Managing affiliates and pay per click search – Authored for IAB UK

Managing affiliates and pay per click search

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As search continues to dominate the online scene, the need for businesses to manage their pay per click (PPC) search activity effectively and consistently has never been greater.

Recent reports indicate that Google alone now has an 80% market share of all search activity in the UK (Yahoo! and MSN making up a further 15%). Search is now viewed by many in the industry as a?reputation management system. This is due to its ability to dictate both awareness levels and business dealings!

It is therefore imperative that brands maximise their search activity and clients and agencies are increasingly realising the benefits of running a complimentary affiliate programme alongside their existing PPC campaign. Using a strategy that incorporates maximum coverage on all search engines gives sites the visibility and reach they require so that customers can find them quickly and easily.

Search ? the areas you need to focus on
Below is a typical Search results page. There are four main areas of visibility and the Click Through Rates vary across each.

Search ? the areas you need to focus on

On average, an indication of Click Through from each section is as follows:

  • 26% of users click Section a ? Top Sponsored (PPC)
  • 20% of users click Section b ? Alternative & Feature Listing (Algorithm)
  • 40% of users clicks Section c ? Above-the-fold Natural Organic Search (Algorithm)
  • 14% of users click Section d ? Side Sponsored (PPC)

It?s therefore unrealistic and risky for any vertical industry, whether it is B2C or B2B, to rely on a single channel of promotion such as organic search. In fact, the figures prove that a brand?s visibility and ability to drive transactions can be greatly enhanced by adopting a combined search marketing approach (organic, PPC search and affiliate).

Protecting your brand using brand term and generic keywords

Building a brand is expensive and competitors can often profit from piggy-backing on your brand?s search activity through influencing search engine listings and diverting your traffic to their own websites.

If you haven?t already done so, it?s a very worthwhile exercise to check whether your brand?s visibility is in danger. Firstly, undertake a search of your own brand and then one for other generic, relevant additional words ?brand term + generic keyword?. Take screen shots of the space and save them, review the sites that are bidding and ask yourself the questions: who do they promote, you, or your competitors?

How to maximise your keyword activity

Most customers have a feel for where they want to go online, and typically perform multiple searches, but research by Onestat also shows the importance of covering generic longtail keywords:

  • 2 word queries currently account for 30% of Search queries
  • 3 words: 27%
  • 4 words: 17.1%
  • 5 words: 8.25%
  • 6 words: 3.7%

The chart below also shows the importance of covering these longtail keywords. The greater number of keywords, the greater the exposure your brand has in the longtail (yellow portion of the graph). The benefit of this is an increased propensity for customers to transact who type in specific keyword phrases containing multiple words, i.e. ?golfing holidays in the Algarve?.

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Working with trusted affiliates

A fundamental part of a successful PPC strategy is to allow trusted specific affiliates to use a brand?s URL and link direct to your site. The advantages of working this way are enormous because:

  • Streamlined customer journey increases conversion as the customer goes direct to your site.
  • Faster time to market on consumer campaigns.
  • Minimal loss of traffic compared to affiliate landing pages (which typically have 30% – 50% drop off).
  • Ability to deep link to specific product pages.

Virgin Holidays, TUI, Expedia, Zurich insurance, BT Broadband and The AA are just some of the big brands which currently operate an inclusive PPC strategy in conjunction with their own internal search activity enhancing their online results.

Managing your affiliate program

The industry move towards ?quality over quantity? is equally vital here. It can be better to have five affiliates selling 1,000 products for you each month, rather than having 1,000 affiliates selling just five products each a month. This is because damage caused by brand degradation and brand proliferation as a result of an out of control affiliate program are also reasons to work with a smaller, more committed and hard working group of affiliates. So remember, your affiliates are your ?virtual sales force?. You would not let anyone work for you promoting your brand without a proper interview, probation period or one who?s not equipped with the right tools to sell, and the same applies to your PPC affiliates.
The affiliate marketing handbook

Learn about every step of setting up an affiliate programme with the?IAB Affiliate handbook.

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