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  1. #1
    http and a telephoto
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    Datafeeds Best Practices
    There have been a bunch of threads about this lately and someone mentioned there should be a "Best Practices" thread and since they didn't start one, here ya go. Affiliates, what are the best practices you need from merchants regarding their feeds? I'll start with a few suggestions of my own, feel free to elaborate and add others!

    1. Categories, categories CATEGORIES - Did I mention categories? A feed needs not just categories for the sake of categories, like 60,000 products all labled "Music", but real categories like "Music>Rock>Kiss" or "Apparel>Mens>Tshirts"

    2. If you are running your program on multiple networks: Keep ALL the datafeeds current. Don't have a great datafeed on CJ and an outdated datafeed on Shareasale. If you chose to be on multiple networks, make sure ALL the datafeeds are acurate! Don't punish the affiliates on one network by favoring a different one.

    3. Be consistent with Custom Fields - if you are using them for special purposes don't go changing them around. And give your affiliates someplace to find the right headers for those custom fields - tell them what is in them and why you put it there.

    Ok, ready? GO! Affiliates, you pick it up from here....
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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  3. #2
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    3. Be consistent with Custom Fields - if you are using them for special purposes don't go changing them around. And give your affiliates someplace to find the right headers for those custom fields - tell them what is in them and why you put it there.
    That needs to be bolded!

    4. Keep the HTML out of the description fields!!

    5. Don't put 'for more information visit your site name' in every field.
    Someday starts today
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  4. #3
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Here are 2 of the items that prompted me to mention a Bet Practices thread in the first place:

    To expand on #5 above:

    DO NOT repeat anything in a description field. For instance, CHECK FOR BEST PRICE, IN STOCK or my personal favorite CALL FOR LATEST PRICE (you better have phone tracking in place). The description field should include a brief description of the product ONLY.

    6. Please do not include a watermark or company logo on images. At best it looks tacky.

    Thanks for starting this thread Lox.

    -rematt
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  5. #4
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    I saw the title of this thread and my first thought before I clicked through was, I kid you not, "Categories, categories, categories, and did I mention categories?" LOL. GMTA.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
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  6. #5
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    7) Take time to have a human check your feed for unusable characters like ,,╨,, π, , , and the likes. I have filters for that, but not everyone does.


  7. #6
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishaLyn
    Question thrown out there - how do affiliates feel about SKU's in the description? Neutral, or good? Just curious.
    I prefer the skus not be in the description. As long as they're provided in a separate field, that's fine.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  8. #7
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    I moved Trisha Lynns post to a different thread for discussion to keep this thread focused and plus I think her question deserves a full discussion of it's own.

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=128127
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by meadowmufn
    I prefer the skus not be in the description. As long as they're provided in a separate field, that's fine.
    Agreed, SKUs should be in their own field to be used or not as needed. If they are included in the description how can affiliates "pull them out" for price comparison sites etc.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #9
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    I'd prefer 'pipe |' delimited. CSV is a pain

    I like having a field definition record at the start of the feed

  11. #10
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by micheck
    I'd prefer 'pipe |' delimited. CSV is a pain

    I like having a field definition record at the start of the feed
    Yep, that drives me nuts with SaS datafeeds. I think that goes along with Lox saying make sure the affiliate knows what goes in custom fields.
    Someday starts today
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  12. #11
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    The absolute most important pieces of data for me are the UPCs, brands and model numbers. Without them I cannot price match your products and they fall into obscurity. Most merchants are pretty good about providing these if they exist though.

    Secondly accurate prices and inventory are a must! Daily updates are very important.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  13. #12
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Hey, Scott, I agree that daily inventory and updates are important in MOST cases. However, they don't seem (to me, at least) to apply to every merchant or situation. For example, our "checks" inventory does NOT go out of stock. The only time we need to change the feed is if we add to or delete from the product line(s) we are offering.

    For example, I am currently (tonight) working on "descriptions" for some new checks that we are offering (and are already available on the site). These descriptions are narrative statements only. There is no reference to SKU or the site name in there at all. And the images do NOT have a site-name-watermark. These products should remain in inventory until we decide to remove them - which may be never (for this example's sake). When I complete this task and upload the modified (new) feed it should be accurate - until we add a new batch of products.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  14. #13
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    8. Take time to write a true description for each of your products. Datafeeds without description or with canned description are useless.

    9. Make sure the image links are working

  15. #14
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill
    Hey, Scott, I agree that daily inventory and updates are important in MOST cases. However, they don't seem (to me, at least) to apply to every merchant or situation.
    Very true. If you don't update your prices or inventory then there is no need for an update. I just like to work with niches where the inventory is very fluid because it always gives me new products for my customers. Works well for the search engines as well. Definitely depends on the niche.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  16. #15
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    And if you don't actually update the datafeed, don't reupload it just to get a new date on the "last updated".

  17. #16
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    - Have descriptions SPELL CHECKED and make sure proper names are capitalized and whoever is entering descriptions knows and USES proper grammar. One of the biggest retailers around is the worst offender of this. ARGHH!

    - Consistent thumb nail image sizes. There needs to be a "best" size and all merchants should use it.

    - SKUs in the description or title are meaningless to anyone not running a price comparison site and just muck up our pages. Maybe a separate field for SKUs for rhose who need them.

    - Give us ONE product, not 10 with the same description. Yeah, you need to feature sizes on your site but affiliates don't necessarily want to and it's just more to remove. If a product description says: *size 10* and we're trying to sell that product to ANYONE who happens onto our sites, the "size 10" will guarantee no clicks for anyone NOT looking for a size 10. (This is a bit sketchy because I don't happen to need specific sizes on my site. Does anyone else prefer having a product show up in every size? Could be.)

    - Ditto about NOT adding the merchant name in the description or product title or watermark images - don't! This just pisses affiliates off and we remove it anyway. Bottom line: your program will end up on our "do not use" list because it takes more effort to promote your product over another merchant with the same products who isn't trying to get free branding off their affiliates.

    I'm sure I'll have more to add as it comes to me. :-)
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
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  18. #17
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    OH:

    - Whoever is in charge of the data base PLEASE don't mess with image URLs or change SKUs around at will (especially NOT in Q4!). When an entire page on our site doesn't work anymore because of internal messing with image URLs or SKUs, your products are not going to sell and when and IF we re-add your products, they'll more times than not lose placement and end up at the bottom.

    Get it done right the first time and leave it alone.

    I foresee a great niche business for people who know how to create a good, STABLE data feed and maintain it properly. Merchants should hire someone specific to do this. If an aff manager has the knowledge, great, otherwise, all program managers could have someone on staff whose sole responsibility is to maintain and work the data feeds. It's THAT important.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  19. #18
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    - Give us ONE product, not 10 with the same description.
    I'm really with you on this one. It deserves a page all by itself it's so important. It's really hard to not have duplicate content issues when you have 10 descriptions, titles, and product names the same except for a couple of characters.


  20. #19
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    - SKUs in the description or title are meaningless to anyone not running a price comparison site and just muck up our pages. Maybe a separate field for SKUs for rhose who need them.
    Price comparison sites need this sort of data in separate fields as well. It's very difficult to accurately extract model numbers from product titles or descriptions. In any event SKUs generally don't help for price comparison anyway as they're mostly specific to each store. We need UPCs or model numbers for price matching.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

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  22. #20
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Is there like a step by step guide for a great data feed?

    How do I set the categories in the feed?

  23. #21
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Decorative Ceiling Tiles View Post
    Is there like a step by step guide for a great data feed?

    How do I set the categories in the feed?
    I haven't seen your datafeed yet, but by looking at your website, here is one idea...


    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Tin Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Classic Tin Ceiling Tiles
    Contemporary Tin Celing Tiles
    Custom Tin Ceiling Tiles
    Tin Backsplash
    Tin Cornices
    Tin Fillers
    Tin Hardware
    Tin Medallions
    Tin Sample Packs
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Royal
    Classic
    Styro
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Faux Tin Backsplash
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles Glue Up
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles Drop In
    Faux Tin Filler
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Polyurethane Decor
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Door Casings
    Frame Corners
    Polyurethane Ceiling Medallions
    Polyurethane Corner Blocks
    Polyurethane Wall Accents
    Carved Chair Rail
    Carved Crown Molding
    Plain Chair Rail
    Plain Crown Molding
    Polyurethane Corbels
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

  24. #22
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    After looking through your site I agree with the breakdown as listed by Mr. Sal, with only one change to suggest.

    I would change the term "Polyurethane Decor" to "Moldings and Accents." Poly items can be found in many, many different businesses. The Moldings would be the crown, chair, door casings, et. The Accents would be the medallions, blocks, corbels, etc.

    BTW - it would be good to see that last category featured on the home page along with the first three. I was looking for crown moldings this morning and had a bit of a time finding my way to them. (But then, it was morning and it was me. )
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  26. #23
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal View Post
    I haven't seen your datafeed yet, but by looking at your website, here is one idea...


    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Tin Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Classic Tin Ceiling Tiles
    Contemporary Tin Celing Tiles
    Custom Tin Ceiling Tiles
    Tin Backsplash
    Tin Cornices
    Tin Fillers
    Tin Hardware
    Tin Medallions
    Tin Sample Packs
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Royal
    Classic
    Styro
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Faux Tin Backsplash
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles Glue Up
    Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles Drop In
    Faux Tin Filler
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Categories
    Polyurethane Decor
    ---------------------------------
    SubCategories
    Door Casings
    Frame Corners
    Polyurethane Ceiling Medallions
    Polyurethane Corner Blocks
    Polyurethane Wall Accents
    Carved Chair Rail
    Carved Crown Molding
    Plain Chair Rail
    Plain Crown Molding
    Polyurethane Corbels
    ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    Thank you Mr.Sal,

    I appreciate your time, I will implement the suggestion into the data feed.

    It will be a lot of learning, since I have never done it.

  27. #24
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    I was looking for crown moldings this morning and had a bit of a time finding my way to them. (But then, it was morning and it was me. )
    LOL it's not just you. I had to ask if they were available on the site yet :P
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  28. #25
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    After looking through your site I agree with the breakdown as listed by Mr. Sal, with only one change to suggest.

    I would change the term "Polyurethane Decor" to "Moldings and Accents." Poly items can be found in many, many different businesses. The Moldings would be the crown, chair, door casings, et. The Accents would be the medallions, blocks, corbels, etc.

    BTW - it would be good to see that last category featured on the home page along with the first three. I was looking for crown moldings this morning and had a bit of a time finding my way to them. (But then, it was morning and it was me. )
    Bill,

    you are right, I need to add that.

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