One of our clients saw a massive increase in their conversions. It was just a small tweak involving SSL that made it happen.
Sometimes, answers are staring us right in the face. Advanced performance marketers frequently seek new ways to optimize campaigns by taking a long, hard look at the data. They analyze, optimize, tweak and adjust. But this art isn’t only about numbers — you have to be creative as well.
This allows you to discover new ways to increase performance. New forms of ads, new audiences, creative angles, catchy phrases, images that touch something deep inside the users… We all know that. We work tirelessly to be ahead of the curve.
But outside the number-based optimization, outside the creative approach lies an often undiscovered area for further adjustments. Are filled with small hacks that seem apparent only for people that are in the affiliate marketing business for quite some time.
That was the case for our client, who chose not to disclose his name. But before we dive into the hack itself, let’s give you the context.
What kind of performance marketing operations is our client involved with?
“I run mostly native ads on mobile devices. Some of the campaigns are for lead generation, some purely e-commerce focusing on purchases. I’ve considered them successful already, but there’s always some room for improvement.”
He also shares his idea on optimizing this segment:
“With this more and more popular switch towards https encryption, I decided to test my ads by adding an SSL certificate. I’ve added it to my redirect links and to the landing pages I direct my traffic to.”
What are the results?
“I didn’t know it was so easy to increase ad performance by 400%!”
Excuse me, how much?
Later on in the conversation, he expands further upon the results. He claims that campaigns aimed at iOS and the Safari browser had sometimes even hit a 400% increase in performance, though at other times the increase had been 200-300%.
But is that really THAT easy to get better results? You just enable the SSL and it works every time for everyone? Well, no.
Let’s analyze this case
The introduction of SSL isn’t a magic mushroom that allows your campaigns to grow like Nintendo’s Mario. What underlies this performance increase are the undergoing changes in web browsers. Google, Apple, and similar are pushing the shift for a safer internet. They advocate SSL encryption not only on pages where you enter your login data but wherever you are on the internet.
At the same time, as they’re the key players in web browser space, they’re able to shape the way we surf the net. And they decided that to enhance security, website owners should use the HTTPS protocol.
It’s nothing new, nor are the changes not unexpected. Remember the last time Chrome told you your connection was not private? That was just the beginning of the larger move towards SSL.
Starting with iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4, Safari shows a red “Website Not Secure” warning if there is no SSL certificate on the website. It’s especially visible on mobile devices.
It might seem that this message is not that powerful, but, as it turns out, it is. It actually stops users from filling out forms or making purchases. Would you, as a customer, make a purchase on a website that screams “not secure” from the top of its metaphorical lungs?
Removing this obstacle results in double, triple, or even quadruple the number of conversions.
What is SSL anyway?
SSL stands for Secure Socket LAyr (so ‘S’ doesn’t really stand for ‘sales’). An SSL certificate is like an ID card for your website. It allows a user’s web browser to verify that they’ve reached the right website. On top of that, it enables encryption to prevent a third-party from eavesdropping.
You can get free or paid SSL certificates from providers all over the net. You should enable SSL for your landing pages, as well as on all your tracking domains.
Affiliate landing pages usually aren’t very complex in design, you should not have any problems with enabling SSL on the side of your landing page host. On the side of your tracking domains, your VOluum dedicated domain comes with an SSL certificate already enabled. However, if you wish to use custom domains, you have to request an SSL certificate from Voluum.
Back to our client’s case
It’s important to acknowledge that our client was working with native ads. The SSL encryption makes website load times slightly longer. With native, the load time is less important as users clicking them are more engaged and curious about the content you provide but the load time might be a factor with other ad types.
Also, the warning is more visible on mobile devices, so removing this blocker can result in higher performance increases than on desktop. On both platforms, using SSL can help in lead generation campaigns as users will know that the data they enter in the forms is encrypted and safe.
What’s more, some browsers will warn users about leaving the encrypted connection. This happens when a user is redirected from an SSL-enabled website to the one without SSL. This could also damage the campaign flow and result in users dropping off at the redirect stage.
SSL is a standard of today’s Internet
The non-SSL-enabled websites are becoming a relic of old times, along with Napster, Winamp, and Windows XP. They will be plagued with more and more annoying warnings, they will rank lower in Google’s search results. And at one point in time, they will all get blocked. Or simply completely forgotten.
If, right now, using SSL leads to an increase in your conversions, in the very near future, campaigns without it may see reduced performance.
That’s why it’s reasonable to start testing them right now and be all set for when all the major browser providers turn SSL into a must-have standard.