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  1. #1
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    Why Commission Junction?
    After 9 years of successful business, 2,500+ products, and a few million dollars in annual fine jewelry sales, we have finally decided that we should start an affiliate campaign!

    I know that CJ is the biggest. It is also the most expensive from what I understand.

    I have 3 questions:

    (1) Can you guys tell me why CJ is better than Shareasale for example? Why I should join CJ?

    (2) I've dabbled in shareasale in the past with another smaller site that I owned, and the results were not that great. The quality of websites were not that fantastic. Am I going to get better quality with CJ?

    (3) With all those coupon sites out there, I'm concerned that someone who is already an acquired customer, at point of sale, will type in our store name in google followed by "coupon" and we are paying extra commissions for a sale that we had acquired ourselves and not the coupon site. Is this a silly concern or are there ways around this? Do we simply reject coupon sites as affiliates? Is there great value in the many coupon sites that are out there?

    Helpful tips wanted!

    Thank you!
    Afshin
    Apples of Gold Jewelry

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    (1) Can you guys tell me why CJ is better than Shareasale for example? Why I should join CJ?
    There are some (quite a few) who would debate the IF part of that statement before agreeing to discuss the WHY.... if you know what I mean.

    Both programs definitely have their advantages and disadvantages, but I wouldn't automatically assume that CJ is "better" just because it's more expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    ((2) I've dabbled in shareasale in the past with another smaller site that I owned, and the results were not that great. The quality of websites were not that fantastic. Am I going to get better quality with CJ?
    I would have to hazzard a guess that part of the reason why the results weren't that great was the use of the word "dabbled." Any affiliate program, whether it be through SAS or CJ, is going to require dedicated effort. I may be picking at semantics here, but that did stick out.

    CJ may - in the end - be better for your company, that's a decision you'll have to make. But I wouldn't automatically assume it's "better."

    (BTW - In case you're wondering, even though I have had significant experience with both CJ and SAS, we selected SAS for our affiliate platform... so I am slightly biased).

    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    (3) With all those coupon sites out there, I'm concerned that someone who is already an acquired customer, at point of sale, will type in our store name in google followed by "coupon" and we are paying extra commissions for a sale that we had acquired ourselves and not the coupon site. Is this a silly concern or are there ways around this? Do we simply reject coupon sites as affiliates? Is there great value in the many coupon sites that are out there?
    This is an interesting topic, and one that has been discussed at length within the boards (give the board a search and you'll probably find a few threads on this.

    Is there great value in coupon sites.... yes.

    Is there a danger of someone in the process of purchasing from you going looking for a coupon... yes.

    The question you have to ask yourself is...

    Is the lifetime value of the new customers you acquire through these coupon sites worth the occassion commission paid (and discount offered) to the people who do decide to search for a coupon?

    And...

    If someone is in the process of buying from you, then decide to go looking for a coupon code, would you rather they find one for your company, or one from your competitor? Is the commission paid worth it to make sure that the in-progress customer comes back to you and completes the sale rather than browsing around at other jewelry sites when they were so close to a completed sale?

    Finally, if you are that concerned about the potential cannibalization of your sales, you should make very, very sure that you review the Parasiteware part of this forum to make sure that you don't allow these types of browser add-ons and forced clicks into your program.

    I'm not sure if that helps, but there you have it.

    Paul

  3. #3
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    Afshin,
    -Most serious affiliates are signed up with all the networks.
    -Shareasale don't allow parasites (affiliates with BHOs, or other cookie stealing methods) in their network so you should feel safer. These parasites are quite often high quality websites, so look behind the first look. CJ promotes these parasites so it's up to you to accept them or not in your program and it's not an easy task.
    -You have coupon sites in all networks. Do you offer coupons from time to time?
    -and most important as stated by Paul "Any affiliate program, whether it be through SAS or CJ, is going to require dedicated effort." You're in a crowded vertical.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Some pretty solid affiliates will look first to SAS before other networks because it takes a firmer stance against parasites that steal commissions.

    As stated above you might see better sales through CJ or Linkshare but how much will you be paying to cookie stuffing downloaders that offer little to no incremental sales?

    I would assume, though, that if you have a good product line, present it in a way that good affiliates can easily identify under promoted niches within that product line, offer reasonable commissions and decent support, you will find a huge universe of affiliates willing to spend the time to promote your site.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    From an affiliate's standpoint, I've just been "forced" to start doing more with CJ when I would far and away rather work with SAS or Avantlink -- the two best networks for tools and affiliate resources, in my opinion.

    One of my best producing merchants shut down their SAS program and I had to go to their CJ program or lose them. Couldn't afford to lose them, so I joined them in CJ.

    I've found the tools for making direct links in CJ are ridiculously difficult compared to either SAS or Avantlink.

    All that isn't directly related to your questions as a merchant, but I thought you might appreciate hearing from a "low range" of success affiliate about how I view the various networks and a little bit about why.

    And, yes, if I understood more about the whole parasite issue, I would probably -- from what more experienced folks here tell me -- truly appreciate the non-parasite stances of SAS and Avantlink and some of the other networks in preference to CJ.
    Generate more fake news.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry

    (3) With all those coupon sites out there, I'm concerned that someone who is already an acquired customer, at point of sale, will type in our store name in google followed by "coupon" and we are paying extra commissions for a sale that we had acquired ourselves and not the coupon site. Is this a silly concern or are there ways around this? Do we simply reject coupon sites as affiliates? Is there great value in the many coupon sites that are out there?
    Whether you keep or reject coupon sites is up to you but remember that some affiliates have multiple sites, they may have one or two coupon sites and other non-coupon sites.

    If you reject the affiliate you will be rejecting them of promoting you on their non-coupon sites.

    If you don't provide any coupons or deals (sales, discounts) then coupon site may not add you to their site , but there are exceptions, so you can specify it in your Terms and Conditions that you don't want affiliates to add your site to a coupon site.

  7. #7
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    (1) Can you guys tell me why CJ is better than Shareasale for example? Why I should join CJ?
    Just curious as to why the Google Affiliate Network is not in your consideration.

    As for my 2 cents on the two that you mentioned. From an affiliate perspective SAS is a pleasure to work with and CJ is a PITA. I have to work with them all though.


  8. #8
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    Another thing to consider is there are a large number of affiliates that won't work with CJ at all, no matter if the merchant they need is only there or not. You are in a very competitive field, affiliates have lots of choices across the networks, so if they don't work with CJ they will not have a reason to go there just to promote your program. I have a strong program at CJ that there are affiliates that still won't join because of the network.

    It sounds like you really would benefit from at least a consultation with an OPM to help you make the right decision and to get your program off to a strong start. As mentioned, dabbling won't earn you affiliates. Affiliates are investing their time which equals money into creating pages and sites to promote merchants, and they don't want to waste that time on a merchant that isn't going to stick around and that is just dabbling with a program. One thing merchants don't seem to understand is that you don't just join a network and the affiliates flock to you just because you are there. You need to show affiliates that your site is worth their time and energy to promote. You need to earn their trust and show them you aren't going to network hop or close down because you aren't getting what you expect as quickly as you expect it.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Brian doesn't need my help to promote SAS. But I have a suggestion for you to help choose a network.

    Assume down the road you have a problem and need help. To solve that problem you really need a senior person within the company to help.

    Send an email to the president of CJ and send one to the president of SAS and see who responds.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  10. #10
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    BTW, one thing I say to potential clients that are considering CJ vs Shareasale is that they should take the money they would spend on CJ to hire a consultant or long term OPM and open on Shareasale instead. The ROI will be better

    And no I am not pimping myself or my services, I have a full client list at the moment. There are several other excellent OPMs available here at ABW that you can talk with that will be able to assist you should you decide to go that route.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  11. #11
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Afshin,

    Open on SAS and hire an OPM with over 5,000+ affiliate relationships, fool proof formula for success if your other merchant components are in place ...

    We are filling up rather quickly with merchants, so we are not pimping our services either but we do offer a free site evaluation and consultation if you want to contact us.

    To your success,
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
    www.andyrodriguez.com | E: abw@andyrodriguez.com | P: (888) 931-ANDY (2639) | Skype: affiliatedoctor | AIM & MSN: AffiliateDoctor | Subscribe To Our ABW Forum Posts | Follow me on Twitter | Join Our Affiliate Programs

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Afshin, It is very possible to do good business on the Shareasale or AvantLink networks if you have a good management effort combined with quality product and effective site.

    It's really more about developing and executing a good strategy than it is about where you do it. Finding an OPM who has the affiliate relationships and passion for your niche is the key as most programs that fail do so because they are either ill conceived or the management is not effective. Network integrity is hugely important for attracting top affiliates - so this should be a big part of your evaluation of the network you choose.

    I'd love to chat with you on this.

    Wade Tonkin | GTO Management | wade /at/ gtomanagement.com
    Last edited by AffiliateWarrior; August 20th, 2008 at 12:30 PM. Reason: left out a thought

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    Helpful tips wanted!

    Thank you!
    Afshin
    Apples of Gold Jewelry
    Okay, so, Afshin -- is your head starting to throb and spin in circles yet?
    Generate more fake news.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Another thing to consider is there are a large number of affiliates that won't work with CJ at all, no matter if the merchant they need is only there or not. You are in a very competitive field, affiliates have lots of choices across the networks, so if they don't work with CJ they will not have a reason to go there just to promote your program. I have a strong program at CJ that there are affiliates that still won't join because of the network.
    There's also the flip side that many large affiliates don't step foot in SAS. It's not a parasite vs non-parasite thing at that point, but I've heard more than my fair share of "what's ShareASale?". There can definitely be a different affiliate audience that each network attracts.

    I promote about 10 merchants in CJ, and just 1 in ShareASale at the moment. CJ in my opinion is more user friendly, and it attracts larger name advertisers. Having the big name advertisers attracts more affiliates from what I've seen. Also, I'm more of a fan of reporting in CJ than SAS. From my brief interaction with a merchant and his dealings with SAS support, CJ's support is more knowledgeable and less likely to write a response implying that the affiliate is an idiot and that nothing else could be the cause of a problem. That's just my brief experience with SAS, though.

    Having an OPM run your program, regardless of network, is always a good move. If SAS didn't work out for you the first time, why not give it a go with CJ? If the budget is there, I'd lean towards CJ + OPM (not CJ's own management) more than SAS + OPM.

  15. #15
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    Some Follow Up Questions
    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm surprised at the overwhelming number people who seem to have "voted" for SAS instead of CJ.

    Some follow up questions:

    (1) We want high quality affiliates -- 20 great ones would be better than 2000 low-end sites from what I understand. How do the quality of affiliates compare from Shareasale to CJ? We don't want our product over-saturated all over the place on small websites that product very little results. We've worked hard on our site for 9 years and want quality sites.

    (2) I would love to have an OPM ... here's my dilemna: our product prices are very competitively priced. That's been a big part of our success. We don't have 50% margins that we can give to affiliates. We have room for about 15% overall -- including what we pay the affiliate, the affiliate network, etc. -- our average ticket is $500 - $700, with items selling in the few thousand dollar range -- so the $ amount is higher on a lower percentage commission. With this being said ... do we have room to pay an OPM and still offer good rates to affiliates?

  16. #16
    Moderator Nabz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm surprised at the overwhelming number people who seem to have "voted" for SAS instead of CJ.

    Some follow up questions:

    (1) We want high quality affiliates -- 20 great ones would be better than 2000 low-end sites from what I understand. How do the quality of affiliates compare from Shareasale to CJ? We don't want our product over-saturated all over the place on small websites that product very little results. We've worked hard on our site for 9 years and want quality sites.

    (2) I would love to have an OPM ... here's my dilemna: our product prices are very competitively priced. That's been a big part of our success. We don't have 50% margins that we can give to affiliates. We have room for about 15% overall -- including what we pay the affiliate, the affiliate network, etc. -- our average ticket is $500 - $700, with items selling in the few thousand dollar range -- so the $ amount is higher on a lower percentage commission. With this being said ... do we have room to pay an OPM and still offer good rates to affiliates?
    If you just want high quality affiliates, then join CJ and limit affiliate applications to Performers (Affiliates that make $10K + commissions per month).

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Are Performers high quality or simply high volume?
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
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  18. #18
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    "Performers" doen't mean anything anymore. Many affiliates that make $10K + commissions per month are NOT performers, they are PPC players or they can be getting their traffic for unrelated keywords. Affiliates using PPC are hard to control and you'll need to monitor your sales closely to avoid TM bidding. To differentiate quality affiliates on their earning is not smart. A small affiliate with a niche website can bring you targeted traffic for high end products. Small websites don't mean low quality.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by applesofgoldjewelry
    We've worked hard on our site for 9 years and want quality sites.
    A lot of affiliates ( whether they are performers or not ) also have worked very hard on their sites, some of them just being glued to their computer all day forgetting to eat food or sleep.

  20. #20
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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  21. #21
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    "Performers" doen't mean anything anymore. Many affiliates that make $10K + commissions per month are NOT performers, they are PPC players or they can be getting their traffic for unrelated keywords."

    What does it matter if it's PPC or organic? It's traffic and $10k is $10k. I think it's pretty rare that an affiliate will flat out not work in a network, more vocal minority type stuff, I've even seen people post that, but it's wasn't exactly true sometimes. I think if an affiliate feels they can make money with a merchant, they'll try them out regardless of where they're at. I'm sure there are some but it's an extremely small percentage.

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    You can't do well just limiting your program to "CJ Performers" (a designation which affiliates have to apply for once reaching $10k earning/mo). You should never exclude affiliates because of how much they make in the network. I'm a CJ Performer, but I have never made a dime in Linkshare, and just started with a ShareASale advertiser a few months back - A program declining me in LinkShare for not earning enough there (just an example to illustrate my situation - LS advertisers can't actually see this) would not be a wise choice, as I'm experienced in affiliate marketing and can drive sales.

    Zeus - what exactly do you mean by "or they can be getting their traffic for unrelated keywords"? That is pretty much the same thing as buying other form of media such as banners, or showing on the Google content network - If I can make legit sales for an advertiser by placing ads on unrelated sites or keywords, why not? Those are definitely incremental sales that would not typically be covered by an advertiser's own search marketing department.

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    IMHO total commissions earned is not really a good way to judge an affiliate's success.

    True, the merchant probably doesn't care if the affiliate is making money or not --- but they should. If an affiliate dives headfirst into the PPC market and drives a ton of business but goes broke because their traffic is pricier than their commissions then it won't take long for the campaigns to be taken down.

    Not sure how you judge the strength of an affiliate.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
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  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by visitourmall
    IMHO total commissions earned is not really a good way to judge an affiliate's success.

    True, the merchant probably doesn't care if the affiliate is making money or not --- but they should. If an affiliate dives headfirst into the PPC market and drives a ton of business but goes broke because their traffic is pricier than their commissions then it won't take long for the campaigns to be taken down.

    Not sure how you judge the strength of an affiliate.
    I would say that total commissions earned per month is a good way to judge an affiliate's success. Sure, I have campaigns that I may lose money on in the short term, or those that I may shut down, but if I'm able to find niches or products where I can successfully earn thousands of dollars of commission per month, I'll do it.

    Sure, you have no idea of an affiliate's profit margin, but merchants should be happy having an affiliate making lots of sales, but only having a slim margin - The merchant doesn't make less of a margin when the affiliate does.

  25. #25
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    I'm not in business to please a merchant at my expense.
    I'm sure a merchant don't care how much a sale is costing the affiliate.
    The term "Performer" was coined before some affiliates had to pay for their traffic so at that time the affiliate earning was the reference.
    If some want to call "Performer" an affiliate spending 11K to make 10k, I don't care.

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