Perhaps referring to it as the ‘forgotten channel’ is a bit over the top, but I do feel that in the last few years price comparison has lost its way in the world. Not so long ago, it would have been viewed as THE channel to drive volume sales. But the emergence – and rise to prominence – of cash back and voucher codes as well as the growth of retargeters and remarketers, has meant that price comparison seems to have lost its lustre. That said, in my opinion, price comparison still has a lot to give and so here are my top three reasons why I think it’s worth another look:
Volume, Volume, Volume
Data from Hitwise indicates that for the reward and directories industry during the month of September 2013, 18 out of the top 50 tracked sites were price comparison and 35 million people visited price comparison sites. These stats show that price comparison still has what it takes, and the fact that price comparison sites made up around 20% of the entire rewards and directories traffic share, simply serves to underline this point.
Although price comp’s traffic share has dropped off against other affiliate channels over the years, and suffered heavily at the hands of various Google updates, the numbers are still very much there. Of course, just because the numbers are there, it doesn’t necessarily mean that 20% of your sales will be price comp. As the price of the product sometimes lacks the giant call-to-action which goes hand-in-hand with big cash back rates and voucher codes, it can instead be used tactically to drive a potential customer closer to the point of purchase… and sometimes they’ll purchase there and then, but sometimes they’ll require an extra saving to convert. With so much traffic up for grabs, ensure you’re including it as part of your strategy.
Proving how incremental certain channels are can be, at times, a rather lengthy discussion. However for price comp, it’s quite an easy sell on the incremental front. A user visits a price comp site, the user searches for a certain product, the user is shown a number of prices from a number of retailers on the product, the user clicks through on their preferred retailer and, hopefully, goes on to purchase. Without featuring on the price comp engine, it would have been difficult to secure the aforementioned user. Price comp sites also attract users at a relatively early point in their purchasing journey, meaning that whilst they have identified the product they are unsure of who to buy with or how much it will cost them. Getting your brand in front of a user at such an early point, i.e. the research stage, is key and only proves additional incrementality.
It’s all about the product
A lot of the clients have asked me over the years ‘how can I push a particular product to potential customer…?’ and one simple answer is, price comparison. Websites like offeroftheday.co.uk will let you nominate a set number of ‘strong’ products on their homepage, giving the product immediate page one coverage for the millions of users that hit their site each month. Other price comp sites, such as pricerunner.co.uk, will allow you to purchase relevant inventory around certain categories e.g. Currys advertising the latest Digital SLRs around the Camera category. Price comparison sites are all about ‘users searching for products’, so it makes sense to buy relevant product placements with these publishers.
We’ve also begun to notice a gradual shift from non-price comp publishers, to incorporate product pricing into the way they list merchants. Take the below example from Quidco; when typing in ‘grand theft auto’ into the search bar, a number of relevant results are retrieved. Alongside the start prices for the offers, Quidco also supply the cash back rate too, giving the consumer the full picture of the potential savings.
After clicking through on a particular product, you’re then given a much deeper breakdown of the individual retailers that you can shop with; including merchant review, payment speed, actual price and actual cashback rate. Combining the price point and cashback rate adds two extra layers to the customer journey:
- The consumer can find an even better deal for themself
- The cashback site is now acting as a research point
And Quidco aren’t the only publisher who are dabbling in the world of price comparison. An iPad search on Nectar for instance.
Or searching for booze on MoneySavingExpert:
Although this is a nice step forward from non-price comparison orientated affiliates, there are still a few teething issues. For example, when I searched for ‘shoes’ on one of the publisher sites, the first result I got was Star Wars Battlefront for the PS4. Not quite what I was after, but thanks for the alternative suggestion. But what this example does do is demonstrate that most affiliates, not just price comparison, are big on price.
So to cut a long story short, price comparison should always remain at the forefront of marketers’ minds. A lot of time is spent by commerical teams getting the pricing points right on each product that’s being sold, and how better to showcase that price than via the sizeable UK price comparison market. With price comparison traffic expected to double/triple on the lead up to Christmas, now is the time to get listed if you’re not already.
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