Simon Piper, Head of Business Development and Partnerships at Consumerchoices.co.uk, provides advice on how businesses can make the most of digital sales strategies.
Online businesses should not rely on one traffic source in this highly competitive market. Building up an online sales distribution network is a great way of avoiding this.
By giving your sales network the tools they need, such as tracking through to sale, incentives, separate landing pages and bespoke telesales numbers, they can fast become a significant new channel for your business.
1. Incentives & special offers
There are a number of ways to generate interest in services that can become commoditised when purchased online; these include introductory pricing, waiving upfront costs and offering special discounts.
Using voucher codes within the checkout process is also becoming a popular way to tailor this process and companies are switching on to using cookies to control when a voucher code box displays so they can offer discounts (or not) according to traffic channel and/or product sold.
If users are not expecting money off or an introductory benefit, then it makes little commercial sense to offer a discount on that product. This is particularly relevant for your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or direct to site traffic.
2. Track through to point of sale
Regardless of whether you manage your distribution network via an agency, affiliate network, in house, or any combination of these, the key to performance is always to provide tracking through to sale. If partners can identify “click references” for initiatives that perform and those that don’t, they can target effectively and will focus on your products over a competitor that gives them limited visibility.
3. Offer flexible payment models
Cost per acquisition (CPA) tracking – payment by direct results - is common practice and rewarding sales volumes with tiered commission bands or “ratchets” is a great way to further incentivise partners. Post Impression (PI) CPA tracking should be considered if you have a more complex product to sell.
This mechanism allocates commercial value for sales process involvement, where a direct click/call to action is not forthcoming and the longer-term conversion value is measured. This is a useful way of incentivising partners and driving traffic or exposure for your brand where a partner may not have provided content to support your products as it is conceptually too difficult to promote.
4. Develop key messaging
Actively engage with larger partners to help portray key messaging via timely news stories. Don’t over-delegate to agencies or affiliate networks. Leverage expert opinions from partners that have a strong media presence and communicate notable upgrades to them in advance of implementation.
Key partners will also produce editorial content in the form of news, guides and general comment, and will often email direct to their registered users to reinforce messaging. Embedding your brand within such activity is an easy win as all you need to do is keep the lines of communication open.
5. Don’t overlook offline
Tracked telesales numbers is a great way to complement your online activity. Our experience within the broadband, home phone and digital TV comparison sector, has taught us that adding telesales numbers to results tables drives significant highly targeted sales calls.
Importantly, it does not erode online conversions at all; rather it taps in to a supplementary and complementary sales channel that enhances the commercial opportunity for the publisher and therefore exposure for the advertiser.
6. Invest in landing pages
Partners will want to know that everything is being done to increase conversion rates and will monitor “earnings per click” as the benchmark for how well traffic is being monetised.
Investing in landing pages that reflect above the line messaging will help optimise conversion rates and removing distracting navigations will keep the focus on the transaction. Leakage can also be minimised by removing untracked call centre numbers from the sign up process.
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