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How does one go about designing the "killer affiliate marketing plan" that other people just fall all over themselves signing up for (other than paying out obscene CPA or CPC that just doesn't make business sense).
clean referral code [without 1pix gifs]
I'm not sure how they were going to track the commision once they picked up the phone.
What about cookie duration = longer than 120 days? I don't see how, if a merchant is considering affiliate marketing as one of their primary goals for driving sales, wouldn't increase it as much as feasable...are there any drawbacks on that side?
4) product / service at a very competitive price.
25% to 50% compensation for something the surfer can easily get for less just will not fly. imho
So as long as a merchant is offering a competitive price, it's acceptable to offer somewhere around a base of 5% commision CPA? It seems from looking at a few of the bigger programs, this "sort of" fits in with the way things are done.
Have a large selection of PROFESSIONAL-looking creative and text ad copy. Consider allowing senior affiliates or those that come with credentials or references from other merchant programs to write their own text links with very strict review/approval by the merchant.
This sounds like a good route to go. I have been thinking of copy potential, but having others write their own would be incredible...only thing is, which you already mentioned, is it needs approval...important step. After all, wouldn't this lend itself better to fitting in with the rep's site, if the copy/etc. was more geared towards their market? Seems like this way, more potential avenues of promotion could be explored, and more avenues open, than sticking to one pitch/style/etc.
The only problem with this, is if you get an affiliate clickthrough with no conversion, and then the user finds you on their own later. Which is possible due to your SEO abilities. However, you have to consider the branding the affiliate may have given you, or the presell they had that may have stuck with the user when they came back to you. Long cookie durations look very positive to affiliates, and it says a lot about the merchant.
>somewhere around a base of 5% commision CPA?
Not on small ticket items, unless purchased in quantity. Really, your competition will dictate what you can afford here. The savvy affiliates will seek out your competition and evaluate your program against theirs - be as competitive as possible, while staying competitive for the consumer.
>more potential avenues of promotion could be explored, and more avenues open, than sticking to one pitch/style/etc
The competent webmasters will *always* know better how to presell their own users. I would give as much leeway as possible here. I don't know if you should actually require approval for text copy. (as long as it's CPA) The webmasters that drive the most traffic know that promoting a program honestly gives the best results. I have passed over some offers on networks due to their requirement of ad approval - I could promote another similar offer without being hassled with approval of copy changes. The downside would be the affiliates who misrepresent you or your product, which they won't benefit from anyway. You would just have to weed them out as they come along, or educate them.
We are working on making our program the GOLD standard in Partnership Programs. Now, I don't want to "break any rules" here...and sound like I am promoting...well...but in a way I am I guess...so I apologize!!
BUT...my REAL point here is that we cookie INDEFINITELY. We also do NOT compete for your customers. And...by the way, we pay monthly with NO minimums, and we have a performance based commission structure...the more you sell, the more you can earn. OK...so that's it for the promotion end of things!
My question is that some people I talk to act like it is nothing "special" that we cookie indefinitely. I've been getting comments that people will lose their cookies; they "wipe them out" etc.
SO..what are your feelings on that? Do you think that's true? I appreciate any input. AND...[snip, sorry sdrey, but my promo-meter just went off the scale ;) -rcj]
Thanks SO much!
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(edited by: rcjordan at 6:54 pm (gmt) on Sep. 5, 2001
sdrey, welcome to WmW. I wonder if they really understand the significance of cookie duration? But, FWIW, I clear cookies myself (for reasons not related to affiliate tracking).
>the cookie on the second visit driven by a different affiliate
I've always assumed it's been ignored, but that's strictly a biased guess based on how I'd write the code to check the cookie.
Many people that know how to do this, will do so from time to time. I have known people who did it every day out of privacy paranoia. Other reasons people may not get terribly excited about indefinite cookies - they may not come in to play when the user changes/upgrades their browser, reloads their OS, or just gets a new computer. To me, indefinite cookies mean about the same as 6 months or 1 year duration. That's as long as I would expect most cookies to live.
>cookie on the second visit driven by a different affiliate
The second affiliate always gets the (full) credit, in the systems I am familiar with. Whoever sent the click that converted, which is fair, IMO.
So suppose you have an affiliate with an affiliate ID of 12345678, who wants to help you sell widgets. He links to a page like this:
That URL doesn't look like a script, but it is. When the web surfer gets there, it realizes that 12345678 is an affiliate number (and not a user ID #) so it redirects the user to a real user ID#, e.g. [yoursite.com...]
That ID# (55555555) is either brand new (if the person had no cookies) or it gets set to their cookie value, if they have one.
So there is no affiliate cookie, or cookie duration, or any such thing. The only cookie used is for the user ID. It's just that some accounts, sometimes, are pointing to an affiliate, and all products they add to their cart while in that state get credited to the affiliate in question.
One advantage of manipulating URLs like this is now the affiliates, if they are smart, will use Dumptruck or whatever utility they have to insert their own product pages on your server into the engines. E.g., they go and insert [yoursite.com...] into Google, so now when somebody looks up "Widget" perhaps they will find that page, and click on it, and the affiliate will get credit for the search-engine hit.
Customer support phone numbers ... 1800 # if you have the resources ...
Monthly report emails and check notifications ...
Conversion url logging, so the affiliates know where they sent the conversion from and can have a better idea of what works!
Regular promotional updates!
Stats that update atleast every hour.
And last but not least a product that everybody wants and nobody has, if you have a product like that email me I have many affiliate programs I run and I email affiliates monthly letting them know whats new and whats going on.
So I could probably be of help ....
Ohh yes paying affiliates for all recruitments of new affiliates.
paying affiliates for all recruitments of new affiliates.
how do I go about doing this? I am vaguely familiar with a two teir structure, where a referrer gets some kind of "bonus" for the affiliates that make sales that signed up for them, but what if I don't want to give away too much % of the product price?
Say, acceptable margin, currently at a figure we'll call X. And from my research, affiliates of company Some-fake-company Corporation site or what have you, get Y % of the cost of goods sold through Acme e-commerce site. How do I know what the going rate is for the second teir of affiliates, who recruit others, for % cost of goods sold?
Facts, figures, statists, or generic examples of that sort would be fantastic. This thread is really helping me out a lot. :)
CJ pros - Check processing, some affiliate assurance of reliability/trust, cookie tracking for affiliates, ad/banner serving included, combined payments with other merchants for affiliates (easier for smaller affiliates to meet minimum payouts), large user base of active affiliates - you get on the control panel home page as a new advertiser for a few days.
CJ cons - High startup costs ($1295), transaction fee minimums ($.30), high transaction fee (30%), minimum monthly spend ($250), you pay smaller affiliates monthly that may not make monthly minimums with an inhouse program. No CPC, period.
Basically CJ is more assuring to the affiliate, which will get you more affiliates in the beginning. They have a large base of affiliates which gives you terrific immediate exposure to all types of affiliates with many different site topics. For a general audience type of product, CJ is a terrific system, if you can afford it.
InHouse pros - More cost effective, especially for a startup affiliate program. You have full control over your program, and can make changes at will. It is easier to tailor hybrid commissions, and special deals. You don't have to pay affiliates until they reach your set minimum. A niche product can produce as well, possibly better, with an inhouse program.
InHouse cons - You have to market your program yourself. Affiliates will be unlikely to trust you, until you have proven yourself with timely payouts, stats, etc. No combined payouts with other merchants for affiliates, cookie tracking is unlikely. You have to detect and fight fraud on your own - the biggest consideration for anyone with a CPC program.
InHouse can be a good way to get started, in order to get the ball rolling. If things work out, or get to be too much to handle, you can go to a network like CJ later. InHouse programs work well for niche products/services - if you have a tight demographic for users and webmasters, a network like CJ may not help that much. Once your program is established in your niche, word will get around to other webmasters in that niche.
So, if you have a somewhat general product/service, and can afford CJ, I suggest go with them. However, if you have a tight market, or just need to test the waters first, InHouse may be the way to go.
>paying affiliates for all recruitments of new affiliates....how do I go about doing this?
You will probably want to either pay a bounty + residual %, or just residual %. I suggest start with just residual %, and then add the bounty if you get little response. As far as how much you lose off the top of your product cost, it really isn't that much more. Say your affiliate gets 5 or 10% residual income on affiliates they send you. That is only 5 or 10% of the affiliate earnings, not the actual product price. So if you sell a $20 product, the affiliate earns 10% = $2. Your 2nd tier affiliate earns 10% of that = $.20, so your total affiliate cut is only 11% ($2.20), rather than 10%, on 2nd tiered affiliate referrals.
And to add my laundry list of things I like to see in affiliate programs:
At least monthly (or more frequently) payouts. (and on time)
Stats updated at least daily - live is better.
Stats that show payments (check amounts and dates).
Cookie or membership tracking. At least 15 day duration - 30 is more reasonable.
Communicate with affiliates - answer your email and return calls. (and be polite)
Quick loading site that doesn't have lots o' graphics and flash.
Offer $$ compensation when you make a mistake in your favor.
Be flexible with affiliate's own creative.
Separate link ID tracking, or referral page reporting.
Notify affiliates of planned downtime/upgrades.
Notify affiliates of product/services changes (including prices.)
No 800 numbers plastered on your site where I don't get commission.
No affiliate tracking leaks on your pages.
Make it easy for the user to convert. (not 7 pages/clicks to ring the sale)
Make it easy for the user to undertand what they are buying/what they get.
Support the user. I hate having to answer email when merchants don't.
A lot of this is common sense, but you'd be surprised at some of the merchant sites out there. BTW, I have yet to find a program that offers all of this, just what I see as strengths from different programs.
I only came here to find out about Google and wasn't planning on posting but hey...
I'm an affiliate for various merchants and this is what I look for that hasn't been mentioned already.
1) 10% commission always gets my attention. More than 20% and serious affilites will assume your business model is unsustainable, even if it isn't. You can always give out bonuses. CJ used to give out whistles after a certain amount. They don't anymore and people miss it! It sounds stupid, I know... :)
2) Any cookie of 45 days or more is acceptable.
3) I like to be able to customise text links and I never ask permission. If I did, I wouldn't have time to do anything else! 95% of text links seem to be written by people who don't know what a keyword is. You could allow this, see which ones convert best, then offer them officially.
4) If the merchant *must* write their own then it has to be "Product from ourcompany.com" not "We have the best selection of well who cares the customer isn't going to read this far anyway they were only scanning the page for shopping not hoping to download 'War and Peace'". And check Goto Suggestions to see how your products are summoned by *customers*.
5) Most links are too general or too specific. Between "Home furnishings" and "Satin pillowcase with blue lacy bits and a bluebird motif" should lie "bedding".
6) Decent photos of products. Check out MuseumCompany.com - their products are beautifully photographed.
7) If you *do* have to reverse a sale, do it fast. If it genuinely turns out to be A Fraudulent Credit Card From Indonesia - make something else up, because no-one believes that one anymore!
8) Its best to start with a low commission then increase it, rather than the other way round. Like the Whistle - the effect is psychological.
Hang out on the forum at CJ and ask the affiliates what they want. Let them design the offer for you - there is some real expertise there and it will save you much trial and error.
Its a good place at the moment anyway because merchants who make too many chargebacks have no place to hide since CJ starting showing proper stats. The Angel of Death certainly cut a swathe through *my* merchants! And the ones that are left I have more faith in, so I promote them.
If affiliates receive cheques in a timely fashion and you keep your site up, with no pop-ups and no turning off the tracking at weekends, even on 5% commission you will soon get a decent reputation. And you could let affiliates have a go at getting sign-ups for you on a two-tier thingy. If you find you aren't converting - ask the affiliates on the forum why not.
Many affiliates like lots of contact with their merchants. I hate it! And I expect the code I put up to be current for at least 9 months to a year. It seems to me some merchants have nothing better to do than spam my inbox with improved versions of their code! Some people like to be told about special offers though :/
CJ might be a sinking ship - (if they weren't in trouble they wouldn't be dealing with scumware) but far as I'm concerned CJ is still Where Its At and you'll get a feel for things from the affiliate point of view, which is invaluable regardless of long term prospects. Sign up as a potential affiliate if you don't want to take the plunge into Full Merchanthood just yet, then tell the forum what you are up to.
Performics has a good reputation too, though they don't do individual product links ATM :(
So has OnResponse, Affiliate Fuel, Bcentral and Shareasale, but I don't have any personal experience of these.
Sorry about the length of this post. I hope it was helpfull.
>Many affiliates like lots of contact with their merchants. I hate it! And I expect the code I put up to be current for at least 9 months to a year. It seems to me some merchants have nothing better to do than spam my inbox with improved versions of their code!
DITTO! DITTO! DITTO! The quickest way to have me drop an otherwise good merchant is to send me a message that a generic banner or text link has expired.
Your charge back percent is 74%. I'm so pleased Commission Junction has introduced the Open Marketplace. Your free ride at I-am-a-mug.com is over. Did it never occur to you that doing business honestly would be a better plan?
If I were in charge of your company now I would leave CJ, change the name, then start up again under a new one. And this time I would keep the charge backs at 7-10%.
Thank you very much for your tips.
We always look how improve our affiliate program
I agree, unnecessary merchant communication is a pain. I used to have one merchant send me emails *every* day about how to promote their program. Blahh!
Just to clarify my statements of merchant contact above, when you substantially change your product/service, it is a good idea to notify affiliates. So if you have a free trial or something similar, and then change that model, affiliate presell pages will be misleading. It's no fun to have a visitor tell you your site is wrong, and that's how you find out about the changes.
I agree with francis that repeatedly changing code is a no-no, stay away from pop-ups (especially for other affiliate programs), and "special promotions" are of little interest.