Affiliate marketing can be a brutal job.
On the one hand, affiliate marketers do not own the end of the loop. They can do well and send predictable, pre-qualified visitors to a web site, and still fail at the point of conversion – the company’s landing page. On the other, they do not control the start of the loop. They could have had a working content strategy in the past, and then gotten hit by Panda, Google’s attempt at rewarding high quality, unique content, and punishing thin sites and scrapers.
So when you do receive pre-qualified visitors, it makes perfect sense to zero in on the landing page – those visitors are already past the attention stage in the decision process – they are more poised to convert.
Make sure you’re not wasting the visits on a high-traffic low performer as those are fairly easy to spot with typical analytics packages.
Even when you’re segmenting traffic and landing pages for the stages in the decision process, there may be a little more work ahead. Certain visitors coming off of the long tail of search can be at a similar stage in the decision process as your affiliate traffic. If you are tracking the referring search terms to your site, and you should be, you’ll likely find visitors from the attention stage, the interest stage, and the desire stage – you’ll recognize them by the length of the search query and the words they are using.
Your affiliate marketing traffic is likely to overlap with visitors doing advanced searches about your product, those in the interest and desire stages. But they will have a different set of trigger mechanisms, a different set of promises they were offered – and, consequently, a different set of promises you need to fulfill.
It’s all about matching the visitor intent.
For the search traffic, it’s about a set of terms they typed – they landed on your site with a specific query in mind, and your job is to provide them the task aids to do what they want.
For the affiliate traffic, it’s about the source and trigger mechanisms. Your aim is to fulfill the promise that the visitor was exposed to. If it’s about monetary incentives, make sure those are prominent on the landing page, and display consistent math with the affiliate offer. If it’s the affiliate brand’s recommendation, make sure the copy addresses that. You can foster loyalty by making the offer and experience custom – and to do this, you need a custom page for affiliate traffic.