Publisher Stories: Propersmart


We were recently caught up with our long-time partner, Rick Harris from Propersmart. He runs online shopping portals, Offer of the Day (UK) and Deal of the Day (US). Through these sites, customers can find the latest and best deals on the net using easy to filter categories.

So how long have you been with ePN and what attracted you?

We’ve been with ePN for 5 years now. I hadn’t initially thought of eBay as something to promote as a “shop”. But what really worked are the outlets because they are essentially shops – we could just slot them in amongst the others. eBay has become a “buy it now” retailer environment and so it fit in really well.

So what tools do you use?

It’s pretty much the API and the daily deals feeds. The API is by far the most useful part. It will get key word recommendations for your site – it auto corrects search terms and suggests improvements which is really useful. We also find that eBay’s banner support is very effective as it offers display based on keyword terms rather than using generic spray tactics. Personalised banners are essential and we generally find that impersonal banners don’t work – customers tend to get “banner blindness”. Make sure you banners always tie into your content.

What methods do you use to drive traffic?

We don’t do a lot of SEO – lots of our traffic is repeat traffic. Neither do we do a lot of link building. We focus on the website. There’s a lot of customer loyalty. We have a survey on there that asks how people came to the website and “recommended by a friend” is the number one answer.

What differentiates your website?

New deals and fresh stuff to look at – come back on to the website and there’s new stuff half an hour later. The accuracy of the website’s data is also a draw. We use a lot of our own technology rather than relying on third party tech to keep things up to date (except for the eBay API, which forms part of the insight we have).

If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?

Maintaining our website requires a very high workload. If I were to go into the affiliate market again I’d do more things like the local deals finder – once it’s created then “it’s done” and will work forever more. Keeping real time data up to date is a never ending task of maintenance and updating – it’s constant.

You have a dedicated mobile website. Why did you choose this over say over responsive design?

Our website has had so much split testing done to it that we didn’t want to sacrifice that for the sake of responsive design. I know some particularly well known shops have gone down the responsive design road and its bitten back quite hard.

How important is addressing customer segments?

We log everything that people search for and then review how many results there were against it. Anything that has a low quantity of search results we look at to see why that is: Is there a niche we don’t have a merchant for? Or are users making common search mistakes, for example, Dyson Hoover – two conflicting brands so it doesn’t come up with a vacuum!

So Data is key?

Yes, especially search terms. We use the same tracking for our mobile website. We’ve experienced a lift of 45% this year and 34% year before on mobile usage, so it’s on the up.

Any other advice?

Split test. While it may feel like you’re slowing down the process, even just changing the text on a button may improve the click rate by one or two percent, which in the long term is hugely significant. All of this is common sense!

The other thing is to make sure your page has a purpose. Ask yourself, “what am I trying to get the user to do on this page?” Keep it very siloed – “I’m making this page for this purpose, and this is the action.” Don’t end up making lots of pages that are the same with no real purpose. This helps with your SEO as well.

It’s also worth bearing in mind not to index everything on your website to Google. This dilutes your website and doesn’t help your SEO. Stick to your core pages that have a purpose.


Thanks, Rick.