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  1. #1
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    I've bounced our problem off folks elsewhere, but I wanted to get all of your perspectives.

    We just launched about 3 weeks ago an in-house affiliate program at http://www.harkenhome.com/affiliates.html. Our company sells high-end period-style home plans, and we have gotten a great reaction from both builders and consumers. We're currently offering a $100 per-sale commission to any affiliate interested in marketing our products, with no monthly earnings restriction or other cap.

    My question is, it seems like we're running a very attractive program for an affiliate---particularly someone in the home/garden space (where commissions seem to be a lot lower). But how do we get the word out to people about what we're doing?

    One way would be to use a 3rd party, like CJ---but I'd rather give that money to our affiliates, since they're the ones doing the work.

    Any thoughts, suggestions or feedback would be great. Thanks!

    Ed Thomas
    General Manager, Harken Home LLC
    http://www.harkenhome.com

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    Why do you have the following on the top of your page?

    Just announced: Harken Home received a 5 out of 5 rating from Period Reviews!

    Is this worth anything? That site is just an affiliate site.

    While your site does look interesting, I would never join your affiliate program while you include meaningless 5 out of 5 links such as the one you have on your main page.

    Do you own both sites?

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Ed:

    Interesting concept. It strikes me that this would be a tough sell, niche market. I'm not looking down on a $100 commission, but that's less than 10% in a lot of cases and I don't think the market is huge.

    Nonetheless ...

    In addition to the point Julian makes, a few other questions/thoughts ...

    * How long is the cookie duration? I suspect this is not exactly an impusle buy and may take several return visits before a person commits.

    * You have links to Amazon on your "related" pages. Huge affiliate leak there. A definite no-no. It must go. Period.

    * You have a newsletter sign up. Will those people who come to you through our site be tagged with our affiliate code so that, when they do make a purchase, we get the credit?

    * You offer the buyer the option of faxing in an order. Is there a process in place to give the affiliate credit for these orders?

    * You offer the buy the option of e-mailing an order. Is there a process in place to give the affiliate credit for these orders?

    [BEGIN EDIT]
    Ed, I did a reverse look up on the phone number listed on your site and it comes back as a James Gale. Are you running the business out of someone's house? Seemed kind of odd.
    [END EDIT]

    Interesting program, but it's a tough niche and you have some work to do before it is truly affiliate-friendly.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
    http and a telephoto
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    Join ShareASale and get a forum here after you clean up your site
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Jane's Avatar
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    Well I might be interested but your plans seem much higher than others and your site design could use some work.

    Worst thing is that your contact link pops open my email. I couldn't tell where you were located until I opened your fax order form. If you want people to part with their money you have to let them know who you are.

    I often hit the contact link first. Want to know who I am dealing with before I spend time looking at a web site.

  6. #6
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    Wow, first thanks for the quick replies---I was sent to this site on a recommendation from another merchant because the readers here knew there stuff, and it looks like he was right.

    The most interesting feedback, of course, is to find out I'm James Gale. I had no idea

    A lot of the issues brought up --- changing cookie durations, tracking through newsletters or other channels, etc --- brings up immediate limitations in our affiliate software. We're using Miva Merchant right now for our back end order processing and shopping cart functions, and are using it currently for our affiliate program as well. For instance, it's my understanding that it's serving perpetual cookies to visitors, so that if you ever return to our site in the future (unless you delete the cookie in the interim), your refering affiliate gets credit for the sale. This would also handle the newsletter-driven sale.

    On fax or email sales, we try to acertain how the customer found our site in the first place for marketing purposes. If he or she came from an affiliate, we'd certainly credit that affiliate for that sale---but obviously that's a tough sale to track.

    How open would you folks, as affiliates, be to a changing payoff structure? Specifically, we went with $100/sale because that seemed more attractive than X% of sales revenue---although the catch was that we needed to pick a specific dollar value that still enabled us to introduce lower-priced items in the future, without needing to exclude them from the affiliate program. I want to make our program as easy and simple to use as possible, too. Thoughts? ---Ed

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Ed (Mr. Gale?):

    The % of sales works fine and obviously allows you to easily insert lower-priced items into the mix.

    The fax/e-mail/phone order issues need to be resolved. I have to imagine there's a programming solution there somewhere. Many merchants are tracking 800#s, so there are solutions out there. Similarly, there has to be a way to tag faxes and e-mails.

    The AM of generic gifts just announced that affiliate coding will be included in newsletters so, again, there are solutions already out there.

    Likewise, the Amazon links have to go, absolutely.

    If you're unhappy with your affiliate software, talk to some merchants here. There are a lot of good options available (DirectTrack, etc.).

  8. #8
    Newbie
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    Ed,

    I am a Miva Merchant consultant and I also manage affiliate programs. It is possible to have a solid affiliate program with Miva Merchant. Send me an e-mail at affman@confluencebooks.com if you'd like me to send you some suggestions.

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