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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Just joined SaS as a Merchant
    Hello Everyone,

    I am a new SaS merchant, but I am not here to post anything trying to advertise my merchant account, as I know that it is frowned upon, I am just simply looking for advice.

    After a week or so, I am horribly unimpressed with the quality of affiliate sites that will be able to provide an actual value to my business. I am the co-owner of an up and coming high end fashion brand, think along the lines of Ralph Lauren, and it seems as though all of the affiliates within the SaS network are either coupon, discount, or linkdump sites. There is obviously nothing wrong with that, but I am just afraid that these affiliates will not be of any value to me.

    Can anyone here, affiliates or merchants, give me any advice about the diversity of the SaS network or to growing my Affiliate program.

    I have my terms set to very competitive rates, as far as I can tell. 20% of all sales and a $75 bonus for $1,000 in gross sales generated in a month. Do they need improvement?

  2. #2
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    I have no idea what your program is so don't take this personally- It works both ways -there are times when I am horribly unimpressed with the quality of a merchant.

    If you are not getting the type of affiliate you want you need to examine how you are recruiting. Are you recruiting? Both SAS and ABW have ways you can bring attention to your program. SAS has featured merchant ads, ask them about it. ABW will allow you to place a paid announcement in http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=4

    ABW has a lot of quality affiliates with good sites. You have to seek out quality affiliates, don't just wait for us to happen upon you. If you are a merchant and have never managed an affiliate program consider retaining the services of an OPM to at least get you started.

    Also evaluate your program and your site from the perspective of an affiliate.

    BTW, I am not a coupon, discount or linkdump site. I think I have quality sites. In addition there are good coupon sites who do add value so don't discredit them all.

    Good luck with your new program & welcome to ABW.
    Melanie
    President - Affiliate Advocacy 2008 ShareaSale Performance Industry Advocate Award, 2009 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award - Affiliate Advocate
    Affiliate Advocacy
    NYAffiliateVoice Seery Writing

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the reply Mellie.

    I planned on posting a paid program announcement with ABW this afternoon, but my concern is that there was a complete lack of quality affiliates in SaS all together, but after doing some more research on these forums, it seems as though I just need to give some time to let my affiliate program build up.

    The reason I was concerned about "quality affiliates" is because while SaS proclaims that you will receive a lot of attention as being listed in the Merchants added in the last 20 days, most of the affiliates that I am having apply have nothing to do with my industry, or customer base for example, I am having marketing and other affiliate program websites apply, and I was underestimating (as far as I can read) the value to be taken from the coupon sites.

  4. #4
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    From what I hear, sometimes those with the most horrible looking sites can convert quite nicely. I'm not saying that is the best for your brand though. It does look like you are trying to establish a semi-luxury brand so it might be best for you to keep your program off auto-approve in order to validate the quality of the affiliate sites a bit more.

    It is a fine balance between wanting to get the product out there and in people's hands vs having it advertised by sites that look professionally designed only. Kind of like Michael Kobold does with his watches. He holds a strict control on how they are advertised and also employs annual quantity limits to ensure marketplace value. You just have to choose which way you want to go.

    -sfcom


  5. #5
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Mellie's advice in post #2 is excellent and I would say the same if she hadn't already. :-)

    Absolutely do not auto approve affiliates if you are concerned about branding.

    For that matter, my site is rejected for approval by many "brand" conscience merchants and I could sell their wares probably better than a high-end corporate-looking site. I just giggle when I'm rejected and move on to the next merchant. If I've got a place for those merchants and want the products for a specific promotion, I'll contact them and explain that while my site looks "funny" I can and will deliver and ask for another evaluation.

    Many times, if a merchant or manager just looks at the home page of a prospective affiliate, the potential for a good partnership isn't apparent. evaluating affiliate partners takes time and knowledge. A good program manager is essential if your program can justify the expense (immediate or long term).

    Affiliates won't just "find" you, no matter what network you're in. You need to actively recruit top affiliates and find them yourself. Much the same as affiliates build sites and must work hard and diligently to get traffic to their pages. Try searching for keywords that are specific to your products and then contacting the top sites showing in search results for those searches.

    Placing an ad on ABW will benefit you more than any other effort in recruiting top ethical affiliates.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    First, don't judge the new affiliates by the site listed in their profile. Many have numerous sites and not all are listed in SAS.

    Without knowing what your program is it's difficult to give advice on what to fix. There are some big affiliates on SAS so if you're not attracting them, look at your site/program/terms etc. first. It may be too early to tell if you're new. Also, keep in mind we're fast approaching the holiday selling season and most affiliates have already been working on their holiday promos.

    Lastly, and I say this to all prospective clients, affiliates aren't just sitting around waiting for you to come along. They are busy working on projects they planned before you showed up.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
    www.gocmc.com info(AT)gocmc.com | 330-259-1223

    Join us! - MiNeeds.com | DiscountCandleShop/CheeseSupply | Feng Shui Plaza

  7. #7
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Kiel, nice looking site and interesting products. (I searched and found you so I peeked at your site ) It seems like a very clean site too which is important to good affiliates (by that I mean no leaks). I have at least one site that you will fit nicely on immediately and with the holiday traffic should convert nicely.

    You went live on the 7th so while I know it's hard give it time. I think you'll be very happy with choosing SAS. You might want to add some ppc guidelines so there are no issues later on. Again might be a good idea to consult with an OPM's (someone who manages affiliate programs) that visit ABW to make sure you your program gets off to a good start. Greg is an example of OPM or Affiliate manager and there are several others who post here. I'm not familiar with the fees but at least a consult to get you started right would be worth it.

    If you accept NY affiliates, which I am assuming you do, I can add you to my list of programs on my blog. All you have to do is let me know. Of course if you have questions on the NY issue ask me.

    Your program should do well. I'll be applying on Wed when I work on the site I would place you on.
    Melanie
    President - Affiliate Advocacy 2008 ShareaSale Performance Industry Advocate Award, 2009 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award - Affiliate Advocate
    Affiliate Advocacy
    NYAffiliateVoice Seery Writing

  8. #8
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    Everyone, again thank you for the advice and support.

    I am going to be posting a new program announcement today on ABW, and look forward to being a part of these forums while I am still learning the ropes of affiliate marketing.

    Mellie, I'll keep my eyes peeled for your affiliate application.

    Thanks again

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador
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    I just joined as well. You have a nice selection of products

  10. #10
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KielJamesPatrick.com
    After a week or so, I am horribly unimpressed with the quality of affiliate sites
    Hi Kiel, there are lots of great 'quality affiliates' promoting merchants in SAS. There are also many that you will see one site but they may have other sites where they will promote your specific products on a site you do not see at first. Give it time, reach out to all affiliates coupons, data feed sites and all who join, with newsletters showcasing your offers and promotions.

    Also an ABW announcement of your program will indeed be a very valuable first step. Just keep it positive and learn even from valuable feedback/critique you will receive.

    Welcome to ABW


  11. #11
    Super Cool Affiliate Manager IanBookMan's Avatar
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    Hi KJP,

    It takes a lot of time not only for the word of your product to reach customers, but the word of your program to reach affiliates.

    Speaking from experience, it takes years to build up a good base of affiliates who promote your products to start making daily sales, but it's not a bad thing.

    And to use a common cathcphrase, "don't judge a book (or affiliate site) by it's cover"

  12. #12
    Member bluewaves1's Avatar
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    Quality Sites
    I'm not sure I am the typical affiliate, but I do know that I am shopping for a good product line to promote. My development plans for promoting new affiliate programs involve creating a unique website for that line of products. So while you are busy judging affiliates by what they have currently you may not realize the power of what they can develop.

    I'm not sure that helps in anyway, but I know in my case, I'd be designing something unique along with a keyword rich domain.

    Anyway...good luck with your offering. Shareasale is my favorite affiliate program management system.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    My model is even more focused than bluewaves1 - I will often build a site dedicated to a merchant, not just a market.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    I am a coupon site but I also have several niche sites one including high end fashion. However many times I get turned down because all the merchant focuses on is the coupon site. Many of those applying that appear to be just a coupon site could have a really good site that is a match. And as a coupon site we also have many merchants that don't offer coupons and we don't promote them on our coupon site as a coupon or discount merchant and they do quite well. Not all coupon sites are bad for brands.

  15. #15
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    I'm an new merchant and I can totally relate to this post! I've been live for (don't laugh) 1 day, (ok, I laughed too), but I was sort of thinking, ew, when I saw most of the affiliates who had joined.

    I decided to turn auto-approve off, because I am concerned about branding as well at this point. Don't know if that was a good move or not, but I decided to do it. Luckily, I did have a few good applicants, like a nicely put together shopping site, and some relevants blogs, etc. so i'm not totally discouraged.

    I do know that the primary site entered may not be the affiliates only site, but as a merchant, how can you tell? I did notice that the email I get has a field for "affiliate provided description".. would it be too much to ask that the affiliate add a sentence or two about a site they may have that is relevant to the program? Just a suggestion that may help out.

    A

  16. #16
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    Good Post...Same Boat
    This is a very good post as I am in the same boat. i signed up wth SAS in Oct as I have a very specific niche (Dancehall Reggae) and 90% of all my sign ups are coupon site FFA links etc. I often find after a week or so many of them have not even put up a simple text link!

    I think I should just delete them from the program because they are not doing me any good. Then the other side of me says well it can help with link building as the more that are linked the better.

    Im going to change a bit the policy in janurary but would like to know can it really hurt your business who promotes you?

  17. #17
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natty
    Im going to change a bit the policy in janurary but would like to know can it really hurt your business who promotes you?
    Absolutely, I'm sure that there are sites that you wouldn't want your brand associated with, pr0n, gambling and banner farms come to mind as prime examples. These are reasons why even merchants that auto approve should at least visit an applicants site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Natty
    I think I should just delete them from the program because they are not doing me any good. Then the other side of me says well it can help with link building as the more that are linked the better.
    Timing is everything and unfortunately you picked the busiest time of the year for most affiliates. Don't be discouraged because you aren't seeing any activity yet, many of us won't even consider new merchant creatives until after the first of the year.

    Also, there are several threads on whether to remove inactive affiliates yet. I actually am very reluctant to even use the term "inactive" because you just haven't allowed enough time for affiliates to start promoting your site. But even if they never put a banner or text link up, there is really no harm in keeping them in your program. It's possible that one of them may become active in six months and become your top performer.

    Good luck with your new program.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  18. #18
    Full Member TerriFalcone's Avatar
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    Hi Guys-

    An affiliate network does not provide you with anyway to reach only those potential affiliate who would be a good match for your product line. Finding them requires hard work. Look for affiliates who may already be working with your competitors. Look for sites that have content which will dovetail nicely into the products you are selling. If you feel coupon sites cheapen your image and detract from your brand name then you can adjust your TOS to exclude them but remember some of the largest and prestigious brands use coupon sites to draw customers. Do not be suprised in only one in 100 sites that sign up with you actually do anything to drive traffic or sales.

  19. #19
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Great point Terri, reminds me of an old joke. The short version; 2 buzzards are sitting in a tree, one says to the other, "wait hell, I'm going to kill me something". The moral of the story, you can wait for affiliates to sign up and take what you get or you can actively recruit those that YOU think would be the best fit for your program.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  20. #20
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natty
    coupon site FFA links etc. I often find after a week or so many of them have not even put up a simple text link!
    That might be me. I have a coupon site and sign up hoping for coupons. I won't put anything up until a coupon comes to me. I don't like listing a bunch of merchants that really don't want to use coupons.

    Now for my other sites it's different, but if you don't want to mess with coupons then be up front about it and save us both some time.


  21. #21
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Powell
    Now for my other sites it's different, but if you don't want to mess with coupons then be up front about it and save us both some time.
    I agree.
    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.

  22. #22
    Moderator Nabz's Avatar
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    I have more than 110 websites and I have listed only 1 site at SAS as main site. As there are no reporting statistics available for individual sites, then what's the point of adding more sites to SAS ?


    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Rice
    First, don't judge the new affiliates by the site listed in their profile. Many have numerous sites and not all are listed in SAS.

    Without knowing what your program is it's difficult to give advice on what to fix. There are some big affiliates on SAS so if you're not attracting them, look at your site/program/terms etc. first. It may be too early to tell if you're new. Also, keep in mind we're fast approaching the holiday selling season and most affiliates have already been working on their holiday promos.

    Lastly, and I say this to all prospective clients, affiliates aren't just sitting around waiting for you to come along. They are busy working on projects they planned before you showed up.

  23. #23
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    Again though, is it a big deal for an affiliate to put a one-liner into the description field saying that they will be building a dedicated site? Or that they have a large email list that is relevant to the site?

    A single sentence like that and I would approve on the spot.

  24. #24
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorigen
    Again though, is it a big deal for an affiliate to put a one-liner into the description field saying that they will be building a dedicated site?
    When I sign up my interest is to start getting to know you. There are a lot of problematic merchants out there with managers that are just learning. I'm not going to make commitments like that until I know more. We have had merchants that don't even track.

    Can you imagine how much fun it is to build a dedicated site only to see a program move to another network or allow parasites in.


  25. #25
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    I wasn't saying you *should* build a dedicated site, I was just saying that since many of the affiliates above mentioned that they often do that, or have many sites, email lists etc., that mentioning that in the description field of the application would only take a few seconds and really be helpful to the merchants in approving appropriate affiliates.

    I actually had an affiliate last night who wrote a sentence in that field and it was really helpful. In terms of getting to know one another, it really helped. Since I knew her intentions, I emailed back right away and offered her some additional info on my products that was relevant, and let her know that I would personally be in touch.

    Getting back to the new merchant thing, you're right, there are a lot of new people out there like myself and the OP, but without some sort of communication, how are we supposed to know if you're a shady site owner or not? 90% of the sites I've gotten look totally shady. I'm just asking for a sentence or two to say you're legit and have sites or lists relevant to my product.

    I've decided to email the people who apply to my program to see what their marketing intentions are. If they don't have time to respond or are offended, then fine. It's my money and I want to make sure people are legitimate and a good match for my company. I just don't want to be approving all of these shady sites I keep getting and then get bitten in the butt later because of it.

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