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  1. #1
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Warning about inactivity
    I received this warning from Macy's due to inactivity:
    Thank you for being a macys.com affiliate; we appreciate your desire to promote our company. However, we have noticed that it has been a while since you last generated a sale for us.

    As the largest department store online, we carry the latest in apparel, shoes, accessories, jewelry, and items for the home. To make things exciting, there are always lots of sales and special opportunities available throughout the year. To help you generate sales for macys.com, please take advantage of our weekly promotions, the RSS feed and the many text links and banners that are available through the affiliate interface.

    Please be advised, if you are not active by August 31, 2008, we will have to remove you from our program.
    I'm not sure if the threat to be removed from the program by August 31st is the best motivation for me .

    Has anyone else received notice from Macy's?
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  2. #2
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    It's unclear to me -- are you generating traffic but no sales? If so, it's their fault, not yours, for failing to convert. And if you're continuing to send traffic to a merchant that can't convert, then it's you who should pull the plug.

    If you haven't yet posted links, then they should be encouraging you to do so, not giving you a good reason not to.

    I don't promote merchants with retail stores (chains) since my promotion is likely to drive in-store customers for whom I am unpaid.

  3. #3
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Yes, Rhia, everything sounded so good before I read that last line:

    Please be advised, if you are not active by August 31, 2008, we will have to remove you from our program.
    This is a typical example of a directing, top-down management... Successful affiliate program management has got to be different from this!! What good does do to a program to remove an inactive affiliate?

    It'd be also interesting to know your answer to Mark's question.

    Geno

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    I received this warning from Macy's due to inactivity:


    I'm not sure if the threat to be removed from the program by August 31st is the best motivation for me .

    Has anyone else received notice from Macy's?
    I received it.
    My answer was immediate............My links have been pulled. I can use this "permitted" time for something more productive.

    How do you drop out of a LinkShare merchants affiliate program????

    Knee-jerk on my part?? Maybe........


    Mark Welch ........I don't promote merchants with retail stores (chains) since my promotion is likely to drive in-store customers for whom I am unpaid.
    I did not promote agressively, because I agree with this policy.
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
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  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    I'm the cut & paste Queen by the way so I don't know how to use RSS feeds nor do I use datafeeds with PHP etc.

    Macy's used to have a great product generator capability in terms of my ability to scan through their site, choose a specific item of my choice and make an individual link to that item. When Macy's allowed me to use that capability, I would promote specific items mainly in one of my blogs. If there was a text link related somehow to the product, I would use the text link as well in the blog entry.
    When Macy's took away this capability, I became less interested in promoting Macy's but I have done so it the past.

    I've also promoted specific items on static pages.
    It was on these pages that I would also use their banners.
    Static pages of mine deal mainly with content and in addition I like to have a special section/corner where I promote specials and a few coupons.
    I'll sprinkle coupon codes (especially those related to the content focus) throughout my pages but I don't consider my sites to be "coupon sites" per se.

    As for promoting something that doesn't convert, sometimes I liked the specific picture product so much that I wanted the product link on my page even if that item didn't sell -- sometimes product links contribute to the overall feel of a page or series of pages.

    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    I don't promote merchants with retail stores (chains) since my promotion is likely to drive in-store customers for whom I am unpaid.
    I would agree with you, Mark. The exception for me would be Sephora. I have made sales with Sephora although some people probably been prompted to walk into a Sephora store for an item highlighted by one of the pages of my site.
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  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    I received a similar email from a men's clothing affiliate last week. They only gave me about two weeks to generate a sale. When I emailed them back telling them how offensive their email was, they basically said "too bad...we need to make room for affiliates who generate sales." I don't get it. It's not like they are doing any extra work to have me in their program. And it's not like July is a really great time to make sales!
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

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  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    I too received a similar email from a merchant few weeks ago. Not from Macy's but another merchant in SAS.

    1. I did not promote this merchant heavily since I did not like too many of their products as much but had a few links. The links have been clicked on but no sales. My conversion rate is about 1% so by looking at the stats I clearly can tell there should have been more conversions.

    2. However, I had tons of links for the merchant's direct competitor. The merchant's direct competitor was converting really well almost like clock work every day.

    3. All of a sudden this email, and BAM, the account was closed for the non-converting merchant.

    4. I emailed the merchant saying that I will promise to promote more since I am in the works with a new site and the theme of the site would be a better fit with the merchant's products.

    5. Merchant replied immediately and let me back in.

    But to think that I was at fault for not converting. After reading the replies here, I guess I am the one that should have gotten a better treatment instead. Well, I did add a few links in and conversions are happening but sheesh what an eye opener that was.

    Rhia, have you tried using popshops to add code to your blog? You can still stick to your 'cut and paste' . I see that Macy's is in Popshop as well. So what are you planning to do?

  8. #8
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    I got that email too.

    Now I have to go back and see if they are on any of my sites and if I had any future plans for them. I'm not going to look so I can generate sales by August, I am going to look to see how they can be replaced.

    Typical arrogant corporate head merchant. This is not a job, you can't motivate affiliates with threats.

    So.... Dear Macys,

    Yes you have a great brand but I don't sell brands, I sell products, and I can find your products elsewhere.

    If it is costing you so much in time and resources to have me in your program then go ahead and remove me now. Matter of fact, since you are so pressed, I'll remove myself.

    Sincerely,

    ProWebAddict

  9. #9
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    Wow, I guess I should be expecting a letter from them soon. I have a number of clicks every month, but haven't had a sale in a while.

    Since I wasn't generating any sales, I quit spending time putting up the links for their sales and have only been promoting them using Popshops.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador superCool's Avatar
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    do merchants do this to improve their EPC? if a site is sending lots of unqualified traffic that generates no sales, doesn’t that site weigh down the EPC of the entire program? if a merchant can drop all the affiliates that generate clicks but no sales, doesn’t that raise their EPC and make them look better to other affiliates? if you can drop 100k clicks a month but only lose $100 in sales wouldn’t that make your program look better at no real cost (loss of sales)?

    at cj everything is sorted by EPC (by default), so it helps your program if you have a higher EPC

    just asking…..not saying anything about anyone’s sites or anything…just wondering if that would be a valid reason to clean out some affiliates

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superCool
    do merchants do this to improve their EPC? if a site is sending lots of unqualified traffic that generates no sales, doesn’t that site weigh down the EPC of the entire program? if a merchant can drop all the affiliates that generate clicks but no sales, doesn’t that raise their EPC and make them look better to other affiliates? if you can drop 100k clicks a month but only lose $100 in sales wouldn’t that make your program look better at no real cost (loss of sales)?

    at cj everything is sorted by EPC (by default), so it helps your program if you have a higher EPC

    just asking…..not saying anything about anyone’s sites or anything…just wondering if that would be a valid reason to clean out some affiliates
    In my particular case, I didn't actually have any of the merchant's links up yet.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

    Tricia Meyer | Helping Moms Connect | Wine Club Reviews and Ratings | Hunger Games Fan

  12. #12
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    Macy's really has a nerve sending that out. They used to be great, when they let you make your own links. Now that you have to use their links or what they provide to popshops in their datafeed, it's really really hard. They don't make the best stuff available to their affiliates. We just get the crap they want to push and none of the cool stuff. At least with clothing.

    I didn't get the email because I still make a few sales each month, but I've stopped updating the pages and don't really promote them anymore.

  13. #13
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aunt Lily
    Macy's really has a nerve sending that out. They used to be great, when they let you make your own links. Now that you have to use their links or what they provide ... it's really really hard. They don't make the best stuff available to their affiliates.
    Exactly ... thus I have been lax in promoting them.

    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms
    And it's not like July is a really great time to make sales!

    Yes, Helpingmoms, you are right. As a Mom you probably will agree that the months of July & August are family times: trips to the park, the beach, the lake, the mountains, etc. or just quality time at home -- people/families want to spend relaxing times together. July isn't known to be the biggest shopping month -- plus July is really a transitional month. Retailers are selling off their Spring/Summer goods and are preparing for the upcoming Fall/Winter.
    Who does serious shopping in July? Ofcourse people do [shop], but to use it as a major focus for Macy's cut-off date doesn't exactly create good will.

    Macy's would have been better off if they had told me to make a sale by Christmas or something.
    I don't think cutting off affiliates just before the holiday season starts to roll creates good feelings or good public relations.

    @ladidah: If Popshops works for you, I'm glad
    As for me, I cut & paste the original way and will continue to do so.
    Last edited by Rhia7; July 7th, 2008 at 05:48 PM.
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  14. #14
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms
    In my particular case, I didn't actually have any of the merchant's links up yet.
    I went from having a number of links over a period of time to a dwindling zero (unless you count previous/archived blog entries).

    I went from a healthy interest in their affiliate program to putting their program way on the back burner of my site plans.

    There have been many times where I have joined an affiliate program and have not yet placed the links, just as you state in your case, helpingmoms.
    I find it annoying in such a case when I receive the "removal threat" from the merchant.
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  15. #15
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I stopped digging for good items to link to as well, so I'll probably see a similar email soon. The items they offer direct links to are terrible and it takes too long to scan through it all. I did get dropped by Harry & David today tho something about not wanting coupon sites ...blah blah.. it didn't matter to me one way or another.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  16. #16
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    The original "create your own link mechanism/plan" [I forget what Linkshare calls it] gave inspiration to the affiliate.
    Now the affiliate has to scan down a limited line of items which may or may not relate to what the affiliate is creating and just limits the creativity as far as I am concerned.

    Okay, I admit, I haven't been doing a lot in terms of web page creation/maintenance for a while (for reasons I won't list here) but that doesn't mean that I won't become interested again soon.
    Hey, soon it will be Back-to-School, Fall promotions, Halloween, etc...
    Cut off an affiliate and the AM/Merchant doesn't know what the affiliate could have/might have done.

    I guess once cut, an affiliate can always apply to the program at a later time if the affiliate is still interested
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  17. #17
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superCool
    do merchants do this to improve their EPC? if a site is sending lots of unqualified traffic that generates no sales, doesn’t that site weigh down the EPC of the entire program? if a merchant can drop all the affiliates that generate clicks but no sales, doesn’t that raise their EPC and make them look better to other affiliates? if you can drop 100k clicks a month but only lose $100 in sales wouldn’t that make your program look better at no real cost (loss of sales)?

    at cj everything is sorted by EPC (by default), so it helps your program if you have a higher EPC

    just asking…..not saying anything about anyone’s sites or anything…just wondering if that would be a valid reason to clean out some affiliates
    superCool, yes it can have an effect on the epc if the affiliate is sending clicks. But in many cases, see helpingmoms above, the affiliate joined with a plan for future promotion. This means, no clicks and no effect on epc.

    If the affiliate is generating clicks and it is effecting the epc. Then the affiliate is driving people to your site so the consumer has some interest in your product. Use your analytics program to determine why they didn't convert. Where did they come from, where did they go. Use this information to improve the merchant site and help the affiliate better target and qualify the consumer to the merchant / product. Rather than dropping affiliates, work with them, it's in everyones best interest.


    Perhaps a thread to track merchants who 'mass' drop affiliates for lack of sales would be helpful.
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  18. #18
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knight01
    Perhaps a thread to track merchants who 'mass' drop affiliates for lack of sales would be helpful.
    I get "dropped" the most by Linkshare merchants -- or it seems that way.
    Do others have a similar experience?
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  19. #19
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    Yes, SuperCool, some merchants do remove "high-traffic, low-EPC affiliates" in order to increase their network EPC. This is just one of several pieces of "bad advice" that certain affiliate networks are credited with providing to their merchant clients.

    As knight01 suggests, the better remedy would be to analyze what's happening and find strategies to improve conversion, or identify specific activities by these affiliates that seem to generate lower-quality traffic. I'll add that merchants should also monitor their "high-EPC" affiliates to insure that they aren't engaged in prohibited activities like trademark-bidding that usually result in high EPCs, or worse, fake-coupon affiliates who capture credit for some transactions while actually driving away other customers entirely.

    Another strategy would be to implement a parallel affiliate solution, so that the main "public" program is available for "most affiliates" while the other is dedicated just to "high-traffic, low-EPC" affiliates. (The low-performing affiliates might even be offered a nominally-higher commission rate to provide an incentive for them to move their traffic off the public network.)

    The problem with "pushing out low-EPC affiliates" (apart from the bizarre idea of refusing profitable sales opportunities) is that it's hard to fairly set a figure for "low-EPC" fairly, when many affiliates are engaged in practices (such as "coupon and deals" sites, or optimized-PPC campaigns) which drive very focused traffic with high EPC. Worse, many merchants consider prohibited-trademark-bidders and other parasites to be "good quality affiliates," based solely on their high EPC (when they are simply poaching in violation of the merchant's own rules).

    I strongly believe that an aggressively-enforced policy ejecting "low-EPC affiliates" will generate a "negative return," as legitimate content affiliates (those most likely to bring new customers) are ejected in favor of affiliates who focus only on the "end phase" of the purchase process, often earning commissions for transactions by customers whom the merchant may perceive as "already acquired" prior to the affiliate's involvement.

    Of course, all of this highlights the fallacy of EPC figures, since most merchants can easily manipulate their EPC. Someone here on ABW has consistently suggested that networks provide "more complex" EPC data so that affiliates can distinguish "genuine high-EPC" merchants from those whose data is distorted by one or a few affiliates whose performance is "not typical."

    EPC data is only relevant as one factor of many. If I was considering two competing merchants, one with an EPC of $0.98 and the other with an EPC of $9.80, I would work hard to NOT rely solely on that EPC difference to make my choice. Of course, the disparity would lead me to explore the two sites to consider reasons why the higher-EPC merchant might have higher conversion rates or larger transaction sizes -- or why the higher-EPC merchant might be engaged in deceptive EPC manipulation.

    Certainly, a zero-EPC is an important factor to consider; very often, it is a signal of "something wrong." But in rare cases, it may merely indicate that no other affiliates have discovered this profit opportunity (In 2006-2007, I earned $1,000 monthly commissions from one SAS merchant whose EPC had remained at $0.00 for 10 months before I started promoting the merchant's products.)

    Likewise, I'm wary of firms with "huge EPC" figures (above $100, for example), as this usually is a sign of either manipulation by the merchant, or very focused and specialized activity by a single affiliate.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 7th, 2008 at 07:06 PM.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager HeatherB's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    Since I'm a relatively new affiliate manager here these discussions are really great for me. I have always found it odd that companies would chuck out inactive affiliates from their program -- after all it's not costing any money to keep them there and one never knows when they're going to start promoting.

    Mark -- you brought up an interesting point about merchants wanting to increase their EPCs. I hadn't considered that before as a reason to do it. I appreciate your explanation.

    I've read a couple other threads where merchants have threatened to cut off an affiliate if they are inactive. It seems to be a fairly steady trend. So if one wanted to activate those affiliates would a better approach be to offer incentives (such as an increased rev share or a bounty) to those inactive affiliates?
    Heather Boulding
    Affiliate Manager, AbeBooks.com
    hboulding{at} abebooks.com
    [t] 250.412.3247
    [URL=http://www.abebooks.com/docs/AffiliateProgram]AbeBooks Affiliate Program[/URL]

  21. #21
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherB
    So if one wanted to activate those affiliates would a better approach be to offer incentives (such as an increased rev share or a bounty) to those inactive affiliates?
    Yes.

    And another approach is to be patient and understand that not all affiliates have a spot for your products right then and there.

    Activate now, Activate now messages aren't going to help when I don't plan on getting to a particular merchant for a few months, then add in the time it takes for SEO to take effect...so patience is a virtue as well as understanding the different affiliate models.

    For example I have several sites planned for July, August, and September. I have the merchants planned, the theme, the keywords, the promotion strategies, etc. Come December, January, February, etc those merchants with patience will be very happy; just like the merchants who had patience last year around this time are And the merchants I joined in January, Feb, etc. are starting to get and so on.

    If someone doesn't want to work with me because it takes a few months to build then a few months to promote (depending on whether I have a site in that niche), then oh well. It's their loss, not mine.

    I'm good at what I do, but I'm not Speedy Gonzales.

  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager HeatherB's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice!

    I consider myself a patient person so I think I'll go with your advice as well. I like your point about the different affiliate models Going back to the offer question for just a moment -- perhaps different offers for different types of affiliates would work? Search affiliates need different things to content sites...

    I also try to answer all affiliate questions within 24 hours. If they want to promote our program the least I can do is answer their questions.

    Anything else to keep in mind?
    Heather Boulding
    Affiliate Manager, AbeBooks.com
    hboulding{at} abebooks.com
    [t] 250.412.3247
    [URL=http://www.abebooks.com/docs/AffiliateProgram]AbeBooks Affiliate Program[/URL]

  23. #23
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    JCWhitney (GAM) sent me the same type of threat a few weeks back. I haven't kept track of their deadline as there is not much I can do about it or care to do.

    It would be nice to have a list of merchants that send these threat emails so that affiliates would know their attitude before investing time. It would need to be a list that could be edited in case a more enlightened manager would take over.


  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    "It would be nice to have a list of merchants that send these threat emails so that affiliates would know their attitude before investing time. It would need to be a list that could be edited in case a more enlightened manager would take over."

    That's a really great idea

    Ya know, I really think I'm pretty patient with a lotta this type of stuff and try to give people the benefit of the doubt that maybe they're just new or somebody up higher's makin them do it or something..... might be they're just catchin me in not so hot a mood....but I've had it. Got this one and the Harry & David (that one kinda makes it sound as if they're only doin away with some of their coupon affiliates, so don't know if they're keepin the really biggies or the bad guy ones or what exactly they're doin)

    I got another offering me a higher commision today, too for July since I hadn't had any sales with them for a few months. Every couple of months I do get sales for this merchant and just had 2 last month. I've gotten same type emails after just having fairly nice sales and response was oh....we were going by last year's sales. duh??

    So....definitely agree. Am strugglin to keep up with all the work for the ones I have and have to still do now....so am really sick of investing my time with these types of merchants only to have em turn around and do this.

    Have taken the attitude now when I suspect maybe an impatient affilaite manager or one I don't know yet.....I ask em if they're a trigger happy affiliate manager cos I don't want to join those type of programs.

    So........Trust where are you????? You always do such a great job with these type of lists.

  25. #25
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherB
    So if one wanted to activate those affiliates would a better approach be to offer incentives (such as an increased rev share or a bounty) to those inactive affiliates?
    I'd say just keep the affiliate[s] in the loop
    If the affiliate joined your program he or she envisioned your links/product links in a site/in sites/in future sites.

    An increased "commission/bounty" is nice but if I'm not at the point of promoting your products the way I envisioned upon signing up with your program, an "increased rev share or a bounty" isn't going to be the catalyst that moves me.

    Webmasters have different styles, approaches, and agendas.
    As a webmaster I work with a merchant/AM but I am not a direct employee.
    I don't worry about pie chart/financial analyses.
    You may be under pressure to sell puce widgets, but if they don't fit my schema I will ignore your puce widgets [regardless of your pitches] and I will stick to yelllow widgets or whatever fits into my site[s].
    Last edited by Rhia7; July 7th, 2008 at 10:00 PM.
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