Why Merchants Should Allow Direct Linking

Direct linking is a method of PPC bidding that affiliates use to send paid traffic directly to a merchant’s website, without going to a landing page (or affiliate site) first. This means when a search is done, the merchant’s domain name is shown in the ad, and when the user clicks on the ad, they end up at the merchant’s site, after the cookie is set for that affiliate.

The advantage (for affiliates) of direct linking is that an additional step in the buying process is removed (the affiliate’s website). However, some merchants do not allow this, and this can be a big mistake.

When merchants are not involved in PPC marketing, they’re often afraid of getting started. Spending money for each click can be daunting, especially if they choose the wrong keywords. But this is a huge missed opportunity, which can drive a large portion of sales.

Merchants should consider allowing their affiliates to direct link. With CPS payouts, the merchant knows what percentage of the sale they will be paying out. So if their profit is 40%, and they payout 12%, they know that they’ll still make 28% (well, a bit less, because the affiliate network takes their cut). If a sale is not made, they don’t pay a dime!

PPC affiliate marketers are experts at what they do – online businesses should focus on what they know, not worry about learning all about PPC advertising. If merchants would open up their affiliate program to direct linking, they would gain the benefits of PPC exposure, and the safety of only paying out on a CPS basis. For merchants, it’s PPC exposure, with guaranteed profits!

Maybe someone (a merchant, or an OPM) can explain to me why a merchant who is not doing any PPC advertising doesn’t allow Direct Linking?



Display URL That Works

A common trick in PPC is to include keywords in your Display URL (the URL that is displayed with your PPC ad). The display URL doesn’t HAVE to work, but it should. I don’t have any stats on this, but if someone does a copy / paste of your display URL, and it goes to a 404 page, you just lost that potential customer.

Searching for Christmas lights shows the top 2 ads are using Display URLs with keywords in them.

Google AdWords Display URL

The first link, http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/lights, goes to a very useful 404 page. In fact, I’m sure most users won’t even see the error message and quickly click on the Christmas lights image, yet that’s one click further away from the sale.

The second link, http://www.1000bulbs.com/Christmas-Lights/, works just fine, and takes the user right where they want to go.

Bronners, another PPC advertiser on the page, shows users http://bronners.com/Lights – a very ugly 404 page.

Redirecting your Display URL to the proper Destination URL is easy to do with .htaccess. Here’s a quick example:

RewriteEngine On
Redirect 301 /save http://www.yourdomain.com/savings-page.php

So now your display URL can be YourDomain.com/save and the user will be taken to http://www.yourdomain.com/savings-page.php.

Every little bit helps!

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