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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    New forum - what should i know before i open one?
    Hello Guys,

    this time I will ask you to help me out before I do anything wrong. I would like to open a forum where I could openly explain the benefits of my program.


    It is 2500 per year and I don't really like to spend money without making more, so what would you suggest to me?

  2. #2
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I've seen folks who wasted their money on the forum and people who got a tremendous ROI on it.

    Be active and engaging on your forum and it can well be worth every penny.

  3. #3
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    If you do open a forum, that actually make use of the forum.

    Some merchants open a forum and just post the offers, and never interact with the affiliates.

    Other merchants open a forum and really do a good job of interacting with affiliates, and it pays off big time.

  4. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    It is easy to open a forum - all you need is the initial fee. However, keep in mind that it takes work to make the forum work for you. Jill and I spend a lot of time here at ABW - and not just in our forum. We have learned a lot from other people here and like to "return the favor" whenever we can.

    We also spend time engaging people in our forum. That takes some creative thinking - because it needs a lot more than just the posting of announcements. We do see new sign-ups every time we run a contest - even if the contest is a bit "wacky."

    Yes, it takes work but there is also a "fun factor" involved. We actually enjoy doing what we do.

    To get some ideas, look through some successful/active forums, like Team Loxly and Legacy Learning (or Girly Checks ). Then look at some that have little to no participation (won't name any here) and try to see what the differences are.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  5. #5
    http and a telephoto
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    Your program also needs to be ready for a forum. You have several issues that affiliates have pointed out in your various threads, so be aware that affiliates are watching to see if you fix those things.

    A forum is a great platform to get feedback, recruit affiliates and have an ongoing conversation, but it also a place where you will get constructive criticism that affiliates will expect you to address.

    You have become active and I see you as someone that will get benefits from a forum, but be sure to be ready for whatever comes your way. Your thread about PPC was a good one where you listened and made changes based on affiliate (and others) feedback.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B View Post
    I've seen folks who wasted their money on the forum and people who got a tremendous ROI on it.

    Be active and engaging on your forum and it can well be worth every penny.

    Yes, that is what I am trying to do, be active and learn from affiliates and teach them about my products and its benefits.

    Thanks for your reply

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    It is easy to open a forum - all you need is the initial fee. However, keep in mind that it takes work to make the forum work for you. Jill and I spend a lot of time here at ABW - and not just in our forum. We have learned a lot from other people here and like to "return the favor" whenever we can.

    We also spend time engaging people in our forum. That takes some creative thinking - because it needs a lot more than just the posting of announcements. We do see new sign-ups every time we run a contest - even if the contest is a bit "wacky."

    Yes, it takes work but there is also a "fun factor" involved. We actually enjoy doing what we do.

    To get some ideas, look through some successful/active forums, like Team Loxly and Legacy Learning (or Girly Checks ). Then look at some that have little to no participation (won't name any here) and try to see what the differences are.

    Bill,

    Guess who's forum I was looking at yesterday and review some new sexy women checks yesterday?

    I was about to comment too and actually ready to get the domain for army checks.

    I think that your product is really amazing for all the known reasons, I mean everyone needs checks.

    Also, I have read your review on the benefits of having a forum. You are doing a great job !

    Thanks for the reply

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    Your program also needs to be ready for a forum. You have several issues that affiliates have pointed out in your various threads, so be aware that affiliates are watching to see if you fix those things.

    A forum is a great platform to get feedback, recruit affiliates and have an ongoing conversation, but it also a place where you will get constructive criticism that affiliates will expect you to address.

    You have become active and I see you as someone that will get benefits from a forum, but be sure to be ready for whatever comes your way. Your thread about PPC was a good one where you listened and made changes based on affiliate (and others) feedback.
    Loxly,

    you are right, there were certain things that were pointed out and I did fix following:

    Removed outgoing links - Done!
    Slow Menu - Removed
    Shopping Cart - ( Still have the shopping cart, but have made it more cozy by adding same image as on my website.


    Did I miss anything?

    I am working on conversions rates so we all can make more money!

    Thanks for the kind words and the compliment

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian View Post
    If you do open a forum, that actually make use of the forum.

    Some merchants open a forum and just post the offers, and never interact with the affiliates.

    Other merchants open a forum and really do a good job of interacting with affiliates, and it pays off big time.
    I will do that. Stop by for chat once in while.


    Thanks for your reply.

  10. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I don't want to talk you out of buying a sub-forum, but I think it's only fair to be honest.

    With such a specialized niche program, I'm not sure you could get enough traction to see a postive ROI. I could be wrong, though. Your industry could be much bigger than I think. We do have several merchants with very focused niches that do good with sub-forums.

    I also wonder whether your site and program is ready or not. Your site has an amateur feel to it and with an off-site cart and only PayPal checkout, I'm concerned that your conversions might not be as good as they could be. I haven't looked at the site review, but if there are issues that were mentioned there that haven't been addressed, you really need to get those taken care of. The last thing you want to do is recruit good affiliates and lose them (forever, likely) if they have bad results.

    As others have said, if you do decided to buy a sub-forum, your activity here and how well you engage affiliates will be essential to your success. Based on your activity level since you joined, I think you'll do well in that regard.

    In the meantime, whether you do buy a forum here or not, I have some tips that will help you get the most out of ABW no matter what level you're at (forum reader, forum participant, or sub-forum owner):

    Getting The Most Out Of ABW
    Michael Coley
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  11. #11
    http and a telephoto
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    Shopping Cart - ( Still have the shopping cart, but have made it more cozy by adding same image as on my website.
    This is the biggest issue your site has and until it is addressed, you will probably not gain many new affiliates and your conversions will most likely not increase. Very few serious merchants use offsite shopping carts these days. It was only common in the late 90s and very early in 2000.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    I don't want to talk you out of buying a sub-forum, but I think it's only fair to be honest.

    With such a specialized niche program, I'm not sure you could get enough traction to see a postive ROI. I could be wrong, though. Your industry could be much bigger than I think. We do have several merchants with very focused niches that do good with sub-forums.

    I also wonder whether your site and program is ready or not. Your site has an amateur feel to it and with an off-site cart and only PayPal checkout, I'm concerned that your conversions might not be as good as they could be. I haven't looked at the site review, but if there are issues that were mentioned there that haven't been addressed, you really need to get those taken care of. The last thing you want to do is recruit good affiliates and lose them (forever, likely) if they have bad results.

    As others have said, if you do decided to buy a sub-forum, your activity here and how well you engage affiliates will be essential to your success. Based on your activity level since you joined, I think you'll do well in that regard.

    In the meantime, whether you do buy a forum here or not, I have some tips that will help you get the most out of ABW no matter what level you're at (forum reader, forum participant, or sub-forum owner):

    Getting The Most Out Of ABW
    Michael,

    you are right it is a niche set of products and there is very little competition. Everyone does have a ceiling, I think is just about promoting the product and its benefits.

    By the way, did you know that Photographers use it for a backdrop?

    I don't want to spam but can not hold it in either.

    My website may feel amateurish but I do accept credit cards and as a matter fact merchant focus called me yesterday that I have gonna way over limit for this month, so from 6 k they bumped me to 15k per month, which is not enough anyway.

    My conversions are over 4 percent from affiliate clicks for last 30 days and 7 % for last 7 days.

    I am not an expert on conversions, seo or marketing. However, I am dedicated to my website and customers and that is how I ended up here.

    I do appreciate your feedback and do take your advice seriously.

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    This is the biggest issue your site has and until it is addressed, you will probably not gain many new affiliates and your conversions will most likely not increase. Very few serious merchants use offsite shopping carts these days. It was only common in the late 90s and very early in 2000.
    I hate the fact that it is offsite too and did look into other carts, just can't find anything good and easy to use.

    Please tell me, why is it such a big issue?

    I do know that my website would have way more pages, that is for sure and more SEO opportunities for each product.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    What is considered good conversion rate?

  15. #15
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    [blunt_honest]

    The offsite shopping cart thing....

    From a shopper's perspective, as Deb said, it's "1990's-ish"; archaic. And here in the year 2010, even the most casual of online shoppers who are looking for a product like yours are used to the slick, streamlined checkout process that online stores like bestbuy, etc have implemented. The setup you have there does not just make you just "look like" an amateur; it makes a bold, clear statement that you ARE an amateur.

    From an affiliate's perspective... I practically did backflips when I saw your product line, and the wheels in my head were turning, thinking up domain names, hot and ready to put up a site (or two or three) to promote your products. BUT.... that shopping cart issue rendered you untouchable. There are enough hurdles to overcome in the process of targetting and acquiring ready-to-buy customers, without the added hurdle of an offsite shopping cart that is going to freak customers out and make them hesitate before they pull their CC out of their wallet. I'm just a small fish in the affiliate sea, so not having me onboard promoting your wares is probably not much sweat off of your back, but I would imagine that bigger affiliates - those who are "slicker" and "better" than me - would be more likely than I am to just steer clear of a vendor who has such a huge obstacle to sales conversions in place on their site.

    [/blunt_honest]
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  16. #16
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    One thing you may also want to consider is to put in a tracking link because there are a lot of lurkers who sign up for programs after reading on abw but you cannot track them back. There are others that go directly to the network and sign up, but there isn't a solid way to get their attention unless you can ask them in person.

    I usually find out after they had signed up and after a few months they found me or my programs on ABW.
    Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. Online Marketing Blog and Affiliate Management Company
    Do you need help with your Marketing or Sales funneling, write me at adamr (at) adamriemer (dot) me

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh View Post
    [blunt_honest]

    The offsite shopping cart thing....

    From a shopper's perspective, as Deb said, it's "1990's-ish"; archaic. And here in the year 2010, even the most casual of online shoppers who are looking for a product like yours are used to the slick, streamlined checkout process that online stores like bestbuy, etc have implemented. The setup you have there does not just make you just "look like" an amateur; it makes a bold, clear statement that you ARE an amateur.

    From an affiliate's perspective... I practically did backflips when I saw your product line, and the wheels in my head were turning, thinking up domain names, hot and ready to put up a site (or two or three) to promote your products. BUT.... that shopping cart issue rendered you untouchable. There are enough hurdles to overcome in the process of targetting and acquiring ready-to-buy customers, without the added hurdle of an offsite shopping cart that is going to freak customers out and make them hesitate before they pull their CC out of their wallet. I'm just a small fish in the affiliate sea, so not having me onboard promoting your wares is probably not much sweat off of your back, but I would imagine that bigger affiliates - those who are "slicker" and "better" than me - would be more likely than I am to just steer clear of a vendor who has such a huge obstacle to sales conversions in place on their site.

    [/blunt_honest]
    Another one

    After reading this post I have just smiled and decide it to change that shopping cart thing

    Why? Since I do some fishing, I do know that small fish attracts big fish.

    So, I will tackle that Shopping Cart thing to get that obstacle taken care of.

    In the meantime get those domains so we don't waste no time

    Thanks again for helping me realize that this was a real problem.

  18. #18
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by Decorative Ceiling Tiles View Post
    I hate the fact that it is offsite too and did look into other carts, just can't find anything good and easy to use.

    Please tell me, why is it such a big issue?
    We had quite a discussion about this in your site review thread. Print and reread davidh's honest opinion. Do some research on site conversions. Shopping cart is the key place, no matter how many affiliates you have, you will not achieve success with your site until you have an integrated shopping cart and your whole site is on one domain.
    Deborah Carney
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  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollerblader View Post
    One thing you may also want to consider is to put in a tracking link because there are a lot of lurkers who sign up for programs after reading on abw but you cannot track them back. There are others that go directly to the network and sign up, but there isn't a solid way to get their attention unless you can ask them in person.

    I usually find out after they had signed up and after a few months they found me or my programs on ABW.
    I am not sure what you mean.

    Do you have a version for dummies available?

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    We had quite a discussion about this in your site review thread. Print and reread davidh's honest opinion. Do some research on site conversions. Shopping cart is the key place, no matter how many affiliates you have, you will not achieve success with your site until you have an integrated shopping cart and your whole site is on one domain.

    Thank you, Thank you , Thank you !

    I will do that ASAP.

  21. #21
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Boy, have I been stubborn on this one or what?

  22. #22
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollerblader View Post
    One thing you may also want to consider is to put in a tracking link because there are a lot of lurkers who sign up for programs after reading on abw but you cannot track them back...
    Quote Originally Posted by Decorative Ceiling Tiles View Post
    I am not sure what you mean.

    Do you have a version for dummies available?
    Here is one simple idea...

    On your Sig, instead of having a plain link to your site, just add this to the end of it.... ?ABW

    Like this: http://www.decorativeceilingtiles.net/?ABW

    That way if you look at your logs, you'll see those that came from ABW.

  23. #23
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    On the shopping cart thing, I also prefer to see it onsite.

    That being said, I don't think having it offsite precludes you having a successful affiliate program. I present as evidence....more than one merchant who are consistently in the SAS Power 100 list who use the exact same shopping cart provider as you. And even one of Deb's merchants has an off site cart.

    Nor do I think many consumers even notice or care if they do notice.....otherwise everyone using offsite carts wouldn't be making any sales.

    That's not to say that conversions might increase by bringing the cart on site.

    Here's some questions that you should answer before moving the cart (especially since it looks like you are using it build your site catalog as well).

    Do you have the technical knowledge (or someone in your employ that does) to run and manage your own shopping cart? This includes setting up the database initially but also handling security upgrades to the cart software, making changes to products/pricing/etc as needed, handling programming changes that may come up in the future, etc, etc, etc.

    Do you have someone to build out the product pages on your site that are now on the shopping cart site?

    Do you have any SERPs for those product pages on shopping cart site?

    That's just a couple considerations that come to mind. If you answered no to any of those, you aren't ready to move the cart on site. Well that last one is something to give serious thought to.

    But again..I prefer to see the merchant having their own cart, but every situation is different.
    Last edited by MichaelColey; June 16th, 2010 at 05:16 PM. Reason: Fixed Typo

  24. #24
    http and a telephoto
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    And even one of Deb's merchants has an off site cart.
    huh? All The Mail Order Shoppe's sites are all linked to one cart. His situation is different. I guess you could argue that there are different situations, however in DCT's case I would argue that the leap is too big. There are other programs that use a consolidated cart for all their sites, but they are very well integrated to the site. The product pages are all housed at the main domains.

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B View Post
    On the shopping cart thing, I also prefer to see it onsite.

    That being said, I don't think having it offsite precludes you having a successful affiliate program. I present as evidence....more than one merchant who are consistently in the SAS Power 100 list who use the exact same shopping cart provider as you. And even one of Deb's merchants has an off site cart.

    Nor do I think many consumers even notice or care if they do notice.....otherwise everyone using offsite carts wouldn't be making any sales.

    That's not to say that conversions might increase by bringing the cart on site.

    Here's some questions that you should answer before moving the cart (especially since it looks like you are using it build your site catalog as well).

    Do you have the technical knowledge (or someone in your employ that does) to run and manage your own shopping cart? This includes setting up the database initially but also handling security upgrades to the cart software, making changes to products/pricing/etc as needed, handling programming changes that may come up in the future, etc, etc, etc.

    Do you have someone to build out the product pages on your site that are now on the shopping cart site?

    Do you have any SERPs for those product pages on shopping cart site?

    That's just a couple considerations that come to mind. If you answered no to any of those, you aren't ready to move the cart on site. Well that last one is something to give serious thought to.

    But again..I prefer to see the merchant having their own cart, but every situation is different.
    No, I don't have the technical know how, neither I have anyone on standby.

    I do know someone who might be doing it for me.

    I have been able to get up to 600 Hundred unique visitors (organic) per day and about 40k in sales per month on my old home made website which did have an integrated shopping cart but the problem was that I could not add tracking code from SAS. So I have changed my website.



    So, how would I find out that the theory that I am loosing sales because my
    cart is offsite?

    I am just wondering, don't prospects click on links on affiliate sites and are directed to a different domain to shop? Would not that be considered an obstacle?

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