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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager DandyMats's Avatar
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    What to look for in a new affiliate sign up?
    So, what should we look for in a new affiliate sign up?

    Certainly, it varies. Say you've got a website that sells doorknobs. An affiliate applies - their site is a beauty to behold - graphically perfect - and it answers every question anyone's ever had about doorknobs - in a bright, editorial fashion. And it's #3 on Google.

    Yeah - no brainer. Approved. It's apples-to-apples - and the kind of affiliate you'll surely bend over backwards to please.

    But what about apples to oranges?

    By what criteria should more random affiliate applicants be judged? You sell doorknobs (or in my case, doormats). They have a PC repair website listed at SAS, presumably where they'll showcase by banners?. Yep - we all know the majority of sales willl come from the minority of affiliates. Yet blindly approving everyone can't be a wise choice. My product, albeit useful to just about anyone (no promo intended) has nothing to do with defunct hard drives or RAM upgrades. Sure - the 57-year-old consultant who doesn't realize it would be way cheaper to replace his PC with a hot new laptop vs. repair it might certainly be interested in my doormat product.

    But this example is the middle ground. I'm lucky to have a product that's got a very broad appeal. As such - where do I draw the line? Just because anyone could use what I have doesn't mean I should approve all affiliates.

    The super affiliate - are they typically apples-to-apples with the merchant product? Surely variable.

    Maybe no one knows at first. I'm a big believer in FIRE - ready, set. See what sticks. Certainly, that would have been the theme to the replies below if I hadn't pre-empted it here.

    So what defines the choice to approve or not? Gut instinct is certainly huge. I have a penchant for details and a site that doesn't look good turns me off. But whoa - wait a second - perhaps that site sees mad traffic anyway. So screw stylistic preference for the moment...raw numbers prevail. Hmmm....yet again, where is the line drawn? And should I be pulling Alexa numbers on seemingly random, unrelated affiliate applicant's websites?

    What about when the SAS website they list as where they will promote me presently holds no advertising on it at all? Did they mistakenly enter their agency URL instead? Should I drill down to their contact info with a pleasant "WTF"?

    Yes, every program is different. But there must be an XYZ pseudo-checklist that goes beyond gut-instinct about approving affiliates.

    "Dude, I sell frisbees to teenage girls in the US and you seem to promote diapers for aging canines in Yugoslavia. We're meant to be!!!"

    Dan from DandyMats

  2. #2
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Many affiliates may only have one site or a small cross-section of sites listed in the network interfaces. For all you know, the affiliate who has nothing but an old, abandoned lingerie site listed could very well have an entire network of doormat sites too.

    It doesn't make sense to decline any affiliate application unless it's clear that they're doing something fishy or distasteful to you.

    a site that doesn't look good turns me off.
    [subliminal message]amazon.com[/subliminal message]
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  3. #3
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    a site that doesn't look good turns me off.
    My single most profitable site is so old it looks "stale." However it does VERY well in the Goog, has loads of back-links from places such as our State Tourism site and a large airport - and it seems to convert.

    Does it convert as well as I'd like? No. I am changing it (with more modern graphics and slightly different layout) but I am changing it VERY slowly. It accounts for about 20% of my online income and I "don't want to fix what ain't really broken."

    On the "merchant" side of things - I, too, see a lot of seemingly unrelated sites - many of them foreign. For some of the "borderline" ones I send an email asking how they would promote our products. No response - I hit decline. Most don't respond.

    Another thing I look at in SAS is "Limited" status. Now that, in itself, doesn't bother me because "we all need to start somewhere." What does bother me is when the status is STILL "Limited" and their ID number goes back a hundred thousand or so (and have not yet received a commission check).
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    And should I be pulling Alexa numbers on seemingly random, unrelated affiliate applicant's websites?
    Alexa numbers are easily manipulated and need to be taken with a chunk of salt. If you exclude affiliates because of your perceptions you are missing the boat. You will see some great network numbers on some "Super" affiliates with toolbars but they will cannibalize your program and eat your bottom line. You have taken a good step by being visible in ABW.
    My Suggestion is to learn a lot more about the good, the bad and the ugly of affiliate marketing:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=412

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=93894

  5. #5
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    As an affiliate, I ALWAYS send a merchant a test email with a simple generic question. This sees if they even respond to their partners at all... or if it takes them a month to respond... and you can tell by their response what kind of partner they would be.

    As a merchant, I agree with Bill. Since your program is still small, you have the opportunity to contact EVERY new applicant. Again, you may not even get a response (is that an aff you want to partner with)... and if they do respond, you'll get a feel for who they are.

    All my best,
    Billy Kay

  6. #6
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    My op on Alexa - total & complete waste of time!!!

  7. #7
    http and a telephoto
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    In Shareasale you don't have to "drill down" to their contact info, it is right their on their Details page. "Email this Affiliate". You use the Shareasale contact form to send an email to the affiliate and ask if they have a site that fits, or if they are planning to create one. You approve or decline based on their answer. If they answer you at all, that is actually a good thing and you should try and continue the discussion.

    Limited status to me is meaningless. They might not have hit the right niche yet and *yours* could be it.

    Site appearance and Alexa ranking = meaningless. I know affiliates with sites that make merchants run screaming and those same sites have loyal traffic that is years old and if the affiliates made the site more "modern" their site visitors would run screaming instead.

    You can't always judge a book by it's cover, it's best to take a peek inside.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  8. #8
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    > Many affiliates may only have one site or a small cross-section of sites listed in the network interfaces. For all you know, the affiliate who has nothing but an old, abandoned lingerie site listed could very well have an entire network of doormat sites too. // It doesn't make sense to decline any affiliate application unless it's clear that they're doing something fishy or distasteful to you. <
    I agree. I'm planning to resume active "web publishing" work this summer (after a hiatus) and my "network profiles" don't reflect any of the specific projects I'm considering (and probably won't until I start launching the individual sites -- and even then, I might not identify some of sites in my "network profiles," though merchants will certainly see them in the referral data). For most merchants, the best practice is probably to simply approve affiliates unless there is a specific "issue."

    However, I do recognize that some merchants must be more "pro-active and vigilant" than others, especially if they're dealing with trademark licensors and licensees (such as professional sports leagues) who impose special restrictions.

    If there is an "issue" regarding a publisher applicant, the merchant's affiliate manager should ideally initiate communications.

    However, it's critical to understand that there is a very real cost to "communicating with prospective affiliates" when you're not certain they're appropriate. The time required to email and follow up with each publisher is individually tiny, but in the aggreggate it can be substantial, especially if you don't have a CRM-type system that can help coordinate follow-ups. For many merchants, this means that triage may be necessary.

    The risk, unfortunately, is that a web publisher may submit an application because they're working on a new web project at that moment, and a series of email exchanges (or even a non-auto-approval) may mean the merchant will be completely excluded from that project. I've applied to many dozens of merchants in the past 10 days, and probably 25% of them have rejected the applications (all entirely reasonable, since my current "network profiles" don't demonstrate clear relevance). But I won't re-apply unless I learn of a specific reason why I should re-apply (for example, if I see from a PopShops search that the merchant uniquely offers specific products I think are relevant to my site). Just as merchants must deal with thousands of publishers, each publisher is dealing with many merchants (dozens, hundreds, or thousands).

    Of course, if a merchant is using an affiliate network technology that "blocks" re-applications from previously-rejected publishers (e.g. rejected once means rejected forever), then rejection is a more serious matter.
    Last edited by markwelch; June 13th, 2010 at 01:32 PM.

  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    The only thing i look for is that they have a url. I just got a sign up today, no url and from India. I sent him an email asking him to please provide a url and also to add it to his SAS account otherwise in 3 days I will delete him.

    Otherwise i never delete new sign ups. You never know as in the fuutre he might build a sitew just to sell your products.
    Richard
    Affiliate Marketing Manager AMWSO
    Digestinol, Luxe-Design


    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso

  10. #10
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    To elaborate on what Richard says... from personal experience... there is one particular line of products that I had been signed up with several programs for dating as far back as 2001, and never did anything with them until this year when I saw opportune time and a unique angle to promote from. Of course you would hope that it wouldn't take several years for an affiliate to start producing, but the point is that you never know when an inactive affiliate might suddenly start funneling sales to you on a daily basis.
    CUSTOM BANNERS by GRAPHICS CANDY ~ Banner Sets and Website Graphics ~ Professional design, reasonable rates
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