One thing that has seemed to disappear are widgets within affiliate programs. I have no clue why merchants aren’t using them to their full advantage, but I do know why Affiliates may be scared to add them to their sites. In this post I’ll go over a few of the advantages of widgets in your Affiliate program and why you should use them; as well as what you need to be careful of and make sure you don’t do. I’ve also included some of the widgets I’ve built for two of my Affiliate Marketing Clients on Share a Sale, NationalAutismResources.com and FunKidsPajamas.com.
The good about using widgets with affiliate programs and on your affiliate sites.
Automatically have the best selling products
One thing that’s nice about a widget is that the Merchant can change out the best selling products without you having to worry about it. This way when things go out of stock, a new product becomes a better seller or there is more demand because of a seasonal change, etc…, your site will automatically have it’s creatives updated with the new products which could help increase the click throughs since you have the in demand products.
No coding and in stock items
When you use a widget, you get copy and paste code. You don’t have to worry about coding, making sure you don’t add the wrong numbers from a feeds or descriptions or have to actually learn how to code a page or script to pull products. Instead you just pick the size of the widget you want and copy and paste the code into the space on your site. This makes it really easy to feature great products without having to worry about learning css, html, php, etc…
Have targeted items for your post, built to your site’s requirements and branded for both you and the merchant.
The thing I like most about widgets is that the Merchant can customize them to match your sites content, branding and messaging. The tabs, the borders and basically everything else can be altered to match your site or to contrast to gain extra visibility from your visitors and readers. You can write to your merchants and let them know what your readers tend to buy or lean towards and then your Merchants can take the best possible products to match what your audience likes (or you could tell them what you want in it), create it to your site’s specifications and now you have a mini storefront with relevant products for your site or post.
The bad about widgets with affiliate programs and using affiliate widgets on your websites.
non commissionable items
One thing you have to be careful of is Merchants who push products through their Affiliates that they don’t pay commissions on. This happens a lot more than you think. When a popular game system was coming out a few years ago, a very large retailer pulled all commissions on this product but actually sent Affiliates coupon codes to sell this product knowing the Affiliates wouldn’t get paid if they drove sales. The Merchant did at least update their TOS to include this product in their non commissionable products section.
Merchants can also add in products to their feeds and widgets which you won’t get commissions on and take up your ad space without you knowing it. You have to make sure you know what your Merchants will pay you for and what they will not. Some do gift cards but don’t pay commissions on them and they never tell their Affiliates. Be smart and know exactly what you can and will get paid on and make sure they are listing those products in the widget. At the same time, if there is a popular product and it’s in your widget but it isn’t commissionable, the person may still buy other products so there is a chance you’ll earn something.
changing the size and breaking your code
Many Merchants higher low level people or people just out of college who don’t understand Affiliate Marketing, Blogging and advertising. Because of this, if one Affiliate asks for a change in size to a widget or that they want a similar one in a different size, the Manager may go in and change the one that already exists. If they change a 160×600 widget to a 300×300 widget, it changes the widget on every site that is using it. This will not only break your site’s code, but it will look horrible and could cover other ads or move them off the page.
Products you don’t want on your site or that you don’t like
If the merchant is large enough they could carry products that you don’t like or approve of. Because the Merchant controls what goes into the widget, when they update it they could add things that are inappropriate for your site and your audience. Sometimes the merchant may actually not mean to and other times it’s because they were careless. If their datafeed gets messed up or they give other products new categories, product ids or other categories’ codes, they could end up accidentally putting the wrong products in your site without knowing it.
Not updating their widgets or in stock products
If the Merchant doesn’t update their widgets, when they run out of product or decide to not carry it on their site anymore, they could pull the images and descriptions. This will cause your site to have empty spaces where you could have had ads and this can create a bad user experience for your site’s visitors. Also, if the merchant doesn’t carry the items, your visitors could en up on 404 pages which is also a bad experience for them. Make sure you ask the Merchant about their widgets and if they don’t know what you are talking about or cannot recommend one that is a good fit, or won’t create one, find a different merchant or a different way to promote the product.
Widgets are awesome as long as the Merchants are ethical, keep them up to date and don’t try to rip you off or change the sizes and break your site. They only take a few minutes to create (depending on the tool you use) and can really make a difference in your conversions and click through rates. If your merchants aren’t offering you widgets, you may want to reach out to them and get them to begin creating them. Below are some examples of widgets I created for Fun Kids Pajamas and National Autism Resources which are both available on the Share a Sale affiliate network. You can also read this post on how to use the Share a Sale widget tool. Check out the last widget on this page for the light up products,,,it is perfect if you have a gift site or site for kids or college students.
Also, don’t forget to enter my contest to win 1 hour of consulting.
Fun Kids Pajamas:
National Autism Resources