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Keys to attracting affiliates
What do you find most appealing about an affiliate program?
justgowithit

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 7:40 pm on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

The Background:
My experience as an affiliate marketer is limited and I've never governed a program of my own. I will soon be launching a service-oriented membership site that I would like to drive off the line with a network of affiliates. The site is free to join and members pay for service. Each member will purchase service in spurts over long periods of time.

The Problem:
Out-of-the-box affiliate programs seem like a cat and mouse game between businesses and affiliates. Businesses seem to hate paying affiliates but want more affiliates to come on board. Conversely, successful affiliates seem to grow greedy.

The Solution?
To all of you successful affiliate marketers out there......
*Specifically* what do you look for in an affiliate program. I know that money is the ultimate goal but what other factors have weight in your eyes when comparing the value of affiliate programs?

Would it appeal to you if the program provider associated your affiliate id with the member in a database == lifelong payouts?

 

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 8:03 pm on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Residual income is attractive in theory but expect seasoned affiliates to be suspicious. I've been stung more than once by merchants or networks who promise residual income then weasel out of paying.

For me, the most important thing I look at is which programs will give the best return for the time I spend managing them. That takes a combination of relevance to my site(s), realistic payouts, good conversion, easy-to-use and effective promotional tools, and savvy management that doesn't over-communicate or plague me with a zillion changes along the way.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 12:20 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

justgowithit, if your site is free sign-ups as the desired action, with possible revenue later, you really can't go with a pay-per-sale commission basis, particularly with something new. You could pay a flat amount per sign-up, if it's set up in a trustworthy manner (like reliable tracking), and it might be attractive to some if it would have appeal for a particular niche.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 1:30 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd like to address this issue, because it's an important one:

The Problem:
Out-of-the-box affiliate programs seem like a cat and mouse game between businesses and affiliates. Businesses seem to hate paying affiliates but want more affiliates to come on board. Conversely, successful affiliates seem to grow greedy.

The "merchant" is often considered to be "the business," but while there many part timers and hobbyists, a very generous number of affiliates consider that theirs is an "affiliate marketing business." They look on it as a viable business - and it is, sometimes highly lucrative for both themselves and their merchant affiliate partners.

Rather than greed, a lot of affiliates have experienced or observed dishonest and unethical behavior, and sometimes a bad attitude, on the part of merchants, and become wary since there are, unfortunately, a good number of merchants out there who have serious leaks, try to wangle out of paying commissions every way they can, and even go to extremes that amount to cheating (fraudulent reversals, for example).

So a suspicious, defensive stance can make good business sense, and so can negotiation for improved terms be good business, if there have been proven results. That's why private offers and special VIP groups exist - to reward the most productive in the partnership.

The key word is "partners" and the key qualities to look for, regardless of the program, are honesty and respect.

*Specifically* what do you look for in an affiliate program.

That can depend on the type of program, product or service, and particular vertical. It's also something that often can be decided on a very personal level sometimes.

For example, I personally have my favorites in terms of partnering with clients of a few particular OPMs, who I favor based on experience with them and knowing their character and ethics. I'll try to support their efforts for whatever programs they manage, over others, if I've got any sites that are appropriate for the niche. But that's a personal way of choosing. Others may have more business-like ways of deciding. ;)

BUT - and it's an important but: that's why a merchant signing with a good OPM can be getting a deal that's as good as gold - because the really good OPMs have a following, and that can include some of the highest performing affiliates in the business.

I personally know one OPM who's got an affiliate who earned over $100K in commissions last year - on just one of his programs, and he's got other programs, too. So that's what that OPM brought to the merchant's table, which makes a very tasty morsel to digest, thinking in terms of gross sales.

However as stated, a lot depends on what's being offered, whether product or service, and the dollar value of each action that's paid for, as well as the potential ROI and cost of acquisition.

justgowithit

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 3:38 pm on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Awesome - This is exactly the information I was looking for. Thanks!

affiliate programs seem like a cat and mouse game between businesses and affiliates

Marcia, thanks for touching upon that statement with your opinion. I knew that was a possible point of contention when I typed it but I wanted to put that out there because, in my limited experience, it seems to be a consistent issue and one that I'd like to better understand.

And that's just it..... I can't help but feel that I am being very naive about affiliate programs. I want affiliates to make money - and a lot of it.

If my business model was product-based I would not try an affiliate program for the main reasons that I wouldn't be able to offer the income potential that I feel is necessary to make it successful. Markwelch highlights some good points along these (product-based issues) lines, some of which were contributing factors to me writing my own affiliate application instead of using an existing plug-n-play app.

Buckworks - Now to pick your brain a little ;)

effective promotional tools,

Exactly how much do you rely on the program providers for tools? Specifically what types of tools do you find are most useful/effective? It seems to me that most affiliate apps offer a whole lot of bar graphs and that's about it. It looks like a lot of information but not a lot of actual tools.

savvy management that doesn't over-communicate

This worries me slightly for the reason that I don't want an open network. Instead, I want to cultivate a group of affiliate partners with whom I can work with and communicate. Do most affiliates prefer to keep to communication to a minimum?


Lastly, what's your take on affiliate links. Do you prefer programs that provide you with marketing material (banners, text, graphics, etc.) and give loose guidelines on how to use them or do you prefer a more structured set of usable links and banners where you're given a definitive set to use?

Thanks again for the info - it's proving to be an invaluable insight - as always!

jomaxx

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 5:54 pm on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally I don't see a need for life-long payouts. It's too much like playing the lottery (which I also don't do) - one signup might be worth some trivial amount while another might be worth hundreds of dollars.

It sounds great at first, but it makes it impossible to read your stats. I don't want to wait the rest of my life to find out how I did yesterday.

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3535199 posted 3:25 am on Dec 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Businesses seem to hate paying affiliates but want more affiliates to come on board.

I'm not sure if by this you mean businesses hate the task of issuing commission payments to affiliates of if you're saying businesses don't want to pay affiliates for bringing in new customers.

If the former, there are a number of sites/software packages that can manage this aspect of an affiliate program.

If the latter, I'm not sure how/why you've reached that conclusion. I don't mind at all sharing my income with my affiliates - they earn a lot more per sale that I do. The efforts of those affiliates allow me to basically avoid my own promotional efforts and focus on other things. It's a good win-win relationship.

Residual income is attractive in theory but expect seasoned affiliates to be suspicious. I've been stung more than once by merchants or networks who promise residual income then weasel out of paying.

There are reliable "networks" that can overcome this concern.

I use ClickBank and after they recently introduced recurring billing payments, I've switched sales for a number of my products over to recurring billing as opposed to one-time payments. My affiliates seem to really like it.

Rather than greed, a lot of affiliates have experienced or observed dishonest and unethical behavior, and sometimes a bad attitude, on the part of merchants, and become wary since there are, unfortunately, a good number of merchants out there who have serious leaks, try to wangle out of paying commissions every way they can, and even go to extremes that amount to cheating (fraudulent reversals, for example).

I am both a business with affiliates and an affiliate for businesses. It goes both ways. There are things that frustrate affiliates and affiliates do things that frustrate businesses.

*Specifically* what do you look for in an affiliate program.

1. The product or service being sold needs to be relevant for my site's visitors

2. The sales page needs to be well done and focused with few if any leaks

3. The commission rate must be acceptable - and that depends on a number of factors

4. I need to trust the business/merchant to deliver the product to the customers and to deliver the commissions to me. That can usually be accomplished in one of two ways: (1) A large reputable business/merchant or (2) The business/merchant uses a reputable affiliate management and payment service.

If it's someone working from a home computer telling me he's going to manage his own affiliate program and issue payments himself on a regular schedule, I'll decline on that arrangement 99 times out of 100.

5. The product or service needs to be reasonably priced

FarmBoy

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