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Best Affiliate Programs

What makes them attractive?

7:50 am on Aug 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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from webmaster (publisher) point of view:

What makes an affiliate-program attractive:
-The products?
-The safety?

-Are there any other criteria?

How important is it to get links, banners, images, product reviews ... easily from the merchants?
Do you have an example for a good affiliate program (I only know Amazon)?

Thank you!

9:29 am on Aug 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I would say:
*Range of graphics - not just 468*60
*Marketing copy - and let the affiliate customise it a bit
*Products that actually convert
*Competitive commission rate
*Plenty of affiliates like a long cookie, but Im not so sure this makes a whole lot of difference
*Deep linking - this is a biggie - especially if you can provide a spreadsheet containing all product details, including reviews, urls image urls etc.

Probably a few more too, I'll have a think.

9:31 am on Aug 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Deep linking certainly is a must. It allows for text links directly to specific products. I still like programs that pay per unique visitor. They seam to do well for me.
2:15 pm on Aug 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Among many other things, the primary consideration for me is whether affiliate marketing appears to be an integral part of the merchant's business plan. I seek out merchants who view the affiliate as a true partner in their marketing strategy.

All too often you'll find that a well known bricks and mortar name has an affiliate program mainly as a vehicle for advertising. Mysteriously, despite a good click through rate, few, if any, conversions seem to take place. Tracking is highly questionable.

I look for:

1. An affiliate manager.
2. A cookie. This indicates a positive attitude toward affiliates.
3. Monthly payments (or better), made on time.
4. 800 number is not prominently displayed.
5. Linking is available to individual product pages (deep linking).
6. Real time (or at least daily) reporting.
7. Attractive commission rate.
8. Prompt notification of changes in links & promotions, etc.
9. Brand name products.
10. A website that's easily navigable & well designed to convert.

After you've been doing this for a while you begin to get a sense as to whether a given merchant is worth a go. Obvioulsy, I go for sales as opposed to leads, etc. which are highly prone to fraud.


3:50 pm on Aug 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Many in the affiliate game also want to be able to make the content look like theirs at times. A design that makes it easy to frame order pages, and product pages to not give away the affiliate status is desireable. This is an extension of the deep linking already mentioned.

Also the affiliate should not compete and advertise in such a way as to undermine its affiliates efforts, there's nothing worse than not being able to rank above the company(s) you've affiliated with :) really it's more subtle than that, but you get the idea.

2:39 am on Aug 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Even better than deep linking is the XML feed so your visitors can order directly from your site. This seems to help conversions as well as keep visitors on your site.

If a program doesn't have this ability then they need to hear from their affiliates so they can incorporate the XML feed.

3:18 am on Aug 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What makes a good affiliate program:
-Quality up to date stats. Test how they collect their stats.
-Time period of cookies.
-Your customer for life.
-On going promotions. Some companies email your customers with a new promotion that if used or purchased are not added to your account.
-On time payments in full!
-No annoying spam contact whether it is email, snail mail or by phone.
-Up to data product information and ad copy that you can use.
-Restrictions on which sites are allowed to be affiliates.
-Live contact info for you and the customer. Test this one.
The list is all most endless. Try and use programs that are not used by your competitors but, I know some programs that are very widely used for good reasons.
6:11 am on Aug 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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One nice thing one of my affiliate managers did for me was set me up with my own 800 number. When people call the number on my site the person answering the phone knows the calls are coming from my site and answer the phone using my company name. When I added the phone number my sales increase about 25%.

Some other things I look for:

1. An affiliate manager that provides quick response to my questions
2. Good payout percentage
3. A good track record of conversions
4. A stable company as opposed to a fly by night operation.
5. Deep linking is very important

As others have said, the list can be almost endless. The things mentioned by others are all good things to look for.

8:17 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Looks like you guys are quite the experts in what makes an afffiliate program an attractive one.

I just setup an affiliate program for my site. I used your suggestions for setting it up, so thank you.

If I was to contact you to introduce you to my affiliate program, would you prefer an e-mail? Post my program to a directory? How would someone like you, not saying you, would like to be contacted?

Short and to the point?
Here are the basics?
Post ad somewhere?

Your suggestions would be most appreciated:)

8:31 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I do not mind a business-like email from a merchant (assuming you can get by my spam filters). BUT, you'd better know my site and make it evident that you've really studied what I do before you contact me. You have 1, maybe 2 sentences to convince me of that.

List your program in the affiliate directories.

Build a good, keyword-rich affiliate sign up page. Chances are many affiliates know how to do advanced search.

10:15 am on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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AS rc says, I nice email showing you have taken the time to explore why my site will be a good fit for the program. If I get a bog standard email asking me to sign up, I stick it straight in the bin.

One thing that would get my attention is if you offered a spreadsheet with your product details, deep links, images etc all in it. That way I can push your whole product range with little effort - I guess Im lazy, but the merchants who do this are often my best performers.

Something else you could do is give me suggestions on how YOU think I can market your products best, eg which pages do you think they fit best on, which creatives are proving to be most successful, why are your products better than your compeitors and hence more likely to convert. A higher conversion rate is often more attractive for me than a slightly higher commission rate.

4:53 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Great tips, thanks:)
10:28 pm on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I can simply say, CJ is the perfect example. They are always building great tools, real stats for sales/leads. I have offers from other affiliate programs, and I hate using other companies besides CJ. I mean what more can you ask for? Brand Name Products, Great Account Manager, Wide Range of Links per Offer, and most of all, you have to love there accounting department. Other companies make you wait 45-60-90 days after the end of the month to recieve payment. With CJ you just have to wait a couple weeks, and with direct deposit the wait is even less and much more convient.

I am not a part of the CJ company, just a proud support of there offers and everything they as a company offer.

10:27 pm on Nov 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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From what I can gather, CJ seems a good enough company but its the merchants who set the settings at CJ

Take Commission Junction (CJ). If you're in the affiliate business, chances are you have a CJ account and actively use its system to find new merchant programs. You probably also know CJ is free for affiliates and costs a sizeable fee for merchants to join.

This structure obviously favors the merchants, leaving the affiliates without much say or control. In other words, money talks, and... well, you know what walks.

CJ allows its merchants to turn off an affiliate's cookie after the first sale. This is called the "keep=no" feature. It means if an affiliate's referral results in a sale, the cookie is removed, so the affiliate doesn't get credit for future sales. As of today, CJ offers no functionality to allow an affiliate to see which merchants have the "keep-no" feature enabled.

CJ also allows merchants to set one-day cookies. That means the affiliate gets one shot at converting the sale. If the customer doesn't make a purchase that very day, the affiliate does not get credit for a well-earned lead.

You can bet the merchant is happy it got a lead, possibly even a lifetime customer, for free.

2:57 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Look for residual (lifetime) income. You continue to earn commission for future purchases for a customer on your website that you are offering to someone else's website.

You're wasting your time partnering with a company that offers you 5% commission one-off for a sale on a book. That's a mere 50 cents on a $10 purchase. And remember, you'll probably only get that for every one person out of a hundred that you send to a merchant's site. In exchange for your measily 50 cents, the retailer is often gaining a customer for life.

11:11 am on Nov 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think the best affiliate program would be one where you could make so much money at it that you would desire your own private labeled website. This way you could also do print and radio advertising and know you are getting paid.

[edited by: Marcia at 1:20 pm (utc) on Nov. 18, 2002]