Advance usage guide to Skimlinks
Unlock the full potential of your commerce-related content by taking advantage of the full scope of what our technology has to offer.
Like any online service, Skimlinks comes with a set of predefined settings for our core products.
SkimLinks, which transforms commerce related links in your content into affiliated links when someone clicks on them, is on by default. It won’t touch or override any of your existing affiliate links or create any new links in your content.
Skimlinks’ default settings are ideal to get you up and running. However, we know “one size doesn’t fit all” and highly recommend you customize our products to suit your needs.
Customize your subdomain
When a user clicks on a Skimlinks enabled link, they are briefly redirected through the generic domain ‘ ’. To make the redirect look more familiar to your users, you can customize the domain by turning the Custom Subdomain ‘ON’ in the Skimlinks Settings section of the Hub and entering your chosen subdomain. Instead of ‘ ’, your links will go via the redirect link of your choice, such as ‘ ’.
You will need to set up your custom subdomain with your DNS before enabling this option, but don’t worry, we have easy-to-follow instructions in the Publisher Hub.
Using data to know your audience
As you start using Skimlinks, you will get increasingly more information about what your readers love to buy, the merchants they prefer to shop with and the pages they visit most. You can use this data to better understand your customers and inform what you’ll write about in the future without losing your editorial voice.
Learn what your customers love to read and buy
Not only can we help you monetize your already great content, but using Skimlinks will give you the ability to capture invaluable data about exactly what content your readers are engaging with.
As a Skimlinks publisher, you have access to insights that provide an eye-opening look at which links in your content are being clicked on, which products are being purchased and which types of content receive the most engagement from your readers.
So, if you take a look at the Insights reports in the Publisher Hub and see that a certain merchant is performing well, this might be a clue that your readers prefer to shop at this particular retailer. Or maybe there is a post that is seeing a lot of traffic but isn’t being monetized well? Don’t let that great post go unnoticed – with the data you’ll glean from the reports in the Publisher Hub you’ll be able to add relevant product links and give your readers access to the items you’re writing about.
You can also get a closer look at specific pages on your site and how your readers are interacting with them. Is it the article on your lifestyle blog about the latest in Fall footwear? Or maybe more surprisingly, it’s about the latest in tech accessories? Knowing the answer to this question will help you hone in on creating content that your readers are sure to enjoy.
Having this data available to you can help you make smart decisions in your content strategy, allowing you to earn revenue without alienating your readership.
Once readers start noticing that the content on your site is right in line with their interests and wants, they are likely to continue coming back for more (and turn to your site to inform purchasing decisions.) This results in a positive cycle for all involved: you create relevant content that your readers connect with, your readers like it and come back to your site often and you as the publisher can earn revenue to continue creating and sharing great content with your readers.
Publisher Insights in practice
One of our very popular technology forum publishers discovered that their community liked to research on their site, but when it came to making purchases they would go straight to the merchant’s website – in this case, eBay. To accommodate this practice, they added a new section to their forum where community members could share and discuss their eBay listings. This led to a significant increase in affiliate revenue, as well as a new popular section of their forum.
Similarly, another publisher using our reports discovered that their readers liked to buy sex toys after reading articles about them. Needless to say, they started focusing some of their content around these products.
Many publishers use the Products report in the Publisher Hub to discover what products are trending across the Skimlinks network and inspire their own content creation. These insights help publishers know what products to write about and link to, while keeping on trend.
Crafting merchant relationships
You can also leverage your Skimlinks data to earn more revenue from other sources. The intent data Skimlinks collects on your site helps you earn more revenue from other sources.
Drive new relationships and deals
Once your content is published, Skimlinks keeps track and reports on how certain pages and products are performing from within the Publisher Hub. Maybe your makeup tutorial featuring Sephora products is getting tons of views and clicks. As it continues to gain traction, Sephora notices a spike in traffic coming from your site and reaches out to you to discuss future opportunities.
When merchants notice that your site is driving them a lot of traffic, they’ll take notice. Knowing the influence your content (and your loyal readership) has on their purchases, the merchant can offer you a higher commission rate through Skimlinks.
Creating quality content that readers respond to definitely has its benefits.
Once these merchants catch wind of how awesome you’re doing they may be keen on partnering with you to create sponsored content. Collaborating with larger retailers can have a far-reaching impact for publishers, giving you exposure to a whole new audience (the brand’s social media followers, blog & more) and solidifying your place in the online publishing world.
Skimlinks puts the power at your fingertips. Having access to all of your data – the traffic and sales you drive to other sites, gives you much more negotiating power with brands/retailers. Having the information you need and knowing your worth makes the possibilities endless.
Merchant relationships in practice
One of the online shopping marketplaces we work with was so impressed with the amount and quality of the traffic a particular publisher was directing their way, they offered them a significantly higher rate. Similarly, a big online fashion retailer was very impressed with the quality of the content on a number of Skimlinks fashion editorial sites so they offered them the highest commission rate available to any affiliate.
The publisher can also be the instigator for these deals, using Skimlinks data to arm themselves. Some publishers use Skimlinks data to gather evidence that their users like a brand, and then approach a brand for a display advertising deal.
As an example, the Skimlinks Merchant Report showed a major publisher geared towards parenting that its community purchased a significant amount of products from Halfords, the UK’s largest retailer of car maintenance, cycling and touring products. It had never occurred to the publisher to engage with Halfords for a display advertising deal. Leveraging data from the Skimlinks report, the publisher was able to approach a brand with evidence that its readers had very high purchasing intent and they were able to win a lucrative premium advertising deal with them.
Adopting a “comtent” strategy
The value of commerce-related content is not just that it is a source of revenues. The full benefit of commerce-related content (or comtent as we like to call it) is the information you can learn about your readers. Being able to take a look at data that shows your users’ interests can then be used to influence future content creation strategies, as well as drive additional non-affiliate revenues.
Creating your comtent strategy
By creating interesting and engaging content about different kinds of products, brands and merchants, you create opportunities for your users to interact with your content, and these interactions paint a picture of your users’ interests, preferences, and other intent signals. By using Skimlinks, not only are you creating revenue opportunities, but you are maximizing the amount of touch points with products and retailers that you will be able to track.
When your users read your content, click on product links, and buy certain items, Skimlinks collects this data and prepares aggregated reports within the Publisher Hub. By having a deeper understanding of what your readers are interested in, you can focus your editorial teams on creating more content around topics that satisfies their interests.
This becomes a virtuous circle, as the more content you create on a topic that interests your readers, the more revenue you make from it, which then drives more insights into what your readers like, which helps you create more content they like, which makes you more money, and so on.
Commerce editors, what does that mean?
As monetization becomes a growing part of the digital landscape, paying attention to what links get the most traction can be very valuable. This information tells publishers a lot about their readers and could be used when developing new content. You might think you know what your readers are interested in, but they might surprise you and this data can give you a pretty nice glimpse into their thought process and purchase intent.
A commerce editor is the perfect solution: They ensure publishers are providing readers with the products they want to buy and the content they want to read while also utilizing their monetization strategy (a lovely cycle that results in happy readers and happy publishers.)
And what does a commerce editor actually do? For more traditional media outlets, i.e. magazines, newspapers, a commerce editor can simply optimize posts after they’ve been written by editorial staff (thereby ensuring the lines between the editorial/business side don’t mix). Basically, they go through the content and add in any relevant affiliate links (without altering any content that was already written.
The commerce editor role also entails scouting for deals for products that are a good fit for your audience, creating Best Of and Top 10 posts using those products and ensuring that all appropriate content on the site is optimized for monetization.
For smaller publishers without the budget for a dedicated commerce team per se, you can roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself. The role of a commerce editor can absolutely be scaled to a smaller publisher.
Bottom line? A commerce team can take your commerce-related content to the next level. Here’s a job description to give you more info about what the role can look like for your business.
Comtent strategy in practice
Here’s what Gawker founder Nick Denton had to say about commerce-related content:
“It’s a brand new thing that merges writing and product curation. Most importantly, it adds value to our readers’ lives. So commerce content includes everything from posts about the cheapest deal on something our readers need to introducing them to new things they’ve never seen. It’s a new type of service journalism. And yes, we generate revenue when products sell.”
Accessing Preferred Partners
Our dedicated merchant team has fantastic relationships with our Merchant partners, getting top tier rates to get you top tier commissions. We also have hundreds of Preferred Partners who have given us exclusive commission rates which we pass on to our publishers.
Using preferred partners to increase commissions
At the end of the day, it’s not only about working with 20,000 merchants across the four corners of the world. Our merchant team makes sure that our publishers get the best possible commissions from the top merchants worldwide.
The merchants that give better rates to Skimlinks publishers are called ‘Preferred Partners’ and give commissions at least 34% higher than their average commission to our publishers. We strive to negotiate the best commissions for you so that even with the small cut we take, you make more money than affiliating directly with the merchant.
To leverage the preferred partners even further, you can use Skimlinks Insights to discover which products resonate the most with your readers. As an example, if your readers love a product that’s being sold by different merchants, make sure you link to the one that gives you the better rate. And it’s highly likely that the best rate will come from one of our preferred partners.
Preferred Partners in practice
On average, Skimlinks Preferred Partners who work with coupon sites offer a 60% better rate to Skimlinks publishers than to other publishers. A top coupon site working with Skimlinks was able to take advantage of these increased rates and drive up their revenue significantly.
The publisher was also notified of coupon-friendly merchants and kept up to date about all the latest commission rates. This helped them opt to send their coupon traffic to preferred partners, thereby increasing their Skimlinks revenue.
Knowing which merchants would perform better for their customers was a key insight the publisher made thanks to Skimlinks. The ability to utilize Skimlinks Preferred Partner links — in lieu of their own network accounts on their site — allowed the publisher to grow their daily Skimlinks revenue fivefold.