I’ve been looking through a lot of merchant sites lately in a quest to find some good cost per sale programs to promote, and am amazed at what a terrible job many merchants have done with their websites at attracting affiliates like me. Many of these programs I’ve run across have the potential to be pretty amazing, yet they are poorly managed.
Not only does a poor website deter affiliates from promoting your program, I guarantee you are losing money through your other marketing channels as your site isn’t converting as well as it could be.
Focusing just on the website aspect of your affiliate program, I’ve put together a list of 10 problems that will cause affiliates to pass over your program and look elsewhere. These are real life errors I have come across just this week. This doesn’t include any other programs not related directly to the site such as poor creatives, slow communication, etc. Also note that these are in no particular order.
- Insecure Shopping Cart
It always amazes me when I see a merchant with an insecure shopping cart. Customers notice when your cart isn’t secure and you are losing a lot of sales by not securing down your cart. With the cost of an SSL certificate less than $50 for a year, you really aren’t serious about making money if you don’t have one.
- Bulky Shopping Cart
Have you ever counted how many steps it really takes to get through your shopping cart? The more steps it takes the lower your conversion rates will be. Don’t make people register to buy your products if they don’t want to. Just get the information you absolutely need from them and make sure it is as easy as possible. If you are only selling 1 product, there is no need to have an “add to cart” link and then have to click again to view the cart. If you can get by with a 1 page buying process (that is short), you will make not just your customers happy, but your affiliates as they will be making more sales for sure.
- Site Leaks
If I was ranking this list, this would probably be #1. Affiliates HATE site leaks and you should to. Site leaks are anything on your site that sends customers off your site into lala land. The most common leaks are links to other sites, advertisements such as Google Adsense, and even links to other affiliate programs. Why would I as an affiliate want to send traffic to your site if those visitors can just click on an Adsense link on your site making you a few pennies, and me nothing? I’m promoting your products, not your competitors (which is usually what shows up on your Adsense ads anyways). Keep your site visitors on your site and your affiliates will be happier. Yeah, some big companies such as Best Buy and Walmart have leaks all over their sites, that’s also a reason a lot of affiliates don’t care to promote them.
- Phone Numbers
Having your phone number on your website is a good and bad thing. Customers like to see it as it helps build trust, but affiliates hate it (usually) because it means lost sales for them. If a customer an affiliate referred to your site calls and places the order, generally they aren’t compensated. While it might be necessary to have your phone number on the site, it doesn’t have to be the first thing a person sees. Make it smaller and if you can, set up phone tracking with a Pay Per Call solution so affiliates get credit for phone calls.
Tiny Prints does a good job at making their phone number small enough to please most affiliates.
Ring Central on the other hand has multiple phone numbers on their sales page (one of which is ridiculously large). This is definitely not the most affiliate friendly site unless they are tracking referrals through those phone numbers.
- Slow Loading Site
This one is pretty self explanatory. Spend the money and get a decent web host (I use WiredTree and they have been awesome). If not, potential customers will be off searching your competitors sites instead of sitting around waiting for your site to load. I came across a really good program this week, but I’m not promoting it as their site takes forever to load. Cut down image sizes, make sure it is coded right, and keep pages light.
- Weak Product Descriptions
As an affiliate I can presell a product no problem, however if I send them to a page on your site with a terrible description, that sure doesn’t help. The solution to this is simple, hire a writer and make sure all of your products have a decent description and lists the technical features of the product if necessary. Your product descriptions don’t even have to be a work of art, just a basic write up of what the product does and what problem it solves.
- Poor Website Structure
Does it take more than 3 clicks to get to any product on your site? If so, you may need to reconsider your site structure. Make it as easy and as quick as possible for customers to find what they are looking for. I’ve seen so many sites that make no sense in how they are structured.
- Lack of Payment Options
This should be common sense. Make it easy for people to give you their money no matter how they want to pay. Some may want to pay with Visa, others prefer PayPal or even online checks. If you limit your payment options, you are also limiting your sales.
- Broken Links
I don’t know why I am always surprised when I find broken links on merchants sites. It’s like going to a restaurant and they are out of everything you want to eat. It’s frustrating and very unprofessional. Take the extra time to go through your site and make sure all your links work.
- Poor Landing Page Design
Being a designer, this one frustrates me more than it should. I hate when merchants put together a landing page that is confusing, contains no call to action, and turns people away. I can’t stress the importance of split testing landing pages. If affiliates are sending you traffic, do whatever you can on your site to help that traffic convert. If you can, hire a landing page consultant to help you out if that isn’t your strong point.
Make these changes to your site and I almost guarantee you will see an increase in conversion rates.
What would you add to the list?