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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Top Questions to Ask your Affiliate Manager
    Logan Thompson recently interviewed me for a post on his blog about getting the most out of your affiliate manager.

    I listed seven questions that few affiliates ask their affiliate managers but should. They are:

    1. Demographics of products – Who are the shoppers and buyers for your products? We post ours here for example and it really helps when writing content, doing landing pages (i.e. showing a 40-something versus a twenty-something playing guitar), and especially targeting on sites like Facebook. Affiliates MUST ask for that information.
    2. Tell me the keywords that don’t work. Anyone can get a keyword list. Tell me the ones that don’t work and what negative keywords to use. Click here for an example.
    3. Ask for general advice. Give the AM an idea of what you are planning and let them hold your hand a bit. Good AMs can give a lot of advice on things you might not have even thought to ask about such as number of reviews, listing product features, deep linking, etc.
    4. Ask for testimonials from customers. I wrote an entire article about this somewhere…wish I had it now haha. Testimonials are nearly priceless advertisements and, like the three items above, can make the difference between gaining a customer’s trust (and therefore their business) and having them immediately click the back button to go back to the search results. The easiest way to get testimonials of course is to use merchant testimonials when you refer the customer to the merchant’s site. Ask your affiliate manager if you can use these on your pages.
    5. Ask them to review your site when done. If nothing else, it is an extra pair of eyes. I cannot tell you how many times I find a typo or find that the site looks funky in the new version of this or that browser. Good AMs will usually have at least one or two good suggestions where you can improve, sometimes ten or twenty.
    6. Ask for any content, videos or graphics that are not public.
    7. Customer Email blasts. The last one is kind of unique. If the merchant has a customer-focused newsletter or email list, ask if you can use the content from it on your own list. I have drawn up special agreements with affiliates that allows them to repackage the emails and send them to their list. Some guys are making 5-10 sales a month just off these emails.

    Today I thought of another and was inspired to start a series called "Top Questions to Ask Your Affiliate Manager."

    Below is number eight. More to come!

    Q: Can you set up a custom URL for me? Or better put a custom redirect?

    If you are doing any form of print advertising, radio advertising, podcast advertising, or even on your own site and want it to look pretty, you will be much better served having an easy to read and remember URL such as learnandmaster.com / guitarguy rather than your normal affiliate link.

    If you are marketing offline, this is a necessity for many of you.

    If you have not already (and that is all but two of you) ask me for a custom redirect.
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Nine:

    Q: What is the seasonality of your products?

    I encourage you to ask about the seasonality of the products (or in our case courses). In fact I will go ahead and answer the question regarding our courses here with this graph.



    This post on our blog has more details about each month's sales.

    At Legacy Learning Systems, like most retailers, we have a huge increase in sales during the 4th Quarter. Late November through Christmas is awesome.

    But unlike most retailers, we continue to perform well in January and even February. Why? New Year’s Resolutions, instruments for gifts, and the cold weather. Check out this post about why first quarter rocks.

    Other products are different so you should definitely ask your affiliate manager what the seasonality of their different products are. You never know what you might find.

    Many of our affiliates are surprised to know that first quarter does so well for us and missed out on some great opportunities. Many affiliates did not know that the summer is so down and panicked earlier this month. Sorry, June really sucks. That is why I hate summer.

    Stay tuned for more questions to ask your affiliate manager!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  3. #3
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great tips Matt
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
    Twitter me

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7 View Post
    Thanks for the great tips Matt
    Thanks for the thumbs up!

    More to come...
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Ten

    Q: What are the daily conversion statistics for your products (or in our case courses)?

    I answer this question myself as an Affiliate Manager on our blog.

    Daily Conversion Statistics for Legacy Learning Systems

    As you can see in that post, our best day for conversions is Thursday and the worst is Wednesday.

    Sadly, very few (maybe five to date) affiliates have ever asked me for this data.

    A good affiliate manager will give you this information and it is critical to have for many of you.

    Why is this a good question to ask your affiliate manager and how does this help you?

    Glad you asked. It helps you in the following ways:

    1. Understanding the sales cycles. Just as understanding the seasonality of things helps you know that summer sucks for us, knowing that Wednesday has lower conversions will help you not to panic when sales drop. (See Question #9 above about seasonality)

    2. Dayparting your Pay Per Click ads. See this post about dayparting from our AdWords for Newbies Series for more if you don’t know about this.

    3. Knowing when to send emails to customers. If you have an email list, I would recommend sending them on days when our conversions are highest.

    So there you have it, question number ten to ask your Affiliate Manager.

    More to come!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Excellent Tips Matt, you have certainly opened some windows! I'm about to implement all these tips, ask questions, request testimonials, landing pages, etc.

    I used to be a regular visitor to your blog. But then some major projects didn't allow any time at all. Anyway, too many excuses on my mind but little needed to do the right thing I'm subscribing to your blog right away ..
    Last edited by Adarsh; June 23rd, 2010 at 10:08 PM.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adarsh View Post
    Excellent Tips Matt, you have certainly opened some windows! I'm about to implement all these tips, ask questions, request testimonials, landing pages, etc.

    I used to be a regular visitor to your blog. But then some major projects didn't allow any time at all. Anyway, too many excuses on my mind but little needed to do the right thing I'm subscribing to your blog right away ..
    Awesome Adarsh!

    Definitely subscribe. I finally got away from visiting blogs and just using a Reader and WOW what a difference it has made
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Same here Matt, I'm using the FeedDemon, it is awesome! Which reader are you using?

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    GoogleReader
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Oh ok, it is web based only I think.
    But I have moved over to desktop fee readers like FeedDemon, much faster, much better

  11. #11
    Member eSilverBullet's Avatar
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    Matt, I agree on the testimonials. I think most of us inherently dread asking for them, for fear we'll be told no. In my experience across different industries, I've never been turned down when I requested testimonials. Considering the weight potential customers place on them, they are well worth asking for.
    Adam Ward, [URL="http://esilverbullet.com"]eSilverBullet[/URL]: software tools for affiliate marketing
    The eSilverBullet [URL="http://esilverbullet.com/blog"]blog[/URL]

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Eleven

    What is the breakdown of sales by country?

    I strongly suggest you ask your affiliate manager about the breakdown by country. Such as this post from our blog last year that answers this very question:

    Top Countries for Learn & Master Courses

    What that breakdown shows you is that while the United States certainly does make up the overwhelming majority of sales, there are plenty of other countries with wonderful sales opportunities.

    I strongly encourage you to use this information to your advantage and to ask your other affiliate managers for this information about their program(s).

    Number Twelve is coming soon!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  13. #13
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    My favorite tip so far is number 11. I am amazed how many sales you got from US and so few elsewhere. I know people all over the world are searching for music lessons. So that may speak a bit about opportunities.

    Regarding seasonality, I guess you should mention about Google Insights for Search. A search for "guitar lessons" seem to match your data, pretty closely.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    @hdlee - thanks!

    You will appreciate #12 coming up as well
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Twelve

    Q: What countries cannot use your product or can you not ship to?

    Or put another way:

    Q: Where should I not market your products?

    For instance, here at Legacy there are not any countries to which we do not ship. That’s right! We ship to every single country.

    So far we have shipped to 94 countries (our 94th came less than six weeks ago when we shipped a course to Bahrain).

    So ask your affiliate manager about where they can ship to so you are not promoting courses to the wrong people.

    Also, make sure to ask if their products are illegal in any countries or regions or perhaps unusable, such as regionally encoded DVDs.

    At Legacy, for example, our DVDs are not region encoded, which means they can be played on any computer that can play DVDs and on any DVD player anywhere in the world (Almost all DVD players can use either PAL or NTSC format. Our DVDs are NTSC).

    So there you have the answers to those two questions for Legacy Learning Systems. For your other programs, make sure to ask your affiliate manager what countries cannot buy their products.
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Thirteen

    Q: Can I Design My Own Creatives?

    Ask your affiliate manager if you can design your own banner ads, do your own videos, or use their product shots in your own creatives.

    Many programs do not allow these things and unfortunately many affiliates never ask if they can.

    The answer for our program is “Yes!”

    Very few affiliates have ever asked me if they can, but the ones who have ended up doing some awesome creatives. Some of the best banners and videos out there were done by affiliates on their own.

    When you ask, make sure to ask for things like PSD files of product shots and pictures in a high-resolution format. You are much better off working with the high-resolution PSDs or PNGs at worst and then compressing them than working with low-resolution images and trying to make them work in a large banner or header graphic.

    So, this is a question that you don’t have to ask me since you now know the answer, but I encourage you to ask your other affiliate managers.
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Number Fourteen

    Q: Can I install my tracking script on your confirmation page?

    In case you did not know, putting your tracking scripts on merchant confirmation pages allows you to track ad performance and keyword performance straight from your AdWords, Yahoo, or other search engine/reporting interface. For more about tracking keyword performance in AdWords, check out part nine of my AdWords for Newbies Series on Keyword Tracking.

    The short Answer from Legacy: Yes! I highly encourage it.

    To put your tracking scripts on our confirmation pages, for example, simply send me a plain text file with your secure tracking pixels (this means https:// not http://) via email and our IT team is usually able to get them up within 48 hours at the most, sometimes even within 2-3 hours. It’s that simple!

    So make sure to ask your affiliate manager if you can install your tracking scripts on their confirmation pages.
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

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