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  1. #1
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    How to get approved by merchants with my coupon site?
    Hi,

    I have a coupon website up and running, with 10 unique written articles.

    I am an affiliate, I would like to promote various CJ merchants via their coupons. So I write an article on each merchant, then mention their coupon codes.

    So I would like to build a website like RetailMeNot.com, without the user submitted coupons (just editorial coupons).

    But in general, how do CJ merchants treat coupon sites? Will the majority of merchants approve my coupon website?

    1-800 Contacts already declined my application... And I have 3 more applications pending.

    2 merchants automatically declined my application, because I live outside the US. But this is ridiculous. My website is written in US English, hosted by an US hosting company, and I target US customers.

    But some merchants automatically decline me! CJ should educate merchants that there are other countries besides USA, and people living outside the US can put up a website and target US customers. I don't understand these merchants, don't they want more sales?

    Please tell me what to do to get approved by merchants with my coupon website!

  2. #2
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    Great...

    Out of 6 applications, only 1 merchant approved my coupon site!

    But a lot of other coupon sites got accepted into their programs! Seems like there is an inner circle and they don't let the newcomers in.

    I know, because when I'm searching for "company name coupon", I see that in the top 10 results there are coupon affiliate sites.

    So these merchants clearly do allow coupon websites, but only the large ones.

    Flamingo World, Amazing-Bargains, RetailMeNot etc... how can you get accepted into affiliate programs?

    It's catch-22. They don't accept me as long as my website is small. But I can't build a large coupon site until they accept me.

    You can be happy, existing coupon sites.

  3. #3
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    Affiliate marketing is a relationship between a merchant and an affiliate where the merchant brings the product to sell and the logistic around it and where the affiliate brings new traffic, a customer base, a niche market... in exchange of a commission.
    What are you bringing to the table?
    Most successful affiliates have developped their sites for years before adding the first link. You can't monetize a website if you don't have a steady traffic with repeat visitors trusting you enough to buy.
    You can buy a script to build a coupon site for a few bucks. It doesn't mean the visitors will come.
    Retail Me Not had 13.6 million users in May 2010. How do you compare?
    Build your content (10 articles is nothing), build your traffic, build a mailing list... and the merchants will approve you.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Affiliate marketing is a relationship between a merchant and an affiliate where the merchant brings the product to sell and the logistic around it and where the affiliate brings new traffic, a customer base, a niche market... in exchange of a commission.
    What are you bringing to the table?
    Most successful affiliates have developped their sites for years before adding the first link. You can't monetize a website if you don't have a steady traffic with repeat visitors trusting you enough to buy.
    You can buy a script to build a coupon site for a few bucks. It doesn't mean the visitors will come.
    Retail Me Not had 13.6 million users in May 2010. How do you compare?
    Build your content (10 articles is nothing), build your traffic, build a mailing list... and the merchants will approve you.
    I don't know why is it a problem that I would like to monetize my website right from the beginning.

    Merchants should understand that every new website starts at 0 visitors / day, and with a few articles.

    What if I spend a few thousand $ upfront, and the merchant still not accept me?

    ClickBank, Amazon Associates approve almost everyone. That's the normal thing to do.

    I don't know why do I have to beg for a company to promote their products/services? They should thank me that I am interested in their program.

    The merchant bears zero risk. I, as the affiliate, bear all the risk.
    Last edited by Charybdis; June 22nd, 2011 at 01:40 PM.

  5. #5
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    You can monetize your website right from the beginning but you know already what will happen. You're experiencing it. It's your own choice.
    Merchants have a choice too, they can select their own affiliates. Read their agreements. Affiliates are a legal risk for a merchant. They don't have to accept everybody.

  6. #6
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    We see dozens of coupon sites daily while screening applications and reject those with no traffic. We do go back monthly to see if they gained in network ranking.

    As Zeus stated its about building a relationship so use your rejection to do that. Summarize as you did in your first post and ask for a second consideration. Those AM/OPM's that respond are the ones you want to work with.

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charybdis View Post
    ClickBank, Amazon Associates approve almost everyone. That's the normal thing to do.
    Actually, it's not. Most well-managed programs do not approve almost everyone. Affiliate managers spend a lot of time up front reviewing your website, your traffic, etc. before deciding if you're worth the gamble of approving or not.

    I don't say this at all to be mean, just so you can have a realistic view of what's happening. It's really not the "norm" for you to be approved under a blanket "almost everyone is approved" policy.

    I do agree with Chuck in that you should take a second stab at the merchants you really want to work with and reach out. Often times that's what it takes for an affiliate manager to take the gamble - you reaching out human being to human being and saying how serious about this site and business you are. It helps to weed out the fly-by-nighters, so prove you're not one of them. It'll go a long way.

  8. #8
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    @Chuck Hamrick

    Why reject websites with no traffic?

    Why not give them a chance? Let's say you allow everyone to join, but twice a year or so you send a warning to non-performing affiliates, and you remove them if they remain non-performing.

    I think it is a better strategy. I don't know why do you expect from a brand new website to have traffic?

    When you launch a new website, will you have 200 unique visitors per day on the next day magically? I guess you won't.

    But I can artificially increase my Alexa ranking if it makes you happy.

    Have you tried affiliate marketing before, as an affiliate promoting other merchants, and starting from scratch?
    Last edited by Charybdis; June 22nd, 2011 at 03:47 PM.

  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Charybdis, trust me when I tell you that Chuck is a very seasoned affiliate manager and knows what he's doing.

    Different managers have different takes on managing and motivating affiliates. Some do take the approach you're suggesting. A lot of times it comes down to personal preference in how someone manages a program - would they rather put in the effort up front to weed out sites they don't think will perform or put in the effort later to audit affiliates periodically to motivate or cull poor or non performers.

    You have to go into this knowing that both exist, and there are valid cases to be made for each style. You can't convince an affiliate manager to take a chance on your site by being combative about the method in which they choose to manage their program. It won't create a successful relationship to work with.

  10. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Charybdis because I answer to the merchant who wants to know why only 1-2% of the affiliates are not sending sales. If you came to me to advertise with your web site and could not give me traffic numbers I would be skeptical.

    Here's a secret, if I reject you and you ask for a second consideration you have a 99% chance of getting accepted. This points up another situation that low traffic sites seldom make it as affiliates. There are many many applications from new sites with no traffic who apply to tons of programs to see what they have to offer. Its a Catch-22!

  11. #11
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    Ok maybe I should just stop using CJ, and use Shareasale exclusively.

    When I would like to join a program on Shareasale, there is a magic piece on the application page: a textarea!

    You likely have many different promotional methods, so in order to speed up the application approval process, you may list in the box below a general marketing plan for this merchant.

    This could include which of your websites you will use, PPC terms, etc...

    This is optional and is designed to help speed up approval...
    People have been asking CJ for years to create a textarea where you can send a message to the merchant, together with your application.

    But CJ is ignorant enough not to listen to the feedbacks. In the meantime, Shareasale keeps improving and improving.

    Regarding to coupon sites: I think merchants just don't like coupon sites in general. They only allow the largest coupon sites. Seems like there is an Inner Circle.
    Last edited by Charybdis; June 22nd, 2011 at 04:29 PM.

  12. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    When I would like to join a program on Shareasale, there is a magic piece on the application page: a textarea!
    Excellent idea, use SAS to build your site as you grow your traffic. We read everyone of the personal messages from the affiliates on SAS.

  13. #13
    Fighting the good fight... Convergence's Avatar
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    And in the case you may not have been clear enough in the text area and were still declined - send an email from a domain name you own, not free. Also, provide your contact information. It should match what you have on file at the network, including address/phone number(s)...
    Merchants: In the fashion or home appliance niches? Contact us for placement opportunities for: the US (National and now LOCAL markets), UK, and CA.

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  15. #14
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    SAS also tells you what merchants auto approve, so if you go for those first you can build up the site with merchants who are willing to take that risk up front and then prove yourself to the ones that don't auto approve.

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  17. #15
    Fighting the good fight... Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishaLyn View Post
    SAS also tells you what merchants auto approve, so if you go for those first you can build up the site with merchants who are willing to take that risk up front and then prove yourself to the ones that don't auto approve.
    But should still provide some marketing info. There ARE OPMs that will auto approve then nearly immediately decline you...
    Merchants: In the fashion or home appliance niches? Contact us for placement opportunities for: the US (National and now LOCAL markets), UK, and CA.

  18. #16
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    But should still provide some marketing info. There ARE OPMs that will auto approve then nearly immediately decline you...
    Yes we do and that's because the site is down or is a parked page!

  19. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishaLyn View Post
    SAS also tells you what merchants auto approve, so if you go for those first you can build up the site with merchants who are willing to take that risk up front and then prove yourself to the ones that don't auto approve.
    Thanks for the tip, so far it works...

    Shareasale is a much better place than CJ!

    I wish For Me To Coupon would introduce a new pricing plan, where I could pay per merchants.

  20. #18
    Newbie nge777's Avatar
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    Some of them look at content, page rank and how long it's been up.

    If you don't get approved for one network, sign up at a different one. They all have different rules and some are not as strict.

    If it's a network you really want to make extra sites, blogs, newsletters and try to get more site visitors, then go back 6 months later and try again.

  21. #19
    Newbie nge777's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charybdis View Post
    Thanks for the tip, so far it works...

    Shareasale is a much better place than CJ!

    I wish For Me To Coupon would introduce a new pricing plan, where I could pay per merchants.
    Really? I love CJ. I do both but CJ has more offers i think.

  22. #20
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    I just recently got a second chance with a CJ Merchant - Entertainment (does the Entertainment Book). I was denied originally, but I replied to the email inside CJ and explained more about my traffic, what my short term and long term strategies were, etc. They came back and approved me.

    I also experienced just today another CJ Merchant that had denied me, and just approved me - even though I didn't contact them. So I guess they were watching.

    Both of these are being advertised on the coupon section of my site, although to be fair it's a city portal with more than just coupons - which could have affected their decision.

  23. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charybdis View Post
    Thanks for the tip, so far it works...

    Shareasale is a much better place than CJ!

    I wish For Me To Coupon would introduce a new pricing plan, where I could pay per merchants.
    I think we should not compare Shareasale with CJ. Both of them are effective. My friend, the guy has an online shop, sent an inquiry to CJ days ago, CJ rejected him but gave some advices at the same time. That's nice, is it?

    I believe you will get more chances if keep on going! XD

  24. #22
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    I'm a 5 bar publisher in CJ and still get auto-declined purely because my country is Australia (i.e. outside USA).

    In that case we'll either email the program directly or our CJ contact. But it's a pain to have to do this for multiple merchants when you've already built the content on your site.

    I'd recommend getting in touch with lots of the OPM agencies out there and build a relationship with them. If all else fails you'll need to try and generate some results from a small amount of merchants that do approve you, you can then leverage this with other merchants.
    Merchants, build your own coupon landing pages with Couponzor - Example Landing Page: iStockPhoto Coupons

  25. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegyppo View Post
    I'm a 5 bar publisher in CJ and still get auto-declined purely because my country is Australia (i.e. outside USA).

    In that case we'll either email the program directly or our CJ contact. But it's a pain to have to do this for multiple merchants when you've already built the content on your site.

    I'd recommend getting in touch with lots of the OPM agencies out there and build a relationship with them. If all else fails you'll need to try and generate some results from a small amount of merchants that do approve you, you can then leverage this with other merchants.
    The verdict is that the CJ approval process sucks, and merchants are clueless as to how to recruit affiliates and how to actually run a successful affiliate program.

    They auto-reject affilates based on their country? Come on... Merchants, why not take your time to actually learn how to manage an affiliate program, and how to use the CJ dashboard?

  26. #24
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charybdis View Post
    They auto-reject affilates based on their country? Come on... Merchants, why not take your time to actually learn how to manage an affiliate program, and how to use the CJ dashboard?
    For the most part I agree that more merchants need to learn how to properly manage their affiliate program, however to play devil's advocate for a moment, there are some programs that auto-decline based on country because they have an offer that's restricted to US participants, and I can tell you the majority of affiliates applying from abroad that I saw as an affiliate manager were not necessarily targeting a US market. If you are targeting a US market, the AM usually lets you in once you explain that.

  27. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Affiliate marketing is a relationship between a merchant and an affiliate where the merchant brings the product to sell and the logistic around it and where the affiliate brings new traffic, a customer base, a niche market... in exchange of a commission.
    What are you bringing to the table?
    Most successful affiliates have developped their sites for years before adding the first link. You can't monetize a website if you don't have a steady traffic with repeat visitors trusting you enough to buy.
    You can buy a script to build a coupon site for a few bucks. It doesn't mean the visitors will come.
    Retail Me Not had 13.6 million users in May 2010. How do you compare?
    Build your content (10 articles is nothing), build your traffic, build a mailing list... and the merchants will approve you.
    AMEN !!! This is the best answer to many of the questions posted that I think I've ever read - Kudos for stating the facts so clearly !

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