We’ve all been there - You’ve been working on a campaign for several weeks, iteratively improving each of your creatives, step by step, on your way to the “optimal” conversion path. Then one day your predictably improving conversion rates, and EPCs, take a dive straight towards Mother Earth. But, it might not be caused by what you think…
In the world of CPA offers, the inexperienced affiliate is very quick to jump on the bandwagon and accuse an advertiser of shaving (or unjust scrubbing) when conversion rates take a turn for the worse. In reality, there are legitimate market factors which can cause this sudden reversal of fortune.
Lately Adult (or Casual) Dating offers have been all the rage in the CPA affiliate space. It seems every affiliate, and their mothers, pushing these types of offers on every conceivable adult traffic source available. Unlike traditional online dating offers, the obvious ad inventory available to purchase is not infinite, and neither is the depth of your target market.
You might be thinking to yourself: “But Jason, there are millions of adult sites out there; why isn’t there virtually unlimited ad inventory?” Well you would be right… partly. There are an almost endless number of ‘porn sites’, but far less that get any real traffic volume.
“OK, so what?”… To illustrate my point let us visit the land of “make believe”…
What do you think happens when you are advertising the exact same dating offer as a good number of your affiliate peers? Your surfer has already signed up for an account at that SAME site, or at a site in the same network of dating websites. Even if he does click on your ad and fill out the form (again), do you think the advertiser is going to give you credit for a registration from a surfer they already have in their member database? (HINT: the answer is NO!) Each of these “duplicate” signups will not be credited and work to ratchet down your conversion rate.
What do you think happens when a surfer signs up for a particular adult dating offer, and then continues to be bombarded by ads for vastly similar adult dating sites with eerily similar ads? If the value proposition is not significantly different than what he was suckered in with originally, he probably briefly entertains the pitch and then ignores these messages forever more; he has already viewed behind the Wizard’s curtain and realized there aren’t really hundreds of ‘girls’ looking to get laid by him tonight. No need for him to make the same mistake twice, but he still clicked on your ad just to make sure this wasn’t something different…
OK, back to real life…
Another situation that might manifest itself, especially in a situation where a lot of affiliates have jumped on a particular offer lately, is email server reputation problems. Frequently, dating CPA offers are double-opt-in (sometimes even if they are labeled as single-opt-in; be sure to test!), meaning the affiliate gets paid when a visitor registers for a free account and then clicks on a link in an email to confirm their email address. So it’s fair to say that if the email reputation of the advertiser’s email server takes a hit, which is common, then the surfer which just signed up will probably not see the confirmation email (or it will land in their ‘spam folder’). If the surfer doesn’t confirm their email, then the affiliate doesn’t get paid. This can still affect you with single-opt-in offers, as a low confirmation rate will lead to lower (read: poor) quality and you will be faced with a reduced payout or kicked from the offer completely.
In order to stay on top of email server reputation issues I would suggest every affiliate obtain a free account at SenderScore.org and test the email “inboxing” ability of the CPA offer you are promoting. Before turning on the flow of traffic, register on the offer yourself with a test email address; once you receive the confirmation email, look at the email headers to find the server IP which is sending the email; Plug this into SenderScore.org to get a historical view of the health of this email server and its current ability to get in your surfer’s inbox. A poor score means even if you are getting the surfer to fill out the offer, you may not be always getting credit for it.
Finally the most obvious reason why your conversion rate can implode overnight is the advertiser has made a material change to the offer (or landing page). This can be the most frustrating reason for a conversion rate ‘meltdown’ because it is the most preventable by the advertiser. Most times, in my experience, the advertiser doesn’t even communicate this change to their affiliate base, or when they do the CPA network doesn’t bother to pass it along. As even the most nubile of affiliate can tell you, a change to the offer page can have a catastrophic effect on conversion rates, and can cause madness when this happens at the same time as your affiliate split-testing.
To combat this type of situation from throwing you off guard, you should use a tool such as OfferSnitch (http://www.offersnitch.com) to get notified whenever an offer page changes. Ideally you would monitor each stage of the conversion funnel for changes, if possible, up until the point where you are credited for the conversion.
About the Author:
Jason “J-SiN” Hart is the CTO and Co-Founder of Lead Wrench (http://www.leadwrench.com), a lead generation empowerment platform which allows affiliates to become “offer owners” and CPA networks to create their own in-house Branded lead generation offers. He has been active in the affiliate marketing space for 10 years, was a speaker at iDate 2013 Las Vegas, and is also a moderator on the AffPlaybook Forums.