I’ll start with the bitter pill. You knew this was coming. Deep down in the pit of your stomach you knew this day would come. Like brand bidding it was only a matter of time till the affiliate gut punch, the decision to cut the erosion of margin.
But wait, we were FREE PPC.
In some cases this may be true, but before you all shout at me for being too merchant-friendly I’m just trying to illustrate the conditions in which this decision might make sense: 3,4 and 5% commission are directly paid out of product margin that would otherwise be in Amazon’s pocket.
Amazon are hugely dependent on price as their competitive advantage, particularly coming out of a recession, and with such a vast distribution operation, it wouldn’t surprise me if that seemingly measly 5% commission made up around a third of Amazon’s net margin. It’s a simple calculation for them:
Affiliate commission from direct PPC activity ≥ PPC budget and associated management costs
If they can manage PPC more profitably and at a lower CPA than they’re paying affiliates then why wouldn’t they claw back that extra percent or two? In fact, they’ve probably used the PPC programme as a kind of Paid-Search-X-Idol-Factor to pick out the superstars that they’ll continue working with.
Their only other option to make the numbers work would be to lower commission for either this group or across the board which would piss a whole lot more people off.
No sense crying over spilt milk
Right, well it’s done now so get the kettle on and start the plan of action. In the short term, it goes something like this and you’re probably half-way down it by now:
- Pause all campaigns
- Prioritise your best-performing niches for landing page treatment
- Find your hosting passwords or get some, quick,
- Bang in wordpress.
- Create some kick-ass landing page templates
- Install Google Analytics and Website Optimiser
- Go to step 6
What?! I hear you scream, that’s just a thin affiliate site from 1999. I know, I know it’s just for the short term to keep you earning something. 2 months down the line when the commission cheques dry up you’ll thank me for this step.
It’s not all bad (well, it’s quite bad)
The bad news: If this is all you do then you should write off half of your conversions for the coming month and a third for the month after even if you follow these steps.
The good news: If this truly is all you do then chances are you’re bloody good at it (If you’re not, then it’s time to hit the pub). If you’ve been running PPC in such a way that you can compete profitably with the other 8 bazillion Amazon PPC-direct affiliates then you must have some serious quality in your account, hopefully through relevant ad content and great CTRs.
So the absolutely MOST important thing to focus on at this stage is minimizing losses.
No sense windmilling in with your eyes closed
We all know that windmills only help the Dutch and Environmentalists, so leave it out.
Get Google Analytics on your landing pages, use the site overlay for now, you’re going to want to understand the different languages and calls to action that work – tailor it to the language you’re using in your PPC ads to start with and then use Google Website Optimiser to test alternatives. And finally, while you’re at it make sure you have Google Analytics talking to Adwords and other PPC vendors.
Not too sure on the best format for landing pages? Take the advice of the people in this list:
- 12 Landing Page Tips – Econsultancy
- Surprising PPC Landing Pages – SEW
- PPC Landing Optimization – SEJ
Once you’ve got your basic wireframe then I’d suggest making it super easy on yourself and just install WordPress, then get a dev to build you a landing page php template (seriously it’s worth the £100 or so) and then every landing page is just a WordPress page that you write in the back end. Now you can whack up landing pages at a hell of a rate.
Stemming the bleeding
That’s you now with a bunch of landing pages that are utilizing the quality you’ve built up in your PPC accounts and for the time being to make you some money. You can build new pages quickly and test placement and calls to action, that’s great.
What you also have now is a sustainable base for your future and more importantly, a plan – so well done
That’s enough for you to be getting on with for the next couple of days so I’ll leave you to it. Part 2 will show you how to build a sustainable affiliate business out of what you already have:Pay with a tweet to download part 2
- Creating your free traffic funnel
- Optimise your landing pages for natural search – that means content kids, unique content.
- WordPress SEO
- One shot solutions so you can use data feeds to compare other merchants and product