It’s all well and good me telling you that this Price Comparison WordPress plugin is awesome, but I am sure you think: “well, you would say that!”
And that’s kinda true, I do believe in this service, or I wouldn’t have invested so much of my time and energy into it.
However, the best way to compare (ahem) whether this works or not – in my opinion – is to show some case studies. I’m not quite ready to reveal the URLs of my test sites just yet, but I can at least share some numbers.
Case Study Introduction
I plan to have at least 5 visible, professional and polished websites available for you to view before the Get Price Comparison plugin is launched.
For the moment, I only have two sites online as part of this test, and only one of them is using the plugin.
Let me explain:
I want to make this as objective as possible.
The last thing I want is for you to think the case studies show this software in an artificial / biased light.
I will be completely honest here – this WordPress Price Comparison Plugin may or may not work for you. The only way to know for certain is to try it. But as it’s not yet publicly available, that’s kinda tricky 🙂
Thinking about this, I decided the best way to validate whether or not this works is to create two completely new sites.
One site would use the plugin, and the other would not.
Then, I would compare the results and see if one showed a greater conversion rate than the other.
However, this can’t be a thoroughly scientific test, as (I think) that’s impossible.
Case Study Setup
To make this work, I have set up two sites. One site uses the plugin, and the other does not.
Both sites cover a very similar topic. But the content is not identical. This is partly why I say the test cannot be scientific.
If I were to have two different domains with identical content, likely Google would penalise the heck out of one, or both. And that would be of no use to anybody.
Instead, I am having to create high quality, unique, relevant and interesting content for both sites. Currently, I am doing this all myself. Researching, writing, posting, etc, it all takes time. All that time could be spent finishing the Price Comparison plugin and getting it into your hands.
Therefore, it is a balancing act. And as such, I am not creating enough content to bring in mega numbers of visitors.
Let me be absolutely transparent here:
Without good content, no amount of plugins / hacks / tips / formulas will make you any consistent number of affiliate referrals. At least, that has been my experience over the last 9 years of affiliate marketing.
Not only do you need good content, but you do need quite a lot of it to bring enough search traffic in to make a meaningful amount of sales.
The figures I am about to share are not yet working with enough traffic to validate anything. But they are the figures I have, so I am sharing them! 🙂
I know I need to outsource the content creation process.
Right now, I am doing too much.
Each article is lengthy, with a lot of links, pictures, and price data.
To give you some indication of how lengthy – my latest post was 5500 words on the plugin site. I am in the process of writing a similar length post for the non-plugin site.
I want them both to be as equal as possible, in order to rule out favouritism or content length questions regarding one or the other.
I cannot control how well either are indexed by Google / other search engines. I use Yoast SEO plugin, and go with the recommendations it provides. Aside from this, I use the same strategy I always use – provide content that is interesting, educational, and ideally, assists in the buying decision.
For both sites I use a similar layout of content – simple blog posts, much like this one.
For both site I have a similar theme, though not identical.
Both sites use WordPress.
The primary difference is in the use of the plugin. With the plugin, the pricing data is almost real time. When the visitor hits the page, they are shown the price that is stored in the GetPriceComparison API / database, and then immediately (but in the background), a new request is sent to the vendor to get the current price.
If there is a newer price, the plugin will update the price on the page. This doesn’t involve a page refresh, it just updates the price on the screen with a little notification that the price has been refreshed. I will create a demo video of this process, as I think it’s quite cool.
On the ‘static’ site, I instead simply show the prices as they were when I wrote the post, and put in words – “this price was accurate at XX/XX/XXXX. For the current price, click here.”
Each link has tracking on it, and I can see what has been clicked and when. I do this via Google Analytics.
At the time of writing this post, there are 8 posts on each site.
Price Comparison Plugin Income Report (August 2016)
Ok, so on to the numbers.
As I say, traffic to both sites is low. I expect these numbers to increase over time, but I would normally anticipate anything up to 12 months to bring a site to a worthwhile level of traffic.
What you see here is the stats from the merchants, rather than traffic to the sites themselves.
There have been sales. That’s a positive 🙂
In June and July I made two sales with Paid On Results, totalling £39 and change. Here is the smaller, more recent of the two:
And here is the recent months traffic:
Here is August’s traffic from a program I use on the static site only:
The fact that I am getting click-throughs is encouraging. The more traffic I can send, the more likely I am to determine some steady ratios.
Lastly, here is the really interesting one, as far as I am concerned.
These are the stats from Amazon for this month. The top tracking ID is the static site, and the bottom tracking ID is the site using the WordPress Price Comparison Plugin:
Truthfully, I know these numbers are too small to make any real conclusions. But it is nice to see that the dynamic / plugin site made the sale 🙂
It really is early days though, and honestly, I am not putting out enough content on either site to be generating enough traffic to prove anything at this stage. Still, it’s fun to share these numbers.
Price Comparison Plugin Progress
If any of this has been interesting to you, I guess you will want to know about the progress of the Price Comparison Plugin, and when it may be publicly available.
Initially the plugin will be available via a Closed Beta invite. To get an invite, please, join the mailing list:
After the closed Beta, there will be an Open Beta phase, followed by the official product launch. I am anticipating this date to be the end of November 2016.
The current status of development is that I have the plugin working for a small number of affiliate programs – Amazon, Paid On Results, and Affiliate Window.
For each affiliate program, I have not pulled in every product, nor merchant. Instead, I am only tracking a select number of products at this stage. This will be ramped up significantly as development progresses.
There’s so much more I will share during the run up to the launch. Keep an eye on this blog, and please do join the mailing list, and get in touch also. I’d love to hear from you if you are in any way interested in price comparison.
“I spent ages installing, configuring, and tweaking my price comparison service, and now the guy who sold it me has disappeared, and the software has stopped working…”
If that sounds familiar then you’re not alone. This happened to me, and judging by the numerous pages of angry forum posts, it’s happened to many other unhappy affiliates too.
Running an authoritative, high quality niche site these days is hard. As an affiliate you have to constantly provide high quality, search engine optimised content that informs and educates your visitors, if you ever expect to go above a few click-throughs a day.
You’ve got to ensure every single part of your copy is optimised for conversion. Not only that, you’ve got to:
- Write quality content, with snappy headlines and punchy paragraphs
- Provide product pictures, perfectly portraying possible purchase preferences
- Add videos, ideally shot featuring both you and the thing you’re selling
- Plan your content with keywords in mind, ever mindful of the all-seeing Google
- Sprinkle affiliate links throughout, the life-blood of your online business
- Manage and monitor link performance – what’s working and what isn’t
- Provide accurate pricing information
There are plugins and services to help with most of these.
I highly recommend the Yoast plugins for WordPress if you haven’t already got them installed.
There’s the SEO plugin, and the Google Analytics plugin also. Both are free, and save you a ton of time, and a lot of headaches. Being able to run a simple ‘SEO Check’ at the end of each blog post, giving you a traffic light system of red, yellow, or green depending on your SEO performance is light years ahead of doing this stuff by hand.
Writing quality content is ultimately still up to you or your team though 🙂
Pretty Link is a favourite of mine. It allows you to make short URL’s which you manage, rather than having to rely on a service like bit.ly or similar.
Hover over these two links, and look in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window:
Notice how the first link looks as though it is part of this blog, short and sweet – almost like a WordPress permalink.
The second link is a standard HTML link.
Why bother with this? Well, aside from having nicer looking links, you also get link tracking and other goodies. Well worth it, especially considering Pretty Link Lite is totally free.
In House Photo and Video Production
There are way too many shady affiliates out there that give our industry a terrible name.
One of the most unethical practices still prevalent today is ‘reviewing’ products that the questionable affiliate has never owned, touched, or even seen in the flesh.
That said, modern web surfers are not stupid. They have become wise to the more spammy practices of old, and aside from well known factors such as Social Signals, there is no better way to inspire confidence and trust (and ultimately, increased conversions), than by having self-shot product photos that link directly through to your merchant’s product.
Actually, I tell a lie, there is one better way – video. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so video must be worth 24,000 words a second (as in modern video being shot at 24 frames per seconds * 1000… careful, here comes the science part :)).
Trust me on this – if you have been being a little shady, try buying one of the products you are marketing. Take some simple shots – they don’t need to be amazing, a standard mobile phone camera is more than capable of hi-res photos – and then include these in your post.
If conversions don’t improve, I will eat someones hat. A white hat no less.
Accurate Pricing Information
I’ve talked before about how having timely, accurate pricing information on your WordPress blog can improve your conversion rates.
The more worrying point is how some of the Internet’s biggest affiliate merchants – Amazon, being the biggy – have recently changed their Terms of Service to make it a bannable offence to have outdated pricing information on your site.
The problem with this is that as your network of top quality content grows, going back and updating each and every single one of your reviews, articles, and blog posts becomes at best a completely nightmarish chore, and at worse, something you simply will ignore.
Keeping Your Costs Down
Outsourcing is all the rage these days. There’s upwork (formerly ODesk), eLance, various independent outfits and likely a whole lot more.
You could spend some time documenting your pricing update process, then have the job outsourced to a Virtual Assistant.
That takes time – not just in hiring the employee, but in writing the document, training them up, dealing with them when things go wrong, working around their holidays and inevitable sick days… yada yada yada.
The thing is, this is exactly the sort of thing that computers are good at. You shouldn’t have to worry about this.
Earlier, I mentioned the various plugins for the other aspects of your WordPress blog. Some of you may have already tried one, two, or more of the available WordPress price comparison plugins.
I have too.
I had some success with one of my affiliate sites – a site that was custom designed around the particular plugin in question.
Everything was going smoothly. The plugin author would reply to my – and other customers – support tickets and questions using a very well known Internet Marketing forum. He would also reply via email, and through Skype.
Then, one day, he vanished.
As if by sheer coincidence (ahem), this seemed to be timed perfectly with the plugin breaking in several puzzling and perplexing ways.
I was left with a site that was effectively useless. And frustratingly, this site was converting well up until this point. Suddenly, all my products stopped showing prices, or worse, showed out of date prices, or prices for the entirely wrong items.
This was an absolute nightmare.
The rumour was that the software author had become disgruntled by his self-imposed pricing structure. He charged once for the plugin, then was continuously supporting his product without further payment.
Few of us have the luxury of being able to work for free, so it’s unsurprising that he had to move on to projects that paid.
If only he had charged per month. I would have paid. I would still be paying. I just wanted a service that worked, especially as the site income was many multiples higher than what he would likely have charged per month.
Price Comparison Service
I have been burned by paid plugins in the past. I have built sites around these plugins and then had to watch as my sites died a very abrupt death as the plugins broke and the authors disappeared.
The sheer amount of wasted effort is unbearable to me, and I don’t want others to go through the same.
That’s why we are creating our Price Comparison Service. We take care of the hard work of tracking merchant prices so you don’t have too.
When you use our price comparison service you can benefit from software designed by affiliates, for affiliates.
Join Other Price Comparison Affiliates
Forget about managing plugins, importing XML Data Feeds, and fighting with complex server installs. You have your sites to run, and visitors to please.
Let our Price Comparison Service handle the pain and problems of price updates.
Join our mailing list today and be the first to get access to our service, with free access to our closed beta program as soon as it opens.
WordPress has a plugin for almost everything, so it’s highly unsurprising that there are already exists a price comparison plugin for WordPress. Do we really need another?
It’s a very valid question, and one that I am keen to answer. But before I do, let me take you on a journey of how I have been running a price comparison site network that isn’t based on WordPress, and why I am now moving my new sites over to using a WordPress site with a price comparison plugin model,
In The Beginning
The story begins with how I first encountered the concept of making money online.
I’d been using the Internet for a good long while – back before the Millennium. I’d even toyed around with some income generation ideas around 1999-2000, but the Dot Com boom largely passed me by.
When the bubble burst in mid-2000, I have to say, I ran for the hills (read: permanent employment / a day job) and never really considered making money on the Internet again for a long while after that.
It should be said that during this time I was but a young whipper snapper, living at home and with very little financial overhead. The few pennies I pulled in each month more than comfortably covered my life style.
Then I moved out.
Having a home of my own gave me the kind of sharp wake up call that can only be paralleled by the shrill digital chirp of an overly early alarm clock. And in this instance, that alarm clock was not waking me up to head to the airport for a fun-filled holiday. No sir. This alarm call was alerting me to 30 long years of monthly mortgage payments, car loans, and a seemingly ever growing weekly food bill.
I needed money.
I needed enough money on a regular basis to get me back to that comfort level I had been accustomed too. Only this time, I would be comfortable in my own home, not my parents.
With the day job consuming 37.5 hours each week, my second source of income had to be relatively passive. The last thing I wanted was to be coming home after work, getting changed into a different uniform, and heading out to stack shelves or wash pots.
I remembered back to my early forays into Internet income, and it wasn’t long after that the first of my new, relaunched websites found it’s way online. I wasn’t aware I was doing so, but what I had launched was an early example of an Internet Marketing website.
Welcome to the Automation Station
Whilst my original efforts had been completely manual affairs, in the interim period between 2000ish to 2005 I had been learning PHP.
PHP is a programming language for the web, and it’s the language that WordPress is written in. That said, WordPress didn’t exist at this point, or if it did, I certainly wasn’t using it.
I found my programming skills helped me automate the most common of daily tasks. Whilst I still had to design and develop my websites, the process of growing backlinks could be heavily automated – much more so than today.
Google wasn’t even the main search engine at this point. Instead, I was doing search engine optimisation for Yahoo, Alta Vista, and Dogpile.
With a bit of trial and error, my simple toplist-style websites started to convert quite well.
You may have heard of, seen, or even used websites like this in the past. Let’s take an example to better illustrate what I mean.
As the wheels of the corporate machine keep ever turning, every so often a brand new must-have product will be released.
I followed the niches I was (and still am) particularly interested in – computer games and their associated consoles.
The nice thing about the console industry is that it keeps moving forwards, and enough gamers always want the latest and greatest consoles. The huge marketing efforts around the launch means theres always a hungry market for the product, and as it doesn’t matter which retailer you purchase from, savvy gamers will shop around for the lowest price.
I’d managed to miss the launch of the Xbox 360, but was determined to catch – and ride – the wave of the PS3 launch.
To do this, I set up a simple one-page wonder. It had a bit of text about the PS3, some heavily keyword stuffed footer section which I set the colour to match the background (haha, honestly this stuff actually worked in bringing in the search traffic), and then a list of affiliate links to the various UK online stores that were selling the PS3 console at any given time.
I have to say, this wasn’t a purely money making affair. I was genuinely interested in getting myself a PS3 at launch, and I was doing the daily research on pricing and availability anyway, so sharing it with other like-minded individuals was giving back to those who couldn’t find the time to do the often tedious research for themselves.
Every day I would log on to each of the stores, then diligently update the HTML of my page and FTP the new page up to my website. I relied heavily on the search engines and a network of free-hosted sites to send traffic back to my website, which I hoped would click and convert into a paying customer.
The idea was decent but the execution was primitive.
The biggest problem I had was keeping the prices accurate, and secondly, I found that if I could display an in-stock notification next to the price, click-throughs would go up quite significantly.
This wasn’t infallible – after all, I was only updating my site once in the morning before my day-job would start – but it got me to thinking:
“Could the pricing information, in-stock notifications, and the gathering of other relevant data be completely automated?”
As my 100% manual price comparison website performed well, I began to expand my network.
My niche selection ideas revolved primarily around games consoles, and if a big title was due to launch, I would make either a sub-page or less frequently, a dedicated site for the game.
A side note: affiliate commissions on games are always going to be lower than a console purchase which is approx 7-10x the price of a game, therefore it didn’t provide the needed return on investment of my time to repeat this process by hand for every game unfortunately.
I tried branching out into other niches but found that having a time sensitive factor (such as the launch of a new console) made the gaming sites perform much better than most of the other tested product types.
There was another problem I was facing – and it’s one we all face as soloprenuers – I couldn’t scale myself.
The only way to grow my business was to automate or outsource the pricing updates. The likes of oDesk (ahem, Upwork), Elance, and others were not even on my radar at this point. Outsourcing just didn’t cross my mind in truth. So I did what any PHP geek would do – I wrote software to solve my problem.
The first iteration was incredibly crude. I had learned much in my PHP journey, but the software I created was fragile and the sites that I was scraping were seemingly changing on a daily basis. I swapped my manual daily pricing updates with manual daily bug fixes.
Light At The End Of The Day Job Tunnel
Around this time the income from my burgeoning topsite network had equalled my monthly day job pay packet.
With the amount of work involved in running my sites being as good as a full time second job, I negotiated a reduction in my working week from 5 days to 4 days, giving me that extra time to patch and improve my software, and ideally grow the network further.
Having the extra day to devote to my sites really shifted things up a gear, and before long I was working on a completely new price comparison software solution, custom built and ready to take advantage of the latest addition to the affiliate arena – XML Feeds.
The bigger affiliate merchants were releasing, in many cases, their entire product range as a single downloadable file – sometimes called a Data Feed, but to geeks they are usually referred to by their file type: XML files.
Data Feeds are designed to be downloaded and read by computer systems, allowing computer savvy techno nerds to transform the data from the standardised format (XML) into whatever output you desire.
This opened up all kinds of possibilities – and it’s what gave rise to the price comparison site boom.
Downloading, reading, and manipulating these files is a real pain in the backside.
Each merchant has a slightly different format – sometimes they use XML, sometimes the file came as a CSV (all the data is the same, but inside the file the formatting is totally different) – and no two merchants ever followed the same naming pattern. Sometimes the product would have a title, sometimes it would be called a name. A product in one file might have a description, in another it might be an abbreviated desc.
Of course, this was – and still is – a total nightmare.
Managing this data was yet another full time job. Each time more complex and confusing.
But the data was available, and that meant the possibilities available were vast.
Price Comparison Network 2.0
I began to rebuild my software, taking into account the lessons I had learned along the way.
This time I made the software easier to adapt to the ever changing structure of merchant product data.
I tried a particularly well-known, off-the-shelf standalone price comparison software but it didn’t seem to offer anything I hadn’t already built for myself. I knew my software better than I did theirs, and my price comparison software was completely open to me, whereas adding plugins and addons to their software was difficult and confusing for me.
The biggest additional feature I wanted was a super fast search engine.
I wanted my visitors to be able to type in just like they could at Google, and then get back a curated list of products that had been expertly matched against all the relevant alternative merchant products.
This gave rise to perhaps my biggest attempt at a price comparison website – YouSmellGood.co.uk.
There were many good things about this site from a technical point of view.
But Google hated it.
Let me explain why, because this was a hard lesson to learn, and one that’s certainly worth sharing.
Hard Lessons Learned So You Don’t Have Too
I frequently see other affiliates desperate to run price comparison websites. They – like me – have the idea that I had:
If you can just build up a huge list of products and add them to your site, you will become Zuckerberg rich.
Certainly not in 2015, and doubtless that will change any time soon.
You see, Google hates sites that appear overnight with 10,000’s of pages of largely repetitive, obviously computer generated content.
Google – and they are so large these days that they are the ones you have to optimise for – want to see high quality content. As it happens, so do your visitors.
Slapping up thousands and thousands of identical content will not work.
However, WordPress, with a few plugins, is the perfectly optimised environment for generating awesome content that will convert your visitors into sales.
I have learned this the hard way.
What I thought would be my biggest success – a price comparison website with over 30,000 products – turned out to be one of my biggest disappointements.
Yes, it still generates traffic and sales, but not anywhere close to the levels I had anticipated.
Partially this is down to poor market research on my own part, but largely this is because each page is so similar. There’s no awesome, unique content such as insights, reviews or feature analysis, and both Google and my visitors recognise this.
It’s very difficult to have to build a kick ass site from scratch with top notch search, comments, a mailing list, great visuals and more. As a soloprenuer that’s a big, big ask.
Instead, it makes much greater sense to leverage the existing powers of the WordPress ecosystem and concentrate on the content – letting a few select plugins enhance and improve your well-honed content.
Please, don’t repeat this mistake.
There is no escaping it – in 2015 and beyond, the only way to build a kick ass website is to provide amazing value.
You do this through creating amazing content. But that content has to be seen. And the very best way to get that content seen right now is to leverage the infrastructure and power behind WordPress.
It took me a long while to realise this, but from the now extensive testing I have done, I can clearly see how a WordPress site with SEO plugins will 9 times out of 10, beat a custom made website with roughly similar SEO.
It’s such a no brainer that for the foreseeable future I will only be using WordPress for my new sites, and I will strongly consider moving my existing price comparison sites to WordPress.
The reasoning here is that with the power of WordPress SEO, and my price comparison software utilised as a plugin, I can get the very best of both worlds.
Google actually loves pricing tables and price comparison data, and so do your visitors. This is actionable, useful data to your customers – and so long as the chore is taken out of keeping that pricing data up to date, Google will only reward you further for providing it.
SEO – Quality Content
WordPress is the undisputed king of SEO.
With access to plugins like the Yoast SEO plugin you can have a fully functioning, highly optimised blog / review site / content marketers dream up and running in next to no time. Heck, they rave about their 5 minute install, and with good reason.
All of this is super, but the very best bit is that WordPress does an amazing job of getting the heck out of your way.
This allows you to focus on doing the bit that you’re good at – content marketing, driving traffic, and generating sales.
I don’t want to be fussing over whether my articles and reviews are perfectly optimised, I just want to click the SEO Check button available via Yoast and let his plugin do all that boring work for me.
I add value by having high quality content that improves my customers lives in some meaningful way. With the chores of managing and maintaining a modern website out of the way, we as affiliates and only marketers can focus on what we do best – exploring a product in depth to better enable a purchasing decision.
Of course, you are free to run your website however you want. But right now, for me, the very best way is to use WordPress to power the site whilst I deliver high quality content.
If you’re new to the game, I suggest you do the same.
Confusing Technical Problems? Just Give Me a Plugin
The last thing I want to do is spend time on setting up all the technical details that a modern website requires.
Backups? There’s a plugin for that.
Link tracking? There’s a plugin for that.
Kicking ass at SEO? Yup, there’s a plugin for that.
I have now converted my bespoke price comparison software to be easily usable as a WordPress plugin.
With a few clicks, I can have accurate, sortable, filterable, simple to use pricing tables on my blog pages with next to no effort.
The conversion rate improvements I have seen as a result of this have been really, really encouraging.
With everything I have learned over the past 10 years, I have been able to highly optimise my price tables to efficiently lead visitors through to my promoted merchants.
No longer am I worried about keeping individual merchants up to date – this is all handled behind the scenes. This means each WordPress site can simply install the plugin and get started – no messing about with merchant Data Feeds, or having to pay for super high powered servers, then install complex and complicated software which forever seems to break.
With the complexities of creating and maintaining a bespoke price comparison site a thing of the past, I can now more frequently focus on the areas of being an affiliate that generate income.
Whatever niche I select (always through careful market research), I can rest assured that WordPress will have my back when it comes to getting my content seen.
I can be sure that with the simple and easy to use price comparison plugin software, my visitors will see timely and accurate pricing data that will increase my conversions with no further effort on my part.
Technology is best utilised when it makes boring and difficult tasks into a walk in the park. I like it when technology does what it says it will do, then gets out of my way. This frees up my time to focus on the things that bring me joy – and niche exploration is one of my favourite things ever 🙂
Price Comparison Plugin for WordPress – Designed By Affiliates, For Affiliates
As an active affiliate, I know exactly what’s involved for those like myself. Keeping our sites running, and at a highly authorative level involves a great deal of time and effort.
The rewards when you get it right are awesome. You become your own boss, getting to do what you love as your day job, and earning whilst you sleep.
These, I believe are the reasons most of us get into affiliate marketing in the first place.
I have seen the most success in my affiliate websites when I have added massive value to my customers lives – and usually that’s through saving them globs of time by not having to do all the time intensive pre-purchase research for themselves.
I’m always frustrated when a plugin wants per-site licensing, or some other overly complex model for using the software. I want to pay once and use anywhere that makes sense to me, even if that means paying a little more. Don’t cheap me, or frustrate me with licensing nonsense. Just let me use your product to make my visitors lives better!
I know how frustrating and time consuming it is to manage merchant data. This is something that has caused me no end of trouble in the past – but having this data, and having it in a format that’s easy to compare against other merchants is the lynchpin in the whole price comparison model.
Imagine having all this and more available to you in a simple to use WordPress plugin.
That time is nearly here. If you want to know more, and be involved in the launch process, add your name and email address to the mailing list on the sidebar.
Let’s make our visitors lives better together.
Have you ever spent hours sat writing, refining, and perfectly optimising a product review for your blog, only for your brand new post to be out of date almost the second you hit publish?
A well researched and equally well-written blog post can take hours to hone and craft. After all your hard work, is there anything more frustrating than having to constantly keep coming back and updating the crucial pricing information?
It’s a catch 22 situation. If you don’t, your conversion rate will surely suffer. And if you do, well, how on Earth is that a scalable business model?
My Best Converting Affiliate Pages
The best results I’ve had as an affiliate have been when I have included pricing information right there on the page.
If I can also include ‘in-stock’ statuses, so much the better.
But I’ve measured it using Google Analytics, and I can tell you that customers love to click on prices.
Time Sensitive Information
Maybe you considered making a pricing page for the launch of the PS4, or the Xbox One – you know the kind, the single page that displays the price of the console and whether it’s in stock or not.
And of course, the link is your affiliate code to Argos, or Play, or Amazon.
It’s such a good idea, and with just a bit of search engine love, or with a well targeted AdWords campaign, you can make a decent chunk of cash – so long as you are in position at the right time.
What about running a small niche site, reviewing bread makers, or toasters, or specialist Japanese silk kimonos, monetising your site through affiliate links to retailers ranging from specialist niche online stores, to global giants like Walmart or Alibaba.
All of these angles work – I know, I have been a successful affiliate with each of these set-ups since 2007.
And every time I wanted to automate the pricing updates so it wasn’t my big job each day, to keep those darned prices up to date. It would actually hurt my conversion rate the further my prices slipped out of date.
Happy Campers Return To Your Campsite
No matter how evergreen your content, if you are manually adding pricing information to your post, sooner or later it’s going to be out of date.
As a customer, there’s nothing more annoying than reading through a great product review, getting to the bottom and seeing that hey – my favourite big name retailer has this thing in stock right now and it’s only $34.95!
Only, they click through and find out that the price you had listed was a sale price, and now it’s gone back up to $49.99.
Or worse, it’s now out of stock.
In 2015 your site visitors expect your brand new WordPress blog, your growing product review site, or your niche authority site to be amazing. If your visitors are going to come back to your site in the future, they need to be seeing top notch content, and although they don’t care how you do it, they simply *expect* the pricing information to be up to date.
Time is Money
I’ve used a number of different price comparison solutions over the past few years – from confusing WordPress plugins, to hefty complex software that required an almost arcane technical expertise to install and set up.
What bugged me the most was when I invested a ton of time into building a niche site using a well-known WordPress price comparison plugin, and although it initially worked great and converted really well, I became so frustrated as the plugin began to intermittently break over time.
I would send emails to the plugin author who initially was full of enthusiasm for his product, and he would ping me back support emails day or night. In hindsight I kinda knew that could never last.
One day the plugin just stopped working. It was a good thing I was keeping a close eye on my pages as I might not have noticed. The prices stopped updating. Some broke altogether, leaving me with empty tables and links that no longer functioned.
Don’t Lose Another Working Day
I had a well respected niche site getting a healthy glut of daily Google traffic, and boom, my income stream had been torpedoed.
That single problem took an entire working day to fix, and even then I had to comb back through several hundred posts a couple more times when I realised I had messed up the linking structure.
These days I just don’t have that sort of time. Nor do I really have the desire to test my patience setting up complex technical integrations. API this, XML feed that… I just want plug and play.
Simple technology gets out of the way, leaving you to focus on making your customer’s lives better. That’s what you should be doing as an affiliate marketer – helping your customers, no matter your personal time investment.
The Game Gets Ever Harder
Back in 2007 when I first got started I used to think that being an affiliate was tough.
Thinking back nearly 8 years later, I can see now that it is only ever getting more difficult.
Back then, a one page wonder with a few shady backlinks was enough to get you that coveted number one spot on Google.
These days, if your site isn’t awesome, then you simply don’t stand much of a chance. There’s more people in this business than ever before, and to stand out you have to be different.
Dodging Curve Balls
It used to be that most programs would approve you without requiring to see any of the websites that you would be linking from.
Then, as poor quality traffic caused headaches for the Merchant community, they started asking for URL’s of any site that would be linking to them. This resulted in the process of URL vetting that is very frequent these days.
As if matters weren’t becoming complicated enough, some of the biggest Merchants in the game started adding new rules. I’ll be honest, I don’t even think these rules are emailed out to us affiliates, I think they just change the Terms of Service as and when it suits them.
But this can be hugely impactful on our businesses.
One that caught my eye recently was in that if we as affiliates are displaying pricing information on our blogs and websites, then that pricing data must be up to date or have a date and time that the pricing information was accurate at.
One of the Internet’s biggest retailers actually expects you to do this as part of it’s Affiliate Program Agreement – Amazon.com.
(o) You will include a date/time stamp adjacent to your display of pricing or availability information on your application if you obtain Product Advertising Content from a Data Feed, or if you call the Product Advertising API or refresh the Product Advertising Content displayed on your application less frequently than hourly. However, during the same day on which you requested and refreshed the pricing and availability information displayed on your application, you may omit the date portion of the stamp. Examples of acceptable messaging include:
- Amazon.com Price: $32.77 (as of 01/07/2008 14:11 PST – Details)
- Amazon.com Price: $32.77 (as of 14:11 PST – More info)
Additionally, you must either include the following disclaimer adjacent to the pricing or availability information or provide it via a hyperlink, popup box, scripted popup, or other similar method: “Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.” In the above examples, “Details” and “More info” would provide a method for the end user to read the disclaimer.
I know, yikes, right?
This could get your Amazon affiliate account banned.
No one likes reading Terms of Service, but this stuff is really important to get right. And here’s one of the biggest retailers, and one of the biggest affiliate programs on the planet telling you that you have to follow their set procedures or it’s curtains for you and one of your income streams.
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