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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Merchants Who Refer Visitors To Other Sites
    I just read an interesting little article from Internet Retailer. It essentially has an expert recommending to merchants that if they do not have in stock what the visitor wants, it is good business for them to refer them to another merchant with that item in stock.

    Although you can certainly make an argument either way about what she is saying, the one major part of the equation that is not taken into account is the affiliate. What happens to OUR commission when they refer the visitor out to another site (probably through their own affiliate link)?

    Thoughts?

    Patagonia points shoppers to other web sites—one expert says that`s smart
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

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

  2. #2
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms
    What happens to OUR commission when they refer the visitor out to another site (probably through their own affiliate link)?

    Thoughts?
    What commission? Just like with adsense, or any banner or text link so many merchants now have, once the customer clicks through to another site, goodbye commission.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound
    What commission? Just like with adsense, or any banner or text link so many merchants now have, once the customer clicks through to another site, goodbye commission.
    That's exactly what I mean. It may be good business in one respect for the merchant, but it's bad business when you consider the number of affiliates that they will likely lose as a result.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

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

  4. #4
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms
    That's exactly what I mean. It may be good business in one respect for the merchant, but it's bad business when you consider the number of affiliates that they will likely lose as a result.
    They have to see it as a trade off - what is more important to them, trying not to lose return customers by giving them another option (which could result in them staying with the linked merchant and never coming back) or protecting their affiliate program and maybe losing a few sales now due to out-of-stock products, but protecting their future earnings through a successful affiliate program that affiliates will continue to promote.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  5. #5
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    If the product is out of stock, then you wouldn't be getting any commission anyway

  6. #6
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian
    If the product is out of stock, then you wouldn't be getting any commission anyway
    They might buy something similar instead of going to another site to look for the original product.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  7. #7
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    I have a different perspective on this. When I was working with MovieGoods during their launch back in 2000-2001, they had "a very interesting problem" which we could only solve by adding external links.

    MovieGoods sells movie posters and other memorabilia. It has never sold movies. But day after day, MovieGoods would receive complaints from customers who ordered a movie poster, but then later called to complain that they had received a movie poster instead of a movie.

    MovieGoods tried many strategies, but no matter how clear the site was -- even when MovieGoods interposed a special "confirmation step" asking customers to verify that they understood that they were ordering a poster, and not a movie -- several new people complained EVERY DAY that they'd received a movie poster but had expected a movie on DVD or VHS.

    Finally, MovieGoods added conspicuous DVD and VHS links to Amazon and Movies Unlimited (from every product page), and the "mistake" problem nearly vanished overnight.

    It was a hard decision; the cost of returns was simply unaffordable (not just in money, but also in staff time and customer satisfaction).

    As an affiliate, I hate leaks, especially those that represent a deliberate effort by a merchant to generate extra revenue that won't be shared with affiliates. But for MovieGoods, these "external links" were necessary to prevent customer errors. (These external links are still visible on MovieGoods product pages, but now appear far "below the fold.")

  8. #8
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    I see this from the perspective of a merchant who happens to build/run their own products.

    I can easily see a time where one of our (unannounced) products in a fairly narrow niche may be looked at by prospects that would be best served by other products that we don't build/sell.

    That is to say if a significant amount of people decide that our niche product isn't for them, but our affiliates either provide or are affiliates of other merchants that would fulfill the customers need that we would much rather provide a good option for our prospective customers than have them surf away somewhere else.

    In my mind (merchant prospective) it would just make sense to pass the referral along to our affiliates and give a lasting positive impression on our prospects than simply letting them disappear..

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager David S.'s Avatar
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    In my mind (merchant prospective) it would just make sense to pass the referral along to our affiliates and give a lasting positive impression on our prospects than simply letting them disappear
    I'll second that. I understand both points of view but we have a pretty small, specialized niche so it's just makes sense for us to link to a font if we don't have it and somebody types it in our search box while specifically looking for it instead of not supplying anything for them. In trying to become a hub of sorts I'd think our audience would appreciate that more than our affiliates would get upset by that. Of course we don't like this to be a huge part of our business because if we're earning more affiliate commissions than giving out then we know we need to make some product changes. So I think it ends up evening out in the long run to make it better for our affiliates either way and give us a good gauge at where we need to improve.

  10. #10
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    If a merchant is going to link offsite to products they don't carry it needs to be through a NON-affiliate link. That way at least an affiliate isn't getting overwritten if the same customer has been to the second site already through an affiliate link.

    MovieGoods needed a name change to fix their problem.

    A merchant with an affiliate program needs to decide if they are a merchant or an affiliate and NOT be both on the SAME site. If you are a merchant that is just playing around and wants to make money whether it is by selling your own products or someone else's, then don't have an affiliate program.

    Real merchants take searches for merchandise they don't have and use that as market research to see what they need to add to their site. Affiliates take searches for merchandise they don't have links to onsite as market research as to what they need to add.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Jason Rubacky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Real merchants take searches for merchandise they don't have and use that as market research to see what they need to add to their site. Affiliates take searches for merchandise they don't have links to onsite as market research as to what they need to add.
    Well put Deb!

    Oh's No's -I couldn't imagine sending visitors to another site... We do exactly what you stated... If for some reason FF doesn't have what the customer is looking for we recommend other similar items within the site...

    We then take that search data.. evaluate... and purchase what we feel will be a value to our site.
    Jason Rubacky - CEO/SEO Nerd at PassTheSEO
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  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager David S.'s Avatar
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    Our site is geared toward first time font buyers, the user would have to be very well informed to type the name of the font into our font search. Many fonts are very similar so there is not a need to have that many or link to many others, thus this constitutes for a very small number. Nevertheless, you are right that it should not be an affiliate link. I have brought it to their attention but unfortunately I'm not the owner.

    It's a pretty complicated situation and we are still pretty new to the affiliate world. Most of our affiliates are font enthusiasts themselves and understand our custom and innovative work and what they are sending their visitors to us for. In my opinion, in our industry for other font sites and related sites to affiliate with us it's more of a tip of the cap to us with some monetary incentive than the other way around. We're not recruiting super affiliates. The commissions are not huge and an affiliation with us is purely supplemental income, but again I understand about the concept of leakage and know it is not something to be taken lightly. I manage the affiliates for my company among other things and I am here to learn more than anything, so hopefully this will be a good learning experience for me and thanks for the input.

  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    In the past, we've had merchants whose sites had external links either under the title of "additional resources" "fun sites to check out" etc. as a means to fluff up the site with content. They were consulted to do this to improve their SERPs. And of course, there are other merchants that have been told to do it because of the reasons you just stated: providing customers with what you don't offer on your site. When you start an affiliate program for them and explain why they can't have those links up anymore, the merchants normally listen. Otherwise they are not even aware of the commission leak and really just have these links up for innocent and "usually" unnecessary reasons.
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  14. #14
    Outsourced Program Manager paladin's Avatar
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    Possible Solution
    This issue came up with a program I managed on a while ago. As some background, the merchant had some external links for non-converting customers. Obviously the affiliates were not happy about this.

    The solution that made everyone happy:
    We offered to replace the "leaky" links with the affiliate's link as long as the page was the same. As an example: If the merchant was sending non-converting traffic to Amazon, we asked all the affiliates for their Amazon affiliate link. We then replaced that based on the traffic/affiliate source. So if a site visitor came from Affiliate #9, then it was Affiliate #9's Amazon link that was displayed to the user.

    -Alon

  15. #15
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paladin
    This issue came up with a program I managed on a while ago. As some background, the merchant had some external links for non-converting customers. Obviously the affiliates were not happy about this.

    The solution that made everyone happy:
    We offered to replace the "leaky" links with the affiliate's link as long as the page was the same. As an example: If the merchant was sending non-converting traffic to Amazon, we asked all the affiliates for their Amazon affiliate link. We then replaced that based on the traffic/affiliate source. So if a site visitor came from Affiliate #9, then it was Affiliate #9's Amazon link that was displayed to the user.

    -Alon
    Good idea.

    Too bad all of the merchants don't do this. After all - we did send them the traffic.

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