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  1. #1
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    Okay, I hope all you merchants and affiliate insiders can help add some light to a long conversation my business partner and I have been having.

    We run a niche type retail site selling one type of product, but have around 700 items by different manufacturers on our site. We are doing well, but the monthly ups and downs of the search engine traffic is driving me crazy. We do some PPC advertising, but are not really crazy about paying for visitors that are just shopping - which leads the conversation to affiliate marketing - "pay per sale".

    I am very familiar with affiliate marketing, as I also have several affiliate sites that I run myself. So I am all for setting up a affiliate program for our retail site.

    My partners biggest hold-up is (and I hope that I can clearly communicate it) that our affiliates would dominate the search engines and actual "take sales that would have been ours to begin with". We are well placed in the search engines, but things do change a bit from month to month.

    So, is this really a concern for the merchant? My philosophy is that we are only paying for sales made. If the revenue goes up, so do our paychecks. My biggest arguement against him is that so what if our affiliates dominate the search rankings. If we own the page one results with our affiliates, more than likely we will get the sale. People will only click around so many times before they buy!

    So what are your thoughts on my ramblings? Any merchants out there care to share their % of affiliate sales VS. percent of non-affiliate sales? Any thoughts from pure play affiliates?

    Please let me know, if I have made a complete mess of my thoughts!

    Burke

  2. #2
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Ha! Ask Chris! We have the search terms so tied up for navel and belly button jewelry that there is hardly a chance that anyone will see any other site. Ask Chris if that is a good idea or not. LOL

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  3. #3
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    We derive over 25% of our total sales from our affiliates.

    A few affilaites rank well on our best keywords and are deriving some sales from it. Others do well on keyword phrases we don't target because of thier lower volume of searches. This is traffic we might not see as we can't target and rank well on every possible keyword.

    The majority of affiliates bring us sources of traffic we would probably not get on our own. They have different visitors who make purchases when presented with a product they might not have been looking for but find interesting.

    Many shoppers go through malls and portals when searching online rather than use the search engines. There are also theme sites, directories and many other types of sites that affiliates run that will potentially expose you to many new potential visitors.

    Having a few super-affiliates (many of whom are on ABW) can really boost sales. Our affiliates do a great job for us. Given time, they can do a good job for you too.

    Scott Marino
    WebUndies.com

    CJ ~ 12% commission / 60 day cookies / unlimited actions / parasite free

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    Sure, an affiliate may get credited for a sale you would have received anyway. Who knows how often that happens, but it's certainly not a reason to avoid building an affiliate program. You then miss out on all the sales affiliates bring that you would not have received otherwise. You may want to take this into account when determining the amount of commission you offer, but I wouldn't scrap the idea of having an affiliate program because of this.

    SSanf has the right idea. I'd give my left (insert body part here) for our affiliates to lock up the keywords in the scooter niche so tight (insert colorful metaphor of your choice here).

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  5. #5
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Frank,

    So many merchants, so little me.

    Don't worry, you're on the list

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    The six merchants sites I have built and manage for clients do so well only one has an affiliate program. It also puts all product etailers to shame on it's conversion ratio since 1998. Build a site that can consistant sell 1 out of every 50 visitors. Then consider an affiliate sales force boost feeding more targeted traffic onto to those high conversion pages. Forget using affiliates as cheap advertising pawns if you have a niche' product site. Treat every sale they make as a blue bird sales by a local referral source. They are resourceful enough to get buyers to your site if you convert and pay on time.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  7. #7
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    True. We can send you folks who have shown an interest in buying what you have to sale but if your own site doesn't close the transaction, it is a waste of our time and effort to bring pre-qualified customers to you.

    Please, make sure your own site is in order BEFORE starting an affiliate program. If you are closing the sales on the prospects you get now, good. If not, do what you must to find out why not.

    This is a general comment directed at any merchant starting out in affilate marketing. I haven't seen your site.

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  8. #8
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    Wow! Thanks for all the great feedback. We are always testing and tweaking our site to up the conversion ratio. It is interesting at times what causes changes, both positive and negative.

    I really appreciate you all sharing your thoughts. I am sure this will generate much more discussion around the office. Basically, this is not a decision we take lightly. We know that affiliates will invest time an money in promoting us, so we don't want to make the decision to quickly.

    Burke

  9. #9
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Also, please, allow around six months lead time before you expect a whole lot of results.

    At first a lot of affiliates may put you on the "to do" list. It is hard to follow through on every program of interest. You may need to nag a lot to get on a lot of sites at all. That doesnt mean we don't have an interest. It just takes time. I am working on an advertiser I wanted up three months ago.

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  10. #10
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSanf:
    Also, please, allow around six months lead time before you expect a whole lot of results.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Absolutely. You should see some sales trickle in within a week or so. It will definitely get better the longer your program is running.

    It's best to start it soon if you have a product that is in demand around the Christmas/Hanukah holidays or Valentine's day. That will allow time to build a base of affiliates who will generate sales during those times. If you launch too late, you will not reap the success that affilaites will create during the holidays.

    Scott Marino
    WebUndies.com

    CJ ~ 12% commission / 60 day cookies / unlimited actions / parasite free

  11. #11
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Yes. And, you can bet right now, we are trying to get winter and Yule/Christmas stuff up. If it is something not releated to that, it might be on the back burner until November when it will be too late for those items.

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    Burke,

    I just thought of another counter-point to your partners argument.

    Affiliates will "take sales that would have been ours to begin with" about as often as they deliver sales that would never have been yours without receiving compensation for it.

    How so? For example, this will happen if a customer finds your site through an affiliate website while at work, then later that night or over the weekend makes a purchase from home. It will also happen if the customer clears their cookies between the time of purchase and the time the found you through the affiliate.

    That pretty well evens out the potential negative outcome of your partners argument.

    One condition for using this super counter-point. After dealing his argument this deadly blow you must say, "How 'bout dem apples!" That's all I ask.

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  13. #13
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    Thanks everyone! I am going to print this so that we can ponder it over the next couple of weeks.

    It is so nice to hear both from the affiliate side and the merchant side. I am currently on both sides of that fence, so I can totally understand. I was having trouble being specific with my thoughts, and you all have helped to clarify them.

    I will let you know how it all works out. ABW will be the first place we make the announcement if we move forward. Our products sell VERY well over the Christmas season, so if we are going to pull the trigger I think we need to do it in July sometime.

    Thanks again for all your well thought out responses!

    Burke

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