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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up What do Affiliates want from a Merchant?
    I represent a very old jewelry company that specializes in authentic, artisan crafted, ethnic styles.

    We have a decent web presence and were just contacted by the eBay Affiliate Network (used to be Pepperjack I think), and signed up... Probably should have asked about that here first, since affiliates here seem to not like EEAN, but love ShareASale and AvantLink

    We really have no idea how the affiliate industry works... so:

    Given:
    • Our average sale is about $300
    • Our online volume is low (~10 online sales/day)
    • Our products are usually One-of-a-Kind, but our artists are what we market


    Questions:
    • What is the most important thing? Commission? Media assetts? Product?
    • What program is optimal? Direct from Merchant? AvantLink or ShareASale? Do affiliates dislike EEAN/Pepperjam for some reason?
    • What makes a merchant "great to work with"?
    • How do we make a program that affiliates love?
    • If we created a product line specifically for affiliates, what would it be? [within the apparel / accessory / jewelry industry]


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Affiliates want consistent conversion, optimized landing pages, competitive payouts and strong communication with the affiliate manager. They want to ask you questions and give you suggestions and have a real give and take relationship.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
    Visit Greg Hoffman Consulting


  3. #3
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Wow, affiliates want a lot.

    I'll start this off as every affiliate is as unique as the next.

    We want merchants that convert, pay above average commission, have unlimited transactions in a long cookie date, and have the perfect datafeed.

    That's just for starters.

    Next affiliate, please...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  5. #4
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    @Convergence
    1) Merchants that convert: not sure that will be us... we are low volume, but avg. sale price is high.
    2) Above average commission: We started at 10% on EEAN, but hell, we pay Amazon about 17%, so we could go that high if we skip the Affiliate Network... is that worth it to the affiliate? Or is 10% to 13% within an Affiliate Network better?
    3) Perfect datafeed: Can you give me a link to an article or an example?
    4) Long Cookie date: is 30 days long?

  6. #5
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by llunpe View Post
    , since affiliates here seem to not like EEAN,

    Do affiliates dislike EEAN/Pepperjam for some reason?
    The membership of this forum comprises less than 1 percent of the affiliate population, so please don't construe EEAN/PJ's lack of popularity here as a general disdain for that particular network. Some of us (I can only speak for myself, but I'm sure there are others) like EEAN/PJ more than any other network. Some may have reasons not to like them, but many seem to dislike PJ just to go along with the "in crowd" here; this forum is a Shareasale/Avantlink fan club of sorts. Show me a reason for not liking EEAN/PJ and I'll show you two better ones for not liking any other network.
    CUSTOM BANNERS by GRAPHICS CANDY ~ Banner Sets and Website Graphics ~ Professional design, reasonable rates
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  8. #6
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    @davidh OK, that's cool... for us, EEAN was just the first network that reached out to us and we went with it. OTOH, we do want to go with what interests the affiliates most.

  9. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by llunpe View Post
    @Convergence
    1) Merchants that convert: not sure that will be us... we are low volume, but avg. sale price is high.
    2) Above average commission: We started at 10% on EEAN, but hell, we pay Amazon about 17%, so we could go that high if we skip the Affiliate Network... is that worth it to the affiliate? Or is 10% to 13% within an Affiliate Network better?
    3) Perfect datafeed: Can you give me a link to an article or an example?
    4) Long Cookie date: is 30 days long?
    1. What is your current conversion rate?
    2. 10%-13% is fair.
    3. Be in a network - don't run an indy program
    4. http://www.abestweb.com/forums/progr...ts-175468.html is a good place to start
    5. 30 days is fair


    When eBay EEAN was PepperJam, and owned by the original founder, it tainted it's reputation with affiliates. Long road of forgiveness for many. Personally find their site cumbersome to use and they currently only offer feeds uncompressed...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  11. #8
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    I'd pretty much echo what Convergence says. Track reliably, pay on time, decent selection and prices which lead to decent conversion rate, etc.

    One thing you mentioned could by a pretty big turn-off for most affiliates, though - "One of a kind" - once that "one" is sold, it's sold; it's hard to sell stuff that's out of stock. You would need to give affiliates an angle to work with in the way of an approach of "lots of moonstone rings like this one at thisstore.com" rather than promoting individual products that are literally individual one-of-a-kind pieces.

    If you're planning on hopping to another network, and trying to decide between Shareasale and Avantlink, Shareasale would be the best choice by far. Not to disparage Avantlink, but their stable of merchants and affiliates lean very heavily toward outdoor/camping/hiking/sports-type offerings; a funky jewelry merchant would be out of their element there.
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  13. #9
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    @Convergence

    1) Our conversion rate is 0.1% according to google analytics, but the numbers seem to be wrong as compared to our Magento numbers. In any case, its not higher than 0.3%... which is not that great.
    4) Thanks for the info...

  14. #10
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    @DavidH
    One of a Kind: Yeah, we have to promote the artist, the ethnicity, or the style as opposed to the item. We are creating all of our campaigns / media around those ideas.

    Shareasale vs. Avantlink: thanks for the heads up... I was just about to sign up for Avantlink, but now I think I'll skip that and look into ShareASale

  15. #11
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Yeah, that conversion rate would be worrisome for some. However: how long has your current program been active? What is your conversion rate on the network compared to organic or other marketing channels?

    At this point I wouldn't suggest joining TWO networks unless you planned on leaving the other...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  17. #12
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    "If we created a product line specifically for affiliates, what would it be? [within the apparel / accessory / jewelry industry."

    I don't know if I would begin branching out so early. Once you start seeing sales as a result of your program, you'll have better information to make an informed decision. Affiliates will likely get behind what sells the most on their site, but that doesn't mean it will be a global success.

    You have one thing going for you already. It sounds like you are a niche site to some degree, which is appealing to a lot of affiliates. With the holidays almost here for affiliates, I would focus on getting through it first, then taking a look at the results for future planning. jmho
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

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  19. #13
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    @Convergence
    Current Program: We are just now starting... all available data is from organic. I just checked ebay, and it looks like we have a conversion rate of about 10x on ebay. Somewhere between 1.2% and 2.2% which seems to high. But, we do most of our business through eBay, so maybe that is correct... its insane that eBay does not have a conversion numbers report!?

  20. #14
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    @leeann
    Focus on the holidays: thanks, good advice.

  21. #15
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    @akagorilla (forgive me for missing your post earlier)
    1) Consistent conversion: our conversion is consistent, just low (I think)
    2) Optimized landing pages: we are working on really cool landing pages!
    3) Competitive payouts: We are definitely able to to this.
    4) Strong communication with the affiliate manager: Thats cool, I think we will be good at this.

  22. #16
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    @akagorilla (forgive me for missing your post earlier)
    Me, too...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  23. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    How does your product page act after the one of a kind item sells?

    Error page?

    Simple out of stock page?

    Or a page that says something like "This one of a kind item has sold. Here are some other items from the same artist and here are other some similar pieces of art. If you see something you like, don't delay. Everything we sell is one of a kind, and when they're gone, they're gone."

    That can make a big difference, not just with affiliates, but also with organic links that you get.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela


  24. #18
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    For this type of shop that could benefit from sites that have ethnically targeted traffic, it would be helpful to have one of your custom columns in the datafeed list the geo/ethinic area of interest. That would help a site to specifically promote those products to the people most interested.

    One more hint is that if you plan to manage your own affiliate program, you can avoid a lot of common mistakes and pitfalls before they happen if you get the advice of a knowledgeable OPM to help at least in getting it properly set up. Too many programs fail because the merchant thought that all the details get handled by the network and they don't. The network offers tools to do what you want, but the wrong settings and choices can be financially painful when you don't know the whys and hows.

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  26. #19
    Outsourced Program Manager e-Gazer's Avatar
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    I typed a whole thing and ABW glitched and lost it. Let me try again.

    Welcome to ABW Ilunpe! As many others have already said conversion is key. Keep in mind Affiliate Marketing is a great way to reach new markets and increase brand awareness which then drives new sales, engage with consumers in areas you're not already, but it's not a means of increasing conversion rates most times - except in cases where the affiliates are just actually better at target marketing and pre-qualifying clicks than the merchant/advertiser is (this does happen sometimes). But I'd never recommend relying on that.

    If the site doesn't convert well today, affiliates usually won't be persuaded to put their time/money into promoting your brand/products no matter how high the commission because 100% of 0 is still 0. But all is not lost - so don't be disheartened yet.

    Do some A/B testing and/or just plain ol' site usability testing/analysis and figure out what you can do to help increase conversion rates. Make sure your sales funnel is air tight and designed to close the sale in as few steps as possible.

    Just remember - Affiliates can really only deliver the clicks, no matter how targeted they may be, it's up to you to convert them. If your products have a legitimate market demand and your site converts, your offer is attractive (i.e. payouts competitive, etc.) and the program backed by solid, responsive support and a Manager that makes sure affiliates get paid when they are supposed to, you should be a-okay. Best of luck!

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  28. #20
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by llunpe View Post
    @akagorilla (forgive me for missing your post earlier)
    1) Consistent conversion: our conversion is consistent, just low (I think)
    2) Optimized landing pages: we are working on really cool landing pages!
    3) Competitive payouts: We are definitely able to to this.
    4) Strong communication with the affiliate manager: Thats cool, I think we will be good at this.
    2. Landing pages need to be optimized always. Don't let the cool page be the same this time next year.

    You mentioned you pay Amazon 17%. If the payout is higher if affiliates use Amazon, why would they join your affiliate program? Never let Amazon have the highest payout.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
    Visit Greg Hoffman Consulting

  29. #21
    Affiliate Manager Kush@VMInnovations's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akagorilla View Post
    2. Landing pages need to be optimized always. Don't let the cool page be the same this time next year.

    You mentioned you pay Amazon 17%. If the payout is higher if affiliates use Amazon, why would they join your affiliate program? Never let Amazon have the highest payout.
    What llunpe probably meant to say is that they pay Amazon marketplace a rev-share of 17%. In this case amazon really isn't an affiliate, and if affiliate joins Amazon's affiliate program to promote Llunpe's products at most they would get an 8.5% commission. Most amazon affiliates probably earn half of her existing base commission of 10%.

  30. #22
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    @MichaelColey
    "How does your product page act after the one of a kind item sells?"
    Currently the page shows the item, but as "Sold". There are Cross Sells on the page, but we should probably do what eBay does, and show the cross-sells first on the page once the item is sold. Very good advice, thanks.

    @2Busy
    1) geo/ethinic area of interest attribute in datafeed: The items are ethnically sourced, not ethnically targeted. However the advice is good in any case, I am working on our feed today.

    2) Use a knowledgeable OPM to help you setup / configuration: hmm, unfortunately I don't know anyone who does this... let's hope that this forum, elbow grease and determination will be enough

    @e-Gazer
    Affiliate marketing will rarely increase conversion rates: This is very important piece of information to me. It is clear from your post that the conversion rates are problems with the site itself, not the product / market / marketing. I might be a bit dense, but I did not realize this before you spelled it out for me. Thanks. Time to really work on the site as we get this program rolled out.

    @akagorilla
    Keep landing pages updated and relevant: Are there principle ideas about how this should be done? I assume this is not just re-writing the page periodically?

    Currently we have:
    1) an Artist interview (text) and
    2) a brief artist bio along with
    3) bullet points about the artist (art community family relations, hallmarks used, other germane information) and
    4) all the products currently available by that artist

    ...this information does not lend itself to a lot of updates unless we integrated an artist twitter feed or the like...

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    @Kush@VMInnovations
    Amazon marketplace rev-share of 17%: this is correct, Amazon has a 20% commission on jewelry, I backed out 3% as the transaction fee. I was just saying that we could pay more if we did not use an affiliate network, but it seemed to me that for the affiliate its better to use a network.

  31. #23
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    My Takeaway (This is freaking awesome, people... I am very grateful. Thanks again!)

    * If your site doesn't convert, you don't really know how to web, and affiliates will not be impressed.
    --> Good landing pages
    --> Efficient checkout
    --> Perfect Datafeed
    * Get the basics right:
    --> competitive commission (10% - 13% is good)
    --> good cookie window (30 days is good) + unlimited transactions
    --> good, descriptive datafeed
    --> don't be a cowboy, use an Affiliate Network + use a network that has a lot of similar sellers + make sure your configuration is good, don't wing it.
    --> Communicate and get your affiliates paid right
    * Fine tune
    --> Don't ever leave a buyer without a next step (out of stock, old content, where do I go from here?)
    --> Keep massaging the datafeed
    --> Let your affiliates help you stay informed

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  33. #24
    Outsourced Program Manager e-Gazer's Avatar
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    Hi Ilunpe,

    Glad you're getting so much meat out of this thread. ABW can be a great resource for stuff like this.

    A few more notes from me:

    • - Do some good competitive analysis to determine best Commission Rate & Cookie Length/Lifespan. "Best in class" varies by vertical/market. Figure out where you stack up against competition and where you can be competitive. Commission is one area. There may be others too. Make sure you build in some wiggle room to negotiate with.
    • - Look into something like Site Tuners or Optimizely (links below) to help you A/B test landing pages. Rather than "re-write" them periodically, split testing specific elements one at a time can help you fine tune what you've already got.


    Here's more info on the above referred-to tools:
    A/B Split Testing SiteTuners
    https://www.optimizely.com/ab-testing

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