Internet Marketing

The Myths of Website Referrals.

A few weeks ago on a Facebook Forum the issue was raised where an auctioneer was evaluating the effectiveness of advertising on a particular website. The comment came down to the fact that they watch their Google analytics every day and didn’t see many referrals from “XYZ” site.

There are two schools of thought on website advertising, and luckily the first one is drawing its last breaths.

Theory #1

If I only put a limited amount of information on the auction advertising websites, potential bidders will have to click though to my site. In theory it sounds good. But with the overwhelming majority of bidders, especially online only bidders searching for a specific item, they are not going to click through to your site to see If you have a 1959 Ford F100 Pickup truck in your estate auction. Local buyers for your company may click through to view the sale in its entirety because they are going anyway and give you a few referrals, but this isn’t the reason you are using supplemental online marketing.

But if the bidder comes to my site, I can get them on my email list or track them with Facebook Pixel. If you do some math and compare how many visitors to your site and the size of your email list, you will get an idea how many people want your emails, and that will be skewed to local buyers for sure. But if you take that number and times it by your email open rate, as little as 20-30%, you may realize that email lists may not be worth the ROI you are truly getting from it.

And as for the Facebook pixel, which is the game changer for small business marketing, most aggregators and bidding platforms allow you to place your Facebook pixel on their website alongside your content. Then you can track a reasonable percentage of people interested in your company and items regardless of the website it is hosted on. Some also allow you to add your Google Analytics tracking code so you can seamlessly track your true page view numbers to your sales.

Theory #2

If I put my entire listing on one of these websites, they wont come back to my site and learn about my company.  Reality check is bidders don’t care about your company until they have either bought something or have an issue. Either way they will find your website.

Bidders are potential buyers, but only if they know you have an item for sale. Posting your entire catalog on an aggregate auction advertiser helps in many ways. The biggest win is bidders searching the website for a specific item and finding that you have the exact item upcoming out of thousands of auction companies listing their sales. If you have done a  good job of listing the 5W’s the buyer wont go to your website for more information, they will simply go to your sale and buy the item, maybe without you even knowing how they got there.

And if your listing is actually an online catalog supplied by a bidding platform that is item linked, they will go directly there rather than to your own unique website. We have had many auctioneers and bidding platforms tell us that network is consistently sending the highest referrals directly to their items.

Aggregate advertisers drive bidders to the sale, online which is trackable, and live which isn’t.

Both these theories have an old school comparison in the print world. Auctioneers that place two page ads listing as many items as possible should get more traction from that ad as compared to the auctioneer that places a quarter page ad which in reality is nothing more than a call to action to visit their own website.  It is the cost of the ads that have driven advertisers away from the large spreads, but online their is no space vs cost limitation, every sale can be a 10 page catalog.

The Intangibles about Google and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Google drives traffic, and we always have to play by their rules.  Every auctioneer wants to have their company and their items listed first when you search. But with only 10+/- spots available on the first page , many of which are paid for, how does an individual auction company compete? Simply by having their listings and company name associated with a reputable aggregate site. When you are trying to compete with literally  thousands of other companies for the search term “auction” you need all the help you can get. Because the chances of your website rising to the top are somewhere between slim and none. Aggregate websites with decades of track record will get thousands or tens of thousands  of Google referrers every day and some of them will be to your auction.

Some auctioneers with a deep understanding of SEO feel the link value from being listed on an aggregator can be worth their membership every year. Surprisingly getting bidders to their sales is second on their priority list.  They are playing the long game of doing every little thing to improve their own website so it ranks higher than yours for local searches in Google.

Ultimately all advertising has to work, but being able to fully understand how it is working is just as important.

Dwayne Leslie

President & CEO

Global Auction Guide Media Group