Chris Goward: Affiliate Programs and Conversion Optimization #AMDays

Welcome to the series of pre-conference interviews with select speakers from the upcoming Affiliate Management Days San Francisco 2013 (Apr 16-17, 2013). In this interview, my guest is Chris Goward, CEO of WiderFunnel, famous conversion optimization expert, entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker. At the #AMDays conference, Chris will cover conversion optimization techniques and tactics and how they may be used to help improve performance of affiliate programs.

* * * * *

affiliate programsQuestion: If you were to emphasize one important area/issue that every affiliate manager should be paying more attention to, what would it be and why?

Chris: Affiliate managers are still under-emphasizing conversion optimization.

A recent study of online retailers revealed that, for every $92 spent driving traffic, still only $1 spent on conversion. With under-investment like this, there’s no wonder why affiliate websites and landing pages are still under performing.

But, many are coming to their senses. The same study showed that the top challenge for retailers this year is improving conversions. They’re taking the first step; at least they admit they have a problem.

The rationale for conversion optimization is well known. It is much easier to boost your profit by improving your web conversion rates than it is to drive more affiliate traffic. What if you could get 10%, 20% or 50% more conversions from the same traffic? Would that be worth your time?

Question: What do you see as the main areas of opportunity for online (and especially affiliate) marketers in 2013 and 2014?

Chris: Social media is still in its growth stage but its activity will have to pay off directly this year, especially for affiliate managers. Affiliates are well positioned to take advantage of their action oriented approach to the web by looking for opportunities that arise from Twitter’s launch of Vine and the inevitable scramble that platforms are going to make to secure a place in social video.

Content marketing is still growing, but business leaders are starting to hold it with a shorter leash. They’re realizing that content without conversion is just free publishing. The effort has to pay off more directly. Your social campaigns need to be optimized for conversions.

Question: Last month your first book, You Should Test That, came out. How is this book different from other tomes on conversion rate optimization out there?

Chris: I take a very different approach than previous books. I’m less concerned with showing technical details of how to use analytics tools or in promoting untested theories. I want to show how to get real results. And these are not the same old tips you can find in a Google blog search.

The book takes a balanced approach with proven strategic frameworks for elevating the discussion above tips and tactics as well as hands-on advice and tested discoveries. It also includes 15 full case studies from real companies, showing exactly how they got results.

I think Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, and Crazy Egg, said it best when he said:

“If you want to create massive advancements in your business and drive more sales, you have to read You Should Test That!

I support his recommendation.

Question: I know it isn’t going to be easy to fit it into a paragraph or two, but can you give people a few quick tips on how they can improve the performance/conversion of their online landing pages today?

The most important finding from the thousands of test results we’ve studied is this: principles and frameworks are more effective than tips and tactics. Marketers who are still looking for “silver bullet” ideas on the latest blog post are missing out on much bigger wins. If, instead, you start with a proven scientific process that includes strong conversion analysis frameworks, you’ll develop a consistent stream of ideas and improvements.

That’s what we’ve been developing since 2007 – reliable conversion optimization frameworks.

A great place to start is the LIFT landing page analysis framework, which you can use to identify and categorize conversion problems. Our strategists still use it every day with WiderFunnel’s clients. Using a framework like the LIFT Model will focus your attention on meeting the prospect’s needs rather than just trying random tactics.

Question: At AM Days SF 2013, you’ll be speaking on proven conversion optimization techniques for affiliate programs. As a sneak peak, can you let us know which words always lift conversion rates when used in a copy or on a banner?

Chris: I’ll tell you exactly which words will work best. They’re the words that:

  • Encapsulate your most important value proposition points.
  • Are relevant to the prospect’s needs.
  • Clarify their meaning and purpose.
  • Do not distract with secondary messages.
  • Minimize anxiety.
  • Use a tone that creates a sense of urgency.

The specific words that meet those criteria will depend on each context, target audience, incoming media source and product.

In my session at AM Days, I show specific case study examples. You see how companies with successful affiliate programs have boosted their conversion rates by finding the words, images, designs and value proposition that works best.

* * * * *

The Affiliate Management Days conference takes place April 16-17, 2013. Follow @AMDays or #AMDays on Twitter. Early bird registration runs until February 22, 2013. When registering, make sure to use the code SBTAM250 to receive an additional $250.00 off your two-day (or combo) pass.

The rest of the interview series from #AMDays may be found here.

More in: 3 Comments ▼

Geno Prussakov Geno Prussakov is the Founder & Chair of Influencer Marketing Days and Affiliate Management Days and the CEO & founder of AM Navigator LLC. As an award-winning affiliate marketing expert, he has contributed to the online marketing success of such top brands as Forbes, Nokia, Hallmark, Warner Music, Skype, Forex Club, and hundreds of small businesses.

3 Reactions
  1. Mark @ ThinkTraffic

    Awesome interview, thanks Geno and Chris.

    I love how much you are emphasizing conversions here, because it makes so much sense.

    I am starting to see more people who are interested in this but I think because it is a fairly technical topic a lot of people are still put off from learning the ropes.

    It’s a shame because simple split testing isn’t that hard at all, and can be so effective.

  2. Exactly, Mark. And when it comes to affiliate programs, optimizing your landing pages for better conversion, actually, helps both the merchant and affiliates. In the past I’ve seen how simple tweaks could yield a threefold conversion improvement, and fourfold EPC increase.

  3. Fantastic post. It’s important that you have a good affiliate program in place that’s converting ideally. I enjoy the tweaking and testing that goes into increasing conversions. One you’ve got a steady flow of traffic coming in, that’s when the fun begins. 🙂