Performance Marketing : Getting growth from Content Websites

Disclaimer: I’m Partnerships Manager @ Optimise Media, a Performance Marketing Agency for Financial Services clients. However, all opinions & thoughts are my own.

Welcome to Part 1 of my new Performance Playbook series.

The aim of this series is to explore strategies for growth for clients in the Finance Industry, specifically within Performance Marketing.

I wanted to start with a tough one, and arguably the oldest type of website and publisher — the Content Site.

Why content sites? Because unlike Price Comparison, Cashback, or Voucher Codes, the content site landscape isn’t top heavy. By that, I mean it’s not dominated by 5 or less key players in the market.

Pick any sector or niche, and there are swathes of content sites with steady, consistent traffic. Even if we limit ourselves to sites with a PR of 1–3 for the keywords we’re targeting, we’ve got a substantial list of potential traffic drivers.

It’s basically a huge, abundant landscape of opportunity. It’s creative, diverse, and fuelled by interested journos writing for interested consumers, not PPC (so you’re not cannibalising your existing traffic sources).

But there’s a problem.

The problem is that the strategies we use for Price Comparison or Cashback or Voucher Codes or Email typically don’t work with content sites.

Why? Because most people don’t go to content sites holding their credit cards. That’s why conversion rates are typically so much lower on content sites than Price Comparison or Cashback or VCs.

My conclusion? There’s limited immediate purchase intent (the intent that Price Comparison, Cashback and VCs have in abundance) on Finance content sites.

The operators of these content sites know this.

Clients know this.

Affiliate managers know this.

Even with everyone in the chain knowing this, some affiliate managers will recommend pumping that content landscape full of display ads targeted for acquisition, with the same offering that they’re putting on Price Comparison. Throw enough mud at the wall, and some will stick.

That’s true, but it’s not that effective. And it’s probably why content sites have steadily been losing market share in the affiliate world.

So if we want to crack content, we need to identify a new strategy for content sites — a strategy that works to their strengths. And typically a new strategy needs a new metric for success.

So now we’re on to the meat of this article, the metaphorical bone to chew on. Thanks for sticking around so far.

Here it is -

Stop pushing CPA (cost per acquisition) on Content Sites for your Finance offers.

Start running CPL (cost per lead) on Content Sites for your Finance offers.

Some of you will be tempted to switch off right now, because affiliate is about acquisition, and a lead isn’t a sale. Before you do though, hear me out. Because this is still about acquisition, and it’s still affiliate.

All we have to do is run another calculation to make this clear.

Let’s start off with an easy example — you’ve got a CPA of £100 for someone opening an ISA with you.

Let’s assume you have an email marketing funnel you run in-house for your organic traffic that is pretty well optimised. You know that when someone downloads a guide on your ISA and enters that funnel, you’ve got a 10% conversion rate.

That means you can afford pay a £10 CPL to meet your eCPA of £100 (£100/10% = £10).

So assuming your conversion rate from the email funnel remains the same, you can afford a £10 CPL on an ISA Download.

Why is this important?

Because we’re still capitalising on consumer intent on those content sites — just not immediate purchase intent. Instead, we’re looking at future purchase intent, which content sites typically have in abundance, because consumers are using these sites to educate themselves in order to make a purchase in the future.

By running a CPL campaign, you’re investing in their future purchase intent, and by using a well crafted email funnel, you’re ensuring an effective return on that investment.

Will all content sites run this sort of program? No, some sites will still want fixed cost or CPM sales. You can’t win every battle.

Will MORE content sites run this sort of program than a CPA program? Yes, significantly more — because this is what their users are looking for, and it’s another way to monetise their base with a value-add.

Will your results be better? In short, yes, because we all know that more affiliate sites with more targeted programs equals more acquisition.

In addition, by enrolling publishers on parallel CPA & CPL campaigns (but using Lead-Gen creative and copy), you can still capitalise on any immediate purchase intent traffic that comes through the top of the funnel with cross-sell tracking.

Now, that’s just the beginning, and it’s the least ‘sexy’ example of building out content site growth — but I have to keep some things for paying clients.

This is one example, in one niche, in one sector — and I wrote this in about 45 minutes. Imagine what we could do in 12 months. If you’re interested in building out a diversified affiliate program (or starting one) in the Finance sector, get in touch via email or give me a call on 07740 935 021.