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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Question To drop or not to drop
    Okay, so I'm new to this forum and relatively new to affiliate marketing. I've just recently received the job of managing an affiliate program for a pretty big company. Their program is in pretty bad shape though. They have 4000 affiliates in CJ and only 54 of them are active (have sold anything in the past year). They also have a CJ EPC of only $5 - thus they're ranked around 120 of 150 in their category.

    I've already found one affiliate that has around 16,000 clicks this year, but only 1 sale. Considering they only have 40,000 clicks total this year and 320 sales this year, by dropping that affiliate I should see a huge boost in the EPC, right? Will this boost help us get more affiliates?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    NO
    EPC is meaningless
    Get the site to convert and tell your 4000 affiliates about it.

  3. #3
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Cool
    what he said

  4. #4
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Your treasure trove of 4000 affiliates is the single biggest asset of your affiliate program. Don't destroy it for some kind of artificial, decorative "fix".

    If you do a search here, you will find dozens, perhaps hundreds, of threads on the topic of merchants terminating affiliates for the sole reason of lack of success. That is the biggest mistake you could make and will forever be a black eye on your program, influencing other affiliates to STAY AWAY. Motivate your affiliates and provide them the assistance they need to become successful.

    Send out newsletters and ASK your affiliates what are the problems with your program - use their expertise to find out and make the necessary corrections.

    As the others have said, the biggest problems are likely with your site (navigation, difficulty in completing cart process, products out of stock, high prices, etc., etc.) but your commission structure may not be competitive in your industry, you may not have product links and datafeeds that the majority of affiliates absolutely need to properly promote your products, etc.

    Don't cut off your arm when your problem is a blocked coronary artery.
    Last edited by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound; July 27th, 2010 at 08:28 PM.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    If all but the two best performers are terminated, your EPC will go through the roof. Unfortunately, sales will go down significantly and other affiliates will avoid the program like the plague when they hear about it, which they will.

    All the comments here are good advice. Termination of affiliates who are just getting around to working on your program is not productive and completely disregards the time and money that your affiliates have spent getting promotions in place. There just isn't any way to tell who will be tomorrow's super producers, but building a relationship and offering to provide what is needed will change the numbers in a positive way. Read around, use the search and you will have a better picture of how things work best.
    Don't focus on someone else's perceived measures of success. Good luck in sorting things out.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Find out why their clicks aren't converting and see how you can help them. The cause could be your site, deceptive banners or text links, poor placement on a high traffic page or the affiliate is in a traffic exchange.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Georgie Peri's Avatar
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    Question
    Quote Originally Posted by BestBen View Post
    I've already found one affiliate that has around 16,000 clicks this year, but only 1 sale. Considering they only have 40,000 clicks total this year and 320 sales this year, by dropping that affiliate I should see a huge boost in the EPC, right? Will this boost help us get more affiliates?

    Thanks!
    How do you know how many total clicks and sales an affiliate does ?

    What network is this that tells you that information?
    OpA! Giasou Ti kanies!

  8. #8
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgie Peri View Post
    How do you know how many total clicks and sales an affiliate does ?

    What network is this that tells you that information?
    He is talking about an affiliate in his program and their clicks in his program. All networks show you this information, but only for your own program.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I agree that the 4000 in your program are the goldmine and you should not remove affiliates unless there is something amiss. I do remove affiliates if there is no way to reach them i.e. their emails bounce.

    Have to disagree on EPC. My #2 affiliate who make $200k in commissions a year from my programs is very focused on EPC. He uses it explicitly to determine whether to stay with a program or take one on. When he has seen programs halve their EPC he has dropped advertising and moved his traffic to other program. In other words I have to keep competitive EPC in order to keep him promoting my merchants. the majority of his traffic comes from organic review sites but he does supplement with PPC. He will test a program and if he send several hundred clicks with little commission its considered a dog. When I ask him to push a new program he will remark on the low EPC and wait 3-6 months. His point is, why should he waste his producing traffic to brand someones program and not get paid for it.

  10. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Have to disagree on EPC. My #2 affiliate who make $200k in commissions a year from my programs is very focused on EPC. He uses it explicitly to determine whether to stay with a program or take one on. When he has seen programs halve their EPC he has dropped advertising and moved his traffic to other program.
    But does he do that based on his EPC or the network-wide EPC? The only EPC that should matter to him is his.
    Michael Coley
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  11. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    He absolutely makes his decisions on the program EPC in the network. For in-house programs when he calculates his own EPC and it doesn't meet his expectations he asks for the program EPC.

    There is a great lack of metrics that affiliates can use and granted EPC can hide many things. But don't discount it as a useful tool when comparing similar programs and affiliates absolutely use it.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; July 30th, 2010 at 12:28 PM.

  12. #12
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    Perhaps the merchant is at fault for the lack of results?

    Affiliates can only do so much.

  13. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Agree completely and in both examples I was referring to it was newly launched programs for new sites. I have always said that an affiliate program is step 4+ for online marketing and should not be used for branding. In both cases the agency chose to launch the affiliate programs shortly after the ecommerce site creation. Unfortunately for me I had to promote to a group of super affiliates who produced well in competing programs I ran. This was clearly not the fault of the affiliates but the fault of the merchant, I was stuck in the middle!

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador mailman's Avatar
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    Out of the 54 active , how are their total sales?

  15. #15
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    Haven't see anybody mention this yet but:

    "I've already found one affiliate that has around 16,000 clicks this year, but only 1 sale."

    Something is wrong with that. I expect a few sales every 100 clicks, with any program. 16,000 and only 1? Maybe that affiliate does need to be removed, maybe they're cookie stuffing or something. That needs to be checked out.

    If you went overall industry conversion which is about 2%. 16,000 would be 320 sales.
    Last edited by Trust; July 30th, 2010 at 02:28 PM.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador mailman's Avatar
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    I agree that with 16,000 clicks there should be more than 1 sale. Could it be possible that there are more sales and they are being redirected?

  17. #17
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    Haven't see anybody mention this yet but:

    "I've already found one affiliate that has around 16,000 clicks this year, but only 1 sale."

    Something is wrong with that. I expect a few sales every 100 clicks, with any program. 16,000 and only 1? Maybe that affiliate does need to be removed, maybe they're cookie stuffing or something. That needs to be checked out.

    If you went overall industry conversion which is about 2%. 16,000 would be 320 sales.
    I agree with Trust. I have removed affiliates that really hurt EPC and conversion with thousands of clicks and no sales. The result will help your program look more attractive as long as you work on increasing conversions on the site and communicate effectively with affiliates on why they should promote your product.

    Find out how this affiliate is promoting your product and see if you can work with them to fine tune the traffic. If it doesn't work, give them lots of notice that they will be removed from the program.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador mailman's Avatar
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    Just a minute you Guys!! You all seem to put all the blame on the affiliates. Yes there are savory affiliates, how about the Merchants and the Networks! .16,000 clicks and one 1 sale? Something smells here and it is not onions!

  19. #19
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mailman View Post
    Just a minute you Guys!! You all seem to put all the blame on the affiliates. Yes there are savory affiliates, how about the Merchants and the Networks! .16,000 clicks and one 1 sale? Something smells here and it is not onions!
    The merchant needs to make changes, absolutely, but while he makes changes, he can still inquire as to where the 16,000 clicks are coming from with the affiliate. It is most likely irrelevant traffic but the due diligence needs to be done so that the affiliate can help increase conversions as well.

    In the meantime, was that BestBen's only post forever?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mailman View Post
    Just a minute you Guys!! You all seem to put all the blame on the affiliates. Yes there are savory affiliates, how about the Merchants and the Networks! .16,000 clicks and one 1 sale? Something smells here and it is not onions!
    It looks like the stats of a cookie stuffer plus:

    "I've already found one affiliate that has around 16,000 clicks this year, but only 1 sale. Considering they only have 40,000 clicks total this year and 320 sales this year, by dropping that affiliate I should see a huge boost in the EPC, right? Will this boost help us get more affiliates?"

    They're getting sales on those other clicks.

    Also, like I said, for me, I expect something within a 100 clicks, I'm ready to pull if I don't see anything within a few hundred. An affiliate with their head on right, wouldn't keep sending that kind of traffic, for just one sale. They would move on to another merchant or even something like Adsense, where at least you would be making something for that traffic.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Georgie Peri's Avatar
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    Why all the assumption they are producing such traffic?

    I know from past experience - all it takes is for some auto blogger from china to copy articles from your site to see your clicks inflated ..

    There is also Click Bombers out there too ...and tons of other stuff that can be happening ...

    Some people may run Sitemap makers and that program could be crawling the site and following the affiliate links which produce the click thru....

    If I was the affiliate and see tons of clicks (in a short amount of time 1-2 days or less ) with no sales I would do research / check logs and see whats going on ...

    ----

    If I was the affiliate manager I would checking page refferals, ask the merchant to check there website logs to see where the traffic is coming from ... ask the affiliate whats happening on there side ... etc


    OpA! Giasou Ti kanies!

  22. #22
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgie Peri View Post
    Why all the assumption they are producing such traffic?

    I know from past experience - all it takes is for some auto blogger from china to copy articles from your site to see your clicks inflated ..

    There is also Click Bombers out there too ...and tons of other stuff that can be happening ...

    Some people may run Sitemap makers and that program could be crawling the site and following the affiliate links which produce the click thru....

    If I was the affiliate and see tons of clicks (in a short amount of time 1-2 days or less ) with no sales I would do research / check logs and see whats going on ...
    The fact given was that the 16,000 clicks was over a period of one year, so we must assume until we find out more that the traffic was spread out evenly month to month.

    ----
    Quote Originally Posted by Georgie Peri View Post
    If I was the affiliate manager I would checking page refferals, ask the merchant to check there website logs to see where the traffic is coming from ... ask the affiliate whats happening on there side ... etc


    Exactly!

  23. #23
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Its called optimization and if the affiliate is not willing to work with you do you really want that relationship. Have had affiliates like this before that got tons of impressions on their home page but the merchant was not a good fit and didn't get clicks. We asked that they remove the home page banner and move it to a targeted page.

    Start the conversation with the affiliate and you will figure it out rather quickly.

  24. #24
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Everyone is looking at the affiliate that isn't converting. And while I would certainly question his business sense for sending so many clicks with only a single sale, I don't really have enough information to question his ethics. I'd like a little more detail about the program itself.

    With little over 1% of their affiliates active, this program would appear to have some serious issues. What I find interesting is that the OP didn't ask for help in improving conversions, only whether eliminating the source of almost half their clicks would improve their appearance (EPC). Even without these clicks, their conversion rate is well below 1% (.0094). I'd be curious to see how the merchant's non affiliate channels are converting, if at all. And frankly I really have to wonder about a "pretty big company" that hires an inexperienced affiliate manager to to turn around a program that's "in pretty bad shape".

    I really wish BestBen would return and fill in some of the holes here.

    -rematt
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  25. #25
    http and a telephoto
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    This is an interesting discussion. A lot of our managed merchants are on manual approve now, so we don't have too many problems with inflated traffic. I also am not very concerned with EPC, it is too easy to manipulate in the wrong way. Affiliates that decide only based on published EPC are affiliates that are missing a lot of opportunity. There are a lot of other factors that affiliates should be considering.

    It would be nice to have BestBen come back and let us know what he has figured out.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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