paying programmes to to higher paying ones? And there’s loads of different ways to do it. This this was the one we used with them. So let’s say we’re clicking out on Luckie 24 seven. Perhaps that’s one of our low paying programmes. And again, we can pop up something like this. And this is actually giving the user an option.
It’s saying you’re far enough. You wanted this one click away in our carry on, but instead, why not have a thousand pound bonus from Petteway Casino? They’re actually rated four and a half stars by our two stars. Our visitors prefer them. Why wouldn’t you go for this fantastic better offer? And the great thing about this is it’s almost a no lose situation. You know, you’ve got three possibilities. You’ve got that low paying traffic. Maybe they continue on and they go and visit Luckies 24/7.
Brillion, you’ve made a little bit of money from them. Maybe they drop out. Well, you haven’t lost a lot, but maybe they actually convert to a much higher paying affiliate affiliate programme. And then suddenly that visitor is worth a lot more money to you. And when we tested this, I think it was something like 20 to 30 percent of people actually switch to the higher paying programme from the low paying one. So it’s definitely something that’s worth trying.
You can also bring in other psychological effects. So when we actually tested this, we put a 30 second countdown timer as well. You know, this is an offer for just 30 seconds. It counted down. It did nothing, but it actually caused 16 percent more people to choose an offer. So it’s the sort of thing that you can start playing on those sort of psychological aspects. And when we’re thinking about psychology, the final sort of tip I have is actually one to to try and get back to our roots and get back to why people are on these sites in the first place, you know, work in the gaming industry and people want to play and they want to win and they want to get that feeling of success.
And this is actually an example from a landing page. But I have tested it with an affiliate site before and it was very, very effective. And that is that we’re offering this as a slot and I’ll see if my video actually works here. Unfortunately not. But well, you could imagine is that when I click spin here, it spins and I amazingly win a 1000 pound bonus. And the great thing about this is that it does so much to the user psychology to encourage them to click out because suddenly they’re in a very positive frame of mind.
They’ve they’ve just won something. You know, obviously, everyone wins. We know that the user probably knows that, although they might not want to admit it, but they’re in a good mood. They’ve won something. They’re happy. And the other thing is that it brings in a concept of loss aversion. So when it comes to looking at bonuses on a site, you know, you don’t really associate yourself with them. But as soon as you’ve won that bonus, it’s yours.
It’s your personal one. You don’t want anyone to take that away from you. So you actually end up going out and claiming it because. Because he wants it and that’s yours. So it’s a hugely effective technique. And, you know, this is the sort of thing that it isn’t just something you can do on a landing page. It isn’t just something that you can do on if you’re a casino operator, you know, get into doing these sort of things, make it a bit more fun and encourage people to click out and to deposit.
So just a very quick summary, quite short on time today, the two key things you need to be doing to get a significant increase in your conversion rate. I first of all, making sure that you understand your visitors. So get Google Analytics set up right Hotjar on your site, start using things like what users do and really make sure that you understand those barriers and those motivators, because when you’ve understood them, then you’ve then got the opportunity to influence those users and to really change the way that they behave.
And when it comes down to that, don’t waste your time doing the small tweaks, don’t necessarily rely on generic best practise and don’t just go out there and copy your competitors. What you need to be doing is making sure you give users exactly what they want, make sure that you’re testing the presentation of those offers and the different ways that you can show them. Make sure that you’re preparing people for what comes next and preparing them for the problems that they’re going to suffer when they go out to an operator website and start testing those offers and programmes, you know, work out what’s the best combinations.
But on your site, which are the best ones and which are the worst ones, try upselling the users, turn them from low value users into high value ones, and finally give people a chance to win. Try and get some gaming on your site itself and have a little bit of fun there. And if you do these and follow this process of understanding and influencing your visitors, then you too will see increases of 10, 20, 30 percent or more in your conversion rate and in your revenue.
And ultimately, it will make your business significantly more successful. I don’t think we have any time for questions, but I will be just outside the door after the session if anyone wants to talk to me. And also, if you’re interested, we’ve got an eBook 20 S.R.O. tips for affiliates. So just send us an email info at Browser to Buyer dot com or come and see me afterwards. And I can I can send that over to you, but please get out there, get research, get testing.
And thank you very much.