One of the things we struggled with early on in this business were conversion rates. Although we had reached the point where we were getting a decent amount of traffic, we just weren’t making much money from all our hard work. Our earnings at the time were around $1000 a month and that’s not chicken feed by any means but by the time we paid taxes, paid expenses and split the remainder between the two of us, it didn’t amount to much and it certainly wasn’t enough to allow us to give up our regular day jobs.
However, since we were in what I call ‘money making mode’ we weren’t really analyzing what we were doing so we stayed this way for quite some time. Our tunnel vision got in the way. If we had stopped and really looked at why we weren’t converting earlier on I am sure things would have been much different.
As it is, we eventually got there, but all up it was about 5 years of hard work with very little to show for it. Not that we regret any of it because without all of that we wouldn’t be where we are today, but it would have been nice if it happened a lot sooner.
So if you are getting a decent amount of traffic to your site but aren’t converting then you need to find out why and then do something about it. Now a ‘decent amount of traffic’ is a relative thing but I like to see at least 500 clicks through to a merchant for a page on one of our sites before I start getting concerned about conversion rates. So you need a bit of traffic coming into your site in order to achieve that sort of click through rate (CTR). Often we will receive emails from people who have had 10 clicks through to Amazon and they are concerned because they haven’t made a sale yet. You need bigger samples than that before you start worrying. Even 100 clicks is not enough.
Once you’ve had at least 500 clicks through to Amazon (or whatever other merchant you are using) you can start to take a look at whether you are converting well or not. Just remember however that there are so many factors to consider that knowing whether you are converting well or not isn’t always easy. Some products convert better than others so you can only use a ball park figure when determining all of this.
We were told some years ago that the industry average for affiliate sales is around 1 in 100. In other words, you can expect 1 sale for every 100 clicks through to the merchant. We’ve found that Amazon does a lot better than this but the 1 in 100 average is a good base to use when determining whether you are converting well or not.
So if you have reached 500 clicks through to the merchant and have had around 5 sales then you are achieving average sales. So you are doing okay but there is definitely room for improvement particularly if you are promoting Amazon products.
If you have received less than 5 sales or no sales then you need to start looking at what the problem might be.
Okay, so what could be wrong?
1. Poor Product Selection
The number one reason why you may not be converting as well as you should is the product you have chosen to promote. Too many people just randomly grab products to review without even thinking about the quality of those products. Only choose products that you yourself would be happy to buy. Look at the reviews of those products – are the buyers happy with it?…if the answer is ‘no’ then why are you promoting it?
Product selection is critical if you want to establish good conversion rates. People are more likely to buy something if it is actually worth buying.
2. Poorly Written Review
We always thought that as long as we could get the reader to click through to Amazon it didn’t matter what our review was like. It took us a long time and hundreds of reviews later to realize that this method wasn’t working. Amazon are pretty good at converting to sales which is why many people think their own review isn’t important, but I can tell you from experience that the better your review is, the better you will convert. We realized this first hand when we reworked one of our poorly written reviews to a long, detailed, informative review and immediately noticed a major increase in sales. There was no turning back for us from that point on.
We’ve said this many times before but in order to write a good review, you have to put yourself in your readers shoes. Just about all of us at one time or another have looked for a quality review online before buying a product. You know yourself that you don’t want to see a short poorly written review with a few dot points. You want to see a review with substance that answers all of the questions you have about the product.
So take your time with your reviews and make them as detailed and helpful as possible.
3. Non-Relevant Keyword Searches
Sometimes website owners get a lot of traffic to a page that isn’t exactly related to the content on the page. For instance, you might have a product review for a Singer XYZ Sewing Machine but people coming to that review came to it after searching for a Janomi ABC Sewing Machine. So although it is somewhat related, your product is not what your readers were were really looking for as they were interested in the Janomi ABC model not the Singer XYZ. So they may read your review and click through to Amazon but they are less likely to buy as they really want the Janomi model.
So take a look at the keywords that your readers are using to get to your page. Are they specific to the product on the page?
4. Trust Issues
People want to be able to trust you and they will often base their trust on what your website looks like.
Is it simply full of Adsense and flashing ads and pop-ups? It seems to be quite common for those new to this business to plaster their sites with banners and Adsense ads and widgets with the thinking that the more affiliate links they add the more likely they will be to make a sale. I can tell you that the opposite is true in our experience. Our sites have very few banner ads as we have found that they don’t really work. And we only really use Adsense on sites that we are no longer giving much attention to. The best affiliate links are simple text links.
I know that when I am ready to buy a product and go looking for a product review I avoid those that include any obvious links to a merchant. Usually these will be reviews where at the very top of the page is a little Amazon icon link or the words saying “buy now from Amazon”. I avoid those completely because I know that the author is simply trying to make a sale…ironic isn’t it since that is what I do for a living. But because I think like this I know that my readers will probably think like this as well so any reviews we write won’t include any obvious links to Amazon. Our links are simply text links using a keyword that links through to the product on Amazon. You wouldn’t know it was linking to Amazon until you actually clicked on it. It’s only at the very end of the product review where we give advice on where to buy the product that we add ‘obvious’ links to Amazon. At this point, the reader has hopefully gained our trust and is ready to buy so coming right out and stating that they can buy it from Amazon is okay at this point as we are just being helpful.
One final thought…
Quality, quality, quality…we can’t stress this enough. If you really want to get great conversion rates then provide quality product reviews. Go back and look at your reviews and be honest with yourself and see if they are really worth reading. Are they helpful? Do they really provide enough information to help your reader make up their mind?
UPDATE: As per the comments below here is the code provided by Joy to allow the date to be updated on your product reviews. Joy tells us that this has increased her click through rate to Amazon.