We’ve been writing quite a bit lately on profitability, incrementality (is that even a word?) and other ROI type of issues regarding affiliate marketing. One that comes up quite often, and has been a major concern of advertisers for years has been cart sniping. What was once just a concern now has a name. I can remember discussing this issue in 2001 while at Coldwater Creek, but at the time there was no way to really understand the overall effect. Now we have tools to work with, as outlined in our 5 part series on incremental affiliate sales. But what do you do if you can’t launch on a secondary network, implement new commission structures or do anything technologically? Don’t hide your head in the sand.
It’s time to rely less on tech and more on strategy. So what is the problem with cart sniping. Wait, what is it exactly? Simply put, it’s when a customer has come to an advertiser’s site in a non-affiliate path and when they reach the check out process (they liked something, added it to the cart and started the buying process), they quickly Google “brand name + coupon”. They find a coupon, click through the affiliate link and finish their sale. Affiliates may say, “so what?” But many advertisers find this type of sale much less valuable than one that initiated with the affiliate.
The problem lies in budgeting and ROI. If that user came through another channel and also has an affiliate cost associated with it when the customer would have purchased already… Well it isn’t hard to see why this would be an issue.
So what do you do if you can’t get rid of these type of sales? Panic? Well no. Completely flip out? I wouldn’t recommend that either. We say use the strength of the affiliates in this process to gain a higher ROI from those orders! It’s not rocket science, but working with the affiliates that have great rankings for those types of terms can see significant results.
And we’ve done it with great success. Very recently we launched a new coupon for one of our clients. It was a dollar off coupon where the threshold was significantly higher than their average order size. We then offered it to the affiliates who were driving the majority of the “sniped” sales. The results were dramatic: Clicks up 37%, Orders up 83%, Conversion rate up 34%, Revenue increased by 124% and most of all AOV increased by 22% AFTER the cost of the offer and affiliate commissions were taken out.
So in a nutshell, we knew these affiliates were going to reach the customer in the final stages of their shopping cart. We knew that most of them were simply reducing the margin on those orders. But, consumers were the ones searching for a coupon, so we allowed them to find a great one. And it worked with increased traffic, increased AOV and more revenue. All in all it was a very successful campaign that we continue to utilize.
So, you can try to limit cart sniping or optimize it. One thing to remember, don’t get all bent out of shape at affiliates. Many have done a great job at SEO and they are rewarded for that. Optimize the relationship, take advantage of the consumers’ cart sniping behavior and get more items in their cart and a higher AOV from their wallet!
And share your stories here. How did it work for you?