Thursday, March 15, 2007

Affiliate marketing and the Online Buying Cycle

Affiliate marketing use search engine and pay per click advertising to drive traffic to their website and to their merchant's websites. To achieve their objectives they use keywords research tools which give them the last search for 30 days ago. With this tactic affiliate marketing lose the opportunity to interact with their potential buyers and didn't influence their purchase decisions.
According to different studies such as Yahoo search marketing consumers use different queries at different stages of the buying cycles and that generic search terms play a critical role during the research stage.
Consumers use search several times before purchase. Results found that searchers use generic keywords throughout the buying cycle but often refine to brand terms as they near a purchase.

Most online buyer's research purchases long before they transact. This pre-purchase period is likely the best opportunity to capture new customers and influence sales that might otherwise be lost. Affiliate marketing should consider the effects of latent conversions purchases were made more than 4 weeks after the last search. Given these findings, affiliate marketing should deploy a cookie of sufficient duration to accurately value the impact of their search marketing. Although prospects often refine their searches to use brand keywords as they get closer to a purchase, over 70% of search activity is carried out against generic keywords. Due to today’s ROI metric of click-to-purchase, many affiliate marketing may be overstating the value of brand keywords and understating the value of generic ones—thereby missing the opportunity to influence the purchase decision early in the cycle. By allocating budget to all types of keywords, advertisers can attract and engage in-market searchers throughout the entire buying cycle. By allocating more WebPages to all keywords, affiliate marketing can attract and engage in-market searchers throughout the entire buying cycle.

CONVERSIONS: THE END GAME BUT NOT THE FULL GAME The current practice in direct-response driven search engine marketing is to optimize keywords based on purchases. These studies indicate that while the search a consumer makes immediately prior to the purchase is more often a brand term, there are generic searches that precede that. A new ROI metric should recognize the value of generic search and encourage merchants to interact with searchers in a different manner. Knowing that generic searchers are less likely to purchase immediately, merchants might consider new goals such as keeping them at the site longer or capturing their email. Doing so could ultimately increase both sales and customer acquisition.

SEARCH IS PART OF THE BUYING CYCLE In order to drive sales growth through search, marketers need to cast a wide net of both generic and brand keywords. Buyers are taking their time, and the more information they are given, the better. ADVICE FOR affiliate marketing Awareness: Search is complementary to other media.
Integrate search. Coordinate with other marketing channels, both online and offline, and apply learning's and promotions from other channels.
Get clicks, get conversions. Generic keywords are invaluable as they present an opportunity to attract new customers or customers that might purchase elsewhere.
Be patient. Traffic from generic keywords may not convert right away but could still result in sales both on and offline. Consideration: Search is an opportunity seized or lost.
Leverage data feeds. Expand keyword portfolio, optimize keyword lists and identify generic keywords through data feeds.
Use your own data. Create keywords from log files to ensure you’re advertising what your consumers are already looking for.
Cast a wide net. Add plurals, variations, misspellings, and modifiers (e.g. find, shop for, buy, discount) to existing keywords.
Be resourceful. Leverage 3rd party data resources. Purchase: Traditionally, search yields an impressive ROI.
Know your customer. Understand the buying cycle for your products, in terms of duration and frequency of searches.
Lengthen cookie duration. Increasing cookie duration captures searchers who take their time to make a purchase.
Engage your customers. Don’t let them walk out of your store without a valuable exchange. Put more emphasis on emails, registration, personalization and other site interaction.

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