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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Consider it a job interview
    Merchants on ABW tend to get a lot of flack about accepting affiliates. Among affiliates, the attitude seems to be accept all sites because you never know what site will produce for you, even if it doesn't look or perform all that great when you see it.
    I've been thinking about this:
    In the real world, if you are going to a job interview, wouldn't you do your best to make sure that your first impression is a positive one? You've dressed up, brushed your hair, polished your shoes, maybe even taken the extra step to read up on your (hopefully) future employer and what their business is all about.
    So why is it wrong for me to expect the same from an affiliate APPLICANT?
    If I can't get a feel from the affiliate himself, then his/her site represents them. Spell check, links working, sites loading...a clean site. I am not expecting a lot, but to ask for the basics to be in check before submitting your application (coming to the interview) is not too much to ask; especially in these times when we as an industry need to be representing ourselves like the true professionals we all are.

    thank you.
    I am here all week.
    Tip your waitress and stay away from the veal.
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  2. #2
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Do you need a cup of coffee?

    A few years back when I was just starting one of the crappiest sites I had was my best sales producer.

    New people to affiliate marketing will probable have crappy sites at first while they're learning. As they learn their sites will get better.

    Without merchants being willing to give them a chance they will never have a site to get better at affiliate marketing.

    Who knows - they may turn out to be your highest producer in time.

    Have you ever seen the very first site that Ebay put out?

    I bet your first site wasn't all that great either.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  3. #3
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    How can you compare accepting affiliates to appointing a job seeker?

    Affiliates are not your employees, and should NEVER be compared in any way to your employees, ever.

  4. #4
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    I will agree with you if the networks were also true professionals. It's not true. With LinkShare, you can have only one Website listed so you can't give the merchant your best look. I've well over 100 sites, all niche sites. The site listed by LinkShare is one I built early 1994, still alive but it represents just one side of my business and it doesn't fit your own niche as a merchant. I can brush my shoes and clean my teeth, I'm not sure you'll accept me. Should I send an email to the AM each time, I'll like to work with a new merchant. Without direct contact, LinkShare is a nightmare to reach somebody. Does it mean I'm a bad affiliate or unable to drive traffic to your site?

  5. #5
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Dyan, I think we all know what you're saying, but in the affiliate world the scenario you describe is unrealistic. The culture of AM is what it is and it's unlikely to change. There will always be noobs and people who are somewhat socially inept and folks from different cultures whose standards of behavior are different from one's own.

    If anyone looked at my main web site they'd think I was a rank amateur and probably wonder how I manage to generate any income from it at all. I don't expect affiliate managers to be expert at my business model or understand how it works. So they either take a chance on me or they don't. But I don't waste my time on merchants who don't fit my niche or run a program that meets my criteria, so when I apply to a program I'm hopeful I'll be accepted into it. When I'm rejected I tend to wonder what the hell is up with the merchant or AM who can't see the potential of working with me. But I do realize that they have their own criteria and a limited amount of time to peruse the web sites of applicants.

    And, I tend to look favorably on merchants who screen affiliates rather than letting any old body into their program. There are some nasty folks out there using unsavory methods to generate sales and I'd rather not have to compete against cheaters and thieves.

    Bottom line, to quote National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, "It's Christmas and we're all in misery." I'm pretty sure everyone will feel better after the holidays. I'm worn to a frazzle and I'm not the only one.

  6. #6
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    You have a point there, Dyan, and it's worth being embedded in your disapproval e-mail (clarifying that declined applications are not final; that you encourage dialogue with affiliates; that you are there to help them succeed, and would love to learn more about the methods they will use to promote your program).

    Also, BurgerBoy's example is worth remembering. Sometimes the "crappiest sites" become amazing producers (when they fit the niches and the right traffic is attracted).

    Geno

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Julian,
    I know that affiliates don't consider themselves my employees, but I have never really understood that. I consider my affiliates my partners in marketing my brands.
    They provide a service, and I pay for that service. We work together.
    I would expect the same requirements for a partner.
    I think it's very hard to get a true discussion regarding affiliate application acceptance standards because the affiliates who take the time to read and be involved in ABW are the professionals.
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  8. #8
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    I've seen a bunch of merchant's sites that look like crap too.

    And then they ask why we can't convert for them.

    It's not us that can't send good traffic.

    It's the merchant's site that can't convert our traffic to a sale.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Let me clarify...
    I am not necessarily looking for professional quality sites. I understand that there is a learning curve (a very steep one) when it comes to developing an affilate site.
    Having said that. there are small things, like spell check, making sure your links work (read Haiko's post about missing sales on Cybermonday because links weren't working), at the very least making sure your site is up and running before you take the time to submit your application. That is not too much to ask!
    Even a crappy looking site should function.

    I am not looking to stir up affiliates, but I do think that if we are going to discuss the future of affiliate marketing, representing ourselves, especially on ABW, is a very important first step.
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  10. #10
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    As affiliates, we don't have the luxury of spending $$$$$ on advertising and brand recognition. We build simple pages that are designed to send traffic to a merchant site.

    Simple pages are often far more successful than complex pages that look good.

    Although I do agree with a site should look professional, and links should work etc.

  11. #11
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    guinness618 I'm not sure that anyone is suggesting that ALL sites be accepted. Obviously you should be selective about who you allow in your program. Misspellings, bad links etc. are valid criteria for rejecting a site, take a few moments and shoot an e-mail to the affiliate to give them specifics as to why they were rejected.

    Butt ugly sites are a whole different matter. There are some really ugly sites out there that really produce. I remember a few months ago a new user put a home improvement site in the review section. It was the ugliest site that I've ever seen and it was producing about 20K in revenue per month. Go figure.

    I think what a lot of us object to are the criteria some merchants use. Alexa ranking, PR and EPC are pretty useless when evaluating a new site. And blanket rejections with a form letter really don't help the affiliate improve their site. I understand that helping affiliates improve their sites isn't really your job, but it could have benefits to your program in the long run.

    Now about comparing us to employeess ...

    -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

  12. #12
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    "like spell check"

    Maybe you would be surprised at how many merchants have spelling mistakes in the affiliate links that we are supposed to add to our sites.

    It amazes me that so many merchants have so many mistakes on their sites as well

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    I am all for a simple working site!
    It shows initiative!

    And yes Burger Boy, I do need a HUGE FREAKIN' CUP of COFFEE!!!!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    I am all about ugly working sites!!!!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  15. #15
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    I know that affiliates don't consider themselves my employees, but I have never really understood that. I consider my affiliates my partners in marketing my brands.
    There's the important word - partners. Employees have to be managed. The majority of affiliates don't need a manager. I wrote about it in the FeedFront back in August [link to the article].

    Geno

  16. #16
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    Julian,
    I know that affiliates don't consider themselves my employees, but I have never really understood that. I consider my affiliates my partners in marketing my brands.
    They provide a service, and I pay for that service. We work together.
    I would expect the same requirements for a partner.
    I think it's very hard to get a true discussion regarding affiliate application acceptance standards because the affiliates who take the time to read and be involved in ABW are the professionals.
    When you call a plumber to your house to un-stop your toilet - do you think that he works for you?

    No. He works for the plumbing company - not you.

    He is just providing you with a service - but - he does not work for you and is not your employee.

    When you eat in a restaurant - is the waitress that takes your order and brings your food to you your employee?

    No. They work for the restaurant and are just providing you with a service.

    Affiliates are independent contracters that provide you a service by sending you customers - not your employees.

    Have you heard of brokerage firms. They send sales to your company for a commission on those sales. Their employees do not work for your company though. They work for the brokeage firm - not you.

    Think of your affiliates the same way. They do not work for you.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    OK Rematt,
    I am taking the bait...
    but ONLY because I need to explain to the big bosses why affiliates AREN'T employees.
    If affiliates provide a service, and we as a merchant pay for that service, how do you not work for the merchant?
    AGAIN! I don't feel this way.
    I would LOVE a constructive discussion about this topic.
    No name calling. NO indignation.
    SO...
    The question is...
    HOW DO I EXPLAIN THAT AFFILIATES ARE PARTNERS, AND NOT EMPLOYEES?

    (i am so scared to hit the submit reply button right now)
    Last edited by guinness618; December 4th, 2008 at 10:43 AM. Reason: spell check!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Burger Boy, you got in before I summoned the courage to hit the submit button.
    That's a really good analogy.
    Anyone else?
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    I am all for ugly plumbers who fix my toilet!!!!
    I am all for crappy waitresses who bring me good food!!!!
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  20. #20
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    It sounds like your employers need to be educated.

  21. #21
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    OK Rematt,
    I am taking the bait...
    but ONLY because I need to explain to the big bosses why affiliates AREN'T employees.
    If affiliates provide a service, and we as a merchant pay for that service, how do you not work for the merchant?
    AGAIN! I don't feel this way.
    I would LOVE a constructive discussion about this topic.
    No name calling. NO indignation.
    SO...
    The question is...
    HOW DO I EXPLAIN THAT AFFILIATES ARE PARTNERS, AND NOT EMPLOYEES?

    (i am so scared to hit the submit reply button right now)
    I'm not trying to bait you. I think that you're one of the good guys.

    But I think the first mistake is assuming that we provide a service. We don't. You don't contract with us to provide advertising for your brand or product. If that were the case you'd start paying us the moment we put up a banner or link. So you don't actually pay for a service, you pay for results. In other words we're paid a commission for producing a sale, not for advertising your program. An employee gets paid whether they produce or not unless they're a commission only sales person, but even a commission only sales person has a cost associated with them, we don't.

    -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

  22. #22
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    The question is...
    HOW DO I EXPLAIN THAT AFFILIATES ARE PARTNERS, AND NOT EMPLOYEES?
    You cannot explain it because it is not so. Affiliates are not partners.
    Melanie
    President - Affiliate Advocacy 2008 ShareaSale Performance Industry Advocate Award, 2009 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award - Affiliate Advocate
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  23. #23
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Wink
    Employees get paid every week by the employer - whether they produce or not.

    Example: Look at some of the employees you encounter when you're in Walmarts.

    If you want to pay me every week whether I produce for you or not - I'll be your employee.

    But if you aren't going to give me a weekly pay check - then I am NOT your employee.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  24. #24
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Here's a legal definition of an independent contractor:

    http://www.lectlaw.com/def/i028.htm

  25. #25
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    I get paid for the work I have done only if it results in a commissionable sale.

    Until that happens, I am nothing to you. Not an employee, or a partner, or anything.

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