7 Things Affiliates Can Learn From Heatmaps

I just love Crazy Egg. If you’re not using it, and not taking heed of the information it provides, then you need a huge slap around the chops.

Here’s some quick insights from a couple of my sites.

1) Make It Blindingly Obvious What You Want People To Do!
It depends on what your goals are. Do you want to build a mailing list, or do you want SALES. Sales for me as I create specific, targeted campaigns to build mailing lists and 99% of my pages are sales-orientated. For my Easter eggs site, I want people in and out to the relevant merchants as quickly as possible (usually – I have other specific pages to build stickiness and increase the average time on the site). I make sure that I place the merchants with offers that are most likely to lead to clicks and sales at the very top of the page. I make them stand out so they cannot be missed.

I then create content that is either directly or very strongly related to those offers to draw people in. I might be writing about raw Easter eggs that a retailer sells but I won’t get any commission from. But if people want to also buy from Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons, Cadbury’s, Montezuma’s, Chocolate Buttons or Chocolate Trading Co., then I’ve got an offer for them.

I also try and make sure that I have a range of merchants that cross the whole spectrum of the niche (is that a bit of an oxymoron?) so I increase my chances of getting an affiliated sale.

But I don’t ram offers down the throat of people. I haven’t created a Made For Adsense site that has crap content (being objective) and surrounded it with “take a chance” advertising. I try and create meaningful content and place relevant adverts above it.

2) Advertise When You Deserve It

With my Chocolate Reviews site, I’m at a completely different stage, so I keep the advertising to a minimum. My objective is not to earn good levels of cash now, but to earn the respect of the community – the monetisation will come when the site deserves it.

I could try and monetise it to its fullest but as the site is not yet a year old and the diversity of links to it isn’t at a level I’d like and the amount of goodwill between the site, consumers, industry commentators and retailers isn’t sufficient; I’ll won’t even try rampping it up with even the smallest of banners in prominent positions.

This still staggers me today. Many affiliates jump on the banners bandwagon from day one. They don’t think about how that reduces the chances of getting natural links from unprompted, but relevant resources. To my mind advertising should be directly proportional to the perceived level of trust that others have with your site.

Nobody Clicks On Blog Roll Links, Right?
Wrong, you might think it’s a good idea to get as many links to your site as possible from blogroll exchanges. Bad Idea. Not only are they heavily discounted for ranking purposes but you leak traffic too from the reciprocal links.

I keep my blog roll links to a minimum and to the sites that I feel will drive relevant traffic. I also keep them to the one page on a site, and not every. My product reviews pages are there for a purpose and not to give other’s traffic. Keep that in mind when you set up your blog rolls.

4) Not All Visitor Types Do The Same Thing

[Click for a bigger image]
Crazy Egg allows you to differentiate between users from different sources. It’s important to work out how they interact with your site if they come from paid or natural search, social media (I’ve hardly touched it with the Easter egg site, . Most of my social stuff has been for the Chocolate Reviews site), direct traffic or external links.

The thing is, you might be thinking that you get loads of social traffic. But they might just be reading some lovely bit of bait you’ve written then buggering off. Do you know if they click to buy? Wouldn’t it be good if you knew?

5) The Devil Is In The Detail
Click on the “List” option. Get the data out and analyse it. It’s interesting that for my Easter eggs site, most people click on the Cadbury’s logo (5.4% of all visitors) but they’re not by best converter out of the list. The volume of sales I get from them is far less than 3 of the others up there. So what does this tell you? Yes, I need think about things a bit more (including more Cadbury’s content!)

6) Sometimes You Can’t Over-ride User Intent
On my Tesco Easter Eggs most people actually clicked on the link to Tesco link, and not the options at the top.

But Tesco doesn’t really convert for me. So I recently changed the page and put a more prominent link to Cadbury’s which I decided was a merchant more aligned to Tesco than any of the other offers. The net income from that page has risen.

7) People Will Search When They Get There If They Think Your Site Is Relevant
As can be seen by the image – make sure you make the most of it. I’m changing the blog from Blogger to WordPress partly because I have more control over the search pages. I’ll be able to better monetise them and leverage them for SEO purposes. Your internal search pages are very powerful, don’t forget about them. Also make sure you know how many people actually use them!

We’ve all been told to forget the phrase “build it and they will come”. But we should also forget “build it and they will click”.

Related posts:

  1. What Can You Learn From The Affiliate Marketing Leaders?
  2. Viewing Scrapping Sites Easier – Thanks To Google
  3. Why I Love Google Webmaster Tools

About the author:

I've been doing SEO for 15 years, affiliate marketing for 12 and starting arguments since the day I was born.. Follow him on Twitter / Facebook.