5 New Year’s Resolutions to Help you Succeed as a Merchant

Last week we explored five business-building New Year’s resolutions for affiliates. Now we turn our attention to merchants to provide tips on improving their image, affiliate programs and the way they communicate to their affiliates and customers. Here are some areas for merchants to focus on this year.

Work smarter, not harder
In our affiliate-focused blog we highlighted the exact same point in relation to spreading yourself too thinly across multiple social media platforms. Having too many affiliate programs across multiple networks for the same product can often backfire. Not all affiliate programs are one and the same, so it’s important to distinguish the differences been the networks you work with and implement different strategies. If this isn’t done, then you run into challenges like saturation and not having enough time to handle multiple affiliate programs at once. Better to be strategic and consolidate programs for best performance.

Treat your affiliates better
This is obvious and shouldn’t have to be a resolution, but based on one of Geno Prussakov’s recent blog post, it’s clearly a message that needs to be relayed again. Affiliates can be the most loyal advocates of your products. Try not to be abrupt by removing them from your program simply because they have yet to drive sales, without first having a conversation to determine why. If your conversions are low for a program, ask questions: is it that an affiliate in your program is promoting your product on an irrelevant site? If so, ask if they have other more relevant sites in development. Perhaps they signed up with plans to launch a new site down the road that would feature your product. Perhaps they are a newcomer to PPC and are just getting their feet wet bidding on key words for your product. In any case, communicate first, act second.

Feature your customers in your ads
Banner ads are a tricky type of creative. Besides a clear call to action, logos and brief messages, there’s also the need to feature your product. It’s equally important to feature your customers in your advertising. If men make up the majority of your audience, for example, then they should be featured in your content, be it banner ads or HTML mailers that are designed to attract those customers. Are a large portion of your customers from a specific ethnic community? Then feature models of that ethnicity in your ads. Your customers deserve this type of consideration.

Optimize your landing page
Like banner ads, this is also a tricky tool that is vital to the visitor-to-customer conversion process. One of the keys to optimizing a landing page is to test, test, test and test again. Be it split tests across different affiliate programs, or testing for a specific product or period of time, always find a way to make your landing page better. Not convinced? Check out Tim Ash’s “7 deadly sins of landing page design”. This guy knows what he’s talking about.

Get out of your comfort zone
It’s very easy for merchants to get caught up working in a bubble without seeking consultation or ideas from outside parties. Every now and again it’s good to get out there and see what new and innovative tools and trends are emerging. The only way to know that is to broaden your network of information. Try building a resource library by subscribing to trade publications that are relevant to your industry, or attend a conference like Affiliate Summit or SES to get up to date on the latest strategies available for attracting more quality traffic.

Commit to change
Once you get out of your comfort zone and start exploring new opportunities, it’s important to action change for the better. It’s one thing to be aware of a need for improvement; it’s another to actually implement a strategy for change. As a merchant, staying stuck in the same place can be detrimental to your online business. Try revamping your site every year. Design new banners for each season and test to see which ones perform better than others. Change can be a good thing. Embrace it.


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