I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
As an affiliate, you have two goals:
- convince the user to buy and
- set the cookie
Maybe not in that order, either.
Learn to use Deeplinks
The key to setting cookies without selling is understanding deeplinks. Deeplinks are affiliate links that take the user to a page other than the merchant’s homepage. In doing so, your affiliate link can direct the user to just about any other page – on or off the merchant’s website.
In CJ, only some links can be deeplinked. In ShareASale, any of them can. See my post on Deeplinks & Sub IDs for more info. All networks have their own structure for deeplinks.
One of the easiest things to do is to give something away: software, whitepapers, etc. Let’s look at Avanquest in ShareASale. The default link is:
<a href="http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=75110&u=132296&m=12081&urllink=&afftrack=">Avanquest Software</a>
KeepItPrivate™ Internet Privacy Pro has a trial version, at http://www.trialpay.com/custom/w_abt/?vwid=JJESLRSS. So you add the URL (encoded) to your ShareASale link, and you get
<a href="http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=75110&u=132296&m=12081&urllink=www.trialpay.com%2Fcustom%2Fw_abt%2F%3Fvwid%3DJJESLRSS&afftrack=">Avanquest Software</a>
Why would you set a cookie while giving stuff away for free? The free version may be limited, and the user will want to upgrade. Or, in this case, the free version requires some offer to be completed, and the user would rather just pay for the software.
Whitepapers are similar: show the PDF icon that everyone knows and offer up a whitepaper. Link that icon to your deeplinked URL. Or, even better, have them join your mailing list for a whitepaper, then the double-opt-in thank you page can show this hyperlinked icon. Now you have the user on your mailing list, and cookied.
I’ve posted about setting cookies on two different affiliate networks on one click before, and I still use this when possible. Network tracking isn’t perfect, and I’ve found one merchant who will always prefer the CJ cookie over ShareASale (regardless of “last-click”) and in another case, I’m seeing 30% higher revenue when setting two cookies (I report back duplicate sales – although it shouldn’t happen, it does).
Webinars are great for users to discover new features or learn about services. So when your merchant is hosting one, set-up an affiliate link which allows users to register. Then, if they like what they see and buy, your cookie is there. Raven Tools recently held Raven-U, educating current and prospective clients on what Raven Tools can do. So I tweeted:
— Eric Nagel (@ericnagel) February 1, 2013
I used bit.ly to mask the affiliate link, which can also sometimes get the merchant RTing your affiliate link out.
You can deeplink to contests (on the merchant’s site, or not) or answer pre-sale questions by directing your traffic to FAQ or support pages. There are dozens of opportunities when it comes to setting cookies via affiliate deeplinks.