How to Monetize Your Website Without Destroying Your User Experience

How to Monetize Your Website Without Destroying Your User Experience

If you have a website that publishes content, you know there’s one thing that’s super important… monetizing your traffic.

You’ve poured tons of time and effort into creating a great site, and there’s nothing better than turning all that hard work into cash.

But monetizing your site isn’t as easy as it might seem at first. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to utilize some solid strategies.

Strategies for Monetizing Traffic to Your Website

There are a lot of ways to monetize your website. I’ll explain a few of the most common ones below. But first, let’s talk about traffic:

The More Traffic You Have, the Easier It Will Be to Monetize Your Site.

Some of the common ways to monetize a website (like running ads) won’t necessarily be worth it until you have a certain amount of traffic.

There are still ways you can monetize a website that doesn’t get much traffic. For example, you could use the audience you already have to launch a business (like coaching or freelance writing) based around your site. You could also sell products to your existing audience.

However, with more site visitors, you’ll have more options.

How do you build traffic to your website? There are tons of strategies you can use. Write an ebook, hold a webinar, grow your email list, improve your SEO…  basically anything to help people find you and get them interested in your content.

Monetizing Your Site

Once you’ve built up an audience for your website, here are just a few of the techniques you can use to monetize your traffic.

Paid Memberships or Paywalls

The simplest way to monetize your website is asking people to pay for your content.

Because there’s so much free stuff on the internet, people are hesitant to pay for content. However, if your brand is strong enough, your audience might be willing to pay. Many major news publishers offer only a few free articles and keep the rest of their websites behind a paywall. Here’s what that looks like at the Harvard Business Review:

For bloggers and marketers, a more common approach is a tiered membership system, where most of the content on the website is free, but some is members-only.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing means using affiliate links to refer people to other websites. When people buy products from those sites, you’ll get a cut of the sale.

If you’re using affiliate links on your site, you should let people know that. Try to only recommend products you think your audience will like.

There are tons of companies out there with affiliate programs. Amazon has one of the most popular ones.

Sponsored Posts

A third way to monetize traffic is by doing sponsored posts for brands. Companies might contact you asking you to write a post promoting them, with a link to their site. This is sometimes called native advertising.

Here’s an example of a sponsored post from HR Magazine:

Display Ads

Finally, one of the most common ways to monetize your website is by using display ads.

Display ads are extremely popular and show up on almost every website in the header, sidebars, and other places. In fact, the Google Display Network reaches 90% of internet users around the world. By using display ads, you can “rent out” space on your site to advertisers.

Here’s an example of what display ads look like from Speedtest.net:

Display ads are an easy way to monetize traffic. But to get the most out of them, you have to optimize them.

To do this, you have to understand how display advertising works, and which types of ads work best. Ads can be annoying to users if you implement them wrong.

Read on to learn about how to earn more from display ads without destroying your user experience.

What Type of Ads Should I Use to Bring in Revenue?

First, let’s talk about the types of display ads that are out there. There are a lot of different formats for ads. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has guidelines for ad sizes and specifications.

Here are a few kinds of display ads you might see on publisher websites:

Static Ads vs. Animated Ads

Static ads are the simplest and most traditional kind of display ads. A static ad is a picture, and that’s it.

An animated display ad is usually made up of 2-3 static images, which display one after the other.

These types of ads are sometimes called banner ads, and they come in a variety of different formats. You may have heard terms like “leaderboard”, “skyscraper”, “square”, “full banner”, or “half-page”: these are all different sizes for display ads.

Google has a guide showing some of the most common ad sizes (in pixels) for both mobile and desktop.

Video Ads

Another type of display ad is a video ad.

You may think of a video ad as something that shows up on YouTube, but Google video ads also appear on publisher websites if they are Google video partners.

Video ads may be embedded within content or displayed on the side of the page.

Lightbox Ads

Lightbox ads respond when users engage with them. When people tap or hover over the ad, it expands or displays a video. Advertisers only pay when people engage with their ads.

Responsive Display Ads

Responsive display ads adjust their appearance to fit different ad spaces.

Advertisers can upload a bunch of assets (videos, images, logos, or headlines), and the ad network automatically chooses a combination of these to fit different ad slots.

Retargeted Ads

Ever looked at a website, and then seen ads for that same website a few hours later as you were browsing online?

You can thank retargeting (also known as remarketing) for that.

Retargeting lets advertisers show their ads to people who have already interacted with their website in some way, or who have signed up for their email list.

Native Ads

The term native ad means an ad that blends into the content surrounding it, making users more likely to click.

While you may think of a native ad as a sponsored post or advertorial, display ads may also be called native ads when they are optimized to match the surrounding content.

Here’s a screenshot (from The Independent) of what a native ad looks like. It looks like an article, but note the “sponsored” label at the bottom:

Which Type of Ads Should I Run?

As you can see, there are a lot of different types of ads to choose from. Which kinds should you run on your website?

As a publisher, it’s in your best interest to run ads in a way that will make them perform well. You want to get people clicking, so you can earn those advertising dollars.

But you also don’t want to ruin your user experience. Running too many invasive ads can have a bad impact on your site: it can slow down your page loading speed, potentially tank your SEO, and send your readers running for the hills.

So how can you know which ads will work best? Basically, you should be testing your ads, and you need to be using the right tools.

Read on for more tips on how to get the best possible ad experience for your website.

Tips for Optimizing Your Website’s Ad Experience

To effectively monetize traffic, you’ll want to improve the ad experience that users have on your website.

Here are a few different ways you can do that:

Optimize for Web and Mobile

Users are going to be accessing your site from different devices. The ad experience will be different on web and mobile.

Ideally, you’ll want to optimize the ad experience for visitors based on the device they’re using.

Optimize Ad Display

The way that ads are displayed on your site can affect profitability. This includes their size, their location on the page, the type of ad, and whether other ads are present.

Did you know that ads can actually dilute the effectiveness of other ads? If there are too many ads on a single page, each one may be less effective. Don’t assume that just adding more ads will lead to higher revenue.

Serve Users a Unique and Custom Ad Experience

Advertisers treat every visitor differently, serving them different ads depending on their preferences.

Yet most publishers treat every user the same.

Customizing your ad experience depending on the user could lead you to get better results. You can do this with the help of automated website monetization software (more on that below).

Importance of A/B Testing Your Ads for a Seamless User Experience

When optimizing your ad experience, A/B testing has its benefits, but it may actually decrease ad rates.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: running a test where you compare two versions of something side by side (Version A against Version B), to see which one gets better results.

A/B testing will give you some hard evidence about which types of ads you should use. However, it’s not going to appease everyone. The limitations with A/B testing means that you’ll never be able to satisfy the B-side visitors

How Do I Run an A/B Test?

To run an A/B test, you should compare one variable that you can control as a publisher (for example, ad type or content position) with one that you can’t control (such as traffic source).

This will allow you to see which ad content performs better across traffic sources, devices, times of day, etc.

Which Ad Elements Should I Test?

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of variables you can test for when running your A/B tests. Some of these you can control, while others you can’t.

Ad Placement

One important variable to test for is ad placement. This has to do with where your ad is located on the page… is it at the top, at the bottom, in the sidebar, or within the content? Ad placement affects your ad’s visibility to users.

Image Size

Another variable is image size. Obviously, larger ads will be more visible on the page. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will perform better. Remember, it’s all about the user experience.

Traffic Source

Which source of traffic is generating the most ad clicks? Optimizing for the source can help you monetize your traffic better, by understanding which traffic is most valuable to you. Maybe it would be worth it to invest more in certain paid traffic sources, or maybe you need to go all-in on your SEO.

Ad Color

This one is pretty self-explanatory… what color are your ads? Should you be aiming to make them blend in, or stand out?

Color psychology can have an impact on conversion rate, so this is actually a more important factor than you might think.

Density

How densely packed are your ads on the page? We already discussed how ads can dilute each other, so ad density can be a key factor to look into.

Location Targeting

Are you making use of location targeting to show users ads that are relevant for their local region?

Ad Network

A final variable you can optimize for is ad network. Different ad networks may be paying you less or more for certain ads.

Tools for Testing Ads

There are a lot of different tools you can use for testing ads. I’ll quickly run through some of the most popular ones, and then I’ll let you know about my secret weapon that I use for monetizing traffic.

Google Optimize

If you want a simple tool for running A/B tests, you can use Google Optimize.

The upside is that Google Optimize is free. The downside is that you’ll have to do everything manually, which takes forever.

Basically, you can go into Google Optimize and connect it with your Google Analytics account. You’ll then need to enter the information for each experiment you want to run.

Optimizely

There are also some paid ad optimization platforms you can use. Optimizely is one example, which is fairly popular in the industry.

However, I’m not a big fan of Optimizely, because I don’t find it super intuitive or easy to use.  The free plugin Ad Inserter is an alternative to Optimizely that many marketers like using.

Ezoic

Finally, I want to tell you about my secret weapon: a tool called Ezoic. Ezoic uses multivariate testing to allow the machines to personalize the ad placements/density automatically.

Ezoic is awesome, because it actually allows you to customize your ad experience to what your user wants. This can help you more effectively monetize traffic.

You can use Ezoic to run automated ad tests.

The software uses AI and machine learning to help you optimize your ads, so it makes decisions based on billions of pieces of data. These decisions are more effective than what you could do on your own.

Automating your testing saves tons of time: you can test thousands of variables in minutes. If you tried to do it manually, it could take months.

Ezoic has helped some websites get a 93% increase in total monthly revenue, and an 87% increase in average revenue per session. To me, those are pretty amazing results.

But not only is Ezoic great for revenue, it also helps you optimize your user experience for every single visitor. If your display ads are taking away from user experience, Ezoic will take the ad off the page.

Because of the improved user experience that Ezoic offers, users are likely to spend more time on your site. Companies have actually seen great results with this already.

Simplypsychology.org saw an 84% increased time-on-site after starting with the Ezoic platform.

And Askdavetaylor.com had a 49% increase in pageviews.

You don’t have to just use Ezoic with Adsense. You can use it with any existing ad platforms and get access to thousands of demand partners, helping you make more money faster.

Conclusion

If you’re a publisher, running display ads on your website is a great way to monetize traffic.

But there are tons of different types of ads, and lots of different variables to think about when running them. If you actually want to make money from display ads, you’ll want to make sure they’re optimized for the best possible performance.

Make sure you’re running the right tests, so you can get the most out of your ads.

What did you think about my tips for monetizing your traffic? Have you tried any of the tools I mentioned? Let us know in the comments.

Must-Have Merchants: Enhance Your At-Home Experience

Must-Have Merchants: Enhance Your At-Home Experience

The developing COVID-19 situation has left an indelible mark on everyday life, with 158 million Americans being told to stay indoors.

As the practice of ‘social distancing’ becomes more common place, now more than ever individuals are left to find creative ways to pass their time. Because of this, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite ShareASale merchants guaranteed to enhance you and your readers’ at-home life – whether it be through learning a new skill, playing a fun video game, attempting a DIY project, amplifying your fitness routine or transforming your bathroom into a spa oasis.

1. Course Hero | Merchant ID 55976 | 4% commission
2. Cricut | Merchant ID 51766 | 12% commission
3. Daily Harvest | Merchant ID 64681 | $10 commission
4. Erin Condren | Merchant ID 71368 | 10% commission
5. Farmacy Beauty | Merchant ID 70626 | 15% commission
6. MasterClass | Merchant ID 62509 | 25% commission
7. Monkii Portable Fitness | Merchant ID 78375 | 15% commission
8. Reebok | Merchant ID 45519 | 7% commission
9. Sun Basket | Merchant ID 58818 | $20 commission
10. The Story Box | Merchant ID 94614 | 5% commission
11. Vanity Planet | Merchant ID 80293 | 12% commission
12. We Craft Box | Merchant ID 89620 | 10% commission

 For more information on COVID-19, please visit our information hub where we bring you the latest news from the Awin Group, as well as links to network insights and useful pointers, alongside wider updates. 

View our Awin Advertiser cheat sheet: Enhance your at-home experience here.

Customer Experience Could Be The Reason Your Online Shoppers Aren’t Converting

Customer Experience Could Be The Reason Your Online Shoppers Aren’t Converting

All humans — including your customers — are emotional creatures.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure every interaction customers have with your company a memorable one — so memorable that they’ll want to recommend your business to a friend, family member, or colleague.

Download Now: Ecommerce Marketing Plan Template

That connection between your business and customers is exactly what customer experience is all about — providing the support that your customers seek throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey.

You can think of the whole customer journey as a (very important) and complete transaction between your brand and customer, — what happens throughout that transaction and the way your customers feel define the customer experience.

For instance, you visit your local ice cream shop; the waitress welcomes you with your name and immediately asks if you’d like your regular treat, a chocolate sundae with extra chocolate chips, or if you’d prefer to look at a menu.

Wouldn’t this personalized and positive experience make you want to continue returning to that ice cream shop? Sometimes it hardly matters how the food tastes — the unique and delightful customer experience is what keeps you going back.

This doesn’t just apply to brick-and-mortar stores either. For example, when a prospect visits your website, why would they want to stick around to learn about your products or what your brand stands for if they don’t feel valued, understood, and heard? In this case, it won’t matter how beautiful your site isor how well you’ve optimized your site — what matters is CX.

Understanding Customer Experience (CX): How to See the World Through Your Customer’s Eyes

There are a number of ways a customer may interact with your business. For example, when they visit your website, engage with your social posts, click on your ads, purchase your product or service, or provide feedback. Customer experience includes all of these interactions and more.

A recent study by Oracle reveals maximizing customer satisfaction across the buyer journey increases total customer satisfaction by 20%, and drives revenue growth by up to 15%.

You need to see the world through customer-colored glasses. Understand their challenges and needs. They want to be heard and expect quick responses and speedy reactions from your team members.

Focus on client-centricity — put your customers first by searching for opportunities to create products and services that resolve the challenges of your customers. You can also identify your best customers with smart segmentation. There are a lot of benefits of customer segmentation including a better understanding of your customer’s behaviors, interests, and pain points.

Here are some great examples of how brands are enhancing their customer experience.

  1. When Tony started Zappos (now a billion-dollar brand), he rewarded his team for spending long hours over the phone to create a splendid customer experience.
  2. Apple added a human element to their customer interaction by installing experts at the Genius bar.
  3. FedEx ensured a better customer experience by answering every customer support call on the first ring.

Now that you know what CX is, let’s take a moment to review what it is not.

Customer experience is not user experience (UX).

Customer experience and user experience are separate strategies businesses deploy to help them grow.

User experience is a subset of customer experience. It revolves around your products. It’s all about how your customers interact with your products and what experience they have with them. User experience is a blend of design and architecture, usability, functionality, user-hierarchy, and understanding.

Whereas customer experience is a summary of the complete customer journey map. It starts when a visitor hears about you and exists throughout every interaction with Sales,Marketing, Customer Service, as well as with the product you sell.

Next, let’s review the ways in which CX impacts your conversions and why you may not be seeing the impact you’re hoping for on your bottom line just yet — and don’t worry, we’ll work through some ways to resolve those challenges too.

5 Reasons Why Your Customer Experience is Not Converting Prospects (Yet)

  1. You don’t know your customers well.

The first reason for the low conversion rates is you don’t know who you are targeting. When you are not aware of your target audience, how would you guarantee their conversions?

How to fix it?

  • Determine what your customers want, where their interests lie, what they like, and other common characteristics — everything that helps you reach your audience. (Make buyer personas to help you with this.)
  • Run customer surveys and polls; they are the best way to collect customer information. The feedback you receive from there is filtered and gives you a quick view of your user requirements.
  • Analyze your customers’ behavior with marketing analytics with HubSpot CRM.
hubspot analytics tools and CRM

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  • Segment your buyers based on their buying frequency, recency, and monetary metrics (RFM segmentation).
  • Filter your best customers by separating them into categories with HubSpot’s Smart Lists, and send personalized emails to them.

2. Your products are not grabbing your user’s attention.

It’s an age-old saying that the first impression is the last impression. It’s very critical that the visitor’s first impression on viewing your products and your website as a whole is a pleasant one.

The buying decision of the vast majority of your website visitors is impacted by this first impression. If your products are visually appealing, the visitor is bound to take more interest and there is a good chance of conversion.

How to fix it?

When it comes to your eCommerce store, it’s important to keep in mind that your customers are buying products without necessarily ever having the ability to test them out and/or feel them first. So, you need to create an environment where they can make easy purchasing decisions that are virtual from start to finish.

There are a variety of ways through which you can enhance the customer experience and boost conversions.

  • Use high-quality photographs and captivating videos to showcase your product and tell stories about your brand and product or service.
  • Keep your products organized on your website and implement easy-to-use navigation.
  • Leading fashion brands like L’oreal and Rayban allow users to try virtual makeover tools and provide a 360-degree view of their products. Such innovative leaps in presenting online products help these brands to stand out from others and attract huge audiences.

loreal virtual makeover great digital customer experience example

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  • Use augmented reality (AR) — this is a popular trend in the beauty and fashion industries because customers can try your products on virtually (e.g. a pair of sunglasses).
  • Create an omnichannel experience for your online shoppers by augmenting product visualization.
  • Be clear about your pricing strategy. According to Quicksprout, 56% of shoppers abandon their carts at checkout because of unexpected costs.

3. Your website isn’t ready for shoppers.

Did you know that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive?

Also, 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design.

If you are experiencing a solid amount of traffic but few conversions and a high bounce rate, your website design likely has issues.

How to fix it?

  • If your website is suffering from low traffic, that may be because your audience isn’t getting what they are looking for. Make sure you are keeping everything on your website accessible for your users.
  • Secondly, when a user visits your website, try to enhance the hero section (the header part) as beautiful, clean, and direct as possible. This section can contain your product, service, and offers too.
  • Add clear call-to-actions (CTAs) throughout your webpage. Add a “view cart” option as well to heighten the chances of successful checkouts.
  • Keep your website design conversion-focused. Put your menu bars (in the header and footer) organized. This will allow your users to navigate to find their goals quickly.
  • Statista says there will be a total of 4.78 billion smartphone users in 2020. So if your website isn’t mobile-optimized, then you may lose conversions.
  • Capitalize on your social media — use it to help you boost your top-performing content such as blog posts, customer reviews, and testimonials. Respond to feedback and answer customer questions through social media, too.

4. You’re unable to win your customer’s trust.

One reason for lower conversion rates is that you are incapable of winning your customer’s trust.

81% of online shoppers feel concerned when shopping on a website with which they are not familiar. Trust cannot be forced; let’s see how you can win your customers’ trust naturally without a push.

How to fix it?

  • Choose the right trust seal to improve security on your websites. Trust seals verify your website to be legal and lawful.
  • Add customer reviews to your website to increase the chances of conversions and enhance your customer experience. According to BrightLocal, the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.
  • Be socially active, entertain, communicate, engage, educate, and run campaigns around your brand. Be real and stick to your niche and brand values.
  • Engage your customers and earn their trust by establishing excellent communication practices.
  • Add high-converting and relevant CTAs to your website above the fold. Use phrases and words like Learn More, Shop Now, Download, Sign-up, and Book Now.

5. You have not planned your customer onboarding.

Remember, there are two kinds of customer onboarding: on-site, and off-site. The fundamental difference between on-site and off-site onboarding is that, when a shopper lands on your website, it means they’re looking for your products or services. In off-site, the customer has already been introduced to your products and services, before he/she needs them.

How to fix it?

  • Offer a real-time product demo for your audience to help them explore your product and it’s features quickly. According to Wyzowl, 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. Video demos impact purchasing decisions significantly and boost engagement as well.
  • For a frictionless customer experience, it is crucial how you handle users who leave your website or intend to leave it.
    • Use an immediate exit-intent pop-up.
    • Set up an email marketing campaign and select time-slots to send interactive abandoned cart emails to lost users.
    • Keep your cart visible to users.
  • Use retargeting or remarketing ads to target users who have visited your website before.
  • Be different — offer a dynamic free trial period for your products and services. Then, a user can extend the trial period and if they choose to. This provides a sense of flexibility and freedom for users.

Remember: Customers are humans, not your contact to close in the CRM.

Customer experience brings your customers closer to your brand. Humanize your brand and design, and analyze your customer journey map.

Light up your brand with a customer-centric approach and capture your shopper’s attention using the strategies mentioned above. For more information, check out the latest customer experience statistics & trends 2020 here.

Author Bio: Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur and co-founder at MakeWebBetter, an eCommerce digital marketing agency, HubSpot Premier Integration and Gold Solutions Partner. He is a digital marketing and inbound expert, passionate about building and scaling eCommerce customer experiences.

HubSpot marketing teams reserves the right to use guest blog author’s likeness across our content as we see fit, including but not limited to HubSpot’s social media channels.

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