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  1. #1
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    Question Dumping Affiliates Who Don't Produce - what can be done
    [ Begin rant - bit of blowing off some steam, but I think I actually make some good points and suggestions here ]

    From an affiliate's perspective, it's incredibly annoying to be removed from a program where I was a big producer, or even a mediocre produce, and then maybe haven't produced anything for a couple of months. And without any warning or notification from the company, I am simply removed from the program. That means...

    That means that the links you built for me stop working.

    When your links stop working for me, I stop working for you.

    Is it really true that inactive affiliates eat up that much of a company's resources that the company would need to dump some of them?

    That seems a little difficult to believe.

    Why not sort affiliates into three groups:
    - Super-Active affiliates
    - Occasional affiliates
    - People who may do something someday.

    By the third month someone is in your affiliate program, you will know what category they are in for the time being. Then, it's your goal to get them to move up in the designation above by one category.

    But, as Jim Rohn says:
    Some will do 30%. Some will do 60%. Some will do 100%. You can't turn a 30%er into a 100%er.

    Why do some do 30%? Because they're 30%ers.

    That's just the way it is.


    Why do some do 60%? Because they're 60%ers.

    That's just the way it is.


    So don't get frustrated. Just accept that they're a 30%er for now, and may someday become a 60%er.

    But it's their job as the affiliate to make that decision, and not your job to decide to boot them, just because they're not super active. I really find it hard to believe that a 30%er, or even a 0%er, can eat up that much of your time, or click-through percentages, that it makes sense to boot them.

    Do you boot people whose links don't produce sales just because you want to be able to save face?

    Does it help you feel good to be able to say "Well, our affiliates have an exceptional click-through to conversion ratio."


    They're only getting good conversions because you boot the ones who don't have an exceptional click-through-to-purchase ratio...

    Not because you're actually taking steps to... oh, I don't know... actually improve the conversion of the people who land on your site? Nah. It must be something the affiliate is doing. It couldn't possibly be that our site isn't converting for their traffic.

    I mean seriously... that doesn't make much sense to me.

    So let's talk about the three designations I've set up above, and see how you would communicate with them.

    Super Active affiliates
    These are the top 10% of affiliates. They are people who you take their phone calls when they call - maybe even give them their own direct access to you through a priority 800 # which you can set up for $5/month, - and their own priority email address. You give each of them a personal phone call once/month (or more) just to see what you can do to help. Your response time with this group is always less than 24 hours. These people may like the tools you create, but more likely, this group of people is going to have their own methods of marketing your brand (whether it be through PPC, SEO, video, Web 2.0, or whatever). You bend over backwards to give this group what they want. Also, sorry to disillusion any affiliate managers/merchants - you can send this group your newsletter, but many of them are going to be too busy (or uninterested) to read it thoroughly... your newsletter will be skim material for most affiliate.

    Occasional Affiliates
    These are the people who produce a sale or two every month. Having a lot of these affiliates will out-produce your Super Active Affiliates, but they will need tools, and perhaps some prodding, in order to become great affiliates. This is the group that should receive your monthly newsletter with tips and tricks for how to make more money with your program. They receive your newest creative, ideas for how some of your top affiliates are promoting your brand, and reports on what your top affiliates are earning (and if your top affiliates give you permission,) how they are earning that income. (VERY IMPORTANT to ask first though. Nothing worse than pissing off one of your top producers by giving away any secrets they might be using to promote your brand - Ahem, Cognigen?).

    People who may do something someday
    These people get a short email from you once/month (personalized via autoresponder), to say something like: "Hey Jim! I'd love to help you, but in order to do that, I would like to know what your goals are with our program. Please call or email me back at your earliest convenience, and I'll help you get going." The next month, the autoresponder says, "Hey Jim, Noticed you haven't done much with our affiliate program. Are things just busy in your life right now? Let me know what I can do to help."

    The next month, you say, "Hey Jim! I just wrote a check to one of our top affiliates for a one-month production for $10,241.27. I don't know if you're making that kind of money with the other affiliate programs you're promoting, but I'd sure like to help you do it with our program. Call me, or email me back."

    The next month, you talk about your product or service and how it helped the end consumer, and that it was purchased through a connection with an affiliate.

    You (or your team) can write 5 years worth of these messages in the matter of a few hours, and they get sent to non-performing affiliates automatically when they've been non-productive for, let's say, a three month period of time, and now they're being followed up with automatically. Where's the time in doing that? 3 hours in setting up, and then letting the autoresponders do the work for you? Really...

    For the first few months people become your affiliates, you would be in a state of moving people back and forth between these categories. After that though, you will have defined who you should be communicating with on a priority basis, who you should be communicating with, and who you should be letting the computer communicate with.

    You will be separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, which is what you think you're doing by booting affiliates.

    However, unlike wheat, people can be encouraged to be more than they are, and that should be a goal for you as an affiliate manager. When you start writing bigger checks, people move into bigger houses, buy better cars, spend more time with their children, travel more, etc. And they are doing so because they were helped along by you, as well as the tools and encouragement you gave to them.

    Ultimately, when you dump an affiliate, (even one who was an occasional producer, or even a non-producer), at best it strains the relationship, and at worst, it makes someone who may have produced for you become someone who dislikes your company and/or products.

    In effect, you turn someone who knows how to market on the Internet, and who was a proponent of your business, into an OPPONENT of your business.

    [ /rant ]

    Maybe I'm not seeing this from the merchant side at all... if any merchants would like to comment on the challenges they face, and why they would terminate instead of developing some kind of system like the one I've mentioned above, I promise, I'm all ears.

    Jonathan
    Last edited by loxly; February 17th, 2008 at 06:13 PM. Reason: removed manual sig link drop

  2. #2
    Mama in Charge Anne's Avatar
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    Wow, that is quite a rant...
    Here is my opinion... if someone is not producing.... you are getting free advertising and branding, get a freakin' grip and be glad they are leaving your links up, lol

  3. #3
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    Yes!
    Oh yah, and there's that too! Us affiliates developing your brand for you for FREE!

    Good point

  4. #4
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    Merchants also drop affiliates to reset program stats; so conversions appear higher.

    While it may not be true in every case, I was actually told this by a merchant when I questioned a drop. My site was pure content, product-links, and I sent hundreds of visitors each month.

    ".. your extremely low CR was drastically pulling down our EPC. However, I'm more than happy to discuss ways to improve CR/EPC"

    Dropped me twice. The second time I let it go.

    Ironically, I have since expanded my site to include shopping comparison, commissions are increasing monthly, and I have datafeeds from their competitors. I will never promote that merchant again.

  5. #5
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    Care to hint at a name so others can avoid as well?

  6. #6
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    Without repeating my previous rant, more details can be found here

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=94482

    I received from very good advice from that thread!

  7. #7
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    That is full of good advice. Thanks for posting here!

    Jonathan

  8. #8
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    Without sounding cheesy, I came away from that thread feeling more empowered. I actually believe in the merchant products I promote, and if one can't recognize this, it's their loss!

    I've also become more picky now.. will reject merchant offers when I see too many coupon & incentive affiliations.

    I think your post was very well presented and I hope some merchants take something away from it!

  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Angry
    Quote Originally Posted by teezone
    Merchants also drop affiliates to reset program stats; so conversions appear higher.

    While it may not be true in every case, I was actually told this by a merchant when I questioned a drop. My site was pure content, product-links, and I sent hundreds of visitors each month.

    ".. your extremely low CR was drastically pulling down our EPC. However, I'm more than happy to discuss ways to improve CR/EPC"

    Dropped me twice. The second time I let it go.

    Ironically, I have since expanded my site to include shopping comparison, commissions are increasing monthly, and I have datafeeds from their competitors. I will never promote that merchant again.
    Don't worry too much over AM's & their merchants who drop actual physical click affiliates to reset/fudge their conversion stats. Any merchant who doesn't know his sites natural conversion ratio (average clicks to produce one sale from ALL traffic sources) shouldn't be allowed to operate an affiliate sales program. The same merchant should get a stupidity award if he believes the major networks conversion stats get creditied to those driving original traffic. If my client's site naturally converts at a 1 sale per 30 clicks basis then any physical click generated from an affiliate's own domain page creative should equal, or do better then this stat... period!

    No merchant excuses, if no affiliate trickery is involved, as the shopper chose to click the link, even if window shopping.

    Now a recent gripe I have comes from a Linkshare merchant VitaCost.com They send out some generic notice email buried daily inside all those other LS promo letters about program changes... LOL. I noticed none of my GoldenCan displays for Vitacost landed on any VC page, The banners, individual product and text links the same problem. Lo and behold I go to LS mail and thier is th enotice ... FEB 1st all VitaCost links cease to work.

    Guess just for me as GC still shows them as active and displays products.. (no landing pages) Meanwhile I have sites showing Vitacost GC displays and some deep link product creatives matching perfectly with the sites content theme. So what if the click volume is small. The click quality is still great IF THE MERCHANT can convert targeted traffic without allowing Super affiliate forced click interference via incentives.

    oooppps... http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...tacost+coupons So goodbye VitaCost the specific products I was pushing can be arranged by drop shippers with in the crowded vitamin/suppliment industry. Guess what?

    Placing a Adwords block within the product content areas brings up VitaCost and all their competitors on expensive keywords. I'll get to backdoor them on my shoppers physical clicks.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    We hear about this way too often. I still shake my head with disbelief as I don't understand the thinking. Sure, there are affiliates who can send you hundreds or thousands of sales per month but what's wrong with affiliates who send you 1 sale per year?

    Merchants, if you're booting affiliates for few/no sales you are cutting off the possibility of getting any sales from them. What if you had 50 affiliates who send you 1 sale per year? That's 50 sales you didn't get last year. What about 100 affiliates? What about 500? If you're not working with them to increase sales, and just removing them, you're not realizing your program's potential.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
    www.gocmc.com info(AT)gocmc.com | 330-259-1223

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  11. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    And what if one of those 50 affiliates realizes how well you convert and builds a site that generates 1000 sales a month for you? That possibility is gone if you delete them.

    I have quite a few merchants that I generate over 1000 sales a month for. Before I built niche sites around their products, I was a very low performer for many of those merchants.

    But nobody would delete me as an affiliate would they? Wrong. It happens to me, too.
    Michael Coley
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     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  12. #12
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Rice
    We hear about this way too often. I still shake my head with disbelief as I don't understand the thinking. Sure, there are affiliates who can send you hundreds or thousands of sales per month but what's wrong with affiliates who send you 1 sale per year?...
    In all of the places where The Long Tail theory applies, how does it not fit into a good AM's plans when it comes to affiliate management? Think about it. Affiliates don't take up any physical space within your company and are paid no benefits. The biggest thing a "non-performing" affiliate might use is a small amount of bandwidth from serving the images. The cost of this is very minimal.

    I think some AMs are just power hungry. They like to show who is the boss. They want to show that they can accept or deny entry into their program, and also that when approved, your life with that program is in their hands.

    Also, when showing the numbers to their boss, they want to rid the zeros in the program just so everything looks nice. It might help them get a raise, but it is not developing the program wisely.

    The Long Tail applies here and if you aren't able to see that as an AM, you aren't generating revenue to it's fullest potential. As far as I know, that is an AM's job.

    -sfcom


  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    I suspect it's as simple as the AM wanting to have a nice list of performing affiliates so he/she can go to the merchant and say "see what a good affiliate manager I am?"
    Daniel M. Clark
    Tech Manager
    Greg Hoffman Consulting

  14. #14
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    If I build an extensive site around 1 or 2 merchants, I am foolish. And, yes, I have done this. That's how I know it is foolish!

    No, I build around many merchants. Thus, not all the merchants are going to get a lot of sales. Some may not get any for a long time, perhaps a year or more, until traffic grows. That's just how it has to be, IMHO.
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

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