Convert that user: Turn affiliate pages into more money

Convert that user: Turn affiliate pages into more money

A landing page doesn’t need to be a work of art, it just needs to pull ‘conversion ready’ traffic through the site, writes Nick Garner of iGaming SEO agency 90 Digital.

Published 14th July 2014

Some of you will be successful affiliates and you will have conversion pretty much sorted, but for everyone else I thought I’d share some insight into what a great affiliate conversion page looks like and why sometimes a great performing page does not make as much intuitive sense as you may think.

Here are some tips, tricks and strategies on making a landing page or site convert really well.

In the world of affiliates, there are two types of pages - squeeze pages and landing pages. Squeeze pages are usually for ‘squeezing’ the user to persuade them to give you an email. From that users can be given ‘timely and useful email communications’ on a frequent basis. In iGaming, this is an important part of the affiliate mix, but for now I’m interested in landing pages i.e. a page a user ends up on because maybe they found it through a search result.

High level overview
The main aim is to get a user to sign up after they have visited your landing page. Typically a user will land on a page and if the page does its job well, the user will click on a tracking link or banner, then a cookie and/or a tracking link is used to identify the referring affiliate once a user converts with an operator.

Operators typically work to the rule of ‘last affiliate wins’ i.e. if a user went to affiliate site ‘A’ and clicked on a link, had a look at an operator site and then two days later went to affiliate site ‘B’, clicked the link and actually funded an account and generated revenue for the operator, then its affiliate ‘B’ who will get the bounty or revenue

The main point is last click wins...which is why it’s so important to be in the right place, at the right time and get the user to click that link and sign up. Because persuading a user to sign up is hard, it’s far easier to get them to click through when they are ready to do sign up i.e. when they are looking for free bonuses or bets, and occasionally when they are looking at reviews of operators.

This is why search is so important to affiliates, because search queries are an expression of a user’s intent. If a user is looking at ‘football’ or ‘football’ + [name of team], the likelihood is they are only interested in football. It’s a different story when they are looking for ‘football free bets’.

Because smart affiliates know its best practice to rank on converting phrases and because ‘last click wins’, it means landing pages found through search engines have evolved in a very particular way…

These are the top 10 search results for ‘free bets’ on Google.co.uk

  • Free Bets | Online Betting | Bookmakers | Sports Betting freebets.co.uk
  • Free Bets | Bookie Sign Up Offers | Betting Bonuses ... oddschecker.com/ free-bets
  • Free Bets / Free Tips / Compare Odds /Live Streaming ... freebets.com/
  • Free Bets - OLBG.com / olbg.com/free.php
  • FREEbets.org.uk: Free bets. All the bookies, sports & free ... freebets.org.uk/
  • Free Bets | Bookies | Free Betting Offers | Online Book ... thebookiesoffers.co.uk/
  • Free Bets | Matched Betting | Online Bookmakers ... freebets4all.com/
  • Free Bets | Online Betting | Bookies Live Odds from ... bookmakers.co.uk/
  • Bet £5 Get £20 Welcome Offer | Coral.co.uk coral.co.uk/sports/
  • Free Bets | Bookmakers | Sports Betting Online | Free Bet betsfreebets.com/

The first thing you might have noticed was the absence of bookmakers in this set of listings. Coral is the only one which ranks here. Having done some background analysis, it’s because this is the BIG converting phrase for sportsbook affiliates and so they have focused their sites around free bets and out-competed operators.

 Freebets.co.uk - No 1 for keyword  'free bets'
Oddschecker.co.uk - No 2 for keyword 'free bets'
Freebets.com - No 3 for keyword 'free bets'

If you do a search for ‘free bet’ there are four operators ranking top 10. I put this down to the phrase converting less well and the operators being stronger on the offer of a ‘free bet’

  • Free Bets | Bookie Sign Up Offers | Betting Bonuses … oddschecker.com
  • Free Bets / Free Tips / Compare Odds /Live Streaming ... freebets.com/
  • Betting Tips & Odds from Betfair | £20 FREE BET NOW! betting.betfair.com/
  • Bet £5 Get £20 Welcome Offer | Coral.co.uk coral.co.uk/sports/offers/welcome
  • Free Bets - OLBG.com olbg.com/free.php
  • Online Betting | Bet Online At Ladbrokes ladbrokes.com/
  • Free Bets | Online Betting | Bookmakers |
  • Sports Betting freebets.co.uk/
  • Free Bets | Bookies | Free Betting Offers | Online Bookm ... thebookiesoffers.co.uk/
  • Free Bet Club - Sky Bet skybet.com/
    free-bets
  • Free Bets | Matched Betting | Online Bookmakers ... freebets4all.com/

Anyhow, lets look at the some typical landing pages:

Do you notice some consistent themes?

Free money
There is very little content about the free bets, other than free money and some ‘wordage’. If a user is after a free bet, then as long as they trust the brand, then within reason the bigger the bet, the better. Punters in the UK will often have up to four accounts with different operators. So if they are looking for a free bet, its very likely they want some more free money.

Insight: Don’t try to be clever or meaningful. Money (mostly) talks.

No Content (to speak of)
You remember we spoke about the main aim of an affiliate site - to get a user through the site as fast as possible and on to an operator to convert. A great example of a huge content site which strips out all the ‘stickiness’ from their landing page is Oddschecker. It has around 4.8 million pages listed on Google and a huge number of these pages are very ‘sticky’ i.e. a user will stay on those pages for a long time reading the odds comparison information, the betting tips or the blog.

Logic: Why have a user hang around on the site when there is a chance they will finally not bother jumping through to the operator site?

This is where the concept of ‘conversion funnel friction’ comes in. The more slippery/less friction the landing page has, the more likely a user is to pass through to the operator and convert.

It’s often very counter intuitive having an SEO landing page with no real content because were told repeatedly by Google that we must have ‘sticky’ engaging content that encourages low bounce rates and longer dwell times, but for an affiliate landing page that is just not good conversion practice.

Insight: The less content you have for the user to dwell upon, the better. All that matters is once you rank that page, you get the user through as fast as possible.

Ugly pages
When I talk to people about ecommerce sites and conversion, I always reference Amazon, not because it’s a good looking site, but because it’s the biggest and has a reputation for being absolutely rigorous about conversion testing. The same principle applies to a landing page. As long as it’s acceptably good, why make it ‘beautiful’?

Logic: An affiliate’s job is to get the sale, so the most important thing is to make the site look good enough so users at least trust the site enough to click, rather than bounce straight back out from the page.

Affiliates often get confused about ‘page beauty’, because they look at operator landing pages which have lovely images and simple calls to action and reckon high production values will convert better. Not so. It’s because operators are doing a very different job to affiliates. One feeds to the other who converts and tries to hang on to that player for as long as possible.

Here is an example landing page (Figure 1) from Betfair where you see a single action - join Betfair now in three easy steps:

Figure 1 - Betfair

Insight: Put function before form, but try to make the page look trustworthy.

Casino bonus landing pages
The same rules apply to casino bonus landing pages as free bets / sports bonus pages. This screen-grab (Figure 2) is for bonus.co.uk and ranks No1 for ‘casino bonus’. You see its very like the sports betting bonus pages.

Figure 2- Bonus.co.uk

Review pages
Another affiliate strategy is to do reviews pages for various bookmakers and operators and then rank them on ‘[operator] reviews’. In theory a user is pretty focused on joining up and is interested enough in a bookmaker to check them out by searching for reviews on that company.

The reality is users don’t typically trust affiliate reviews because they are generally ‘unbelievable’ and so untrustworthy. There is a whole backdrop to users being far more savvy about getting real information to help them make a decision on a spend. In essence, we read the internet like we know a language. Ten years ago we didn’t know the ‘language of the internet’ so well and
therefore it was easier to fool people.

Today were very good on spotting untrustworthy information and Google makes a big effort to surface information that helps us make the right purchasing decision. A good example of this is how Trustpilot now ranks across so many reviews phrases for operators.

Affiliate review landing pages broadly into two groups: the sites who make a real effort to appear trustworthy and those who just throw up some generic content and have a big call to action on the page. For example, Online-betting-me.uk (Figure 3)which has ‘unbelieveable’ content and makes it easy to just click and get out of the site.

Figure 3 - Online-betting-me.uk

Top100bookmakers.com (Figure 4) however make a real effort to be a trustworthy comparison site. I assume the logic is if a user trusts the site, they will make a meaningful comparison between operators from the top100booklers.com site and when they are ready will click through to the site.

Figure 4 - Top100bookmakers.com

What top100bookmakers.com is doing takes a lot of work. However if you can get that user trust then hopefully they become a destination site from which users will repeatedly visit and join various operators.

Finally
To recap, its all about getting ‘conversion ready’ traffi c through the site and converting on an operator’s site. A landing page should not be a work of art, with awesome copywriting and big concepts. All it has to do is get the conversion.

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