If you are an individual or a small company, serving some markets directly with a product may not be as scalable as selling ads. The best type of ads to sell are overpriced CPM brand ads, but if you are in a high value niche you can also do well with affiliate offers and AdSense ads.
Most informational websites are monetized via selling ads. The most profitable ad any site can sell is an ad for itself, because there is already user trust and perception of control built directly into a person buying from the same trusted brand. If you don't believe that theory, track affiliate conversion rates while having a lead form on your site vs a lead form on a third party site. The on-site lead form will typically outperform a third party lead form sometimes by a factor of 2 or more. A friend of mine published a blue site about ringtones. He sent traffic to a green ringtone offer landing page that offered 15 bonus ringtones. He later tested sending the traffic to a blue ringtone offer landing page that offered 10 bonus ringtones. While offering less, the conversion rate was significantly higher because the conversion process felt more congruent from beginning to end.
If you must send visitors to another site for conversion try to pattern your site design and sales copy to match the end destination site design and copy. The more consistent the experience is the more money you make.
A few more tips to help boost conversions:
- Make the review look unbiased, even if it is highly biased. Use bulleted list and show stats. Make the sales information look more informational than salesy.
- Limit user choice. Make it sound like you already did all the review process and your recommendation is the obvious choice for the user's needs.
If your site is mostly an AdSense site, and you are getting a strong CPM, you might be able to make more by showing fewer ad units. Use the advanced AdSense reports to see if people are site targeting your website. If advertisers are site targeting consider pulling back one ad unit to see how that affects the CPC and CPM of the remaining ad units. Advertisers competing for less ad inventory should drive up the prices. If the gain nearly offsets the loss you are still ahead because you can replace that other ad unit with an affiliate ad, an ad for a branded advertiser, or an ad marketing your best content.
If many of your advertisers are thin affiliate sites, consider moving yourself up the value chain by cloning their offers and business models and improving upon them. You should be able to make more money selling directly because you keep the visitor, the supply chain is thinner, you can refine your offers over time, you can sell at higher price points, you can resell the customer, and your conversion rates should be higher because you are selling your own site and business.
The most profitable ad any site can sell is an ad for itself, because there is already user trust and perception of control built directly into a person buying from the same trusted brand.
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