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Now I have some better deals direct with merchants where I get my own 800 number extention, but for the majority of merchants I deal with the big affiliate networks (CJ and Linksare) and don't. I have to imagine I'm losing a percentage of sales due to this change.
Has anyone else noticed this, and tried to do anything about it?
Never use a merchant that displays a phone number, unless it is hidden.
As a general rule of thumb, I agree. However, there are a couple of good merchants I have run accross that are very strict about collecting the "offer code" they put under the phone number when receiving a call. When in doubt, call them and test it.
We advertise by several channels and need sales. I'll be very happy to fire all sales people and base ONLY on AM - can't, people still want to talk. Sales people are working on commission and want to make $$ too.
Pie is big enough for everyone to share, counting 1$MM/m with 10% and good product
Shawns idea on making it an extension is a good idea because then the customer service people don't need to ask for the # and even if the customer calls later the order can be tracked back to the affiliate. Some merchants don't have phone systems to handle that though and for some just doing the programming for regular online phone tracking is too much. Not that they don't want to pay affiliates for their efforts - in my experience, it's just lack of time or tech resources. I always try to push it, but sometimes it does not fly.
>Pie is big enough for everyone to share, counting 1$MM/m with 10% and good product
Interesting perspective. I understand where you're coming from, but what do you say to your affs who just lost their slice after their visitor clicked through and then called and gave the slice to the phone rep?
Sometimes you have to live with it, but when this happens look for another merchant with similar product. You may find your conversions will magically increase.
it would be nice if merchants would do a little factoring and raise the payout %
That assumes, of course that they know its happening. They may have no idea what % of their phone calls are from the web, nevermind from their affiliates.
The web is an amazing tool to make the phone ring, and unless tracked you could very well think it is from your other marketing efforts. Educating the merchant is a daunting but necessary task sometimes.
The special offer code would either have to be typed in for a website buy or "mentioned" if phoned in in order to be redeemed. "Mention special offer #151".
I'd say an incentive - even a very small one - might help with the tracking of web-to-phone orders.
Things are more complicated from an affiliate's point of view. It's one thing to display a toll-free number to increase customer confidence, with "leakage" hopefully offset by more water in the bucket, so to speak. It's quite another thing if the merchant takes an in-your-face call-us-now approach, actively diverting orders to the phone that might otherwise have been completed online (with commission payable). That's a siphon, not just a leak.
Jcoronella is right that educating merchants is a necessity!
I've spoken to the AM about it, and he says they can't *not* have the number on the site - but they do pay about double of what comparable merchants pay for that type of merchandise, so it does compensate some. And they convert consistently with multiple-item orders.
At least a non-obtrusive phone number on the site doesn't follow you around aggressively like LivePerson does, or those pop-up windows that offer 10% off on the first order if you sign on with their mailing list. Who wouldn't on high ticket items? It isn't their concern that the email will over-write affiliate cookies, they want their 10% off and don't have any idea anyway.
Would a seperate domain for affiliates satisfy this need? we bought all the .com, .net, .us etc domain names for our trade name, so it would be no problem for the main site to be at superwidgets.com and the affiliate site to be at superwidgets.net - we could have the phone number only on the .com site and not on the .net site.
The funny thing is that some people just seem to want to talk before they buy - and we dont have a phone system to let us do the tracking by extension previously mentioned. As a manufacturer I dont want to shave anyones commissions - I think that is a very shortsited view of sales, and a great way to disillusion your sales force (online and off)
It's more likely to happen on major big ticket items, imho. With one merchant, their "product" needs an additonal "component" and it wasn't stated whether or not that component was included or had to be purchased separately. I called up their live customer support screen (they don't push it on you, you have to ask for it - and it's in-house, not that LiveLeech 3rd party outfit) - and asked them.
No, it was not included. I told her I needed to know as an affiliate because visitors would have the same question and sales could be lost because of lack of clear information on the site. She said she would let marketing know and sure enough, within a couple of days the information was on the site with the *major* item that the additional component was not included.
It can never hurt to voice concerns, assuming good faith on their part, and see what kind of response we get from them.
For instance, a merchant with a phone number might convert much better (or have a higher per-customer order average) than a different one with no "leaks" of any kind. They might also offer more appealing creative/offers which attract a higher click-through, and so on across dozens of points of differentiation.
So look at how much you earn per 1,000 visitors to the page(s) you're using to send traffic to the merchant. At the end of the day, the most important metric is how much you can consistently earn on average for a given volume of traffic.
If you treat your pages plus the merchant's site as a "black box", looking only at traffic into the "box" and ultimate $ commission out from the "box" then you have a pure, emotion-free way to compare the true effectiveness of different affiliate programs for your site.
There are several ways for merchants to track where telephone sales come from, and lets remember it makes sense from them to do this, not just for affiliates sales, but for their marketing as a whole, else how do they know whether a sale came from Google, Yahoo or anywhere else.
1. Convert the tracking code into a number that is added to the end of the SKU, like 4353636-34242, where the 34242 is a converted tracking ID. This is by far the best because it is 100% invisible to the consumer, they haven't got to search the page for a special code and in the call or via email they will give the full SKU.
2. Code added to page, easier than the above but less effective is to add the "Please mention code 1234 on all phone orders" makes the consumer do work, and if they say "Don't know" then the CR rep is not going to push it at all
3. Referral codes, Giving all affiliates a unique "coupon" code that grants a free gift / discount etc that they enter during check out will also result in that code being given over the phone. Issues here are that this code can be easily overlooked on the referrering site.
All of them require some form of back end programming to track the new codes and convert them from the long tracking codes that networks use into consumer friendly numbers, and training of the CR staff. But they are all possible and can be seen running on a number of merchant sites.
That's only one merchant's policy, but to some degree you have to accept that if a customer prefers to order by phone, then they probably weren't going to place that order online no matter what sponsor you used.
(Actually, paying over the phone is not such a bad idea. 5 years ago I lectured people on how safe ordering online was, as long as that little golden key was displayed. I don't give that speech anymore. Things like phishing and spyware have made the Web quite a bit less secure, especially for people who are less technically skilled.)
Um, yes. The number of people gullible to order from a website without a phone number is limited -- it won't be too long before the "Basic Living Skills" courses in High School add this to the list of things never to do. So what you're proposing is basically giving up on people with a clue, and trolling for suckers.
>Things like phishing and spyware have made the Web quite a bit less secure, especially for people who are less technically skilled.
This is true. And it was barely secure at all before. And it is going to get worse, MUCH MUCH worse. Just imagine in ten years if, say, one tenth of 1% of all technically-trained Chinese or Brazilians turn to doorway marketing fraud? Or if the 419 scammers start imitating anonymous doorway marketing sites? And I haven't got a criminal mind, I'm sure the real criminals out there are already implementing things I'd never have imagined.
Just imagine in ten years if, say, one tenth of 1% of all technically-trained Chinese or Brazilians turn to doorway marketing fraud?
And of course the citizens of whatever country you come from are too altruistic to do this, ever? Why single out two countries in particular? Especially with no more proof than your willingness to apply stereotypes.
With the difficulty of accepting funds online in non-western countries, most of the scammers and spammers seem to gravitate to Florida. Which is in the United States in case anyone hasn't noticed.
The spams and scams may seem to be hosted in faraway places, but if you follow the money, it ends up in a country with good banking networks. That includes every single one of the G8 countries.
I'm sure the real criminals out there are already implementing things I'd never have imagined.
Nope, the pillars of industry have no use for the internet other than sending emails and shopping for SUV's. They still like tried and true wholesale methods like corporate looting, market collusion, insider trading and overpricing defense contracts.
It is hard enough to make a buck on affiliate accounts, without the merchant trying to circumvent commissions, with what I call, dirty tricks.
Yes, I will put the url on my banner, but I ALWAYS put 'click here' on it as well... and I don't use affiliate advertising for the banner. If I did, I wouldn't put the url on it at all. It is not fair to the publisher.
While the concept of links seems like a no brainer to all us, I still have new users ask me what a link is, and after explaining it, they are still lost, and I have to actually hold their hand, and walk them through it.
We have not joined an affiliate program, yet. I would like to be able to track/report every sale that came through an affiliate. However we have not found a good way to do this. We also sell by catalog and only a small percentage of those orders are tracked via the customer code on the back. (Mostly customer service agents do not know if they are on the web or browsing a catalog or both. They also forget to ask.)
One merchant we dropped the other day looked fine at face value. No obvious phone number, etc., But then when you actually do order, a page into the process is a big phone number with "please phone for current availability". To me, this stinks. Why have affiliates sending you customers if you're not willing to play ball?
They put up a number because it is best for their business, not to hurt affiliates. Their business is not to make things easy for the affiliate. They want sales anyway they can get them.
I did have a merchant that put up a note that said call for best price. Needless to say they were dropped as they were encouraging people to call.
Being able to track phone orders would certainly be a big plus and of course something to consider when choosing one merchant over the other.
All you care at the end of the day is EPC and chargebacks.
If you experienced 90% leakage with one customer with an EPC of 10$ per click and 0 chargebacks, and 10% leakage with another but only 10 cents per click and lots of chargeabacks.. which would you pick?
In fact, you probably *want* someone to have a phone number because that means they are probably getting more conversions and can afford to pay a higher EPC.