In this first installment of a 2 part series, Quentin Boyer will provide us with a sponsor's view of conversion ratios, and how traffic quality and your advertising approach can influence sales:
Myths, Marketing and Misconceptions
We've all seen posts on the webmaster boards that go something like this: "Does anyone know if the 'XXX Widget Cash' sites convert well?" The thread usually continues with replies from angry webmasters who have experienced poor conversions with XXX Widget Cash sites and are now convinced that sending traffic to their sites is a waste of time, followed by claims to the contrary posted by webmasters using XXX Widget Cash that think they're just great. Is the first group of webmasters simply a bunch of bellyachers? Are their opposing peers just towing the line for their sponsor, or perhaps hoping that readers will click the affiliate link in their sig? Usually, the whole issue hinges on a much referenced but little understood figure; the "conversion ratio."
Virtually everyone knows what is meant by the term — the number of clicks sent divided by the number of sales generated = the conversion ratio. Many webmasters, though, seem to be under the impression that the only factor involved in the conversion ratio is the quality of the site they are sending the traffic to, or the effectiveness of that site's advertising pitch. Ahh, if it was only that simple!
Sure, the advertising pitch of the site you are referring traffic to is important; but there's a multitude of other variables to consider, and many of them have nothing to do with the site you're sending traffic to. There are far too many contributing factors to cover in one article, so I'll focus on the variables that you, the referring webmaster, can control directly.
(By the way: these tips are directed to webmasters whose income is dependent upon generating sales, and / or whose income is tied to their traffic's conversion ratio. If you are being paid strictly by the click, or getting paid the same amount per signup regardless of your overall ratio, then the conversion ratio isn't as much of an issue for you. You'll find that most click-through programs do require a minimum conversion ratio to be paid at their published rates. No one can afford to pay premium rates for junk traffic, at least not for very long:.)
The TGP Dilemma
As you are no doubt aware, thumbnail gallery post and video post sites can push along traffic in very high quantities. It's also true that this type of traffic often produces fewer conversions than a Mormon missionary at an outlaw biker rally. I don't want to discourage you from posting at the TGPs entirely, but you need to have a balance in your traffic sources. I've been tracking traffic from TGPs since 1998, across multiple sites and multiple traffic programs, and it's not all that uncommon for TGP traffic to convert worse than 1:7500 (for those that aren't sure, that's bad).
If your rate of pay is dependent on the conversion ratio at all, you probably don't want to go too heavy on the TGP traffic. That said, some webmasters do quite well with TGP traffic, and the traffic has other uses too — like increasing your overall traffic levels, thereby making your site more appealing for traffic trades.
One more word on the TGPs; these days, there are a lot of niche TGPs, like maturepost.com, facialpost.com, etc. If you have a site in a specific niche, try posting to TGPs that focus on that same niche. The conversions on the traffic you refer along should be at least a little better. Credibility matters; it doesn't matter if you're selling propane or porn, no one wants to buy from a charlatan.
Trick Banners = Ticked Surfers
The use of "trick" banners (banners that have fake scroll bars on them, or that masquerade as error messages, etc.) has been prevalent in the online adult industry for years now, and we all know why; these ads draw clicks much better than the "traditional" horizontal banners that are clearly advertisements.
Trick banners might be great if you're being paid by the click, but if you're being paid for generating sales, these types of banners are actually working against you. Credibility matters; it doesn't matter if you're selling propane or porn, no one wants to buy from a charlatan. Looked at from another perspective, how likely is it that a surfer is going to be a purchaser if you had to trick him into clicking in the first place? You're better off sending less traffic of higher quality.
In his next installment, Quentin will reveal more conversion ratio insights. Stay tuned!