Peepers Affiliate Case Study #2

by akagorilla on April 13, 2012

Our Peepers Reading Glasses affiliate program case study is further evolving. This is the second installment of a 4-month live case study where Greg Hoffman Consulting manages the Peepers affiliate program for free and shares everything with the world. We are taking the program from an unmanaged free for all to a custom built, value added, profitable marketing channel for a great brand.

We have now terminated the relationships with 25 affiliates that were in violation of our terms of service, by direct linking on trademark keywords or poaching with trademark plus coupon code variations. Thank you BrandVerity. Sales for April compared to March are down 65% in the affiliate channel. However, according to the merchant, sales overall are down as well but that reflects the many years trend of a slower April compared to March. Besides the affiliate channel being down, they have not seen a negative impact overall. The merchant is cautiously optimistic about this experiment. Thankfully, they see where I am going with it. If the merchant is down 20%, the affiliate channel would reflect that so let’s say we are down only 45%.

The expected drop in sales tells me two things. 1. The paid search affiliates were stealing existing customers and not adding value. 2. Customers are looking for deals or some type of help closing the transaction.

My solution, that has worked well in the past with other programs, is to fill that void with reviews from affiliates. When the customer types in those keywords, we want to fill up the search engines with well respected affiliates (my mommy and deal bloggers) that talk about the high quality and the need to purchase from Peepers Reading Glasses. Customers need that reassurance that others love the product just as much as they will. I would be perfectly willing to allow any of those niche content partners to test paid search if they drove the traffic to their unique content pages. In other programs, the conversion from that traffic comes back huge!

Since the traffic exists, I also might be willing to work with one paid search affiliate if they agree to our guidelines. But that’s next month’s experiment.

Next week, we climb out of the basement and bring back the exact same 2-day sale we had in March. 25% off the clearance section plus free shipping. I’m not guaranteeing anything, but my best guess is that after all the recruiting we’ve done in this program, the crop of niche content affiliates will take a huge chunk out of that 45% drop in sales. April could level out to be on par with March. That would be a huge victory.

On the conversion front, we have new affiliates pumping clicks and the conversion has dropped from 26% to 18%. By the end of the month, I expect conversion to be below 12%. That is much more reasonable.

Where is my proof that niche content affiliates are better? On March 26, Cindy recruited one of our affiliates into the program. This affiliate has a an awesome niche site that we didn’t see coming. Since then, she has sent more than $700 in sales and converts at 5.79%. Her sales spiked the day we removed the big paid search coupon poacher was removed. Coincidence??? I don’t think so.

This program is at the beginning of a huge transition. Stay tuned for the next case study update. Comments? Questions?

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