Thursday, 21 June 2012
Most affiliates have some form of statistical software running, either in the forms of a third party service like Google Analytics or as a server program. Thus, most can generally see where sales are coming from in terms of locations and keywords (though this is getting more difficult by the day). But long gone are the days when you knew pretty much everyone was using an 800x600 screen!
So how are visitors landing on your site and how are your sales being generated?
A couple of networks have aimed to shed some light on conversions, making them more transparent to affiliates. After all, the more we know about our referrals, the more we can tailor our sites and traffic.
This week they released their M-Commerce white paper which is packed full of interesting statistics about the mobile and tablet side of affiliate marketing. This goes hand-in-hand with their newly released feature on sales reports pages which show a pictorial icon to indicate sales that were generated on a PC, on a phone or on a tablet.
I'm certainly surprised about how much tablet and phone traffic some of my sites have been getting. I use my tablet for surfing but not for purchasing as it's too complicated. In terms of using a mobile, I've made purchases via the Amazon app as that's the only one I've found that makes life simple (for what I buy at least). I can't stand mobile version of sites as they invariably strip out the functionality I'm in search of! Nevertheless, my visitors love mobiles so this has to be a consideration in further site redesigns.
In May 2012, 10.94% of network traffic on Affiliate Window came from a mobile or tablet device, with typically circa 75% coming from an Apple iPad, Apple iPhone or Apple iPod. At the moment it seems like department stores, fashion retailers and telecoms companies are doing well from mobile traffic. The stats also show that there is a year-on-year increase in mobile sales and this is still growing. Conversion rates of mobile traffic appear somewhat seasonal but overall this year average between 2.5% and 3%.
It would be interesting to know whether these conversions tend to be made on a dedicated mobile website or whether they are typically made on a standard website. Should affiliates make a mobile optimised site or is the onus on the retailer?
Up until this report I thought mobile traffic could pretty much be ignored and tablet traffic treated identically to PC traffic but that's not always the case. In fact, in creating my new cruise photography website I've tested it on mobile, tablet and PC as it uses Jquery that originally didn't translate all that well.
Paid on Results
Their solution has been around for ages and is arguably one of the most transparent measures I've come across in the dozen-or-so affiliate networks I use.
This pie chart shows the breakdown of tracking methods. For instance, from January to May 2012 nearly 15% of my sales were tracked other than the standard browser cookie. Whilst this doesn't reveal too much on it's own, in context it's very useful. Potentially, on lesser networks that could represent a 15% drop in income if there isn't an alternative tracking method to cookies.
Given the amount of "do not track" developments in browsers, standard cookie tracking cannot be fully relied upon. Rather than hiding behind a "we've got reliable tracking" stance, Paid on Results have opened this data up to affiliates so we can see what's going on, and what tracking methods are being used.
Data is key, and transparency seems to be where the industry is heading.
I'm of the belief that affiliate networks need to offer more transparency to affiliates and I'd like to see more developments like these to help affiliates better understand their converting traffic. On which device the sale was generated is useful and which type of tracking was used clearly helps with understanding the buyer. I'd like to see more networks adopt these features and perhaps place more emphasis on what people are buying, as Paid on Results does beautifully right now.
I'm not sure what information networks are able to gather but I wonder if data such as "how many affiliates were in the buying chain before the last click won" (or even the other way around in that "how many sales have affiliates been part of the chain in, but did not win") will become the focus of future network developments.
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