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  1. #1
    Member Gingerbread's Avatar
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    Question Clicks without sales - when to get curious?
    I have a bit of a beginner's conundrum. I've only made a handful of sales in the past few months (primarily through Shareasale and Linkshare), but I've had close to zero success with CJ. Today I decided to take a closer look at my stats with them, and I found that for October, I've sent 207 clicks through to my CJ merchants, with no sales.

    Now, because I'm still learning, I have no idea whether this is cause for concern or not. I'm not sure whether I should be worried about potential cookie overwriting, potential tracking problems, merchants that don't convert - or not worried at all. Is ~200 clicks with no sales normal? Maybe I'm way off, and even ~10,000 clicks with no sales is actually normal...but I thought I should check with those who know!

    I'd love to hear some words of wisdom about where I should go from here, if someone would be generous enough to share! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    i'd say (but it's just a guess cuz there's not enough details for me to get a solid feeling for your situation) that ~200 clicks with multiple merchants isn't a sign of anything yet - depends on how many merchants you have, what you're selling and how targeted your traffic is.

  3. #3
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    Conversion rates (the ratio of sales to clicks) vary widely depending on the kind of web site (the "context"), the kind of ad ("offer"), and the merchant.

    I have (very few) links that perform at conversions of 30% -- where the site or page topic is tightly aligned with the merchant's product offerings, the ad text is extremely specific (thus the buyer is "pre-qualified"), and the merchant does a good job of converting prospects into customers.

    I have other links that perform at well below 0.1% (e.g. fewer than 1 sale per 1,000 clicks). These tend to be links that are shown alongside competing offers for the same product. Consumers may click to see what a merchant's offer is, but if the product price is too high, or if there are other negative aspects (high shipping fees, vague ship-date info, absence of a privacy policy), the consumer will look elsewhere for the product. In other cases, consumers may browse online but the product may be an "impulse buy" and the consumer will go instead to a local store to buy it.

    A typical "average" conversion rate for consumer products (books at Amazon, for example), I typically see rates between 1% and 2% -- but conversion rates are very random, so that if your overall conversion rate is 1.5%, you will have some times when 200 or 300 clicks pass without any sales, but other times when you'll draw 3 or 4 sales from 100 clicks.

    If you haven't already done so, check the "test transactions" forum here to see if any other affiliates have recently placed test orders that tracked (or did not track) for the merchant you are working with. You may even want to initiate your own test transaction, to verify that tracking is working -- there are many "innocent" ways a merchant might accidentally disable tracking and not realize it.

    Finally, you certainly will want to focus on those merchants whose offers perform better -- that's just common sense. However, it is not a zero-sum-game -- if you offer links from your site to Merchants A, B, and C, then if you remove links to your lower-converting merchants B and C, all those sales will NOT go to Merchant A instead; if you have a link now to Merchant A and you add links to Merchant D, you will usually see more total sales.

  4. #4
    Member Gingerbread's Avatar
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    Thanks Donuts and MarkWelch - I feel much better now! I haven't ventured into the Test Transactions area of ABW yet, but I'll check it out today.

    I think I've been looking at it with too much of a "big picture" viewpoint. In other words, I may have sent 207 clicks to CJ merchants in the last month, but it's not like that's not just for one merchant!

  5. #5
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerbread
    I think I've been looking at it with too much of a "big picture" viewpoint. In other words, I may have sent 207 clicks to CJ merchants in the last month, but it's not like that's not just for one merchant!
    Hi Gingerbread,

    As pointed out already, conversion rates vary widely. You will need to look at your overall stats when you've accumulated more than 200 clicks per merchant. There are also threads in ABW about "conversion tolerance." - Some affiliates will dump a merchant for 100 clicks and no sales, others are more tolerant. It also depends on the product and how well you've pre-sold.

    One thing I've learned is that you have to point out to your site visitors that they are clicking on a link to BUY something. This is especially true if you have a content site. I think sites that are strictly dedicated to selling have better CTS (click to sale) conversion rates because visitors end up at those sites when they're in the frame of mind to "buy." Content sites tend to attract more free information seekers and can generate a lot more clicks before a sale is made.

    Then there are the absolute DUD merchants who just don't convert, whether it's just on your site or across the board. If you're getting a lot of clicks (depends on your tolerance and understanding of how your visitors click) but no sales, try replacing that merchant with another one with the same or similar products. I've seen a dramatic increase in conversions just by switching merchants, which tells me some merchants are either not reporting sales or tracking is screwy or any number of guesses (pick one).

    Generally, I'd say that if you're getting a sales to conversion rate of 1/50 wiht one merchant, you should be getting a similar sales ratio across your site if the links are targeted to your audience. If one merchant converts way better than others, look at the merchandise you're selling to see what your visitors are most interested in. Likewise, if you're getting a lot of clicks on a merchant with no sales, something's wrong ... change merchants to see if it helps conversions. If you switch out merchants and still have a high level of clicks with no sales, the product or specific merchandise might be wrong for your audience for many reasons. It's a lot of testing on your part to find what works on your specific site and what the visitors YOUR SITE attracts are buying.

    It can be frustrating, especially if you have specific traffic but products related to that traffic don't sell ... try something different, etc.

    What's bliss is when you find a product or merchant that starts to convert for you like crazy.

    The longer you do this, the more you'll see patterns which will make sense and you can then determine how to best optimize your pages.

    Good luck!
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  6. #6
    Member Gingerbread's Avatar
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    Wow Rexanne - excellent advice! I really appreciate it.

    This site of mine is sort of a content/shopping hybrid, so I think that may be why I'm having a bit of a hard time hammering out a model that will work. I probably haven't done enough testing so far, though - so I'll work on that.

  7. #7
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    It seems worrying....
    But as the other memebrs have mentioned above, it depends on your site, the product, etc. I had an account with clix-galore and got 20-30 clicks per week, but no sales. For quite some time.

    So i wud say, 200 clicks and no sale is approaching 'cause for worry'.

  8. #8
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Gingerbread, other folks have kind of touched on this but I'd like to elaborate.

    Conversion is determined by how many clicks actually turn into sales. If you try to think about why someone clicks or really "where that visitor is in the sales cycle" you can start to get a feeling about not so much the conversion of your merchant but the conversion of YOUR site.

    In other words, if folks who come to your site are doing so because they found very general keywords related to your niche then they may be very early in the sales cycle. If they responded to very specific "buying" keywords then they probably are later in the sales cycle.

    For example if someone types in "golf clubs" and gets to a golf site then they are probably looking for very general information about golf clubs. I call these folks "tire clickers". On the other hand if they type in "golf coupon", or "buy golf clubs", or "deals on Callaway X-18" then they are getting ready to buy. These later folks will obviously convert much better.

    From the merchants point of view, your job as an affiliate is to move your visitor down the sales cycle by providing product information, testimonials, recommendations, and to generally warm up or presell them. If you don't presell then you can't expect very high conversion on the merchants end.

    So a conversion metric is measure of both how well you presell and how well the merchant closes the deal.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    The story behind the story....
    Hey Gingerbread,

    I read your post earlier, but did not have time to write up the lengthy reply I wanted to offer. Now that I have time, you will need to get comfortable, focus and get ready for a detailed discussion on the topic.....


    What the??!!

    Mark, Donuts and Rex just covered pretty much all the things I was going to say!! OK, you're off the hook Ginger.

    200 clicks are not a barometer, so be patient - keep tweaking and give it time.

    Good luck - Alan
    Join the Spicy Aprons Affiliate program on ShareASale Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/spicyaprons Follow us on Twitter @Spicyaprons

  10. #10
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    Hi, I just came across this thread...very relevant for me at the moment.

    So Giga Golf, referring to your last comment re pre selling the visitor before they click through top the merchant, what do I build? Do I use a blog for researchers with "Buy Here" links to the merchant site? DO I create a straight out Sales focused web site? I ask because if I use ppc to bring ready to buy visitors to my info site, will they/wont they use my links to buy? Alternatively will those researchers just leave my sales focused shopping site without looking around...Or do I simply mix info sites with a shopping site and cast the net wide

    Thanks
    Ed

  11. #11
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Hi Ed
    The goal is to move the visitor to the next step in the sales process. The beauty of the web and web sites and google is that people "raise their hand" and tell you where they are in the sales cycle by choosing appropriate links.

    For example. At Google they type in keyphrases based on what they want. The links they select should take them to a page that addresses their next move in the sales cycle. That's what PPC and SEO is all about. As I mentioned typing in "golf clubs" and typing in "buy Callaway X-18" should take them to very different places.

    On your site you want to have links that act like those keyphrases and take them to where they want go and also where you want to take them. As Ken Evoy says get your "Most Wanted Response". That way they choose where they go and feel in control. Buyers are always more inclined to buy if they think it was their idea.

    So links on your site that say "product review for xyz" or "more information" , or "coupon for xyz", or just "buy now" give your visitor the chance to raise their hand tell you what they want.

    Once you've done your job and given them everything they need to be ready to buy then send them as close to the shopping cart on the merchant site as you can. That's one reason why product datafeeds convert so well.

    One thing to look for from your merchant. Make sure the merchant links don't move the buyer backwards in the sales cycle. They'll lose interest and leave if they have to go thru info you've already given them.

    Hope that helps and I'd love to hear what other experienced web marketers think.

  12. #12
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    Hi Rick,

    That helps.. a lot. I do have a site with data feeds showing price and product on my site and I will be changing some of my content and links based on your advice. Thanks..I'll keep an eye out for your other posts.

    Cheers
    Ed

  13. #13
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    It also depends on the types of marketing you are using. If you are doing PPC and spending a bit of money on 200 clicks with only one merchant, either your landing pages could be off, your ad text isn't direct or clear enough, your keywords are not good at converting and you should rethink the ones you are using, or it is a product that generally does not do well with PPC. Especially if the 200 clicks is more than your commission or percentage average would be.

    I would reccomend evaluating all of your marketing techniques and see what might be a culpret if you are having concerns.

  14. #14
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    This thread has some very good information in it.

    My sites are almost all content sites.... blogs, forums, etc about various topics. Maybe that's the reason that sales have been low.

    I don't really know how to do anything _but_ a content-driven site, with articles and discussions related to a particular topic.

    How would one get started with building a sales-driven site? (ie. one that mainly has landing pages that help move the visitor to the next stage in the selling cycle, as discussed above).

    Do these kinds of sites just have a single landing page? How are they laid out w/ regards to navigation?

    Do any of you have some good sales-driven sites that you'd be willing to post or PM in order to give newbies like me and others some ideas? (hope that's not too much to ask, and if it is then please let me know)

    Thanks!

  15. #15
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    How would one get started with building a sales-driven site? (ie. one that mainly has landing pages that help move the visitor to the next stage in the selling cycle, as discussed above).
    Think higher than landing pages right now Rick, think about how people buy things. They don't normally go to a forum to shop. They might...
    +compare prices
    +search for coupons
    +read side-by-side product comparisons
    +want a "top picks" list
    +use a database site to find the thing that's just right for them (like a camera site that indexes by max memory, ability to have 10x+ optical zoom, 4 hour battery life)
    +for visual products, they might want more photos and details to look through
    and on and on

    So instead of hoping that people get interested in buying something shown or mentioned, make tools and pages that are useful to somebody who already has an interest in buying.

    There are many ways to create sales oriented sites, but it's always about targeting people somewhere in their buying decision process. The closer you get to the end of the cycle, the higher the conversion rates and the more competition you are likely to find. Generally, the more niche you are, the more likely you'll find a place you can occupy for the long haul.

    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    Do these kinds of sites just have a single landing page? How are they laid out w/ regards to navigation?
    There's no "right" way to do it. Exercise your creativity and you'll feel like your flexing your own muscles and achieving things your way, like Frank Sinatra said.

  16. #16
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Rick I know it would be great to see some examples of great shopping sites but that is against board rules. There are many of those affiliates here if you just check their profiles.

    You can also use google to search on good shopping terms and see who comes up. Any term with "coupon" in will certainly bring up shopping/coupon sites. The problem is that the line gets a bit thin between affiliates and merchants at this point. I guess the dividing line is whether they have a shopping cart on not.

    Go here to someone who rates shopping sites. I see a mix of affiliates and merchants on this list though.

    Good luck...

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